Throughout the month of December, Loyola has hosted masses every Sunday until Christmas to celebrate the season of Advent. These masses have taken place online through virtual streams. The priests presiding over the masses come from both Loyola High School and Verbum Dei High School, another college preparatory school in Los Angeles. From Loyola, President Fr. Greg Goethals, SJ ‘73 and Fr. Stephen Barber, SJ presided over their respective masses. From Verbum Dei, Fr. Jeff Dillon, SJ and Fr. Steve Privett, SJ ’60 presided.
Barber said, “Advent marks the Four Weeks in preparation for and anticipation of the Solemnity of the Nativity of Christ. With specific regard to our Loyola High Community, it unites us with the local Church, as well as with the People of God throughout the world.”
While students are not able to physically come together as a community on campus, Loyola and Verbum Dei High School have worked together to coordinate and stream masses from their separate chapels.
Sophomore Tyler Kuan said, “Despite the obvious challenges of a virtual mass, the time and effort put into the digital masses were shown throughout the video. I appreciate all that was done to make the mass seem as enjoyable as it possibly could be.”
Fortunately, masses being streamed online reach and include a larger audience and are available to more people. Before, only students or current members of the Loyola community could attend masses like these, but now, everyone is invited, whether that be alumni, families or friends.
Kuan said, “Because of the difference in atmosphere due to the online environment, the masses were more of a reflection time for me. Instead of a lively festive celebration, I found myself more in a calm state of mind, which allowed me to look into myself and appreciate the people around me and everything I have in general.”
In order to better connect and help the Loyola community go through the journey of the Advent season, Loyola has offered an Advent prayer book online. The booklet includes daily reflections, prayers and Bible passages that help us better connect to the word of God.
Barber said, “The positive effects of our common prayer are similar to being in person, if not exactly. It reminds me of our call to being Open to Growth. Life, in this context, sends us an invitation to pray in a new, unprecedented way. Folks ‘attend’ Mass, through video, in a variety of situations.”
Barber offered his favorite scripture to read during Advent: “The Sacred Scriptures provide a wealth, a treasure trove, of rich and nourishing God-Word, at this Season. I take particular comfort and hope in the Book of the Prophet Isaiah. Every Advent, these messages of Emmanuel, ie. ‘I will be with You’ resound in a new and meaningful way.”
During the Advent season, Loyola has also implemented the daily Examen, a brief time of reflection after lunch to help the students grow their faith.
Theology teacher Tika Lee said, “I think the Examen this year can be particularly helpful for students as it directs them to take a meaningful break during their day to pause and reflect. I know some of our students have recently experienced tremendous loss and our entire community is grieving in a way over this whole COVID situation; the Examen can provide an oasis of peace if a person is fully engaged.”
The virtual masses have been a success among the community and will continue until the last Sunday before Christmas, Dec. 20. Loyola will stream a final mass on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, at 5:00 p.m.
Lee stated, “I thought the masses offered by the school were comforting, especially when photos were submitted and shared during the songs. We were able to see familiar faces, new faces, and feel and know that we were indeed part of a community even though physically we were not together. It also was important because it provided some sense of normalcy.”