Skip to main content

Visual Thinking

Presented by Fr. Timothy Brown, S.J.

Intellectual Excellence

  • Excellence in a discipline, including understanding of the relationship between one's discipline and other disciplines; understanding the interconnectedness of all knowledge
  • Habits of intellectual curiosity, honesty, humility, and persistence

Reading is the Soul's Food...

"Reading is the soul's food, light, lamp, refuge, consolation, and the spice of every spiritual savor. It feeds the hungry, it illuminates the person sitting in darkness; to refugee's from shipwreck or war it comes with bread. It comforts the contrite heart, it contains the passions of the body with the hope of reward. When temptations attack, it counters them with the teaching and example of the saints... In the bread box of sacred reading are breads baked in an over, breads roasted on a grill, or cooked in a frying pan, breads made with the first fruits and sprinkled with oil, and barley cakes. So, when this table is approached by people from any walk of life, age, sex, status or ability, they will all be filled with the refreshment that suits them."

Peter of Celle

Critical Understanding: Thinking, Reading, and Analyzing

  • The ability to evaluate a claim based on documentation, plausibility, and logical coherence
  • The ability to analyze and solve problems using appropriate tools
  • The ability to make sound judgments in complex and changing environments
  • Freedom from narrow, solipsistic, or parochial thinking

"Song of the Builders"

On a summer morning I sat down
on a hillside
to think about God-

a worthy pastime.
Near me, I saw
a single cricket;
it was moving the grains of the hillside

this way and that way. 
How great was its energy, 
how humble its effort. 
Let us hope

it will always be like this,
each of us going on
in our inexplicable ways
building the universe.

- Mary Oliver

Critical Understanding

  • The ability to use mathematical concepts and procedures competently, and to evaluate claims made in numeric terms
  • The ability to find and assess data about a given topic using general repositories of information, both printed and electronic
  • The ability to use information technology in research and problem solving, with an appreciate of its advantages and limitations

Sister Bernadette's Barking Dog

That was it: subject, predicate and the little modifying article that civilized the sentence- all of it made into a picture that was every bit as clear and informative as an actual portrait of a beagle mid-woof. The thrilling part was that this was a picture not of the animal but of the words that stood for the animal and its noises. It was a representation of something that was both concrete (we could hear the words if we said them aloud, and they conveyed an actual event) and abstract (the words were invisible, and their sounds vanished from the air as soon as they were uttered). The diagram was the bridge between a dog and the description of a dog. It was a bit like art, a bit like mathematics. It was much more than words uttered, or words written on a piece of paper: it was a picture of language. - Kitty Burns Florey

Eloquentia Perfecta

  • The ability to use speech and writing effectively, logically, gracefully, persuasively and responsibly
  • Critical understanding of and competence in a broad range of communications media
  • Competence in a language other than one's own


Masons, when they start upon a building,
Are careful to test out the scaffolding;

Make sure that planks won't slip at busy points,
Secure all ladders, tighten bolted joints.

And yet all this comes down when the job's done,
Showing off walls of sure and solid stone.

So if, my dear, there sometimes seem to be
Old bridges breaking between you and me,

Never fear. We may let the scaffolds fall,
Confident that we have built our wall.

- Seamus Heaney


  • An appreciation of beauty, both natural and man-made
  • A cultivated response to the arts, and the ability to express oneself about the aesthetic experience


  • An understanding of one's strengths and capabilities as a leader and the responsibility one has to use leadership strengths for the common good
  • A willingness to act as an agent for positive change, informed by a sense of responsibility to the larger community

This I Believe

I believe in my eyes.
The eyes that are the gate way to understanding
Or the windows to my soul

The windows to my soul? psh
For if these are my windows then they are
shattered, battered, broken
They are splintered,
Shards of glass that
Drop like tears to reveal the loneliness,
the brokenness inside.

Glass that
Falls like tears
Drip, drip, drop-
Stagger onto my cheeks
Staining them with the lines of forced smiles.
And drip, drip, drop
Slide like daggers into my heart.

For if these eyes are the windows to my
soul than they are also the mirrors to the world.
A world I have seen,
A world I have felt,
The world I have loved.

These mirrors, or these eyes, act as my
motivator, my protector, and my greatest enemy.
They glisten with fear, sweat, hurt, and beauty
And I think...

Am I right? Is this right?

They tell me that now that I have seen...
I am responsible.

My eyes twitch each time I think of my responsibilities
It presses down on my shoulders
Not like a brick
Not like a weight
But like the arms of a child- begging for support
Because I know,
And they know I know
Now that I have seen
I am responsible.

You know...
I have a tattoo that reads-
To awaken.
And the last time I checked?
You have to open your eyes to wake up.

So wake up!
Look before you to see the beauty that lies ahead,
And glance behind to remember the lessons learned.

Then LOOK UP and let the sun blind you,
the tears kiss you, and the darkness cover you.
But wake up-
Keep your eyes open-
Keep your eyes open and believe

Because I
I believe in my eyes
The eyes that don't lie
When every other part of my body screams
NO- they cry YES

I can't hide behind my eyes,
And nothing can hide from them.
With my eyes I see all.

So now that I have seen I am responsible.

But now that I have seen,
I know that the world does not just need eyes.
It yearns to show those eyes that it
not only needs eyes to see-
But hands to hold
And hearts to break
Because only a broken heart can love as
deeply as the world needs.

And broken is how I see the world

Now that I have seen I am responsible.

- Katherine Clair, '13

Faith and Mission

  • An understanding of the mission of the Catholic university as an institution dedicated to exploring the intersection of faith and reason, and experience and competence in exploring that intersection
  • An understanding of the mission of the Society of Jesus and of the religious Sisters of Mercy, especially of what it means to teach, learn, lead, and serve "for the greater glory of God"

Finding God in All Things

  • There is much we can learn from St. Ignatius and his early companions as we journey through college. For Ignatius, even the smallest things could make his spirit soar in unity with God. At the sight of a little plant, a leaf, a flower, a tiny animal, Ignatius could reach through to the God he witnessed in each.
  • If we seek God in even the smallest things, we will find God in all things- not only our successes, but our disappointments; not only our triumphs, but our tragedies; not only our joy, but our sorrow.

Faith and Mission

  • A habit of thoughtful, prayerful, and responsible discernment of the voice of God in daily life; a mature faith
  • Habits of reflection in solitude and in community
  • A commitment to put faith into action

God's Grandeur

The world is charged with the grandeur of God
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil
And for all this, never is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

-Gerald Manley Hopkins. S.J.

Promotion of Justice

  • An appreciation of the great moral issues of our time: the sanctity of human life, poverty, racism, genocide, war and peace, religious tolerance and intolerance, the defense of human rights, and the environmental impact of human activity
  • Commitment to promote justice for all, based on a respect for the dignity and sanctity of human life
  • Commitment to and solidarity with persons who are materially poor or otherwise disadvantaged


  • Recognition of the inherent value and dignity of each person, and therefore an awareness of, sensitivity toward, and respect for the differences of race, gender, ethnicity, national origin, culture, sexual orientation, religion, age and disabilities
  • Awareness of the structural sources, consequences, and responsibilities of privilege
  • Awareness of the global context of citizenship and an informed sensitivity to the experiences of peoples outside of the United States
  • Awareness of the multiplicity of perspectives that bear on the human experience, and the importance of historical, global and culture context in determining the way we see the world

The New Mosaic

There really is something there, but you'd have to be amazingly good or amazingly lucky to discern it. Perhaps with a few more tiles filled in you could do it.

-Tom Brakke


  • Attentiveness to development of the whole person- mind, body, and spirit
  • Ability to balance and integrate care for self and care for others
  • Understanding the importance of productive and responsible use of leisure time
  • Freedom from addictive behaviors

Prayer for Generosity

teach me to be generous

Teach me
to serve you as you deserve,

To give 
and not to count the cost,

To fight
and not to heed the wounds,

To toil 
and not to seek for rest

To labor
and not to ask for reward,

Save that of knowing
that I do your will.


- St. Ignatius of Loyola


From the time of their founding four-and-a-half centuries ago, Jesuits- beginning with their founder, Saint Ignatius Loyola- have had a distinctive way of looking at life. Their characteristic Ignatian worldview has permeated their educational and spiritual apostolates, and has been shared with hundreds of thousands of women and men formed by Jesuit teaching and pastoral care. This Ignatian worldview includes the following characteristic notes or emphases:

  • openness and enthusiasm toward the whole of God's richly diverse creation and for the human person as its crowning glory;
  • hopefulness and pragmatism in seeking graced solutions to life's challenges through creative use of all available gifts and resources, tempered by realism and compassion about the reality of human weakness;
  • sustained critical attention to motivations and choices based on the conviction that individuals, through the exercise of their freedom, exert a real influence on their world and one another for good or for evil; and
  • commitment to a life of growing integrity and increasing service to God and others after the Gospel model of Jesus Christ