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May 24, 2013

 

With the official school year behind us,  “journey” is a prime topic of conversation at CTU.

Our graduates now journey to new homes and new ministries.  Our current students and faculty, whether they journey to summer work or rest, welcome the opportunity to break outside of the typical routine.  And while our staff keeps the lights on at CTU in the summer months, talk of the upcoming event or vacation infuses us with some renewed energy. 

Although, admittedly, my next three weekends feel pretty exhausting, with trips to help my sister move into her first home, as well as to attend my little brother’s graduation, an ordination of a fellow CTU grad, and the wedding shower of a long-time friend.  Yes, that was four trips, and three weekends!!!

Like our graduates, each of these friends/ family members (the line blurs) embarks on his or her own journey.  For some, it will signal a physical relocation, taking them to places and situations altogether unfamiliar.  For others, it will mean a deepening of roots and commitment to an existing place or way of life.   For each, it is an invitation to further the journey within, to know oneself better, and in so doing, to better know the One who created us. 

So whether we have a grand road trip planned this summer, a “staycation” is more in order, or…we work harder this time of year than all others, know that there is still a road beckoning.

A friend recently shared this poem with me…I resonated quite a bit with it, as it addresses the sort of journey I had to make to get to CTU--the sort of journey, in one way or another, we will all eventually get asked to make.   Probably more than once.

Where are you headed this summer?

============

One day you finally knew

what you had to do, and began,

though the voices around you

kept shouting

their bad advice --

though the whole house

began to tremble

and you felt the old tug

at your ankles.

"Mend my life!"

each voice cried.

But you didn't stop.

You knew what you had to do,

though the wind pried

with its stiff fingers

at the very foundations,

though their melancholy

was terrible.

It was already late

enough, and a wild night,

and the road full of fallen

branches and stones.

But little by little,

as you left their voices behind,

the stars began to burn

through the sheets of clouds,

and there was a new voice

which you slowly

recognized as your own,

that kept you company

as you strode deeper and deeper

into the world,

determined to do

the only thing you could do --

determined to save

the only life you could save.

 

~ Mary Oliver ~

 

Angela Paviglianiti | Director of Admissions | angelap@ctu.edu

Apr 08, 2013

This year, Easter Vigil shone with even greater brilliance as our friend and colleague Valerie was initiated into the Church at St. Thomas the Apostle, parish home to many members of the CTU community.   In the last few days, people have visited Valarie to ask her about the experience, to talk about their own Easters with family and faith community and, to dip into the bowl of jelly beans on her desk—a sweet reminder of our celebrations.   As the visitors have added up, the candy has diminished somewhat.  By late Friday afternoon, I had begun to feel that Easter was draining away…and I sat somewhat uninspired to write this blog entry…

…Until Professor Maria Cimperman, RSCJ, stopped by my office.  For the end of the week, she still seemed pretty energized—and clearly still carried Easter with her.  She shared a question she had posed to her students this week: “We all had our Lenten practices, but what will be our Easter practices?”  

A new Alleluia struck me.  That’s right.  Easter does not end with Easter Sunday, or Easter Week, or whenever the jelly beans run out.   We have FIFTY days of Easter.   We may find Lent to stretch a bit long at times, but Easter Season is actually longer!   

We adopted our Lenten fasting practices to make room in our minds, hearts, and bodies for the transforming Love that is God.  Now is the time to relish, and even revel a bit in the joy that Love brings us—in our renewed ways of being with ourselves, with those we encounter, with the world.

Each year, our “Taste of CTU” event provides an opportunity for our global community to share stories, song, and dance—those from our homeland, and those closest to our hearts.  This year’s “Taste of CTU,” which happened the day we returned from our Easter Recess, modeled some good Easter practices for all of us. It was an intentional time to set aside for joy, even when confronted by fear (stage fright) or obstacles (getting the right music to play).  And by the end of the evening, we were all out of our seats (even this double-left foot gal) dancing together.

We have kept the fast.  Now the dance floor is open.  How will we keep the feast?

Angela Paviglianiti | Director of Admissions | angelap@ctu.edu

Feb 15, 2013

Lent came early for CTU this year, just three days into our Spring Semester.  With all the sudden frenetic activity—welcoming new students, greeting colleagues and classmates we haven’t seen in weeks, reveling in new class material yet unburdened by assignment deadlines—it seemed incredibly unfair to contemplate entering this stereotypically somber season.  Or so I thought. 

When I woke up this Ash Wednesday, I honestly wasn’t planning to rebel, but I couldn’t help being…well…happy.  I moved through the day feeling energized, and while some attributed this to the ounces of coffee I consumed (not a wise way to fast, my friends!), I sensed something more at work.

“I just can’t get excited about Lent! I don’t want to be all gloomy in my sackcloth and ashes,” a typically vibrant student lamented to me.

“But you don’t have to be,” I gushed, with other-worldly/caffeinated energy.   “Lent is so exciting!  It’s a time of possibilities, for us to grow more fully into the people God invites us to be, which is our most authentic selves!”

Growth.  It’s a loaded word. It can indiscriminately become a euphemism for any painful and necessary process we would rather avoid, and I wished it hadn’t escaped my lips in that moment….until our Ash Wednesday Liturgy, when Prof. vanThanh Nguyen reminded us in his homily that Lent comes to us from the Old English word for spring.

Gloom or not, these weeks leading up to Easter are filled with slow awakenings and tentative shoots, as we cross over the threshold of an earthly season and prepare our hearts for a new season within.  On Wednesday morning, I noticed that my peace lily plant, which often chooses to remain flowerless for years at time, is preparing a bloom.  In the next weeks this white oval will emerge from its stalk, turn toward the sun, and slowly unfurl itself to its understated brilliance.

And there, a work of creation can catechize us further.

Whether we call it growth, conversion, or transformation, the work of Lent begins with the willingness to let God in – to be “petal-open,” as the author Zora Neale Hurston called it.  Admittedly, there have been times that this realization has made me wince.  This week it makes me smile.  Broadly.

Will we become “petal-open” this Lent?

Angela Paviglianiti | Director of Admissions | angelap@ctu.edu

 

Dec 14, 2012

Brothers and sisters:
Rejoice in the Lord always.
I shall say it again: rejoice!
Your kindness should be known to all.
The Lord is near (Philippians 4:4-5).

As churches across the globe enter into the third week of Advent this Sunday, the tone within shifts as quiet expectancy momentarily gives way to exuberant joy.   Even as a kid, I welcomed “pink candle Sunday.”  Not just because the presiders wore rose vestments or we sang a catchy “Rejoice” round in children’s choir, but because Christmas, and the beloved chaos that accompanied it—was not far away, but quite near.

Despite my efforts to keep the season, my “grown-up” self can’t help approaching “pink candle Sunday" with a bit of an inward groan.   Christmas can’t be that close.  There is too much left to do:   Gift ideas to be had, travel plans to make, work to complete.    “The Lord is near?”  At times, the evidence seems scarce.  We are hurtling toward the darkest days of the year:  The sun sinks long before I leave the office. On December 18, Old St. Pat’s Church will host the Chicago Homeless Persons' Memorial, remembering those on the street who have lost their lives, often in the most brutal days of winter.  And in the faces and voices of friends and family, I see and hear the pain, struggle, and loss which darken and chill hearts during holidays boasted to be “merry and bright.”  To obey Paul’s exhortation to “rejoice” seems disrespectful, a sacrilege.

It takes the growing light of the Advent wreath to improve my dim vision, so I can see the radiant smiles of students turning in finals, as well as the glowing faces of two dear co-workers awaiting infants to be born yet this month and in January.  And this weekend, I will share dinner with friends brought together by CTU.  I recall also that next week, I will share prayer and fellowship with a faith community eager to celebrate Christmas, despite their shared challenges of mental illness.  This Sunday morning, as my parish community lights that pink candle, and the subdued church lights are slowly raised, I will remark at how well we could still see one another, even before the light was full.

The antiphon for December 21, the darkest night of the year, begins: O Oriens – O Rising Sun – O Morning Star.  It is at once holy madness and Divine sense:

O come, Thou Dayspring from on high
And cheer us by thy drawing nigh;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,

And death’s dark shadow put to flight.

As the sun sets outside my office window tonight, I know the Light is coming.

Angela Paviglianiti, Director of Admissions | angelap@ctu.edu | 773.371.5445

Nov 13, 2012

This weekend, I had the privilege to represent CTU at the National Call to Action Conference in Louisville, KY.  Each year, this conference gathers some 1500 participants from across the country committed to promoting justice in the church and beyond.  In many ways, the demographic of conference attendees resembles that of CTU with its mix of multi-generations, religious and lay persons, professional ministers, volunteers, and seekers.  I thought, What an ideal place to “spread the word” about CTU!

After a short time on the exhibit floor, I soon learned that CTU was already at work among many of the conference attendees—and for them, needed no introduction.  Countless times, I was greeted like an old friend by alumni I had never met.  I had to begin to use my notebook to record the messages I promised to deliver from old friends to members of the CTU community.  Harrietta Halloway, our receptionist (and listening ear), was mentioned with reverence on more than one occasion.  There were also students who studied elsewhere but had been inspired by visiting faculty, such as Fr. Don Senior.   One gentleman had returned from our Holy Land trip last month and was still glowing.   Several expressed gratitude for the ministry CTU members perform in their “free time,” such as Mark Schramm and Steve Bevans, who preside at the St. Giles Family Mass.    An author in the booth across from me spoke admirably about his long time written correspondence with the late Barbara Bowe, treasured to this day. 

I entered into the weekend prepared to do outreach and educate others on the opportunities of a CTU education. I was humbled each time someone approached me and gave witness to the impact of CTU on his or her life and ministry because I was not prepared to likewise receive.  “Thank you for being here,” people said to me, again and again.  My “No, thank you,” felt insignificant in return.

But I say it again.

Thank you.  Thank you for enriching CTU by your presence.  And thank you for carrying CTU with you as you enrich our church—and the world.

Angela Paviglianiti, Director of Admissions | angelap@ctu.edu | 773.371.5445

Oct 05, 2012

 

I have a two-part confession:

1.      I can’t get away from school for very long.  My friends and family branded me as a “professional student” a loooonnnng time ago.

2.     One of the joys of returning to CTU as a member of the staff is to reap the benefits of “being in school” without the pressure of being an “official student.”

It’s true—this week alone, I have considered Steve Bevan’s reflection on “A Day without Vatican II,” at our Alumni/ae Reunion lecture, contemplated the spirituality of Thérèse of Lisieux with Mary Frohlich at our quarterly Sundays at CTU presentation and Mass, and received new insights into “full, conscious, and active participation” with Ed Foley at our Rediscovering Vatican II Lecture Series.  Freed from the task of an upcoming assignment (and even note-taking!) I can revel in the fact that the transformation brought by learning is life-long. 

Of all my CTU learning moments this week, perhaps the most memorable happened outside the lecture hall.  As an auditor in the course component of the Rediscovering Vatican II series, I experience the joy each week of crowding into a classroom post-lecture with nearly 40 students and simply listening to the way the week’s material has moved us.  We span at least five decades of life; we have crossed most portions of the nation and globe; we are religious and lay persons, parents and priests, seasoned and emerging ministers.  And we struggle—intellectually, in the parish pews, and in our communities--to articulate how the Spirit present at the Second Vatican works among us today.  We simultaneously express gratitude and trepidation about where we have come and where we will go as a Church.  Toward the end of our time together this week, our Nigerian classmate Sr. Rita asserted that first of all, education on the teachings of this Council for all the faithful is key.  And second of all, she continued emphatically, pausing to sweep her gaze around the room,

“We are the Church!  So let’s do it!”  

Sr. Rita reminded us that we are sent forth to be Church.  Her reminder holds true for all of God’s people.  We are each called and sent.  “So let’s do it!”

How will you?