Saint Ignatius College Geelong

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    Faith Matters - Hope

    Article by Mr Brendan Nicholls

    Faith Matters – Hope

     A new year has begun!

    Welcome back and for those new to our community welcome. I trust that the first few days of school have been positive for you and every member of our College. I know that the students have started very well and are adjusting to new classes, course and expectations. This is such vibrant and happy time of the school year.

    Although so positive I also know that we are in the ‘honeymoon period’. By the time we get to week four many of use (staff, students and parents) find that the energy can drop off and that we can retreat into safer ‘old’ behaviours or outlooks. Change is challenging and we often find it hard to maintain the focus long enough to bring about long term reform. Often in education we see students enter the year exceptionally well and then by the end of the first term see this energy wain. When this happens students often falter and go back to safer behaviours or attitudes.

    As adults we as parents are similar. We being a new year with so many goals. By the time the first month of work and family life has ended most of the things we determined to change or work towards have fallen by the wayside.

    The problem of wanting to go back to what is safe and easy is not new. In the early Church we read of Christians who wanted to go back to their old beliefs. Exodus is the ongoing story of Moses encountering this problem over forty years.

    In considering the difficulty of change I would like to offer a parable of sorts. There was a Spanish Captain called Hernán Cortés who in 1519 landed at Veracruz, Mexico. On landing his troops refused to follow him into the unknown. They were rightly fearful of this strange land and its aggressive inhabitants. Cortés responded to these fears by opening the barrels of rum on the beach and when all were accounted for signed to his trusted leaders, who remained the ships. At his signal they burnt the ships! Cortés is recorded as saying to his men at this moment, “If we go back, we will go back on their ships!”.

    This is truly an amazing story. In considering the story its worth thinking about the men who sat on the shore watching their only link to home burn before them. Their desire to stay on the ships and return to safety is natural. They did not want to go back to the ships because they were so luxurious. In reality they were dirty and prone to disease. The food was poor at best and the work they had to do was very hard. But it was a link to the past and a chance to return to what was safe and known.

    What Cortés did changed their lives and in fact world history. Burning the ships is an excellent image for us to being the year with and may well help us achieve long term and ongoing change. We can apply this image to our school/work life, our personal relationships and in our relationship with God.

    Take a moment to reflect upon your life at this present moment and the changes you hope to make this year. Then determine the choices that need to be made to achieve each of these goals. Then burn the ships! Remove the opportunity to return to what is safe. In doing so you will find that when the commitment wains or the energy drops you can still move forward.

    Consistency is the key to change. A little bit often, combined with a commitment to a goal ensures success. By also ‘burning the ships’ you cannot go back. This is always a good thing. We were made for growth. We only become whom God knows us to be if reflect upon how we can be more and give more if we push on.

    I would also like to note that at our combined Geelong Secondary School staff Mass at St Bernard’s, our Auxiliary Bishop Mark Edwards offered the homily. He encouraged us as teachers and support staff to, "Do ordinary things with great hope". This advice supports the actions of Cortés. If we refuse to go back to the ordinary and what is safe, and seek to reach our goals by making progress with hope the commitment will not waiver. This year make change with the hope that you can achieve anything you set your mind to in the presence of Our Lord. Our hope is found in Him.

    As you enter into this new year I pray that you will find the time to reflect upon your life, discern what is best for you and those around you and that with courage and faith in God you apply the logic of Cortés in your life. In doing so you will find the fullness of life offered to you by the only person whom this fullness can be found in – Jesus.

    Yours in Christ,

    Brendan Nicholls  Liturgy Coordinator

     

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