The Feast of the Immaculate Conception arrived just in time to ward off the noon day demon of Advent at the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts. In honor of Our Lady, the students, faculty, staff, and families gathered together for an evening of rejuvenating festivity.
Throughout the year several banquets are held to celebrate a variety of things—the holiness of a saint, the brilliance of a poet, or the magnanimity of a heroic act in history. These banquets reflect the abundant harvest that flows from a community life centered on what is true and noble.
“Life in a small community has its challenges, but the joy and camaraderie that one finds in festivity nourish the soul and strengthen our resolve to seek the common good,” said Dr. Fahey, president of Thomas More College.
This particular feast began with a show of fireworks, a comical York Play, and a show of expert juggling. After enjoying these spectacles while snacking on roasted chestnuts and hot apple cider, everyone gathered inside for dinner. To set an appropriate tone for such a glorious feast day, students processed with a real boar’s head while singing the classic Boar’s Head Carol. From that point on, the evening was a mixture of violin concertos and madrigals, speeches and toasts, and of course, delicious savories and sweets.
“I wanted to encourage the students to continue taking this Advent seriously,” Fahey said. “It is not the Catholic way to try to stamp out fun, but rather to transform it into holy joy precisely because, in the words of St. Philip, ‘A joyful heart is more easily made perfect that a downcast one.’ What better way to bolster a penitential spirit for Advent than by celebrating the mystery of the Immaculate Conception?”
“It was an awesome night,” said senior, Wilfred Thomas. “It’s great to be in a community that knows how and when to party. There’s a time for penance and there’s a time for celebrating. At Thomas More you learn that you really can’t have one without the other. ”
After much feasting and several displays of student talent, the evening was concluded by a spontaneous session of caroling that lasted for hours. Reading music by candlelight, everyone from freshmen to the President himself and even Father Healey, joined in singing “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming”, “12 Days of Christmas”, and countless other classics.
The Thomas More College has taken to heart the reminder Pope John Paul II gave in his Apostolic Constitution Ex Corde Ecclesiae, that the distinctive characteristic of an educational institution is its gaudium de veritate, that is, its joy in the truth. Every institution finds its identity in a common purpose, and the common good at which liberal education aims is nothing less than the whole truth about man and God. It is in Him that we find our joy, and it is this joy that is the cause of true festivity at Thomas More College.