Back-to-school blessings, tips offered - Catholic Courier
Matthew H. Clark Matthew H. Clark

Back-to-school blessings, tips offered

While this issue of the Catholic Courier is especially devoted to our Catholic schools, I would very much like to offer some thoughts to all of the children and teenagers who will be returning to school in a few short weeks. Let me also offer my good wishes and prayers for a safe, productive and enjoyable school year.

Now, my young friends, I know you are probably not thinking constantly about school at this point and rightly so, because you deserve this long break from your hard work and studies. Summer is short, and you are right to enjoy every moment of relaxation you can get, every baseball and soccer game you can play.

But, if you are like I was when I was a schoolboy, the thoughts of a new school year do begin to creep in as August unfolds, the nights cool and the days grow just a little bit shorter. I’ll bet your parents, too, are thinking about the rumble of the school buses again, perhaps already scouring the newspaper ads for the best buys on clothing and school supplies.
Here are a few thoughts that I hope will make your first day back to school and all the days that follow a little bit easier for you.

First, know that all the studying, all the tests, all the reading and figuring you have already done has been of tremendous value to the sharpening of the mind God gave you. All this hard work will have rewards one day that you just can’t imagine right now. I can promise you that.

Know that your family, your teachers and all those who work so hard to give you a good education support you and want you to do well. I think I can safely say that all would be willing to work even harder to give you extra help if you needed it, and that your parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents pray for you every day. With all those people — and me! — rooting for you, things are sure to go well!

God is with you always, just as Jesus promised us. God’s creation, as beautiful as it is, was incomplete until he created human beings. God gave each of us a brain more intricate, more complicated than the most powerful computer. It is our obligation as Christians to use God’s gifts well to build a better world and help others. Learning is a big part of the way we do that, so that we can grow into adults who can make a difference in our neighborhoods, schools, communities and world. God is with you in school, too!

If you have the opportunity, learn about people different from you — people who speak other languages, and come from different cultures and backgrounds. You know that every day our country grows richer as people from all walks of life, beliefs and traditions live and work together. You will find that you not only will grow richer yourself for your effort to learn about other people, but you also will understand your own traditions and history even better.

Learn another language if you have a chance to do so in school. I think of our beloved Pope John Paul II, who could communicate in more languages than I have fingers! What a wonderful gift to be able to speak and write in many tongues, or to be able to communicate through sign language with those in our community who cannot hear well or at all.

Be careful on the Internet! I know most of you spend time there doing your studies and communicating with one another. I admire your ability to use computers as well as you do, but please let your parents or teachers help you as much as they can to sort the truly helpful parts of the Internet from the bad. Let them teach you proper safety on the Web.

I would probably be right if I guessed you love music. If your school or your parish offers the opportunity to learn more about different kinds of music, such as sacred or classical music or music of different cultures, give it a try. In my own life, music of all kinds soothes me, helps me think better, makes my life fuller and richer.

Be kind to other children. Don’t ever be part of any bullying of others, or any activity that hurts another person’s feelings. Kindness is one of the most important things we can practice if we truly want to follow Jesus. You might not know this, but Jesus was the one who spoke of what we now teach in school as the Golden Rule. It’s a good rule for children or adults: Treat others as you would want to be treated.

Finally, have some fun in and after school. Get involved in clubs, sports and things going on at your parish after school. As much as studying is important, so is exercising your body and that part of your spirit that needs a break — like the activities you enjoy this summer — now and then.

God bless you and your family as you go back to school!

Peace to all.

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