You can be a chicken – scratching around on the ground, doing the minimum and too fearful to fly; or you can be the eagle that God made you to be – trusting in the Lord’s tender care, soaring high in the sky and accomplishing great things while on earth.
The choice is yours, said Father Tony Ricard, speaking to 405 sixth, seventh and eighth graders gathered inside the St. Mary’s Academy gym Nov. 10 for the archdiocesan Junior High Rally.
“Our whole life is kind of like that chicken farm. Time after time, the world tries to convince us that ‘this is all you get – just what you see,’” said Father Ricard, sharing with his young Mass congregants a Ghanaian folk story in which two eaglets, raised from birth as chickens, had two very different approaches to life: One, who believed in God and in his heavenly destiny, found his wings when pushed off a cliff; the other, though equipped with same wings, insisted he was a chicken, didn’t believe he could fly and plummeted to his death.
“(As God’s children), we come to believe that there’s more than just what we see,” Father Ricard said. “If we believe in our minds and in our hearts that we’re more than just chickens, then we are destined for greatness, to soar as on eagle’s wings. But before you can get there you’ve got to believe!” he said, adding, “How much better would this world be if we grew up already knowing that we are destined for greatness, that the day is coming that we’re gonna be with God in the kingdom of heaven?”
The rally, which since Hurricane Katrina had been absorbed into the high school celebration of World Youth Day, was held separately this year to bring together the unique needs, hopes and energy of pre-teens. The attendees built teamwork through a dozen relays, went to Teen CROSS-led workshops on peer pressure, creating a life plan and prayer, and heard from Hammond-based Catholic youth minister Stephanie Clouatre-Davis, who urged them to question the goodness of their actions before making even minor decisions, such as “liking” something on Facebook.
“I learned about good peer pressure – things that influence you to do good things, like study for a test or join a sports team – and bad peer pressure, which can lead to gossip and bullying,” said Becky Nguyen, a sixth grader from St. Joseph Mission in Algiers.
The rally was sponsored by the CYO/Youth and Young Adult Ministry Office.