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Magnanimity and More: Lessons for the New School Year from Pope Francis and Hard Knocks

Is September the other January? Do you find yourself saying "Happy New Year" to teachers and students? On her podcast "Happier" Gretchen Rubin shared that some teachers begin the school year with noisemakers and party hats for their students. While you won't find any banners, hats or confetti in my classroom, I have celebrated the new year by showing a few scenes from Hard Knocks Training Camp with the New York Jets.

In preparation for a new season and a new team, Aaron Rodgers is doing what he can to be a positive team leader, teammate and mentor. In Episode Two, he showed up at a team meeting wearing a black and white trucker hat inscribed with the same words he told his fellow QBs at the conclusion of practice (as seen here).
 Those words, that message resonate with one the Pope Francis. They are worth further reflection as we commence this school year.  

In 2013, the Holy Father met with Italian and Albanian students enrolled in Jesuit schools. While he prepared a formal speech (for publication) he went off script and spoke with these young people, answering their questions and engaging in dialogue (the transcription is also included). Both missives are important and inspiring.

He wrote,

In following what St Ignatius teaches us, the main element at school is to learn to be magnanimous. Magnanimity: this virtue of the great and the small (Non coerceri maximo contineri minimo, divinum est), which always makes us look at the horizon. What does being magnanimous mean? It means having a great heart, having greatness of mind; it means having great ideals, the wish to do great things to respond to what God asks of us. Hence also, for this very reason, to do well the routine things of every day and all the daily actions, tasks, meetings with people; doing the little everyday things with a great heart open to God and to others. It is therefore important to cultivate human formation with a view to magnanimity. School does not only broaden your intellectual dimension but also your human one. And I think that Jesuit schools take special care to develop human virtues: loyalty, respect, faithfulness and dedication
Magnanimity—the quality of being magnanimous. The virtue of great and small. How invitational. How practical. How relevant! We can't do the great things, the big things all the time. We want to, we work toward a great heart and mind but it's not easy. It's challenging. Therefore, we must not forget the small things. The day to day tasks and details. Little things mean a lot.
To speak of magnanimity to anyone involved in sports is no stretch. Athletes are constantly working on routine, every day things to get faster and stronger, in order to achieve personal and team wide goals. They strive to be great. None of us get their alone; formation is necessary.

But Pope Francis' message wasn't about soccer or football. He wasn't speaking to swimmers or divers. Rather, if he was—all the better—but the Holy Father's message for students who are guided by a shared tradition and a common faith. And this is where Rodgers has it right.

The Offensive Coordinator, Nathaniel Hackett asks him to speak. Slight caught off guard he says,

Oh I got nothing for you man. I’m just happy to be out here. Excited to be with you guys. All I’m going to say is that this camp is a long camp, right? Let’s just enjoy the little things every single day. Take time to laugh a little bit. Find a conversation at lunchtime with somebody new, don’t always sit in the same little group. Get to know your teammates a little bit. That’s part of the leadership role. And just enjoy the little moments. It goes by fast, and then you get to be really old and gray, and savoring every little moment. So savor them right now, right? Qs on 3, 1-2-3 Qs!”
Number eight starts with appreciation and joy. He looks to the horizon—acknowledging that it's not quick, nor easy. His message is to take each day as a gift. He suggests that humor requires slowing down. I love his recommendation: to talk to somebody new over a meal. Get out of your routine. Move beyond your safe space. Why? Because as leaders, they ought to model that for the good of others.  

This brief message inspired me to think of a personal challenge I have for myself at the advent of this new year. I too am going to make a point of having lunch with new colleagues. In the faculty dining room, it is all too easy to sit with the same group. In fact, I've seen others and I myself have jockeyed to be sure that I am a part of "x" table group. However, this year—call it a resolution or not—I want to let that go. I have a hunch that I will be a better, more well rounded and potentially kinder colleague if I employ this practice.

Those of us involved in Jesuit education believe that "education happens at tables." In Sports and Spirituality, my seniors quite literally sit at tables. At SI, where I teach, we encourage faculty to eat with one another because we learn about other students, our coursework, we disclose our challenges and laugh a whole lot over a meal. And most importantly, we gather at the Eucharistic table for the Mass as an entire school community throughout the year. We begin the year with Mass of the Holy Spirit and conclude it with the Transition Liturgy. The Holy sacrifice of the mass commemorates one of the most important meals in Jesus' lives. So too, it plays an role in our formation, our identity and more. This year, I will pray we grow in magnanimity.

Whether your seek to cherish the little things everyday or eat lunch with someone different, I hope this new year, new season offers opportunities and ways to grow magnanimous. Magnanimity on three!

source https://sportsandspirituality.blogspot.com/2023/08/magnanimity-and-more-lessons-for-new.html


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