This was originally published over at the JASPA – Jesuit Association of Student Personnel Administrators blog! Thanks for having me write, JASPA!
It was the night before graduation. We decided to have one last barbecue at our friend’s apartment, in the courtyard attached to her building. We all were grappling with the impossible truth that college was over the next day. I didn’t know what to expect from my future, as I had not even secured a job yet. But that night wasn’t about the future; it was about celebrating the past four years at our beloved Fordham University.
We cleaned up and trickled inside, well after dark, to end the night doing nothing much. Half asleep next to my friend, who was writing notes to all the people who made an impact on him during college, I heard a knock at the door.
When our friends came back to the main room, they exclaimed that it was the fire department who had knocked. Someone had decided to dump the burning embers of the barbecue into a garbage pail. Naturally, the pail started smoking, almost setting the courtyard on fire. Doh! Yes, we were about to get our degrees. Yes, we clearly skipped our “Common Sense” classes.
I share this anecdote because it is certainly NOT what St. Ignatius Loyola meant by, Go forth, and set the world on fire.
But it is a funny story.
Go forth, and set the world on fire.
What beautiful, powerful, inspiring words those are. Among many things, my Jesuit education taught me that I have something earth-shattering to give to the world. Not only that, but I have something I MUST give to the world. ‘Go forth!’ because there’s no time like the present. You must get on with making a deep impact, right now!
At Fordham, I learned the following lessons in becoming purely myself.
- I never had to settle into being a “follower” – Each person has leadership potential and I found mine on the board of a cultural club and as an orientation leader.
- My greatest gift from God is my inclination to joy. – I learned to be immensely grateful for each moment I spent on that campus, and to leave each person happier than they were before we met. (Well, within the limits of human nature – nobody is perfect.)
- Faith and critical reasoning go hand in hand. ‘Faith and Critical Reasoning’ was actually the name of my freshman core theology class. I learned to be confident in my faith – that I am both an intelligent science (psychology) major and a devoted Catholic. I learned to speak eloquently, respectfully, and thoughtfully about my beliefs.
- Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam. – (All things) for the greater glory of God. Everything I do should proclaim God’s goodness. My actions will always reflect my faith, and that is something I cannot forget. I should put my whole heart and all my love into even the most mundane of tasks – because it all matters.
These four lessons allowed me to find myself as a young woman. I understand that I have the potential for greatness because of my mission from the Big Guy Upstairs, even if I don’t know what that is yet.
It also means that every single other person is right there with me, as important as I am, in the same human family.
Therefore, I challenge you, Go forth, and set the world on fire!