Opening Prayers of the Meetings of the
Xavier University President's Leadership
2017-2018 Academic Year
Beauty of this Day
God our Father,
We give you thanks for the beauty of this day, for the gift of this world,
and for the gift of each other.
We especially give You thanks for the gift of our vocation to work and
serve here at Xavier University.
As we gather here at this meeting, we ask You to be with us as we
continue to reflect on our work here and seek to advance it for the good of all.
Open our eyes, that we may see what You want us to see.
Open our ears, that in our dialogue we hear what You want us to hear.
And, open our hearts, that we may feel as You feel toward those in
greatest need of our services
Bless all that we do here in this gathering; may it be a holy work done in
We ask this in the name of Jesus and in the power of the Spirit.
- Offered by Jeff Coleman
Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi
Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace!
That where there is hatred, I may bring love.
That where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness.
That where there is discord, I may bring harmony.
That where there is error, I may bring truth.
That where there is doubt, I may bring faith.
That where there is despair, I may bring hope.
That where there are shadows, I may bring light.
That where there is sadness, I may bring joy.
Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort, than to be comforted.
To understand, than to be understood.
To love, than to be loved.
For it is by self-forgetting that one finds.
It is by forgiving that one is forgiven.
It is by dying that one awakens to Eternal Life.
- Saint Francis of Assisi; Offered by Janice Walker
You, the One
You, the one
From whom on different paths
All of us have come.
To whom on different paths
All of us are going.
Make strong in our hearts what unites us;
Build bridges across all that divides us;
United make us rejoice in our diversity.
And at one in our witness to your peace,
A rainbow to your glory.
- David Steindl-Rast OSB; Offered b Janice Walker
Recognizing God in All Things
At the start of a new academic year, I've been thinking about rituals. Rituals have the power to bring together a community, to inculcate a sense of identity. I suspect that, as humans, we crave the sense of belonging that rituals have always provided. Think of the feeling of standing alongside 10,000 other people, nearly all dressed alike, and chanting, "Let's Go X" in the Cintas Center. If you know that feeling, you'll understand how a particular kind of ritualized experience has become central to our communal identity at Xavier. (And I'm thankful for that).
I'm not thinking of March quite yet, though. I'm thinking of September. I'm looking forward to the spirit celebration next Tuesday -- the Mass of the Holy Spirit that Xavier has been celebrating since 1840 and that Jesuit schools have been celebrating, as I'm told by Brother Darrell, since 1548.
I'm also thinking of the new ritual introduced this year at the close of Manresa: a closing ceremony in which students each signed the Student Commitment and then was "pinned" by a Manresa leader. This new ritual symbolizes our new students' entrance into the Xavier community; it signifies their commitment to uphold our standards.
Finally, as I've been thinking of rituals, I have also reflected on the function of the opening prayers offered at Cabinet and some other meetings. Part of the power of such prayers, I believe, comes in their identity as rituals. I am reminded of what the theologian Frederick Buechner wrote in ‘Wishful Thinking’. You may have heard someone quote his famous definition of vocation: "The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet."
Here's what Buechner writes about ritual:
A wedding. A handshake. A kiss. A coronation. A parade. A dance. A meal. A graduation. A Mass.
A ritual is the performance of an intuition, the rehearsal of a dream, the playing of a game.
A sacrament is the breaking through of the sacred into the profane;
A ritual is the ceremonial acting out of the profane in order to show forth its sacredness.
A sacrament is God offering his holiness to [people];
A ritual is [people] raising up the holiness of their humanity to God.
If I were to paraphrase Buechner, I might say: Rituals help us to see God in all things- even meetings. Please pray with me.
O God, we thank you for the periodic reminders you offer us to look around and to recognize you in all things, even in the most profane. We thank you for the moments in which we -- diverse individuals -- experience together a deep sense of community.
We ask you to bless the first-year students as they find themselves and their places within our community. We remember to you those in Texas recovering from a terrible storm, and those in Puerto Rico and elsewhere bracing for another.
And today we especially remember to you our country's young immigrants and their families, as they await a momentous decision about DACA and our country's immigration policy. As ever, we pray for our President and elected officials, that you may give them wisdom as they work for the common good.
- Offered by David Mengel
The New Serenity Prayer
God, grant me the serenity
to accept the people I cannot change,
which is pretty much everyone,
since I'm clearly not you, God.
At least not the last time I checked.
And while you're at it, God,
please give me the courage
to change what I need to change about myself,
which is frankly a lot, since, once again,
I'm not you, which means I'm not perfect.
It's better for me to focus on changing myself
than to worry about changing other people,
who, as you'll no doubt remember me saying,
I can't change anyway.
Finally, give me the wisdom to just shut up
whenever I think that I'm clearly smarter
than everyone else in the room,
that no one knows what they're talking about except me,
or that I alone have all the answers.
grant me the wisdom
to remember that I'm
- James Martin, SJ;
Offered by Gary Massa
The Thomas Merton Prayer
My God, I do not know what must come to me today.
But I am certain that nothing can happen to me
that you have not foreseen, decreed, and ordained
from all eternity.
That is sufficient for me.
I adore your impenetrable and eternal designs
to which I submit with all my heart.
I desire, I accept them all, and I unite my sacrifice to that of Jesus Christ, my divine Savior.
I ask in his name and through his infinite merits,
patience in my trials, and perfect and entire
to all that comes to me by your good pleasure.
- St. Joseph Pignatelli, SJ
Offered by Aaron Meis