Boston College: Tragedy, Belief, and ‘Seeing’ in Faith

“We gather as members of the BC community with our feelings—shock, sadness, fear, hurt, sorrow, bewilderment, and, I suspect, anger as well. . . . How do we carry on? . . . We are called to be people who represent faith and hope and healing for those most in need of it.” (Fr. William Leahy, SJ | President of Boston College | 4.16.13)

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Boston College is a Catholic-Jesuit institution.  This unique character seeks to animate and guide every corner of the university community.  From student affairs to advancement and from athletics to liturgy, BC’s distinctly Catholic-Jesuit identity differentiates it from other, non-Catholic, non-Jesuit institutions.  Yet, how is this difference manifest in our community, in our students, and in our staff?  

Boston College, MIT, Harvard, and all the institutions that call Boston home were affected in the wake of the tragedy of the Boston Marathon bombings on April 15.  Our initial reactions to these events may have been similar: anger, fear, sadness, etc.  However shaken though we were, our communities were shortly drawn from fearful isolation to prayerful communion through vigils and prayer services.

Boston College was no different.  On Tuesday, April 16th, St. Ignatius Parish was entirely filled (overflowing, actually) with individuals who, in faith, sought healing and grace through the Holy Mass.  Yet, just as Boston College’s unique Catholic-Jesuit character differentiates it from its peers, what did the celebration of the Mass suggest about the Boston College community’s identity?

In the Catholic Intellectual Tradition, faith is understood to be more than belief.  Faith is an addition to our own sight.  It allows us to see further meaning and to see certain things that are only able to be seen by believing.  Yet, faith is often lived in darkness – such as in the wake of tragedy.  Faith does not make the darkness go away, rather, it allows us to see where we would not have been able to see before.

The Boston College community’s unique Catholic-Jesuit is defined by its ‘faith’ – by its commitment to seeing the world in a certain way.  This vision is different from many other of its peers institutions because Boston College’s Catholic-Jesuit character has a faith that seeks understanding the world and all its creation as inherently good because it is in relationship with something greater than itself – God.  The Mass celebrates God’s gifts that allows us to see more clearly – to see that we are always in relationship to something greater than ourselves, that we are stronger when we are one in mind and spirit, and that above all, despite all the world’s imperfections, that God, our Creator and Father, is Love.

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