As we make it past the halfway point of August, we are beginning to see teachers and students preparing for the new year of school. It is an exciting time as recent high school graduates take the next step in their life and head off to college, and the little ones enter into kindergarten and grade school. Everyone is anticipating the new things that the kids will learn and the growth that comes from these experiences. I have been able to talk with a few of our students from Saint John the Baptist about the upcoming school year, and every one of them is looking forward to making that step forward into their new year of school with its new challenges. The little ones are simply excited to go to school, while the more seasoned students are making plans about how they will meet the demands of their classes. In any case, we recognize the importance of taking steps forward in life and being challenged because that is the only way we can grow into the men and women we were created to be.
The Church certainly recognizes the need for each person to step into the school of life and to experience success and failures so that we can grow into the man or woman that God calls us to be. Although as adults there is no curriculum for us to follow or a set list of goals for us to meet, we are all called forth to holiness, each in their own state of life. The school kids have it easy because they just have to follow the lesson plan set out for them. Though as they get older and enter high school or college, they begin to experience some freedom in choosing because when they have developed a good foundation, we want to empower them to make their own decisions and to follow the call God has for them as they step into adulthood. As adults, we have the freedom and the responsibility to become the person we were made to be. Of course, we are never left alone to figure out how to live that life of holiness, Jesus Christ accompanies us through the school of life by the Church. You may be newly married or have just become a parent and your goal this year is to become the best spouse or parent possible. The Church offers you guidance and assistance as you become that good spouse or parent. Maybe you have been married and have had kids for a long time. The Church offers enrichment programs and retreats to help you deepen those relationships. There are also opportunities to give back as well, some couples or parents may feel called to be a mentor for couples for the next generation of families, or to help new parents prepare their child for baptism. Maybe you sense that your call to grow this year is to volunteer your time for a good purpose, the Church has many good ministries and apostolates that you can give your time to. For myself, the plan of growth is to learn what the life of a priest is like, especially during the school year, and to become a good and holy one. I ask everyone to help me become a good priest.
So, as the summer wraps up, it is a great opportunity to reflect on the ways in which we rested and enjoyed the fruits of our labor. May we recognize the need to continue to grow and to notice the places where we feel called to grow. The Lord made us to become strong and holy men and women, may we live up to that call to greatness. This weekend we are doing a backpack blessing for the students preparing to go to school, may we share their joy as they step forward into a new year and remember that we are also called to bring what we have into the school of life and to ask God for His blessing on us and this new year of growth.