Dear Graduating Seniors,
Congratulations upon your graduation! It’s an occasion of pride for our parish to see you and your families reach this milestone. Ultimately, I am praying for your happiness as you take your next step. And, of course, as your pastor I believe that happiness has everything to do with your keeping a right relationship with the Lord. He is the source of all the blessings that have gotten you to this moment – the relationships, the virtues, the gifts, the skills that characterize you. Right relationship with him will lead to right relationship with everybody around you. And that is also a very significant thing to have in place for happiness.
Temptations that will face you as you move forward in life? One is simply to become lazy about the spiritual life. Your spiritual life centers on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Most people who fall away from attending the Mass don’t make a reasonable decision to do so; they just slowly stop going out of spiritual and physical laziness. So, please keep a disciplined spiritual life thriving from here on in by your commitment to Mass. If you do not yet have a discipline of prayer – especially in the morning and at nighttime – then please start one. If I can be of help in this regard, certainly do not hesitate to contact me. I can make some suggestions. Just as with Mass, most people who fall away from the life of prayer do so without a conscious decision. They just get lazy and busy. Be determined to keep up a daily prayer life, and at least weekend Mass for the rest of your life.
It might be the case that professors or other students in college try to convince you that God does not exist or intervene in life. I found that often in such people’s lives, there’s been some trauma or falling away from the Faith because of the way they’ve been treated. Their stance can sometimes have very little to do with an actual intellectual argument against the Faith. Or I have also found that sometimes with collegians, the desire to stop believing in God has everything to do with a desire to start living an immoral life. It is a lot easier to give in to immorality, if you can somehow make yourself think that there is no God, and therefore no objective moral law given by Him. So, if somebody tries to argue against your faith, realize there might be quite a story behind their compulsion.
If somebody really seems to offer an argument that is quite difficult to stand up against, please do not get all flustered about it. Some of the greatest brains that ever lived were Catholic saints. It is very unlikely that you will hear an argument against the Faith that is brand-new. If confronted with one, take time to seek out answers. (Remember the website “catholicanswers.com”) There are many, many resources out there to help you understand the Faith. Feel free also to contact me, if I can be of any help in this regard.
In this next step of your journey, whether you go away to college or stay at home in the area, please surround yourself with other faith-filled young adults. Good, solid, faithful fellowship is something we all need in order to live life fully. If you end up at a college where there is a FOCUS ministry (Fellowship Of College University Students), please check them out. This is a super solid campus ministry.
Finally, just live prudently. Prudence is a virtue – a strength of soul, specifically having to do with your intellect – that helps you discern everything about the good act (or bad act) set before you. Who? What? Why? When? Where? How many?, etc. Prudence helps you figure out all the details about whether an act is good or evil. Because prudence is seated in your intellect, you never want to find yourself with a foggy, impaired intellect – undermining prudence by abusing a substance or even a relationship. What’s wrong with getting drunk on alcohol or high on some other substance? You lose the ability “to choose the good”; i.e., you lose the ability to choose what love requires in every moment. Prudence dictates the good that Love requires. And to lose such moments is a tragedy in itself, because the human person choosing the good that love requires is so beautiful. But to lose your faculty of reason can also lead to making some pretty stupid choices that lead to tragedy in other ways.
In summary, be determined to live a whole, healthy, happy and holy life. Divine Mercy Parish of Paulding County is so very proud of all of you graduates! For those of you staying in the area, please realize how precious your presence is among us, and continue to be active here at the parish. For those of you leaving for college, know that you will be in our prayers. Come back as often as possible, and move back to stay as soon as possible!
May God guide your every step, and bless all of your endeavors!
In cordibus Iesu et Mariae,