Category Archives: General Learning Resources

Living out the Faith : Christian Discipleship and Witness

“Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile”

– Blessed [Mother] Teresa of Calcutta

In the setting of the university, particularly a Catholic university, it may seem easy to get ‘caught-up’ in the dogmatics of Catholic-Christian principles.  Between orienting professional work with a university’s doctrinally-influenced mission, and balancing fidelity to the faith with dialogue and conversation with those who disagree with constitutive teachings of the Church – remaining confident, motivated, and convinced of the integrity of Christian discipleship may seem impossible, or at least, often difficult and confusing!  Concisely, having to abide by certain codes and rules may seem limiting on our ability to actively ‘live out’ principles of good Christian practice through simple professional relationships.

This seems to pose a particularly poignant set of questions, including : what is it to be a Christian disciple?  What does it take for me to be a Christian disciple in the 21st century?  What is it take for me to be a Christian disciple in the setting of a university in the 21st century?

Pope Benedict, in a recent Angelus (3.6.2011) {VIDEO HERE}, spoke of the necessity to ‘listen to [Jesus’] words and put them into practice…[Jesus] places the disciple and his journey of faith in the perspective of Covenant, constituted by the relationship God weaves with man through the gift of his Word, entering into communication with us’.

This relationship of Jesus’ authority (and that authority’s presence in Christ’s Church) and love is at the center of growing in a more robust understanding of what it is to be a Christian disciple.  Benedict continued in his statement, ‘Jesus is the living Word of God.  When he taught, people recognized in his words the divine authority itself and they felt the Lord’s closeness, his merciful love, and praised God.’  It is precisely this notion of authority as communicated through love that might allow a renewed understanding of what it is to be Christian in practice.

It is Christ’s precedent by which we might understand what it is to be a disciple.  That is, to be Christian is to practice those actions by which Christ’s love is communicated (or ‘witnessed’) through gentility, patience, and gratitude (or, as Blessed [Mother] Teresa of Calcutta might say, ‘kindness’).  It is these simple practices that allows others to discover and experience the loving authority of Christ, now present in His Church – which for all of us at Boston College, is inextricably tied to our professional work setting.

On Tuesday, October 18th at 5:30pm, Terrance W. Tilley, Chair and Professor of Catholic theology at Fordham University will speak on ‘Practices of Discipleship’.  This presentation explores the Gospels and the Creed to understand in part how disciples’ practices embody and transmit the faith.  This event will be held in the Heights Room, located in the Corcoran Commons.  It is sponsored by the School of Theology and Ministry.

In many ways, Christ kept it simple.  Through His free choice to commune and enter into relationship with humanity, He provided the most basic template by which we might imitate His example – precisely through relationships.  Perhaps it is in this way that we, as professionals in the Boston College community, might renew our sense of simple loving, not manifested primarily through long-winded explanations of how particular departmental goals are bound to university and ecclesial mission, but rather, through our attentive love through simple, personal, and often mundane relationships.  Yes, it seems it is in this way that we might best witness to Christ’s example as we strive to be faithful Catholic-Christian disciples in the 21st century.


Critical Reflection and Student Learning: Do we measure up?

Recently, a guest speaker challenged the managers of the Division of Student Affairs at Boston College to direct our programs in an intentional, educational fashion.   As a community of educators, there is a shared principle regarding learning within and beyond the classroom.   Critical reflection, a key facet of Ignatian spirituality, is a common theme across disciplines and throughout our division.

Theresa Harrigan, Director of the Boston College Career Center, recently found an article by Mary Bart, available online, which describes the importance of critical reflection to enhance learning.  It also provides a concrete way to integrate critical reflection into coursework.  Student affairs professionals guide students through reflection of an experience or experiences in various ways.

As educators, are we meeting the high standards of BC and Jesuit education and adequately applying critical reflection to departmental practices?   As educators at a Catholic, Jesuit university, does/ought our use of critical reflection manifest in particular ways?  How are you doing this in your own department?
What do you think?