If you are a student, you stand at a unique point in life – a time where you need to make your faith your own. And while you may feel like you’re waiting for your life to begin, you still have the opportunity now to grow in your faith and live in a way that honors God. As you prepare to begin another school year, we hope you are inspired by what the Holy Fathers have to say about living and learning as a student.
Understanding the World
The more we learn, the better we understand the world that God has made for us and relate to those around us.
“School teaches us to understand reality. Going to school means opening one’s mind and heart to reality, in the wealth of its aspects, of its dimensions. And this is so very beautiful! In the first years we learn a wide range of subjects, then little by little one delves more deeply into one subject and then ultimately specializes in it… school… educates us in the true, the good and the beautiful.” — Pope Francis
“I think it is a great achievement to be able to read and write, for this is how we are able to know what other people think and read newspapers and books. We can know what was written 2,000 years ago or even longer; we can learn about the spiritual continents of the world and communicate together. Above all, there is an extraordinary text: God has written a book, that is, he has spoken to us, human beings, and found people who wrote the book that contains the word of God. Thus, in reading it we can also read what God says to us and this is very important: to learn at school everything necessary for life and also to learn to know God, to know Jesus and to know how to live well…”
— Pope Benedict XVI
Reflecting Christ in Your Studies
As in every other area of life, students have an obligation to be kind and loving to those around them when at school, honoring Christ in both their studies and interactions.
“Live your faith in your daily lives, at home and in school; and show true Christian love to your schoolmates. Be patient and understanding, pray for each other, help each other; obey the voice of your conscience, and strive for Christian unity with all.” — Pope Paul VI
“This is what education is all about, this is the meaning of life: to know Christ. To know Christ as a friend: as someone who cares about you and the person next to you, and all the people here and everywhere — no matter what language they speak, or what clothes they wear, or what color their skin is…With the support of a Catholic education we try to meet every circumstance of life with the attitude of Christ. Yes, the Church wants to communicate Christ to you so that you will come to full maturity in him who is the perfect human being, and, at the same time, the Son of God.” — Pope John Paul II
Keeping Your Study Informed by a Christian Worldview
Whether you are enrolled at a faith-based institution or not, you should always let your studies be guided by the principles of the faith – by a worldview that acknowledges first and foremost, God as Creator and Author of all truth.
“As you [advance in] school, you have to make choices regarding the subjects you study, you begin to specialize with a view to what you are going to do later on in life. That is right and proper. But always remember that every subject you study is part of a bigger picture. Never allow yourselves to become narrow. The world needs good scientists, but a scientific outlook becomes dangerously narrow if it ignores the religious or ethical dimension of life, just as religion becomes narrow if it rejects the legitimate contribution of science to our understanding of the world. We need good historians and philosophers and economists, but if the account they give of human life within their particular field is too narrowly focused, they can lead us seriously astray.” — Pope Benedict XVI
Walking in the Light
As you navigate your education and the challenges that follow, remember above all that you are not of this world, and you need to be a light in the darkness.
“[Y]ou are no longer children afraid of the dark. You are teenagers and young adults. But already you realize that there is another kind of darkness in the world: the darkness of doubt and uncertainty. You may feel the darkness of loneliness and isolation. Your anxieties may come from questions about your future, or regrets about past choices…
Do not listen to those who encourage you to lie, to shirk responsibility, to put yourselves first. Do not listen to those who tell you that chastity is passé. In your hearts you know that true love is a gift from God and respects his plan for the union of man and woman in marriage. Do not be taken in by false values and deceptive slogans, especially about your freedom. True freedom is a wonderful gift from God… But when freedom is separated from truth, individuals lose their moral direction and the very fabric of society begins to unravel.
Freedom is not the ability to do anything we want, whenever we want. Rather, freedom is the ability to live responsibly the truth of our relationship with God and with one another. Remember what Jesus said: “you will know the truth and the truth will set you free” (Jn 8:32). Let no one mislead you or prevent you from seeing what really matters. Turn to Jesus, listen to him, and discover the true meaning and direction of your lives.”
— Pope John Paul II
“Address to Students and Teachers from Schools Across Italy,” Pope Francis, May 10, 2014
“Address to Students from the ‘Paolo VI’ Pontifical Elementary School,” Pope Benedict XVI, September 23, 2010
“Radio Message to the Swedish Students,” Pope Paul VI, November 2, 1964
“Address to High School Students,” Pope John Paul II, October 3, 1979
“Address at the ‘Big Assembly,’” Pope Benedict XVI, September 17, 2010
“Address to the Young People at the Kiel Center,” Pope John Paul II, January 26, 1999