On Friday, May 19th we held our NHS Induction Ceremony and welcomed six new members into the chapter here at Mount Royal Academy. As always, it was a great event for our community, and it was such a pleasure to see these young men and women stepping into their new leadership role. Whenever we do these things, it is worth taking a moment to reflect and remember why we do them. What makes this meaningful?
Membership in the NHS is not a mere status symbol. It is not a way for students to show off, distinguish themselves, or bolster their resumes. It takes hard work to be accepted into the NHS, but induction ceremonies like these are meant to be the start of something important, not the end of something important. Students join the NHS, and we celebrate their joining, because of what they will do as members.
We also need to recognize that what NHS members do is not all about complex events, big service projects, or lucrative fundraisers. These student leaders are not being asked to change the makeup of the world or mobilize whole communities. Instead, they are being asked to focus on being faithful in little things. They are stepping up and volunteering to do the small, difficult things that others fail to do. Kind words to a friend, diligence in the classroom, offering to clean up a mess, or volunteering to lead a group in prayer. These (and so many other simple responsibilities) are the sort of tasks that people don’t record, but everyone notices, and everyone appreciates. In some ways, these little everyday life tasks are more significant, more glorious, and more meaningful than the big ones that catch people’s attention.
This ceremony matters because of the little things! The National Honor Society at Mount Royal Academy is all about, as St. Teresa of Calcutta used to say, doing little things with big love. True honor is found only in humility. - Mr. Ambrose Bean, Advisor of Saint Thomas Aquinas Chapter
Peter Hogan on Leadership
As members of NHS you will be leaders of our school community. You will have to lead your fellow students by your example. This means that you will have to take it upon yourselves to be disciplined. Behaving in and out of class, being respectful and reverent during prayer, organizing and participating in extra curricular activities such as Students for Life, swing dances and bake sales. It is important, to be a good and responsible leader, that you follow the help and advice given to you by your fellow classmates, they are the ones who will help you through your journey in NHS. And finally the best way to be a leader is by following the example of Christ, through the beatitudes Christ gives us the formula to live a holy and responsible life, only through him can you be the leaders he is calling you to be.
Claire McMenaman on Character
Each person possesses a gift called Character. Some may say Character is the certain aspects in a person. Some may say it is found in behavior, attitude, temperament, or habits. Others may say character is the same thing as personality, and is mostly made up of your interests. However, in order to fully understand character we should first understand where it came from. When God creates a human he gives him a body, mind, and soul. Human beings are created to know, to serve, and to love God and others. As we live, we learn how to do these things with our everyday actions. Because God gave man free will, we have the ability to choose each individual thought, word, or action. These choices are what form your soul, and create your character. Your actions form your soul, and then your soul influences your actions.
This being said, character is not just your appetite or temperament or behavior; these are the expressions of character. Character is the part of the human being which renders man capable of loving, serving, and knowing. This is demonstrated in the lives of the saints, where they learn of the love God has for us, and growing in virtue they sacrifice their lives for the good of their neighbor. Furthermore, Christ has given us the Beatitudes to teach us what it means to have true character. By becoming poor in spirit, patient, understanding, merciful, pure in heart, searching always for what is good and true, accepting sacrifice and hardships: we learn what the essence of character is. Christ emphasizes the importance of these characteristics by stating “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
The four pillars of the National Honor Society are character, service, leadership, and scholarship. Being a part of NHS gives you the opportunity to build your character because of these pillars. Our job of helping our community by serving others when they are in need, teaches us to know our community and love all who are around us. These pillars teach us to become poor in spirit by forgetting ourselves, to be patient in hardship, to search out those who need help, and to sacrifice our time and energy when we don’t feel like it. These are what builds a strong character. Thank you.
Katherine McMenaman on Service
The members of NHS are called to embody the pillar of service. What exactly is service? Service is the fruit of love, cultivated in habits of obedience and humility. When we recognize the human condition, it's deep thirst in the heart for love, we then are moved to be that love; this love is demonstrated in service. Service requires forgetting oneself, for the needs of another. St. Josemaria Escriva considers any honor as “a burden to bear in the service of souls” (Josemaria Escriva, Furrow; Responsibility, No. 976). This is because honor is not the end of service; however, the end of service is meeting the needs of the other.
Now, having carefully examined service, we may understand the words of St. Mother Teresa, “the fruit of faith is love; the fruit of love is service; the fruit of service is peace.”(Mother Teresa).
Service is any act of giving to one or many in need. This act demands, whether on a large or minor scale, a gift of the self. Our purpose is to care for the dignity of those around us. Service bears witness to this purpose by tending to others needs for the benefit of their soul and our own soul. As members of NHS, we strive to carry out the demands of service in the small areas of the Mount Royal Academy environment. We believe these actions partake in the greater endeavor to promote a culture of self-sacrifice in order to form the characters of each person around us. This sacrificial spirit disciplines the mind in a willingness to listen, to care, to be patient, and to learn to place personal interests below the greater interests of humanity. By exemplifying the fruits of service, we demonstrate how to take on the responsibility of caring for the needs outside of one’s own self.
The students of NHS have demonstrated service in various instances such as: helping a family in the community in cleaning out their barn, organizing highschool dances for the students, or even simple tasks such as helping set up or break down community events. By serving in this way, the members of NHS learn the weight of responsibility which comes with taking on small duties to bear in the service of humanity. Service requires a recognition of this responsibility. This responsibility strengthens and builds the character of individuals to the extent of knowing and carrying out the purpose of the education they receive at Mount Royal Academy. NHS calls these young students to bear the simple, additional responsibilities of service while embodying the virtues which require self-sacrifice, for the formation of individual characters, and for promoting a culture of true giving for the needs of others.
Maryrose McLaughlin on Scholarship
What is scholarship? To start off, it may be easier to define what scholarship is not. It is not the 3.5 GPA that qualified you to receive an NHS application in the first place. It is not a grade you receive on an essay. It is not some sort of “smart gene” that you inherit from your parents. Rather, scholarship is a habit – an intentional habit of hard work and a drive that accompanies you through life, being one of your greatest assets in taking on any responsibility. Scholarship is the enthusiastic discipline that got you that 3.5 GPA. Scholarship is the effort you put into writing that essay. Scholarship is the wish to know truth and possess goodness simply for the sake of knowing truth and possessing goodness. Scholarship is, in part, the desire and drive to do what is right in any given circumstance, and doing what is right is doing God’s will. In short, scholarship is a disposition that assists in orienting you towards doing the will of God.
Whatever your task, work heartily, as serving the Lord and not men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward; you are serving the Lord Christ. These words from St. Paul’s letter to the Colossians perfectly sum up how we, as Christians, should approach work. (For scholarship is directed towards work, generally of an academic nature.) Paul does not say work heartily only in matters of great importance, but in all situations, whatever your task. In this being said, work, even unimportant and seemingly futile tasks, takes on a new meaning and a new importance. Putting effort into work is no longer dependent on the nature of the work. We are commissioned to put effort into all the work we do, from learning our ABC’s as a preschooler, to doing our times tables as a fourth grader, to writing a dissertation in our final year of college. This is what scholarship is all about – completing any work you are given to the utmost of your ability.
This is all good and well, very inspirational (and it even has Biblical roots), but how do you, as high school students, concretely apply this principle to your daily lives? To begin with, know that you are all scholars. Your grades in school reflect this. The teachers who reviewed and accepted your applications have acknowledged this. Your scholarship is part of what got you here, sitting in these seats at this induction ceremony. Now that you are members of National Honor Society, you will be held to a higher degree of scholarship. Though you are being recognized now for it, you must continue to grow in scholarship. As high schoolers, you can live this out most obviously in completing your school assignments, and completing them well. Even when a particular assignment is time-consuming, annoying, or downright silly, you will complete it – and complete it well. Even though, in all probability, you will not use double-augmented matrices in your life, you will complete the problems, and complete them well. I have been using the phrase “complete well” when describing scholarship, so it would serve us well for me to explain what exactly I mean by this. The point at which something goes from being completed to being completed well is intentionality and effort. Though it may be easier to read the SparkNotes, or get the answer to the math problem from the back of the book, or count on your teacher going over the answers to the review questions during class before you hand in your homework, this is not completing an assignment well. Sure, you handed the work in, and even on time, but you did not put effort into it. You finished your assignment only for the letter grade, not for the sake of doing your work because doing so is good. The one who possesses and continually strives for scholarship does his work to the utmost of his ability every time because it is the right thing to do.
Though scholarship manifests itself most directly academically, the values and principles it imparts on you are universal and stay with you beyond the classroom. Now that you are members of NHS, your call to scholarship will only grow. Your journey of scholarship does not end with NHS. It does not end when you graduate, moving beyond the classrooms of Mount Royal Academy. It does not even end when you graduate college, learn a trade, or enter into a religious life. If formed correctly and deeply embedded in you, scholarship will accompany you throughout your life. Though you may not constantly be studying, as you do now as a student, your hard work, discipline, drive, and above all, habit of seeking to do God’s will (which are all products of scholarship) will serve you well. These qualities are valuable in any stage of life, in any place, regardless of whether you are in an academic setting or not. Develop scholarship through your studies now, and cultivate it wherever God leads you.
This pillar of National Honor Society is multi-faceted, as you can now see. It is more than getting good grades. It is more than going to the best college. It is more than natural intelligence. It is an attitude. It is a disposition. It is a driving force. It is the active pursuit of truth and goodness – the active pursuit of God’s will in any and all circumstances. Scholarship requires a decision – a decision you have made and a decision I sincerely hope you will continue to make.