Daily Thought For June 4, 2019
Great Words of Encouragement For Some Graduates
One last piece of advice. Be open to human greatness in all its forms: remember the great saints, not just St. Francis or Mother Teresa but also the holy and spirited Joan of Arc, the wise and learned Thomas Aquinas, and the prudent, principled, and courageous Thomas More. (“In my Father’s house are many mansions,” as the Gospel of St. John tells us.) Learn to admire great statesman such as Cicero, Washington, Lincoln, and Churchill, men who fought for free government against Caesarism, chattel slavery, and the evils of Nazism and Communism. Each, in his own way, embodied the full range of moral and intellectual virtues.
Our contemporary world increasingly embraces a self-satisfied “culture of repudiation”, a negative (even nihilistic) ethos and ethic that aims to tear down everything great, noble, and enduring. This culture of ingratitude teaches us to hate our country and to have contempt for classical and Christian, that is Western, civilization. As you move into the world, don’t do anything to contribute to this bitter rejection of greatness, holiness, and nobility. Don’t succumb to sophistic arguments that tear away at your soul. Stay ‘naïve’ and continue to admire all those who deserve our admiration. Fortify yourself in the charity that lies at the heart of the Gospel.
At the same time, never forget that prudence, moderation, justice, and fortitude must continue to inform human thought and action (as they have from the times of King David, Pericles, and Saint Paul). Look up to virtue in all is amplitude, in the person of the hero, the true statesman, and the saint. In the modern world, heroes and saints stand or fall together against powerful currents that want to level everything in the name of a dehumanizing idea of equality and openness. Never be satisfied with mediocrity or a resentment at anything that is truly fine, noble, truthful, or genuinely beautiful. Mirror the true, the good, and the beautiful in your own souls while having a healthy respect for human frailty and sin, that of ourselves and others. Stand adamantly for the right but have mercy and compassion on those who falter.
You will learn to get that balance right. True or complete happiness, unsullied by evil and imperfection, St. Thomas reminds us, can only be found in the most direct communion with our Creator God. That ‘beatific vision,’ awaits us in eternal life. In the meantime, remember that there is no heaven on earth. I think you may have learned that at Trivium, too.
On a joyous note, today is a day for festivity and celebration. Celebrate with classmates, and family and friends. Go forth in the world with full confidence in the powers of faith and reason that have been revealed to you here at Trivium. Be of good cheer and always be grateful for the gifts bestowed on us by a gracious God and by our forebears who never forgot that great Triunity which is the True, the Good, and the Beautiful. Congratulations, graduates! The adventure will surely continue. You have been well prepared to move forward with that mix of confidence and humility that is the hallmark of our Catholic faith.
excerpt from Commencement Speech At Trivium School (June 1, 2019) by Daniel J. Mahoney