by the Rev. Mark Connolly
Carl Jung once said that if he had the time and the opportunity, he would establish a college for people over 40 years of age. He felt there would be no need for exams or final papers. Just a collection of people who would share their life experiences, their hopes, their dreams. This college would not be interested in thesis being written or papers being delivered, but ideas that would help people over 40 grow spiritually, morally and emotionally.
When you analyze our culture the experience of starting to school or starting back to school is quite mixed. Fear, anticipated joy, reunion with friends, all are part of the back to school experience.
All of us cherish the knowledge and wisdom we received from that favorite teacher who took an interest in us. The one who worked us the hardest, the one who inspired us, who motivated us.
Our formative years of education for most of us have many wonderful memories. Maybe in retrospect, we have been given "more practical" information to prepare us for our future, our jobs, our career. Most of us, if we are honest, can say that most of the teachers, on a small salary, with overcrowded classrooms, did a very good job.
Education is a many faceted word. It applies to the teacher and the student. The teacher guides the student and prepares him for the journey of life. That student will go into the world following the instructions and lessons, develop his own philosophy and psychology of life and impact the society in which he lives and works.
No one questions the need for students to be formally trained and prepared for life. Life demands a well formed mind. Truthfully one can never get enough knowledge or education. Every age of life is so different and so challenging. The adolescent, the teenager, the young adult have to be prepared for life. And this is done through education, formal or informal. Formal through our education system. Informal through the life experiences we have in every facet of life.
The child going back to school, the senior citizen going back to school - have one purpose - to grow in wisdom and knowledge. Wisdom was the great journey of Aristotle and Plato. St. Augustine working on the works of Plato, St. Thomas working on the writings of Aristotle, gave a different interpretation to the meaning of wisdom and knowledge. They added a spiritual dimension to both wisdom and knowledge. Wisdom and knowledge should lead us to God. Carl Jung saw a spiritual dimension in education. To grow spiritually, to grow mentally and emotionally was a sign that a person had received a good education.
Whether your education is a formal or informal one, whether you are under 40 or over 40, an education that helps you find and love God is a pearl of great price. Never stop searching for it.
Each of us carries a cross today
But bearing a cross is vain
Unless our labor lightens the load
Of the weak and the ones in pain.
The man who struggles for self alone
May taste of the world's applause
But unless his triumph brings others joy
He fights for an empty cause.
Carry a cross for the good of man!
What more could the angels ask
Then to follow the footsteps of God's Own Son?
That is the Christlike task!