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Mass of the Holy Spirit kicks off the semester with a high note

Zac Frith
Staff Reporter Kevin Oliver shares his thoughts about JCU’s annual Mass of the Holy Spirit.

For the two years that I have been at John Carroll, the Church of Gesu has felt more like a monument than a building. It was a permanent fixture in the neighborhood that I happened to walk or drive by on my route to class every morning. Like a statue, it sits still and invites gazes from me, but never invited me to enter its doors. Finally, at the beginning of my third year, I was welcomed to demystify that monument during the Mass of the Holy Spirit celebration.

The Mass of the Holy Spirit is celebrated all across the country at Jesuit schools from high schools to universities. The Mass of the Holy Spirit is similar to traditional Catholic services in that it is a petition for grace from God, but, where it differs is its focus on academia. Its purpose is to grace the upcoming school year to invigorate both staff and students alike, blessing them with wisdom. The practice originates from Catholicism but JCU, being a multicultural school, invites people from all beliefs to participate in the ceremony, which led me to attend

I followed a wave of people who poured themselves into the neighboring Church of the Gesu and took a seat towards the back. Immediately, the simplistic yet mesmerizing architecture of the building jumped out to me. The ornate stained glass windows tacked with every color of the rainbow outlined the walls, dual statues of the Virgin Mary made their home near the pastor’s podium and light hues throughout the chamber created an atmosphere of peace. At the center of it all is a domineering yet vulnerable statue of Jesus, making its home the center of the room and setting the stage for what would commence.

The priest sang verses of harmony, unity and piety to the Holy Trinity that filled the walls of the church. Mostly standard messaging that encourages people to be good and I respect that. Beyond this message, I appreciate their commitment to multiculturalism during the ceremony. There were a lot of speakers from diverse backgrounds and their presence alone reinforced that the blessings aren’t just meant for one type of person or group, but all humans, because we all deserve help during hard times. The human condition is unique, but we are not so unique in that we all struggle.

Additionally, I appreciate the priest taking time between the preachings to discuss contemporary issues. I was not expecting it, but I am glad that such a significant space was used to touch on present hardships like the disasters impacting residents of Hawaii. It made this event feel less isolated, and like the people running it care about people beyond just their walls, which is something I can get behind.

Finally, the aspect of the ceremony that I enjoyed the most was the music. From the wind ensemble to the choir, every single person involved in creating the atmosphere of acceptance and grace did a fantastic job, crafting angelic sounds that I could tell invigorated everyone graced with listening to them. Whenever there was music going on, I felt like I was a part of something larger, something with meaning– a peace and harmony with the mass of people surrounding me. It felt like a beautiful communion between a poetry reading and a concert.

The ceremony closed off with a triumphant ballad and a community-wide lunch at JCU’s Schott Dining Hall. I am glad that I was able to have this experience.

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