Five years ago I wrote this first post on JOYAlive.net. Celebrate a half decade of blogging with me!
The ceremony was awesome with the crowd cheering loudly and stomping their feet from different areas of the gym as each of the 410 high school graduates received their diploma. All the expected components were there: the teachers with their colorful regalia, the solemn processional, the hero speeches, appreciation of teachers and parents, tears, hat tossing and enthusiastic parents as their kids went wild.
This class chose the motto: “The world is not coming to an end, we are taking over.” As the best class in the world, they would rule that world because they can do anything they want. They are urged to always have a goal in life. They are told they will not appreciate their current opportunities until years later when they will look back on this day with experienced reflection.
As we left the gymnasium of the familiar public high school, I felt like something was missing. In the last few years, I had attended several graduations from Catholic elementary and high schools and one college. These all had one more element: God. Their ceremonies began and ended with prayer. The speeches honored him and motivated the graduates to never lose their faith in him. To center their life goals in what they believed is his will and not conform themselves to the world.
Now I feel that these public school graduates and their families are cheated out of a higher vision for their lives. On the surface, they aren’t including God when considering whom to thank for their accomplishments. They aren’t asking for the blessing and guidance of God in setting their life goals. They don’t appear to appreciate that everything they are and have is a gift from him, no matter how hard they try to earn it. But hopefully, they will discover that their temporary feelings and the good intentions of their mentors aren’t enough to guarantee their real success or keep them from stumbling.
Our Eagle Scout
The true heroes of this day are our own Eagle Scout, Summa Cum Laud and soccer team captain and his peers. They have grown in their faith during high school and made God an intricate part of their lives. As St. Jude wrote:
Remember the words spoken beforehand by the Apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. Build yourselves up in your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in the love of God and wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. (Jude 17)
These young adults whose goals are countercultural are the ones best qualified to come back in five or ten years and give advice to the those graduating. I doubt they will be invited. No matter how extraordinary their career achievements, their God-honoring speeches are outlawed.
I can’t change the politically correct rules for public graduation or the attitudes of 409 of these students. But I can influence the 410th that I so dearly love and pray for every day. I look with pride on his goals that are shaped by his faith experiences.
His higher education path combines his love for sports, his deep respect for the gifts God gives him, his compassion for the hurting and his confidence that God guides his life. He can inspire those in his circle of influence wherever he goes in the world by not conforming to its gospel and keeping God in the center of his life.