When I first told people I would be attending Fairfield University back in May 2016, I got the response, "Wow, a Jesuit education!" and I didn't really know what they were talking about.
Being a student here now for almost two years, I have come to learn and appreciate the Jesuit way of life, and even adapt their four special values into my everyday life. I have come to learn that being a student at a Jesuit institution, there can be a certain "image" that people associate with you, as the Jesuits are known to be excellent educators and their institutions are known to be second to none.
The Jesuits earn their image by putting four simple values into practice not only in their schools around the world, but also in their everyday lives. These values may seem daunting at first and you may think that there is no possible way to put all four of these into action and be the "perfect Jesuit student."
However, there are easy things that you are already doing in your everyday life that embody the Jesuit values and you don’t even know it yet.
These values will not only enhance your personal life, but will make campus a better place to be for everyone. Here are some simple ways you can start to live out the Jesuit values today.
Magis is the Latin word for “more.” Magis is putting 110 percent into everything you do and always going the extra mile. It is never taking "no" for an answer and putting everything you have into everything you want to achieve.
Some ways that you can do “more” in your own life include:
- Actually trying on your schoolwork and not being lazy or doing the bare minimum to pass a class.
- Going to a professor’s office hours.
- Being an active participant in lecture by raising your hand to give an answer or pose a question.
- Taking charge on a group project to ensure everything gets done and everyone works well together.
- Making time for that club or activity on campus that you never thought you could fit into your schedule, and devoting as much time as possible to it.
- Going outside of your comfort zone.
2. Men and Women for Others
As humans, we are called to serve each other. Being a man or woman for others does not mean just helping the poor and going into the community to do service. “Others” can mean the person that sits alone in the dining hall, the person that lives in the dorm next to you in your residential hall, your roommate or even your best friend. Being a man or woman for others means always being a helping hand, a listening ear, a smiling face or even a shoulder to cry on.
You can be a man or woman for others by:
- Helping that person that sits next to you in class, whether you answer a question they had on the material, explain the material to them when they are confused or send them your notes to help them out. You are a man or woman for them.
- Getting involved in service on or off-campus doing something that you love.
- Holding the door for someone as you enter an academic building or residential hall.
- Giving someone you know a friendly smile and saying hello to them when you walk past them on campus instead of looking at your phone to avoid social interaction.
- Asking a friend how their day went and actually listening to them instead of nodding your head up and down in agreement and adding simple commentary like, "Yeah" or "No way!"
3. Cura Personalis
Care of the whole person and every aspect of a person. Cura Personalis doesn’t only mean pay attention to your physical health, the kind the doctor checks out, but also to the health of your soul, including your mental health and spiritual health.
You can care for your whole person by:
- Taking a well-deserved nap.
- Shutting your book or laptop to spend time just hanging out with friends.
- Going to the gym or attending that fitness class instead of going back to bed.
- Joining a club on campus you have always wanted to join, but have never had the energy to put the effort into being an active member.
- Going to Mass on Sunday with some friends in the chapel or going to Campus Ministry to pray in one of the designated prayer rooms (Fairfield has something and someone in Campus Ministry for all religions).
- Binge-watching that show you have always wanted to watch, but have never had the time.
4. Contemplatives in Action
St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, loved reflection as his type of prayer. It lead him to introduce the examen, a daily reflection that does not have to take long and looks upon where God came into one’s life on that day. After a reflection is completed, St. Ignatius said that you should take what you reflected and put it into action in your daily life to show others the face of God.
You can put what you reflect on into action by:
- Telling someone that they had an effect on your day.
- Keeping your eyes more open to seeing God in your day-to-day activities.
- Taking what you reflected on as a negative part of your day and finding a way to turn it into a positive next time.
- Starting a journal and writing in it when you have time, if not every day.
- Looking at the world around you and seeing how you can make it a better place. Begin by taking small steps and eventually work your way up to where you desire to be.
As St. Ignatius would say, "Go set the world on fire."