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Providence Academy High School Commencement Speech

Providence Academy High School Commencement Speech

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Published by betsyk1
High School Commencement speech given by Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse of the Ruth Institute. "You are called to be spiritual mothers and fathers... Keep the faith."
High School Commencement speech given by Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse of the Ruth Institute. "You are called to be spiritual mothers and fathers... Keep the faith."

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Published by: betsyk1 on Jul 03, 2011
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03/18/2014

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Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse • 663 S. Rancho Santa Fe Road Suite 222 San Marcos CA 92078www.jennifer-roback-morse.com • email: drj@jennifer-roback-morse.com • 760/295-9278
©2007 No part of this document may be reproduced or disseminated in any way without the expressed written consent of theRuth Institute.
Commencement SpeechProvidence Academy High SchoolJennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D.Founder and President,The Ruth InstituteJune 3, 2011Faculty and Students of Providence Academy;Class of 2011; parents, friends and benefactors:this is a wonderful andmemorable day. For many of you, graduating from high school wasalways a foregone conclusion. So maybe youfeel this day is no big deal. For some of you,graduating from high school is the result of asignificant effort. For all of you, this day is animportant milestone, the first step away from theworld of your childhood and into adulthood.Many of you will leave home for the first timewithin the next few months. You willundoubtedly come home for visits. In your absence, your family may preserve your roomlike a shrine. Or, your younger brothers andsisters may acquire instant squatters’ rights toyour room and your possessions. Whatever thecase may be, your first visit home will be amilestone too, for you and your family. You will be not quite back in the family, but not entirelygone either. You will have a series of round-trips between your family home and the rest of the world, until you finally leave for good toestablish your own homes.And when you come back to visit, you can besure that your family will anticipate your arrivalwith great love and care. You may become aminor celebrity to your younger brothers andsisters. They will scurry around in excitement,arguing about who gets to sit next to you atdinner. Maybe your dad will make the drive toyour college to pick you up. And your mom willsurely freshen up your room, change the sheets, put out clean towels, and prepare your favoritemeal. My mom always made spaghetti andmeatballs for me when I came home.It is customary for commencement speakers totalk about what you are going to do with your lives. But you are all going to go in differentdirections. I can think of just two things thattruly apply to all of you.The first thing I know about you is that each of you is called to become a mother or a father.How can I say that with such assurance? Eachand every one of us is called to give of ourselvesand to be a gift to other people. Giving birthand taking lifelong responsibility for the care of children is only the most obvious way in which people make gifts of themselves to others. Andsome of you no doubt will do exactly this: getmarried and have children. But even those of you who never give birth to or father a singlechild, have the opportunity to act as spiritual parents to those around you.By spiritual parents, I mean people who care for the young, as well as the helpless and the needyof any age or station of life. Your teachers arethe most obvious examples of people who haveacted as spiritual parents to you. They have donemuch more than just deliver knowledge to you.They have provided you with guidance,direction, limits and dreams. They have giventheir hearts to you.You may have already acted as spiritual parentsto your younger siblings, to friends in distress, toteammates trying to master a skill. If so, youknow that giving of yourself in this way is oneof the most satisfying things you can do.Teaching the lesson to a struggling classmatecan be more rewarding than mastering the lesson
 
Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse • 663 S. Rancho Santa Fe Road Suite 222 San Marcos CA 92078www.jennifer-roback-morse.com • email: drj@jennifer-roback-morse.com • 760/295-9278
©2007 No part of this document may be reproduced or disseminated in any way without the expressed written consent of theRuth Institute.
yourself. If you have had experiences like these,then you have already experienced spiritual parenthood.Actually, I shouldn’t use the generic, gender-neutral word, “parents.” There is no such thingas a generic parent, any more than there is such athing as a generic person. There are only menand women, mothers and fathers. You are not agender-neutral, generic person and you won’t become a gender-neutral, generic parent either.Male and female are two different andcomplementary ways of being human. Andmothers and fathers are two different andcomplementary ways of caring for the young,and the needy of whatever age. Now you might think this is a little far-fetched,to think that even single people or infertile people or religious people are called to spiritualmotherhood or spiritual fatherhood. Actually, Igot the idea from one of the great celibate menof the twentieth century: Pope John Paul theSecond, and his Theology of the Body. And hecertainly wasn’t a generic parent: he acted asfatherto the whole world. He told us the truth,called us to be the best we could be, anddefended us from error. And we called him HolyFather. How odd it would be to refer to him insome gender-neutral way, like our HolyProgenitor. And think what the world wouldhave missed if an unmarried woman, a nun fromAlbania had not realized her calling to spiritualmotherhood. The poor of Calcutta knew her asMother Teresa, not Parent Teresa.Thinking of physical parenthood allows us to seesome of the differences between spiritualmothers and spiritual fathers. Our mothers giveus life. Our mothers are our first connections tothe rest of the human race. They nurture us, feedus, comfort us, and encourage us. Our motherslet us know that we are loved. When wewomendo this for others, no matter who they may be,we are acting as spiritual mothers.Our fathers protect the life they have plantedwithin our mothers. At times, it may seem as if they are more distant than our mothers. But theyhave stepped back,to allow our growth. They protect us, both physically and spiritually. Our fathers hold us accountable for our behavior and performance. When men do these things for us,no matter how old they are in comparison withus, they are acting as spiritual fathers.We can think of some of the iconic figures of manliness in our culture: the Marines stormingthe beach; the sheriffs in the Old West; thefirefighters running into the crumbling TwinTowers on Nine Eleven. These men are not just performing random acts of aggression andviolence. They are heroes because they arestanding up for what is right, keeping order inthe community and defending the weak. I think every young man, in his heart, wants to be asheriff in this spiritual sense, courageouslystanding up against evil and protecting theinnocent.So this is one thing I know about each one of you: every one of you are called to spiritualmotherhood or spiritual fatherhood.The second thing I know about each of you isthis. In less than one hundred years, each andevery one of us will see God face to face. Thatsounds a lot more appealing than saying “we’reall going to die.” (I have a reputation for tellingit like it is!) But both those statements are true.It is a sign of a mature Christian mind, to be ableto think about death, without becoming either morbid or frightened.
 
Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse • 663 S. Rancho Santa Fe Road Suite 222 San Marcos CA 92078www.jennifer-roback-morse.com • email: drj@jennifer-roback-morse.com • 760/295-9278
©2007 No part of this document may be reproduced or disseminated in any way without the expressed written consent of theRuth Institute.
And you want to be ready for that face to faceencounter with God Himself. It should be a beautiful and glorious moment. You don’t wantto be shuffling around and staring at the floor and loooking for the exit. You want to be ready.So how can you order your lives in order to beready for the ultimate graduation day, when yougraduate from the temporal to the eternal, fromthe material finite world to the realm of thespiritual and infinite?We are all made in the image and likeness of God. (Actually, that is another thing I knowabout each and every one of you: you are madein the image and likeness of God. That issomething to think about when you are in acrowd. Look around at all the people in theairport or at the football stadium or in the Mallof America and realize: God made every one of those people in His image, to share eternal lifewith Him. That will keep you from gettingimpatient in line!) In order tobe ourselves, weneed to be like Him. Jesus told us frequently,“Come follow me.” You could say that we are programmed to imitate somebody, or moreaccurately, we are programmed to imitateSomebody with a Capital S.A lot of people in today’s world have the ideathat we are supposed to be completelyindependent, and that being ourselves means being as weird and offbeat as possible. I’m sureyou know people who try to express themselves by calling attention to themselves throughwearing strange clothes, getting weird tattoosand piercings. (Do people do those things here inMinnesota, or is that just in California?)In spite of this modern emphasis onindividuality, the urge to follow and to imitatecannot be driven completely from our minds.But many of our peers, our friends andneighbors have never had an encounter withJesus Christ, the God Man. So, they can’t figureout whom to follow. They follow pop stars or sports heroes or political figures, all the whilegoing to great lengths to distinguishthemselvesand demonstrate their uniqueness.The irony of this pose of independence is thatJesus is the one person we can follow and notlose ourselves or our identity. In fact we become more ourselves than ever. We can become the best versions of ourselves, byfollowing Jesus. And that is the key to beingready to see God face to face.If you keep that final end in mind, then your lifewill make sense to you. The confusingsituations you may face; the disappointmentsyou may experience; these willbe bearable if you realize that you can follow Jesus throughthem all. The difficult choices you make, suchas where to go to school and what to study, what jobs to take, where to move, whom to marry,how to treat your spouse and your children: allof these decisions will be much easier to makewhen you make them with reference to that finalend of seeing God face to face.Jesus told his disciples “In my Father’s houseare many rooms…. When I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will takeyou to myself, that where I am you may be also.And you know they way where I am going.”(John 14:2-4) This quotation is from HisFarewell Discourse in the Gospel of John.Even now, Our Lord and His Blessed Mother are preparing your room for you. She is pulling back the curtains, opening the windows,freshening the sheets, and planning your favoritedinner. Let us all strive to be worthy of thatroom, and to be ready for that encounter.

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