A lesson from an oft-overlooked plaque

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Michael Walker, Contributing Writer

Photo by Rebecca Rosen

The most poignant thing I ever learned in my past three years here I did not acquire from a teacher, a student or a schoolbook. Rather, a message etched in bronze has become writ upon my heart: “To fall in love with God is the greatest of all romances; to seek Him, the greatest adventure; to find Him, the greatest human achievement.” Saint Augustine wrote these words ages and ages ago, but they ring as distinctly as the bells of our campus each time I pass by the plaque on which they appear, just over in the Cap Bar patio.

I may be deluded, what with my English major’s romantic sensibilities, but it seems that love is not an infrequent topic for discourse in the dovecote-like dorms of our university. There is nothing reprobate in this; on the contrary, what better place exists for youthful Catholics to flit about, especially in a world all too inimical to our plan, our purpose? However, charity demands this of us: We must be radiantly alive, such that within our humble borders and far beyond them, all whom we meet sense that we live for the love that sustains, the love for Him Who loved all into existence. In essence, then, to be Catholic is to be romantic, for Rome is where our hearts are, whether we’ve been there yet or not.

In order to move the will to want each other’s good just as Jesus does, it does not hurt to know what good entails, in whatever way and through whichever discipline. And it is for this reason that we attend university. Such a search should be accompanied by the greatest enthusiasm, for it is the quest as to why one should have enthusiasm for anything at all. Whether we trace the lineaments of the human heart in literature, plumb the depths of mind in psychology, ascend the hierarchy of being in philosophy or embrace the wonderful certitude to be had in the created universe through any of the other sciences, we gain in knowledge of the nature each of us shares, and our nature is made to know the One Who created us all.

But however much we may feel or think, neither mind nor heart can compass what the spirit can. The union with God to which each of us is invited invites us to unite in thanks, if nothing else. Thus, the Eucharist, the rosary, service and sport, the myriad of activities and interactions that throb in our sliver of space and time, can take on infinite significance, if only we let it be so.

As the late Father Leo Clifford, O.F.M., once said, “The only tragedy in this life is not getting to know the One Whom we will spend our eternity with.” To avoid such an outcome, I commit myself to the quote on the wall outside the Cap Bar patio; with Him, what can go amiss?

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