Showing posts from April, 2014

Sowing Seeds

It's been nearly five years since I packed up a mini-van and left New York City for Detroit for my first high school teaching assignment. Over the next few days, many of the seniors I taught that first year will graduate from college and embark upon new adventures.

People will often ask what I find hardest about being a Jesuit. Generally, they expect me to say, "Going to bed alone at night" or "Not having a massive bank account." While these are realities, they are not what I find most difficult. The hardest part of being a Jesuit is, to my mind, is living always at the threshold of having to say goodbye to those we have come to know and love.

For instance, I very much miss the friends I made in Detroit. Teaching high school is often a daunting and difficult endeavor, but the support of fellow Jesuits and friends made it a joyful task. I count it as a singular grace that I went to bed tired every night for three years...and woke up, each morning, excited for w…

The Missing Note

According to a Tweet, Mozart's kids would taunt their father by playing incomplete scales on the piano, forcing him to rush downstairs and complete them. Mozart, if this be true, could not tolerate the irresolution of an incomplete musical scale.

Christians across the world know something of this irresolution, something of this incompleteness. For yesterday we dwelled together in the silence left by the death of Jesus on Good Friday. The one on whom so many had pinned their hopes and dreams, we observed with great solemnity on Friday, had failed. As the sun set on Friday evening, those who loved Jesus were plunged into deep silence:
The screaming crowds had gone home.The jeering soldiers had packed up their hammers and nails, they had collected their dice and returned to camp.And Jerusalem had witnessed another execution, another crucifixion, yet another spectacle of an anguished death.  And, as far as the world was concerned, death had silenced Jesus forever. 
On Good Friday, the…

Eucharist and Betrayal

For countless Christians throughout the world, today records the first day of the Paschal Triduum. This evening, the Church celebrates the Mass of the Lord's Supper. It is at this Mass Jesus, in fellowship with the 12, celebrated a Passover meal. That is, they celebrated a meal that looked back to God's saving actions in the Exodus when the Hebrew people were led out of Egypt. It is at this meal, furthermore, that Jesus' actions transformed the meaning of this meal forever: he united the 12 around his own body in blood in what we continue to celebrate in the Eucharist.

For Christians, the Eucharist is meant to be the Sacrament of unity. Now, bear in mind that it's not as though a group of well-intentioned people, led by a priest, get together and somehow conjure the Risen Christ down into what looks like common bread and cheap wine. The Church doesn't make the Eucharist as Hostess makes Twinkies. Instead, it is the Eucharist that makes the Church: the Risen Jesus …

Un-Mastering Prayer

Last Friday, I received a copy of Sarah Coakley's God, Sexuality, and the Self: An Essay 'On the Trinity'. I have a brief review - my first, in fact - on Amazon. 
In one particularly beautiful passage, Coakley writes: For the very act of contemplation - repeated, lived, embodied, suffered - is an act that, by grace, and over time, inculcates mental patterns of 'un-mastery', welcomes the dark realm of the unconscious, opens up a radical attention to the 'other', and instigates an acute awareness of the messy entanglement of sexual desires and desire for God. The vertiginous free-fall of contemplation, then, is not only the means by which a disciplined form of unknowing makes way for a new and deeper knowledge-beyond-knowledge; it is also...the necessary accompanying practice of a theology committed to ascetic transformation. There are times when the life of prayer begins seem rote, can appear to be something we "clock" as though God were keeping a…

Writer's Block

I must admit, this has got to be about the twelfth time in the last three weeks that I've sat down at my desk to blog. I've managed to hit the Publish button only one time - on Saint Patrick's Day - and since then I've struggled to write anything. In the meantime, my "writing fingers" have hardly been silent: I've been working on course papers and assignments throughout. But writing something for public consumption has been a much more difficult task.

Perhaps, as I get older, I realize that I don't much feel like sharing all of the little details of my life. These have not been uninteresting weeks, to be sure:

On our weekly journey to the Costco, our car died which necessitated coasting down a hill into a parking lot, crossing an interstate on foot, and having to call for a Jesuit Search-and-Rescue team to extricate us from the aisles of deals in which we were trapped. The Jesuit Postbook has launched. The book has essays contributed from a number of …