Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Happy Labor Day weekend! Just like that, the summer comes rushing to an end. I’m sure many of us still get those end of summer blues, as we sadly say goodbye to the beach, the time away, the chance to kick back a bit. Hopefully there’s a bit of excitement as well though. I know we are all excited here for the great events we have coming up: a birthday party for Our Blessed Mother next week after the 9AM Mass, another Latin Mass on the 12th, a wine and cheese night for ladies and a whiskey cigar night for men (all are welcome!), another round of stump the priest, and of course the Fall Festival. And for myself, it will be great to have the students back in school and religious ed–what a blessing to have them here, bringing so much life and joy to our parish.
Many students in this time are starting new schools, whether they are heading to high school, or maybe off to college, either locally or far away. And it’s those moments which are perhaps most filled with that combination of excitement and dread. New starts for all of us are moments where we get a chance almost to reinvent ourselves. We ask what kind of person we’ve been, and what kind of person we want to become–maybe trying to instill new habits and get off on the right foot.
For our students then, or for the parents of students who might want to share some words of wisdom, I’d like to offer some tips for a great start.
Be confident. When we enter a new place, we are going to be very critical of ourselves and start comparing ourselves to others. All the things we took for granted before will now be questioned, and we can easily think that we are somehow less than others who have abilities that we don’t or different values. Don’t lose sight of your own gifts, and see the gifts of others as a challenge to grow. Learn from others, but don’t forget your parents worked hard to give you the values that you have for a reason.
Be outgoing. Everyone is in the same situation as you are, trying to make new friends and find a place where they feel comfortable. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to strangers, asking questions and learning who might share some of your interests. Join clubs and leave your comfort zone. You’ll meet a lot of new people before you find true friends who share your values and help you become the best person you can be.
Be disciplined. Make a plan to accomplish your most important responsibilities first. You’ll accomplish a lot more when you set goals for yourself and practice habits that help you reach them. That discipline will give you freedom to truly relax when you are able without deadlines hanging over your head.
Be faithful. So many people today think that they can get through life perfectly well without God. While this may seem true in good times, challenging times always come, and without God we’ll only feel helpless and lost. We need help from someone stronger than us, and we need guidance from someone wiser than us. Be sure to pray every day–thanking God for his blessings, apologizing for shortcomings, asking for his help. Take time to get to Mass each week and confession every few months. It may be hard at first, but these are the habits that will help you grow in what’s most important: the holiness that leads to happiness in this life and the next.
As much as these may be tips for students, perhaps we can all learn from them. Are we confident in ourselves, grateful for our own gifts while looking to others for opportunities to learn and grow? Are we outgoing, always looking to connect with others whom we might be able to evangelize? Are we disciplined, always trying to find ways to better utilize the gifts God has given us? Are we faithful, striving to grow closer to God each day? As we all find ourselves at a new beginning, may we see it as an opportunity to take a few more steps closer to sanctity.
Yours in Christ,