I love the view out my office window. I think it’s one of the best views of campus. When I first arrived at Franciscan University as a student, a road ran down this part of campus and Starvaggi Hall faced a large, unattractive parking lot. But that changed years ago. Now, it is an area full of grass and beautiful trees that serves as the main throughway of the students.
From my window, I can see students heading in and out of Christ the King Chapel, St. John Paul II Library, Finnegan Fieldhouse, J.C. Williams Center, and SS. Cosmas and Damian Science Hall. I see students on their way to and from class. Sometimes, they are running up the hill, notes in hand, anxiously cramming before a big exam. I also see the change as they head down the hill celebrating after crushing an exam.
This fall, from my window, I also had a front-row view of the change of seasons. The trees changed from green to vibrant oranges, yellows, and reds. Every magnificent fall day, I saw students, faculty, and staff stopping to take pictures as the trees came alive with color. But, as is always the case, there was more change to come. Today, the trees stand naked, their leaves scattered around their trunks.
I’ve seen so much change, all from my window.
The recently canonized St. John Henry Newman had this to say about change in this life: “to live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often.”
Newman is right: Change is a part of life. The seasons change, the world changes, the students change, each of us changes. Some people seem to love change; others, not so much. I suppose we can resist it, but some change cannot be stopped, nor should it be. My experience tells me that fighting with change usually leads to our becoming frustrated, angry, or frightened. The alternative is to embrace change—and not only tolerate it—but in some things, to look for it and hasten it.
Change is a key to the spiritual life.
When Jesus begins his preaching, he proclaims, “The kingdom of God is at hand” (Mark 1:15). The longing of the people, the prayer of their heart, has been heard: God has come to rescue his people.
And how are we to respond to this Good News? Metanoia. We are invited, commanded, to change. We must reform our lives, repent, change.
This invitation to change is not merely to change for change’s sake. Rather, it is to be converted. To turn from things that are not a part of Christ’s kingdom to those that are. To move from anger, deception, ill will to patience, kindness, truth, and mercy.
In light of Jesus’ call to conversion, each of us ought to reflect on our own lives and ask: How have I changed? Am I more of God or more of the world? This examination should be a regular part of our lives as we continue the journey that leads us home.
At Franciscan University, we are reflecting on these questions as a community.
What has changed over the years? What still needs to change? What have we done well? Where have we failed and need more change?
We do this filled with hope because we believe it is Jesus who asks this of us and that our reflection will be led by him, and ultimately, lead us back to him. This will always be our mission: to be more and more faithful to God and what he asks of us.
So, as I look out my window, watching snow begin to fall, I am not totally sure what the next few months will bring. But I am totally confident that change will come in a few short months, and the trees once again will blossom. I rejoice that change is a part of God’s plan.
Father Dave, TOR