August 30, 2016
Peace be with you! Perhaps it was the first day of August. For others, it may have been on the way home from vacation. Maybe it was during the journey to purchase uniforms or school supplies. For a few, maybe it has not even happened yet! What is “it” you may ask? Why, “it” is the realization that a new school year is ready to commence, and that it is happening on September 1
st! Here we stand at the dawn of the 2016-2017 school year, filled with anticipation and excitement. The change of routine for summertime is refreshing; however, there is also a comfort, a “coming home” if you will, in returning to school in September. For us, it is a great blessing that our September homecoming is to St. Gregory the Great Academy. After all, how blessed are we that the overarching goal of our school is to help our students get to Heaven! It is my distinct honor to welcome each student, parent, and staff member back for the 2016-2017 school year.
Our world is an interesting place these days. As we reflect on our need to guide our students and prepare them for their bright futures, I believe that it is clear that a renewed focus on the Word of God is an important aspect of this preparation. This year’s theme,
“St. Gregory the Great Academy: Seeking the Overflowing Treasure of the Gospel” will help guide us as we carry out the holy work of Catholic education this year. Our school exists to teach our students to know and love Jesus Christ and his Church, and focusing on the rich treasure of the gospel is an excellent way to carry out this mission. Without knowledge, understanding, and love of the gospel to guide us each day, our school would simply be a nice place to learn. Instead, by rooting all that we do in the Gospel of Jesus Christ our school is a beacon to help our students reach Heaven. It is why we exist, and why our parish, families, and faculty devote their time, talent, and treasure to the Academy. What could be more important!
I think it is helpful to break open the gospel “treasures” that we will be focusing on. As we open school in September, our focus will be the “Ruby of Respect.” Jesus teaches us to respect each other, ourselves, and creation. Even when we do not condone an action or a behavior of another person, we are bound to respect the human dignity of that person. How can we respect all of the children of God, including those who think differently than we do, without compromising our Catholic beliefs? The harvest month of October will bring the “Topaz of Joy.” God created all that is good, and we should enjoy the company of others and the good that is in our lives in the way that God intends for us to do so. Imagine the joy of the Annunciation or how Mary and Joseph must feel when they find Jesus in the temple! How will we be joyful followers of Jesus? As the weather turns chilly in November, the “Diamond of Love” will be our focus. Jesus is the perfect example of unconditional love. His love for those marginalized by the society of the day is a powerful example for us. The love which exists between Jesus and His Blessed Mother is a model for us all. How can we love unconditionally? The Advent days of December will bring the “Sapphire of Simplicity.” So often, our modern Decembers differ from the simplicity of the Nativity that the gospel presents to us. Perhaps Jesus would not even be recognized at his own birthday party these days. How can we prioritize God over all things of this world? As we begin 2017 in January, we will center on the “Pearl of Peace.” The secular world of Jesus’ time was not unlike the world we live in today in terms of conflicts and uncertainty. In this chaos Jesus preaches a message of peace and concern about the heavenly Kingdom of God. It is easy to become consumed with secular matters. How can we work to build the Kingdom of God every day? The cold days of February will present the “Opal of Hospitality and Service.” Much as Jesus washes the feet of the Apostles, we are called to servant leadership. Our words are drowned out by our actions; thus, what should our actions communicate? The gospel presents multiple examples of Jesus as a servant leader; how can we follow His example? During the Lenten days of March, we will focus on the “Amethyst of Friendship.” While this may seem like an oversimplification, Jesus was often a friend to the friendless during his ministry on Earth. While not condoning behaviors that were sinful, Jesus recognizes the innate value of every person. How can our friendships reflect Jesus’ love? The holiest days of the year will occur in April, which will give us the “Jade of Faith.” Throughout the events of Jesus’ suffering, death, and resurrection, He consistently declares that the will of the Father was what should come to pass. How open are we to the will of God superseding our own will? As the weather turns warm in May, we will focus on the “Emerald of Forgiveness.” Jesus forgives sins in many accounts in the gospel, and even gives the instruction to “go and sin no more.” He knew that human weakness make it impossible for us to follow this instruction, yet He is there waiting to forgive us each time that we ask for forgiveness and try our best to amend our behavior. How powerful forgiveness is! How can we work to forgive as Jesus did? As we conclude the school year in June, we will focus on the “Turquoise of Prayer.” At many times Jesus shows us how to pray, from the Lord’s Prayer to the Institution of the Eucharist. How can we make prayer an essential part of life, and encourage our students to focus on prayer as we send them off into the summer of 2017? As we move through this coming school year, these ten Treasures of the Gospel will be our guide and will help us grow in our appreciation of the rich teachings of Jesus.