Friday, April 11, 2014

Are You Fully Alive?

As the semester winds down it seems impossible to keep up with the pace.  In the never ending check list of commitments, assignments, papers, and tests I think that we as students here forget that our purpose here is much deeper than all of the busyness and schoolwork.  I have a secret for you…we are here to fall in love.

Now before you get upset with me for suggesting that all of those tuition dollars are going towards and elaborate dating scene, I should clarify what I mean by falling in love.  I do not mean this in the romantic sense, but rather, the practical sense.  This sense of falling in love is finding who you are at your very core.  This love is what will sustain you in your friendships, your relationships, your career, and beyond.  This love is what makes you feel alive.  Falling in love in this sense is best described in the beautiful words of Pedro Arrupe, S.J.

“Nothing is more practical than finding God,
than falling in Love in a quite absolute, final way.
What you are in love with,
what seizes your imagination,
will affect everything.
It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning,
what you do with your evenings,
how you spend your weekends,
what you read,
whom you know,
what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
Fall in Love,
stay in love,
and it will decide everything.”
- Pedro Arrupe, S.J.

So, with that in mind I ask you, what makes you feel alive?
It’s a difficult question, but an essential one to say the least. 
What is it that seizes your imagination?
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
What do you think of when you are thinking about nothing at all?

There is something that makes each and every person here come alive in a beautiful and unique way.  My challenge to you is to find what makes you feel alive and to embrace it, pursue it, and let it guide you.  Do not let your God-given passion be kept as only a portion of your being…let it consume you and radiate from you. 

“The glory of God is the human person fully alive.” –St. Irenaeus

AMDG


Adam Dirnberger is the SERVE Social Justice Intern in Campus Ministry.

Friday, March 28, 2014

"Laetare, Jerusalem" (Rejoice, O Jerusalem)

Where are we now? Geographically speaking you might be reading this on a computer which hypothetically could be viewed around the world today. Or more likely, perhaps you are sitting in a Church pew bored or simply interested in a little light reading before Mass.
Navigating our reality is a tricky thing, though, when we encounter the living God who is the same yesterday, today, and forever. For here we are together, mid-Lent, perhaps wondering: why are we going through the motions? Should we continue to fast? Is giving something up really doing anything for the world, my prayer life, etc…?
Laetare (Rejoice) Sunday, arrives just past the mid-point of Lent to enliven our senses, occurring this year on March 30th as a “joyful pause”. This week, the liturgy reminds us that we are halfway there. If we cleanse the eyes of our hearts so as to see properly, we might catch a glimpse of our eventual Easter joy—our resurrection to new life. So rejoice, O Jerusalem, the liturgy echoes to us to refresh our fast in order to remind us that we are an Easter people. Though the road is long and tiresome, and the climb at times seems endless, our hope is that the risen Lord will make us anew.
Do we really believe the good news? Can you see yourself resurrected into new life? And if so, does this change the compass of your being? In the book of Romans, we are told that “if, then, we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him” (Romans 6:8).
Personally, I have always loved the phrase coined by Paul in the book of Philippians: “rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4-5). In fact, if I were to choose a life motto, I would steal this one, but not necessarily because the act of rejoicing is simple. Paul also rejoiced in his sufferings and weaknesses. His choice to rejoice was conscious and deliberate, but he did not flee from suffering. It was quite the opposite actually, for he confronted the Greco-Roman world with the light of Christ, and at many moments put his life on the line as a testament to his faith in Jesus.
Rejoicing, then, is not disconnected from suffering, hardship, wreckage, or chaos. And it does not mean that we cease to mourn our losses, nor that we pretend that all is well with the world at large and in our own lives. Rather, I think that it is a decision that we make in our beings to believe that the good news is both transformative and true. Though the night is long, and we are not sure that we can endure here, our faith encourages us to continue to believe and profess that Christ is making both our world and ourselves anew. It is a large vision, one that we do not really even see if we are honest—but it is there, on the horizon as we fast together hoping that life will bloom forth in abundance for all people shipwrecked in our world today.

Rejoice, O Jerusalem!

Christy Hicks is a Campus Minister in Griesedieck Hall.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Repentance

Repentance isn’t one of those words that brings feelings of warmth and comfort. Rather, it’s a word that brings to mind images of sorrow and suffering (just try looking the word up in Google Images…no one seems to be smiling). Repentance means digging deeply into myself and looking at what I’ve done wrong and then admitting that I messed up. That doesn’t exactly scream fun.

Over the past few years, I’ve come to see repentance in a different light. I’ve come to understand it as an invitation to turn my mind and heart towards God in places where maybe I’ve been facing in another direction. There might be places in my life where I’m seeking something out of selfish reasons or for my own glory rather than for Gods. Repentance calls me to become aware of these areas and redirect myself towards what God wants. This isn’t always easy to do. If only there were a season that challenged me to really look deeply into my life and the places I need to repent…enter Lent.

For me, Lent and it’s practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving is a time in which I can explore those areas of my life where I need to turn myself around. Prayer invites me to spend more time with the one who I’m supposed to be turning towards. How can I change directions when I don’t have a relationship with the one I’m supposed to be following? When I choose to spend more time in prayer, I’m better able to recognize how God is calling me in my daily life.

Fasting invites me to become more aware of the attachments in my life. When I find myself wanting whatever it is I’ve chosen to give up for Lent, it becomes an opportunity for me to search inward and realize why I want it. What place have I given it in my life? It becomes an opportunity for me to become more aware of my motivations.

Almsgiving draws me outside of myself and challenges me to move away from selfishness. I’m challenged to focus not just on what is good for me, but on what is good for all of humanity. In a world where we are encouraged to lookout for numero uno, we instead consider the needs of the entire Body of Christ.

As we enter Lent, let us repent joyfully as we’re reminded of the areas in our life where we are invited to turn towards God.


Robby Francis
Griesedieck Hall Campus Minister

Friday, February 28, 2014

Hope is to be found

I feel like it seems as though the winter has so easily stripped away our hope, especially when it has been as rough as this one. The brisk cold air battering against my face, my ears turning red, my finger tips quickly losing feeling and my nose running after two minutes with the cold air have been consistent since December and honestly, I AM SICK OF IT.

I miss the buds of flowers and the colors of leaves on the trees. I miss the SLUlips that come in pink, red and white. I even miss the oddly placed palm trees down West Pine. By this point, I imagine that many of us have forgotten what those joy filled colors and warmth are really like.

It was only a few days ago, with one of the randomly warm days that I heard a bird chirping. I couldn’t see it, but I could hear it. I quickly found this smile stretching across my face and my mood instantly shifting. Suddenly something dawned on me. I HAD FORGETTEN WHAT A CHIRPING BIRD SOUNDED LIKE. I had become entrapped in this world of winter that made me forget the wonders of the other seasons.



I was suddenly overcome with this unfamiliar feeling that I couldn’t quite identify. It was a sense of relief, mixed with joy and aspiration for change. I continued walking and still couldn’t name it, step by and step, struggling to name what I felt. Finally, it hit me.

It was HOPE.

It was almost as if I had forgotten this word. I could only observe it but I couldn’t describe it. Hope had left my vocabulary, a place that I begrudgingly fell into. Emily Dickinson says, “Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul - and sings the tunes without the words - and never stops at all.” Hope is that bird. That bird calls out to its companions searching for food, accompaniment and guidance. It’s this searching bird that gives me a renewed sense that change is coming and the hope I had once lost may actually return.

Maya Angelou says, “My great hope is to laugh as much as I cry; to get my work done and try to love somebody and have the courage to accept the love in return.” May this impending change of color, joy and a renewal of spirit be a source as we prepare for the Lenten season, particularly with the relationships that we struggling with, whether giving or receiving love; that we may not be complacent with our scenery and what we have fallen into but look for the hopeful bird of change to re-enter into our lives.

Erin Twiehaus is the Campus Ministry PRAY Intern.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Striving towards the goal

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7). Being a runner, this verse has always captivated me. In fact, all competition captivates me. I’ve been glued to the TV/Internet these past couple weeks watching every possible Olympic event (Biathlon? Skeleton? Curling anyone?) These athletes throw themselves completely, body, mind, and some might say even soul into their sport. While it seems an unlikely place to find faith inspiration, I think we can learn from these Olympic athletes. We can ask ourselves the same questions they are faced with every day:

What am I working toward? (Is it Heaven?)

How much does this goal mean to me? (Does how I spend my time reflect that?)

Is what I do today going to get me closer or farther away from that goal?

We might even have to ask ourselves, “Am I even in the race?”

When we reach the end of our lives we want to be able to say we have fought the good fight, finished the race, and kept the faith. The bottom line is, you have to be in the race to win.

Allison Walter is the Campus Ministry REST (Retreat) Intern.

Friday, February 14, 2014

LOVE


Do you ever feel like this?  

You know, that moment when nothing seems to be going your way...when all you really want is that peanut butter and jelly sandwich but your mama can't seem to make it fast enough?


Or perhaps like this? 
video

You know, that moment when your world has just simply gone nuts....and you have too?

Me too.  Sometimes, I feel so frustrated and defeated in my little world as a mama of two little people.  They may be little, but their demands can feel big.  They may be just barely learning about their world, but their discoveries are huge.  They may be the sweetest little things that love to read and snuggle and play trains with their mama....but sometimes mama needs to do laundry, clean the bathroom, do the dishes, vacuum, make dinner, go to work, maintain friendships and relationships, and keep smiling because life is oozing with blessings. 
Sometimes I place so much pressure on myself to arrive at work with a smile on my face, looking fresh and beautiful, with sparkling eyes that are ready to listen and mentor and answer emails and be creative and be oh-so-present....forgetting of course that I just spent the day changing diapers, wiping little noses, kissing boo-boos, teaching little people how to say letters and share toys and cover their mouth when they cough...forgetting that I just read The Lorax for the umpteenth millionth time, so proud of the excitement I maintained each time we snuggled up with their well loved, torn and tattered, favorite book. 
Sometimes I place so much pressure on myself to be the best wife, with dinner ready, house cleaned and my level of patience and delight with my little world still as strong at 5pm as it was at 7am...forgetting of course that these don't matter a single bit to my awesome husband...that all he wants is a happy, healthy wife and happy, healthy kiddos who just spent a day together playing, laughing and learning....forgetting of course that this pressure I feel is mine alone. 
In recent reflections with my beloved CLC (Christian Life Community), I have been able to articulate my need to look good and my FEAR of REALLY being known, flaws and all.  While I'm not one to wear much makeup, or dye my hair or sport all the highest clothing fashions hot off the rack, I NEED to look good.  I need to look like I've got myself together.  I need to look like I'm an awesome mama and an amazing wife with a life fresh out of Pinterest.  I need to look like I'm a rock solid campus minister with an incredible prayer life and a perfect sense of perspective. 
And recently, I fell apart.
The last 2 years have been difficult and beautiful all at once.  You can read more about that HERE: http://slucampusministry.blogspot.com/2013/09/images-of-god.html
I spent the last 2 years LOVING and LOVING and LOVING.  I spent the last 2 years LOVING my husband and our beautiful babies.   I spent the last 2 years LOVING my co-workers and my vocation to ministry and the details of my work.  I spent the last 2 years LOVING my beautiful mama, dad and brothers from 8 hours away.  And if I'm honest, I think I hid behind that love, distracted myself with it. 
And it finally caught up with me.  In my quest for perfection, I busied myself so much loving other people and things, that I forgot to be truly honest, vulnerable, broken.  I forgot to let myself be loved.  I forgot that my honesty, my brokenness, my vulnerability....even THOSE are loveable.  Recently, all of this pressure I put on myself to look good, finally burst and, much to my delight, I found myself surrounded by people so full of love, all saying “YES” to my brokenness....all saying “YES” to the vulnerability I desired to share...all saying “YES” to the raw honesty I finally let spill from my lips...all saying “YES” to the REAL me...the mama, wife, daughter, sister, friend, minister who deconstructed walls and fell apart a little. 
Valentine's Day is the day we celebrate love.  It's the day we do our best to show our love to others.  But.....what if this year, we allow ourselves to be known, to be accepted, to be loved?  What if this year, we discard our masks, deconstruct our walls and stop hiding behind our busyness, our electronics, our need to look good?  What if this year, we stop hiding behind alcohol, sex, food, religion, schoolwork, exercise, politics or whatever we name the walls we put up around ourselves?  What if this year, we have the GUMPTION (one of my favorite words) to say, “I'm ready to be honest with myself”, “I'm ready to be vulnerable”, “I'm ready to be known and loved”? 
Even Jesus, in his own blessed and broken place of vulnerability, allowed Veronica to wipe away his sweat and blood and tears and on his way to the cross.  What if this Valentine's Day, we believe so much in our own belovedness that we are honest about the walls we construct to protect our vulnerability and invite those around us to deconstruct their walls too?  What if this Valentine's Day, we whisper our truth to the God who loves us recklessly and pray for the courage to be loved....for REAL?


Julie McCourt is the campus minister for CLC.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Love in Action...

A mantra that resonates throughout my whole being these days was written in the book The Brothers Karamazov by the Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Dorothy Day was a big fan of Dostoyevsky’s work, and her words have also been stewing within me as I reflect upon the words of Jesus and the challenge to live the Gospel. Dostoyevsky writes that “love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared to love in dreams.”

It occurs to me from time to time that life is work, and loving requires a “long apprenticeship”, as Dostoyevsky also notes in the The Brothers Karamazov. The easy roads are rarely sustainable, for they are often destructive and tend to be self-focused. On these journeys our attention is often diverted as we look for pleasure rather than joy. But, it is true that I am oversimplifying a bit, for each of us are guilty of seeking what is comfortable in our day to day lives, and avoiding what is painful or difficult. There are few people I know who would intentionally walk into a lion’s den, and this is a very good thing.

Yet, learning to love requires that we begin to see the beauty beyond the agony and brokenness in our brothers and sisters in Christ. We are invited to enter both the agony and the ecstasy of one another—the joys and sorrows of those who suffer with us on our journey to God.

To look at reality as it is, then, is to begin to see what is both terrifyingly beautiful and completely broken. The old nursery rhyme “Humpty Dumpty” goes like this: “Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall/Humpty Dumpty had a great fall/All the kings horses and all the kings me/Could not put Humpty Dumpty back together again”.


The precise origin of the rhyme is relatively unknown, and it’s meaning is also uncertain. Without doing extensive research on this egg character developed within the last few hundred years in Great Britain, I will posit that it came from a place of sight—where one person noted that some brokenness
cannot be fixed by us and the systems that we create.

And so it is with us if we truly see reality as it is. We love the broken in our world and find that each member of the broken body is singing to us of ourselves. Their brokenness is rarely neat or pretty. The great temptation is to be indifferent to it all and seek our own interests. But, if we are honest with ourselves, we begin to know that we are Humpty Dumpty, and that the systems in our lives cannot piece us back together again. We need each other to be whole.

So we look to a person—Jesus, the Christ who is our hope, the One who promises to make us into “new creations” and invites us to love one another. Let us be on our way, though “learning to love is hard and we pay dearly for it. It takes hard work and a long apprenticeship, for it is not just for a moment that we must learn to love, but forever” (The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoyevsky).

Christy Hicks is a Campus Minister in Griesedieck Complex.