“I prayed, and prudence was given me. I pleaded, and the spirit of Wisdom came to me…all good things together came to me in her company, and countless riches at her hands.” Wisdom 7:7-11
In Mark’s gospel, we read of Jesus’s concern for the “rich young man.” He was a seeker, a person attempting to find his place among Jesus’s disciples. He asks: “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus’s reply: “You lack in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give it to the poor and you will find treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”
Jesus, his way of life, and perhaps the disciples as youthful personalities attracted this man. The story contains a dramatic turning point where both Jesus and the seeker become unsettled over different directions in life. The narrative adds: “At that statement, his (the young man’s) face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.”
When you are growing up and a seeker of truth and Wisdom — there can be a tight balancing act. Life choices make for a good gospel story because it is our story. What you choose now may have consequences for a lifetime. So, we pray and sometimes plead for the spirit of Wisdom to visit us.
“Good Lord, what to do?”
Last Sunday evening, I was multi-tasking in my kitchen. As I filled up the dishwasher with dinner plates and utensils, I paid close attention to the TV while watching Tom Brady and his Tampa Bay Buccaneers take on his old team, the New England Patriots, and Bill Belichick, his former coach. At a delay in the game, a little after 7 PM, I switched channels to check into 60 Minutes on CBS.
Correspondent Leslie Stahl reported about retired military officers expressing frustration over the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. Among the former military women and men Stahl introduced was retired Air Force Major Carson Sprott. His name caught my attention immediately.
Carson was a former student at Saint Mary’s College, an extraordinary Rugby player, and an outstanding academic record. He was among my advisees, and with so much talent, I had the honor of writing his letters of recommendation for his applications to law school.
I had more than a passing interest in this story, so I put the football game on DVR. Here I learned that Carson, like others in government service and presently retired, were treated with brutal interest payments and almost no way out of escalating costs. Imagine this: his loan went from $150,000 indebtedness to a walloping $215,000 because of interest payments.
Believe me, when considering the merit of a college loan, Carson’s story is a cautionary tale. His idea was to sign up for military service, hoping that his student loans would be reduced. But later, he discovered the intricate details of a financial situation and monthly payment that would haunt him and many others for years to come.
It’s a present-day Marshalsea Prison, the 19th-century debtor’s prison in London frequently mentioned by Charles Dickens in his novels: Pickwick Papers, David Copperfield, and Little Dorrit.
In this 60 Minutes segment, most of the military, like Carson, are practicing lawyers, such an irony in itself! Carson is not alone in this matter, and the issue is before President Biden and Congress. Such cases open more critical questions about how educational debt places education out of reach for so many young people today.
Could today’s young women or men ask the good Lord what must I do to pay for my student loans? Or, good Lord, what must I do about influencers on Facebook? Or, good Lord, what must I do about those Tik Tok high school challenges gone violent?
Not bad prayer requests, as far as I can tell. What would you do? Seek Wisdom, and let me offer advice.
An Informed Heart
To my mind, each of us, whatever our age, needs a personal “board of directors.” Including me and even at my age! These are the trustworthy people in your life: a teacher or coach, an aunt or uncle, clearly a mentor who has your interest at heart.
Yes, these are the “good teachers” who are moral examples and maybe the very role model for our own choices in life. Often these individuals are considered “generative moral figures” who inspire and help guide our lives.
Seek their wisdom from time to time, especially when that next step or option is unclear and uncertain. Don’t be afraid to seek their knowledge and their prayerful guidance.
After all, I believe this encounter with Jesus, like most individuals found in the gospel, are left better, more aware of the inner spiritual capacities and work they need to accomplish over time. Such work can be a true challenge; this was the young man’s case in the gospel story.
Many long years ago, I read a most profound book entitled “The Informed Heart,” by the noted psychologist Bruno Bettelheim. He writes about his passionate devotion to the education of the “next generation” of young people and asks:
“What changes in the environment are needed to bring up children so that their chance to lead the good life is greater; and what methods of bringing up children are necessary to help them live the good life whatever their environment maybe.”
Indeed, this is a tight balancing act. Our task here — at Santa Catalina is to equip you with an “informed heart.” We draw on wisdom as a strength in which moral and ethical teaching help remedy injustice and inequity in society.
Our intent is deeply spiritual to advance you on the many diverse paths that bring happiness to life. And to foretaste the opportunity to explore life’s many true adventures.
Here’s another passage in the Book of Wisdom, “If riches be a desirable possession in life, what is richer than Wisdom, who produces all things? And if prudence renders service, who in the world is a better craftsman than she?” Wisdom 8:5-6
Rosary Chapel, Santa Catalina School, Monterey, CA.
See the 60 Minutes report on “Student Debt Forgiveness”: