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abaccalaureateLast evening I went to the Baccalaureate worship service for graduating seniors of the high school where I spent my first thirteen years as a teacher. It took place in the largest church in our area. (We used to call it “The Stardust Ballroom” because seating is in the round and there is recessed lighting throughout – a very “modern” venue in the 1970s.) Although the population of the school has diminished greatly over the years, the church was quite crowded with families that probably included some of my students who are now celebrating their grandchildren’s commencement. I was pleasantly surprised by the beauty of the service which ran like clockwork and included excellent (and brief) speakers for welcoming and thanking those in attendance, great lectors and beautiful music suitable to the youth but also very reverent. Two of the musical selections, solos by members of the class, were actually jaw-dropping. The first was a lovely young lady with a voice bigger than she was and then a young man, accompanied by a great cellist from his class, who sang the traditional and well-loved Latin hymn, Panis angelicus, which reached the entire church simply by the power of his voice. I was told that he has received a full scholarship to the Juilliard School of Music.

For a person like me whose life revolves around spirituality, the maturity, enthusiasm and apparent gratitude for the faith-based schooling of these young people was a real treat. The bishop’s words to the young people – and to all of us – were framed around the theme of falling in love. He urged them to fall in love with life, to look for what would be real and lasting on their journey. In conclusion, he offered a reflection by Jesuit Pedro Arrupe, a great lover of life and of God. It is my fervent hope for these young people.

Nothing is more practical than finding God, than falling in Love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, whom you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.