What to tell Grade 6 graduates?
I was asked recently to say the Baccalaureate Mass for the Grade 6 graduates of a certain school 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, etc.
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!*
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