“Throw open the doors of your heart. Feed others, tend to their needs and follow Him — the Way, the Truth and the Life — Christ Jesus our Risen Lord.”
That was the advice given to graduating seniors during the Baccalaureate Mass at The Catholic University of America on May 13. The Mass, which was celebrated by Rev. Jude DeAngelo, O.F.M., University chaplain and director of Campus Ministry, took place before a standing room-only crowd of students, family members, and friends in the Great Upper Church of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
During his homily, Father Jude reflected on the phrase, “shelter in place.” Though it is a necessary command during emergency situations, Father Jude advised students not to follow the advice in their personal lives. Often, he said, people “shelter in place” by isolating themselves using technology or social constructs because they don’t want to face uncomfortable conversations or their own prejudices.
“This freely embraced social isolation only breeds contempt for the other and eventually to the disregard for the other as a person,” Father Jude said. “This contempt, this disregard of the other’s humanity is a form of violence that goes unnamed in our culture but a violence that is more rampant than we care to admit.”
Father Jude advised the seniors not to retreat from the world, but to embrace “God’s commands of justice and charity.”
“We must follow Christ into the breach of war zones and dysfunctional neighborhoods and bring the message of hope by our actions, our resources, and our prayers,” he said. “As Christians we must rebuild the lives of those who have lost faith and hope by shattering and isolating the fear and despair that infects our time.”
The Mass was offered a few hours after the Honors Convocation for Undergraduates, a ceremony that recognized student members of national honors societies, as well as those who completed the University’s honors curriculum or were selected to receive individual honors in their disciplines.
University President John Garvey spoke during the ceremony, telling students, “You’re here because you have remarkable intellectual gifts, and over the last four years you have used them well.”
Students have learned how to approach the world by critically evaluating the arguments of others, Garvey said. Though that skill will serve them in the future, he also advised students to practice the virtue of docility.
“Docility comes from the Latin word docere, to teach,” he said. “Literally it means to be teachable. It’s the habit of being open to learning from others.”
Referencing the words of Aquinas and Aristotle, Garvey spoke of docility as “a practical necessity” that does not mean simply blind obedience. Rather, docility involves turning to trusted wisdom to help make decisions in life.
“We call the University we attend our ‘alma mater,’ our nourishing mother, because we trust that our professors are feeding us on the truth,” Garvey said. “I hope you have been well-nourished during your time at Catholic University. And I hope you continue to seek out good and wise teachers to whom you will listen and from whom you can learn.”