As the end of the semester approaches, I realize that I am becoming more and more busy. This next week alone, I have two presentations, a test, and an essay due! The key for me to avoiding stressful meltdowns is scheduling in leisure time during each day so that I do not become overwhelmed by all my work. I am realizing now what I great decision I made when I signed up for a yoga class this semester; getting credit for participating in a de-stressing exercise is so great.
I took the day off Tuesday to travel to DC and interview for an internship position. Because I am almost halfway through my college career, I have been focusing on finding opportunities, like an internship, that will provide a structured time for my summer and advance my career. I highly advise visiting the Career Services Center located in Ciszek Hall, or checking out their website where they have posted a huge amount of very helpful information for students.
I am looking forward to two events this weekend. The first is the performance of the musical RENT by the Liva Performing Arts group. The musical will be performed in Elm Park Church (712 Linden Street) on Thursday at 8 PM, Friday at 8 PM, and Saturday at 2 PM and 8 PM. Tickets ($10 general, $7 senior, $5 students and children) are available for purchase at the door. The second event I am anticipating is a conference hosted by the Theology Department. It is entitled “Word, Church, World: Vatican II Fifty Years On” and it starts Friday at 1 PM in room 407 of the DeNaples Center. It continues on Saturday, ending around 4 PM. The conference includes speakers from the University and from nearby Marywood, Villanova, and King’s College. Bishop Bambera will be giving the invocation on the first day of the conference. It is completely free and open to the public!
Last Wednesday, the Catholic Studies Program sponsored a talk by Dr. Christopher Kaczor, author (along with his wife) of The Seven Big Myths about Marriage. This book, popular in Catholic circles, was published in February of 2014.
Dr. Kazcor was greeted to an auditorium packed with college students. He presented on two of the seven myths about marriage, namely, that cohabitation is just like marriage, and that children are irrelevant to marriage. Dr. Kazcor disproved these myths with a combination of sociology research and theological insight. He also drew on his own experience of married life and raising children. His talk was informative with occasional humorous moments, and he was very open to any questions that we had after listening to him speak.
I very much enjoyed the opportunity to learn about this scholar’s thoughts on marriage, and I am happy that the Catholic Studies Program took the initiative to invite him to campus. The subject of the presentation was relevant to many students, especially upperclassmen who are planning on or considering marriage in their futures.
In other news, I was recently invited to co-lead a new retreat that will debut in the fall of next year. The Mystery Retreat focuses on engaging Catholic students in difficult questions about their faith. How do we actually take Jesus seriously and live our faith in the world today, and what does that look like? Is it ok to doubt what the Church proclaims? How can we spread our faith to others without threatening their own beliefs? God is a Mystery, so it is natural that these questions arise for us. In preparing for this retreat, I and my fellow leaders are meeting once a week to work on our witness talks and practice leading small group discussions. I am incredibly excited to take part in the fruit of our labors next year!
Ahhh, Spring is finally in the air! Yesterday, it was around 70 degrees! In celebration of such great weather, many professors held their classes outside. I received a full dose of vitamin D as I sat in the Rose Garden outside of the Sacred Heart Chapel and took part in a class discussion. Walking past the Dionne Green outside of the DeNaples Center, I saw to my delight students frolicking in the new-found warmth. There were students playing a soccer game, musicians jamming out with guitars and drums, and others talking or doing homework. For my part, I decided to do a bit of reading outside and also snuck in a quick nap. It felt incredible to rest outside, breathing the fresh air and warming up in the sunlight.
Along with warm weather comes several predictable patterns of behavior of college students. The first — they switch from buying hot coffee to buying iced coffee. Waiting for my own iced coffee at Starbucks, I noticed that every other customer was also purchasing an iced beverage! Secondly, they spend time eating meals and doing homework outside. The tables in front of the Dionne Green, in the Rose Garden, and in front of the library are all packed with students now that they can be outside without fear of catching a cold. Thirdly, more people begin to exercise outside. It’s not uncommon for me to see sweat-drenched runners dash past me when I’m walking outside. And lastly, students smile and laugh more because of the weather! It’s strange but amazing that the environment can have such an instant mood-improving effect. It just feels so good to be outside; it seems that no one can keep a negative mindset when they step out into the glorious sunshine.
The appearance of warm weather is a blessed harbinger of the end of the semester. I hope it continues throughout the week!
I hope everyone had a joy-filled Easter holiday and a relaxing break. It was a wonderful and much-needed opportunity to travel home for Easter. I was happy to be able to spend time with my family and indulge in some of my hobbies that I do not get the chance to do at school (mostly, a lot of baking and eating sweets). I baked coconut macaroons, chocolate chip cookies, welsh cakes, and dinner rolls. Although the dinner rolls were a bit disappointing (because I mistakenly baked them at the wrong temperature! oops!), everything else was a big success! I love coming home for breaks because I can let my sweet tooth run wild and engulf the kitchen in the mouth-watering smells of decadent baked goods.
Another high point of Easter break was attending the Easter Vigil Mass at my church. The service lasted just shy of three hours (from 8:30 pm to 11:20 pm). In the past, I have had difficulty staying awake during the beautiful service because the Church is in darkness for the Liturgy of the Word. However, this year I found that I only yawned once throughout the entire mass! I think that was probably because I gulped down an entire 14 oz coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts moments before walking into Church. Hey, you have to do what you have to do. The most exciting part of the Easter Vigil for me was watching catechumens receive the sacrament of baptism and candidates for full communion receive the sacrament of confirmation. The sacraments felt mysterious to me because of our soft chanting of “veni sancte spiritus” (“come, holy spirit”) and the residual smell of incense. I felt like the whole church was gently coaxing the holy spirit to come into our midst. This was a moment of great reverence in the liturgy that I do not want to forget.