“No one should fear to undertake any task in the name of our Saviour, if it is just
and if the intention is purely for His holy service.” Christopher Columbus
Dear Parents and Friends of St. Michael’s School,
The second Monday in October has been a recognized federal holiday since 1937 commemorating the arrival of Christopher Columbus to our continent. Today, only 22 states still honor Columbus (California is not included), several states observe Indigenous People’s Day, while South Dakota celebrates Native American Day. The world is ever-changing and what was once considered acceptable is is no longer suitable. That is why it is important to study our history, recognize both the good and the bad situations, and as in all things, try not to repeat our mistakes.
Columbus, along with other early explorers, possessed a wealth of admirable traits, including an adventurous spirit, patience (he waited 10 years before his first voyage), and a commitment to faith. They each took huge risks in their adventures: voyages took months or sometimes years, and they often ran out of food, water, and other supplies. They were not afraid to encounter new people, and they had to learn how to communicate with them in order to trade. Of course we now know that some of the explorers exploited the native peoples, but others were respectful of the societies they encountered.
Columbus crossed the ocean four times in small wooden ships, without the use of modern instruments, and his voyage in 1492 led to the first sustained contact between two very different worlds. He was motivated by his faith (and maybe a little gold), but his intent to evangelize was a model for the generations of Catholics that followed. Choosing Columbus as their namesake, The Knights of Columbus, a fraternal, religious organization with nearly 2 million members, provide educational, charitable, religious and social welfare as well as actively defend Catholicism worldwide.
While of course it is necessary to teach our children what our predecessors did wrong, it is also important to teach them what they did right. A few weeks ago, I wrote about that precious space in time between stimulus and response. We each hold within us the choice to react in a positive way or in a negative way when we are confronted by unkind words or actions. The same holds true when we face challenges. In that precious space in time between struggle and action, we have the power to choose how we will respond. Will we give up or will we persevere? Will we succumb to our emotions, or will we push past the pain (and sometimes it takes years) in the hope of one day realizing great success?
Columbus and all of the early explorers overcame myriad dangers, survived a multitude of harrowing encounters, and endured hardships, scarcities, and uncertainties as they journeyed to far-off lands. Their tenacity and spirit of adventure is worthy of admiration and replication, despite their shortcomings. I think our children could learn from their example.