Dear Fellow Pilgrims,
Well, graduation season is in full swing. Across America millions of people are marking a milestone with great joy and anticipating what’s next with excitement. With two graduations in our own family this year (2017), I thought I’d share the advice I give to each of my own sons upon graduation.
First, live with a grateful heart. You are not a self-made man and, while I congratulate you on the hard work that brought you to this point, I also remind you that you did not get here on your own. Many people, especially some very talented and dedicated teachers, poured out their hearts and made personal sacrifices to give you this opportunity. From this day forward, start each day with a prayer of thanksgiving for all who share their giftedness with you.
Second, you will reap what you sow. If you seek happiness, love and joy, then commit your life to planting seeds of happiness, love and joy in the world. It really is that simple. If, instead, you plant seeds of resentment, greed or self-centeredness, you can expect the world will hand a big bowl of it right back to you.
Third, remember the three rules I gave you when you started kindergarten: always do your best, be kind to everyone, and have fun. Every opportunity, every person and every moment in your life is a gift. Accept and respect these gifts by making the most of them and passing them to others.
Fourth, practice mental toughness. You will make mistakes. You will stumble and you will fail. Everyone does. When this happens, take a moment to reflect on how you can grow from the experience, be grateful for the lessons learned, and then let it go. Avoid the self-indulgent temptation to dwell on your errors. You must learn self-forgiveness before you will ever be able to forgive others.
Fifth, live like the Oneida by nurturing a good mind, a good heart and a strong fire. You need all three to live a healthy, balanced life. This is the Trinitarian approach to life that is expressed in our Catholic sign of the cross as we touch our minds, our hearts and our lungs. So make the sign of the cross several times each day. It will keep you centered and whole, and it will remind you to live united with the mind, heart and spirit of Christ.
Go now into the world and let all humanity see the image of God which you have been created uniquely to express.
Journey well and pray always.