Dear Parents, Students, and Friends of Saint Xavier,
I hope this message finds you well and enjoying the first few days of March. As days begin to feel longer with more hours of sunlight and the promise of warmer temperatures, I am filled with great anticipation not just for spring’s seasonal changes but the opportunity for personal change promised to us as we begin our forty-day Lenten journey.
When I was a younger man, I must confess that Lent was not one of my favorite liturgical seasons. As we all know, it is during this time of the year that we are called to be more introspective, not only to be willing to clear-out the clutter but also willing to bear the Cross in preparation for the resurrection of Christ. In a world that doesn’t reflect this practice very well, the Lenten season was challenging for me and can be challenging still, particularly for young people who may lack or who have not fully developed an appreciation for the value of personal sacrifice, restraint, and introspection.
With this in mind, it always strikes me as somewhat ironic that spring break often arrives while we are still focused on preparing ourselves for Easter. Self-sacrifice and spring break seem polar opposites, but that need not be true. A week away from the pressures and obligations of school may free your sons to engage in serving others in ways that may not be possible with the crush of the school week, no matter where they may spend the break. I am not suggesting they spend the week in sackcloth and ashes, but neither do I encourage a week without regard for the safety and well-being of themselves and others. This is always an unpopular stance, but as is true each year, I urge you not to condone unsupervised teenage vacations. As parents, it is our responsibility to direct our sons and daughters toward what will help them grow and keep them safe. If you will be traveling as a family, I encourage you to establish and enforce behavioral expectations that will assist with guiding your son’s decision-making process for his safety and the safety of others. While our teenagers may disagree, it is appropriate that we be judicious in our decisions for them. Because I have walked this same path, I do know and understand your situation and have great empathy for parents of teens. However, our Lenten task is clear; examine our hearts and determine how we might act to serve God and his creation... even when the path is thorny and our teenagers are unhappy with our decisions.
Finally, since the last few months of school will go quickly, even as you are negotiating the pressures and details of the present moment, I encourage parents of senior students to make the most of this time. It truly is a special time, and it will be filled with memorable experiences. Take time to be present and available for your son. While he may not fully understand or be able to articulate the emotions that come with the completion of his high school years, he will never forget the time you have spent with him, and neither you nor he will have a more precious graduation memory.
Please know that during this Lenten season, I will be praying for your sons and for the entire Saint Xavier community that we may allow God to guide us to make positive change in our own lives and in the way we live his message to others. I wish you and your family a Happy Easter!
Francisco M. Espinosa, Jr.