Chaplain’s Conference: Ending Well

Chaplain’s Conference
Sacred Heart Catholic High School
Monday, May 21, 2018

thats all folks

Here we are: the home stretch. The end is in sight.  As we approach the end of the school year, it is important to pause and consider how we will end this school year.

The Book of Sirach (11:28) reminds us of this important truth:
Call no man happy before his death,
For by how he ends, a man is known.

Brothers and sisters, we are known and remembered, not by how we begin, but rather by how we end.

It helps to begin well. But if we have a rocky start, we can recover.
It is critical to end well.

In the end, a Christian is judged not by how he begins, but by how he ends. Saint Paul is remembered for his love for God and his spreading of the gospel, not for his persecution and killing of Christians. Paul began as a sinner but ended as a saint. He rejoices in Heaven now. He is remembered not for how he began, but for by how he ended.

At the end of our lives, when we stand before the Lord on the day of our judgement, we will not be judged for how we began. We will be judged for how we ended.

The best way to make sure that we will end our lives well is to practice by ending each chapter of our lives well.

The chapter of this school year, this chapter of your life, is coming to an end.

My challenge to you is this: End well.

For by how he ends, a man is known.

How will you be remembered?

I think there are three things that we can say that help us to end well.

First: Thank You

Thank you can be a difficult thing to say. It means acknowledging that I have received something that is a gift. It means acknowledging that I couldn’t have done it on my own. It means taking the time to go to another person, to seek them out, to look them in the eye, and to express gratitude for what they have done for me.

There are teachers and coaches who made an impact on you this year. They have given of themselves so that you could grow.  They have sacrificed their time and energy for you. Thank them. Really thank them. Go out of your way to approach them and to tell them of the impact that they made on you. Others have shown you real friendship this year. Thank them for being a good friend.

Do not leave the doors of this building for the last time this year without saying “thank you”.

Second: I’m sorry

If saying thank you is difficult, saying “I’m sorry” is more difficult. Yet it’s even more important than saying “thank you”.

Repentance is at the heart of the gospel and at the heart of what it is to be a Christian. Own up to your own sins, weaknesses, and failures. Grow by them.

Whom have you hurt this year?
What relationships are strained?

Saint Paul tells the Ephesians: “Do not let the sun go down on your anger.”

The sun is setting on this school year. The time is short.

True love says “I’m sorry” for the good of the other.
Self-love says “it’s too hard or awkward so I’ll just let it blow over. In a week, it won’t matter.”

Brothers and sisters, it does matter. By how he ends, a man is known. Don’t be remembered for old grudges, resentment, hurt, and unforgiveness. Be remembered for healing a wound. Be remembered for having the guts to right a wrong. Who do you need to apologize to before you leave on Friday?

Say “I’m sorry”.

Finally: I love you

This might seem strange for a high school setting.  But what does “I love you” mean?  To love is to will the good of the other person. It is to choose their good. In our context, a first step might be to tell another person “I wish you the best.”

Can we say that to each other as this year comes to a close? Even if we don’t see eye to eye with each other, perhaps especially with that person with whom we don’t see eye to eye? Can we say, “Have a great summer. I wish you the best”?

Mark Miller joins us this morning. Mark is a seminarian of the Diocese of Crookston, studying for the priesthood. He just graduated from college seminary. He begins his theology studies at a new seminary in the Fall. In four years, God willing, he will become Father Mark. He just experienced an ending with his graduation from college. I’ve invited him to share some of his thoughts on what it means to end well with us this morning.

[Mark speaks]

Now, I have a couple of more things I’d like to say.

First, thank you.  It has been an honor and a joy to be your chaplain this year.  It has been a blessing to get to know you and to watch you grow.  Thank you for welcoming me into your midst.   Thank you for rising to the occasion when I challenged you to step up and grow.  Thank you for your witness in my life.  I am grateful for each and every one of you.

Second, I’m sorry.  I’m sorry for the times that you wanted to talk to me about something and I appeared to be too busy.  I’m sorry for the times when I challenged you when you were having a bad day and weren’t open to being challenged.  I’m sorry for the times that I took myself more seriously than I needed to: Sophomores, I’m sorry.  Teaching is not a strength of mine but I am working on it and hope to improve for next year.

Finally, I love you.  I do.  I wish you the best in your summer endeavors and I look forward to seeing you back here next year.  Seniors, you always have a home at Sacred Heart.  Come back and see us when you are home.  I am just a phone call away if you need anything next year.

On Sunday, we celebrated the Feast of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the Church.  Today, we celebrate the Memorial of Mary, Mother of the Church.  We celebrate the openness of a young girl from Nazareth to receiving the Holy Spirit, an openness that allowed her to conceive the Son of God as the fruit of her womb.  And so it is fitting that, as we seek to end this school year well, we ask for her intercession.

Hail Mary…


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