Christopher Lushis
Freelance Writer
May 12, 2015 // Uncategorized

Bishop Rhoades challenges Holy Cross College graduates to live the Gospel

Christopher Lushis
Freelance Writer

By Chris Lushis 

NOTRE DAME — Holy Cross College celebrated their 48th Commencement Exercises, welcoming Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades as honorary keynote speaker on Saturday, May 9.

Addressing the graduating class of 2015, Bishop Rhoades began by exclaiming the need to remain focused on the reality of the cross. “This college is named in honor of the cross of Jesus, the tree of life. Our faith is in a God who has broken open His heart in love in order to save us. He died in order that we might have life and have it to the full. It’s a radical faith, this religion of the cross!”

He continued, “A bland, secularized, lukewarm Christianity is not real Christianity. We live in an age and culture where the dominant elites want to silence the voice of the Church in the public square. They wish to force conformity to the materialism, relativism and hedonism they embrace. They may or may not explicitly attack Christianity and Catholicism; they just want a watered-down version: Christianity without the cross or a cross without Jesus. Neither is true Christianity.”

Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades receives an honorary doctor of humane letters from Holy Cross College on Saturday, May 9.

Bishop Rhoades, who was awarded doctor of humane letters by college president Holy Cross Brother John Paige emphasized the very real choice each person has to either focus their lives selfishly inward or to courageously pour out one’s self to God and others. “Your journey of life is like a drama. It can be an ego-drama or a theo-drama. An ego-dramatic life is one that is just about me, about self: my desires, my pleasures, my power and riches and fame. But this is not true life; it is not liberating. It’s not what we were created for.”

“The true life, the good life, the fulfilling life is part of a theo-drama, one centered in God,” Bishop Rhoades said. “It is an adventure of love, with its gaze outward. It seeks truth, beauty and goodness. Thankfully, we have a Savior who lifts us up to experience this life, the life of grace, merited for us by Him who was lifted up on the cross.”

To live this God-centered life, Bishop Rhoades offered students both spiritual and practical suggestions.

“Have a daily time of prayer, a daily conversation with the Lord, to prayerfully read Scripture each day, and be immersed in the power of the Eucharist, the great sacrament of love,” he said. “Additionally, engage in the works of mercy. This is an essential part of a holy life: love of God expressed through love of neighbor, the opposite of an egocentric life.”

“Think of the saints,” he said, “they embodied the Gospel and they didn’t just talk about it in lofty language. When they saw someone hungry, they gave them food. When they saw someone suffering, they helped them. When we give of ourselves, we find ourselves; it’s about learning to love. I pray that you will never forget Christ’s instruction to take up your cross as His disciples. He reminds us that ‘whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.’ When we live this, we become able and free to live every day with passion and purpose!”

Following Bishop Rhoades’ speech, Matthew Wingard, a member of Holy Cross’ 2005 inaugural baccalaureate class and senior Ana Davidson presented their insights and advices for the new graduates. Wingard encouraged the students to each carry with them a “SWAG, as Saints With an Attitude for God,” to make a positive and transformative difference in the world. Davidson highlighted the importance of carrying forward the lessons and experiences gained from Holy Cross. “Through our education, we have been cultivated in both mind and heart. Our family, friends and community here have helped us see how we can truly make a difference, providing us with both the competence to see and the courage to act.”

President Paige, after bestowing each new graduate with their diploma, commended the efforts of the students, faculty, staff, parents and all those who have contributed to this year’s success as a college community.

Afterwards, Student Government President Rob Lulgjuraj expressed his gratitude to “have the opportunity to serve and represent the students of Holy Cross” and thanked Bishop Rhoades for “both his blessing of the graduating class and for guiding us on our new path to continue to serve God’s people through our vocations.”

Graduating senior Michael Tarala also wished to convey his appreciation having received a Holy Cross education. “Living the Gospel means not only seeing Christ in others but actually being Christ to others. Holy Cross has given me not only the understanding that we are all children of God, but it has helped me be a better man and example in hopes to make a lasting impact on future generations.”

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