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Posted January 16, 2005

An excellent book for campus and youth ministers, and parents

Book: Times of Grace: Spiritual Rhythms of the Year at the University of Notre Dame
Author: Nicholas Ayo, C.S.C.
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, New York, pp. 165

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

Spiritual concerns are part of the substance of the University of Notre Dame. The campus remains a place of pilgrimage, a nostalgic memory of years past, a vibrant university for tomorrow’s leaders, and a unique residential community. Central to its spiritual character is the constant awareness that the presence of God’s truth, goodness, and beauty can be found in daily life if we develop the eyes to see these times of grace.

Following “Signs of Grace (2001), in which Nicholas Ayo describes the spaces and places of the Notre Dame campus, “Times of Grace” considers the times and events of the school year. In four parts divided into seasons, “Times of Grace” explores ordinary moments of study and play, quiet times set aside for personal and academic reflection, and official university and Catholic holidays. Ayo touches on the spiritual effects of the first days of classes, All Saints’ Day, Christmas on campus, Junior Parents Weekend, Holy Week, final exams, graduation day, and alumni gatherings. He traces through these shared experiences a common thread of community spirit and individual reflection.

We come to know God through the recurring events of our lives. Wherever we might live, this book sharpens our ability to view the annual events that surround our lives and illuminate their hidden implications for daily grace.

An Excerpt from the Book:

Let us talk about how the academic year begins with the first day of class and in particular how it might feel for the teachers as well as for the students. At the beginning of the semester, when the students do not know each other, they come to class with the hesitancy and feared humiliation of saying something stupid. First-year students especially need encouragement. I take their pictures on the first day with a Polaroid camera and give them a color-copy sheet with all their photos and names. We rehearse their names on the first day, and thereafter I give surprise “quizzes” throughout the semester. So and so, please name all the women in the class. So and so, please name all the men. I ask first names one week and first and last names another week. By midterm most of the students can spontaneously name everyone. To name is to respect in a special way. I have watched students become friends because there was a name basis for a relationship.

Table of Contents:


Morning prayer

First day of class

Opening Mass of the academic year

Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom

Vow profession day

Dorm Sunday night Mass

Saint Edward

All Saints’ Day

Veterans Day

Saint Elizabeth of Hungry

Christ the King


Saint Nicholas

Immaculate Conception

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Information overload

Campus Christmas

Silent night

The unexpected

Church Unity Octave

Saint Agnes

Martin Luther King Day and Roe vs. Wade Anniversary

Saint Thomas Aquinas

Saint Blaise

Vocation Sunday


Saint Valentine’s Day

Sophomore literary festival

Junior parents weekend

Ash Wednesday

The Lenten season

Spring break week

Saint Patrick

Stations of the Cross

Saint Joseph

The Annunciation of the Incarnation

Holy Week

Ordination day

The Fisher Regatta

Final exam week

Graduation day


Alumni reunion weekend

June, July and August