Leaving Cert Graduation Mass

Graduation Mass 2011

I want you to remember this number – 6570

I wonder how many books you have read – or what is the longest book you have read? – Lord of the Rings, War and Peace (1440 pages), Harry Potter – hundreds or nearly 1000 pages. Yet the storybook of your life - if it was to be translated into numbers of pages is in many thousands.

I wonder if you have ever counted the number of days you have lived. If you are 18 you have lived 6570 days excluding leap years. If you are my age you have lived 16000.
If you have reached the age of 50 you have lived 18250.

So the story of your life – in pages – currently – if you have reached your 18th birthday runs to 6570 days. Of these days - if you go over those pages, you have spent maybe 850 and 1000 school days (Mondays to Fridays) here in Colaiste Muire school.

It puts your life at a different perspective.

If my life or yours is like a book, then every waking hour is a sentence I am writing in my autobiography. You may not keep a diary or a journal, but you can think over significant dates or pages in your life – for all of us there are significant days.

Do you remember that funny line in the movie ‘Miss Congeniality’ – one of the contestants was asked to describe her perfect date – I would have to say April 15th because it is not too hot or too cold, and you don’t have to wear a jacket’!
Some days are exciting, and like a book you read it can be a page turner. Some days – like pages in a long novel, can be more tedious, and hard to get up in the morning, but we stick at it because each page, each day has a purpose in the overall storyline. It requires patience, but you know you can’t skip a chapter or you will not make sense of the book. You can’t read the last page of your story because you don’t know when it is. You can cheat and read the last line or paragraph of a book, but your own life is still unfolding – there are many pages to be filled, there are many chapters left.

Today’s date – May 18th – for many people out there – is just another day of work. No doubt somewhere today there are confirmations, some children are preparing for First Holy Communion, and some people are planning a wedding. Somebody somewhere is going for a job interview, someone is doing college exams, somebody is seeing their doctor, today is someone’s birthday, or wedding anniversary. Someone today will fall in love. There are significant dates in all of our lives. For you young men and women, it is your last official day - graduation day. A day you will remember – a day that it is right to mark and celebrate – an emotional day for parents, a milestone in the life of the school, and for each one of you and your families.

And this is the point – there is a plot, there is a plan, and believe it or not, while we are the actors in our own drama, there is an author or director – God.
One day a teacher went into a classroom, and wrote down a seemingly strange maths equation P=p.

The teacher then said that is the key to happiness – when your plans ‘p’ = ‘P’ – God’s Plan for you, then you will have peace. How do I know God’s plan for me? Another ‘p’ for prayer.

Just as each page of a book has the book title or chapter title at the head of the page– so each page of my life has a Master Plan. Just as each page has a sequential number, so each day is important, significant, irreplaceable – each day is a gift, that is why they call it ‘the present’.

If you and a friend are reading the same book, you might ask, ‘what page are you on?’ If they are ahead of you, they might say, ‘oh there’s an exciting bit coming up’, and you might say ‘don’t spoil it for me!’

You have read many books – textbooks, science, literature, languages and the like, but the most important book is the Book of your own life. You are writing it - you are somewhere near page 6570. It is the end of a chapter or even a major ‘Part’ today.

What will the next chapter be like? Always remember ‘p’ = ‘P’ – God’s Plan for you. The more your plans match His – His will, His commandments, His teachings and sayings, and the more your practise the ‘p’ for prayer, the more satisfying, and the more sense your story will become.

Pope Benedict said in his first Mass as Pope in 2005 these important words:

"And only where God is seen does life truly begin. Only when we meet the living God in Christ do we know what life is. We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary. There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than to know Him and to speak to others of our friendship with Him."

This is a happy day, an emotional one. May God bless you and protect you in the days ahead and be assured of my prayers for you in the challenging days ahead.

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