When Archbishop Samuel Aquila celebrated Mass for fifth-graders Feb. 26, he told them they’re old enough now to pray about God’s plan for their lives.
“Talk to the Father, ask him: What is your will for me?” the archbishop said during his homily at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. “Because the Father has a definite plan for each and every one of you, as his daughter, as his son, that only you can fulfill—and no one else.
“Each of you is loved in a unique way by the Father.”
The Mass, celebrated at the mother church of the archdiocese, was the second of two annual liturgies for fifth-graders who attend Catholic schools. The first was Feb. 5. There are 39 Catholic elementary schools in northern Colorado: 37 archdiocesan schools and two private—Escuela de Guadalupe and St. Mary’s Academy in Englewood—and more than 1,000 fifth-graders. The tradition began in the early to mid-90s with then-Denver Archbishop now Cardinal J. Francis Stafford.
Archbishop Aquila quizzed students on the day’s readings from James (4:13-17) and Mark (9:38-40): “What did St. James remind them of?”
Several hands shot up in the air. “To put God first,” a student responded.
“Excellent!” the archbishop acknowledged the answer enthusiastically. “That is the most important thing to remember … to put God first. Because only if we put God first will we live our lives according to God’s will.
“It’s important to learn that lesson young and to stay faithful to that lesson because the world will present you with lots of different options.”
The world is confused right now, he said, which happens when God is removed from culture.
“You know what fickle means?” he asked. “You know what goofy means? You know what not-thinking-right means? When you’re not reasonable? That’s fickle.”
According to the archbishop, the world becomes fickle when faith is weakened.
“If we remove God from the equation, we will not know good from evil,” he said. “And that’s what’s happening today when people do not live their faith and know the Church as the place that we are nourished.”
Students took the homily to heart.
“I thought it was really important,” said Assumption fifth-grader Arthur Martinez. “It’s true that you need to put God first in everything because a lot of people don’t see God anymore. And when you don’t see God, you sin and the devil tries to get to you.”
“Demons are still around, they’ve been around for a while,” offered Justin Lintonsmith from St. Thomas More in Centennial. “You get rid of them by practicing your faith and going to church.”
At the end of Mass, Archbishop Aquila presented each school with a supply of blessed cross necklaces as a memento of their time together. Some schools continued the day’s catechetical theme with another field trip including Notre Dame students who visited Temple Emmanuel, the largest and oldest synagogue in the area, to learn more about Jesus’ Jewish roots; and St. Thomas More students who went to the Denver Museum of Nature & Science to see the movie “Jerusalem” and learn about the Holy Land.
What is God’s will for me?
In follow up to Archbishop Aquila’s homily at the Fifth Grade Mass Feb. 26, the Denver Catholic Register asked students: “Have you asked God what his plan is for your life?” Below are a few of those responses.
“It’s a very important thing to think about. It’s time (for me) to think about what my life is going to be like. I want to be a teacher, a professional soccer player, the president … and a mom.”
—Rachel Gallegos, Assumption School, Denver
“I’ve thought about it … I think I’ll talk to God about it. I want to be a professional hockey player, but I also want to be a priest at the same time.”
—Tyler Taoka, St. Thomas More School, Centennial
“I think it was cool how he (the archbishop) wanted us all to know about that, and we’re old enough now to carry out those messages. I don’t really know what my vocation is, but I think I’ll ask God to help me find that. I want to be a screenwriter because I like writing and I like to watch movies.”
—Milla Chunton, Most Precious Blood School, Denver