“Always We Begin Again”: At the root of St. Benedict’s teachings is this simple four-word outlook on life that has helped me for years both personally and as a school leader in appreciating both ends of the spectrum—the student (or colleague) who has experienced the very worst of a bad hair day being helped up, given a pat on the back, and receiving encouragement to dust off and jump enthusiastically back into life’s fray OR the student (or colleagues) who has had the most amazing day EVER being called on to keep endeavoring psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually to do it again—and everything in between. “Inaugurate” is from the Latin “inaugurat” meaning “interpreted as omens” (from the flights of birds). That being the (interesting) case, my preference of the various definitions listed by Merriam-Webster for “inaugurate” is “bring about the beginning of”—as in the opportunity to reset and/or start over. As our first semester finishes up this week, and we begin the second semester on Monday, let us all endeavor today and into our tomorrows to take flight, as if for the first time, in being the best versions of ourselves, as students, as family members, and as members of this school community and beyond—rooting ourselves, children of God and made in His image, in the life and example of Christ, and compelled to extend to the other person the very same love that we hold for ourselves.
"100 Words" serves as a self-framing for me to keep things short and sweet, an homage paid and recognition to an expression I hold near and dear: less is more. Each of these reflection pieces lands quite close to the 100-word mark and provides me an avenue through which to share with you, the O'Connell community, a reflection from week to week on any number of my thoughts, observations, opinions, takeaways, musings etc.—falling within the realm, and in no patterned way whatsoever (trust me), of the prosaic to the lyrical, the informational to the aspirational, the serious to the whimsical, the arcane to the profound, the secular to the spiritual...you get the picture.
My goal and hope is for you to get to know me as I get to know you, the members of the Bishop Denis J. O’Connell community, and all I ask from you is that you take less than a minute each week to read (more or less) 100 words. God’s Peace.
Next week we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.—a modern-day disciple of the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Following Christ's example, he beseeched us all, through his words and by his actions, to seek change for the better in a manner unequivocally centered on peace and non-violence. In responding to times of desperation and despair, Dr. King invoked evocative “turn the other cheek“ imagery: “Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” As we reflect on Dr. King’s profound legacy, both then and now, and as we are inspired by and bask in the incandescent light of our Heavenly Father, may we and our Nation in moving into the critical week ahead set a North Star bearing toward peace, unity, healing, and understanding.
Yesterday’s assault on the Capitol was unprecedented in American history and is anathema to democracy, the American Experience, and our way of life, and can never be justified, condoned, or explained away. This day of infamy, and the hate symbols that accompanied many of those who illegally stormed the Capitol—the legislative branch’s inner sanctum—will forever be remembered as a low-water mark. I write today to encourage each of us, in working through any range of understandable emotions—to include disbelief, anger, sadness, frustration, non-trust, or alienation—to work toward a position centered on peace, love, understanding, healing and unity as modeled by the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ, for loving others as we love ourselves is at the heart of His message and that of Church teachings, and as O’Connell’s mission statement compels us to do: “Our mission is to provide students an education rooted in the life of Christ...”