“Let us stand in closely united ranks and, far from separating and scattering, let us live in such a manner that, as it sees the members of our family, the world may say of us as it was said of the first Christians: 'See how they love one another!'” - Blessed Basil Moreau
I’ve learned to dread the 4th of July, and no, it’s not what you think. I love the splendor of fireworks in the nighttime air, lighting bugs floating as if attached to some kind of invisible string, the smell of spent sparklers, and the chance to be with loved ones. For me, it’s what comes after the 4th that always gives me pause.
Here’s my theory: as soon as the last firework is extinguished, some kind of sophisticated alarm goes off deep within the core of the University that indicates summer is drawing to a close and the fall semester is not far off. Those jarring reminders, in the midst of a summertime utopia, foster a flurry of calendar invites, meetings to follow, and the anxiety of not having everything ready. Here we go!
The good news is you are now reading this reflection in September. Most of the welcome back events have come and gone, and now we enter into the heart of the mission. Late nights and early mornings will be a part of the work we share, and will include some successes, more failures than we would prefer to admit, and certainly precious moments of encounter with those we hope to serve.
In the frenzy of a new semester, it’s fitting for us to remember Fr. Moreau’s vision for his young Holy Cross Community, “Let us stand in closely united ranks and, far from separating and scattering, let us live in such a manner that, as it sees the members of our family, the world may say of us as it was said of the first Christians: 'See how they love one another!'”
Fr. Moreau’s instinct toward unity is a good one. He then, like us today, realized life in a fast paced environment can leave some bruises. If we are not careful, working at Notre Dame can be a full contact sport. There are always multiple agendas at play, differences in opinion, and several ways to generate a solution to a problem. How we navigate that process is just as important as what we end up doing.
Fr. Moreau’s remedy was to remain close to those he was working with. He chose to “... stand in closely united ranks, far from separating and scattering…” Hoping we might live in such a manner that people are inspired by our respect for one another.
The temptation will almost always be to demonize and paint the other person into a corner when we don’t agree, and I can speak to this from having done it myself. However, such an approach will never be the solution. The mission started by Fr. Edward Sorin, C.S.C., and the six Holy Cross brothers in 1842 is far too complicated for merely one agenda or point of view. Our collective efforts today require a closeness and commitment to one another that Fr. Moreau encouraged from an early point in the history of the Congregation.
Our work within Student Affairs today asks that we are not only technically excellent at our jobs, but also willing to assume goodwill with each colleague we encounter. Leading others to say, “See how they love one another” and to act in the same vein.