It is senior year and nothing is more exciting or more bittersweet than starting your last-first-day of fall semester classes. I can say with all certainty that I will miss greeting friends excitedly after not seeing them all summer and the hustle and bustle of students moving into dorms and saying goodbye to their families. It is funny to think that freshman year it was all so new and overwhelming, but now it just feels like home.
A lot has happened though since that last-first-day, specifically household retreat! I am a member of Disciples of the Word household, which has a special devotion to Scripture, Mother Mary, and holding each other accountable. During the first few weeks of the semester we packed up our bags, hopped in a van and embarked on a camping trip. Early in the week we had rented some canoes and by 10 o’clock Saturday morning about 16 of us were floating down a beautiful river with the sun shinning down on us. During our time on the water, we took some time for prayer including meditating on Scripture, and praying a rosary. Needless to say, there was a fair share of general merriment including joking and laughing, singing, and a number of canoe accidents ending with a few soaking wet household brothers. In my opinion, there are not many things that draw you close to Christ and the people around you like nature does. After everyone dried off and got some food in them, we sat down and prayed together and listened to a witness talk from one of our brothers. The next morning we were blessed enough to have Dr. Bergsma, our household advisor and Professor of Biblical Theology at Franciscan University, sit down with us and talk to us about the importance of the Word. He talked especially about the importance of readings during the liturgy of the Mass and how important it is for us to truly open our selves up to that Word so that we can more fully receive it in the form of the Eucharist. This weekend was sorely needed, especially after a busy first few weeks. It was nice to just be able to have fun with friends and contemplate on the important things in life. It really put things in perspective and has formed the rest of the semester thus far.
More recently, the St. Francis Festival took place on campus and fall is finally upon us. The St. Francis Festival is a big fall festival that falls on the weekend of the Feast of St. Francis and also Parents’ Weekend. This usually makes for one big party full of music, food, all sorts of different student-run booths that sell everything from apple fritters to swords and knives to religious items like rosaries. Needless to say it did not disappoint. Lord’s Day (which is a household commitment on the Saturday before Mass in which we prepare our hearts for the Sunday liturgy) was one of the most impressive experiences in which I’ve participated. With most people’s families visiting, we had about 45 people total who attended, when there are usually about 15 to 20! It was beautiful to meet people’s families and see them interact with each other. It was an amazing and hilarious Christ-filled experience and one I will never forget.