Cannonballs and the Holy Cross: Celebrating an All-School Mass

Cannonballs and the Holy Cross: Celebrating an All-School Mass
Debbie Higgins

When a cannonball comes my way and my plans don’t go as expected, how can I trust in God’s plan for me?

 Lord, help us to find you in the disruptions of our lives, the cannonball moments.

St. Ignatius of Loyola was a man transformed — from soldier to pilgrim — when a cannonball shattered his leg in battle. During his long convalescence, Ignatius heard the call to become a man of God. As part of De Smet Jesuit’s ongoing celebration of the Ignatian Year, marking the 500th anniversary of the conversion of St. Ignatius, students participated in reflection and prayer about the cannonball moments in their lives. They offered up their cannonball moments, in the form of symbolic cannonballs, during the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on September 14, the first indoor all-school Mass since February 2020.

Fr. Joseph Detwiler, an alumnus of the Class of 2011, returned to his alma mater as the lead celebrant. “On the surface, the cross is a symbol of suffering and failure,” he said during his homily. “But it is through the cross that God leads us to salvation.”

Fr. Detwiler shared his own remarkable story of salvation after suffering. During the summer prior to his senior year at De Smet Jesuit, he and his sister sustained life-threatening injuries in a car accident. Doctors informed his parents that he would likely lose the ability to speak following necessary brain surgery. Remarkably, Fr. Detwiler was speaking just seven hours after the surgery. “When the accident happened, we wondered ‘how will we ever come out of this and be happy again?’ We came to understand that that Lord walks with us when all seems to be lost.”

“We worship a God who knows what we are going through,” Fr. Detwiler continued. “When we lay down our burdens, our suffering, at the foot of the cross, we can transform our biggest failures into our biggest blessings if we only give them over to God.”

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