Magis Moments: Advent: Be Light…Be A Listener…Be Love!

Every day I am invited into the lives of students. There is not much I have not heard or they cannot say and I learn from them.  It is a ministry of presence. When parents ask, “what do you teach?” I stopped saying, “I teach American Lit or Theology.” Now, I simply respond…”I teach hope.”  Our world does not make sense at times…hatred, division, hurt and worry – but, being with young people makes sense to me.  In all the challenges and obstacles they face I see incredible talents, service and desire to make a difference.

(Loyola Lights)  I guess you could say that, at Loyola, students are my Magis moments.  As university minister for Faith and Sacramental Life I get to see students and alums rediscover their faith as they prepare for Confirmation, or ask to be a godparent at Baptism or prepare for Marriage.  My faith is strengthened on student retreats, or as Athletic team chaplain encouraging student athletes balancing studies and basketball.  As a resident minister living in a residence hall I listen to away from home challenges and relationship differences.  On service trips to Belize or Jamaica, I see students discover a Jesuit and Ignatian value of gaining a broader sense of a world where there is need, and responding to make it better in action.

(Listening)  Making connections with students, noticing and listening is a priority in University Ministry. New students may ask me, “what do you do?”  My first response is, “I notice.”  I notice what you’re involved in and not, how you lean when you’re tired, what you laugh at and how you spend your time.  At a time when there are fewer and fewer Jesuits on campus, it is important that students at Loyola have the chance to spend one-on-one time with us.  It is a crucial time in their lives.  This is when they begin to ask the tough faith questions, grapple with issues large and small, and try to figure out how they fit into the picture, what they bring to the world. My role is first to listen and then I will have something to respond and give them. 

(Be Love) Students will often ask, “Padre, why are you doing this with your life?” (pretty subtle eah?) I reply simply…”you are why I am doing this with my life.”  It is a realization at a moment in time of being given: great parents, family, friends, opportunities and not just taking but trying to give back in love – the love that has been given in this life. 

Advent is a season of preparation and anticipation.  It is a time of opening our hearts and world to the love God seeks to give us. When I preach, I include stories or people and places I have found God’s love.  My message this Advent:  Be Light, Be a Listener, Be Love!  

I have had a life time of people letting me in:  students, faculties, staff, parishioners and more.  It is such an honor….it is a grace!  Out of the blue I will get an e-mail from a student I taught 35 years ago as a scholastic in high school.  They will say, “thank you for visiting me in the hospital or for baptizing our child, or burying my mother.”  It is an honor and grace!

Fr. Gregg H Grovenburg, S.J.                                            

Loyola University – New Orleans


“Come Lord Jesus, be with me in my longing; 

Come stay with me in my needing; come go with me in my doing;

Come struggle with me in my searching;

Come rejoice with me in my loving,

To open me to live my life as authentically and boldly

As you lived yours.”

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