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Benedictine College’s new theme,“Where Greatness Begins,” is both a challenging and inspiring theme for a Catholic liberal arts college.
God Himself designed us for greatness. Our spirits aspire to greatness. We feel completion more intensely when we are either in the presence of a great person or perceive that we are members of a movement that will make a significant contribution to the world.
Youth is a time for idealism. It is a time of high mental and physical energy, big-heartedness for friendship and companionship, an openness to the vast world around us, a desire to develop all our God-given talents, and a deep hunger to be in communion with our loving God and Creator.
A Catholic college, with a clear sense of its identity, understands that concentrating only on this world, and all its activities, is incomplete. It leaves us with a sense of emptiness. Clearly we are called to make a real contribution to the material well-being of this world. But we are called to do so much more, to accomplish even greater goals.
We are only here for 70-80 years. Then we must leave. We can’t stay. And we want more to show for our lives than a tombstone epitaph and a few scattered remembrances. We want the assurance that we were part of a great movement to make this world what God designed it to be, and that the contribution we made to earthly progress is related to building up the Kingdom of God, which will endure forever. Clearly we are citizens of this world, but we have another citizenship, in a world and a community that shares in the very interpersonal communion of love and life with Gd. This second citizenship makes us members of all those generations who have preceded us, and will follow us, known as the Communion of Saints.
Every person is called to greatness by virtue of the fact that he or she carries the image of God in their personal identity. God has great plans and hopes for us. If we succeed in realizing that great hope, it will be because we understood what our calling is, and then we chose to cooperate full-heartedly with that great plan. God as a plan, a unique great life’s project, for each human person. We find our satisfaction, our deepest fulfillment, by pursuing this plan.
That great plan has already started. It started in our families and early school years. It advanced during our adolescence and high school years. Now, during these four years of college at Benedictine College, that plan will take a quantum leap. Now the undergraduate student is at the peak of his or her intellectual, physical, emotional and spiritual powers. These four years, isolated from the pressing duties of a job and family responsibilities, are crucial to your on-going formation. These four years will have a lasting impact upon the next 50-60 years of your life.
Greatness begins here. You have access to all the fonts of truth, love, life, beauty and goodness. That is what a Catholic liberal arts college offers. It is all here, waiting for you to take full advantage of exploiting all your opportunities.
Don’t make the mistake of overlooking the role of faith and religion here. Our faith, our relationship with God, permeates the entire college project here. Our faith, rooted in God, has enormous breadth and depth. It impacts upon every dimension of the life of the college.
Recall the solar eclipse of August 21. It temporarily jolted us out of our little world of day-to-day experiences. It reminded us of the immense universe we are part of, and the awesome power of its Creator, Designer, and Sustainer. Because of the gift of Faith, we have direct access to our God, who is a loving Father, who wishes us to be in a personal encounter with Him.
In simple words, don’t ignore the One who gave you everything you have: your life, your heath, your talents, your family and friends, and now the opportunity to prepare yourself for a career of service to others. Grow in your faith.
Greatness comes from our God. He is the source, and highest concentration, of all that we call great. He is the source of all truth, and life, and love, and beauty, and goodness. And He wants us to participate in all these goods, in both their divine and human forms, to the highest level we can reach.
Greatness makes certain demands upon us. It requires personal discipline. Good study habits are only a beginning. We need to grow into all the natural and supernatural virtues, to engage in character formation as well as in academic formation. If we have a disciplined life, then we keep a healthy balance among work, rest and play. We cooperate with our various powers and talents. We avoid frustrating, or blocking, their development.
Greatness is a life fully lived. And this will involve both successes and failures, ease and difficulties, surprises and disappointments, high energy and exhaustion. This is the stuff of real daily life. But we know we can meet any and all of these challenges. We are “connected” with Our God and Savior, from whom all our strength comes. We have our principles and ideals which will never betray us, if we remain faithful to them. We have the example of so many others here in the broader college and monastic communities to give us encouragement.
Greatness begin here. That is why we are all here. That is what drew us here. We are laying a solid foundation upon which we can build our future lives. We want to experience all the blessings God has prepared for us. Thus, may we resolve to put into practice the two great Commandments, which will bring us to true greatness, without fail.
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit …