by Andrew Craig
We are all here, the Liturgy Arts Group, back in December 2014, celebrating the BC Christmas Mass. The Mass has been as calm and serene as it always has been, and as we sing, that unique part of the Christmas Mass begins. I do my best to remember the words to the hymn so that I can look up and out to the congregation as they light one another’s candles. The lights dim ever so softly and, before long, St. Ignatius is illumined with hundreds of candles held by students, teachers, faculty, and families. This is it. This moment I saved within myself to remember. Standing with my friends, my family, celebrating Mass before Christmas and looking out to see the rest of our BC family sharing with one another the light of their candles.
Does this stick out to me? Yes, it is partly because of the beauty of the words within the songs each Mass, the serenity of this moment seeing so many candles lit before me, and knowing that Christmas is coming and I will soon be home with my family. However, I think there is something more. Over my time at BC, I have been blessed to meet many great people, and I use this adjective, “great,” in its highest meaning. These are people who care about you, who welcome you with open arms (literally and figuratively), and who spread joy through their presence. This is how I see my friends, especially my friends from the Liturgy Arts Group. And they are more than friends for me. Now they are family, with whom I can laugh, sing, cry, and be my full self.
Much of the time, when I heard the words “I love you,” I used to only think of that phrase being reserved for family, God, and romantic relationships. However, my experience at BC has widened my view of love. It is more than just how one feels toward family, God, or your significant other. It is manifested through how one acts toward and for another. Love is being concerned for the well-being and happiness of the other, and it is being committed to helping them. I think Advent is a time to reflect on God’s love for us, and how we can share that love through our actions.
The juxtaposition, however, of Advent and finals can cause such a contradictory mix of feelings. On one hand we are all preparing for the arrival of our Lord, Jesus Christ, and it is a time of joy and cheerfulness. On the other hand, our time is filled with books, studying, and writing, and we feel like we barely have time to do much, let alone spend a surplus amount of time with friends. And yet, this is a challenge I feel called to embrace. Yes, preparing for finals can be stressful, but the best relievers of the stress for me are friends, family, and prayer. It is in prayer that I feel I have time to pause everything and stay suspended in time with God. It is a collection of moments just between God and me, and it re-energizes my soul.
I see God as a God of joy. In a way, I think Christmas is a time to remember the inherent nature of God’s love. God could have come in any form He wished: a burning cloud, a burning bush, a fierce firestorm to burn away sins. And yet, God chose to come to us as none other than a joyful, little baby. When a person sees a baby, or at least when I do, I automatically feel happy and smile. That is what I think God wants us to feel all the time with Him. Finals are coming, yes, but so is the infant Jesus, and He wants nothing more than the love, joy, and peace of all who are here.