Studying for Eternal Life

Author: Fr. Kevin Grove, C.S.C.

At Trinity College, the largest college of the University of Cambridge, all students sign a matriculation book at the beginning of their studies. Ascending the stone steps of the library designed by Sir Christopher Wren, I was guided by a librarian to my name only after being shown the place where Isaac Newton signed so many years ago.

Trinity College at the University of Cambridge

Simultaneously humbling and inspiring, these sorts of traditions mark my daily experience of Cambridge and doctoral studies. After a Great Court run (the run made famous by the movie Chariots of Fire), we the new students donned our academic robes and gathered in the dining hall at long wooden tables lined with burning candles for a feast.
 

Fr Kevin Grove, CSC studying at Cambridge

Though the event was itself extraordinary, the master of my college summed up the evening with a couple of toasts and an address.  His advice was simple and straightforward. Great minds have thought and dialogued here. He told us first that we walk in their footsteps; secondly, that we should get to work. To be certain, he explained, we only have a few short years to make a contribution to knowledge. And, knowledge changes the world.
 
The wonderful part about this matriculation process is that it is entirely secondary to an earlier one for me. As incredible as it might have been to sign my name in history’s rolls alongside figures like Newton and Byron, the real contribution I will make in this life can’t be captured in a degree but only in my vocation.
 
Yes, God called me to “matriculate” in the most demanding and fulfilling way when I signed my name to my final vows petition, having just professed to God forever the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience in the presence of Holy Cross, my family, and friends. I cast my name in the line of holy men: St. André Bessette, Blessed Basil Moreau, and many more, trusting that God might use me to contribute some sort of sign of His kingdom. And as a priest, the Eucharistic feast is the daily banquet of this calling.
 

Fr Kevin Grove, CSC's first mass at St Joseph Parish, South Bend, Ind

It is out of this call to be a religious and priest that God, through Holy Cross, has chosen me to study. This means that not only am I studying to make a contribution to knowledge, but I am studying in order to understand our faith more fully. That’s what theology is: faith seeking understanding. And a contribution to this understanding, which does take a lot of work, is one that can be preached, taught, and can be useful to others on their journeys to life with our Lord.
 
Christ set forth, and enrolled each of us on a journey beginning at baptism and ending with the resurrection from the dead, one that ought to shape our every moment of every day. And we have been given Scriptures, the tradition of the apostles, and writings of thinkers from every era to help us to seek understanding of our faith. The deposit of faith you and I have been handed is vast and rich; great minds and saints have taught it and passed it on. Not to explore and utilize it would be as crazy as not bothering to learn the best ideas of Newton or the poems of Byron.
 
My studies of memory in theology mean that I read from the Old Testament through the 20th century, connecting the faith of the ages to our journey now. There’s a lot to do and not too much time.  But it’s worth it because these are ideas with consequences—like our vows—that aren’t just about changing the world, but about Christ’s changing us in preparation for eternal life to come.
 

Fr Kevin Grove, CSC at Trinity College

Fr. Kevin Grove, C.S.C., professed final vows in the Congregation of Holy Cross on August 30, 2009, and then was ordained to the priesthood on April 10, 2010. After two years in parish ministry, he won one of the prestigious Gates Scholarships and went into doctoral studies in theology at Cambridge University. He is one of over a dozen Holy Cross priests in the United States Province pursuing advanced degrees to better serve as educators in the faith. Learn more about the work of Holy Cross in education, as well as hear from some of the other Holy Cross priests in advanced studies.

 

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