Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Shrinking Wardrobe!

After consultation with my superior and with my new boss at UDM, it has been suggested that I wear clerics to work each day. By clerics I mean, of course, the universally recognized black shirt with the white tab at the throat. While pants are a matter personal discretion (what doesn't go with black??) I reckon that I'll stick to black slacks, although I will admit to owning a pair of kickin' pin-striped pants that are both comfy and stylish. While I mourn the curtailment of my clothing options, I do think it's kind of cool that I won't have to fret over "What am I going to wear?"

I'm wracking my brains in an attempt to find something funny/witty/insightful to post this evening. Sadly (and par for my course) I've not much to offer. We're getting back into the daily grind here at Loyola House so there's a regularity to the schedule and our new guys seem to be settling in very well. It's hard to believe that a whole year has transpired!

Sometimes I wonder what life would have been like if I had chosen a different path than the one on which I currently tread. I suspect that I'd have gone off to do my PhD someplace and I'd be living in a nice little loft apartment with a home theater system (tuned to FoodTV) and cable internet. There's something very neat and clean - almost idyllic - about this fantasy. What is more, I'd probably have continued to play Irish music with the reckless abandon that marked my life earlier...and so I can well imagine having a life full of a lot of "stuff" but lacking the substance that it does now.

This is not to say that I think that the lives led by others are lacking in substance! Nothing could be further from the truth. I'm envious of my friends who are married and those who have started families (Enyak!!). There's a tender part of my heart that does sometimes wonder what it would be like to be a daddy, but it'd be my luck that I'd have a kid just like me who'd be hyper-sarcastic and would make fun of me or, even worse, I'd have a kid that was the essence of goodness and kindness and I wouldn't be able to relate to him!

Seriously, though, this year has both challenged and reshaped me and my worldview. came into the Society thinking that I knew *Exactly* what I wanted to do with my life as a Jesuit. Now, I take great joy in knowing that I want to be a Jesuit and great consolation in being able to confess that I haven't any clue as to what I want to do! As my relationship to Christ grows through prayer and experience, I'm finding that the "what" question of my life is fading and the "who" is ascending in importance, such that it is often with awe that I look at myself and think, "Is it really possible that I am called to be a Jesuit?" Is it possible that I might live this life and that, in death, I might kneel for eternity along with Ignatius Loyola and Karl Rahner and Francis Xavier? What will it be like to bee able to great Rahner in the celestial court of heaven and thank him for guiding my head and heart and embrace him both as a student and as a brother?

Part of my growth this year has been an a growing awareness of a certain woundedness that is the result of a direct encounter with Christ through the Spiritual Exercises. A deep wound that resists healing, it has made me slow down in my pilgrimage and see things more clearly, to savor reality in new and different ways. It's a wound that seems to attract the dirt and grit of the day-to-day life; a wound that seeps an admixture of blood and tears as the sorrows and cares of the world are laid bare before me. But this very wound, an irruption of the battle-hardened flesh, has penetrated so deeply into my heart in such a way as to expose my humanity and it is in this - my weakness and vulnerability - that I seem to become and feel more human.

One of the exercises of the First Week of the "Spiritual Exercises" is to reflect on the sinfullness of the world. It is hard not to see how broken our world is - even a cursory glance at the nightly news indicates this. Indeed, as I write this two police cars are racing down Coolidge with their lights on. That night as I prayed over our world, I was distraught with the enormity of the problem and, as a single person, knew not how I might help mend this broken land. Heck, I could see immediately around me my own complicity in sin and its effects!

That night, I think I prayed for the first time in my life. I mean, I really prayed. My empty heart seemed to crack apart in my chest and as I stared out at the wild Atlantic Ocean I surrendered myself completely to the silence of the night and prayed. I prayed for the abused wife, the heroin addict contemplating whether to shoot up again or to find treatment, for the runaway, the homeless, the prostitutes, the AIDS victims...I prayed for all those who seemed to have been forgotten in the world, for all those who had no one to pray for them. I joined myself to them and experienced the re-creation of a new heart, a new sensibility, a new way of encountering Christ. I prayed out of an old heart and into a new one. The crushing pressure of sadness and doubt and fear and deafening silence gave way to the open expanses of a heart set free. And yet this was no gilded or flowery spiritual festival! I felt as my own the pain (of doubt, of anguish, of sadness, of isolation) felt by so many and yet I rejoiced in this pain, for I'd sooner feel pain than feel nothing at all.

This became the wound of knowledge, the wound of called discipleship. There is no astringent or analgesic for such a wound, no binding for such brokenness. There is only a limping gait of those who will walk such woundedness. Made deeper and more acute through prayer, I'm impelled out of the gate and into the world to do ministry as a Companion of Jesus - a Jesuit - and as such devote myself to the service of the Kingdom where such wounds become badges of those who are friends of and in the Lord.

Monday, August 29, 2005


So there are two new pictures on the site and it is my hope that folks will find the "old time" photo to be somewhat entertaining. We had fun taking it!

I received a nice email expressing thanks for my showing a very "human" face to my novitiate experience. This is good as it is my goal to show that religious life isn't nearly as mysterious and forbidding as some think. We're regular guys on fire to bring about God's kingdom...but that doesn't mean we can't have a good time doing it!

I picked up the textbooks I'll be using to teach my two math courses this semester. It's pretty daunting to be on the other side of the Math Desk!

One of the most important aspects of my early formation was the Grad-at-Grad document from St Ignatius High School. The ideal graduate at graduation was:

Intellectually competent
Open to Growth
Committed to doing justice

In taking on this new adventure of teaching math, I hope that I'm starting to integrate and put into practice these ideals. This is definitely a growing experience and one that is, at heart, motivated by my love of learning and my love of teaching...and my sincere desire to help others to grow as students. There's much more to be written of this, but I'm heading off to the YMCA (yes, I still go. How else could I explain my rippling physique??). I'll try to give you another update as I prepare my syllabus and lesson plan for the semester.


Picture of the Mustang Lounge on Mackinac. Jim, Tony, Ben, and I played music here during our visit to the island.  Posted by Picasa

Sometimes people wonder what Jesuit novices do for fun. Well, we dress up in funny costumes and pose for pictures! This picture (Adam, Ben, Ryan, and Drew) was taken earlier this month when we were visiting Mackinac Island.  Posted by Picasa

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Moving on Up


I've a bit of an update for everyone about my semester. Initially, I had planned on facilitating a spiritual support group here in Detroit, but my well-laid plans were dashed today when I found out that the fellow who trains facilitators for the groups was leaving and would not be replaced until mid-October.


So, in God's own inimitable fashion, I will be doing something that most people - especially my parents - will gasp in horror and awe.

I, Ryan Duns, will be an Instructor for "Basic Math" and "Elementary Algebra" at the University of Detroit-Mercy.

Me, a math professor!!!

This is funny because I was a terrible math student in high school. It took two EXCELLENT teachers to teach me how to learn math and, if I owe anyone thanks for the academic success I achieved later in my life, it is my junior year algebra teacher (Ms Gobel) who taught me how to learn. If I can offer to these students 10% of the quality she imparted to me, I will count myself blessed.

So how's that for irony? The kid who hated math class is now going to teach first-year students how to perform basic mathematical operations. I'm actually really excited, although I'll admit to being a bit nervous. The only thing I need now is to figure out:

1. How does Rahner relate to math?
2. Where is my calculator?
3. Where can I buy a sport coat with patches on the elbows?

Believe me, I'll keep you all posted on how this all goes. Pray for me...and for the students!

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Prayers Needed!!

Okay, here we go:

Brian English, he who desires nothing more than to "live the life" will be an international star tomorrow morning. At 8:30 am, go to:

Brian will be the STARTING PITCHER!!

He will be in a red uniform sporting #4.

So please pray for Brian that he pitch a good game. Jim Shea, nSJ is praying for him this evening and that is a good thing as he knows everything about baseball and will be sure to let God know exactly what Brian needs for tomorrow. I'm ignorant of such things, so my prayers will be used to support Jim's prayers and to let God know that I'm keeping and eye out for Brian. Nancy, if you read this in time, use your vast prayer power to aide my student!!

I'm going to try to put more pictures up later this week.

Other news:

This week, I was appointed Beadle. The beadle is something of a coordinator, chosen from the novices, who acts as a liason between the novice director and the novices. I'm responsible for coordinating cars, assigning work crews, managing house jobs, making the superior breakfast (hehehe, only in his dreams!) and various sundry details.

This appointment, of course, occasions a Hagan story.

So on Monday, I call home to tell my family the good news that I am THE BEADLE. As luck would have it, my mother was away at the time so I told my father who, curiously, actually knew what the beadle was.

Apparently, he told Hagan about my appointment as Beadle and told her to let my mom know when Michelle came home from work.

So, here's the dialogue:

"Hey, Mom. Ryan called and told Dad that he's now the bug."

"The Bug? Hagan, what are you talking about?"

"Yeah, he called and said that he's now a bug or something."

"Hagan, do you mean he's the the Beadle?"


My mother called a bit later to tell me of this exchange.

Needless to say, I was pretty amused.

Okay, so that wraps it up for this fun-filled posting. I've asked for prayers (a good thing), given you an update (educational thing) and made fun of my sister (typical thing). It's now been a full day: I put up Roman Blinds in my bathroom, played Ultimate Frisbee, had a cookout, and went to Target for the 13th time this week (Yes, 13 times to Target -- in preparation for Entrance Day, we painted 9 rooms in the house and I was forever going to Target to buy supplies for the rooms and to Home Depot for more cans of paint).


Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Note my pensive expression. No, it's not Rahner, it's a wine list! Posted by Picasa

Jesus walked on water, I am carried over it on a deck chair by a team of novices.  Posted by Picasa

After the fall.  Posted by Picasa

So have you ever kissed the bust of Col Harland Sanders? Sadly, I could not taste even one of the secret herbs and spices on his head.  Posted by Picasa

CAVE CRICKETS!!! Posted by Picasa

JIm Boynton (fiddle) was the first Jesuit I met when we played in a band together 11 years ago. Here we are on the reunion tour playing for a square dance.  Posted by Picasa

square dance Posted by Picasa

playing a square dance Posted by Picasa

Playing a LARGE flute while visiting Mackinac Island last week.  Posted by Picasa

Friday, August 12, 2005


Hey there!

Well, we're back from Omena. I've spent the last two weeks doing things like swimming (haven't done that in years), using the jet ski and boat, tubing, water skiing, wine tasting at several wineries, visiting Mackinac Island, and watching movies. This may not sound overly interesting, but it sure was fun and I feel relaxed and refreshed...although, I must admit, I am a bit tired!

This is vow weekend, meaning that our current second-year novices are preparing to make their First Vows. We're all very excited to see our secundi make vows and move on to the next stage of formation, though we certainly will miss them (all of them, that is, except GILDAY). Our house will not remain empty for too long as next Saturday the new first-year men move in and we'll have four new residents of Loyola House.

The SMMSJ (Society of Mothers of Members of the Society of Jesus) is making an official visitation tomorrow. Nancy will bring cookies, Loretta will bring the brownies, and my mother will bring the booze. Explain this to me: my mother is coming to see Jesuits to whom SHE IS NOT RELATED make first vows. She's driving from Cleveland to see men who are not her sons. Now, she'll take a whole weekend to do this. So why is it that while I was DYING in Wyoming, she didn't come to tend to her dying baby? I, the child-of-delight, was abandoned to the catterwalling peacocks (and peahens, to be inclusive) in swollen agony and my "mother" just sat at home and made dresses...probably chuckling to her self about my languishing state the whole while.

Motherly love, eh?

Actually, before she calls me ranting that I am teasing her too terribly, I will say that she did offer to come to my aide in Wyoming. At least she made the father just realized that I left home the other day when he spilled his iced tea on the couch and realized that it had landed on an over-stuffed pillow rather than me; I reckon he figured I'd been sitting there silently for the last year - for all he'd notice, I could have had a stroke and, unless I blocked his view of the tv, he'd never have noticed.

Fatherly love? Yep.

I'll try to write more after vows this weekend!

Abba Ryan said to Abba Enyak: I wrote a book about that...That too....yeah, and that too....oh, by the way, did I ever tell you that I wrote a book about that?

Flute playing priest finds YouTube fame