Chaplain's Corner

Spiritual Life

Here at St Joseph High School, each day presents many opportunities for growth and an increase in knowledge of the faith. Classroom learning, service opportunities, moments of worship and liturgical participation are all part of each student’s day to day life. This monthly blog from our Episcopal Chaplain, Fr Eric Silva, is a way to connect parents and guardians to what is going on in the spiritual lives of their children as well as present an opportunity for the parents own growth and knowledge of the faith. In a culture that often drives parents and children apart it is a way to bring those parents and guardians into the lives of their children in a small way. 

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November 2019

CS Lewis wrote in his book The Four Loves that, “Friendship arises out of mere Companionship when two or more of the companions discover that they have in common some insight or interest or even taste which the others do not share and which, till that moment, each believed to be his own unique treasure (or burden). The typical expression of opening friendship would be something like, ‘What? You too? I thought I was the only one.’ ... It is when two such persons discover one another, when, whether with immense difficulties and semi-articulate fumblings or with what would seem to us amazing and elliptical speed, they share their vision - it is then that friendship is born. And instantly they stand together in an immense solitude.” 

So many believe that they have the key to what is wrong with the world and thus believe they know how to fix it: a crisis of love, or a better understanding of human anthropology, or even just a simply lack of charity are all the traits of this fallen world that are only furthering us from loving one another as Christ intended. While all may be true in some way or another, I believe that there is a particular crisis that afflicts the majority of today’s youth, particularly in the west. I believe we have a crisis of friendship; it is not a crisis of companionship, of connection, or of communication, but a crisis of friendship. Real, authentic, sacrificial friendship is so much of what is lacking in the culture because real friendships are not fostered or nurtured in a world that would have us believe that it is far more important to get “likes” or “retweets” than it is to give of oneself for those whom we call friends. Each and every story of old and new novel contains within its tale trial, struggle, perseverance, and courage; without sharing those experiences with another, namely a friend, the tale would be bland and almost without meaning for to share in those experiences is almost as important as experiencing them in the first place. 

Whether it be a dreary high school day or a long day at work, something seems much more bearable about it when it is endured with someone whom you call your “friend”. The world would have us believe that a friend is something that is for mere utility but nothing could be farther from the truth. Friendship is something which stems from the deepest longing of our hearts, almost as much as love does. This friendship remains not only true on the physical plane but also on the spiritual because without friends to experience that which we experience, things seem a little less real. This is especially true when it comes to matters of the faith because without friends in the faith, things seem less real. That is why becoming “friends” with the saints makes the faith more real; people who experienced what we experience in this life: doubt, fear, love, excitement, sorrow, and every other human emotion…people who have lived what we live but yet are not dead and if they are not dead, then we do not share a bond with them as a connection to the past but very much one of the present, no different than what you share with your friends of today. Find a saint who you can relate with, learn about her or him, and form a friendship where they can intercede for you and you can learn from them. Friendship is meant to forge a bond between two people, making this life not just bearable but exciting, no matter how trivial or mundane. 

Jesus says, “no longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends…”. The God of the universe calls us friends so is it really any wonder why the devil makes it so very difficult to form real, true lasting friendships? Find a friend here and now who you can share yourself with, making each and every moment of this life into an adventure. God Bless you all and be saints, nothing less. 

In Christ & Mary,
Father Silva

October first is the feast day of one of the most well-known saints in the history of our 2,000 year old Church. The saint with many names: Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, or most affectionately known by most as “The Little Flower”. This young woman whose writings only existed because her religious superior (who happened to also be her biological sister!) mandated that she write, is a sign of great contradiction to the world. She is the patron saint of missionaries and yet she remained a cloistered nun behind a grill for the short duration of her adult life, before passing at the age of 24. Why would the patron saint of missionaries, those whose entire life revolves around traveling out into the world, why would this saint who remained stationary for her entire adult life be the patron saint of missionaries? Saint Thérèse understood God’s plan for her life from an early age and with a boldness that only comes holiness or pride, made that plan happen in her life happen using all the opportunities that God had placed into her lap.

Saint Thérèse wrote, “I understood that every flower created by Him is beautiful, that the brilliance of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not lessen the perfume of the violet or the sweet simplicity of the daisy. I understood that if all the lowly flowers wished to be roses, nature would no longer be enameled with lovely hues. And so it is in the world of souls, Our lord's living garden.” For her, after coming to know God’s will for her life, living it out faithfully was the same as existing as those plants in nature; she did not will to become that which she was not but embraced the plan that God had laid out for her life knowing full well that it is God’s plan that will bring about the most joy, excitement, and adventure in our lives. Do we believe that living out God’s will in our lives will actually bring about a life of joy and excitement or have we equated God’s will with the most boring, mundane, and bland life imaginable? Saint Thérèse’s parents were canonized saints of the Catholic Church in 2015 and her sister Leonia’s cause for canonization has been opened up as well…a true family of saints! This is a family who knew well that a life of holiness and following God’s plan will only bring about all the excitement that comes from being a saint in today’s world. I hope that this is the beginning of an entire generation that reclaims all the excitement, joy, and adventure from seeing God’s unique plan for our lives and striving to live it out. God Bless you all and be saints, nothing less.

In Christ & Mary,
Father Silva

Catechism paragraph number 2223 reads, “Parents and guardians have the first responsibility for the education of their children. They bear witness to this responsibility first by creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity, and disinterested service are the rule. The home is well suited for the education in the virtues.”

In the past year and a half serving here at St Joseph High School, the quality of the students who walk through these doors each and every morning never ceases to amaze me; young men and women who are not virtuous because someone is watching but rather because they are simply living out what they are internally. I have no doubt that this is because of the hard work and dedication of so many faculty, administration, and staff here at St Joe’s (and their previous places of education), but also because of the tireless work of so many parents who continue to sacrifice of themselves to ensure that their children grow and mature into the young adults that will lead this country and this world into a brighter tomorrow.

It is my duty as their spiritual father and it is our goal here at St Joe’s not only to give them the best intellectual formation, spiritual formation, social formation, and athletic formation they can possibly get, but also to create an environment that develops and fosters virtue and a love for striving for virtue. We want your children to be not just the most intelligent but the most intelligent people who will use that intelligence for the betterment of the world; this comes from ensuring that this school is living out intentionally the idea that virtue is not something that is acquired passively but very much actively.

While it may be true that we have your children for what seems to be the majority of the day between school hours, after school activities, and sporting events, it is also true that you all as parents and guardians have a far greater capacity for influence over your children because of who you are. This year, in a most intentional way, we must present a united front in ensuring that these students, your children, are educated not only in math, science, history, English, the fine arts, and theology, but also in the way of virtue. Virtue begins in the home in the simplest of ways -- from ensuring that your child leave for school on time dressed according to the school’s dress code, to ensuring that they are not using excessive foul language or overusing/misusing social media. Instilling virtue in your children is a task that will take the entirety of your lives and certainly the entirety of your energy, but it is one that does not go without great benefits. A child may not be the best athlete in whatever sport they play, they may not be the smartest in their class, and they may not be the leader of whatever group they are involved in, but a virtuous child will be prepared to encounter whatever the world will undoubtedly throw their way. It is my goal to ensure that your children walk into a school that fosters virtue in every area of their lives and it is my hope that that education of virtue is only simplified in the home.

Know of my prayers and support for the many difficulties that face parents each and every day. God Bless you all and be saints, nothing less.

In Christ & Mary,
Father Silva