Category Archives: September 2017

Communion of the Heart

Elizabeth Hascher, Senior Anchor Intern

Just as quickly as my summer began, it was over. Even though I hadn’t been on campus for eight months, it felt like it was just last week that I was loading up my car with storage tubs and driving away, golden dome in my rearview mirror. At first, the thought of coming back was terrifying. I left campus last fall feeling very much ready to leave. It was a semester with a lot of difficult moments, and it left me questioning if Notre Dame was the place for me.

That trying semester did come with some unexpected blessings, however. One thing led to another during the fall, and I was presented with the opportunity to spend my summer participating in an SSLP with the L’Arche community in Spokane, Washington. There are 137 L’Arche communities throughout the world, and each of them provides a home and community where people with and without intellectual disabilities share their lives with one another. They live and work together, form friendships and relationships of faith, and seek to strengthen and provide growth opportunities for their communities.

That all sounds great, but what L’Arche really looks like is living in a house with ten other people and just embracing life with one another. L’Arche is about drinking coffee with your friends in the morning and sitting on the porch for hours. It’s about dancing in the kitchen and praying together after dinner. It’s also about talking with one another and sharing feelings of sadness or frustration, or giving someone a hug after a difficult day. Sometimes it’s even about laughing really hard when someone farts unexpectedly during breakfast.

L’Arche celebrates the Fourth of July together with a picnic.

As I left my L’Arche family and came back to school, I carried this experience with me. Knowing that a lot had changed during my time away from campus, I thought about my time in Spokane and wondered how I would be able to take what I learned and share it with others. How would I be able to explain to people at Notre Dame what a radically different lifestyle L’Arche was, and how it taught me more than perhaps any class? Well, here it is.

Living with people with intellectual disabilities showed me that the way we spend our time says volumes about the values we hold. If we truly let our lives speak, we can learn a lot about ourselves. We may be surprised to find that we may not be honoring our values and beliefs quite the way we perceive ourselves to be. It should give each of us pause to think about times when we have valued worldly things, validation from others, and power over vulnerability, humility, and sharing our lives with each other. My time at L’Arche showed me that if I truly desire to let God work in my life, I must intentionally create spaces in which He can dwell.

Jean Vanier, the founder of L’Arche, writes in his book Becoming Human, “Weakness, recognized, accepted, and offered, is at the heart of belonging, so it is at the heart of communion with another.” If we are to invite God in, we must choose to make time for the moments of joy in our lives, but also for those times of pain and sorrow. We must be more open about offering this up with the people around us. It is in such moments, when we give each other even the tiniest of glimpses into what is on our hearts, that we come into communion with one another.

Through this communion of the heart, God enters our lives. God dwells in the spaces of brokenness and weakness, and he is present in times of joy and celebration as well. He is there when we share snacks and tell jokes with our friends, and when we tell someone how tough our day really was. He’s there when we dance in the car and when we need someone to help us get out of bed in the morning. When we share life with one another and become vulnerable in this way, we make room for God.

Elizabeth and Tina go out for community night at a minor league baseball game

God seeks a personal relationship with each of us, and it is up to us to invite Him in through encounters of the heart. This means different things for everyone. Perhaps it is as simple as putting down your to-do list and taking a walk with a friend. Maybe it means sitting at dinner to talk for half an hour longer instead of catching up on your favorite TV show. It could even be simply being physically present to the person next to you. We can’t pretend to know everything that is on another person’s heart, but we can certainly make more of an effort to share what is on ours and be open to receiving that from others.

As tempting as it may be to say that everything is fine or pretend that life under the dome is all sunshine and tailgates, we are closing off our hearts to communion with each other and God when we do so. Jean Vanier also writes, “To speak of the heart is not to speak of vaguely defined emotions but to speak of the very core of our being.” If we are to cultivate our minds and our hearts here at Notre Dame, we need to be more intentional about opening our hearts to one another. It is then that we will begin to recognize God’s kingdom on Earth.

 

A Letter of Humility

Nathan Miller, Senior Anchor Intern

Humility is not thinking less about yourself, it’s thinking about yourself less.

The amount of time I spend thinking about myself every day is frankly astonishing. When will I wake up in the morning? Have I studied enough to pass my Accounting test later today? Should I go for a run this afternoon so I keep myself looking good? I wonder if the new people I met today think I was funny? …You get my point I’m sure. It is in light of this self-centeredness that Jesus speaks in Matthew 16 –

For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?

This is where humility enters. As a virtue, humility is meant to be our aide, God’s free gift to us, to overcome the tendency of pride. Seeing as, however, it would be against the spirit of humility to stand up (digitally speaking) and tell you why you should be more humble, I simply wish to offer you this open letter to myself. In my own reflection over the past few years, I’ve been drawn to this prayer called the Litany of Humility. It is a challenging prayer – I’ve learned that when we pray for humility, God gives us opportunities to practice it! Still, it has been a blessing in my life and I hope my own struggles with it can be of some benefit for you.

——

Dear Nathan,

Now that you’re reading this letter, it means you’ve made it to graduation! As I write this now it is hard to imagine, but I’m sure senior year flew by for you. I hope you look back on this final year at Our Lady’s university and feel you have been a good steward of the blessed education you’ve been offered. It took so many people to get you to this point – I know you couldn’t have done it on your own! That’s why I hope, above all, you kept your promise to pray the Litany of Humility each day. Such a simple prayer, yet possibly even a greater challenge than graduating. There are 3 lines in particular that stick out. I hope they’ve stayed at the front of your mind amidst all the excitement of this year.

From the desire of being loved: Deliver me, O Jesus.

I remember the first time you heard that line and the initial shock that accompanied it. It’s the first one in the Litany and it gave you worries. “If God is love, isn’t it good for me to seek love?” Thankfully faith isn’t a solo ride and you had great role models who helped you wrestle with this. They helped you realize that love is inherently good, in fact, the greatest good (1 Cor 13:13), but like any good thing, it can be misused. Love is freely given and freely received. They helped you realize that the crux of this prayer is that you actually deserve love so much that when you reach for it, you sell yourself short. Trust in God’s timing.

I remember the times throughout college when you believed you needed everyone to “love” you. When you met new friends or even with your best friends, you judged every interaction by how much the other people laughed at your jokes, listened intently to your stories, and whether they wanted to hang out with you again. If people didn’t think you were the most interesting man in the world, you felt you did something wrong. Actually, it’s unfair for me to write that in past tense because even now I still struggle. That’s why I’m writing this to you Nathan – I hope you’ve learned to bring humility into every interaction you have. I hope you’ve accepted the grace of this first line in the Litany to realize you don’t need to be the center of attention. I hope you’ve learned to spend more time laughing with other people, more time listening to their stories, and freely given your time to all the inspiring people you’ve met here.

From the fear of being humiliated: Deliver me, O Jesus.

Excuses are an addicting thing. A brutally honest friend once told you that you’re always making an excuse when you mess up. If you’re not right, it’s because of this or that or something else. It’s never genuinely your mistake because that would be a sign of weakness – that you aren’t smart enough or athletic enough or convincing enough.

As much as you didn’t like to hear that at the time, I hope you’ve taken the lesson to heart. I hope you’ve learned to own up to your faults and stop worrying about how others might perceive a little failure. You are not defined by your successes or failures. I hope you accept every little embarrassing moment as a reminder that Jesus was humiliated too, and he endured it patiently out of love to win your heart.

That others may be preferred to me in everything: Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

Sophomore year was difficult when you applied for numerous internships and didn’t hear anything back for months. You wondered if you had become less “valuable” because suddenly you weren’t being chosen for the opportunities you wanted.

But there’s been countless little moments too. You’ve been offended when people seemed more interested in what others had to say than you. You’ve felt hurt when you didn’t get the leadership position you felt you had worked the hardest for. You’ve felt threatened when someone was more entertaining than you.

In all this, I hope you’ve recognized the futility of desiring preference. You spent too much of your life trying to impress others to gain favor. Yes, it’s wonderful to be chosen and to feel special, but that only brings out a feeling for something that is already imprinted on your soul. God gave you incredible talents, wonderful friends, and a plan only you could fulfill. Why? So that you could serve others, just as He did. I hope you never forget His example. I hope that every day you spend less time thinking about your worries and more time thinking about His presence in the people around you.

I’m sure you’re still working on it, but I hope this year and this prayer have brought you peace!

In Christ,
~Nathan

Meet Your 2017-18 Anchor Interns!

Anchor Interns, 2017-18

Did you know Campus Ministry has 11 senior Anchor Interns who desire to serve the church within our campus and assist in all areas of Campus Ministry?  Over the course of the semester, each intern will be featured on this blog which is designed to encourage you, our students, to follow God’s call in your lives.

Rosemary Agwuncha: Rosemary is originally Nigerian but was born and raised in Austin, Texas. She is majoring in Pre-Health and Thelogy, with a minor in International Development Studies. She currently lives off campus but lived in Breen-Phillips Hall during her freshman year. Rosemary’s favorite group on campus is the Notre Dame Voices of Faith Gospel Choir, because she loves to sing and they have been like a family to her since freshman year. She will be working in African-American Ministry with Becky Ruvalcaba. 

Michael Anderson: Mike is a senior from Tinley Park, Illinois, studying biochemistry and theology. While he formerly lived in Keenan Hall, he is now enjoying living off campus. He spends most of his time outside of classes doing cancer immunotherapy research though he also enjoys running, playing sports (especially volleyball), and doing service with the Knights of Columbus. He is planning on entering a MD/PhD program after graduation where he hopes to bring his Catholic values into his medical practice and research. This year, he is working with Christian to plan retreats and pilgrimages.

Regina Ekaputri: Regina is a senior studying Psychology with minors in Art History and Italian Studies. She grew up in Jakarta, Indonesia, but calls Flaherty Hall her home here at Notre Dame. Regina is really passionate about education and hopes to be an educator in the future. She also enjoys making art, reading, cooking, spending time with friends, having good conversations, going to art museums, and traveling to new places. She will be working with Christian for the retreats and pilgrimages throughout the school year.

Julia Erdlen: Julia is an English major living in Ryan Hall.  She hails from Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, just outside of Philadelphia.  When she finds a spare minute, she reads fiction that wasn’t assigned for class and embroiders.  She also rings in the Handbell Choir.  Julia will be working in Liturgy with Allie Greene to assist with residence hall and other undergraduate liturgies.

Emily Greentree: Emily is a senior, with a double major in American studies and Statistics. She is a true Florida girl, hailing from the wonderful town of Jupiter Florida, but on campus she calls Ryan Hall her home. She is obsessed with all things Disney and can often be seen jamming out to music as she walks around campus. She loves spending time with her family and friends and enjoys getting to meet new people. This year she is working with Kayla August on the Compass Program.

Melissa Gutierrez Lopez: Melissa is a senior studying American Studies with a minor in Latino Studies. She is originally from Escondido, California and now calls Flaherty Hall her home under the dome. Melissa enjoys spending her spare time with her friends, but also likes to keep up with her favorite shows, journal, and spend time outdoors. This year, she is working with Becky Ruvalcaba in Latino Ministry.

Elizabeth Hascher: Elizabeth is a senior who is double majoring in political science and peace studies. A former resident of Lewis Hall, she now lives off-campus and is proud to call Grand Rapids, Michigan home. Elizabeth enjoys reading, spending time outdoors, baking, and drinking lots of coffee. She is also passionate about service and has been involved with the Center for Social Concerns throughout her time at Notre Dame. This year, Elizabeth will be working with Kayla August to develop new spirituality and outreach initiatives for campus ministry.

Danny Jasek: Danny is a senior living in Duncan Hall and studying Computer Science. He is also minoring in Theology and is passionate about the intersection of technology and faith. He is originally from Dayton, OH – home of the Wright Brothers and the professional sports team with the longest sellout streak in North America. Danny is the oldest of 5 children and enjoys spending time with his family and friends, running/playing just about any sport, spiritual reading, soundtrack music, and eating cereal at any and all times of the day. He is working with Fr. Matt Hovde and the Short Course Sacramental prep team this year.

Nathan Miller: Nathan is studying Accountancy and Theology here at Notre Dame. For the past three years he lived in Duncan Hall but for senior year is living off campus. He is originally am from Manitowoc, Wisconsin and is very passionate with his love for the Badger state! As an Anchor Senior Intern, Nathan will be working in a new area called Bible Study Ministry. His focus is to coordinate leaders, help establish community events and resources, and continually invite new students to explore a relationship with Jesus through opening the Scriptures. In his free time, he loves football, the outdoors, and listening to country music.

Flora Tang: Flora is a senior political science and theology major from Beijing, China (a whooping 15-hour-flight away from Notre Dame!), and for the past three years, has been living in the Best Place on campus– Breen-Phillips Hall. In the rare hours when she’s not engaged in political debates with friends, Flora enjoys to cook, read social justice-themed books, and dabble in painting and watercoloring. She’s looking forward to working with RCIA in Sacramental Preparation at Campus Ministry this year.

Joe Tenaglia: Joe is a senior studying Theology and American Studies. Hailing from South Weymouth, Massachusetts he now lives on campus in the great Stanford Hall. In his free time, Joe enjoys loudly and proudly supporting Boston sports teams, reading, listening to music, and above all spending time with family and friends. This year Joe will be working as part of the Retreats and Pilgrimages team, and is excited to work to provide engaging and enriching programming for his fellow students.

 

Anchor Interns, 2017-18