From the Principal
From the Principal: Week 6, Term 1 2019
This week, we have commenced the most important month in the Christian calendar with Ash Wednesday services on both campuses (although admittedly one was on Tuesday and the other on Friday). This most important of months ends, of course, with Easter. In the next couple of weeks, you will receive an invitation to our Easter Service, which will be a Prep to Year 12 event on the Secondary Campus.
These Ash services, in which each student of the College received ashes and the option of communion, were beautiful occasions on which we were able to be reflective and thoughtful, encourage a commitment to repentance and engage in reverence. I was very proud of the ways in which the students conducted themselves, and for their engagement in what are quite serious and formal occasions.
In this newsletter, I shall request of your help in reinforcing the message of Lent at home.
Ash Wednesday in the Christian calendar represents the beginning of the season of Lent, a period of repentance, fasting, and self-reflection. Often, Christians mark Lent by giving something up as a sign of their understanding of Jesus’ sacrifice and resolve as he ventured into the desert for 40 days and nights. There, fasting and tempted by the Devil, Jesus’ strength and the love of God through the visitation of angels powered him to resistance. It is an incredible story of will-power, and this week we have encouraged the students to demonstrate their will-power by making make a sacrifice for Lent – to give up a luxury such as chocolate or the use of their mobile phone – in order to help them understand what it means to commit to something, and to show their resolve.
Although I am afraid that this week I did have to turn down one teacher’s request to give up marking work for Lent. I think he was joking …
The tradition of giving up a luxury for Lent is also a powerful one about reminding us of the riches with which we surround ourselves, and the ways in which we can return to a more basic way of life. Traditionally, those giving a luxury up also donated money and food to the poor as a symbol of their understanding that they live privileged lives.
Should you wish to assist reinforce this message at home, I would encourage you to discuss Lent with your child and together plan to give something up for 40 days. Should you be so inclined, you could equate this to the story of Jesus for your children – he went without, and so we go without as a symbol of our gratitude for his sacrifice.
However, an alternative suggestion would be for you to take the riches angle with your children – to remind them of how lucky they are to be surrounded by so many luxurious things, and to give one of them up for a month. Should you join them on a commitment to give up, say chocolate, ice cream or take away food, there will of course be a health benefit and financial saving. You could also encourage your children and join them in saving up the money that you would normally spend on such items, and to donate that money to charity at the end of the 40-day period. That way, an important message about will-power is delivered, a charity benefits, and calories are eliminated from their diet. Everyone’s a winner. (Except perhaps McDonald’s or Cadbury’s, and I don’t think they will miss the profits).
Ash Wednesday is also the day in which Christians gather to receive the imposition of ashes, placed in the shape of a cross on foreheads. As our children received ashes this week, the words ‘Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return’ were spoken. Ashes have significance in a number of ways, a metaphor for repentance, and also a representation of the result of burning. In the context of Lent, this is reminder that we are living in this mortal world, that we are made from dust, that we are mortal and will return to our maker.
This week, each of our students and staff received the ashes with these words from our Chaplain, Reverend Erika:
God of compassion,
who created us from the dust,
grant that these ashes
may be to us a sign
of our human limitation and need.
Grant that the blessing of your love
may change our hearts
so we grow in the image of Christ.
These words are an important reminder of our physical mortality, but also of our ability to understand that each of us has a role to play in living lives of growth in terms of selflessness, strength of will, compassion and charity.
I hope that you will join me in my challenge outlined above, and that together we can use this Lenten period to help the children of TSAC understand that they live lives filled with fortune and in which virtually their every wish is granted. And that they can use this period to reflect on that fortune, give some of it up, and feel the numerous benefits.