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Fr. Hendrickson Shares a Message of ‘Great Hope’ at Mass of the Holy Spirit

Mass of the Holy SpiritAmid incense, hymns, liturgy and the ancient traditions of the Catholic Mass, the Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson, SJ, PhD, delivered a homily Wednesday proclaiming hope for the future.

Fr. Hendrickson, president of Creighton University, spoke during the University’s 141st Mass of the Holy Spirit. A tradition of the Society of Jesus dating to 1548 and a fixture at Creighton since the University’s founding in 1878, the Mass invites the community to thank God for the gifts of creation and salvation and to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit in the coming academic year.

It also marked the halfway point of the inaugural Mission Week at Creighton, when members of the Creighton University and Omaha communities are encouraged to join together in a spirit of service.

While building the case for hope, Fr. Hendrickson cited such Hebrew “Prophets of Doom” as Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Zechariah and Isaiah, who he said spoke truth to their people and to the powers of their day, thus paving the way to a better world.

“These rogue prophets we know so well are often so disruptive, and their messages of doom and gloom are not at all dispassionate or deceptive, but discerning of the realities that haunt their people, and prevent a flourishing of livelihood,” Fr. Hendrickson said.

“So they speak of distractions and even depravities that lead their people astray, and the pleas they proffer — time and again — beg for a refocusing on the right priorities of daily life, such as relationships, proper worship, building community, and taking care of those who are vulnerable, such as widows, orphans, and the poor."

These prophetic reprimands remain useful, Fr. Hendrickson said, for problems of external threats, tyrants, authoritarian governments, “and their corresponding expressions of exploitation, oppression, and enslavement” continue to call for a response.

“Whether it was their people themselves who inflicted misery in their own lives, or coercions from about every which way around them, the prophets were there to diagnose blame, and to describe the horror of both today and tomorrow,” Fr. Hendrickson said.

“And yet … and yet … from Amos; and through Micah; and particularly with Jeremiah, the people’s prophet; but especially, and poetically, here today, with Isaiah, we have a message of great hope.

“Through the dire circumstances of our own bad decisions or the forces of the world that make life unjust, inequitable, and unsafe — always — is the reminder that these in fact can, and are, righted in expressions of wisdom, compassion, and generosity, and that people and places are indeed restored, and made even better.”

This call to identify injustice while proposing a better way informs the worldwide priorities of the Jesuit order, Fr. Hendrickson said, which echo “the indictments of the prophets in that they too suggest skewed priorities in our lives, marginalized and victimized peoples, and threats that compromise personal well-being, political and economic stability, and environmental safety.”

He called on Creighton educators and students to face the “gritty realities” of the world, to harness their talents and, in a joint effort to build a better future, to use the University’s long tradition of teaching, learning, and research to reach into the world, and to help solve global problems.

“We again begin anew, and I invite great hope,” he said. “Let us ‘proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.’”

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