Friday, May 24, 2013

To the Class of 2013

It's hard to believe that the first crop of freshmen I taught starting in 2009 graduated last night. At U of D Jesuit there's a tradition of having the "Senior All-Night Party" following graduation, a party that concludes with a prayer service. I believe they used the prayer I composed last year for the occasion but, at the invitation of some of the parents, I sent a letter giving my final "lesson" as their teacher. This is not to be confused with Abba's Advice for College which tended toward more practical advice.

My Dear Class of 2013,

This letter records both an end and a beginning. As the sun creeps over the horizon and you step out into the world newly-minted graduates, a significant chapter of your life comes to a conclusion. In a few moments, you will take yet another step on a journey toward adulthood shaped, I hope positively, during your time at U of D Jesuit. This ending is bittersweet for me as well, as your class began as freshmen in 2009, the same year I arrived for my three-year regency. I am sad that I am not able to be with you as you celebrate the milestone of your graduation but do be assured that you have never been far from my heart in my prayer.

The purpose of your education, contrary to our culture’s belief, has not been simply to get you into a good college. Your Jesuit education has aimed to shape your heart and your mind to wrestle with the big questions confronting the Church and the world today, questions demanding much from those serious enough to tackle them. As your journey into the future continues, please allow me to offer three words of wisdom.

First, live always from the heart. Never fear to look deep within and ask yourself what it is that you truly desire in this life. Our society will be quick to tell you what you should want, what you should be, what you should do. Yet, I am afraid, so much of what the world promises will never bring you true and lasting happiness. What you desire most, what stirs your heart and excites you…please, pay attention to this. The best advice my father ever gave me: whatever you do in life, love it enough to teach it. If you love something enough to share it with others, you’ll never have a day without joy.

Second, live in the Spirit. The God we have prayed to each day during the Examen is the God whose Spirit is alive in your heart. Be bold and courageous in following this Spirit, in following your heart, and your entire life will be an adventure of experiencing God’s call. Whether you become a doctor or a lawyer, a professional athlete or a teacher, an engineer or a Jesuit, a husband and a daddy, know that all is a gift from the Creator. Rejoice in the gift that is your life and make your whole life a thanksgiving in response to God’s friendship.

Third, and finally, do this practically. Being a follower of Jesus Christ, being an authentic Man for Others, is an all-contact sport. It is not something one does…it is what one is. Let your deeds show your character. Be men of prudence and wisdom, care always for the poor and the marginalized, and bring to others the spirit of love and brotherhood you have come to know here. Saint Ignatius reminds us that “Love is shown more in deeds than in words.” I challenge you to make your lives a deed of love.

Please know of my prayers as your journey into the future. It was a great joy and grace to have had a role in teaching you. For any time I failed to be the Jesuit or teacher you deserved, I extend my sincerest apology. For allowing me to have a part in your lives, I offer my heart’s deepest gratitude. Go forth and set the world on Fire for the greater honor and glory of God

With Brotherly Love,

Ryan “Abba” Duns, SJ

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