Remarks by President John J. DeGioia
Address at the Mass of the Holy Spirit
August 26, 2008
Each year, in this moment, when we gather together just like this, we are able to recall and to recommit ourselves to the deepest convictions upon which this university is built. This is the Mass of the Holy Spirit. There is no more fitting way to launch a new year in a university community than to come together just like this. Embedded in this moment are the deepest aspects of our faith, aspects that are especially central to the life of this University community.
In words that we say so often they sometimes lose their power:
We believe in the Holy Spirit...who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets.
A university community is committed to truth, wherever that pursuit leads us, and as we learned, we have been given an “Advocate to be with us always, the Spirit of truth....” to guide us and support us in our inquiry.
A university community in the tradition upon which this university is built is committed to justice. Our first lessons about justice come to us from the Prophets. He has spoken through the Prophets. The Spirit is present whenever we are witness to those whose actions are one with the tradition of the Prophets. Father Arrupe offers us the clearest insight:
...the word prophet...one who is entrusted with a spiritual mission, that of bearing witness to the power and love of God towards men. By prophetic I mean the persevering, fearless speaking forth on the issues of the day...The prophet “speaks God’s message” not only when it is willingly accepted but also and especially when it is seen as a “hard saying,” painful to all too human ways of viewing what God expects of man in history. The prophet has let himself be steeped in God, with the result that he is free interiorly and pure of heart....” (Pedro Arrupe, S.J., The Jesuit
The Spirit speaks through the Prophets, including those among us – the “persevering,” the “pure of heart.”
And a university community in the tradition upon which this university is built is committed to love. The Spirit is a gift of the Father, offered to us at the request of Jesus himself, to ensure we would never feel alone, never be alone – a Spirit that would be placed “within” us and would be with us “always.” Through this gift of the Spirit we are given a “new heart” — a heart that can love as Jesus taught us to love. A heart that enables us to love one another, a heart that enables us to love our God with all our heart and all our soul and all our strength and all our mind.
We launch our new year by connecting back to the deepest convictions that have held this community together for two-hundred and twenty years. The Spirit is present here with us, “the Spirit of truth” a truth that we “know”, a truth that “remains” in us, a truth that is “in” us. A Spirit that guides us in our pursuit of truth, in our service of justice, in the work of love. There is no more fitting way to launch a new year than to connect ourselves to these deepest commitments which connect us as a university community.