Dr. Carl Hasler: Commencement 2023 Faculty Speaker

I had about three hours worth of material for today, but Mrs. Lengyel told me I only had 10 minutes to speak, so I tried to cut it down a little bit. We'll see how it goes. This thing's in my face. I wanna first thank Kolbe Academy, the administration for honoring me with the privilege of speaking with you today on behalf of the faculty, I'm not sure they realize that they have not one but two philosophers speaking today, but it's too late now.

Welcome, honored guests, family members, friends, my peers, and of course you, the Kolbe Academy graduating class of 2023. My most heartfelt congratulations. To you all. Now, I thought for quite a while about how to begin this talk. Not to mention what I could say. I wanted to avoid empty phrases and the usual platitudes one hears at such ceremonies over the many years I've been teaching, I've attended many a graduation ceremony.

What is most remarkable about all those ceremonies I have attended is this, I cannot remember a single thing of importance that any of those speakers had to say. Not a nothing: Zilch. I'm sure they waxed eloquently still. The only thing that comes to mind that I remember was one particular speaker, the wife of President George W Bush. Laura Bush who came and spoke at one of the graduating ceremonies. It was a big deal. But what she said, I don't know, having a clue.

So my concern has been what I can say that might be useful, helpful, at least modestly memorable or even dare I say, inspiring. So in thinking about what I was to say to you on this important day, I then recalled what ST Paul said when writing his letter to the Romans, he wrote to all God's beloved in Rome. And I will insert all of you here today who are called to be Saints grace to you and peace from God, our father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I want to briefly speak to the idea that you, all of us here are called to be saints. No, I'm not thinking of those saints that may be remembered in the annals of church history or perhaps in a further edition of Butler's Lives of The Saints.

But of course, I'm not denying that this might be a possibility. You'll never know. No, but that does not excuse us from the task of the call to be a saint. So what does this mean to be called to be a saint? What did Saint Paul mean by saying we are called to be saints. What is this vocation? And what does all your education to this point have to do with this call?

It's a good question. My most immediate answer is, I don't know. But let me try to think through this a bit for you and for me, let's see, you've learned your letters and numbers when you were quite young. Then all of a sudden those strings of confused alien ciphers shivered into meaning, words spoke to you gave up their secrets. At that moment, whole universe is opened.

You became irrevocably a reader. God gave you. God gave us all a mind to use a mind to use, especially when it comes to the questions of faith, morals and ethical behavior. Plus learning all about God's creation. How should we use this gift of a mind clearly? If the mind is to work well, we must exercise it how by thinking. And I'm reminded of a line from a song that thinking is the best way to travel.

But should our thinking be by oneself alone, like maybe invoking Descartes project or by investigating the great minds that have come before us and who still reside in our midst? If we go with dear, I fear we will commit ourselves to the conceit of mediocrity because we end up relying only on ourselves Shakespeare's line to thy own self. Be true comes to mind here as well.

So I suggest that to avoid our own mediocrity of thought, we continue to engage in conversation with those great thinkers of the past. But why this, why be so troubled about what those of the past had to say they're dead, aren't they? And after all, we have the internet, all sorts of streaming television, social media, everybody's doing this all the time.

Why do we need these old folks again, a good question. One thing you may have learned at Kolbe Academy, I hope if somewhat surreptitiously is that we live by ideas that is ideas, those ideas we hold to be principles or the ideas that shape how we understand the world and everybody around us, these are ideas that have stood the test of time and these ideas do not arise out of nothing or in a vacuum, they come to us from the repository of the past.

Just as one does not ask the cashier at Walmart about the best remedy for a physical ailment. one may be suffering. So too, one must not ask one's favorite pop star or actor, how best to solve moral and ethical questions. As Socrates tells us, we must seek the one who knows. Well, which one is it here? I can only suggest it is not your popular musicians.

I use that term loosely because you know, popular music today, I'm not sure it counts. Nor is it your favorite movie or TV? Stars or athletes or heaven forbid less most politicians. My suggestion here begins with the voices of the church and to those voices, the church often points to here is your best course of action. Oh, but did I mention this to you?

You will have to be a reader. Now, the beauty in all of this is that Kolbe Academy has given you a fine introduction and preparation for doing this. Kolbe Academy has given you the tools, taught you the skills, not just for getting a job. And of course, Kolbe Academy has done a better job than most to prepare you for a job. And this is because you've learned the art of thinking.

But better than that. Kolbe Academy is giving you the tools for living the good life and a good life is a life of a good mind, which means the Kolbe Academy has prepared you for a vocation. Now, what is this? What has this to do with the call to be a saint? Chesterton says this, you knew I'd talk about Chesterton. Chesterton says each generation is converted by the saint who contradicts it the most.

And he also says this, the saint is a medicine because he is an antidote. Indeed, that is why the same is often a martyr. He is mistaken for a poison because he is an antidote because of your education thus far. And as excuse me, and as you continue it, you will be potentially one who contradicts your generation, as well as you will be an antidote to your age.

To be a saint. Can be that simple and in your own way. If you stay true to the ideas of the church and of its great thinkers, you will be on your way to being a saint because you will help to cure the irrational and the mediocrity of the age. So let me close this talk with the following. First. Remember you are called to be a saint. Go to often spend time in adoration, enjoy the outdoors and get close to the earth, support local businesses and your community, read good books, listen to good music. If you don't know what that is, ask me, enjoy your friends, love your neighbors as best you can your enemies too. Stay true to your family. Find your vocation, not a job, a vocation. And when you become successful, remember Kolbe Academy, finally remember those who helped and guided you to wherever you land because that was their vocation. Congratulations and blessings to you all.

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