Mr. O'Brien is currently a first-year regent and theology teacher at Loyola University Maryland.
Happy For the Challenge
As a first year student in college, I remember happening upon this verse by William Wordsworth: "What we have loved, others will love, and we will teach them how." I encountered these words when I was first falling in love with my studies -- and also finding myself increasingly drawn toward teaching. I remember being captivated by this connection (new to me) between loving and teaching others.
Currently my mission as a Jesuit is to teach theology at Loyola University Maryland -- trying to help my students love, as Wordsworth would have it, what I love. And though my own first year of college has now receded into the hazy realm of distant memory, most of the students I teach are first year students. In my view, that means helping them not necessarily love academic theology but rather to love the God who loved them first.
Unsurprisingly, this is a good deal harder than Wordsworth made it sound.And it is precisely this kind of challenge that makes me happy to be a religious, and especially a Jesuit, today. It is the challenge of helping young people notice the many places that their experience confronts them with deep theological questions. It is the challenge of helping them grow as people of intellectual depth, who can engage critically and thoughtfully with the Christian tradition. Most importantly, it is the challenge of helping them become men and women of greater spiritual depth, who desire to know and love the One who has loved them -- and all of us -- into being.