I WAS asked recently to say the Baccaluareate Mass for the
Grade 6 graduates of a certain school here in Cebu. That immediately
brought me to think about what to tell these young boys and girls.
More precisely, I thought of what Christ would tell them especially at
this juncture of rapid world development.
Definitely, these graduates have to be inspired and
encouraged to look forward unafraid to the next stage of their
education and to the future in general. They have to be reassured that
things are looking good and that there are now more and more
opportunities for them to grow in knowledge, to learn new skills, to
meet more friends and people, etc.
But neither can we be blind to the dangers that also lurk
along the way. We cannot deny that these dangers are not only many but
also are most tricky and subtle. How to alert these graduates of these
clear and present dangers without frightening them is the challenge to
face. More than that, how to train and equip them to tackle the
challenges and trials of the times is an urgent task to do.
But before anything, it should be made clear to them that
everything depends on their relationship with God. And precisely the
purpose of education, to put it bluntly, is to make the students know,
love and serve God.
Another way of saying that is to tell them that they have
to aim at becoming ‘another Christ’ who is the pattern of our humanity
and the redeemer of our damaged humanity. It would be good that as
early as possible these young boys and girls realize deeply that their
creation by God is still ongoing and that the finished product of
their creation is precisely for them to be ‘another Christ.’
They should be instilled with a deep sense of religion and
piety, especially these days when the culture of secularism and
worldliness is getting invasive and becoming dominant. They have to be
made to realize that everything has to have God as the constant
reference point. In this, we have to teach and show them how to do it.
Aside from a deep sense of religion and piety, the
graduates have to be encouraged to cultivate a deep sense of family.
We cannot deny that there are nowadays very strong forces that tend to
weaken family life. There are now, sad to say, many broken and
dysfunctional families. This problem has to be addressed urgently.
Things should be done so that the graduates can enjoy a
healthy family life where they can feel very much at home with
everybody, where they feel loved and grow in their love for the
others, where they grow in the virtues, especially order, hard work,
And lastly, the graduates have to be taught to develop a
strong and healthy personal, spiritual life. In this regard, they have
to be taught the value and the art of prayer and sacrifice. This is a
very delicate affair that has to be handled properly, giving these
young boys and girls the proper motivations.
They should be encouraged to open up with someone whom
they can trust—their parents, first of all, and then their teachers
who should try to be their mentors, perhaps some priests and friends
who have the competence to guide them. They should feel reassured by
the help these people can give them. They should avoid keeping things
to themselves, especially when they have problems and difficulties.
There actually are many more and even endless things to
tell them, but we do not have enough space for them now. Let’s just
pray for them and wish them all the best!