The President's Report

For anyone who has graduated from, works within or is associated with Jesuit institutions and Ignatian spirituality, a familiar phrase resonates: Ad majorem Dei gloriam. “For the greater glory of God” is the motto of the Society of Jesus. Today, the motto is typically abbreviated to the term “magis,” or, “the more.” It is a phrase that captures the spirit of Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit order, and who, after his conversion experience, completely reoriented his life to serve God and the needs of God’s people. Each day for the rest of his life, Ignatius discerned what this principle meant in ordinary circumstances and in the decisions he made to realize or to achieve it. The members of the Holy Cross community, who today appropriate Ignatius’ spiritual tradition, are called to a similar discernment. The president of Holy Cross, Rev. Philip L. Boroughs, S.J., recently asked his senior leadership team to gather and reflect on what the “greater glory of God” means today in the College’s life, work and service of others. Before this meeting of the College’s leaders, he asked them to read an essay he had prepared, “What Is the Magis?” to lend a common context to this important conversation.

What Is the Magis?
By Rev. Philip L. Boroughs, S.J.

If you stand in the plaza in front of St. Joseph Memorial Chapel and look to the left of the portico, you see a statue of St. Ignatius of Loyola holding an open book. Inscribed on the pages of the book is the Latin phrase: Ad majorem Dei gloriam. This is the motto of the Society of Jesus, which is translated: “For the greater glory of God.” Inside the chapel, directly behind the outside niche, there is a similar statue tucked away in a dark corner, and across campus a third stands in the garden to the right of the entrance of Ciampi Hall. The motto by itself also appears in stained glass windows and on various entry ways and walls on Mount St. James. Previous generations of alumni who attended Jesuit high schools remember writing AMDG at the top of every test and homework paper, but as a recent Holy Cross student Facebook entry acknowledged, AMDG isn’t immediately recognized by many today. Consequently, where does this motto come from, what does it mean, and how is it relevant for the Holy Cross community at this moment in our history?

Ad majorem Dei gloriam, or some variation of its longer version: Ad majorem Dei gloriam inque hominum salute: “For the greater glory of God and the salvation of humankind,” appears in several places in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius and, as Jesuit historian George Ganss notes, over 140 times in the Constitutions of the Society of Jesus. This cherished phrase, now often abbreviated simply to “the magis,” describes the central mystical insight of Ignatius whose mid-life conversion turned him from a highly driven, naively romantic and self-absorbed minor nobleman, to a spiritually-focused and outward-oriented religious founder. While recuperating from nearly fatal battle wounds, Ignatius received profound spiritual consolations that helped him to understand that union with God is the ultimate purpose of life, and that working to ensure that others also have opportunities to experience their own form of union with God would be a worthy and meaningful way of serving others. Ignatius, and later his early companions, used a variety of means to achieve this end: from companioning others in the Spiritual Exercises to pastoral ministry, works of mercy, missionary endeavors and eventually founding educational institutions. 

Without a clear plan, but in response to the requests of others, Ignatius realized that openness to spiritual union and growth could be enhanced by educational experiences, which emphasized excellence in the liberal arts, ethical and values formation, charitable works and artistic engagement. Schools in Europe and abroad became for Ignatius a prized method of helping others to see and understand the world and God’s action in the world with greater clarity and purpose. Further, in choosing whom and where they would serve, the early Jesuits themselves needed to make critically discerned choices which Ignatius hoped would serve the more universal good, would address the concerns of those whose suffering was unbearable, and would meet the needs of those for whom there is the least care and support. Through these discerned choices, Ignatius hoped that his Jesuit companions would themselves find God in all things, and similarly that their students would see how they could find purpose and meaning in their lives and vibrant relationship with God.

Almost 500 years later, surrounded by iconography that reminds us of this early Jesuit spirit, the Holy Cross community continues to refer to the magis as a way of articulating our mission and our way of proceeding. In doing so, it is important to keep the magis in dialogue with its original context and meaning lest this focus on “the more” inadvertently promotes the very struggles that the pre-conversion Ignatius wrestled with: unreflective over-activity (which Father Adolfo Nicolás, Superior General of the Society of Jesus, has called the globalization of superficiality), self-absorption and naïve romanticism. Further, in a culture where “spiritual but not religious” seems to be replacing traditional participation in a believing community, how do we support the importance of communal identity and responsibility? At the College, how is our Catholic identity and tradition valued, and how are the varied religious traditions present within the College community invited into an interfaith dialogue? Are our faculty encouraged to see their academic work as an expression of the magis, and further, are they supported by the administration and their peers when teaching classes and doing research on topics that engage our Jesuit and Catholic values, as well as the Jesuit commitment to interreligious understanding? Do we offer an articulate and reflective cultural critique which reflects on the unbridled accumulation of wealth which is stratifying American and global society, which separates the individual from the common good, and which seems to ignore long-term environmental risks for the sake of extreme short-term profits? On our campus can we discuss vocations before jobs and public service beyond volunteerism? Can we engage the creative tension between doing good and doing well? Can we integrate health, wellness and athletics in a way that provides an enjoyable and balanced pursuit of excellence in the context of a highly academic environment? Can we envision in the curriculum a role for the arts, which promotes creativity, imagination and innovation for all of our students? Can our commitment to justice and community-based learning be integrated with a spirituality of finding God in all things? And finally, will our institutional commitment to remain need-blind and to meet full demonstrated need keep our doors open to the beleaguered middle class, who have played such an important historical role in our student body?

The magis has always challenged Jesuits, their colleagues and students to reach further, not simply for external acclaim but in order to draw closer to God and the needs of God’s people. Can a distinctive identity for the College of the Holy Cross emerge today from the inevitable tensions this instinct encourages?  ■

HCM invites you, the readership, to embark on the same journey Fr. Boroughs laid out for his leadership team, contemplating the magis essay and then sharing how the concept of the magis is at play in your life by sending a letter to the editor to hcmag@holycross.edu.

The Magis Conversation
A roundtable moderated by Rev. Philip L. Boroughs, S.J., President, with Tracy Barlok, Vice President for Advancement; Margaret N. Freije, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College; Rev. Paul F. Harman, S.J., Vice President for Mission; Michael J. Lochhead, Vice President for Administration and Finance; Jacqueline D. Peterson, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students; and Frank Vellaccio, Senior Vice President

 

FR. BOROUGHS 
As we begin, can you tell me what the magis means to you in your own life and your personal spirituality? 

 

FR. HARMAN 
At the Jesuit prep school I attended, we were given the motto and instructed to write AMDG on our papers. Beyond that, we were not given a great deal of background. At 14 or 15 years of age, you’re not able to take it in, even if it were offered! Now, I’ve spent close to 60 years with this motto, and like everything that can be reduced to a phrase, the danger is that you stay with just the few words. Over the years, I’ve learned that I have to go much, much deeper. Every day God wants to draw close, and in that motto, I can feel at times there is more to me and I am more precious in God’s sight. But the other side of that is that God is greater than I am, and I am not God. There’s a Latin proverb sometimes attributed to Ignatius: “non multa, sed multum” —not many things, but more. That doesn’t mean having nothing, it means having greater and greater riches, but at the same time, letting go and divesting oneself of all the things that we thought were so important. And this inner freedom, this emptiness, strangely gives you more. 

 

VICE PRESIDENT and DEAN FREIJE 
The challenge for me of the magis is that it’s a challenge to choose, and my natural inclination is to try to do everything. The challenge is that you have to acknowledge that doing everything is not, in fact, the more.

 

FR. BOROUGHS 
I agree. It’s also essential to keep in mind what the magis doesn’t mean, lest the Ignatian “more” be reduced to simply doing more, to competing more effectively or to striving for excellence at all costs. 

 

VICE PRESIDENT and DEAN FREIJE 
There’s a story in the gospel of Mark about the woman with the alabaster jar who comes and anoints Jesus before he goes into Jerusalem for the Passion, and Jesus’ response in that passage is she did what she could, and this is what will be remembered. That’s one of the things that I try to hold on to. I have to be reflective about doing what I can do as opposed to attempting to do everything. It is getting to a place where you have that inner freedom to choose to do one thing over another, and how you get to that place where you will be, in fact, led to choose the more as opposed to everything. 

 

FR. BOROUGHS 
So in trying to identify or make choices that reflect the more, what questions do you ask? 

 

VICE PRESIDENT LOCHHEAD 
On a surface level, the basic questions that I constantly ask in my area of responsibility are, How much time do I have personally? How much time does my staff have? What are the resources that we have as a College and how do we balance those resources for the greatest good and in bringing about the greatest fulfillment of the College’s mission? While I don’t always have the answer to these questions I generally have a perspective on what those choices are or should be, but I also think that is where the leadership team, the Board, the faculty and other senior administrators collectively try to discern what those highest and best uses of those resources are. 

As a community we need to acknowledge that there are limitations, and whether it be in time or financial resources, or even just in one’s own personal capacity, and that these limitations are not necessarily failures. They are just asking for one to refocus and discern the best use of time and resources for the greatest good. 

 

VICE PRESIDENT and DEAN PETERSON  When I was growing up, I didn’t know about St. Ignatius, but I think about what my parents taught us and it truly was all about understanding that God has given us gifts and talents, and that the best way that we can honor and show our gratitude is to use those gifts and talents to the very best of our ability. Not only for ourselves, but more importantly for others. Today, I think about my 2,900 students: How do I respond to their needs? How do I continue to foster and promote the mission of this College so that they are first and foremost the center of why we’re here? How do I listen to God to tell me how to best respond to sometimes the very difficult tensions and situations? 

 

FR. BOROUGHS 
We’re going to talk a little bit more about this perspective of what we bring when we come to the College—whether it’s our different life experience or different preparation, our different religious traditions—in a minute. But I think what you hinted at, Jackie, is really important: What does the Ignatian tradition build on? It has a certain vocabulary, but it basically builds on so many of our best instincts that we bring to our vocation to work here. 

 

Frank, you are heading into your 41st year at Holy Cross. Of all of us, you have the longest continuous historical perspective. How do you see the magis from your own experience being lived out over the course of time at the College? 

 

SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT VELLACCIO 
Well, curiously enough, I’ve heard the term and known the term since I’ve come to Holy Cross. I didn’t actually know it was an abbreviation for the “greater glory of God.” I always connected it and saw it connected with regard to Ignatius and this idea that God is revealed in all things, and that if you pursue things at a level of real excellence, that’s what you’ll find at the end is this revelation. The thing I’ve always found about Holy Cross is that people have appreciated that the key is not that they do more constantly, but there is more to what they do—whether you’re cutting the grass or teaching in the classroom or behind a desk. If you do it right, then you’re making the greatest contribution you can. And that contribution in the end is, of course, the revelation of God. Holy Cross has been a great gift to me, because not only does it, daily, help me in the magis, but also, we try to instill it in all our students who go out to live in this world. It doesn’t mean working 24/7, but it means when you’re working, what you’re doing is at the highest level. And in that, I think clearly God is revealed in this place.

 

FR. BOROUGHS 
Tracy, from your perspective in terms of advancing and promoting the College in a variety of ways, how have you seen that dimension of our spiritual tradition making a unique statement about Holy Cross?

 

VICE PRESIDENT BARLOK 
When I think about the magis, I’m constantly thinking about how our graduates interpret it, how they continue to live it in their lives today, how we as an institution promote and encourage and continue that sort of learning. “Engagement for life” is what we talk about in terms of our students’ and alumni’s relationships with the institution. They just don’t leave here and lose those principles around which the magis is built. 

 

I had the opportunity to travel on an Ignatian Pilgrimage with alumni, including members of our Board of Trustees, this year. Some were past their working careers and this was a time for them to reflect upon how their history with Jesuit education and spirituality had played out in their lives. That was so moving. I think I gained as much through them as I personally experienced it on my own. 

 

VICE PRESIDENT and DEAN FREIJE
I recently asked our faculty to send me one or two questions that they find compelling in their teaching, in their scholarship or in their commitment to Holy Cross. It was a way of trying to help them take ownership of our theme “Ask More.” And one of the really exciting things about the questions they sent me is that it reinforced for me that for a significant number of faculty, the questions they find compelling are in fact exactly the questions that I think we want our students engaging. Questions that ask how do we better understand what it means to be fully human, how do we understand our place in the world, and how do we understand our responsibility to the world? Their questions had a breadth that made me think, If those are the questions they’re engaging our students with, whether they’re explicitly using the term “magis” or not, they’re pointing our students in the right direction to open them to the possibility that this education is about their own spiritual growth and intellectual growth and the relationship between those two. It was also really interesting that a couple of faculty pointed out how the questions they were asking changed over their time at Holy Cross. One faculty member talked about starting out asking questions about the interaction between the law and those in power, and now asking questions about the interrelationship between law and the people that the law applies to, and how do we understand how people understand law and how the law interacts with people. This faculty member noted that being at Holy Cross opened the possibility that she could ask different questions and new questions—questions that I think are part of going deeper and driving us below the surface. That’s what’s possible at Holy Cross. I believe that one of the wonderful things about the education at Holy Cross is that it has the possibility of not just transforming students, but also transforming faculty. 

 

FR. BOROUGHS 
Jackie, building on the themes of asking more and becoming more, how do you and your staff work with our students to help them become more? 

 

VICE PRESIDENT and DEAN PETERSON 
One of the ways that we begin in thinking about transforming students is the idea of educating the whole person. We are looking for how that happens intellectually, spiritually, emotionally and physically. And we think about what we do from the time that they arrive at our institution to help prepare them to ask those important questions and reflect. So when we talk about initiatives, we are poised to help students ask Who am I, What are the strengths and talents and passions that I bring to my role on this earth and my role in service to others? How do I integrate those questions in my full life? Going back to Tracy’s point about when we talk to alumni on the Pilgrimage when they had a chance to think about how that’s all come together, what we like for students to be able to do is get to think about how it’s coming together all along the cycle. 

 

FR. HARMAN 
We do want all our students to stand tall. We want the College to stand tall. At the same time, “for the greater glory of God” is about bending low and realizing we are not at the center of everything. And it’s very countercultural, and in that sense it’s very challenging. Coming back to the Pilgrimage, I felt, and not for the first time, that there is something more that is at the center of everything. And I think the other pilgrims felt a little bit of that, too. This is an opportunity to stand back and in a sense to bow low. 

 

VICE PRESIDENT LOCHHEAD 
Fr. Harman used the word countercultural, and as I was preparing for this conversation, I made note of this tension that exists between market and mission here at the College. Pulling it back to my own life a little bit and having now worked in Jesuit higher education for almost 20 years at three different institutions, the mission really didn’t become personal for me until I was able to engage with it at a deeper level at a point in my life and career when I was ready for it—specifically through my participation in the Ignatian Colleagues Program. [editor’s note  The Ignatian Colleagues Program is a national program designed to educate and form administrators and faculty more deeply in the Jesuit tradition of higher education so they may better articulate, adapt and advance Ignatian mission on their campuses.] I’m certainly not comparing myself to Ignatius in terms of fundamentally changing my orientation—but at mid-life I did realize that I was ready to engage with the subject matter and to be open to what it was asking of me. Because the ICP program has been so meaningful as an executive at a Jesuit institution, the question for me is this: Is there a way to build on the types of experiences that ICP can offer to faculty, staff and students, not so much as a marketing technique for our institutions, but to draw more people into a personal adoption and ownership of the mission? In some ways, this is related to what Fr. Adolfo Nicolás, Superior General of the Society of Jesus identified in his 2010 speech as the “globalization of superficiality.” *

 

I do think there is a need in society today to find faculty, staff and students who are ready to take that on in their lives and personalize it. I don’t have the answer as to how you make this appeal from a market perspective, but I think we have a great opportunity, as Jackie mentioned, to bring students who are willing to fully engage in the mission of the College and help form the kind of leaders who are humble, but understand their own role within the world. It’s a question of how to appeal to those students and get them to us. 

 

FR. BOROUGHS 
Another aspect of Ignatian spirituality is the Spiritual Exercises. Clearly one of our commitments in our comprehensive campaign is a contemplative or retreat center and its role in what we hope for, not only for our students, but for faculty and staff and alums as well. Paul, as the vice president for mission, how do you see the Spiritual Exercises coming in here, as a means for becoming whole people? 

 

FR. HARMAN 
For many of our students, not all, but for many of our students, the Spiritual Exercises are the first time when they’re asked to put aside things that they depend on very much, such as cell phones and instant music and entertainment and so forth, so that they may experience what at first appears as nothing, which is silence. Silence can appear empty—and then they discover that in that emptiness, there is richness, there is fullness, there is more. And that’s a transformative thing to observe in students who are 18 to 22 years old. Now, it’s their first experience. One could hope it won’t be their last. But it’s as though you’re opening a door into something that is deeper, richer, more mysterious, challenging, all those things, and yet it has tremendous attraction. Now, they know after five days, they come back, as we always come back—we come back from pilgrimages, we come back from our own vacations, our own hideaways—and we have to engage everything, but something has changed. And in that silence, in what we hope will be both a very secluded and a very open space, a sacred space for our students, they’ve seen something and heard something that is new and very, very appealing. 

 

VICE PRESIDENT and DEAN FREIJE:
I think that part of what we do here is to help people to identify their hunger. Part of what the Spiritual Exercises did for me was allow me to identify that hunger. The pain of the hunger was there, but I could not identify what I was hungry for. And what the Exercises did was provide a space to actually identify that hunger. And then of course once it’s identified, you search for ways to meet that need. But I think before it was identified, I was flailing around knowing something was needed, but not completely knowing what. 

 

And I think that that’s part of what we try to do here. I think you’re probably right, Tracy, that at different stages of our life, we’re ready to engage this in very different ways. And between 18 and 22, there’s a whole lot going on, and part of what we’re trying to do is open up the hunger, identify that hunger, so that whether they understand how to feed it right now, at least they have an inkling or an openness to the possibility of searching for ways to feed that hunger going forward. That’s certainly what we see with the faculty when they go on the Ignatian Pilgrimage, all of a sudden, they can identify, “There was something I was looking for, and I think I understand better what it is.” And I think that when you can get somebody where they’re ready to be open to thinking that question, these experiences can be really extraordinary. 

 

SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT VELLACCIO 
For me, retreats put you in an ideal situation to be able to ask the questions and do some discernment. But the challenge is to take away the ability to do that in “normal life.” So you need regular retreats where you condition yourself; to give the retreat experience “legs.” 

 

FR. BOROUGHS 
That’s why a contemplative center is going to be an important addition to our campus. It will be just 15 minutes from here, giving our students, faculty, staff and alumni a place to withdraw, but it also is close enough to return and have more than one kind of experience; to be able to withdraw and then live it out, then go back and return to live it again. 

 

Another way of playing this out is the role of the arts, both the way the arts inspire us, and the way they help us find expressions of our interior movements. 

 

How do you, Margaret, see this renaissance of the arts at Holy Cross as a way of enhancing our spiritual lives and our appreciation for God and the world? 

 

VICE PRESIDENT and DEAN FREIJE 
The Jesuits have always had a commitment to the arts. From the beginning of Jesuit education, the arts were important; they forced the move from the head to heart. You can’t sit at a spectacular concert and only process it intellectually. Your whole body, mind, soul, heart is engaged in that experience, whether you’re the performer or the audience. That was a key insight of the Jesuits; that the experience of the arts is a place where head and heart in fact come together. The reality of what our students need—and, again, this is very Ignatian—is imagination. They need to be able to build their imagination about what’s possible. We don’t want them to simply know what is; we want them to imagine what’s possible as they move out into the world. The arts and creativity across the curriculum are what opens up the space to build imagination. Again, so much of what we’ve been talking about are the spaces that we need to provide to help students, faculty and staff work toward the magis. Where are the openings that we can create? 

 

From my perspective, the emphasis on the arts, and the way in which the arts can interact across campus and across disciplines, the way in which the arts take the academic into the cocurricular, those are going to be critical opportunities for all of us. I don’t think it’s just about our students, it’s about all of us. 

 

FR. BOROUGHS 
Another place where opening up to the magis occurs between our mind and our spirit is through our body. One of the commitments that the College has made is to look in a holistic way at student development—so it’s about mind and body and spirit and community. Frank, do you want to say something about the role of health and wellness and athletics that’s appropriate to a liberal arts tradition that we’re also trying to enhance in our campus? 

 

SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT VELLACCIO Just as Margaret mentioned, the arts were always a part of Ignatius’ idea of education, and of course the same has been true with athletic competition in contemporary Jesuit education. Again, I think it has to do with the idea that if you are going to do something, do it well and do it to the greatest extent. With athletics, it’s about testing yourself and being tested, and in so doing, you find out things about yourself, your ability to push yourself to excel–to be both collaborative and competitive. It doesn’t matter if you’re the best at the end, it matters how much better you got. I think the great thing today is everybody has seen athletic activity or physical activity as something that’s enhancing of themselves—and another way to find God is in that real exertion of oneself to the point where you’re really pushing yourself physically. Students can, however, approach athletics and physical activity in a way that can be unhealthy. So we have to teach outside of the classroom what is the right balance. 

 

FR. BOROUGHS 
We are a campus that is a Jesuit and Catholic institution, but we recognize that the makeup of our community here, whether it’s among our student body, our faculty, our staff, our alums, represents a variety of religious traditions and a variety of values, so people enter this tradition already carrying with them a certain sense of what is important. We want each of us to continue to ask how does my truest self develop, what do I bring to my teaching and research, how do my values influence the way I treat others?” How, then, is the magis applicable to people coming from different traditions? And what do we hope to be as an educational community, representing a variety of traditions, or even a variety of entry points into the magis? How can these multiple perspectives help us within an Ignatian understanding become a stronger community together?

FR. HARMAN 
My personal image of prayer, and in one sense my personal image of the magis, comes from the Muslim tradition. To me, the image that has most personally affected me is the image of the Muslim bending low at prayer five times a day, and then arising. But it’s the bodily motion and what that signifies. That is enriching, it’s another tradition enriching my tradition and making the magis new and important in a way that it hadn’t been until I encountered that other tradition. So that’s one example of how another tradition, another culture, another faith can enrich my faith, that has enriched my faith.

 

VICE PRESIDENT BARLOK 
You know, in our campaign conversations, we say our promise is to educate the kind of thoughtful, imaginative, faith-filled leaders for whom our world hungers. When I think about the kind of students who want to experience something that Holy Cross has to give them, and whether they know it’s here or not, I think about competence, conscience and compassion—and regardless of your background and your religious affiliation, those are traits that are important to us as human beings to live in a world where we have to work together, where we have to build communities, where we have to tackle tough problems, and we allow that to happen here. Whether you’re Catholic or Muslim or Buddhist or Jewish, whatever your faith is, we create a community. We have athletic competitions, we have the arts, we have these places where students can learn, and this becomes a transformative experience for them, and then they take that out in the world. And I think the special piece that comes with this community is that we make sure that they have the heart to want to do it, to want to make change. And that is the difference: It’s not just the education in all of these ways, but we instill in them and in ourselves kind of the reasoning behind it, the “why” behind it. If we did not embrace all of this, students and faculty and staff, we would not be doing ourselves or our world a good service, because we live in a world that’s complicated, and we need to understand these complications in order to help make them better and solve problems. 

 

VICE PRESIDENT LOCHHEAD 
One of the great things about working at Holy Cross, certainly for me as somebody with a financial background, is that I have the opportunity to engage in these kinds of conversations. If I were in the corporate sector or maybe at a secular institution I really wouldn’t be able to contribute to and be enriched by this kind of dialogue. I’ve seen the comments you made, Tracy, about different faith traditions, play out in the staff retreats that we’ve held within my division. I have eight direct reports. Not all of them are Catholic, but all of them are committed to the mission of the College. Most of them have been here for a fair amount of time. 

 

Last year, following my completion of the Ignatian Colleagues Program, I asked Fr. Harman to help facilitate a discussion among the divisional directors around several characteristics of Jesuit colleges and universities. Specifically we engaged in dialogue around what these charactersitics mean to us as administrators, as business professionals and as human resource professionals. It was a really rich discussion. Prior to the retreat, I got the sense that people were a little worried about how to engage one another on this topic and particularly among those who may have had an initial reaction along the lines of “Oh, that’s too religious for me.” But I found that people really engaged in the larger aspect of this question. That is, it’s not about hiring a Catholic for the mission, it’s about hiring somebody who supports the mission—and that could be from any faith tradition. Once we got under the cover of that basic question, people understood more deeply their role in helping fulfill the mission at a level or two below the vice president. I think we were successful in engaging in this work because we created an environment and a safe space for people to have that conversation. I do think people left the retreat more energized and with a better understanding of their individual roles in supporting the mission of the College. 

 

FR. HARMAN  We all hope that our students come away from a place like Holy Cross at least with the idea that there can be unity and diversity, and you need both. Unity can, if it isn’t cared for, become conformity or uniformity. Diversity, if it isn’t cared for, can become just divisions, multiple divisions. And we see that in our world, things breaking down instead of coming together. So if we can offer our students that vision at least that there can be a unity and diversity, I think we’ve done no small thing. 

 

VICE PRESIDENT and DEAN PETERSON  I think that what we do well here is invite and embrace inclusivity from wherever students are coming from. We try to help people find that space in themselves, their background and their history, and let them feel comfortable engaging with people who may be from or who represent other areas. If you are in an environment that is open and embracing, you bring your authentic self to a community, and then you have the space and comfort level to ask, “OK, well, how does this faith resonate with where I’m coming from?” It becomes an opportunity to really actively explore your own faith. 

 

FR. BOROUGHS 
When we look at how our faith traditions come together from different perspectives, I often think of the issue that Tracy was raising–that is, about both the forming of leaders and making a difference in the world. What that leads to and what most faith traditions are concerned about is the issue of justice and compassion and human community. We can’t have any one of those three without the other two. It is really important that we understand the magis—or the more—implies that our education isn’t simply for ourselves. It isn’t simply for our own educational community, either, but has a focus toward the other, toward the world around us, both being with others and serving with them and making a difference. Social justice, then, is part of the Ignatian magis. 

 

FR. HARMAN 
One phrase in one of the Psalms comes to mind: “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.” That’s another way of talking about the magis. We work hard, but in the end, we put our faith and our trust and our hope in something greater than ourselves. And that’s the role of discernment. We spend so much time thinking about how we’re actively going to pursue a particular option or a particular path–as well as how we are not going to pursue another path! But I think in order to get to the decision that feels most right–whether for us as individuals or us as an institution—requires discernment. Discernment for me, at least what I found in my own experience, needs some time and space away from the kind of actual activity that’s going on around you. So I think trying to find that right balance is a struggle for me personally. I think as an institution, we have to continue to find ways and enhance ways so that we can have the time and space we need. And then encourage the time that it sometimes takes to get to the right decisions.

 

From my own experience, I know how much that process can benefit us in deciding what not to do! There is always more to do, and time in discernment helps in making the hard choices of when to stop.

 

SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT VELLACCIO 
The one principle that I connect with the magis is God’s unconditional love for us. I think that’s really what you get when God is revealed in the things you’re doing. I connect it with the magis, because once you realize God’s unconditional love, it’s demanding on you; now you feel it’s your responsibility to unconditionally love in return. And that’s probably the hardest thing we can possibly do. 

 

VICE PRESIDENT AND DEAN FREIJE 
Paul and I had a conversation yesterday with a couple of faculty and one of the chaplains as we were preparing for a panel on the Jesuit and Catholic identity of Holy Cross. It was largely about the faculty role in strengthening the Jesuit and Catholic identity of the College—or not. And I left that conversation convinced that all faculty are committed to the idea that the education we’re trying to provide here is purposeful. Faculty are not just trying to make our students successful, but they are also trying to help them understand what it would mean to live a life of meaning—whether or not they articulate it in terms of the magis. I’m reminded of the Italian Jesuit priest, Matteo Ricci, when he got to China in 1582, saying God was already there. So on some level, I feel like as long as we are committed to helping our students to understand what it might mean to live a life of meaning, to live a life of commitment, to live a life that responds to the world around them and works to enhance the world around them—they and we will find that God is already there. 

 

FR. BOROUGHS 
A colleague of mine once was asked, “What makes a Jesuit education distinctive?” And he answered, “The quality of the conversation.” When you think about the conversation we’ve just had and the multiple levels of reality that we’ve touched upon, whether it’s how we look at life intellectually or through the arts or athletics or student life and how we talk about social justice in the world around us, and the spirituality that grounds this conversation, I think we’ve been touched on multiple levels. And, this conversation has helped us deepen our relationship with each other. That’s what I hope is happening at Holy Cross continually, that the quality of the conversation in this educational institution touches us as whole persons and sends us out into the world to make a difference. 

So, thank you for the quality of the conversation, and the quality of our friendship that comes from working together for the greater good of Holy Cross and the greater glory of God.  ■

 

/sites/all/images/socialimages