Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Practicing grace

Everyone knows the city of St. Louis is not at peace right now. It’s been on the news. It’s been on Facebook. It’s been discussed on this campus. The events in Ferguson do not stand in isolation, but rather illuminate an unrest and hurt that has been present for many years. People are hurting. People are angry. People are upset. And many people are unsure. Unsure of what will happen, of what it all means, and of where to go from here. But I believe God never leaves us to face this alone. In the passage from Philippians, He tells us to “make our requests known” to Him. And so we do, we pray for peace, but we cannot stop there. We cannot ignore the second step, maybe the more important one in the passage, to “keep on doing what [we] have learned and received and heard and seen in [Him]. Then the God of peace will be with [us].” God sent us the perfect example of peace in His son Jesus. And God asks us to reflect on that example, to reflect on Jesus’ teachings, words, and actions. But then God asks more of us, he calls us to continued action to bring about the peace we seek. We are to follow Jesus’ example, but we are to take part in the realization of our prayers. For if we want peace, we must seek truth. We must defend honor. We must fight for justice. We must praise that which is pure. We must uphold that which is lovely. And, we must practice grace. Let God guide your heart and mind to peace. Rest in the assurance that we have an example set forth for us in Jesus. Know that we can also be examples and instruments of God’s peace in our own lives, on this campus, and in this city.

Cami Kasmerchak is the Campus Ministry GROW Intern.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Welcome!

(*This post was originally delivered as an introduction to the first 9:00 p.m. Mass of the 2014-5 school year.*)

'Welcome' to the Class of 2018 and all our transfer students and visitors, and 'welcome back' to all returning students----welcome home.
Before we begin the celebration of the Mass, I'd like to direct our hearts inwards and our eyes upwards... Literally. Look up! Look up at these monstrous marble pillars and follow your gaze to their meetings with the ceiling. Atop each pillar is a stone "knob," twirling into a creative design. Look at these "knobs" atop the pillars closely. Now notice the smaller knobs, the hundreds beautifully placed everywhere in this Church: the golden-painted ones meeting on the ceilings in the side wings, the ones conjoining atop the stations of the cross displays attached to the walls, essentially, look at every meeting, every connecting architectural moment in this place of worship. Notice something interesting? Every---every----knob is unique. Each knob or "knot" brings its own style, character, and essence to this church. Some have waves, some flowers, some fruits, and some subtle curls. But each one is unique, no two the same... yet they all come together in the big picture, unifying as one complete design to give glory to God.
Now bring your gaze down and look around this SLU community. Look closely. Notice the hundreds of us beautifully placed everywhere in this Church, as we connect, as we meet and gather as one body in this building. Every---every----individual, each one of us, is unique. Everyone has their own style, character, and essence. We come from different places around this nation and world; we study different subjects, play different sports, support different opinions, engage in different subcultures, and may even practice different faith traditions. Each one of us is unique, yet we come together, unified as one complete Saint Louis University, living one mission: to pursue truth for the greater glory of God and in service to humanity. The knobs make this building architecturally beautiful. We make this place holy and magnificent... and all are welcome here, no matter how "different" your inner "knob" or "knot" may be.
And so as we enter this new school year, as we celebrate the Feast of St. Louis, King of France in this 800th anniversary year of his birth and this 250th anniversary year of the city of St. Louis, absorb the beauty of this moment----and know you are always, always welcome here.



Luke Yamnitz is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences and an Oriflamme leader.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Living with purpose

Raising little people is hard work.  My husband, Mike and I have the great privilege of teaching our children, Riley (2.5 years) and Hudson (1.5 years) about how to live in this world.  Never have I been more aware of the things I say, the things I do, the ways in which I love.  Teaching little people (around the clock) about how to be kind and loving and confident and full of faith in a God who we believe loves them more than we have the capacity to imagine, has taught me about living with purpose, with truth, with intention, in a way that I hadn't before even considered.  Each night, Mike and I lead the boys in our little family version of the daily Examen.  We whisper to each other in the quiet of their bedroom about the day we just experienced together.  We remember the happy things we encountered, the many things we learned together, the people who spent time with us, or the places we visited.



We also remember some of the tougher moments of the day, when nobody seemed happy and frustration hung thick in the home.  And at the end, we offer special prayers for the most special people in our lives.  We consider this time in prayer together an active response to God's love for us.  This prayer time is always so simple, yet I often find myself moved to a deeper experience of prayer than most other moments.  Perhaps it's because I know that we are inviting little people to become aware of themselves, of others, of God with them.

And perhaps it is for these same reasons that I am happy to call SLU my home.   

Almost every day at SLU I'm reminded of how connected we are to the mission of SLU, how connected we are to pursuing God in our own lives, and to living in response to the love of God in our lives.  From the first year students who may have just learned a few “Jesuit buzzwords” to the graduating seniors who will find themselves grateful for and craving more of the Ignatian Spirituality that somehow nestled itself into the very fiber of their being....from the optimistic new member of SLU's staff, to the seasoned veteran of SLU's Faculty, there's something compelling about Ignatian Spirituality, about SLU and her people, that invites us to consider our daily response to God's love for us. 

Because in the end, we belong to each other....and God is here. 

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.