What benefit can my children and I get out of this hectic end of the school year?

The end of the year should be a good reminder for us that as long as the school year seemed, it will have an end. Alas, so will all things, no matter how long they seem.

This somber reminder is necessary. We cannot go on living as though we were already on the other side of eternity. We are limited and constricted by the length of our life, the health of our days and the depth of our living.

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The changes of the seasons and the cycles of life are meant to be constant reminders that God is our ultimate end; he is our source and our destination. In between we live this harried and hectic life, but the grace of God is ever active and ever present, beckoning us from our foggy, hurried pace into the blinding radiance of his peace and love.

Use the end to our advantage

So how do we use these signs of the end to our advantage? First of all, stop, and give thanks for what came before — for blessings, graces, moments with God, in God. Then, breathe a breath to gather strength for now; now is the time to act, now is the time to discern the will of God and now is the appropriate time to respond to his voice and his calling.

Finally, pray, putting everything back into the blessed hands from where we received all things. As the Scripture says, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21b) 

The end of the year is not a bad time; within it are thanksgiving for the past, action of the present and blessing of the future. We can think about how next year can be even better.

What can I improve with my parenting, my organization or finances, communication with my children’s teachers, relationship with my spouse, involvement at church, my relationship with God?

It is also a great time to leave behind mistakes, confess and leave behind sins, and leave behind fears of the past.

Our Lord said, “These things I have spoken to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you shall have distress. But have confidence. I have overcome the world.” (Jn 16:33) 

The cycle is life, the end is heaven

The year’s end reminds us of the end of this short journey of life. How would we like to be remembered? What do we wish our children would say of us at the end?

How would we like our parish to speak of us? And most importantly, how would we like Jesus Christ, the Immaculate Virgin Mary, and all the angels and saints to greet us when we cross the gates of heaven? 

I like the fact that when our cycles end, like the end of the school year, it is not usually the last goodbye. By the grace of God we will still have time to begin to act the way that we have imagined we should.

Truly, this is a great blessing and within it is hidden a great kernel of truth. Our cycles of beginnings and ends remind us we are on a pilgrimage which had a definite beginning, but which will have an eternal end.

Let us strive for heaven, our eternal end, and face with gratitude our past and with honesty our mistakes. Face with courage our future. Allow the words of St. Cyprian regarding heavenly glory to energize us and embolden us as we make difficult but necessary changes that we must make:

“What will be the glory and how great the joy to be admitted to see God, to be honored to receive with Christ, thy Lord God, the joy of eternal salvation and light – to greet Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the patriarchs, and prophets, and apostles, and martyrs – to rejoice with the righteous and the friends of God in the kingdom of heaven, with the pleasure of immortality given to us – to receive there what neither eye hath seen, nor ear heard, neither hath entered into the heart of man! For the apostle announces that we shall receive greater things than anything that we here either do or suffer, saying, ‘The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come hereafter which shall be revealed in us.’” (Rom 8:18)

(Henry, his wife, Dr. Patricia Cabral, and their five children belong to St. Anthony Parish, Milwaukee. Reyes wears many hats as a business owner, doctoral student and candidate in the deacon formation program for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, but he says his most important hat is building his domestic church as a stay-at-home dad and homeschooling his three oldest children.)