Take care of your soul - St Patrick’s College Graduation Mass 2015

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Home > Archbishop > Homilies > Take care of your soul - St Patrick’s College Graduation Mass 2015


My dear Graduands, this Mass which marks your graduation from St Patrick’s College falls within the Church’s liturgical season of Advent. Your minds are clearly focussed on this moment of transition as you look back on your years at the College and you cast your minds forward to what awaits you. You are living a significant personal moment and the Church through the liturgy tonight invites you to consider its reflection on the celebration of the birth of Christ.

Yet there are parallels and the liturgy tonight can cast a light on this moment in your life. Advent is also about transition. The Jewish people lived their history in the expectation that God was going to act in the world in an extraordinary way. This is the thrust of the first reading from the Prophet Isaiah. He was saying in poetic language that God was going to act and God will do a transforming work in the world. The prophet attempts to allay the people’s sense of futility. They are struggling with their own problems and they cannot discern God’s concern for them. He declares the Word of God to them with boldness: “Do not be afraid, I will help you”. This is God’s promise: “Do not be afraid, I will help you”.

The prophet is saying to the people: look to the future with confidence. God is going to act. At the end of the reading the important comment is made: “So that men may see and know .. that the hand of the Lord has done this”.

Tonight is a time for you to both look back and to naturally look forward. It is like a liner coming in to dock after a long sea voyage. The shipboard life has been great but now that the ship is about to land and the passengers look forward with expectation – what awaits us?

Tonight you can take a moment to recall what St Patrick’s has meant to you. You will have a myriad of memories. You will have forged some deep friendships some of which will last through life. You will know how you have grown and matured over the years at the College. You will know of the things that have most influenced and shaped you. These are things to savour at this time.

It is a time, a most appropriate time, to recognise how blessed you have been. It is good to acknowledge the sacrifice and generosity of your parents who wanted you to have the best education possible. They wanted to give you the best start in life. If you haven’t done it, it is a worthwhile thing to take an opportunity to say thanks to your parents.

It is a good moment, too, to acknowledge what St Patrick’s has contributed to you. To acknowledge the staff who have insured that there have been many avenues of learning and personal growth offered to you. Again it is good to express your gratitude to them.

However, you cannot but think of what lies ahead. Having received this great foundation you are now looking forward to the new paths your life will take. You have been equipped to face your future, and I am sure you are excited by what lies ahead.

I would like to offer you a simple thought to take from tonight as you graduate from St Patrick’s. The thought is this: take care of your soul.

At the centre of ourselves, the principle of our very being, is our soul. We are material beings, yes – we have our bodies and we are conscious of our bodily life. We care for our bodies by watching our health and developing our physical capacity by exercise and training.

We have a mind, the intellectual part of ourselves. Our thinking, our imagination, our capacity for ideas, all these things have been enhanced during our school years. We have had to render an account of our learning and understanding in the recent final exams. We are very aware of our teeming, enquiring minds.

And we have our affective life. Our feelings, our emotions, shape our moods, our moments of excitement, our sense of humour, our bonding in relationships. We naturally chase good experiences and we look for opportunities to do things that bring us joy and satisfaction. Our affective life is a rich and powerful driver of our choices and actions. Our emotions are powerful, if not always helpful.

Then there is our soul. This is the more hidden and subtle aspect of ourselves. But we know of its existence when we find ourselves drawn to beauty or moved by experiences that touch the very core of our being. Our soul breathes within us in spiritual moments when we have a momentary link with the Divine. Our soul is stirred when we witness injustice or find ourselves deeply moved by compassion. Our soul comes alive when we are drawn into deep inner silence, seeking that still point at the centre of ourselves.

Our soul is the deepest part of ourselves. It is where the real me actually lives. It is where there is an interaction between all the other experiences of life. It is the place where the Spirit of God abides within us. It is in our soul that a soft voice speaks to us of truth and goodness and beauty.

Our soul is eternal. Our bodies will finally pass to the dust of the earth. Our emotions will come and go. Memory may begin to fade and our thoughts become more and more simple. But the soul maintains a youthful vigour. It stirs up hope and desire for ultimate things. It is the soul that will pass over into the hands of God.

Take care of your soul. It is the most precious part of yourself. Let your soul animate your life and future: Nurture virtue, desire the beautiful, always seek truth, and above all pursue the good.

My dear Graduands of St Patrick’s College, tonight let gratitude swell up in your heart as you look back on what you have received, and tonight as you peer into your future, resolve that above all else you will take care of your soul.


Archbishop Julian Porteous
Tuesday, 8 December 2015