On Tuesday evening, June 3, we will come together here at Nativity of Mary to send off our eighth-grade graduating class. Then on Sunday, June 8, we invite all of our parish high-school graduates to the 10:30 Mass as we offer with them prayers of thanksgiving and ask God to bless them as they step forth into a new era of their lives.
One of the unfortunate phrases that I hear often at graduation ceremonies is that now we are sending these young people “out into the real world.” That seems backwards. It is most often during our formative years when we feel most alive. It is a time, like none other, when we are able to encounter life at a deeper and more authentic level than at any other time in our lives.
Think about the years that you spent in high school and college. Think of the life-long friendships that were fostered at that time. Think of the late nights passed in deep conversation. Think of the times you laughed so hard that your side hurt. Think of how you wrestled with the big questions of life. Think of the dreams you had and all of the new ideas you explored.
So what then is this “real world” into which we now send our young people? Is it a time when now we become too busy to cultivate and deepen friendships? Is it a vapid rat-race in which nobody takes the time to have meaningful conversations anymore? Is it a time when we feel too burdened and worried to laugh and too much in a comfortable rut to try anything new? Is it a time in which we just stop learning? Is it a time when so much that is superficial distracts us from meaningful movements of heart, mind, and spirit? There is little that is real about a world like that.
Here at Nativity of Mary School we take time with the students to pray several times a day. We come together every week as a school family for Mass. Is the “real world” one in which we fall out of the rhythm of continual conversation with God – a life in which we deign to recognize God, oh, whenever I get around to it?
Summer is upon us now. I pray the season gives us all some leisure to reconnect with the real “real world.” Spend time in prayer and contemplation. Develop a routine of meaningful conversation with God. Come to Mass and worship. Grow spiritually as a family. Pray together. Read some spiritual books and learn something that will edify you. Give quality time to one another in friendship.
Felicitations to our graduates. That means we wish you happiness – happiness that is real. Hold onto God and may your spirits always soar.