I dare say many of you have spent countless hours dreaming about receiving three different rings: your wedding ring, your engagement ring, and your class ring. While each of these three rings come at different occasions, in each of these occasions, the ring symbolizes the same thing, namely love and fidelity. The symbolism of a ring is beautifully summarized at a Catholic wedding. When you stand before your husband on your wedding day and slide a ring on to his finger you will pray “receive this ring as a sign of my love and fidelity.”1 In exchanging rings with each other you will promise each other what the ring symbolizes, namely your unconditional love and fidelity to each other which bind you in service to each other.
Just as your wedding ring will bind you to your spouse, the ring you receive today is a sign of love and fidelity which binds you in service to your faith, your Sacred Heart Education, and your classmates. If we look closely at the ring that you are about to receive we will see that it symbolizes love in 4 main ways. Your ring represents the love that Villa Duchesne has for you, your love for your Sacred Heart Education, your love for each other and most importantly Christ’s love for you.
When I look at your ring the first thing I notice is that it proudly displays the name of your school which is a reminder of Villa Duchesne’s love for you and your love for her. The best definition I know of love is to will what is best for the other. This is why Villa has pushed you for the several years and will continue to push you across the finish line next year. Afterall love, is the reason your parents, the faculty and staff and the alumnae have sacrificed so much for you to receive your Sacred Heart Education. The only response when love is offered is to love in return and so as you wear your ring, you profess your love for your Sacred Heart Education and your desire to continue to advance its mission for years to come.
Through all of the joy, hard work, and even some sorrows in your time at Villa the love which has surrounded and supported you here has bound you together with your classmates and those who have gone before you and so it is only appropriate that each of you will receive the same ring. Your ring is a sign of unity and a symbol of your love for one another. In wearing this ring you make a commitment to bring the best out of each other. Never forget that the only appropriate response to the love shown to you is to love in return. This is why Jesus gives us a direct command to love another as He has loved us.2 As we prepare to celebrate Holy Week we are reminded that Jesus loved us to the cross, so in receiving this ring He calls each of you to lay down your lives in service to other. This ring compels you to use what this community has given you to serve others because, as Jesus reminds us in today’s Gospel, we will be His friends only if we love one another.3
This love that Jesus has for you is reflected beautifully in your ring which proudly displays the images of Jesus’ Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of our Blessed Mother. The image of their two hearts should be a constant reminder that Jesus has called us His friends. No matter where you go in life, no matter how far away you stray, every time you wear your ring you should be reminded of Christ’s words of encouragement, challenge and never ending love and generosity for you.
In receiving this ring, you are accepting a commitment to accept the love of Christ and to share it with those Christ places in your lives. You are committing to live out St. Paul’s exhortation to the Romans in today’s second reading. You are committing to “bless those who persecute [you] … rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Have the same regard for one another; do not be haughty but associate with the lowly; do not be wise in your own estimation. Do not repay anyone evil for evil; be concerned for what is noble in the sight of all.”4
Ultimately then this ring that you are about to receive is a lifelong pledge of the love that God gives us and by which He unites each of us together in a love that lasts into eternity. It is also your commitment to live out your Sacred Heart Education, to lay down your life in service to others, just as Christ and the Villa Duchesne community has done for you.