Intersection

mhagandefaultMichael Hagan ’15

In my years as a student at Providence College, I have found particular joy in the first few campus Sunday Masses of the academic year. I am one of many Friars for whom worship at St. Dominic Chapel has been an integral part of life at PC, and this has everything to do with the centrality of the sacraments and prayer to our lives as Christians. I am not alone in believing that St. Dominic’s is the hearth at the center of this campus we call home.

But at the dawn of my last undergraduate year, an annual experience largely unique to campus communities like our own reminded me so clearly of what really happens when we gather for Mass. Sunday night I attended the first 10:30 Mass of the semester, and I found comforting and valuable lessons in an unlikely fact: there were hiccups in the liturgy. A new year of congregants and liturgical ministers put their best effort into giving due reverence to God. Much like any first attempt in a new environment, we experienced bumps along the way. There was great timidity among new congregants when it came to chanting back the Kyrie. There was uncertainty as to which Eucharistic ministers would administer to what aisle. Occasionally the tempo would unduly pick up as the congregation nervously sang hymns. The joy in these hiccups does not come from imagining Fr. Cuddy’s chagrin at minor bumps in the road. It rather comes from a very real sense of shared humanity stirred up by those moments when we ‘don’t quite get it right.’

We believe that the Mass is the intersection of the human and the divine. Human error, however innocent, may drive stricter liturgists up a wall; I tend to think that, in moderation, it plays an important role of reminding us who we are and whom we gather to worship. We are clumsy. We are easily distracted. We are timid. But God is perfect. God is attentive. God is fully and unreservedly present in the Eucharist. Over time, congregations work together to correct human error and celebrate Mass in a way most reverent and conducive to the work of God. At St. Dominic Chapel, we have the exciting and humbling blessing of undergoing this process each year. It keeps us humble and our worship vitalized.

Sunday night, we very human Friars encountered Christ in the breaking of bread. No liturgical hiccup negates this. Fr. Cuddy and the liturgy and worship team led a beautiful and authentic celebration of the Mass, but they would be the first to acknowledge that their work is good only insofar as it is moved by God. There is no such thing as a ‘bad Mass,’ because what makes it Mass is the work and presence of God in and through those who celebrate. In our high-risk world, there is great solace in the fact that the core of the Christian life is something we lack the power to screw up. Through participation in it, we stand only to grow deeper in contemplation of God and his mysteries.

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A Letter to Myself as a Freshman

AbbyDefaultAbby Hevert, ’15

Dear Freshman Self,

Wow, so you are about to move into college. Those boxes have been packed, the dorm inventory has been placed into bins, and your books have been ordered. You just said goodbye to your childhood best friends last night with many tears and “remember whens.” Your senior year of high school is over and it is time to move onto the great unknown; it is time to move into college. Today is the day that you climb into your mom’s SUV, listen to your favorite Taylor Swift album, and distract yourself on the car ride over by talking about things like which detergent brands to buy. You pull in front of your freshmen dorm, overwhelmed by all of the people standing there, ready to start their independent lives. The check-in takes place and you move awkwardly about in your new dorm, trying to assemble all of the stubborn furniture you bought for your tiny room. Then it is time to say goodbye as you pull your sunglasses over your swollen eyes, saying to your parents: “Okay, I guess this is it. You guys can go now. I love you. I’ll be fine.” Your mom has her sunglasses on too as she pulls away from the college gates and goes home to look at your empty room, wondering where all the time has gone. You then pull open your desk drawer in your new dorm and read a note from your father. It says that these years will be important in many ways; these years will be good years. That is hard to believe as you attempt to navigate the days, weeks, and months ahead as a person who is just trying to make it through this crazy college experience unscathed.

And, here I am, three years later, entering senior year of college. I am here to tell you that these next years will be wonderful if you just do some of the following things. Learn from my good decisions; learn from my bad decisions. Always remember that other people are struggling right now; you just can’t see it happening with them just as they can’t see it happening with you. Other people are calling their moms from the freshmen dorm stairwells too. And, yes, they are also crying even though it looks like they have it all together. The hunt for a good friend group is not a race; good things are always better to wait for than fleeting and convenient things. You may just not meet these friends for a while. In the meantime, work on being happy. Try to do one thing a day that makes you feel peace. Go for a run or go for a walk. Call your best friend. And, for the love of God, try to stay off of Facebook. Comparing your progress to your old high school peers will not help. I can promise you that.

Please try something scary the first week of school. Go to that club meeting. Ask the nice girl from math class to hang out. Do not hesitate so much. If you think he’s cute and nice, then talk to him. Apply for the competitive job. Do not put yourself in the position of becoming a senior and wishing that you had done certain things. Please do not pull out the Common App just yet…try to bloom where you are planted rather than uprooting yourself. All good things take time and college is no exception. Have confidence in yourself and your ability—hell, you were chosen to attend this college for a reason. Try to look at the bigger scheme of things: maybe you have nothing to do this Wednesday night but it is merely one night out of the probable 28,000 ones that you will experience throughout your lifetime. A night in will not kill you.

These years are going to fly by. You will end your freshmen year wondering how you have managed to change so much in one year, and, all of the sudden, it will be a warm afternoon in August of 2014 and you will be getting ready to become a senior. In the blink of an eye, you will be three years older, maybe three years wiser, and most likely three times more wonderful. And, strangely enough, the moments that will stay with you the most will not be the big, giant, monumental ones. They will be these small moments of bliss, unveiled slowly by the collegiate narrative that becomes your life. The approximate 1,400 days that you will spend as a college student will be spent doing the things that challenge you, scare you, and comfort you. You will do things that you never thought possible; like swim in the Mediterranean and get an A in Economics. There will be nights that you will never forget and moments that you will try to not to remember.

There will be times when you feel dumb. There will be moments where your patience is tested. There will be days when you wish you were home, and days at home wishing you were at college. There will be disagreements and dilemmas. There will be celebrations. And, yes, there will be a day when you wake up, suddenly a senior. And on this day you will feel many things; gratitude, happiness, and some anxiety.

But, you will remember the moment when you put on your sunglasses and told your parents, “You guys can go now. I love you. I’ll be fine.” And, then, three years later, you will realize that your initial prediction was correct.

You will be fine, just fine.

Love,

Your Senior Self