Catholic Formula for Determining Self-Worth

Fr Vallee’s homily to the Carrollton School–part of the world-wide network of Sacred Heart Schools inspired by the vision of St. Madeleine Sophie Barat who founded the first school of the Sacred Heart in 1801–graduates, an excerpt:

… But be careful. As John Lennon opined, “life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” Many years ago, I began saying mass at St. Augustine’s in Coral Gables. Back then, I was a young and cute priest with a full head of hair. Perhaps not as cute as Fr Alberto but still pretty cute. Anyway, as I walked into the sacristy there was a sweet and shy little girl there all dressed up to serve. I never forgot because her name is Monica and Monica is the name of Augustine’s mother. At the end of mass, I told the people that this was her first time serving and they all applauded. All these years later, the seven year old is 17 and graduating tonight; the priest is no longer very young or cute and life moves on. Every day of your life opportunities for friendship and love and grace are offered to you. Do not be so focused on becoming the rulers of the universe that you do not take the time to live, to love to laugh and to be. As for me, I am so much more grateful for the friends I have made than for the degrees I have earned. All those years ago, I made a friend in that sacristy in Coral Gables. I am more grateful for that than for my doctorate or for any of the academic articles I have published. By all means, study hard, do great things. But do not let that get in the way of living. Live with all the passion, joy and faith you can muster. It is not what you do or say that determines the worth of your life but how much you love and are loved. Only love will be weighed at the last judgment.

The email address to request to be put on Vallee’s email distribution list is Cioran262@aol.com. To see the entire homily click on ‘read more.’ Search for other Fr Vallee homilies in this blog by entering ‘Vallee’ in the search box in the upper left hand corner or look for Fr Vallee in the Labels.

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Fr Valle Homily for Carrollton Graduates –

I. Socrates, the unexamined life
Socrates, the first great thinker of the West, was famous for claiming that “the unexamined life is not worth living.” As a professional philosopher, I cannot help but agree. What Socrates failed to mention is that the converse is also true: “the unlived life is not worth examining.” My dear young ladies, you are sent off today to make your marks on the world. You will go to very fine colleges and universities. You should realize that in the whole history of human kind, only very recently have women had this chance, as Madeline Sophie said, to get an education every bit as good as that of a boy. Who knows what great things you might accomplish? But do not make the mistake that young men have been making for centuries. The measure of your life’s worth is not to be found in the letters after your name. The measure of your life is not to be found in power. The measure of your life is not how much money you make or what car you drive or house you live in. The measure of your life is quite simple: how deeply do you love? How deeply do you live? It is not what is in your bank account in 20 years that will tell you if your life is a success or failure; what is in your heart in 20 years will answer that question. The unlived life is not worth examining.

II. Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans
But be careful. As John Lennon opined, “life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” Many years ago, I began saying mass at St. Augustine’s in Coral Gables. Back then, I was a young and cute priest with a full head of hair. Perhaps not as cute as Fr Alberto but still pretty cute. Anyway, as I walked into the sacristy there was a sweet and shy little girl there all dressed up to serve. I never forgot because her name is Monica and Monica is the name of Augustine’s mother. At the end of mass, I told the people that this was her first time serving and they all applauded. All these years later, the seven year old is 17 and graduating tonight; the priest is no longer very young or cute and life moves on. Every day of your life opportunities for friendship and love and grace are offered to you. Do not be so focused on becoming the rulers of the universe that you do not take the time to live, to love to laugh and to be. As for me, I am so much more grateful for the friends I have made than for the degrees I have earned. All those years ago, I made a friend in that sacristy in Coral Gables. I am more grateful for that than for my doctorate or for any of the academic articles I have published. By all means, study hard, do great things. But do not let that get in the way of living. Live with all the passion, joy and faith you can muster. It is not what you do or say that determines the worth of your life but how much you love and are loved. Only love will be weighed at the last judgment.

III. From Socrates to Solis
I began with a quote from a famous dead philosopher, I would like to end with a quote from my favorite living philosopher, Dr. Jose Solis-Silva, who also happens to be Mrs. Lily Figueroa’s father and one of the wisest men I know. Anyhow, Dr Solis teaches in his metaphysics class that there are two ways to live your life, according to the hermeneutics of theft or according to the hermeneutics of gift. If everything you have gotten was stolen then the only option for us is power. We must turn to power to hold on to what we have gotten illegitimately. And we must look at everything with fear and suspicion. On the other hand, if everything is gift, the only proper response is gratitude and love. All you have and all you are has been given to you as a pure gift — from your parents, from your teachers, ultimately, from your God. Do not be afraid! Do not be suspicious. Live! Love! Pray! Be and be grateful! The unexamined life is not worth living. The converse is, likewise, true; the unlived life is not worth examining. Madeline Sophie said she would have founded the order for the sake of one girl. Today, in heaven, she is smiling 71 smiles in a long girlish giggle.
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About Jorge Costales

- Cuban Exile [veni] - Raised in Miami [vidi] - American Citizen [vici]
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3 Responses to Catholic Formula for Determining Self-Worth

  1. Not as cute as Padre Alberto! Pobresito! What a sermon, what would Roger Radloff say about this??

  2. Jorge Costales says:

    OK you made me look up Roger Radloff – inside joke? – is this him — Roger Radloff (ordained 1965; PhD Jungian psychiatry; died of AIDS 1989)?

  3. Roger Radloff was an extremely interesting and brilliant guy, that much was clear even in my brief interactions with him. He owned a little “guard house” structure down near Matheson Hammock and it was there that he had his practice. I only went there once, but it was a really charming space to have a practice in. We used to see him regularly at the Whiffenpoof Restaurant occupying the same spot with a lady friend of his. I heard that he was a great preacher and that would seem to indicate that Jungian ideas translated well into discussion of religious ideas. Supposedly ideas of serious philosophy translate as well but it a bit hard to see that nowadays. Actually my strongest memory of Radloff is something someone else told me. He said Radloff had described to him the occasion of visiting the Josephenum seminary where he had been a student much earlier. This was after he had had been to Zurich to become a Jungian analyst. Radloff said he walked in and fainted flat on the floor. I found that a very evocative description. Fortunately for me, the La Carrreta near the seminary is the best in Miami so we always go there when we are down. I can't say I have fainted the few times we have dropped by the seminary, but I was only bothered that I could not find my favorite Vibert paintings.

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