Thanks for being such a joy to teach this year. I look forward to seeing what you do with your enormous God-given, Matt-nurtured talents.
Intelligence must be used in directed to the pursuit of Truth, and not to place Man above God, or fellow men into slavery. Even worse, we must not be so clever as to find a way to get someone else to sin. A horrific example is the pursuit of eugenics, which was then put into practice by the Third Reich, and continues in the modern world today.
Athletics must be used to glorify God with our bodies. However, athletic competitions often take place on Sunday, and at the least many athletes-though far from all- forget who gave them their body, with DNA that is predisposed to high performance, or the discipline to overcome genetic shortcomings. The Super Bowl is a prime example of idolizing sports. It is purely about money and sex, if the ads are any indicator. The Olympic Games, on the other hand, is the pursuit of virtue. The motto Ciltius, Altius, Fortius was suggested to the baron de Coubertin by a French Dominican, actually. Granted, people cheat at the Olympics and it is a billion dollar industry. It's not ideal. But the spirit most famously exemplified in the 1981 film Chariots of Fire remains I think, considering that few athletes are lucky enough to make a million dollars, and everyone is tremendously proud to compete, and thankful for it, regardless of the outcome.
We must be careful of our time. Each individual cannot spend too much time on one thing, and we must pay attention to each of our responsibilities. This is never an easy balance, but one that must be made nonetheless. It'd be awesome to pray the Rosary all day and go to Mass twice to receive Holy Communion. But then the house would never be clean.
Also, God must be in everything we do, in some way. An easy way to do this is to dedicate our tasks to God, and engage in some mental prayer or some thought that is pleasing to Him. For example, when thinking of how wonderful and lovely your girlfriend or wife is, it would be really awesome to thank God for her. The Rosary as a practical devotion came from praying the Hail Mary with each Psalm as it was chanted by the monks in a nearby monastery. Eventually it was split into thirds, each reflecting on a set of five mysteries. And, when you engage in leisure, it should be wholesome and fun!
I have a shelf in my room with several awards I earned during my senior year, as well as my two diplomas. One is the normal diploma for all graduates, the other a special one for completing an advanced program and meeting certain requirements.
But, it is less of a boost to my pride than it is a reminder that tempus fugit. Time flees. And the glories of the world pass by, as to dust my body does return.
I know I'm gifted with intellect. I struggle to balance this. I can be harsh and uncharitable towards those whom I disagree with, or I find them to be stupid because they don't get something. I neglect my prayer life for reading.
I know I spend too much time online, or watching TV. I could go outside instead. I know I neglect prayer.
Sometimes I wonder what it would be like if I could live simply, and work hard (a struggle for me, believe me the awards don't tell it all) , and be that good Christian friend I always try to be, but without the massive intellect.
What I do know is this: Grace is freely given and I do with my abilities what I can, for into His hands, I commend my spirit.
PS: the book the teacher recommended was Thomas Merton's translated selections from the Desert Fathers. It's Merton; not exactly a huge fan of his persona...and I've heard the book isn't great. But that misses the point. The monastic life is something I need to learn a great deal from.