At Baccalaureate Mass, Seniors Reflect on Change
Graduation Rehearsal Is Tuesday at 9 AM; Commencement Ceremony at the Pontchartrain Center Begins Promptly at 8 PM
There was standing room only in The Chapel of the North American Martyrs, the sacred setting for Saturday afternoon’s Baccalaureate Mass honoring the 273 graduating seniors of the Class of 2016.
For all of its solemnity, the Baccalaureate Mass marks a happy occasion, not only for the graduates and their families, but also for members of Jesuit’s faculty, many of whom played unheralded roles in teaching and nurturing their young charges to grow and mature into men of faith and men for others.
The main celebrant of the Mass was Fr. Anthony McGinn, S.J. ’66, president of Jesuit High School. Concelebrants were Jesuit Fathers Norman O’Neal (alumni chaplain), John Brown, Billy Huete, and Kevin Dyer (school chaplain).
Seniors Mark Piglia and Brandon Beck handled the readings and Joseph Dupré, who has the distinction of being the first Blue Jay to preside as president of the Student Council in his junior and senior years, led the congregation in the Prayers of the Faithful.
In his homily, Fr. McGinn touched on several familiar themes: dealing with pressure and success, fighting the four enemies of life, changing one’s self before changing the world, and asking God for the grace and strength to be open to the power of the Holy Spirit.
On Pressure and Success
“As you may look back on your years at Jesuit High School, there were many pressures that you experienced,” said Fr. McGinn. “The word for afflictions means, literally, pressure… and you dealt with those pressures because you developed a sense of patient endurance, and from that, proven character. As you grow and develop, your character grows and develops as you deal with pressures and difficulties and challenges. You’re able to deal with even greater challenges. That’s the way life is, that’s the way the human person grows, not to avoid challenges, but to allow them to help us to grow. And finally, there is hope, hope in the future, and ultimately it’s the guidance of the Holy Spirit poured into our hearts that enables us to see the future in hope.
“So we’re thanking God for the pressures you have experienced because they have produced patient endurance, and they in turn have produced proven character, and proven character has produced hope.”
Four Enemies in Our Lives
“Tremendous success marks your days here and I would say the success is based upon the daily victories that you experienced over the temptations to self-pity, to self-indulgence, to lethargy, and to a narrowness of focus,” he said.”Every day, we are fighting those four enemies in our lives. Every day, not just four years in high school, but every day in your future, you’re going to be facing those four challenges: self-pity, self-indulgence, lethargy, and narrowness of focus. The success that we celebrate today and on Tuesday is in large part due to those daily successes over those four tendencies we have in our lives.”
Change Yourself Before Changing the World
“Many times at graduation ceremonies, the speaker will say, ‘Now go forth and change the world!’ Well, my advice to you is don’t do that – until you’ve begun to change yourself, until you’ve begun to experience success over your desires for greater status, or greater comfort, or greater importance… until you control those forces, until you control your desire for self-indulgence, your tendency for self-pity, your narrowness of focus, and your lethargy, don’t try to change the world. Change yourself first. Ultimately, changing one’s self is a grace from God. You don’t do it on our own, it’s because the power of God, the power of the Holy Spirit poured into us that enables us to make the change of growth we have to do in our daily life.”
Pray for Grace and Strength
“So we ask Almighty God for the grace and strength to be open to the power of the Holy Spirit working in you, giving you the wisdom, the wisdom that is necessary to make the change in your life every day that is going to make you able to make the better changes for others.
“The ‘Prayer of Serenity’ is, of course, a very wise prayer because it’s not just a serenity prayer but one of wisdom and courage: ‘Lord, grant me the courage to change the things that I can change, the serenity to accept what I cannot, and the wisdom to know the difference.’ That sums up the challenge that you face. The challenge that you face is to know where you are powerless and where you have the power.
“The verse in the reading of St. Paul to the Romans is, ‘Even though when we were powerless, Christ died for our sins.’ When we were powerless, Christ, God took the initiative to reconcile us to our self. Being aware of where you are powerless and where you have the power, and being able to understand that, is indeed, a great gift.
“So my prayer to you is, just as the Serenity Prayer says that you are able to know the difference, to know where you have the power, where you are called to make changes in yourself and your circumstances, but also to know where you are powerless and where to rely on God’s grace and strength in your life.”
Following Mass, a reception was held in the Student Commons.
Seniors are reminded that they must be present for graduation rehearsal on Tuesday at 9 a.m. at the Pontchartrain Center. The commencement ceremony starts promptly at 8 p.m.