Graduation thoughts PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 11 April 2016 14:08



With the flurry of commencement exercises these past few days, I thought of coming up with certain ideas and messages to impart to the very happy and excited graduates and their equally excited parents, family, friends and the school faculty and staff.

I am aware that these occasions, so filled with joy and gratitude, are most meaningful to everyone. Years of study, with the accompanying efforts, sacrifices, drama, the fun and tears, just cannot culminate with a routine ceremony. They have to be celebrated with a bang, with life and verve overflowing.

And so what else can be said but to encourage the graduates and everyone else that everything done to arrive at this point was all worth it, and that everyone will just have to move on, pursuing the constant and ultimate goal of knowing, loving and serving God and others.

I felt like having to remind them strongly of avoiding the pitfall of thinking that education is simply a matter of accumulating some worldly knowledge and skills. That would be the worst cut the devil can make on all of us—when he seduces us with a very intoxicating image of success that actually robs us of the real one.

We cannot deny that nowadays there is a strong climate of technocratic culture and secular interests and projects. These, in themselves, are not bad. But when they are detached from God and his providence, then they indeed are a real danger.

Our worldly knowledge and skills can only be, at best, instruments, means and occasions to serve our ultimate goal of knowing, loving and serving God and others. They are not the end-all and be-all.

God should be the sole goal of education and formation.

“Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,” we are told, “and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Mt 6,33) We should have the very same sentiment as expressed in a psalm: “One thing I seek: to dwell in the house of the Lord.” (27,4)

We should not be afraid that by having God as the primary goal of education, we might be undermining the rigor of our scientific pursuits, or that God is a wet blanket, a spoiler to our human enterprises.

Some people have even expressed that idea that God is always a bother in their endeavors, unduly pinching their conscience often. Or that taking God seriously can lead one to have a narrow outlook in life, marked with rigidity, superficiality and naivete.

Nothing could be farther than the truth! With God, the opposite is true. Our knowledge would acquire greater depth and wider scope. The ultimate meaning and value of things, as well as their relative and transitory importance in a given moment would be well known. Let’s never forget that God is the foundation of all reality.

With God, our capacity to adapt to all sorts of situations, whether good or bad according to human terms, and to all kinds of people, friend or foe, would be enhanced. With God, we can even learn to handle errors, crises, disasters, and all kinds of trials and suffering. Obviously, with him, we too would know how to handle successes and victories so that these do not lead us to the pitfalls of pride, arrogance and vanity.

Some ideologies or cultures can come up also with practical strategies to cope with any situation, but for sure, their effectiveness can only go so far. To the extent that they can coincide, either knowingly or unknowingly, with God’s will and laws, then they can work. But they often get mixed up with elements that do not anymore belong to God’s will and ways. That’s why we have to most careful and discerning with them.

As to whether God can be known, dealt with, talked to or heard by us, should be no problem. God is everywhere. More than that, being a father who is full of love and goodness, he is always intervening in our lives in his own ways that often are mysterious to us.

What simply is needed is for us to exercise our faith, hope and charity that should be concretized in some plan of piety that works for each one of us. This will, of course, require humility and docility from us, and this is where the problem arises, because we often find it hard to be humble and docile. We tend to be proud and self-sufficient.

It’s high time that students and the young people in general be properly empowered to seek God alone in their studies and other pursuits.