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Things Get Broken: A Jesuit Reflects on Leonard Bernstein’s MASS 50 Years Later

Thursday, September 23
6 – 7 p.m.

On September 8, 1971, the premiere of Leonard Bernstein’s MASS inaugurated the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Commissioned by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in memory of her late husband, the work bore the weight of a decade of sorrows: the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, his brother Robert, and Martin Luther King Jr.; racial unrest over civil rights; ongoing losses in the Vietnam War; the recent Kent State shootings; and much more.

In this lecture, Stephen Schloesser, SJ, will explore not only Bernstein’s masterpiece—and its incorporation of Jewish and Catholic liturgical elements—but also its resonance for our present moment as we try to emerge from a lethal pandemic in the face of grave threats to our civic order.

This event inaugurates the Ignatian year at Fordham, a global observance by the Society of Jesus to commemorate the moment 500 years ago when a cannonball shattered the leg of Ignatius of Loyola. The wound put an end to his youthful dreams of personal glory but started Ignatius on a journey of conversion.

Loss was not the last word for Loyola—as it was not for Bernstein, whose music provides both lament and hope after a broken year.

Schloesser, Professor of History at Loyola University Chicago, specializes in modern European intellectual and cultural life and writes extensively on music, religion, mysticism, Jesuits, and Catholic thought and culture.

David Gibson, director of Fordham’s Center on Religion and Culture, will moderate the discussion, including questions from the audience.


This event is open to alumni, faculty/staff, parents, students, and the public.