Students, faculty, and staff members at The Catholic University of America were called to be witnesses for Christ during this year’s Mass of the Holy Spirit, which took place in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on Aug. 31.
The Mass, which is held annually at the opening of the school year, was celebrated by Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington and University chancellor, who asked God to invoke the gifts of the Holy Spirit on the University community to strengthen and guide its members throughout the 2017-2018 academic year.
During his homily, Cardinal Wuerl spoke about five qualities Christians should develop in order to be more effective witnesses for their faith. Those qualities are boldness, connectedness to the Church, a sense of urgency, compassion, and joy.
“Each of us who accepts Jesus as Lord is challenged to share that faith,” Cardinal Wuerl said. “In the first reading from the Prophet Ezekiel we are told that it is only in the power of the Holy Spirit that you and I can do this. But that power is real. God places his Spirit within us so that we do have the ability not only to say the words of faith but to live them.”
University President John Garvey also addressed the large congregation in attendance, and called the Mass “an occasion to reflect on the values that hold us together.”
In light of recent developments around the country — including the divisive 2016 election and last month’s violent demonstrations in Charlottesville, Va. — President Garvey reminded members of the University community of the value and virtue of a sense of humor.
Referencing English writer G.K. Chesterton’s idea that humor “involves some confession of human weakness,” Garvey pointed out that a sense of humor reminds people of their own humility and failures, while also reinforcing the very Christian idea of hope.
“Because humor is grounded in hope, it lets us keep perspective on the controversies of the moment,” he said. “Let’s try to keep in mind, in our disagreements this year, that we may not be the smartest guy in the room; and that whatever differences we might have now, in the end ‘the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.’”