We held our first All-School Assembly yesterday morning. Some things never change: the slightly excessive applause (are they really that excited for announcements or do they hope to postpone the beginning of class?); the ever-vigilant middle school faculty; the silence when Mr. de Vicente takes the microphone. Though much was familiar about the morning, the themes and goals Mr. de Vicente presented were largely new.
He shared with the students a bit about the impending beatification of Bishop Alvaro del Portillo, Opus Dei’s second prelate. Mr. de Vicente also spoke about the word, “please.” It’s a simple word, they were told, but it indicates that when we ask for something, we don’t assume that we are going to get it. If we do get the requested item or service or favor, it is due to the kindness of the grantor. Not saying “please” is a clear sign of being spoiled or entitled.
A reminder of one of last year’s goals, students were encouraged to make their beds every morning. This goal was worth repeating. Mr. de Vicente told the boys that if they make their beds every morning, their grades, friendships, and lives will improve. He challenged them, “if you don’t believe me, try it for five or six years.”
Additionally, students were encouraged to visit our Lord frequently in the Chapel. It is the best, most beautiful, space on campus and it happens to host the most important Person on campus as well. We should visit Him.
Finally, the boys were told to read every day. Not homework reading, but pleasure reading. Mr. de Vicente encouraged the boys to pick up a book that they want to read for reading’s sake—not because it was assigned—for at least five minutes a day. Our headmaster also told the boys of legendary Heights teacher, Prof. Eddie Smith, who decided years ago to read one book per week. This entailed choosing a book every Sunday, dividing its total pages by seven, and launching right into it on Monday. Imagine the knowledge gained during a lifetime (or even a year) of a book-a-week!
So those are the goals for your sons this year. Might they be good goals for us—teachers and parents—as well? Likely. John Paul II wrote, “Modern Man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses.”
Do we say, “please,” even when asking our children for things that we have every right to have? Do we make our beds in the morning? We’ve all had those moments of demanding a clean room when our own is a disaster—or maybe that’s just me. Do we visit the chapel with our children or students if a spare minute presents itself or when we are leaving campus for the day? Do we read? Is our home conducive to reading? Do we have nooks and corners of the house with books available? You know…the chair by the window that demands to be read upon on a quiet Sunday afternoon?
These goals are not complicated, but they are worth striving for. Let’s give them a chance on the home front, please.