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Graduation Message 2012

 

Faith, Fidelity and Fruitfulness

 

Congratulations, my dear graduates!

I take my skull cap off to you for reaching this milestone in your life. This day attests to all the work you have done to live up to your parents,’ your teachers and your school’s expectations. You have proven your worth thus far. And this exercise commences a new life for you, out in the world, where you can make your mark and apply the education, skills, and formation that this revered institution has provided for. Today is another beginning; your journey continues.

It is said, “everything you’ve learned makes sense only if it is applied in real life.” Today is your day and tomorrow beckons. Your community, your country and the world welcome you. As the Romans would say, “carpe diem,” that is, seize the day. Jesus in the gospel of Matthew exhorted, “get up, let us go” (26,46). Today the sun shines brighter. Tonight the stars are alighted to bring you this special moment, and amidst the best wishes and joyful celebration, I offer to you, graduates, these three important reminders. These are my three F’s.

First is faith. Always have faith in yourself. Faith is belief. Believe always in yourself. Believe in your talents, in your skills, and gifts. Believe that you possess all these, and, you do. Believe that you can be what you dream to be. You can succeed. There is no hindrance to your good dreams and aspirations. You attain your goal; have faith in yourself.

Faith involves acceptance. Be ready to accept that God always has something beautiful, beneficial, and bountiful things stored for you. God is our Father who wants only the best for His children. He makes us special, creating us in His own image and likeness. Your achievements and your accomplishments flow from His desire for you to have best in life.

God created you for a purpose. Everything has a reason. You are not here by chance or pure luck. God has placed you here for a cause. Have faith in yourself. Have faith in God and have faith in yourself. God needs you and He has a plan for you that only you can do. And in fulfilling this plan you will be aided, assisted and guided by God. He will accompany you and with Him, you can achieve anything.

Saint Augustine said, “faith is believing in what you do not see and the reward of faith is seeing what you believe.” Faith will open your eyes to the wonders that God has wrought in your being. Therefore, trust in your capacity and capability, to do great things, to contribute immensely for the good of your community and society. Have faith and believe that you can make a difference.

Before the Christmas break a teacher decided to give her students a written test. One of the students upon receiving the test questions became sad and worried. She thought to herself, “these questions are too hard and difficult.” Thinking that she could put one over her teacher the student wrote on her test paper, “only God can answer these questions’ and signed it with, “merry Christmas!” The teacher returned the test paper the following day. The worried student who wrote in her test paper “only God can answer these questions” saw this remark on her test paper: “God, 100 (one hundred). You, 0 (zero). Happy New Year!”

Indeed God is perfect and He knows all the answers, but He has given us His creatures the capacity, the desire, and the grace to seek perfection.

My dear graduates, it is obvious that you didn’t not get zero. God gives you His one hundred- a hundred talents, a hundred skills, a hundred and more graces. God will never give us a zero. God loves us too much and He always gives the maximum, the most “siksik, liglig at umaaapaw” (Luke 6,38).

Second: be faithful. God is true to His promises and provides us our needs, even fills in what is lacking in us. He fulfills His side of the bargain. In turn we have to be faithful to Him and be true to His will and ways. There are so many challenges and seeming contradictions that await you in the new world that you are entering. There will be trials and temptations, much more than what you underwent in this venerable institution of learning. Your faith will be tested. Your sense of virtue, morality and ethics will be shaken. Always remember: be faithful to God; be true to His commandments. Heed to the wisdom of Saint Joseph, the patron of our Diocese and be a good follower of Jesus Christ.

Your teachers are watching out for you, rooting for you. Your success is their success. Your accomplishments, their shared glory. Don’t fail them. Your parents rely on you; don’t break their hearts. Your fidelity is your loyalty. And at the end of the day when we are called to make an accounting of our life here on earth, we will be measured by our fidelity to our mission. We will be judged by our faithfulness to our vision. And we will be asked, “how did you help others especially your loved ones and those in need? How have you served your alma mater? How have you lived out your calling and your career?

A priest was travelling by air. He was seated in the economy section of the plane. It was Friday in the Season of Lent. At lunch the stewardess asked him if he wanted a full meal or just a sandwich. The priest said, “I am a priest and it is Friday. I have to fast so let me just have the sandwich.” A slim, beautiful lady was in the seat beside him. When the stewardess asked her preference, the lady also chose the small sandwich. Impressed, the priest asked her, “are you a Catholic and are you also fasting? The lady replied, “yes and I am also a fashion model.

My dear graduates, it is not to look beautiful, what is more important is to be better and to do better. We must not only be the best, we should be great blessing to others. And you can be a blessing if you are faithful to God, to His commandments and to the teachings of the Church.

The third point is: be fruitful. Be productive and prosperous. In school you sat, listened, learned for many, many hours, day after day, until you’ve come to this day of graduation. After this you must rise up, speak out and lead and apply everything that you’ve learned, for the good of your family and society. After receiving so much from our parents, teachers, and from your great school, you must now reach out, share and give.

Be fruitful, my dear graduates. Be good fruits. Don’t be a burden to anyone and a liability to our society. Be the pride of your school. Be the source of joy and consolation to your parents. Let yourself be the shining examples of honesty, morality and integrity to young people, especially to those already studying in this Institution.

Remember when you were in primary school? You were graded by Stars, stuck or stamped on your paper or workbooks, even on the back of your palm. A young girl handed her mother her test paper. The mother looked at it and asked her daughter, “anak, what is this big circle on your test paper? Is it zero? The little girl promptly answered, “mommy, naubusan po ng stars ang teacher ko kaya po ang ibinigay niya po sa akin ay full moon!”

Today all the stars in heavens are lined up for you. God created you and everything that He created is all good. You are the best. You are the stars, bigger and brighter. This school confers on you today your diploma, a testament of your successful completion of all academic requirements. You have been given the documentary evidence to pursue your dreams and reach for the stars. And so always move on, go forward. Always persevere and strive. Be the always shining stars of this Institution: faithful and fruitful.

And finally let me impart to all of you my prayerful blessing:

May the road of life that you travel be better and brighter.

May your days be always the best and be full of blessings.

May your work be always rewarding.

May you have sound health all the days of your life.

May your loved ones be safe and secured.

And you always be prosperous, protected and at peace.

Amen.

 

 

+Ruperto Cruz Santos, DD

Bishop of Balanga

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Diocese of Balanga
(Bataan, Philippines)