By: Bishop Paul S. Loverde
The Diocese of Arlington’s 50 schools (preschool, elementary and high schools) are preparing to welcome over 17,000 students to the 2010-2011 academic year. On August 30, the first day back to school, there will be unused notebooks to write in, unopened textbooks to read, and new classmates to meet. And due to our schools’ integral Catholic identity, the Holy Spirit will also be in their students’ midst.
Every year, I visit each of our four diocesan high schools to pray for the presence of the Holy Spirit in a particular way by celebrating the Mass of the Holy Spirit. I was also pleased to join the students of Christendom College in Front Royal again this year for their opening Mass.
I pray that the Holy Spirit will guide the students and teachers so they may grow in wisdom and grace during their time at our schools. I encourage the students to put themselves before Jesus, dedicating themselves to Him.
Why is praying to the Holy Spirit particularly appropriate for the beginning of the academic year? The Psalmist tells us, “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build. Unless the Lord guard the city, in vain does the guard keep watch. It is vain for you to rise early and put off your rest at night, To eat bread earned by hard toil– all this God gives to his beloved in sleep.” (Psalm 127: 1-2).
Make no mistake; the school year involves much hard work. This labor certainly includes academic and athletic struggles, but also spiritual battles to avoid sin and to grow in virtue. To succeed in the midst of these challenges, Sacred Scripture tells us that we must have a constant companion: the Holy Spirit. The strength of the Holy Spirit is an essential part of our faith – a fact that always I share with confirmandi when I travel around the diocese to administer the Sacrament of Confirmation.
At the start of this academic year, I ask you to join with me in prayer that the Holy Spirit may accompany our students in their academic and personal lives: “Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and enkindle in them the fire of Your love.”