Called to Greatness

For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. – Deuteronomy 10:17

I was listening to a podcast on my drive home from school last week. Half-listening, really, but then the host uttered a sentence that resounded with me -- “You were made for greatness.”

Of course, I have heard this sentiment before, but for some reason, this time it stayed with me. I began reflecting on how the end of the liturgical year and the beginning of the next highlight this reality in a profound way. I also pondered the many ways greatness can be manifested in our lives.

Coincidentally, (if you believe in coincidences – I tend to believe Our Lord arranges such circumstances) as the theme of greatness was bouncing around in my head last week, in each of my math classes, the dreaded, but perennial, question was asked.  “When are we ever going to use this?”  My response to this question typically ensures that it is not asked again.  I assured each class that they would, in fact, use math, including Geometry and Algebra, in their future lives, even if they don’t recognize it as such.  I then shared (humorous) stories about building a shed and a mudroom with my husband in which we used both Algebra and Geometry. However, I told my students, that doesn’t matter.  It is of no consequence whether you “use” Algebra, Geometry, Latin, philosophy, history, or any other class in your future life.  Every bit of learning you do, every piece of knowledge you acquire is part of your formation as a human being. No learning is ever wasted.  It lays the foundation for your greatness.

No matter what path a student chooses after graduation, it is important that they not limit their ultimate potential by neglecting to take advantage of the education being presented to them. Regardless of whether they “use” the skills they are being taught, a classical or liberal arts education prepares students to not just make a living, but to make a life. According to the University of Northern Colorado, liberal learning can, “prepare students to reckon with a broad variety of lived experiences—work, love, death, joy, creativity, sorrow, faith, passion, pain, injustice, disagreement, conflict, intolerance, pleasure, forgiveness, ethics, values, and all of the myriad choices that make up the human experience. Critical thinking, communication, creative problem solving, self-expression, innovative research, and lifelong learning—all skills the liberal arts emphasize—are central to a great career and a well-lived life.”  In other words, “the foundation of greatness.”

Greatness in our lives takes many forms. I know of a businessman who quietly and without fanfare, built churches and schools in poverty-stricken regions of Africa.   The mother who daily stretches her capacity to love, practicing patience and prudence, and pouring herself out for her family is an example of greatness.  The father who perseveres day after day working hard to support his family, physically, spiritually, and emotionally is an example of greatness.  Of course, we also have the examples of the saints.  Simple, uneducated doormen like Andre Bessette, to whom healings were attributed; or great intellectuals like Aquinas and Augustine who used their mental prowess to define and defend the doctrines of the Church, are all examples of greatness.

What does it mean that we were made for greatness? It is not just that we were given the gifts to do good things in our time here on earth. It means we are the children of God, made in His image and likeness, with His greatness built into our DNA.

Being created for greatness is a responsibility, not an entitlement. He has planted the seeds of greatness within us. What we must do is water those seeds with acts of virtue: selflessness, perseverance, humility, and prayer.  Greatness is born of hard work in the hiddenness of our interior.

Last Sunday, the final Sunday of the Church year, we celebrated the feast of Christ the King.  Christ is truly King of the Universe, its Creator and Savior, and we celebrate the immensity of His greatness in this feast. Then, paradoxically, one week later, we move to the first Sunday of Advent, the season in which we prepare for Christ the King, Creator, and Savior to come to earth as an infant—the most vulnerable of all humankind. Christ seemingly divests himself of his power and glory to join us in our humanity. We are so familiar with the Christmas story that I think we sometimes miss the importance of this action. Yes, God loves us and wants to save us from our sins. The gift of our redemption is one we can never repay.  But, as with any gift, we have the choice to accept or reject it. If we are to accept this precious gift, we must choose to put Him at the center of our lives, and do our best to fulfill all he has created us to be. He became small so that we can become great. Not in an arrogant, ungracious way, but great in spirit, great in love, and great in Him. 

It is good to ask ourselves daily, “How are you calling me to greatness today, Lord?”

Mrs. Lisa Sweet, Academic Dean

“I can do all things in Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13