OPENING CEREMONY 2018 SERMON
Headmaster Father Timothy Sick
Dear students, dear parents, welcome to opening ceremonies for the 2018 -2019 academic year. We set out on another year. As with every year, it is a little bit different from the last. We have a new young crop of students, a new staff member, Fr. Flanery, Class of 2008, and of course the most obvious change, a new Headmaster. After 13 years of faithful service, Fr. McMahon has passed on the reins. He assures us today of his prayers and his thoughts as we set forth.
While every year is different, it is also the same because the life of the Academy is rooted in the life of God who does not change. Our very life is based upon His life through the liturgy, the life of prayer, the perennial teachings and traditions of the Church as well as those of the Academy. Remaining fixed in this life of God, there are certain qualities, certain consequences that will be produced as a result.
One of those qualities is that of joy. This joy is a mark which visitors often notice. They recognize it in the students and in the staff. This joy is present because we base the life of the Academy on the life of God. As it depends and feeds upon the life of God, the world is not capable of possessing it. What it calls joy is rather distraction; distraction from the one thing that matters, from the very thing that gives that joy, namely, the life of God. I say the world is not capable of this joy because it tries to find it in things that are constantly changing and one day pass away. In fact, these distractions prevent true joy from being rooted in the soul. But the joy we possess is fixed and determined.
As you know, joy originates in the soul. It is not something that is produced by the senses. It can sprout forth to the senses but it originates in the soul. As our work is especially the formation of the most noble part of man, the soul, we have a holy jealousy of possessing, fostering, and protecting this joy. We demand that it reside in the student body. Consequently we will not tolerate anything that distracts us from the life of God. Thus, for example, the students hand in their cell phones, they do not watch tv here; we do not emphasize professional sports or all the various other distractions that the world seeks after. Why? Because we want the joy of God to flourish in our souls and in the Academy. Therefore, we protect it; we have a holy jealousy for it and anything that would distract us from it, we do away with. Thus, these boys here breathe catholic air. It becomes a natural thing to them. They are immersed in a catholic culture, so much so that it part of their very being.
Fr. Sick is continuing the La Salette tradition which was passed down to him by Fr. McMahon, both the founder of La Salette Academy and his mentor.
Yet we must remember, this joy does not exclude difficulties, and at times some superficial sadness, on the surface. Whether it is a trial, or a punishment endured or having to leave home, these difficulties are necessary. Distractions and disordered attachments must be mortified that the life of God, whereby this joy comes, may be strengthened and spring forth. Joy can coexist, remain and it can even grow with the very difficulties that we face or that you face - being away from family - the rigorous schedule or whatever it might be. Crosses are necessary so that the attachment to God can grow stronger as the years go on. And this joy that you experience dear students, this joy will be your rock. How many alumni when they leave here they look back at their Academy years as their very rock when they go out into the world. They remember, they hold it dear and they are stronger in their faith because of it. Because they have had joy in the Academy they can now go forth with conviction and certitude in who they are and what they do.
Of course, this takes work, a great work, a great effort, on your part. The amount of joy that one possess very much depends upon one’s effort, very much depends upon the mortification of the senses and the desire of and attachment to almighty God. This is what we find here at the Academy - we seek God in all we do.
In a few moments, we will carry out the ceremony of the giving of the freshmen jackets. The seniors will help the freshman put on their jackets. When these same students leave the Academy on that last Sunday before they graduate, they will return their jackets – symbolizing that the spirit of the Academy has been internalized and penetrated into the very depths of their soul and therefore it is no longer necessary to wear it as it is a part of them.
I will also give to the seniors the blessed patches of the Academy crest to be worn on their jackets. After all, the seniors are leaders of the student body and, as any army, one receives a patch corresponding to ones rank. So the seniors receive a patch showing they are leaders of the Academy and are committing themselves to transmitting the spirit of the Academy.
We ask Our Lady as we set forth, we ask her to help us persevere in this work. There will be crosses, there will be trials, it will be difficult at times – and it must be this way because we must become more rooted in the life of God - We ask Our Lady to help us persevere in this work so that they may go forth with true joy converting the world around them.
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