What Did You Learn Today?
Can you sense it in the air? There is a certain crispness in the fading light of day. The baseball standings have more meaning and the football season has arrived. The first day of school performs its premature wake for summer. All in all one has the feeling that it is time to get going.
This is the first September in forty-five years that I shall neither be attending school nor be involved in education in some professional capacity. Yet the need of personal education continues. I am hardly an intellect, but I do consider myself a "learner". In my opinion, the act of learning is a significant sign of life and among the most important ways of making life richer. As you may suspect, I am referring to much more than the three R's. Your ongoing curriculum ought to include: Knowing Yourself, Profiting from Experience, Wisdom, Flexible and Reasonable Goal Setting, and Advanced Caring. Therefore, I encourage you to keep learning.
Remember the Fourth R - Religion! This is the focal point of lifelong learning. Why? Religion provides all other learning its definition and its gift. The accumulation of facts along with its various applications do not guarantee any beneficial impact on society unless it is guided by the teachings of Christ. I am reminded of the words of Theodore Roosevelt: "A man who has never gone to school may steal from a freight car; but if he has a university education, he may steal the whole railroad." This quotation indicates that the capacities of a person's life are not determined by the amount of formal education accrued, but by the values which constitute a person's conscience. A truly sound Christian conscience is founded on Christ-centered values. The Christian is accountable to the laws of society, but more importantly to the law of God. Thus, there are eternal consequences to one's actions. Educationally speaking, the Christian must continue to grow in the knowledge of one's faith and to develop a lifestyle that manifests the presence of Christian values in the experiences of daily life.
If there is one consistent error in human judgement, it is acting out of ignorance. Regarding questions of faith or morals, do not hesitate to seek the information and guidance you require in order to understand the Church's position and, therefore, aid you in your decisions. There is a wealth of beauty and love at the core of every Christian doctrine that often remains unappreciated. Use the resources available to you. Diocesan offices and local parishes may have many helpful programs and publications. Written material and tapes on the topics of concern to you may be provided by area religious good stores. Oh yes, even the Internet may have something. A primary source of information are the professionals nearby. Your area may not only have access to priests, deacons, men and women religious, lay religion experts, but also religious institutions serving your needs. I would also advise you to consider the study of the lives of the saints as a marvelous wellspring of spiritual inspiration.
In closing, I ask you to be attentive to the good people around you. I would reckon that there are numerous individuals, some of great holiness, that are a part of your life or at least available to you. Observe them and note their "modus vivendi" (way of living). You will discover attitudes of sanctity successfully employed in responding to the occurrences, often serious and difficult, of every day existence. Observation is a basic form of learning. I pray that you will persevere in learning because it will keep you in a state of growth and becoming. Isn't that a proper posture for eternity?
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