Showing posts from March, 2014

Saint Patrick's Day

As one who derives a great deal of his identity from his Irish heritage, it may sound like apostasy but: I hate Saint Patrick's Day. Well, hate is a strong word. Strongly dislike? Really struggle with? I don't know where to place it, really, but it seems to me that it falls someplace between getting a filling without anesthesia and watching Miley Cyrus twerk on national television.

I didn't always feel this way. When we were kids, the whole month of March was filled with excitement. We were hauled all over Cleveland to perform at senior centers, parish dinners, and grade schools. On Saint Patrick's Day itself, the fife & drum corp would march into Saint Coleman's Church and then, afterward, we'd march in the parade. Once in high school, I started playing at "paying" gigs and would make a few hundred dollars for a day's worth of music.

I haven't performed on Saint Patrick's Day since...2003, I think. It's not necessarily because I …

How to Really Measure the 'Francis effect'

For those interested, journalist Daniel Burke recently interviewed several of us at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry for an article entitled "How to Really Measure the 'Francis Effect'". I happen to be quoted along with several of my Jesuit brothers. I'm posting the picture from the website -- it's pretty snazzy!

A Deeper Response

Without fail, every time I read the "First Principle and Foundation" of the Spiritual Exercises, I feel a jolt of excitement. I have a distinct memory of reading it in some vocation literature back when I was a senior in high school.  In everyday life, then, we must hold ourselves in balance before all of these created gifts insofar as we have a choice and are not bound by some obligation. We should not fix our desires on health or sickness, wealth or poverty, success or failure, to be considered somebody important or a nobody, a long life or a short one. For everything has the potential of calling forth in us a deeper response to our life in God.Our only desire and our one choice should be this: I want and I choose what better leads to the deepening of God's life in me. When things are going well in my life, I have no difficulty in saying, "Yes, everything does draw me closer to God!" When things are going less well, when I'm feeling tired or stressed, it&…

Now is a Very Acceptable Time

Throughout the world, the Christian faithful celebrate today the beginning of Lent. Marked with ashes, they embark upon a forty-day journey of prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and conversion as they move toward the horror of Good Friday and the triumph of Easter.

For me, this is an especially meaningful Lenten season. Since October I have been working with an outstanding group of women and men at Saint Cecilia Parish to prepare them for full reception into the Catholic Church. It is a true testimony to the power of the Spirit, and the tenacity human perseverance, that they have come so far in growing in their friendship with Jesus.

It's easy, I reckon, for many of us to start out Lent much as we begin the New Year: with a list of resolutions, of things we're going to give up, of hopes to help re-create ourself. We start with a sizable list and if we "do" one of those things, we cross it from the list and try to preserve our other "resolutions" until, after ten…

No Irrelevant Jesus

I apologize for the long absence from writing: it was a hectic February, in all sorts of ways, but I'm glad now to have a few days of Spring Break to re-organize.

For those looking for spiritual reading this Lent, please allow me to suggest Gerhard Lohfink's new No Irrelevant Jesus: On Jesus and the Church Today. I began the book this morning with a commitment to reading one chapter each day. Normally, I devour books such as this but, in attempt to have a more reflective attitude toward the text, I'm going to take it slowly.

The first chapter, provocatively entitled "On Not Taming Jesus," rejects the tendency to reduce Christianity to a message of self-acceptance. In a riff on Matthew 22:39, Lohfink writes
You shall love God,
you shall love your neighbor
and you shall love yourself -
in fact, you shall first of all love yourself,
because otherwise you can love neither God
nor your neighbor.  The problem with this, Lohfink writes, is that it assumes Jesus addressed his…