Before I continue my miniseries about what moti- vates us, let’s think about the season we are entering into: ADVENT.

If you want a house decorated for Christmas- time, I am not the person to go to. Having been in education for most of my life, my Decembers were filled, not with tinsel, ornaments, wreaths and lights, but with grading. (I know, horrible.) Instead, I focused on my spiritual preparation for Advent. Now I am not saying that you should not decorate.

Knock yourselves out. But the next four weeks can be a great opportunity to grow as disciples of Christ. I encourage you to come to daily Mass. I encourage you to go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We are adding extra times the week before Christmas. Do some spiritual reading. Take time for your- self amidst all the chaos of the season. Use Advent well.


We as human beings desire an intellectual challenge. We enjoy the urge to master something new and engaging. Actually it is a great way to keep your brain alert and active.

The first thing we need for competence is exertion. Exertion means that you have to change your mindset. If success means do- ing something that is easy and succeeding, then you will not get very far in any given field. One of the things that keeps me com- ing back to golf is that it is so blasted hard. If it were easy or if my goal was simply to have a good time, I would have probably giv- en up the game long ago. As the quote goes from the great film A League of their Own, “it’s supposed to be hard, the hard makes it great.”

But, when something is difficult you need an- other change of mindset, sticking to some- thing even amid frustration. This is where grit is needed. Mastery is painful. My friend and a bit cold. He stepped up to the championship tees, the back tees, and readied him- self for his drive. The starter stopped him and said, “Ack, me boy, I don’t think you should play from there.” Msgr. Looked up and said, “Well, watch my drive.” And with that, he hit the snot out of the ball, long and straight down the fairway. The starter simply said: Ah, you’ll be ahlright.

But he works at it. He will hit shot after shot getting just the right muscle memory. He still hits the occasional errant shot, but watching him play is a thing of beauty.

Just like hitting a golf ball, success in school, success in anything really, is a balance be- tween getting a bit better every time and not being overwhelmed and defeated by what you are trying. In general, I think we should help our children aim a bit higher. On the other hand, it is possible that things go be- yond what a child can do, or some of them may need some extra help. I know it is a pain for teachers dealing with special circum- stances and IEP’s (Individual Educational Plans) and the like. But some of students truly do need it. If a student had bad eye- sight, we wouldn’t keep them from wearing glasses to take a test. Finding that sweet spot between overpowering a student on one hand and making things too easy on the oth- er, is often difficult. And I know that some students will job the system. Know that they are only really hurting themselves in the long run.

Teaching, like golf, is a difficult thing. What worked forty years ago, when Fr. Kevin started, might not work in the year 2022.

That is why we always strive, no matter if we are in our first year or fortieth year, for greater competence, always, as Paul said, striving forward.

Father Kevin

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