Xavier School Conducts Red Mass To Start School Year 23-24

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The Xavier School community celebrated the annual Red Mass on Thursday, June 15. Otherwise called the “Mass of the Holy Spirit,” all students, faculty, and staff gathered at the Fr. Rafael Cortina, SJ Sports Center to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

The Mass was presided by the school president, Fr. Aristotle Dy, S.J., who highlighted the significance of the Holy Spirit and its many gifts as the student body anchors its sights to the school’s thrust of “Excellence Reimagined.”

In his homily, Fr. Ari further elaborated on this year’s institutional thrust: how students must engage in consistent and meaningful prayer to achieve greater heights. He then tackled the origin of the Holy Spirit, as well as the importance of observing its seven gifts—wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord—as a part of the school’s culture and heritage. To end, he went over the meaning behind the Sign of the Cross and why it is one of the most significant symbols of the Catholic faith.

The Holy Eucharist concluded with the singing of a recessional hymn and the school song. The Red Mass, in the spirit of magis and cura personalis, sent off the school community with hopes of a genuinely joyful and fulfilling school year.

Read below Fr. Ari’s homily during the Red Mass:

Holy Spirit Mass XS 2023
2 Tim 1:6-8,13-14, Luke 17:5-10

After three years of pandemic schooling, we are back to fully onsite learning, and our school community has chosen the theme of Excellence Reimagined as our guide for this year. You might be wondering why we need to reimagine excellence, when our 6 Cs have always taught us to aim for excellence through competence, conscience, character, culture, compassion, and community. The reason is another C, which is context. 

Our context today is different after two years of XSEL and a year of HYFLEXS. We have all become better with our use of technology, and we have adapted our educational system to the online context. We have learned more about viruses and how it can change our entire way of life, so now we know how to take care of ourselves better. As we shift to doing things in person again, with only one day a week online, we need to be open to new ways of learning, and we need to act against our natural impulses to take it easy and just relax. This is why we need the help of the Holy Spirit. 

There will be a lot of going back to basics this school year. This is a good moment to ask ourselves why we start every new school year with this Mass of the Holy Spirit, aka the Red Mass. The Holy Spirit is always with us, after all, so let’s go back to the experience of the first followers of Jesus.

They had three years of a life changing experience following Jesus from his words and his miracles, to his death and resurrection. We have also had three years of finding our way through the pandemic.

After Jesus ascended into heaven, his followers gathered in the upper room in Jerusalem, pondering what will happen now, what will come next. Just as he promised, the Holy Spirit descended upon them like red flames of fire. That’s why this Mass is called the Red Mass, to recall the Holy Spirit descending upon Mary and the apostles. With this gift, they are given so much strength and power and they feel confident enough to go out into the world to share the story of Jesus. 

And then in the Gospel, we have the apostles approaching Jesus and asking him to help them increase their faith. They knew that they had been following Jesus and observing them, but they were still weak and lacking in confidence. With the gift of faith, they would be able to do great things for God.  

Like the apostles, we are also asking for more faith as a school community; we are asking the Lord to increase our faith in the power of the Holy Spirit to help us. 

But the Holy Spirit is not magic. She will not do our work for us. She will not give us the answers to an exam, or write papers for us. It is also not the Holy Spirit when you try to ask the computer to do your work for you. What the Holy Spirit does is to give you the graces you need to be a good person, a good student, a good brother, a good son. The Holy Spirit can work only if you say yes to the Spirit. 

Take a moment and recall what we say and do when we pray the sign of the cross.

We touch our heads and call on the Father, who creates us and gives us the power to make decisions; we touch our hearts and call on the Son, who has saved us and taught us how to be loving and merciful; then we touch our shoulders and call on the Holy Spirit, to help us carry what we might feel is too heavy for us. 

The Spirit is the inspiration behind our creative ideas, who also helps us make those ideas reality. The Spirit is warmth and light when you feel cold and dark. The Spirit is a presence, always there to accompany you if you would only bring her to awareness and ask for guidance. So today, we are listening to the Spirit, and asking her to be with us as we embark on the journey of this school year.  

With the Father, the Son, and the Spirit guiding you, aim high this school year!

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