GRADUATION 2010 — Mrs. Carroll’s Graduation Address
As you know, we like to find historical significances. The Class of 2010 has the significance of being Seton’s largest senior class. And there are those who would say it is Seton’s best looking senior class. But when I was thinking about what I wanted to say to you, I was wishing that this was the year 2012, so that I could make the historical connection with an event that happened in 1912, a nice round hundred years before 2012. But alas it’s 2010, so we have to deal with an un-round 98 years. 98 years ago last month was the first, last and only voyage of the Titanic. What does the Titanic have to do with the Class of 2010? Nothing, directly. But it has, I think, much to do with the world the Class of 2010 inhabits.
The Titanic is an apt metaphor for our modern society. Think about it. The ship had every conceivable luxury of the time. It was glamorous, luxurious, modern in every aspect. It was a completely self-contained world, needing nothing outside itself. If anyone wanted anything at all-a meal or a drink or a cigar–he just rang for a servant and it was delivered. And if by chance something did try to intrude from outside-an ice warning for example-the Titanic clearly didn’t need it and tossed it aside. Was there anything greater than Titanic? No. After all, not even God could sink that ship.
Doesn’t that describe our modern world? Glamour, luxury, modernity, completely self-contained. If anyone wants anything at all, just click on the mouse and it will be delivered. And our modern world has an advantage on the Titanic. The Titanic had to rely on people coming aboard. Our modern society has now reached the point where it can manufacture persons, according to specifications and with the required quality control. And the various components for the manufacturing process can all be obtained online. Titanic 2010 not only thinks itself greater than God; it thinks it is God-the arbiter of who will live and who will die. The real God-but there is no real God. God is a delusion, according to biologist Richard Dawkins. We live as if we were the cause of our own existence, which-as the Class of 2010 knows-is the ultimate metaphysical absurdity. And if something intrudes, something to make us question our self-sufficiency-a tsunami or an earthquake, for example, or an oil spill-we all too soon toss the warnings aside and continue as before, full speed ahead, with no binoculars in the crow’s nest.
Full speed ahead, and there aren’t enough lifeboats. But wait, the analogy breaks down here. Our world does have lots of puny little lifeboats-the toys and the time-wasters that won’t hold up for a minute in the North Atlantic. But there is a real lifeboat. There’s only one, but it’s big enough for everyone. It’s a boat that is steered by the man who wears the Fisherman’s ring.
And it truly is a LIFE boat. The people who built the Titanic thought they were better than God. Little did they know that God was sustaining in existence every molecule of the too-thin metal plates and of the too-short waterproof doors and of the frozen H20 that would soon make a mockery of their boasting. But He was also sustaining in existence every cell of every human being on that ship, every immortal soul that would soon be meeting Him. Just as now He is sustaining in existence every immortal soul suffering in suspended animation in the concentration cans of the IVF factories. And every one of the technicians who thinks God is irrelevant if He exists at all. And every one of us.
Yes, He is the Lord and Giver of Life. Whether one likes it or not, that’s Who God Is. And the successor of the fisherman, who steers the Life boat, can tell us what we need to do to stay safe.
Benedict the XVI was elected Pope in your seventh grade year, so he is the Pope of your years at Seton. He’s written three encyclicals, which can help you stay in the Life boat, get others into it, and steer clear of the icebergs. His most recent encyclical was Caritas in Veritate, Charity in Truth. You won’t stay in the Life boat if you try to make your own truth, if you try to make reality conform to your mind instead of the other way around. His second encyclical was Spes Salvi, Hope of Salvation. The Life boat has a destination and it’s not the one the Titantic is steaming toward. Knowing your true destination will help you meet all of life’s challenges. Benedict’s first encyclical was Deus Caritas Est, God is love. God’s life, His very existence is Trinitarian love. It is that love keeping all those molecules in existence. It is that love holding all those manufactured babies in existence. He is loving them, each one of them, with infinite tenderness. Just as He is loving you.
So staying in the Lifeboat means knowing the truth, having the right goal, and being in love; faith, hope, charity. Being in love.
But can we do anything about the Titanic around us? We might be safe in the Life boat but we can’t ignore everyone else. One of the questions on the final exam was “Can we change our culture of death into a culture of life?” I could have put it another way: Can we save the Titanic from the ice berg? One of you wrote a wonderful 3-page answer to a 3-point question. I wish I could read it all but here’s part of it: “Oh, yes. I know so many people who want to change the world. Through fashion design, music, movies, literature, education, and maybe even start a moral mall. It has to be done in a realistic way. Start by working with society; for instance get someone really talented to write a screen play and sell it to Fox movie stations. Not an explicitly Catholic movie but a movie with heroes who die for others and spouses who are faithful. Do the same with music, literature and entertainment in general. We need to be in all walks of life, just living examples, to bring about a generation of teenagers who want to fight against immorality. Basically we need a lot of good moral realistic people aimed at the same goal.” That’s you, Class of 2010.
Your classmate is talking about you, the best looking class ever. But you know what they say: Beauty is only skin deep. Well, they are wrong. Beauty is soul deep. Beauty is in the intellect that knows the truth. Beauty is in the will that makes choices that point toward eternity. Beauty is in the heart that has fallen in love with God.
Live up to these standards, Class of 2010, stay in the Life boat, and you’ll be very good looking indeed.