Protecting the truth throughout life Print E-mail
Thursday, Jun. 15, 2017 -- 12:00 AM

From Bishop Robert C. Morlino:

I was recently invited, as I am each year, to celebrate Mass for and take part in the graduation ceremony for the graduating seniors at St. Ambrose Academy, in Madison. I offer the following valedictory remarks from two outstanding young men who were recently graduated, as they exemplify their readiness for Catholic lay mission.

Justin Hineline, whose remarks are published here, will attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison, beginning this fall, and will be enrolled in the Army ROTC curriculum.

William Donohoe, whose remarks will be published in the next issue, will be attending the United States Naval Academy, in Annapolis, Md. reporting later this month.

Let us keep both Justin and William and all our recent graduates in our prayers as they enter this next phase of their lives and continue to discern God's will for their future.


Justin Hineline
Justin Hineline

Good afternoon,

Before I get to the core of my speech, I would like to thank the people who helped me complete the meandering maze of going through high school.

First of all, I would like to thank my parents. You have resolutely fulfilled your vocation as my primary educators in an unwavering fashion. You always demanded excellence from me and were unwilling to watch me settle for anything less than my best, and for that I am immeasurably grateful.

Next, I would like to thank my teachers. I have learned so much from each and every one of you, both in terms of academic content and even more importantly, how to live a good life.

Lastly, I want to thank all of my fellow graduates who made this incredible journey alongside me. I am proud to be a member of the St. Ambrose Academy Class of 2017, and to have had the amazing opportunity to grow up alongside all of you. You really are an incredible group of people, and I am truly excited about all of our futures.

Bittersweet experience

Graduating from St. Ambrose is a bittersweet experience; I have so much to be thankful for. The school, the books, the people -- each of these things has rubbed off on me and contributed to the person that I am today.

This not only happened to me, but I have seen the way our experiences have transformed every single one of us. The people we are today are all in one way or another products of this environment.

Reflecting back on my high school education, one of my greatest takeaways is the important theme of personal responsibility. I recently came to this realization through my studies in religion and history.

Personal responsibility

This year in cycle four, we encountered the Church's call to organize society into what is called organic communion. Which, often described in terms of St. Paul's metaphor of the body, depends on the coordination of diverse and complementary gifts dispersed amongst a community of unique persons. The manifestation of this ideal requires coordinated action by individuals, and therefore hinges upon an understanding of the importance of personal responsibility.

Moreover, British historian Paul Johnson described this concept of personal responsibility that is deeply tied to both the Jewish and Christian traditions as the "individualistic principle."

It was from an understanding of this principle and through our rigorous studies that we chose to consciously reject the false claims of the totalitarian communist and fascist ideologies, both remedies far worse than the social cancers they claimed to cure.

We saw the truth of this principle in Johnson's commentary on Lenin's implementation of Marxism where he stated, "Within a few months of seizing power, Lenin had abandoned the notion of individual guilt, and with it the whole Judeo-Christian ethic of personal responsibility."

As an aspiring future politician, this historical analysis taught me that if we want to create a well-ordered society committed to the common good, we must avoid the mistakes of our historical predecessors, and moreover that this accomplishment fundamentally depends on both the value and initiative of individuals and the rejection of mass-scale utopian social engineering.

First-hand experience

Finally, I learned the importance of personal responsibility through first-hand experience.

Sooner or later, life teaches every one of us that our actions have real consequences. This comes in two forms -- either rewards reaped for hard work or the costs of our mistakes.

I learned about personal responsibility, when I got a poor grade on an assignment because of procrastination or received a punishment for my mistakes. But I also experienced it in the positive sense through the accomplishments of hard work.

For some of us it was winning a Tommy Award for Hello Dolly and for others it was a state football championship, or maybe even something else. Regardless of the particulars, these experiences are vital to how we see our world.

Writing history

What can we take away from this?

First and foremost, it is individuals that write history. If you step back for just a moment and think about it, this really is something inspiring. We look out at the world encompassing us and see a modern era characterized by anxiety -- the anxiety of man wondering where he belongs.

Class of 2017, because of our studies and experience we know the futility of this fear and furthermore, know that we have been given a purpose in the world and possess the capacity to be catalysts of change through our confidence.

From a purely academic perspective, there are a lot of good schools in the world -- institutions that will show kids how to ace a standardized test or inflate their resume on account of its economic advantages.

But, how many of these schools in the objective sense are truly good?

Graduates, I believe that we are all recipients of attending a uniquely good institution. There is a simple reason why this holds true.

Each of us has received the proper formation to know how to live a truly fulfilling and moral life. St. Josemaria Escriva famously said, " As a lay person in the midst of the world you can, and should, sanctify the world and sanctify yourself in the world." I believe this is the core of what St. Ambrose has prepared all of us graduates to confidently do.

Being guardians

Our mascot is the guardian, and I believe it is a fitting image to describe us Ambrosians for multiple reasons.

Foremost, because we, like the guardians of Plato's Republic and the Swiss guards at the Vatican, have been given something special to protect -- namely, the truth.

Next year, the vast majority of us will be attending universities characterized by the forces of secularism, subjectivism, and moral relativism. And, in this environment, my fellow graduates, we will be ridiculed because of who we are -- because unlike those consumed by this world, we firmly stand for the truth.

People will say you're intolerant, they'll call you a bigot, they'll throw every terrible insult against you, and worst of all, they'll pressure you to conform to the culture of promiscuity and sin.

Standing strong

But I am confident that our formation has prepared us to stand strong. In the face of this adversity, we must never forget our true character. We must not abandon our formation. We must never forget that we are guardians, and more importantly never cease being guardians.

Because, during this small piece of our lives that we spent growing up together, we have been given so much. We have learned the foundational principles of the faith, how to think critically, and through these been shown how to live an extraordinary life.

These faculties are more than just skills, they are weapons. Weapons that not only prepare us to protect ourselves, but also arm us to wage the war of life.

Considering my decision to join the military, I thought it would be fitting to say my final farewell to all of you with a famous Roman call to arms. "Carthago delenda est," "Carthage must be destroyed!"

May we always be true guardians, take up the shield of our faith and the sword of our intellect, and go to battle against every Carthage we encounter in our lives.

Graduates, let us not only defeat Carthage in battle, but conquer it, and transform it, and through these battles that lie ahead, may we stand steadfast and continuously improve both ourselves and our communities, and in doing so fulfill our mission of sanctifying the world.