The Church of Saint Agnes

1680 Dixie Highway, Fort Wright, KY 41011

The Church of Saint Agnes
1680 Dixie Highway, Fort Wright, KY 41011

Saint Agnes School | Contact Us

8th Grade Graduation Mass

Date: 
Tue, 05/30/2017
Author: 
Rev. Msgr. Donald Enzweiler

(Pour a glass of water from an ice filled pitcher.  Take a drink…to the half way mark.)
 
A positive person might say “this glass is now half full”.
A negative person might say “this glass is half empty.”
A realist might say “some water is better than no water at all”.
A psychologist might ask “how does the water in this glass make you feel?”
A critical person might comment “the glass is ugly…and the water is dirty”.
An opportunist might take advantage of the situation,
pick up the glass and drink the water before someone else does.
 
What I want to know….as students graduating from a Catholic school…
what do you think Jesus would do if he saw this glass?
WWJD?  What would Jesus Do?
 
Jesus would pick up the glass and use it to teach a lesson,
a lesson about living life in the grace of God.
He would say “your heart is like this glass.
Your heart is like a container that can be filled.
And since your heart is the center of your life
whatever is in your heart will determine the quality of your life.
The water in the glass can be love. It can be honesty.  It can be peace.
If it is, your life will be lived in love and honesty and peace.
And since birds of a feather tend to flock together…
some people in the world will be attracted by these qualities
they will want to be in your company and share in your life.
 
“The water in the glass can instead be hatred, anger, self-centeredness.
If it is, your life will be lived in hatred, anger and self-centeredness.
And since birds of a feather tend to flock together…
some people in the world will be attracted by these qualities
they will want to be in your company and share in these
because they too have the same qualities.
 
“Now, whether the glass is half full or half empty isn’t as important as knowing
….the glass can always be refilled.
And like the glass, the human heart can always be refilled.
When you feel like your heart has been drained of love…it can be refilled with love.
When you see that your level of patience, or tolerance, or forgiveness is getting near the bottom
you can refill your heart with patience, tolerance, forgiveness.
I” Jesus says “I will refill your heart with all that is good.”
 
 
“If you examine your heart….find something there that is sinful, or hurtful to others,
or dragging you down into darkness…
you can empty your heart of these
and then let me refill your heart with what is life-giving, redemptive, and virtuous.”
This I believe is what Jesus would do and say if he saw this glass.
 
Graduating 8th graders….life for you doesn’t begin today.   Is this a disappointment?
Life will not begin when you graduate high school.
Life will not begin with college graduation…nor will it begin with marriage.
You’re life has already begun.
You are already living it.
If you were a tree you’d have 14 rings of growth in your trunk at this time.
And these 14 rings will be the support for the next 14 rings.
There is a question to be asked:  “how will my living today, how will my choices today,
add to the strength and fulfillment and goodness of my life in the future?” 
 
As you continue your life’s journey,
as you say goodbye to the way you used to live your life and grow up just a little bit more,
as you see St. Agnes School in your rear view mirror,
I hope you take with you hearts filled to the brim with love, courage, faith,
knowledge, Christian  purpose.
I hope you take with you a belief, even a conviction,
that the life fostered by Catholic faith, the life of Christian discipleship,
is in truth the good life…the best of all the options you can choose from.
I hope you have come to see….
that living in faith makes the most sense in a world that is plagued by evil,
that living as a follower of Jesus Christ
offers the best chance of finding happiness and fulfillment.
 
Be wary of falling into the practice of treating your faith and your church like a gas station.
When the water level in the glass gets near the bottom,
when the gas tank is empty, you say a prayer, and/or come to church only to refill.
Make it more than this.
Embrace your faith and your church as a second home….
a place where you can find the things we all need as human beings:
a place we can feel safe;  a place that contributes to our formation;
a place that lets us know the rules and holds us to them;
a place where joy and goodness are celebrated;
a place where we are wanted and we are loved;
a place that keeps us rooted in the source of life;
and a place that gives us a reason to exist and a mission to accomplish.
If we don’t choose a place to call home away from home…the world will do so for us.
If we allow the world to determine who we become
we will wind up in places we really don’t want to be.
For the world will use us and then spit us out and throw us away.
 
Here’s one test:  if and when the practice of buying and selling
becomes more important to you than the practice of gifting and sacrificing,
it’s a sure sign you have given yourself to the world.
 
I know you leave St. Agnes school with knowledge you will need the rest or your lives.
And I know you will continue to grow in knowledge.
But remember:  knowledge without a spirit makes you a….computer.
I hope you don’t want to become a computer or any type of machine.
Your mission in life is to become the unique, individual human being God created you to be,
a human being with a spirit animated by God’s grace.
 
A great danger in our day and time is for us to become like our technology:
mechanical, unfeeling, uncaring, our value determined by our production.
Where we work and what we get done counts,
but our person, our spirit, and what we stand for are held to be of little account.
We become a number and start treating people as numbers.
Underneath, we start losing our humanity, we start losing those qualities
that make us higher than the animals.  Animals don’t have a conscience.
When this happens we become uncivil and even barbaric in thought and action.
It’s hard to live in peace, it’s hard to be at peace, under such conditions.
It certainly isn’t going to be a fulfilling life.
Beware of this danger.
 
People sometime talk about their happy place. 
It’s good to have a place to go when we need our spirits lifted.
But our happy places are limited.  We need more than they can offer.
We need to be reminded throughout life that we are made in God’s image and likeness.
We need to be reminded that as human beings,
we have the capacity to override our instincts.
We need to be challenged over and over again to do good things,
great things, wonderful things, heroic things, holy things.
We need someone or something to reorient the direction of our lives…
to boot us in the behind from time to time
in order to help us get our act back together.
Such places in the world are few and far between.
This church, the Catholic Church, is one of those places.
 
Earlier I mentioned seeing St. Agnes school in the rear view mirror.
Now I want to bring to your attention to another part of the car:  turn signals.
I know you are not driving yet…but I want to plant some seeds here.
For goodness sake….use your turn signals.
If you ever forget how to use them, come see me, I’ll re-learn ya.
Let other drivers know what your intentions are.
You may know where you are going….but they don’t.
And never assume they do.  Never assume other drivers think like you do.
Never assume that they will get out of your way.
The lesson here is that we need to learn how to get along with others.
We can’t live as if our life doesn’t affect the lives of those around us.
The moment you step foot in high school, you will enter another world…
a world much, much bigger than St. Agnes school.
You’ll have 250 classmates instead of 47.
In college classmate numbers grow into the thousands.
We all need to learn how to cooperate, how to compromise,
how to let go of what isn’t important.
We need to learn how to wait our turn, how to be patient,
how to remain gracious when we don’t get what we want.
We need to learn how to remain faithful to our commitments,
how to let others win now and then instead of always grabbing the glory.
If we don’t learn to do these things, life will be misery.  I guarantee it!
 
Another lesson here…is that in order for people to make good choices and sound judgments
they need accurate information.
If you don’t give other drivers information about where you want to go,  turn signals,
whether you have the right of way or not,
they are going to make bad judgment calls.
And their bad judgment calls will have consequences that directly impinge upon your life.
 
When we become frustrated with our interaction with others,
we can start seeing them as an enemy.
There is an enemy out there that can destroy our life…but it is not other people.
The enemy is Satan, the devil.
The enemy is darkness of the mind (which is ignorance and error),
darkness of the heart (which is hatred),
darkness of the inner vision (which becomes deceit, illusion, falsehood).
 
Closing our eyes to evil, ignoring its existence, dismissing its potential
is like closing our eyes when we are driving.
I don’t recommend it.
It is dangerous and it could be deadly.
 
 
Here’s a story to carry with you as you journey into the future:
 
There once lived a wise priest.  I think his name was Msgr. Don Enzweiler.
His reputation was widely known.
People came long distances from faraway lands to be his disciples.
One day a group of his students came to him.
They complained about all the evil in world, and expressed frustration because
try as they might….the evil never seemed to fade.
 
 
 
“Yes, yes”, said the wise priest.
“I have an exercise to assist you in your learning.”
So he instructed the students “…..go down into the basement….
and rid it of darkness by shouting it out.”
So they went into the basement and began shouting at the darkness.
“Be gone” they hollered. “Leave this place at once.”  But the darkness remained.
 
Disappointed, they reported back to their Teacher.  “Yes, yes” said the wise priest.
“Go back into the basement with a broom and sweep the darkness away.”
So the obedient students each carried a broom into the basement.
Low and behold, no matter how diligently they swept, the darkness remained.
 
Again, the students returned to their revered teacher
and informed him of their failure and frustration.
“Yes, yes” said the priest.
“Go back into the basement with a big stick….and beat the darkness away.”
The students each found a stick, took it into the basement
and began beating at the darkness. After hours of swinging their sticks
the darkness was still there.
 
The students felt utterly defeated.  They sought out the wise priest
to inform him they were giving up.  The darkness could not be overcome.
“Yes, yes,” said the priest.
“Go back into the basement one last time.
his time do not take a broom or a stick or even words.
This time take nothing with you but a lit candle.”
 
One at a time the students descended the stairs.
With the addition of each candle,
the light increased and the darkness dwindled.
As the last student made her way and joined the others in the basement
the darkness was no more.
 
Jesus Christ is the only light that overcomes spiritual darkness.
Carry him with you in your hearts.
Listen to his voice;  follow the path he marks out for you.
But know this:  we crossed into the 21st century 17 years ago.
Since that time, over one million people have been martyred around the world
because of their belief in Jesus Christ.
 
Today’s prayer:  “O Lord, we raise our eyes to heaven.  We ask for Your protection as we pass beyond the boundaries of our younger years.  Keep us mindful of Your grace and open to the outpouring of Your Spirit.  Through Your Son, Jesus Christ, continue to bless us with wisdom, joy and the desire to live our lives well.  Help us to be patient as we wait for Your future to unfold before us.  Give us the faith to let go of what we do not need.  Bring us at last into that Kingdom of peace that lasts forever.  Amen!”