If we want to be great, all we need do is invoke the Holy Spirit.

That’s the message Archbishop Bernard Hebda gave on Sept. 22 to 12,000 Catholic school students in grades four through eight from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. On that day, the archdiocese initiated what they hope to be an annual event – an all-school Mass of the Holy Spirit to open the academic year. Auxiliary Bishop Andrew Cozzens and 60 priests concelebrated the Mass.

"But we understand that we need the Holy Spirit if we are going to be great," Archbishop Hebda said. “And all that we need to do is to ask for the Holy Spirit. That's how great is our God's love, that all we have to do is to ask."

It took nine months of planning and 220 school buses to get the students from 79 Catholic schools to CHS Field where the St. Paul Saints play. No small effort on the part of the event’s sponsor, Catholic Schools Center of Excellence — a Minneapolis-based non-profit organization.

Masses of the Holy Spirit are used to mark the beginning of important Church events and dates back to the Jesuits in the 16th century.

What better way to kick off a school year?

That in and of itself touched my heart, but I was even more touched by Archbishop Hebda’s message to the students.

He gave them a simple recipe for success: Believe in God’s love and ask for the Holy’s Spirit’s help.

Really, this isn’t only a recipe for a successful school year; it’s a recipe for a successful life.

Archbishop Hebda’s words remind me of what St. Paul wrote about the Spirit in his First Letter to the Corinthians.

“And we speak about them not with words taught by human wisdom, but with words taught by the Spirit, describing spiritual realities in spiritual terms.” (1 Cor. 2:13)

No words taught by human wisdom – including those taught in an educational setting – can bear real fruit unless they are taught through the Holy Spirit.

We can teach children all the nuts and bolts of math, grammar, science, and any other subject under the sun. But, if we do it without enlisting the aid of the Holy Spirit, we’re imparting knowledge without wisdom.

There’s a difference.

No skill is worthy unless it’s used for the sake of building God’s Kingdom and giving glory to him. The Holy Spirit enables us to accept knowledge and use it wisely and in a godly way.

Archbishop Hebda went on to say, "My hope, that of Bishop Cozzens, that of all of these priests and deacons, that of all of your parents, and parishioners, is that as we ask for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit this day that we become men and women who are bold and brave in proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ, that we're able to share the good news that we have a God who loves us without end, a God who forgives us when we sin, a God who gives us second chances, third chances, a God who calls us to greatness."

We have a God who calls us to greatness, and that’s worth celebrating.

What a wonderful way to start a school year. In fact, what a wonderful way to start any endeavor.