Live Life to the Full

The theme “Live Life to the Full” has been a constant in the Year 12 retreat program now for well over 30 years and it got me thinking over the weekend about what it really means. Some may immediately think that it means doing whatever you like, cramming as much as possible into the week in the name of self-satisfaction or for some – partying 24/7.

Well, of course it is the complete opposite, for living life to the full means that we are inspired to be at our best, to live up to our potential and to capture the grace of life in every moment and day.

I was very fortunate to travel during September as part of my long service leave to parts of the world I have never visited. Italy and Greece were the destinations which my wife and I visited and enjoyed. We enjoyed every moment to connect with the history, the stories, the people and fellow travellers. There were many grace moments but one that stood out was the papal audience with Pope Francis and a visit to the Vatican.

In his message the Pope said:

Don’t fight with people, don’t criticise your body so much, don’t complain so much and don’t lose sleep over your bills. Look for the person that makes you happy. If you make a mistake, let it go and keep seeking your happiness.

Never stop being a good parent. Don’t worry so much about buying luxuries and comforts for your home and don’t kill yourself trying to leave an inheritance for your family. Those benefits should be earned by each person, so don’t dedicate yourself to accumulating money.

Enjoy, travel, enjoy your journeys, see new places, give yourself the pleasures you deserve. Allow your pets to get closer. Don’t put away the fine glassware. Utilise the new dinnerware, don’t save your favourite perfume, use it to go out with yourself; wear out your favourite sport shoes; repeat your favourite clothes.

So what? That’s not bad. Why not now? Why not pray instead of waiting until before you sleep? Why not call now? Why not forgive now? We wait so long for Christmas; for Fridays; for reunions; for another year; for when I have money; for love to come; when everything is perfect…look…

Everything perfect doesn’t exist. Human beings can’t accomplish this because it simply was not intended to be completed here. Here is an opportunity to learn. So take this challenge that is life and do it now… love more, forgive more, embrace more, love more intensely and leave the rest in God’s hands.

I believe strongly that this is living life to the full and so I am calling my family and friends more often, even daily, being attentive and listening at every interaction with people I meet, forgetting about being too busy, I am not too busy to be with people, spending more time with my granddaughter, finding time to keep fit, reading more and doing more.

Last week I was delighted to attend the 30 year reunion of the Class of 1989. It was a terrific night and I ended up staying well after midnight when in fact my usual bedtime is 9:30 pm. The class of ’89 are such a special group with old scholars travelling from interstate to be there to celebrate and connect, to tell stories, to reminisce, to show deep interest in each other and to pay their respects to their school which has had an indelible mark on who they are today.

This week is the last week for our Year 12s. They have their final classes and will prepare for their farewell on Friday and our mass of thanksgiving.

We have much to be grateful for and we can live life to the full when our focus is on those who we love and our own actions which can be life-giving.

Dr Paul Rijken is principal of Cardijn College, a Catholic secondary co-educational school (7-12) in the southern region of Adelaide with a total of 1120 students and 140 staff. Marcellin is a campus of Cardijn College. It provides students in Years 10 to 12 with SACE, training and apprenticeships. It has an enrolment of over 155 students and 30 staff. Paul has been the principal at Cardijn College since 2005. He has a Ph.D. from Curtin University in Science and Mathematics Education. He is a Fellow of the Australian College of Educational Leaders.

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