Advent reflections approaching Christmas 2015: this is a season of sorrow in too many places around the world, beset with the horror of terrorism and homicides perpetrated by people with evil intentions. This is an era when civilization suffers almost daily paroxysms of violence and the fear left in its wake. Demagogues rise up in such times to claim the emotions of people fast losing hope in the existing leadership. People yearning for messiahs cling to false saviors offering corrupt promises that will yield nothing but more misery.
The Advent season reminds us of the journey of those who wandered far from home, who found no room at the inn, who took comfort in the barns of strangers for shelter, warmth and a place to give life to the world. Sadly, Advent 2015 finds loud voices shouting the antithesis of the true meaning of Christmas: where we should find welcome, we find demands for higher walls and doors nailed shut; where we should find hospitality we find suspicion and enmity; where we should find genuine justice we find bigotry and discrimination against those who have different characteristics from those doing the shouting; where we should find a sense of joy and wonder we find cynicism and bleakness; where we should find the hope for peace we find terror, warmongering and vigilantism.
Trinity has long stood as a countercultural force for good, for hope, for justice and peace in a world that knows too little of both. Founded by very brave and visionary women who were admant that women should have a place of higher learning to call their own at a time when women were excluded from colleges and universities, Trinity lives this mission in 2015 as a place of welcome and hospitality, a university open to ideas and experiences from all points on the compass, a Catholic institution in a sense that is truly catholic in our embrace of a broadly diverse population of students, faculty, staff, visitors and friends.
Trinity stands against those forces in contemporary society that would exclude human beings from the benefits of freedom because of their birth or belief. Trinity stands apart from those who settle differences with violence, who gain power through fear, who build arsenals to taunt more rational approaches to peace and security.
Trinity is a place of welcome, of hospitality, of respect for human beings in all the wonderful diversity of God’s creation. Trinity is a place that includes and embraces all who share our fundamental values of respect, honor, faith and reason.
If you are Catholic or Christian, you are welcome here.
If you are Jewish, you are welcome here.
If you are Muslim, you are welcome here.
If you profess another faith, or choose to profess no faith at all, you are welcome here.
If you are a citizen of the global community, you are welcome here.
If you are a person who strives for justice, for peace, for understanding among many divergent traditions, you are welcome here.
If you are a refugee from oppression, you are welcome here.
If you have gifts to share with others, you are welcome here.
If you share these values, if you respect the dignity of each human life, if you believe in the power of reason to build a Good Society, you will thrive here.
In this Advent season, let us renew our commitment to live Trinity’s mission and values well and courageously in a world that needs the strength, wisdom and hope of those who carry this education forward each day.