A Message from President Aceves

Dear Colleagues, 


Tradition is a meaningful way by which to share our heritage with others. Traditions also help keep languages and cultures alive by providing a way to communicate one’s cultural identity to others. As we approach a symbolic time for the Catholic faith and Mexican culture, I asked Rev. Fernando Alvarez-Lara, S.J. to reflect on one of these traditions and how we remember and honor those who came before us.

“During Halloween, we see a great number of young and old wear masks and put on costumes. On November 1st, the Church gives us the Solemnity of All Saints, where we are invited to take off the masks and the costumes and we are reminded that before God, we are all sacred creations and there is no need to hide nor pretend to be something else, other than ourselves. Thomas Merton writes: “to be a saint means to be myself. Therefore, the problem of sanctity and salvation is in fact the problem of finding out who I am and of discovering my true self.”

On November 2nd, the Church gives us All Souls day, and the opportunity to remember and celebrate our finitude by remembering our faithful departed. On this day we are reminded that we do not make sense of death, but when death takes place, we are invited to assess how we are living our life, fragile and sacred, and that we are called to find meaning in living and embracing our lives to the best of our abilities.

As a Mexican-American, on November 2nd, I am reminded that we are celebrating one of the most ancient feasts in the cultural life of Mexico: The day of the dead, Día de los muertos. The native indigenous peoples of Mexico toward the last days of October (beginning on the 28th) dedicate a tremendous amount of time and energy in the preparation of this tradition that brings home the dead. Entire communities take part. This feast does not only have an aesthetic vitality, but it has a gravitational pull to bring together families and communities centered around celebrating memories and contributes to enhancing familial bonds. Carlos Pellicer, a Mexican poet, describes in “the garden of fire”:

The day of the dead and all its rituals are a celebration of life…

During the night of November 1st, the cemetery is an impressive place. the flowers over the tombstones are many. But the lit candles over them are even more … All the cemetery, during that night, is a grand garden of fire. The murmur of the prayers and litanies gives warmth to the cold wind. At midnight we have to eat and drink. And we drink hard, because the memories call for it... When I heard: “consoler of the afflicted” I looked up at the sky, and life hurt, and I gave thanks for being alive.”

So how do we remember those whom we loved and loved us? How do we tell our story and their story of belonging to a much larger community of beloved ones?

In the Mexican and Mexican-American context, people are not afraid of talking about death and dying. So, we write poetry about it, make an offering, build shrines in which we engage with diverse symbols, songs, and rituals to tie the living with the dead, find encouragement, and learn to let go, poco a poco.”

Thank you, Rev. Fernando, for your thoughtful reflection about All Saints, All Souls Day, and el Dia de los Muertos. Colleagues, I invite you to participate in the activities scheduled on campus this week that honor these traditions. Let us also remember those who have died. May perpetual light shine upon them and may their souls, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.


Salvador D. Aceves, Ed.D