Monday, June 26, 2006


I´ve a few spare minutes so I thought I´d update the old blog.

First off, in light of Joe´s recent post, I have in fact eaten of the antiuchos. Anticuchos, for those of you who have not visited Latin America, are cooked beef hearts and intestines from the cow. That´s all I have to say about that.

I have also eaten ceveche, which is raw fish cooked, so to speak, in lemon juice. It was delicious.

Interestingly, I´ve not gotten sick since being here. Apart from a gnawing hunger - for some reason, regardless of how much I eat at any one sitting, I can´t lose my hunger - I´m doing quite well.

Just a thought to share with you all. I have long held that the Catholic faith is tremendously sensate - we rely on touch (rosaries, sign of peace, holy water, the body and blood of Christ in the species of bread and wine) and sound (Angelus bells, song) and even smells (incense). Last night, as I prayed in the church next to the Juniorate where we are living, I experienced the convergence of realities - the reality of the body of Christ gathered in the church with the reality of the poor and suffering body of Christ teeming in the streets outside the parish walls. For during the consecration, it was not the smell of incense or the touch of those around me that called me to remember the too-often hidden face of Christ, but rather the smell of human urine wafting in from the streets.

This was a powerful experience, reminding me that ours in a Church in the world and that the exigencies and needs of the world must enter into our worship. Perhaps this calls me more deeply into my Jesuit life...the realization that I can offer both my prayers and my life in the service of a faith that does justice. A faith that calls attention to the horrendous inequalities that exist in this world. A faith that includes the stench of the unwashed and the sights of the unkempt in itself. A faith that settles not for idle platitudes but that incarnates itself in direct action and solidarity with others.

I can say this - while at first I was distracted by the odor, by the time of the Eucharistic prayer it had incited me to a deeper love of the suffering Christ who lives on the streets here in Lima and in each of our towns. I am filled with a growing love for this Christ, one who irrupts and enlivens my life, when least expected.

I´m off to a meeting...I´d write more if I had time. I wish you all the best and hold you all in my prayers.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Arrived in Peru

Just a note to let you know that we´ve arrived in Peru. The flight was long but I was able to read a good chunk of a book I purchased so it was fine.

I doubt I´ll update this blog much over the next few weeks. For those coming to vows and who have questions, please call my mother for details or leave a message on here and I´m sure she´ll get it.

Please keep me in your prayers over the course of this summer and be assured that I will keep all of you in mine.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Trip to Cincy

Here's a photo taken on Friday outside of the Montgomery Inn. Reputedly, this is the home of the favorite BBQ sauce of the late Bob Hope. Who'd have thought?

Thursday, June 08, 2006

The Travels Begin

At 6:30 tomorrow morning we'll be leaving for Cincinnati for the joint Detroit/Chicago Province Days. This year's gathering will be held at Xavier University and, if our time together this year is as much fun as the gathering we had last year, we're in for a really good time. It's especially nice to gather together with other Jesuits and have the time to catch-up with one another. In no small measure do I delight in knowing that I'll see several of the men I lived with in Chicago so it'll be nice to have a bit of a reunion.

On Monday morning I'll head to LA for the national conference of Jesuits in formation. This will be several days of meeting and coming to know the "younger face" of the Society. From Monday evening through Friday morning we will pray together, celebrate Eucharist together, and begin to look together at the future of our mission and ministry in the United States.

On June 19th, we set off for Peru. This will begin basically five weeks of cultural immersion where we will study Spanish and live with and work alongside Peruvian Jesuits. I'm hoping to have computer access during my time there, so with luck I'll be able to update my blog.

Speaking of: I know I've been posting at a diminished rate and depth of late. As I've probably said before, being back at the novitiate is like treading water - not a whole lot of movement here! I'm hoping I have the time and opportunity to share my experiences in Peru, but please do not be dismayed if I seldom post -- Lord knows what chances I'll have down yonder!

Finally, I'd like to say something of vows. As many of you know, Vows this year will be celebrated on August 13th at Gesu Church in Detroit. Eric Sundrup, SJ, was kind enough to put up a website for our vows: I finished stuffing envelopes today and I realize that I've probably neglected to invite people who want to come. So I throw this out: if you want to come, you are invited. Furthermore, if you are invited and are unable to come, please don't feel bad - I know that people are busy. Especially for the Irish dancing teachers/adjudicators, I don't want them to feel pressured into invitations are an expression of the importance people have in my life.

There's a lot I want to write tonight, but I'm not quite in the mood. I've been so busy packing and trying to figure out what to take/what not to take that I'm more frazzled than usual. As things settle down (in Peru?!?!?!) I'm going to try to write something more meaningful.

I will share this, though. I've lately been thinking a lot about my childhood fascination with Star Wars. Attracted to wisdom figures (Howard Gray, SJ = Yoda) I muse on Yoda's comments:

Concentrate. Feel the Force flow. Not outside or inside, but part of all it is. Through the Force, things you will see. Reaches across time and space it does. Other places. The future... the past. Old friends long gone.

Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.

I can't help but feel that these two "bookends" speak much to my spirit. On the one hand, when I am prayerful and attentive to my prayer life I find myself centered. I feel the presence of God and those who I love...even when we are separated by great distances. Family members long deceased are present and alive. In prayer I can unite myself to the suffering and joy of the world - the suffering of those silent margins forgotten by so many; the joys of those nearest to my heart.

And yet when I do not pray, when I neglect the interior work that I feel called to do, I find myself skittish and fearful. I find myself growing angry and impatient and even afraid. Out of fear - fear of the unkown, of uncertainty, fear of my own limitedness, even - I assume a stance of hostility to others. I become quick to judge, sarcastic, angry. Anger leads to objectification, a stripping of the "I" of another and replacing humanity with objectivity, turning the other person into an "it". Here is the dark side: I dwell in a space that disregards the humanity and createdness of another person; I assume the position of a judgmental and petulant god who is very much unlike the God I know in prayer; I become the center of the universe...which is, I suspect, heaven for me and hell for everyone else!

Star Wars is probably not the most profound of materials to use for prayer, but it works for me. In some respects, I prefer the quotidian or day-to-day images because I'm comfortable and familiar with them. Drawing on these important images of my childhood, I realize that right now, at this very moment, I feel the profound need to stop typing and to put some "face time" in with God -- meaning, of course, that I need to go and pray!

Enough rambling for tonight! I'm off early tomorrow morning at 6:30. Please pray for me and the other novices as we begin the summer of travel. Thank God for frequent flier miles on Continental!


Saturday, June 03, 2006


I went to the Detroit feis today. As near as I can tell, this is the second or possibly the third time in my professional career that I actually went to a feis as an observer. I didn't quite know what to do with myself - it's sort of disorienting to just be one of the crowd! If I can say anything for being a spectator, it's that I got to come to the feis late, leave early, and I didn't have to worry about playing the accordion all day. Like last week, it was good to catch up with old friends and to spend time talking to "feis folk" in a way that my normal playing schedule doesn't allow.

In other news, I was approved for vows this week. I probably could have mentioned this earlier, but didn't think it was that important. I figured that if the Jesuits hadn't seen fit to kick me out thus far, I stood a pretty good chance of taking vows in August! Seriously, though, I felt pretty confident that the provincial would accept my petition for vows...I think that's why I struggled to mail the letter of request several months ago!

So that does it. I'm pretty sleepy so I'm off to bed, even though it is only 10:45. I'm reading a good book on suffering...I think it's the Duns Family History...or something like that.

I'm going to Cedar Point on Tuesday so there should be some pictures from that outing to post. Maybe I'll get one of me on a roller coaster or eating cotton candy or throwing up the cotton candy I've ingested after riding on the roller coaster.

Oh! There is one thing I've been wrestling with. I need a vow name. Part of me wants to honor the father of my spiritual life - Karl Rahner - and take his name. But I've come to think that I might like some other name. Robert Bellarmine is nifty, as is Fabian and Sebastian. Think of it like this: right now, I can sign my name as

Ryan Gerard John (not exactly sure which John I chose -- I think it was John de Brebeuf although it might have been John of the Cross or John the Baptist) "insert vow name here" Duns.

I didn't strike gold with my confirmation name (John is pretty common) so I would like to choose something neat. Robert Bellarmine is the patron of catechists and Robert is my dad's name -- two birds with one stone. But if anyone has other suggestions, I'm willing to entertain them.

Honestly, I'm inclined toward Bellarmine for a number of reasons but I think it'd be sort of fun to see what suggestions other people might have. I doubt I'd take Gelasius or Sixtus or Hilary as a name, but if you can find an off-beat saint, I'd love to hear about him or her!

Friday, June 02, 2006

Two in a Row

I haven't been to a baseball game since Albert Bell played for the Cleveland I'm thinking back in the late 90's. Anyway, I went to the Tigers/Yankees game last night and I'm going again tonight to see Detroit play against Boston.

Today is a Loyola House work day, so I'm cleaning the carpets in the house. Not much time to blog, of course, but I wanted to say hello!

Two in a Row

I haven't been to a baseball game since Albert Bell played for the Cleveland I'm thinking back in the late 90's. Anyway, I went to the Tigers/Yankees game last night and I'm going again tonight to see Detroit play against Boston.

Today is a Loyola House work day, so I'm cleaning the carpets in the house. Not much time to blog, of course, but I wanted to say hello!

Flute playing priest finds YouTube fame