Words from our Principal
Dear families and friends of Lumen,
On October 12, we celebrated the feast day of Bl. Carlo Acutis, popular for being a “millennial” saint and known for his love of computers and video games. It goes without saying that Bl. Carlo is an ideal example of a young man committed to using technology prudently and well, as we would hope our scholars to do. Our Honor Code actually sets the bar rather low for technology use: we ask only that our scholars use technology only in accordance with the instructions of my teachers and parents, and never for any immoral purpose. Blessed Carlo took this one step further, setting strict limits for himself for technology use. As Meg Hunter-Kilmer (whom I had the pleasure of hearing in person yesterday evening!) writes in her children’s book Saints Around the World:
“Carlo was really good with computers. He knew how to write code and make videos and build websites. . . And he did [those things] between riding his bike and practicing saxophone and visiting his friends, especially the ones who were homeless or lonely or bullied. He fit all that in because he was really good at using his time well. He actually had a rule for himself: he would only spend one hour a week playing video games. Can you believe that? But Carlo didn’t want to be a slave to screens.”
Bl. Carlo’s self-imposed “rule” reveals one important reason for all of us to be mindful of our technology use. We have to consider the opportunity cost: are there better, more worthy things we could be devoting our time to? Is our technology use – our YouTube and TikTok watching, our Facebook scrolling, our susceptibility to click-baiting – helping us grow as the kind of people we want to be? Is it helping us to pursue wisdom and virtue?
Bl. Carlo clearly knew that technology use, when done prudently, could be consistent with a life of wisdom and virtue. And he also went beyond this – not only did he use technology prudently, he also used it for the greater glory of God. On Saturday, October 15, I was blessed to be able to attend an in-person exhibit of Bl. Carlo’s Eucharistic Miracles, which he created between the ages of 11 and 15 as a virtual gallery recording every documented miracle related to the Blessed Sacrament. It is impossible not to be moved by the witness of a young person so in love with the Eucharist that he would dedicate the final years of his life to promoting its veneration. And to see him combine his deep faith with his talent for web design reveals the truth that our path to sanctity lies in finding the intersection between the needs of the Church and the world, and our own talents, interests, and personalities. As Meg Hunter-Kilmer reminded me yesterday, being a saint does not mean renouncing our personalities, but fulfilling them.
But the final message I took away from the exhibit is one primarily for parents. Bl. Carlo’s mother, Antonia Salzano, Zoomed into the exhibit to speak to the audience. Throughout her talk she repeatedly referenced things Carlo had said or done, and she spoke of him with such tender awe and reverence that I couldn’t help being reminded of the Blessed Mother, and how Scripture tells us that she kept Jesus’ words and actions “in her heart.” When a mother in the audience asked if Carlo’s mother had any advice for parents on how to raise a saint, Signora Salzano said: “We didn’t do anything. . . we always say, Carlo evangelized us.”
As a parent myself, I am so accustomed to thinking that I am the dispenser of wisdom and guidance to my kids. But Signora Salzano’s humble willingness to be evangelized by her son, to let him witness to her, and to learn from his example, provided an important moment of self-reflection for me: am I open to learning from my children? Do I talk too much at them, rather than taking the time to pay attention to the gentle ways in which the Spirit is at work in their lives, their personalities, and their interests? Christ Himself tells us: “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them.” Do I have the courage to let my kids go to Christ, without putting myself as a hindrance in the way? And what’s more, do I have the humility to listen to what they say when they return from that encounter?
May God bless you and your families this week – and may Bl. Carlo intercede for us, that we may grow in love of the Eucharist, learn to imitate his virtuous example, and grow in humble willingness to learn from the least among us.
Pax et bonum,
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