by Alessandra Luedeking
On Thursday, September 12, Boston College celebrated its annual tradition of the Mass of the Holy Spirit, presided over by the University President Rev. William Leahy, SJ, Vice President for University Mission and Ministry Rev. Jack Butler, SJ, and Associate Professor of Physics Rev. Cyril Opeil, SJ. It was sunny, despite cloudy blue skies. The liturgy was observed on the lawn facing O’Neill Library. Chairs were ordered in long rows upon which people sat awaiting the commencement of the academic year through prayer and the Holy Spirit’s guidance.
The Jesuit tradition of the Mass of the Holy Spirit originated with the establishment of the first Jesuit school at Messina, Sicily in 1548. Jesuit schools are recognized for their academic prowess and deeply spiritual vision. These two attributes are achieved through the grace of the Holy Spirit, whose wealth of wisdom provides students with a source of comfort and aid as they embark on the trials of a new academic year.
The liturgy opened with the procession of the faculty garbed in their academic robes, a model of success for the adjoining body of students. The Liturgy Arts Group ushered forth the principal celebrant, Fr. Leahy, with the entrance hymn “Come, Holy Ghost,” which invoked the Holy Spirit to “come with thy grace and heavenly aid to fill the hearts which Thou hast made.”
The first reading, proclaimed by Associate Professor of Economics Francis McLaughlin, was from the second chapter of Acts of the Apostles, describing the Pentecost, where the Holy Spirit, in the form of “tongues of fire,” descended upon the Apostles, allowing them to speak new languages previously unknown to them. The second reading, taken from the First Letter to the Corinthians, spoke of unity within a diverse body of people under the Holy Spirit.
The homily of Fr. Opeil expounded on the readings by recognizing that “being here today and gathering in prayer in the midst of our busy academic lives, as a community of faith, is an important sign of who we are and who we want to be.” The Holy Spirit is the defining force behind the Ignatian goal of producing “men and women for others.” The congregation was composed of a “diversity of believers” that had come to experience the “unifying effects” of the Holy Spirit. Through this gathering, all of Boston College was united in its single purpose of glorifying God.