Each year when September rolls around, I imagine most of us are still holding on to the last bits of summer – but also filled with emotion for the coming school year: excitement for the new beginning, anxiety for upcoming changes and hope for what the year will be.
Of all of those, my favorite is hope. I see it in the eyes of the parents as they drop their kids off at school, in the faces of our children as they greet their classmates and in the hearts of our staff as they welcome everyone back. We all know it won’t be a perfect school year. There will be challenges, there will be failings and there will be trials in friendship and character. But we know that because of the hope we have in the Lord, we can persevere, we can move beyond discouragement, and we can find joy in what is to come.
A few years ago, Pope Francis gave a series of advice on how to have hope. In italics below are three of the important points he makes:
“When life gets hard, and ‘you have fallen, get up. Never stay down. Get up and let people help you to your feet.’”
We are going to have difficult times this year – whether it is a poor test grade, a big mistake in a game or a problem with a friend. We can choose to be sad and wallow – or we can choose to pull ourselves up and take a step in the right direction. Fortunately, we have people in our lives who will be there to help us up – whether it is family, teachers, members at church – look to those who will faithfully motivate you and help you along the way. And then be that person for someone else.
“Don’t listen to those ‘who spread hatred and division.’” Surround yourself with people who speak positivity and life. It becomes difficult to exercise hope when you’re bogged down with negativity – think of those who encourage you and help you grow and give them your time and attention.
“If you’re bored stiff, crush (boredom) with good works.” This is so great – when you’re bored, when you’re feeling down, when you’re not sure what to do – do something kind for someone else. Is there a better way to pull ourselves out of negativity than by service to others?
As we start this school year, let’s keep this virtue of hope at the forefront of our minds. Let’s pray for hope and strength for ourselves and for everyone around us.
I’m wishing all of our school communities a safe and blessed 2022-23 school year.
Principal, St. Mary of the Assumption School
Published in the Sept./Oct. 2022 issue of Catholic Life Magazine
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