Fr. Hunt told us an interesting story a few weeks ago. If you recall, it was about the New York Rangers, who won the Stanley Cup, the hockey championship, for the first time in 1994 (and the last time). All of New York was jubilant, with parades and celebration in the streets. A reporter asked the head coach why winning the Stanley Cup was so important to his players and the people of New York. His answer was very simple: “Because it’s hard.”
I think athletes understand that comment: The great value of winning the trophy as the best isn’t the value of the trophy itself—it’s the hard work that went into it, the many practices, the off-season conditioning, the summer work-outs, the wind-sprints and the weight-lifting. Becoming the best isn’t easy, but it’s precisely because it’s hard that we value it. If it were easy, who really cares?
Pope Benedict, speaking to students your age recently, said something very powerful along these lines:
“The world,” he told youth, “promises you comfort. But you were not made for comfort, you were made for greatness."
The truth is that deep down, whether we are brave enough to admit it or not, we all have a desire to be great—to somehow use our life to make a difference in the world, and not just “get by”. That desire is not meant to go unanswered. God wants us to strive for more than pleasure, more than what is expedient, more than what is attractive or easy at the moment. We sell ourselves short, and sell God’s dreams for us short, by aiming for an easy life. God has higher aspirations for us!
There are certain times when it’s fun to be a student here, and other times when it’s not. When you’re struggling academically and you’re looking down the barrel of eight exams, it’s easy for our confidence to be shaken, and easy to begin dreaming of an easier life somewhere else. Yes, you may have some friends in other schools who seem to be working less hard and making better grades. The “grass is always greener in someone else’s pasture” temptation is powerful during moments of stress or suffering.
Stay the course. Finish strong—you’re rounding the last lap and the end is in sight. Rely on your teachers by seeking them out and asking for help. Rely on each other. Rely on God through prayer to help you work hard these last few weeks.
In May—just a few months from now for you seniors, just a few years for the rest of you—someone will call your name, you will walk across a stage, and the bishop will hand you a diploma. You will be extraordinarily proud, not because of the piece of paper, but what that paper represents, that you’ve pushed yourself through the tough times, that you’ve really earned something that was hard.
Have the courage to strive for greatness in your life—it’s the only life worth living.