Last Sunday was the fourth Sunday of Lent. It was also Laetare Sunday – “laetare” being the Latin word for rejoice. Laetare Sunday traditionally is the Sunday in Lent where there is a break from the more austere context of Lent. It is a day of celebration and relaxation from the normal Lenten rigours and limitations, a day of hope knowing that Easter is within sight. Traditionally, weddings (otherwise banned during Lent) could be performed on this day, and servants were released from service for the day to visit their mothers. The day is signified in the Roman Catholic Church with most priests wearing rose-coloured vestments. This tradition was certainly obvious at St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney where my wife and I were visiting last Sunday. So, very much like the rest we give ourselves on a long journey, Laetare Sunday gives us an opportunity to “rest from Lent”, knowing that we are not far off the journey of the Passion and Resurrection we experience at the beginning of Easter. We re-energise ourselves, recollect our thoughts and make ourselves ready for the last few weeks of the journey of Lent.
The Gospel reading for this year’s Laetare Sunday was Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son – a parable with which most of us are familiar. It is a parable of forgiveness and demonstrates to us clearly once more that our God is a kind and understanding God. Not only does the parable teach us of the forgiveness of the loving father who welcomes back his son unconditionally with no questions asked, it also teaches us of the self-forgiveness of the lost son himself. He is able to forgive himself and gather the strength to return to his father knowing he has wronged his family and wronged himself and wishes to start again. We often skim over this part of the parable by concentrating on the reaction of the father. To be truly forgiven by others means that we must be able to forgive ourselves first; without this we can never truly open ourselves us to receive the forgiveness of others. Forgiving ourselves does not mean we are letting ourselves off the hook or excusing or justifying our poor behaviour; it is not a sign of weakness. Forgiveness of self is a choice that takes courage and strength, and it gives us the opportunity to grow and overcome rather than remaining a victim of our own contempt.
Unfortunately we now live in a society where forgiveness is difficult. Social media gives people a platform to blame others in a direct and immediate manner, and that blame is then recorded forever for others to see. Self-forgiveness is even more difficult in our age of social media. How can we journey down the pathway of self-forgiveness when often our faults and mistakes are raised in social media for us to be reminded of them over and over again? Resilience is a characteristic that we often talk about in a school setting, but resilience is a difficult characteristic to develop within ourselves when we are constantly reminded of our faults and weaknesses through social media.
I pray and hope that the young men of St Edmund’s College are exposed to enough good messages and behaviour from their teachers, their parents, their family members and members of the community that they are able to clearly discern the appropriate uses of social media in order for all of us to live in a world where forgiveness is easy – where forgiveness of others is easy but forgiveness of self is even easier. This will allow us to live the life that Christ has given us and live it to the full (John 10:10). Again, we find here a very strong connection to our scriptural theme for 2019, we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.
My great thanks to our Physical Education staff, and especially to Mr Joel Richardson and Mr Denzil Fox, for the wonderful organisation of our recent two Athletics Carnival for the high school and the junior school. Both days were a great success with our boys participating more than they have in previous years and demonstrating great house spirit and College spirit.
Over the next few weeks our College community will gather several times in celebration and acknowledgement of significant events. Next Wednesday we gather to acknowledge Anzac Day and the following day we gather to acknowledge and celebrate the Passion of Christ in the lead up to Easter. In the first week of Term 2, we gather again at St Christopher’s Cathedral to remember Edmund Rice and the Christian Brothers at our Founder’s Day Mass, where this year we also celebrate the 65th anniversary of the College. We gather together for these events as a family and as a community and I look forward to our students engaging in these events in a meaningful manner.
Many thanks to three of our senior students who assisted a local resident with a flat tyre on Tuesday morning. This act of kindness was spotted by one of our parents who reported it to the College. Thanks to Nathan Hackett (Year 12, O’Brien), Lachlan Einfalt (Year 11, Treacy) and Joshua Davis (Year 11, Treacy) for their generosity and mindfulness towards others. I have shared a story on our Facebook page of old boy David Higgins who is now a fitness expert and personal trainer to a number of Hollywood celebrities. Congratulations to David for his wonderful achievements and positive profile. I would encourage all members of our community to follow us on Facebook so you can keep up on the daily life of the College and be informed of special events.
It is with great sadness that I inform the College community that Mrs Pauline Mills, the Principal’s Secretary, leaves St Edmund’s after 8 years of service. Pauline has worked with three principals and has been a stalwart supporter of the College. Pauline and her husband will return to Adelaide to be with their children and grandchildren. I thank Pauline for all she has done for the College and wish her well for her many new adventures. We warmly welcome Ms Rachel Lemon to the community of St Edmund’s. Rachel steps into the role of Executive Assistant after many years of service at St Mary MacKillop College. I am sure you will all make Rachel very welcome in your dealings with her.
At the end of this term we also farewell Mr Michael Monagle, our Assistant Principal Mission and Identity, who will embark on one term of long service leave. We wish Michael well on his travel adventures and we welcome our Head of Religious Education Ms Carmela Wilson as Acting Assistant Principal Mission and Identity for all of Term 2. We also farewell Ms Anna Blore at the end of next week and wish her well on the birth of her second child. Mr Matthew McDonald will take the responsibility of Acting O’Brien Head of House for the next 12 months.
God of patient love,
you await the return of the wayward and wandering
and eagerly embrace them in pardon.
Through baptism you have clothed us with the glory of Christ
and restored our inheritance:
give us generous hearts
to welcome all who seek a place
at the table of your unconditional love.
We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Blessed Edmund Rice, pray for us.
Live Jesus in our Hearts, forever.
Christus Lux Mea
Mr Joe Zavone