Seton Hall University is Catholic to its core. In 2017 – for the third consecutive year – the school that was the best university for Christmas celebration.
Every year, rain or shine, students gather around the large 60-foot Norway Spruce tree on the Green and wait to see the rainbow of 43,000 lights brighten the spirit of a student body worn down by final exams.
I could point to several other examples of the impact that faith has on Seton Hall, including mass, which incoming students – Catholic or not – often attend, in addition to countless alumni who schedule their sacrament of marriage inside the Immaculate Conception Chapel.
Personally, I have grown up Catholic. Having never gone to a Catholic school in my childhood, Seton Hall has given me an opportunity to connect with my faith in a way that I will always be thankful for.
I’d be remised, however, if I did not mention a very significant contradiction, albeit mainly harmless, that I still cannot comprehend in the very center of campus. This contradiction lies adjacent to the very Immaculate Conception Chapel and can be explained, quite simply, in a five-word command.
“Don’t step on the seal!”
The First Commandment as seen in Exodus 20:2-6 states, “I am the Lord your God…you shall have no other Gods before me…You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them.”
Now, no one is bowing down or worshipping the seal, clearly, but that passage is not meant to be interpreted literally. Students will go as far as to spin their way out of stepping on the seal, which is giving an undue amount of power and importance to an inanimate circular plaque on the sidewalk.
By acting in such a way, students are buying into a superstition that the seal will have a direct effect on their academic performance. And as innocent as it may be to walk around the seal, it is inherently contradictory for a Catholic university’s community to embrace such a superstitious tradition when the First Commandment prohibits embracing false idols.
I take no joy in upsetting tradition, however, the more I think about not stepping on the seal, the more I see it as an unhealthy custom. Sure, it may link generations of students together with one corky practice, but surely there are other ways to connect student bodies together.
Being a Catholic university, if Seton Hall students do in fact believe in a greater power, that greater power should not be the seal.
James Justice is a junior visual and sound media major from Caldwell, N.J. He can be reached a firstname.lastname@example.org.