This is Part III of IV parts from graduation. Part IV will be Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's keynote address.
Mrs. Carroll’s Graduation Speech
On the American History final exam, one of the essay questions was to discuss the moral decline of the United States in the 20th century and to write a concluding paragraph explaining whether or not you think this decline can be reversed. Most of you who chose that essay wrote rather pessimistic conclusions. Now, perhaps after two hours plus of writing about American History, a student could justifiably be pessimistic about whether the sun would come up the next morning, let alone about the possibility of reversing our culture of death.
In the body of your essays, you wrote how Margaret Sanger and her friends in the 20’s attacked the cultural garden by planting the weeds of contraception and eugenics. The non-Catholic churches of the 1930’s fertilized the weeds by endorsing contraception. The materialism of the 50’s, the radical feminism and moral anarchy of the 60’s pulled up healthy pro-life plants so that the weeds could have the garden all to themselves. Now the weeds have mutated into monsters: abortion on demand, euthanasia, in vitro fertilization, redefinition of marriage, and promiscuity that is so widespread almost no one even remarks on it anymore. And in this second decade of the third millennium, we have a government that wants to force everyone to pay to transplant the weeds into the gardens of those who have tried to keep the pro-life plants alive.
Pessimistic? Realistic might be a better word.
But that’s not the end of the story. Scripture begins the story of the human race in a garden—a garden of life transformed into a garden of death. But then at the end of the gospels we find another garden, actually two neighboring gardens. One of them, on a dark Thursday night, appears to be a garden of death when a crowd of soldiers armed with swords and clubs come to arrest a man to take him to his death. But three days later, on a sunlit Sunday morning, a neighboring garden becomes a garden of life, a life that can’t be contained by rocks and stones and seals and guards.
But our culture seems lost in the night. How can we possibly get to Easter morning? Or, to mix metaphors, how are going to get from the depths of winter to the new springtime that Blessed Pope John Paul the Great prophesied?
Let’s move up one day from your American History final to your Religion 12 final. Most of you seemed to have regained your optimism when answering the short answer question, “Do you think our Culture of Death can be transformed to a culture of life?” You weren’t foolishly optimistic; you admitted that it wouldn’t be easy. But many of you said that with prayer, witness, example, and action on all fronts, the task could be accomplished. After all, as one of you wrote, “We’re the smartest class. We should be able to figure it out.”
Yes, we’re in the depths of winter. Think Narnia at the beginning of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, where it was always winter and never Christmas. In those optimistic answers on the Religion final, the word “we” kept reappearing. We need to pray, we need to act, we need to set a strong pro-life example, we need to stand up for life no matter what the cost. The operative word is we. And we are you. You are like the four children whom Aslan called into Narnia to defeat the culture of death of the White Witch and her minions. They couldn’t do it alone. And neither can you. The children needed each other. Edmund the traitor had to repent and come back to his family. You need the support of each other and other like-minded people. You need to keep the close friendships you’ve nurtured at Seton and create new ones with others that your charity and your joy will draw to you. And you need Aslan, Jesus Christ, on your side. There’s no magic needed to find him. He’s always here, at Mass and in the tabernacle and in the confessional when you need Him.
Some of you, I have no doubt, will do some very public things to fight the culture of death. But others of you will re-create the culture of life one soul at a time, through your prayers and penances, whether in a monastery or in the world; through your daily witness to the value of chastity in whatever unchaste environments you might find yourself; through the children you will someday have and raise in the Catholic Faith; through your charity toward everyone, even toward those who disagree with you and especially toward those who have been wounded by the culture of death; through your joy, the joy that comes from being in love with the Triune God.
In a speech he gave at Christendom’s 25th anniversary celebration, Dr. Carroll had some important words to say to Christendom students. If he were here, I think he’d want me to say these same words to you. In fact, even though he’s not here, I know he wants me to say these same words to you. These are his words, slightly edited:
“Why did God want Seton School to grow and flourish? Because Seton School is educating and preparing young men and women who will bring what our great and holy Pope John Paul II called the new springtime of the Church. In the face of scandals and despair, believe in that springtime. It’s coming and nothing can stop it.”
Hear that, Class of 2012? The new springtime of the Church is definitely coming. Therefore you need to be men and women of Christian hope. But how soon it comes and how many souls can be saved from misery while it’s on its way depends on you. If you’re the smartest class, then keep your intellects focused on the truth. Truth exists, remember? But also keep your hearts focused on love. Self-gift, remember? As long as you know the truth and live the truth in charity, you’ll bring others to Christ. And the new springtime will come at last.
Jezu, ufam Tobie.