Wednesday, December 27, 2006

No Place Like Home for the Holidays

As it is my custom, whenever I come home to Cleveland I prefer to stay at the four-star "Chez Hagan" B&B, also known as Grandma Hagan's house. In these delux accomodations I have cable, a big bed, my own bathroom, and 24/7 laundry service. In fact, Grandma Hagan's charism seems to be doing the laundry: I can throw anything down into the basement and then, several hours later, it will re-appear folded and clean! If I believed in House Elves, I would suspect that my grandmother had help but, since I know better, I have to marvel at her laundering skill. I mean, I bet I could take all of my just-delivered clothes and throw them up into the air, wrinkle them up, and then throw them back downstairs and, by the time I wake up tomorrow, they'll be clean and folded!

As a novice, we prepared for Christmas with a Triduum retreat. Mirroring the pattern of the three-day Triduum, the Duns family celebrates Christmas with three days of festivities. On Christmas Eve my Uncle Jack, Aunt Nancy, and cousin Melissa come over for dinner. In years past, my brother's friends usually show up at around 10:00 and one of them plays "When the Saints go Marching In" with alcohol-fueled abandon over and over until the wee hours of the morning.

Christmas Day is spent with my mother's family. They are afraid that I will write about the goings-on of the Hagan Family event, so I will remain silent (for now) and, when I download some pictures, I'll offer a pictographic essay detailing all of the sordid details.

Finally, yesterday was the St. Stephen's Day Open House. A good number of people came through the house during the evening and Michael and Brian English provided musical entertainment. Drew and Loretta, Adam and Nancy, and Patrick Gilday came over, too (guests of honor!) which was for each them the first time they've seen our family home. There are videos and pictures coming from this event which will be posted soon.

So that about does it. I'm heading up to Detroit for our formation gathering on Friday and I hope to have a good time there. Things are genuinely quiet around here and I am grateful as it has given me the opportunity to catch up on sleep and some pleasure reading. If I get a chance, I'll put up some more YouTube videos from our parties. Until then, Peace!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Name Change

After fielding a host of questions concerning the name of my blog, I have decided to change it to "A Jesuit's Journey." I chose the name "Wounded Knower" almost two years ago when I began a more in-depth study of the history of Christian mysticism and became enchanted by the concept of one who, through an encounter with the risen Christ, bore forever the wounds of knowledge, the wound of knowing the Lord.

So, while the content will stay the same, I figure a name change to start the new year would be a good idea.

I wish a Merry Christmas to all. Please hold in prayer our friends and family members who are no longer with this. I remember particularly John Beebe, father of Richard Beebe, nSJ who died after his battle with cancer. Our prayers are united with Rich as he mourns the loss of his father.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


Just a quick note: posts will probably be few as I am now at home and have less direct access to a computer. When I come to Cleveland, I stay at my Grandma Hagan's house in Rocky River - and Grandma does not have the internet. In case I don't post again before Christmas, please let me extend my sincere and prayerful wishes for all my readers. I wish you a Merry and joy-filled Christmas and a grace and peaceful New Year!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Companions Reflection

The Detroit Province of the Society of Jesus - a geographic area covering Michigan and most of Ohio - publishes a supplement to Company Magazine entitled Companions. The Fall edition carries reflections offered by me and two of my classmates on the occasion of the profession of our first vows. Below is my reflection:

I learned to play Irish music by imitating the great masters of the tradition. Sitting at their feet, I would watch how they breathed, how they kept time, how they expressed themselves through their tunes. Over time, I found my own voice in the tradition and realized that I, too, had something to contribute; I realized that what I had received from those who had come before me demanded that I respond by passing down our musical heritage to the next generation.

Professing vows mirrors my experience with music. Having come to know God through the love shown to me by my family and friends, and particularly through the influence of my Jesuit teachers and mentors, I felt deep within my heart an invitation to "come and see" as a member of the Society of Jesus. I am grateful to be allowed to pledge my life to the upbuilding of God's kingdom on earth, and I am humbled to stand in the shadow of a long tradition of masters - Ignatius, Xavier, Faber, Robert Bellarmine, Karl Rahner, Walt Farrell, Howard Gray - from whom I have learned so much. For it is these men who I can now claim as my brothers, who have empowered me to find my own voice in the Jesuit tradition, they who have encouraged me to pass down our religious heritage to another generation, these men who have shown by their lives how one might live as a Companion of Jesus.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Few New Things

I just want to advert your attention to several new links on the site. "Nunsuch" is a blog recently started by Sister Sandy Yost, CSJ who is a professor at the University of Detroit-Mercy. "A Nun's Life" is the blog of Sister Julie Vieira, IHM of Loyola Press. Finally, we have added "Meditations from Carmel" (Not the delicious butter and sugar 'caramel' but Mt. Carmel, of Elijah vs. Baal fame and the birthplace of the Carmelite religious order. Come to think of it, if I ever write my cookbook "Dessert Mysticism" I might have to include a section on "Caramelite Spirituality"). This site is similar to pray-as-you-go and has short reflections drawn from the rich spiritual heritage of the Carmelites. As one who has a deep love of the 16th-century Carmelite mystics (Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross) I'm quite glad to include this site here!

Oh! One more thing:

Happy Birthday to Jane Dryden!!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Deep River

Years ago, I read a marvelous book by Shusako Endo entitled "Deep River". If you ever get a chance, I would suggest picking it up.

Throughout the novel, there is a recurring passage of Scripture taken from Isaiah 53. Using the King James version (it sounds nicer this way) it reads:

He hath no form or comeliness; and when we shall see him,
there is no beauty that we should desire him.
He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and
acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our
faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows:
yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was
bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him;
and with his stripes we are healed. And we like sheep
have gone astray;
we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid upon him
the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, and yet
he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the
and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

Perhaps it is because it is Advent, or because I'm living in New York, or because I am growing more sensitive to such things, but I am really captivated by this passage. You see, for a long time I've read these words as talking about Jesus. And it is certainly hard to imagine the Crucified Christ not fitting this description: abandoned and alone on the cross, dying a shameful and ignominious death.

But I cannot help but think of the countless numbers of crucified persons we see each day. I walk by homeless men and women every day...and do I ever really look at them? I think I hide my eyes, busy myself by making a call on my cell phone, feigning to look for some change in my pockets as I scurry past the the afflicted hand reaching out for help. How many times have I seen a person who "openeth not his mouth" to ask for help because he has scrawled a message on a piece of cardboard asking for money? How often is it just an empty cup set out in front of the person who huddles next to a building that indicates this person needs money? And how often do I walk on by, ignoring the plight of my sister or brother because I am so taken with matters of "grave consequence" that I simply 'must' attend to immediately?

Meditating on the crucified may seem to be more appropriate to Lent, but I think we must spend time with it during Advent, too. Long before Jesus was scourged, before his cry of "My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me" pierced the atmosphere of Calvary and entered the very heart of God, there was another cry. A still, cold night in a Bethlehem stable was shattered by the cry of a child, a newborn baby whose future and destiny was perhaps unimaginable to his parents that night. I truly do not believe that Mary beheld her newborn baby boy and thought, "You're going to be crucified for the sins of the world." I imagine that her heart swelled with love and pride and joy at the sight of her son, a son whose future stretched out before him.

I mention this because long before Jesus was crucified, he was an infant held in his mothers arms. Long before the homeless men and women we see each day were the "problem of homelessness" or that "inconvenient panhandler" they were babies, held in the arms of their mothers. They, too, had a future that stretched out before them; they had a destiny, one often shaped by abuse, poor environments, and mental illness. Those hands stretched on a cross and mutilated by iron spikes once reached out to grab a father's finger; those hands that now shake as they inject heroin or reach out a grimy hand to ask for money once reached out to a mommy or daddy for a hug.

The season of Advent intends to prepare us for the coming of Emmanuel, for "God with us." This is not a one-day-per-year event: God is still with us, still being revealed in our day-to-day lives. We meet this God in the utter potentiality and promise of newborn babies, in the boundless enthusiasm of youth, and in the wisdom of our elderly. But as Christians, we know that our faith and our lives are messy, we know that we are disciples of the crucified One...and it is this God, the God of the broken and maimed, we still encounter. Pierced not by nails but by track marks from drugs, scourged not with whips but with harsh words, abandoned not by disciples but by society, labeled not "traitor" but "problem", the presence of the crucified poor, particularly the homeless, bespeaks the silent voice of God. We need not look far to see this face of Christ, the despised and broken Lord who continues to call us into service.

As we step up preparations for our Christmas festivities, let us not forget those who are so often forgotten. Let us try to see in the broken bodies who walk through our streets the presence of the crucified Christ, the one who bore on his back the sins of a broken and hostile world, the Christ who continues to reach out his wounded hand to each of us...wounded by drugs, by AIDS, by abuse, by neglect...inviting us into deeper relationship.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Intro to the Irish Tin Whistle

I'm only going to post this first video on here (the rest will be stored on the YouTube group I've dedicated to the whistle) just to show the shape of the course I'm going to teach. I'm very excited about using the internet to teach Irish music and I think that this will open up a host of opportunities both for musical education and for evangelization (why should the two be separate?).

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Day of Leisure

Yeah, I'm pretty much that guy: I finished my papers and, since I feel pretty confident for the one final I have on Monday, I've decided to spend the next few days concerned with leisurely pursuits. So today I had a leisurely breakfast, read for a spell, then I went to the Metropolitan Museum where I saw "Glitter and Doom: German Portraits from the 192o's" and "Louis Comfort Tiffany and Laurelton Hall - An Artist's Country Estate". I also learned a new word that I would like to share:

Demimonde - a noun describing the class of women considered to be of doubtful morality and social upstanding.

I encountered the word as associated with the "Glitter and Doom" exhibit (it was used, I think, three times) and as a lover of fun words, I wrote it down and looked it up in the dictionary. I don't know how I'd ever incorporate that into my quotidian lexicon (Read: day-to-day speech) but I thought it a fun sounding word nonetheless.

Following the Museum I went and looked at comic books, visited the Apple store, had a pint of Guinness at a pub, and then I went and saw the film "The Queen". Indeed, pleasant is the life of the scholar!

By tomorrow morning, my YouTube videos will have been viewed 16,000 times. That's a lot of views! I have two music lessons to teach tomorrow afternoon and, after my trip to the gym and breakfast, I have hopes of recording the first several lessons to be used for next semester's course. They'll be in 6-7 minute segments and I plan on doing a few handouts that I'll scan and post on my site. For that matter, I do wonder if I should have a separate blog *just* for teaching music but, since I find two to be hard to handle, I don't want to add another. With any luck, my team of negotiators will begin brokering an exciting deal to breathe new life into Jesuit Recipes. Stay tuned on that!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Open House

As it has now become the custom, we will be hosting the Duns Family Open House on Tuesday, December 26th. If you will be in the Cleveland area, please put this date on your calendar - the past two years have been great fun and I believe that this year we will have a good Jesuit representation (Drew and Adam and, hopefully, their mothers!). There will be food, there will be music, and there will be good cheer - please consider attending!

It's been a very busy week. In addition to the tin whistle course I'm teaching next term, I am also running two independent studies on the history of Irish music. I'll also be taking four courses: St. Augustine, Fundamental Moral Theology, Christology, and Philosophy and Contemporary Theology. It'll be a busy term, to be sure, but I'm excited for my courses.

The consequence of my first round through graduate school is that I learned, due to a heavy travel schedule, how to manage my time efficiently. So I'm proud to say that I have basically the next ten days relatively free, save only for a final exam in my Aristotle class. My final project for theological anthropology should top out at 35-pages of Trinitarian goodness (I have a few touches yet to add, but I know what I want to do) and my other papers are now handed in.

Being done early gives me a great opportunity to enter into the Advent season in a manner to which I'm somewhat unaccustomed. I often enough treat Christmas as a deadline for getting stuff done, and I'm finding that I can see this Advent more as a season of journeying toward Christmas, a season where I'm coming to know the birth of the child Christ as the destination of the liturgical season. I've had time for extra prayer and reflection, time that allows me to dig deeper and examine more fully my own spiritual journey during this season. I quite like not having the stress of last-minute paper writing, so I'm glad to spend my time on more interesting pursuits, such as a biography of Theresa of Avila and yet another book on Rahner!

On a cultural note, the provincial of the Chicago Province (Ed Schmidt, SJ) took several of us to see "A Chorus Line" on Wednesday. This is a revival show, drawing on its original music from the 1975 show, known best perhaps for the song "One" (Singular Sensation) which I recall being used in a commercial for coffee or sweetener. A lover of musicals, I thoroughly enjoyed this show, although my seat was a bit uncomfortable (rogue spring poking me in the rear!). While in Chicago for the Oireachtas, I also saw The Pirate Queen. This was also a fine show, all things considered, and I look forward to seeing it after it has been re-tooled for its Broadway debut.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Quick Update

First off, thank you for holding my mother in prayer these last few days. Her surgery went very well and she is now at home recovering. After twenty-seven years of wondering, I now have definitive proof: my mother does, in fact, have a heart.

Second, my sister Torrey has returned from Japan.

Third, the second point wouldn't be wholly news-worthy if, upon Torrey's return, her boyfriend didn't propose to her!

Yep, Torrey is getting married to Brian Halloran!!!!!

This is really great news in our house. Brian, originally from New Jersey, is now teaching in Chicago. He is an exceptionally accomplished Irish musician (flute, whistle, pipes) and I am so joyful that he will be joining the clan.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Request for Prayers

It has been a VERY busy Post-Oireachtas week. Hence the dearth of posts on the site.

I would ask, however, for prayers for my mother Mary Michele Duns. Mom is having heart surgery today and I know she and my whole family would appreciate it if you held her in prayer.


**IF I can find the time by Sunday, I would like to share my Advent reflection with you. I had time while playing for Irish dancers this weekend to reflect on the Advent season, and I have a feeling that it might be helpful to some**

Flute playing priest finds YouTube fame