This summer, across America, commencement speakers will congratulate graduates on their academic achievements, and challenge them to make a positive difference in the world using their new knowledge. These graduates are assured that they have received the best education from the best professors, that they have taken all the best classes, and that they have received the best academic training for the job of changing the world.
In reality, many of the graduates have not received the best training they need to make a positive difference among the people of the world. In fact, most graduates have been fed a steady diet of political correctness and revisionist history. They have been taught that the only true sins are smoking and failing to recycle. They have been taught that it is not the content of their character that matters, but the size of their carbon footprint.
In short, these students have been taught few of the things that matter—the eternal things. In fact, they have been taught that there are no eternal things.
There are reasons to be pessimistic about the world today. Once-Catholic Europe, born of a proud ancestry of Holy Mother Church, is determined to surrender its birthright in return for empty promises. Empty churches, like a photo album of a glorious past that no one dares open, are a sad reminder of what once was.
In the United States, the Church lies in a weakened state. And while the secular nations stand in judgment of the Mystical Body of Christ, the world groans under the weight of the “dictatorship of relativism.”
Yes, there are reasons for alarm. And yet, as I look at you graduates today, there are also reasons for hope. There is much talk of hope today, but many cling to a misguided hope. We Catholics know that there is no hope apart from God.
St. Ignatius of Loyola saw that confident light of the hope of Christ in the eyes of his young pupil, St. Francis Xavier, possibly the greatest missionary in the history of the Church. St. Thérèse’s father saw that overwhelming confidence and hope in Christ in her face, as she conquered the world in her little way. What they saw is what I see in you and what the world needs to see in you: a determined optimism and hope born of the light of sanctifying grace.
As we know from the Baltimore Catechism, our duty is to know, love, and serve God in this world so we can be happy with Him in the next world. That is what you have been doing as a Seton student: knowing, loving, and serving God. You have learned to know more about God each year as you studied your courses, whether it was History or Literature or Religion. You have been learning to love God through your years of seeing your parents practicing the Faith in your home. Most importantly, you’ve learned that God loves you. Blessed John Duns Scotus regarded this fact as the starting point for all theological study—God loves you.
Every time you opened your math, science, or religion textbooks, you were serving God as a student. Now you must serve Him as a graduate.
Some methods may be different as you will find new ways to know, love, and serve Him. This is what is known as conversion. As you grow older, you will find that conversion is not an event, but a lifelong process.
We all learned this “know, love, and serve God” catechism answer as young children, and now it may seem simplistic. But remember these words. Because you will find that, as you grow older, these words increase in meaning.
Inside your Catholic home, you have lived in an environment in which knowing, loving, and serving God was respected and protected. Outside of your home, you will encounter a world of people who are hostile to these ideas.
There was a time and place in which the Faith was so respected that Catholics didn’t need to be experts in apologetics. But no longer. Simply practicing your faith will make the world hate you. It is then that you must remind yourselves of the words of Jesus: “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first.”
There will be times when people will try to drag you down—they will try to convince you that everything you know, everything you believe, everything you love, is a fraud. It is at these times that you must remember what you have learned.
The Holy Spirit will help you to overcome your fear of suffering from the attacks of the world. We just celebrated Pentecost, when the disciples of Jesus were given the strength of the Holy Spirit not only to survive the hostility of the world, but to convert the world.
That is why you have traveled on a Catholic home schooling journey with Seton—to learn to evangelize others, and to give yourself the intellectual strength to protect your own faith.
The things that you have learned these past years will not only help you through this life—they will help you gain eternal life.
The lessons that may be the most simple …will turn out to be the most important.
I cannot express enough thanks to you graduates for allowing us at Seton be part of your lives.
You graduates are members of the Seton family. You are graduating from the school, but you never will graduate from the Seton family.
To the parents of the graduates, let me take a moment to thank you. Over the years, our counselors and I have received the thanks of thousands of Catholic parents. But the real thanks belong to you. Many people look in books or movies to find heroes. At Seton Home Study School, we’ve never needed to look far. We have the honor of speaking to you home schooling parents almost every day.
You home schooling mothers and fathers—you are my heroes. You are the heroes for all of us at Seton.
Pope John Paul II always claimed that a new springtime is coming in the Church. There is no doubt that this springtime is coming. I may not live to see it, but I have faith that your children will. When this springtime arrives, and you look around and see people renewed with spiritual vigor, I want you to do me a favor.
I want you to think back on the days and nights spent teaching your children, especially those times that were the hardest. The hours spent sounding out letters in Phonics. The many times that your friends told you that you couldn’t do it. The weeks you spent re-learning Algebra so you could teach your son or daughter.
When this springtime comes, breathe in the scent of this new spiritual bouquet, and think back to your days of home schooling, and say to yourself: “I helped.” Because you are helping. You are quietly changing the world. Your efforts have made the difference.
On behalf of myself, and my husband, and on behalf of the entire Seton family, thank you for letting us help you teach your children. You could have given us no greater gift.