November 30

Hesburgh Library

Open a book with John McGreevy, the Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History, in the Hesburgh Library as he reflects on work and the sacred.

“I felt this sense of the sacred almost 40 years ago as an undergraduate when I camped out here, writing papers and studying for exams. I felt it even more strongly during the pandemic, when I moved from floor to floor with my mask on, looking at materials for a book project. It’s easy to lose sight of this connection between our work and the sacred.”

In this Advent season, how can each of us create our own sacred spaces in our ability to slow down, pay attention, and open our hearts to the coming of Christ?


  1. Such a wonderful reminder that God is everywhere if we just stop and feel His presence.
    Thanks John for sharing your sacred place.

  2. Thanks John, a nice thought and resonates with me. Lots of time in the stacks finding my futures all the best Chris

  3. I really appreciated this reflection! I love the idea that paying attention can be a form of prayer and openness to the sacred. Thank you for sharing this!

  4. The fact that Notre Dame creates a spiritual and educational bond to its students is immaculate. Truly the greatest place on earth.

  5. John, I too loved the upper floors of the library when I was a student. It was my sacred place to study, be quiet, and to pay attention to the voice of God. Thank you for inspiring me this morning.

  6. So well said. Our everyday activities are gifts we give. Each action should demonstrate our love and gratitude for the lives we live.

  7. Thank you Professor McGreevy. I also feel moved by libraries. Didn’t make it up to those top floors while I was a student. Patrick ND ‘ 72.

  8. Thank you for your insight on sacred space. For me, reflection, contemplation – prayer- comes easily when I am surrounded by nature. Whether it be a steady walk in the snow and wind, or sitting in a thicket of lush green at the height of summer, I feel more deeply aware of God’s presence in the midst of His creation. Your example is no less potent, I think. Just different. In the quiet space of a library, in the “way-back stacks”, I feel surrounded by the guardians of civilization; books as sentinels, if you will, protecting the words of our treasured past.

  9. I will never forget the kindness extended to me by Rev. Jaime Reyes OSB from Puerto Rico allowing me space in the 7th floor of the library offlimits to undergrads. Two men suites at my dorm were cramped with four students in ‘72 when 4 dorms where occupied by our first Freshwomen.

  10. I have always found libraries soothing and calming which to me is a place close to God.
    I have had the pleasure of touring the Hesburgh library and received those same thrills
    myself . Thank you for your commentary.

  11. Love this reflection. Since childhood, libraries and churches have always been my two special, sacred places. Grateful to have them intertwined with such abundance at ND.

  12. Thank you Professor McGreevy

    You are absolutely we are indeed surrounded by Sacred spaces at all times all we need to do is open our eyes, our ears and our hearts.

  13. Memories!

    My favorite part of the library building was Hesburgh’s office. Fr. Hesburgh and his secretary, Melanie, were so kind to me.

    Your Reflection was beautiful!

  14. John, Wonderful place full of great thoughts and ideas. Too bad I didn’t know it until after graduation. Well done, old friend.

  15. John, just a great reflection. I too was a regular on the 12th floor some 40 years ago and can relate. Thanks for sharing! May you and your family have a wonderful Christmas season.

  16. Hi John- this is Annie Boblick Maida from Chicago- Molly O’s old roommate – so wonderful to hear and see you on this beautiful Advent message…. Thank you ! Hope you and your family are well! God bless and Happy Advent!

  17. I love this sacred place reflection. As a little girl I spent much time in the public library with my father, in college many nights among the stacks of St. Thomas. Libraries are sacred in so many ways, as the distribution of knowledge is vital to a successful, charitable society. Thank you so much for your thoughtful reflection.

  18. Indeed paying attention is a form of prayer. How wonderful to think about a library as a sacred place. Thank you for confirming what I have always believed. Books and Prayers, prayers and books.

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