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Father Gregory's First Day of School Homily

Father Gregory Mohrman

The following is Father Gregory's homily from Mass on the first day of school, Aug. 24, 2017:

Welcome back, gentlemen, to a new school year. And as I do every year at this Mass, I extend a particular welcome to our new 7th graders. You are very welcome here, and I hope that your time with us is a time of great blessing to you, as it will be for all of us. I want you to look across the church to where the seniors are. Before you know it, you’ll be sitting where they are. And seniors, as I do every year, I invite you to look back across the church to the 7th graders, and think for just a moment about when you were there. Think of all you’ve experienced in these years, that’s brought you to this moment in your life, when you assume the leadership of the student body. The arrangement in this church shows us that our time here is a process. We move through it — or at least you all do, I stay here most of the time. This process has a purpose. And today is a particularly auspicious day to think about what its purpose is, because today is Father Timothy’s 97th birthday, and he is here with us.

Father Timothy came here some 62 years ago, together with Father Columba and Father Luke. If you ask him, he’ll tell you that while the laity who supported this venture wanted a school for boys, what the three of them were committed to was founding a monastery that would be ever dedicated to the worship of God, and to the search for Him. Of course, we got both, and that’s a great blessing. What was it that they looked for in this school that they started some 60 years ago? What they wanted for you was formation. They wanted to establish a school that would form its students.

What do you think that word means? It’s more than simply education — though that is certainly what we help do for you. It’s also more than simply character development, though that’s also what we help do for you. Formation in its deepest sense is a spiritual experience. The purpose of this school is to help you grow, from 7th grade through 12th, into the young men that God intends you to be.

One of the ancient theologians once wrote that “the glory of God is man fully alive,” and the purpose of this school is to help you live fully, to help you become the fullest person you can be. That clearly entails a deep spiritual training. It’s why we start the school year in this church, it’s why we come together here at least twice a week, and celebrate the Eucharist weekly. It’s why we begin our classes with prayer, it’s why you do Tutoria, it’s why you learn about Lectio Divina. Because you cannot be a fully human being — you can never achieve your full potential — without that spiritual reality, or without you opening yourself up to that Holy Spirit whom we invoke today to be in our midst and to be in every one of our hearts as this school year begins.

The introit that you heard chanted as we entered the Church this morning talks about the Spirit of Love — that the Holy Spirit is most characteristically known by love. In the Gospel, you heard of Jesus appearing to the apostles on Easter night, when he gives them two gifts which are also manifestations of the Holy Spirit: peace and forgiveness.

Love, peace and forgiveness. I would suggest to you all that we need to cultivate these three powerful manifestations of the Holy Spirit as fully as we can in this school year. And I suggest that we need to do that because you don’t need me to tell you that the world in which we live right now does not have much peace, and doesn’t always manifest very much love, and is in deep need of profound forgiveness.

You cannot change that world. But each one of you can, by the way you treat others, right here and now — today, tomorrow, next week, next month; throughout this school year, moment by moment — you can have a profound impact on extending peace, love, and forgiveness in your life. And that will have an impact on the world.

Every person you encounter, we believe, has in some way, mysteriously, the presence of Jesus Christ within them. And every person you encounter needs the love and reverence that you would bestow on Christ himself. If you do that, every person who meets you will be encountering, in a deeply mysterious way, Jesus himself in you. And it’s that encounter that will change this world.

So let’s begin this school year asking for God’s grace in our hearts and in this community of faith, that we may be ever attentive to one another. That we may truly care for one another, and help each other, and extend that love and peace and forgiveness out beyond the limits of this school to everyone we meet. That indeed will make this school year awesome.

“Listen carefully, my son, to the master’s instructions, and attend to them with the ear of your heart.”

Prologue, 1

“This is advice from a father who loves you; welcome it, and faithfully put it into practice.”

Prologue, 1

“First of all, every time you begin a good work, you must pray to him most earnestly to bring it to perfection.”

Prologue, 4

“If you desire true and eternal life, keep your tongue free from vicious talk and your lips from all deceit; turn away from evil and do good; let peace be your quest and aim. (Ps 33[34]:13)”

Prologue, 17

“Clothed then with faith and the performance of good works, let us set out on this way, with the Gospel for our guide, that we may deserve to see him who has called us to his kingdom (1 Thess 2:12).”

Prologue, 21

“If we wish to dwell in the tent of this kingdom, we will never arrive unless we run there by doing good deeds.”

Prologue, 22

“What is not possible to us by nature, let us ask the Lord to supply by the help of his grace.”

Prologue, 41

“Therefore, we intend to establish a school for the Lord’s service.”

Prologue, 45

“The good of all concerned, however, may prompt us to a little strictness in order to amend faults and to safeguard love.”

Prologue, 47

“The reason why we have said all should be called for counsel is that the Lord often reveals what is better to the younger.”

Chapter 3, 3

“Your way of acting should be different from the world’s way; the love of Christ must come before all else.”

Chapter 4, 20-21

“Never give a hollow greeting of peace or turn away when someone needs your love.” –Chapter 4, 25-26

“Bind yourself to no oath lest it prove false, but speak the truth with heart and tongue.”

Chapter 4, 27-28

“Place your hope in God alone.”

Chapter 4, 41

“Respect the elders and love the young.”

Chapter 4, 70-71

“Pray for your enemies out of love for Christ. “

Chapter 4, 72

“If you have a dispute with someone, make peace with him before the sun goes down.”

Chapter 4, 73

“The first step of humility is unhesitating obedience, which comes naturally to those who cherish Christ above all.”

Chapter 5, 1-2

“Speaking and teaching are the master’s task; the disciple is to be silent and listen.”

Chapter 6, 6

“The first step of humility, then, is that a man keeps the fear of God always before his eyes (PS 35[36]:2) and never forgets it.”

Chapter 7, 10

“Let us consider, then, how we ought to behave in the presence of God and his angels, and let us stand to sing the psalms in such a way that our minds are in harmony with our voices.”

Chapter 19, 6-7

“On arising for the Work of God, they will quietly encourage each other, for the sleepy like to make excuses.”

Chapter 22, 8

“Every age and level of understanding should receive appropriate treatment.”

Chapter 30, 1

“Above all, let him be humble. If goods are not available to meet a request, he will offer a kind word in reply, for it is written: A kind word is better than the best gift (Sir 18:17).”

Chapter 31, 13-14

“Let all the rest serve one another in love.”

Chapter 35, 6

“Indeed, nothing is to be preferred to the Work of God.”

Chapter 43, 3

“Idleness is the enemy of the soul. Therefore, the brothers should have specified periods for manual labor as well as for prayerful reading.”

Chapter 48, 1

“The life of a monk ought to be a continuous Lent.”

Chapter 49, 1

“All guests who present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ, for he himself will say: I was a stranger and you welcomed me (Matt 25:35).”

Chapter 53, 1

“Proper honor must be shown to all, especially to those who share our faith (Gal 6:10) and to pilgrims.”

Chapter 53, 2

“(B)ecause wherever we may be, we are in the service of the same Lord and doing battle for the same King.”

Chapter 61, 10

They should each try to be the first to show respect to the other (Rom 12:10).”

Chapter 63, 17

“We wish this rule to be read often in the community, so that none of the brothers can offer the excuse of ignorance.”

Chapter 66, 8

“Trusting in God’s help, he must in love obey.”

Chapter 68, 5

Never to do another what you do not want done to yourself (Tob 4:16).”

Chapter 70, 7

“No one is to pursue what he judges better for himself, but instead, what he judges better for someone else.”

Chapter 72, 7

“Let them prefer nothing whatever to Christ, and may he bring us all together to everlasting life.”

Chapter 72, 11-12

“What page, what passage of the inspired books of the Old and New Testaments is not the truest of guides for human life?”

Chapter 73, 3

“What book of the holy catholic Fathers does not resoundingly summon us along the true way to reach the Creator?”

Chapter 73, 4

 

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Saint Louis Priory School

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