(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Friday morning, 5 April 2019–Students Against Violence Everywhere [SAVE] Week)
Let us remember we are in the holy presence of a loving God.
Perfection. People crave perfection. Some work tirelessly to be perfect. Perfect grades, perfect appearance, and perfect life are the goals people may spend their entire lives working towards. However, in reality, life is not perfect. People are not perfect. We are not perfect. People can work hard to improve the aspects of life that are in their control, but they must also accept the givens in life. The events which change people’s lives do not define who they are; how they respond to difficulty defines them. Perfection is desirable because people view it as the key to happiness.
However, in order to achieve lasting happiness, people must see the beauty surrounding them and be proud of who they are and grateful for the people who love them. Conflict exists because people attempt to pursue their own perceptions of perfection, and along the way, they lose sight of the aspects of life that make it worth living. A person’s life is not the result of the obstacles they encounter, but a result of the choices they make. In order to overcome conflict and idealized versions of perfection, people must understand that everyone makes mistakes, and each day is an opportunity, a new chance, to learn from past mistakes.
Free will allows us to make decisions, whether they originate from love or hate. Sometimes, the only thing people can see in the world is the hate and violence in society, a world deformed by the scars of history. When people become so focused on the world’s mistakes made from free will, they no longer recognize the goodness people have brought into the world because of free will. Love exists in the smiles on our faces, the laughs we share with friends, and in the support we give to one another during difficult times. If the world was created devoid of free will, conflict may no longer exist, but with no capacity for hate, there would be no capacity for love. People would be alive, but they would not be truly living.
Today at lunch, I invite you to sign the pledge and make the decision to be an upstander. Stand up for people who don’t have the voice to stand up for themselves. Be the change you wish to see in the world. It starts with you.
In the words of Mother Teresa, “People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies. Succeed anyway. What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight. Build anyway. If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway. If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today, people may often forget tomorrow. Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough. Give them your best anyway. In the end, it is between you and God. It never was between you and them anyway.”
Every day, every hour, every minute, every second, we have the choice to be selfish or selfless, greedy or gracious, jealous or happy, hateful or kind. We have the choice to choose love. Only love emanates everlasting joy, and the ability to discern love from selfish happiness at the expense of others is the first step towards letting go of self-centered idealized perfection. It is the key to resolving all conflict.
Let us pray. Dear God, thank you for the opportunity to make choices. Help us to recognize the beauty of life around us and to appreciate all people in our lives. Guide us to resolve conflict by setting aside selfishness for love and remembering that our lives are not measured by the mistakes we make, nor by the number of breaths we breathe, but by the lives we touch around us and the moments that take our breath away.
Saint John Baptist de La Salle. Pray for us.
Live Jesus in our hearts. Forever.
Sarah Wong–Class of 2021