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A message to 2018 graduates
by John Horvatt II

 

It is that time of the year again when students graduate from their high schools and colleges. The graduation ceremony is a rite of passage that is so much a part of our tradition. Commencement speakers call upon graduates to dream, hope and plan for the future. While such words may seem proper for these exuberant youth, they often go unheeded.

If I were to give a commencement speech, I should want to do something different. Generally, speakers either deliver a change-the-world pep talk or a face-the-world sermon.

My angle would address the act of graduation itself, for if handled well, the consequences will follow naturally. It is imperative to encourage graduates to do what they are called upon to do at this time: Graduates graduate. This means they pass from one stage of experience, proficiency, or development to another higher degree. It is a time of passage.

 

The Need to Graduate

This is one of the greater challenges of today’s graduates. Many are not graduating. They receive their diplomas with great pomp and ceremony but do not make that passage to the next stage of life. They stay frozen in immaturity, unwilling to make the decisions that require effort and grit.

After the graduation ceremony, they need to realize that they are no longer the high school or college students they once were. They should no longer play the same games, video or otherwise. They must assume new responsibilities. They must seriously think about their future. They should consider the state of the nation and the Church, which are in crisis.

 

Message to Graduates

My message to graduates would be: graduate!

Graduates! It does not matter if it is difficult. Just graduate.

Dare to be counter-cultural since our decadent culture encourages people not to graduate to anything higher in life. To graduate means avoiding frenetically intemperate lifestyles that destroys one’s future.

To graduate means not looking upon life as an uninterrupted sequence of fun and pleasure. Life is not a beach or a never-ending party; we must progress beyond the confines of our self-interest and gratification.

To graduate means progressing towards something higher. It requires making decisions that will affect the future of self and others. That is what I find so distressing about graduations. So many graduates have little idea of what they are graduating toward. They go to college without clearly defined goals or majors. They seem to desire to extend their high school days for four more years rather than prepare for the years ahead. They often leave college with little more than what they entered—save a great debt.

And so the second part of my message would be to propose three things toward which to graduate.

 

Graduating into Adulthood

The first thing toward which to graduate is true adulthood. Whether graduating from high school or college, all have reached the age of adult.
However, many mistake adulthood as merely reaching eighteen. Adulthood marks a special phase in life in which young people become legally responsible for their actions.

Adulthood means assuming responsibilities beyond self. Adults can create life…and destroy it. They might enter into marriage and constitute a family. Adults can own property and engage in business. They might serve the nation and even die for it.

But they can only do this properly if they leave behind childhood. There are many who refuse to become adults and continue as if children well into the twenties or thirties. These are not to be imitated but rejected.

Graduates must graduate to adulthood.

 

Looking for Meaning and Purpose

Secondly, graduates should graduate to meaning and purpose.

Responsibilities only make sense when life has meaning and purpose. And thus, graduates should assume values and embrace those high ideals that are worth more than life itself. They should desire to fight the evils of the day. They should look for those things that inspire dedication, loyalty, honor and dignity. This quest for meaning might be centered on family, school, community or church. They should embrace true freedom which leads to service, sacrifice and forgetfulness of self.

Graduates should embrace great causes in this time of great crisis. They should exercise Christian charity to all. This might include helping those who are less fortunate, combatting sin and immorality or setting standards of excellence that serve as models for all in society.

They must reject superficiality and hollow pretension; they must graduate to meaning and purpose beyond the confines of their own lives.

 

Understanding the Cause of Things

The final thing toward which to graduate must, in some way, involve knowing, loving and serving God. There is nothing higher in life since it is the reason for our existence. This is perhaps the most challenging graduation of all. It is undoubtedly the most counter-cultural since our world has lost its way and assumes the absence of God in society.

However, the search for meaning and purpose only make sense in the face of eternity and the existence of immortal souls. Graduates need to assume the presence of God in society. They should naturally seek what was once called a vocation or calling that fits them into the plan of God’s Providence.

Thus, while graduation should be a time of celebration, it should also be a time when young people are encouraged to ponder, discern and “graduate” to that higher calling that corresponds to the desires of their restless hearts. Thus, I would encourage graduates to abandon the modern noise and frenzy that leaves so many young people disoriented.

They should listen instead in silence to the voice of God’s grace calling them upward. It might lead to service, family, excellence, art or religious life. It should always aim to combat evil and seek out good and thus find true purpose in life. Now is the time to listen, for many are those who only find their way much later, if at all.

This would be my message to graduates. In the exuberance of their youth, I wish for them every success and dream that is within their reach. However, I would above all desire that they graduate—that they make that passage to adulthood. Let them seek out meaning and purpose. Let them find their way to God and listen for that vocation that He has called them to fill in society. I can think of no better way to start their next step toward the future.


 

Read:  Five Pieces of Advice for Graduates

 

 

Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for January 21, 2021

All the strength of Satan’s reign is due to the easy-going...

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January 21

 

All the strength of Satan’s reign
is due to
the easy-going weakness of Catholics.


Pope St. Pius X


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Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Agnes

Even pagans were moved to tears at the sight of the radiant...

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St. Agnes

Agnes was born around 291 in a Christian, patrician family of Rome, and suffered martyrdom in the terrible persecution of Diocletian.

As a young maiden, she pledged herself to Christ and defended her virginity to the death.

Exceptionally beautiful, she turned down numerous suitors, but when she refused Procop, the Prefect’s own son, things became very complicated. Procop tried to win Agnes with gifts and promises but she answered: “I’m already promised to the Lord of the Universe. He is more splendid than the sun and the stars, and He has said He will never leave me!”

Angered, Procop  took  the maiden before his father, and accused her of being a Christian. The Prefect tried to turn her from her Faith first by cajolements, and then by placing her in chains, but she only rejoiced.

The pagan official, set on overcoming Agnes by any means, next had her taken to a house of prostitution but she was visibly protected by an angel.

Finally, Agnes was condemned to death, but she was happy as a bride about to meet her bridegroom. Even pagan bystanders were moved to tears at the sight of the radiant maiden going to her death, and begged her to relent, to which she retorted: “If I were to try to please you, I would offend my Spouse. He chose me first and He shall have me!” Then praying, she offered her neck for the death stroke.

St. Agnes is one of seven women besides the Blessed Virgin to be mentioned in the Canon of the Mass. She is the patron of chastity, young girls, engaged couples, rape victims and virgins. She is depicted holding a lamb as her name in Latin means “lamb”, “agnus”. But the name “Agnes” is actually taken from the Greek “hagne” meaning chaste, pure, sacred.

Agnes’ relics repose beneath the high altar of the Church of Sant’Agnese Fuori le mura, built upon the place she was originally buried. This church was built in her honor by the daughter of the Emperor Constantine, and is one of the oldest in Rome.  St. Agnes’ skull is in the Church of Sant’Agnese in Agone at Piazza Navona.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

One night, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him and told him h...

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Mary and the Muslim

Don Octavio del Monaco was a wealthy citizen of 17th century Naples. Like many of his class, Don Octavius had several Muslim slaves in his household. These children of Islam were amazed at the kindness of their “master.” He fed and clothed them better than they received in their native land. In return, his slaves attended to their tasks with diligence, as Don Octavius did not over work them, but assigned them duties in keeping with their dignity as children of God.

If these Muslim slaves had any reason for complaint, it was the gentle persistence with which their master and his wife exhorted them to give up their false religion and become Catholics. Don Octavius even went so far as to invite the slaves to join his family in the chapel to worship the one true God with them!

Our story today is about one young slave in particular. His name was Abel, like the slain son of Adam and Eve. He felt drawn in a peculiar way to a lamp that burned in front of a shrine to Holy Mary. Abel would purchase the oil needed to keep the lamp lit from his own meager stipend. As he continued to practice this humble devotion, he would say, “I hope that this Lady will grant me some great favor.”

One night, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him and told him he must become a Christian. At first the Turk resisted. But she placed her hand upon his shoulder, and said to him: “Now no longer resist, Abel, but be baptized and called Joseph,” conferring on him a name that was very dear to her Immaculate Heart indeed.

On August the 10th, 1648, there was much rejoicing in Heaven, for on that day “Joseph” and eleven other Muslims converted to the Christian faith and were baptized. Their conversion was brought about by the kindness shown by Don Octavius and the special intercession of the Mother of God.

Our story does not end here. Even once this son of hers was safely baptized, Mother Mary delighted in visiting him. Once, after having appeared to him, she was about to depart. But the Moor seized her mantle, saying, “Oh, Lady, when I find myself afflicted, I pray you to let me see you.” In fact, she one day promised him this and when Joseph found himself afflicted he invoked her, and Mary appeared to him again saying, “Have patience", and he was consoled.

From the Glories of Mary, by St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori.

One night, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him and told him he must become a Christian.

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