This reflection was shared at the Advent Mass on December 21, 2022, prior to Prep’s Christmas break.

Good afternoon, Prep. Good to be with you on what many folks here say is one of their favorite days of the school year. There’s just a festive feeling about this day, including the Mass. And one thing that makes it festive is Vox and the Prep band playing together, which is a Prep Christmas tradition. So with that in mind, I want to talk a little bit about Christmas music, maybe in a way that you have not been thinking about it. I think there’s some pretty cool messaging in there for all of us, students and adults alike.

For example, I love this phrase from “Winter Wonderland:” To face, unafraid, the plans that we made. To me this is a reminder to be true to the goals we set for ourselves, whether they be the goals in our sport, in relationships, in our jobs, in our classes, goals we have for college and for the future. We want to be true to them, true to ourselves—even when fear of the unknown, or fear of failure, or fear of embarrassment tries to hold us back. Sometimes we need to be unafraid. To face, unafraid, the plans that we made.

What about this phrase, from “Do You Hear What I Hear?”: Said the king to the people everywhere. If you were the king of the world and you had one message to all of its people, what would that message be? Of course some ridiculous answers might come to mind, but when you really think about it, what if you’ve got one shot to make your voice heard by everyone? What would you say, and why would you say it? Said the king to the people everywhere.

Then there’s this one from The Little Drummer Boy: “I played my best for him.” The little boy is playing his drum with everything he’s got, giving glory to the Christ child by sharing his talent. Of course as students, teachers, or staff members at a Jesuit school, we are reminded that giving our best, no matter what we are doing, is a form of prayer that gives glory to God. AMDG. That’s why now it’s above the front door of our lobby, and that’s why it has been on the cornerstone of Mulry Hall, right at the corner of Grand and Warren, since it opened. I played my best for him.

This one stuck out to me the other night, from “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”: Someday soon we all will be together. One way to think about that is how we look forward to being with family over the break. Maybe when you are away at college, which will be sooner than you think, you might be thinking about getting back together with your Prep brothers, whom you haven’t seen in a while. But that’s not how I thought about it. I thought about our students, faculty, and staff who are missing family and friends who have died. Maybe recently, maybe not so recently. Our faith tells us that someday we will see them again. But for now, let’s allow that line to remind us that sometimes this joyful season, with all this pomp, can be pretty sad for people. So let’s continue to care for each other. Someday soon, we all will be together.

And, finally, from “Silent Night”: All is calm, all is bright. I don’t know about you, but life for me is rarely 100% calm and 100% bright, even on the best days. But this line reminds me, with so much gratitude, of the people who have that calming effect on me, and certainly help to make the darker days a bit brighter. I hope you’ll take some time during the break to stop and appreciate those people in your lives. All is calm, all is bright. 

Maybe it’s a stretch, but I hope at least one of these phrases or lines does not get lost in the shuffle of the holiday playlist this season. I hope it gives you a moment to pause and get some clarity, some gratitude, maybe even some direction. 

One last thing to think about as we go our separate ways for the last time in 2022: this is the end of our 18-month celebration of Prep’s 150th anniversary. But it’s not Pride & Glory then and now. It’s Pride & Glory. Then. Now. Always. We are still writing Prep’s history…one interaction, one decision, one class, one game, one paper, one day, one week, one month, one year at a time. Let’s come back rested, grateful, and ready to continue writing this chapter together, so that 150 years from now, those who will follow in our footsteps will have even more to celebrate.

Please know this Christmas break, I will be thinking about you. Each and every one of you is a sacred gift to me and everyone else here, which means you matter an awful lot. Faculty and staff and students, may the joy of the angels, the gladness of the shepherds, the worship of the wise men and the peace of the Christ child be yours this Christmas. May His peace be with you. Enjoy the Christmas break. I love you. Let’s go Prep!

Michael Gomez, Ed.D., ’91