January 14, 2012

MISSION MATTERS: Begin to Begin … Again

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By Fr. Paul Stark, S.J.
Vice President for Mission and Ministry

The new academic year beckons; students and faculty return to campus; our regular schedule of busyness resumes. At this moment, though, it's always good to re-affirm our purpose, to re-commit to our direction, to re-establish our intent. To that end, we can pray as St. Ignatius prayed,

Lord teach me to be generous.
Teach me to serve You as You deserve.
Teach me to give and not to count the cost,
To fight and not to heed the wounds,
To toil and not to seek for rest,
To labor and not to seek reward,
save that of knowing that I do Your will. Amen...

Ignatius calls for generosity to God, replacing his personal desires with an acceptance of God 's desire for him. That type of abandonment, that level of generosity, can be a goal of our own spirits as we begin this new semester.

Regardless of what we do specifically on campus, we're all called to generosity above and beyond what we do specifically on campus. Our dilemma is how we do that specifically in our own context.

Ignatius believed that the level of generosity we reach often reflects the maturity of faith to which we aspire, and he continued to encourage his Society and the society in which he lived, to greater heights, personally and spiritually.

His encouragement from 500-plus years ago reaches us today. We've discussed resolutions the past couple of weeks. Now, we just might have a resolution worthy of us, not to mention multiple opportunities to keep it, to realize it. Generosity requires a decision of our will, not simply a response of our emotions.

The beginning of anything is a good time to recommit our energy, our desires, our will to good directions we may have practiced in the past or that we desire/need for our future, and probably an even better time to commit to new directions that will lead us forward, personally and prayerfully.

Generosity calls us to practice the specific acts we need to develop and then to practice them again, selflessly. This is the service Ignatius describes as what the Lord deserves...That kind of effort, that interest in fidelity is also, frankly, what we deserve.

Keep Practicing...Decide to decide...Fight the good fight...Be generous.

Happy New (Academic) Year!!

Higher purpose. Greater good.
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