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Exams: Not Just for GPAs

December 12, 2011

Monday, December 12, 2011

Ah finals week, it’s here again.  Finals are the opportunity for teachers to see how much we really learned…or at least that’s what they tell us.  While we’re at it, why not take a second to think about the things we learned that won’t be tested with a pen and paper?

A Prayer to Mary for Virtues

Mother Mary, first teacher of our Lord, Help us to learn and live these lessons of virtue. May Faith, Hope, Love, Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, Temperance, Self Discipline, Respect, Cooperation, Responsibility, Honesty, Motivation, Friendship, Courage, Non-Violence, and Work be living realities in my life. Grant that I will find in the Grace of your Son abundant strength for daily living. Amen.
(From the Catholic Association of Latino Leaders.  How suiting for Advent and the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe!)

Come to think of it, life lessons do undergo examination.  Virtues aren’t like an A+ paper that we can hang on the fridge or stuff in a binder; we must use them if they can actually be considered accomplishments.  I can think of many things testing our patience, prudence, fortitude, and love, all of which vary from person to person.  How do you think you did with the challenges presented in your life?

Luckily for us there is no grade card granted for virtue (except in second grade when a plus next to “listens attentively” meant you got a treat from Mom and a check next to “treats others with respect” meant you got a frown).  Therefore it’s up to us to evaluate our strengths and weaknesses, to applaud our goodness and to examine our downfalls.  At Dominican we have a lot of help with that.  In my campus jobs my supervisors not only hand me a sheet of paper full of checks and plusses (which look a whole lot like that second grade report card), but they also talk me through the things I do well and the things I’m not so great at.  My teachers have also given me some pretty great feedback on papers and tests.  Even sitting down with friends to discuss a sticky situation is a sort of review.  This periodic evaluation allows me to grow and keeps me from feeling left behind.

I encourage you to think about yourself for a little bit from a third-person perspective.  Detach yourself from negative self-images and think about the things you say and do through the lens of another person.  Remember that truism “we are our harshest critics”?   This could mean talking to a supervisor, friend, or parent.  It may also lead you to prayer.  Even though I don’t believe in a harsh and judgmental God, I do believe God will help us improve ourselves and eventually reward us for our effort and goodness.

So as you cram the night away (I mean study diligently and get 8 hours of sleep) I encourage you to invite some love into your studies.  Here is St. Thomas Aquinas’ Student’s Prayer:

Creator of all things,
true source of light and wisdom,
origin of all being,
graciously let a ray of your light penetrate
the darkness of my understanding.
Take from me the double darkness
in which I have been born,
an obscurity of sin and ignorance.
Give me a keen understanding,
a retentive memory, and
the ability to grasp things
correctly and fundamentally.
Grant me the talent
of being exact in my explanations
and the ability to express myself
with thoroughness and charm.
Point out the beginning,
direct the progress,
and help in the completion.
I ask this through Christ our Lord.
Amen.

God bless as you study, travel and take your exams.  May your exams and evaluations be full of “A”s and plus-marks!

St. Thomas Aquinas prayer from http://www.appleseeds.org.  (I liked this version best!)

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