Date Published: Monday, March 23, 2020
"Lord Jesus, you were stripped of your garments, exposed to shame, cast out of society.
You took upon yourself the shame of Adam, and you healed it. You also take upon yourself
the sufferings and the needs of the poor, the outcasts of our world … This is how
you make us realize that your Father holds you, us, and the whole world in his hands
… Clothe us in the light of your grace."
This prayer was composed by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger to assist meditation on the Stations of the Cross — in this case the 10th Station: Jesus is stripped of his garments. These words have struck home to me in a special way during this, the strangest of Lenten seasons.
Whatever form of penance we had planned to undertake for this season of repentance, circumstances have forced upon us all much greater sacrifices than we could ever have anticipated. Some of these are widely shared: limits to work meetings and social lives, and deliberations about what to do with very active children whose sphere of activity is suddenly vastly contracted. Some are more particular: specific fears about employment and over the threat of the virus to elderly or frail family members and friends. As you no doubt already know, we at the University of Dallas have had to make painful and quite unwelcome decisions in recent weeks, first concerning our Rome Program and then concerning our Irving campus. I have been struck throughout by the professional seriousness and goodwill of our staff and faculty and by the willingness of everyone to put the safety of our students at the forefront of our decisions.
We have also experienced moments of deep sadness over what has been forced upon us, at the disruption of so much good and important work that is done here at the University of Dallas for our nation and our Church.
It is a great consolation to recall that we are buoyed not just by the strength of our human community, but also by the grace of Christ and His Church. Ratzinger’s words at once pierce and console. He composed the guide for the Way of the Cross at the Colosseum on Good Friday, 2005.
As we find ourselves deprived of many things that we had taken for granted, we turn to Christ, who was stripped of everything: physical safety, companionship, worldly honor, even his clothing, and ultimately of life itself.
Let us take advantage of the resources of the Church in a special way during this Lent, so that we may emerge with a deeper clarity about, and a more vigorous commitment to, our calling, for us as individuals and for the great university that we call ours, the University of Dallas.
Thomas S. Hibbs, Ph.D., BA ’82 MA ’83