Thirty-six seniors at St. Bernard Prep School in Cullman were honored recently during a Senior Dedication Mass in the Abbey Church. Abbot Cletus Meagher, Chairman of the Board; Fr. Joel Martin, President; Fr. Jacob Amos; and Fr. Bede Marcy, School Chaplain concelebrated the Mass.
Abbot Cletus Meagher, O.S.B., served as the main celebrant and spoke on “the Votive Mass of The Mystery of the Cross.”
“As a Benedictine community we are here to seek God and to give witness to this God. You, as students at a Benedictine School, should realize that life is not simply about knowledge and learning and the power that a good education imparts. Life, true life, is about wisdom (about the Cross)—about seeing and seeking the connections between what is learned and the source of all knowledge; it is about seeing a reality, something larger than one’s self, something that imparts ultimate meaning and responsibility for ourselves and for others. It’s about seeking the truth of things and, for us, that truth finds its expression and meaning ultimately in God. More specifically, we find the true expression of what it means to be truly human in the mystery of Jesus Christ.”
The Senior Class was commissioned as leaders in the student body. Noting this “commissioning” takes place in the context of the celebration of a Votive Mass of The Mystery of the Cross, Abbot Cletus reminded students that such context should remind them that as leaders, the Cross should be a sign of what they strive for and a call to reflect the values and love that the Cross represents.
“Being at St. Bernard, being Catholic, or being a Christian, means that you accept responsibility and dedicate yourselves to the principles of belief upon which we are founded, “ Abbot Cletus continued.
As a sign of dedication, each senior received a Benedictine Cross, and a description of its symbolism. First, it is a cross, a crucifix. The image of the crucified Christ is presented to remind one of the price of true wisdom and love. If one is truly wise, he or she will learn that life is lived to the fullest in dying to oneself and coming alive to the needs of others.
Abbot Cletus continued his explanation, “On the medal embedded in the cross are a number of abbreviations as well as an image of St. Benedict. On one side are the letters C S P B in the four quadrants of a symmetrical cross: it should read Crux Sancti Patris Benedicti (The Cross of our Holy Father Benedict). On the cross itself, on the vertical are the letters C.S.S.M.L. Crux Sacra Sit Mihi Lux (May the holy cross be my light!); and on the horizontal arm the letters N.D.S.M.D. Numquam dracos sit mihi dux (May the dragon/devil never be my guide!). Take these words to heart as you wear this cross or medal over your heart.”
Assisted by Mr. John Tekulve, Headmaster of the School, and Fr. Joel Martin, Abbot Cletus presented each senior with a cross and each was encouraged to wear the cross and medal of St. Benedict, “with wholesome pride, as a reminder of the privilege and dignity that are yours because you have been called to share in Christ and receive an education that is centered on Christ.“
Addressing the senior class, Abbot Cletus said, “Our world needs godly men and women, people whose lives are based on principle, on the discipline of love and a wisdom that is from God. As the senior class of 2012-2013 you have been blessed with many gifts and talents. Your task is to recognize those gifts, accept the responsibility that corresponds to the gift, and, most importantly, to give thanks to God for such gifts. Through your leadership you should be an example and a blessing to those who look up to you. You are blessed. Be a blessing to others.”
Abbot Cletus reminded everyone in attendance that in today’s gospel we hear Jesus speak to his disciples, telling them of his impending suffering and death—and three days later, of his resurrection.
“ They are aghast, and Peter, taking Jesus aside, tries to change the subject. Peter is rebuked in harsh terms: “Get out of my sight, you Satan!” Jesus then turns to the crowd and tells them: “If a man wishes to come after me, he must deny his very self, take up his cross and follow in my steps.” It took the disciples awhile to realize the meaning of these words. Even those of us who are older must struggle with trying to realize what it is that we are seeing, hearing in Christ. It will be the same for you. Today, I urge you to dedicate yourself to seeking the Love of God . . . of Christ in the Mystery of the Cross. Dedicate your life to the pursuit of goodness and truth and love, to God. After all, that is what we are here to celebrate. As we celebrate this Votive Mass of the Mystery of Christ Cross, let us ask for courage and conviction that we may truly be willing to seek Christ and serve Christ in one another.”
Following the homily, the faculty and staff joined the seniors at the altar as a sign of their support. The presence of the faculty and staff indicated concurrence with the decision of Fr. Joel and the administration that the seniors should receive a blessing at this Mass. The blessing recognizes the roles of leadership by the Senior Class to the student body of St. Bernard Preparatory School. The 2013 senior class at St. Bernard Prep accepted their leadership roles.
Ms. Lisa Marsh served as organist, and the Choral Music group provided singing for the ceremony. St. Bernard students John Schneider, Ethan Arndt, Nathan Cline, Nathan Denson, Sean Macfarlane, Sean Moriarty, Seamus Russell, John Schneider, Minbo Shim, Sam Shin, and Andy Woods served as Knights of the Altar. At the conclusion of the service, the Senior Class enjoyed a luncheon with their parents in the Brahma Room of the St. Bernard Dining Hall.