Showing posts from November, 2013

Occasions for Pleasure, No Place for Joy

I'm going to make what, to anyone who has watched my Tin Whistle videos on YouTube, may be a startling admission: I regret doing it. I began posting videos seven years ago, just after I moved to Fordham University, because I had the in-built computer technology to do so. When I was later asked to teach a course on the Tin Whistle, I made use of YouTube to make sure each week's lessons were posted.
Several times each week, I receive a note from a viewer who will say something like, "I just wanted to thank you for the free lessons on the Internet. I live in a place without any Irish music teachers and your lessons are the only way I can learn." I'll admit - I do think that's pretty cool and, honestly, I'm glad to have provided a service. 
Nevertheless, I still regret that I ever did it. 
Not because of the good it has shared with others but because, after a lot of reflection, I realize that it has had a corrosive effect on my spirit. 
Each time I post a vi…

Evangelii Gaudium

For those interested in such things, I encourage them to take the time to read the Pope's Evangellii Gaudium, his first apostolic exhortation. I'm in the midst of working on three different projects all at once and I've not quite read the whole letter with the attention it deserves.

One particularly plum section I did manage to read, however, deserves mention and applies particularly to clergy. Under the subtitle No Spiritual Worldliness (93-97), the Holy Father gives a marvelous diagnosis for a problem facing many clergy today. Sad to say, I know not a few priests - Jesuit, other religious orders and congregations, and diocesan - afflicted with a form of spiritual worldliness:
This worldliness can be fueled in two deeply interrelated ways. One is the attraction of gnosticism, a purely subjective faith whose only interest is a certain experience or a set of ideas and bits of information which are meant to console and enlighten, but which ultimately keep one imprisoned in h…

S*#T Under the Fingernails

An old Irish woman once quipped to me, "I don't trust clergy who have never had s*#t under their fingernails." Her point: religious credibility doesn't come from beautiful words but from enacting the love one preaches.

Hardly a day goes by of late without some new story about Pope Francis. This weekend, Chris Lowney wrote a piece for CNN's Belief Blog about how then-Jorge Bergoglio used to take a turn at laundry duty. Depending on the type of community, I reckon, he might have had far more than lint under his nails when his task was completed!

Now, it comes as no surprise to anyone to hear of moms or dads doing laundry, or preparing the daily meals, or changing diapers. It's part of the day-to-day duties of being a family. So, too, within Jesuit communities, the benchmark of a good community member can be measured by whether he'll take the time to unload the dishwasher, do his house job, prepare a thoughtful dinner, or lend a hand bringing in groceries. F…

The Cradle is Not a Future Cashbox

I am not a parent. So, what follows, may be discounted as the ramblings of an idealist, a person who "doesn't get it." Nevertheless, I want to make a single statement and offer a thought.

Statement: The Cradle Is Not a Future Cashbox

An extremely bright college student sought me out recently with a heartrending dilemma: the student wants, more than anything, to become a math teacher. The parents, however, refuse to allow this: they will pay for a business degree and nothing else. If the student should decide to pursue a degree in education, the parents will refuse to continue paying tuition for a degree able to be obtained "anywhere."

It matters little to the parents that the student is totally passionate about educating others, that the student's personality is vibrant and engaging, that the student knows how simultaneously to inspire and challenge those being tutored. What matters is that the parents have decided that a degree in business is the only just…

Intimacy in the Age of Facebook

Back in July, I set about working on a chapter for a book of essays compiled by contributors to The Jesuit Post. My title never varied: I knew I wanted to call my piece "Dispatches from the Control-F Generation." Frequent readers will remember that this is a theme I have written about several times over the past few years.

My original submission, however, did not gain much traction with the editors. I used Ovid's Metamorphoses to frame my discussion of technology. In particular, I tried to develop the image of the "Shirt of Nessus," a shirt soaked with poisoned blood given to the hero Heracles as an unwitting gift that led to his death. The gift, given with the best of intentions, turned out to be the exact opposite of a gift. My sense of our increasingly technology soaked culture was, and continues to be, that we are donning for ourselves and passing onto our children a modern-day "Shirt of Nessus" we believe to be a great gift but, in actuality, is…

"Modern Man" and "The Mission"

Last night, I hosted a group of young men here at the Faber Jesuit Community for an event we called "Reel Jesuits." November 5th is the day the Society of Jesus remembers its Saints and Blessed and, in a special way, prays for vocations to the Jesuits. As part of the effort, I helped to organize "Reel Jesuits" which was a dinner of pizza and salad (it's young men, after all!) followed by a viewing of the 1986 gem The Mission. Discussion followed our viewing, reflecting together about how we today are being called into "the mission" of the Gospel.

One of the attendees pointed me in the direction of the song "Modern Man" by Arcade Fire. There's something riveting about the song. The first verse opens:

So I wait my turn, I'm a modern man And the people behind me, they can't understand Makes me feel like Makes me feel like
Not to get a sacramental, but there is a way this verse, and the whole song, brings about what it represents. For,…

Briefly Checking In

As I watched the sun rise over the Rocky Mountains this morning, it dawned on me that I'd not updated the blog in over a week. Due to the way I scheduled myself to play several feiseanna, I'm in a very intense period of playing all over the place. Fortunately, next Saturday will be my last feis until December and, I can assure you, I'm excited to get back to having free weekends for reading and writing.

Several readers may remember, from two years ago, that I was placed on bed rest for pneumonia. It was arguably the most trying week of my life: I never took days off of work and I'm not much good at laying in bed. Last Sunday, I had a bit of a scare when I developed a cough eerily reminiscent of the cough I had two years ago and began to have trouble speaking without a dry cough erupting.

Fortunately, I managed to see my doctor who confirmed that I had a bit of a respiratory infection. Noting that post-nasal drip may be contributing to this, she wrote me a prescription…