dcsimg Faith 101


Faith 101

  • Commencement Speech: "You are Strong!"

    May 14, 2014

    By: Kelly Hoehn, ‘14

    Faculty, staff, fellow graduates, family, and friends. I would like to take this time to talk about our four Franciscan Sponsorship values and how they set us apart, make us unique. As senior class president as well as through involvement in campus ministry I have been able to interact with many of my fellow graduates and can see how these values are present in their lives and have shaped their education here. As we leave Marian and enter the “real world” these values will help us on our journeys.

    Here at Marian the Franciscan values are not only all around us, on the fountain, the wall of the dining hall, and banners in the chapel, they are also a part of the curriculum and a foundation for the way we interact with each other. Before I go any further I should let all of our guests know what these values are: Dignity of the Individual, Responsible Stewardship, Peace and Justice and Reconciliation.

    Through Campus Ministry I was able to participate in a Peace and Justice retreat where we brought meals to the homeless. One man we met, Malachi, gave us some advice: “don’t judge. You don’t know what people are going through and everyone has struggles, but everyone has dignity.” We were bringing meals thinking we were the ones helping him and he was the one teaching us about Dignity of the individual.  As we graduate and leave Marian University I hope that we all heed Malachi’s advice and respect each person’s dignity. And remember that we will continue to learn even after we leave Marian. Lara Kuczmanski, who is graduating from the Catholic School Educators program, told me that when she encouraged one of her first graders saying that practice makes perfect he responded “no Miss K practice makes progress…Only Jesus is perfect!” Everyone has a lesson to teach us.

    Another value is responsible stewardship, we each came here with talents and desires, likes and dislikes, we received an education where we were able to develop those talents so they were able to multiply and now we are going out into the world as people who can make a difference, strong in the knowledge and practices that we have learned.

    Artists you have developed your talents and are able to open our eyes to issues in new and creative ways, like senior Peter Hayes does in the canvas which he created as part of his senior art portfolio “Blood on Our Hands”. He draws attention to the prevalence of violence in our society, making one stop and think. He and each of us are able to use our talents to make a difference.

    Peace and Justice is described as “challenging one another to venture into new creative responses to ever-changing needs”. At Marian we were never encouraged to just find a job, we were encouraged to discover where our passions and the needs of the world meet. (Seeing as how I couldn’t find where my passion for Star Wars met the needs of the world I decided to pursue other passions and for the past four years have studied Political Science) Needless to say studying Political Science is often associated with joining the darkside and yes the senior political science majors do refer to ourselves as the sinister six however, political science can be used for good.  Matt Duncan, Jess Stark, and Stephanie Torres will all be attending law school, one to be a law maker, one to create healthcare policy, and one to be a lawyer. In each of our fields we are seeking to find new creative ways to respond to the needs of the world.

    Reconciliation calls us to be “aware of the pain, brokenness, and pervading grief in our society” Both nursing and psychology majors are able to heal and bring reconciliation to the pain and brokenness in society through their work with the sick or suffering. My roommate of the past 4 years, Stacy Vervynckt, a Psychology major has always been one to help others talk through their problems or to just listen when friends need someone to talk to. After grad school she hopes to do family counseling, helping to bring reconciliation to familial relationships. She will take the talents that she has developed here and share them with others to help bring reconciliation.

    In each of our areas of study we have not only received an education but also learned values and practices that will help us the rest of our lives. So thank you to all of our professors and other staff members for forming us intellectually. A special thank you to our campus ministry folks who have helped form us spiritually. Thank you to Campus Operations for helping to make Marian a home by making campus a beautiful place. Thank you to our families for supporting us on our journey. Lastly, thank you to my fellow students, we not only learned with each other but also learned from each other.

    I would like to close with some additional advice from my friend Malachi: “You are strong! You can make a difference! Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t.”

  • Service: Anywhere. Anytime.

    May 09, 2014

    By: Matthew K. Duncan

    Out of my many experiences as a student at Marian University, one of the things that I really learned about myself as a person is how much joy I find in serving others. As a young boy, I was shaped by my family’s involvement in setting up the tables at the local soup kitchen and my grandfather’s tireless efforts operating the food pantry at his parish’s St. Vincent dePaul chapter.

    Although service hours were required of me both as a member of a Catholic high school and participant in our San Damiano Scholars Program, I found myself wanting to do far more than the bare minimum. I remember going to S.T.A.R.R. (Students Taking Active Reflective Roles) the first week of my freshman year and wanting to go back every Friday. I recall the love that I felt from the Navajo in Tohatchi, New Mexico at the 2012 Alternative Spring Break trip. I also found interacting with nature at the Oldenburg Sisters’ Michaela Farm to be highly rewarding and peaceful. These are just a few of the service activities that I was a part of while at Marian

    Even as a recent college graduate, I find myself wanting to find ways to serve others. As an incoming law student and aspiring attorney, I want to take on pro bono legal cases in order to be a voice for those who normally cannot afford legal representation. I learned from my time leading S.T.A.R.R. that I really enjoyed mentoring younger individuals as well as those with special needs. I would really like to tutor at-risk kids at some point in this coming year. I want to continue using my gifts and talents to be a voice to those who do not have the ability to speak for themselves.

    Through my various service experiences, I have come to believe that the best way to spread the good news is to treat others like Christ. Our service projects and mission trips are a way to bring a modern face to Christianity. In a world of great suffering and strife, showing others love and compassion are one of the most compelling ways to evangelize to others. By helping the marginalized and poor among us, we are able to realize that Christ dwells in every single person. We belong to a rich faith that requires not only belief but action. After all, the scripture tells us that “faith without good works is dead” (James 2: 17). That challenge continues even after one graduates college. How we treat others will in many ways reflect on how people view Christianity as a whole. Are we being loving and joyful or are we being condemning and judgmental? Our Franciscan Sponsorship values and social justice teachings are not limited to the campus of Marian University. We can serve others in Jesus’ name anywhere in the world and at any time.

    My service experiences at Marian have taught me every single person has innate dignity and self-worth. I have learned a lot about my gifts and talents as a result of taking part in various service activities. I truly believe that one of the things that sets our student body apart is our commitment to service. I plan on taking this with me as a young professional. It is in giving, not receiving, that we find true joy and satisfaction. I would strongly encourage service to remain a top priority in your life wherever God is leading you.

  • Crossroads: Christ's Footprints in Nicaragua

    Apr 24, 2014

    By: Dakota Bullock and Sharisse Yoder

    As Christians, we are called to follow in Christ’s footsteps and serve others, especially those that are different than us. March 8-15, 14 of us at Marian University had the privilege of opening our hearts and creating meaningful relationships with several individuals in San Marcos, Nicaragua.

    The 14 of us teamed up with Amigos For Christ and ventured outside of our comfort zone; we became “comfortable with being uncomfortable.” We used what little Spanish speaking skills we obtained and worked alongside the members of the San Marcos community in their new water system project. Our jobs consisted of using a pick axe and shovel to manually dig trenches for water pipes. This water system is going to provide fresh, clean water for the community that is currently walking miles to the river to gather unclean water for cooking, cleaning, drinking, and bathing.  As one might imagine, this is a big project for them and they are truly invested in the process as they provide 100 percent of the labor and 10 percent of the cost. They were extremely thankful for our willingness to help them in this investment. While there may have been a language barrier, there was not a communication barrier. You could see their gratitude toward us in their gestures, their eyes, and their smiles. We may not have communicated much with our words, but our souls made a lasting connection of servitude and gratitude.

    This week spent in Nicaragua was life-changing. We were exposed to living simply with compassion toward everyone and anyone. The pure joy and love that radiated out of the individuals in Nicaragua, individuals that according to America’s society has nothing, has touched our souls and has provided a deep sense of happiness throughout us. We can only hope to carry the love and compassion shown to us on to our everyday life and encounters with all those that cross our paths.

  • Seat of Wisdom: The FLOW of Prayer

    Apr 24, 2014

    By: Art Canales, Ph.D., associate professor of theology

    I recognize that the phrase the flow of prayer sounds a bit odd. What exactly does the flow of prayer mean? By the flow of prayer, I am suggesting that people get into a rhythm of prayer, that Christians find their own stride to prayer. This brief blog will focus on the flow of prayer on two fronts.

    A Dual Focus to Flow and Prayer

    The first rule to the flow of prayer is to get into the habit of praying—preferably daily. Just as exercising regularly is advantageous for the body, prayer is beneficial for the mind and soul. Without proper diet and exercise, people can become soft, fat, and lethargic. The same principle holds true for prayer and developing one’s spirituality. Without daily prayer Christians can become spiritually soft, slothful, and lethargic. Christians may consider 10 to 30 minutes of quiet reflection and prayer the first thing in the morning as a morning ritual. However, if mornings are too chaotic, try an evening prayer ritual before bedtime. The specific time of the day is secondary, but the time spent in prayer is of primary concern for the Christian’s spiritual edification.

    The second rule to the flow of prayer is to get into the rhythm of the prayer experience. Let the prayer pulsate through your veins, fill your mind, free your soul, and lift your spirit.Prayer can be a “magical” and mystical experience, but it takes time to discover one’s flow in prayer. Like athletes who get into the “zone” while training and competing, so too, our relationship with God can move us into the “zone” with God.

    The flow of prayer, then, is getting the most out of your prayer experience. The German Jesuit theologian Karl Rahner (1982) maintains that prayer is, “an experience of the absolute, holy mystery, the experience of God...different from any other experience. The experience of God lies hidden within every human experience” (Theological Investigations, Vol. 11, 149-162). Therefore, prayer can be a moving inner experience that flows from one’s heart and energizes, renews, and refreshes one’s relationship with God.

    The Power of Flow

    In 1990, Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi, a Russian born psychologist, who taught at the Chicago University, studied the concept of flow in his book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. The book has been used in the fields of education, psychology, leadership, business, and professional athletics. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time Csikszentmihalyi's flow concept is being applied to prayer.


    There is power in flow, which comes from within, the inside of a person’s core; it is an interior power that flows from the inside out. Flow can be described as “the state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter. The experience itself is so enjoyable that people will do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it” (Csikszentmihalyi, Flow, 4).

    There are certain conditions for a person to experience the joy of flow. The conditions for flow to exist are characterized by two interdependent threads: (1) a high level of personal enjoyment and satisfaction and (2) enhancement of one's feelings of competence and efficacy (Flow, 49). Appling flow to prayer means that the person praying must enjoy the experience of prayer and be effective at the work of prayer. Experiencing flow as an activity means that one must be convinced that one’s skills (praying), insights, and discernments (listening for God) are strong enough to cope with the challenges at hand (life situations).

    The Benefits of Flow

    The benefits of flow can be easily integrated into a stronger prayer life. First, flow provides a sense of discovery and awe, and a creative feeling of transporting the person into a new reality (Flow, 79). A person who has truly experienced God during prayer can feel the awe-inspiring presence of God. Second, flow moves the person to higher levels of performance, and to previously undreamed-of states of consciousness. Christian mystics--people who are increasingly attuned to the presence of the absolute mystery of God--have often been moved beyond the temporal realm into the celestial realm as they contemplate God. In short, a strong prayerful experience correlates extraordinarily well with the concept of flow.


    Flow transforms the self by making it more complex, insightful, and meaningful, and to this end personal growth is achieved. A significant time spent in prayer can achieve personal transformation, one of the aims of prayer. The Muslim word Sufi means “God intoxicated”; it has a marvelous connotation. In other words, falling passionately and radically in love with God, this is the ultimate goal of prayer. Flow, then, can be a term that describes the process of praying and potentially having mystical experiences--for those who really work hard at prayer--such as visions, locutions, ecstasies, dreams, and trances.

    Getting into Flow during Prayer

    Prayer is a powerful spiritual weapon and an influential psychological device. In all forms of prayer, we are actually dealing with interlocking networks of relationships: self, family, friends, community, and God. Getting into flow during prayer requires enjoyment, but also concentration during prayer, which allows for God to penetrate the heart and to “speak” to the person while praying. The flow of prayer focuses the individual Christian’s private prayer-life to move beyond one’s self and to create meaning. “Creating meaning involves bringing order to the contents of the mind by integrating one's action into a unified flow experience” (Flow, 216). When it comes to prayer and flow, the goal in itself is not necessarily all that important. The prayer experience of encountering God or reflecting on God is creating meaning; therefore, what truly matters is that prayer focuses a Christian's attention and energy, and involves it in an achievable and enjoyable activity.

    Dorothy Day, co-founder of the Catholic Workers Movement, devoted all her energies of her life toward helping the homeless in the United States find work and housing, and in the process gave them self-respect and dignity. Mother Teresa invested all her passion to help the poorest of the poor not only in Calcutta but also around the world. Both women are shining examples for the power of flow in their lives because their lives were given to a single-minded purpose, based on unconditional love for others and having a tremendous faith in God. There have been millions of people throughout salvation-history that have experienced flow in a spiritual way in order to make meaning in their own lives as well as in others. The real question is: in which ways will you allow prayer to flow throughout your life?


    Photo: jjjj56cp https://flic.kr/p/a5A3e1 CC

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