Good morning! And thank you, Father Patrick and Father Planning, for having me. I’m humbled and honored for the opportunity to speak with you all today here in this wonderful place. I’m a long time Visi dad. My daughter, Katie is currently a sophomore here, and my daughter, Meg graduated in 2014. I also have two boys: my son, Jack graduated from Bishop Ireton, and my son, Danny is a senior at Gonzaga.
Quick question. By a show of hands who here has a mobile phone. Of course, that’s… let me see… well, pretty much everyone. Alright, now keep your hands up if you’ve checked your phone in the last hour or so. Woopsie! You do realize we’ve all been in Mass during that time. Sorry, folks. That’s kind of dirty pool. But you get my point. But hey, no problem, we’re just multi-tasking. That’s what we do these days, right? We’re all excellent at multi-tasking.
I know many of you are thinking, "Hey, wait a minute, I thought this guy was supposed to be giving a reflection on this month’s Salesian theme." Well, this month’s theme is “Balance.” There is a connection, trust me. Matter of fact, I think St. Francis de Sales must have been speaking directly to us 21st century folks when he said the following: “It is better to do little and to do it well. It is not by the multiplicity of the things we do that we advance in virtue but by the fervor with which we do them.” It is not by the multiplicity of things we do that we advance in virtue but by the fervor with which we do them. BRILLIANT! And so relevant considering the culture in which we all live.
We’re all doing more than ever and faster and faster, and with constant pressure to do more, purchase more, share, more, tweet, Snapchat, Insta, post, like, comment, reply, retweet, really. When does it all stop? And that’s just it. It doesn’t. It never stops. Only you can stop. Stop. And truly be present for the moment you are experiencing.
Now I understand all that social media stuff can be fun and even play a positive role in our lives, otherwise it wouldn’t be so popular. I just think it’s very seductive and can easily take our lives out of balance if we let it. How so? Well by distracting us from what’s actually happening as we concern ourselves with documenting and sharing what’s happening with people who are elsewhere.
And that’s the key, I feel like we’re becoming more and more distracted. And when we’re distracted, we’re by definition, not paying close attention to our lives, and therefore, not creating the memories and experiences that define our lives. Years from now, when you look back on that Freshman Visi Gonzaga picnic hopefully you’ll have fond memories of the egg toss or tug of war and not the 200 likes you got on your Instagram post.
But if you want to create those memories, you need to be fully engaged with the present moment, not constantly checking in with your wireless mobile device – or, as I like to call it, your WMD. Now for my generation who grew up with the cold war, WMD had a sinister connotation. It stood for Weapons of Mass Destruction. Well today’s WMD’s can be equally sinister. I call them Weapons of Mass Distraction. That’s right, Weapons of Mass Distraction.
Many of you here today are beginning your freshman year of High School and many others are the parents those students. I know you’ve heard it before that these four years will fly by seemingly in the blink of an eye. Well I know from experience the truth of that statement. And one thing’s for sure, if you don’t want to miss anything along the way, you certainly don’t want to be distracted.
Enjoy this great time in your lives. Be present in each moment. If at all possible, don’t be thinking about what’s next or what happened earlier, just live the present moment. Find the balance between doing a multiplicity of things and doing important, enriching and of course, even – or especially – little things with great love! And please, try not to let yourself get caught up in the tyranny of those WMDs.
Finally, for you kids, if you won’t take it from me, or even from St. Francis de Sales, maybe you’ll listen to Bruno Mars. Allow me to quote from a new song of his:
Put your phone down, let’s get it
Forget your Instagram and your Twitter
Got me like whoa, wait a minute.
Throw some perm on your attitude.
Throw some perm on your attitude? I’m figuring that means do what you’re doing with great fervor! So in closing, ll just say, Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam, Live Jesus! And hey, throw some perm on your attitude!