Kathryn Lopez

"Tell them that you were forced to learn more historical dates and names than you ever thought that you could remember, and then tell them about the heroes and villains of history you will never be able to forget," McTeigue said. "Tell them why you think that some dead poets should stay dead, and then read aloud for them the poems that you wish to remain always alive in you and in our culture." He added: "Tell them that ... you have learned how to be a learner, you have learned how to be a friend, and that you have learned how to find God in all things."

McTeigue also encouraged three bold things. Three things that, outside of the campus of Ave Maria, may sound not only radical but also a bit insane. He encouraged close-mindedness, judgmental views and intolerance.

Closed-mindedness, because "G.K. Chesterton said that the human mind is like the human mouth -- both are meant to close down on something solid."

Judgmental views, because we have to know the difference between good and evil, the beautiful and the ugly. We owe it to ourselves and the people around us, and we owe it to the communities we live in. "Yes, prejudice is wrong; but a well-honed and hard-won habit of good judgment is a hallmark of moral and intellectual maturity," McTeigue said.

And, finally, intolerance, because "Socrates was intolerant of the Sophists. Moses was intolerant of Pharaoh. Jesus was intolerant of the Pharisees. Frederick Douglass was intolerant of slavery. Blessed Rupert Mayer was intolerant of the Nazis. Blessed Mother Teresa was intolerant of abortion. Blessed Pope John Paul was intolerant of the culture of death. Intolerance can be a beautiful thing -- you just need to know how to do it properly."

This does not mean a refusal to listen. This does not mean you're always right. But it is an affirmation that there is truth out there, within your grasp. With a little humility and confidence, and a rootedness in things eternal and even historic and cultural, with friends and teachers along the way, you can keep building a culture that seeks more for itself than watching Snooki and playing hooky. Perhaps you've heard about our culture of adolescence. You can lead us into something else -- you can actually be discerning adults.

You don't have to say "Ave Maria," you don't have to be a believer, you don't have to be a 20something grad of a Catholic college in Florida, to consider that the good father may have left us all with a little gift this summer. Wisdom is not a college degree. It's having some idea what to do with what we've been given, every morning and every evening and all times in between.

Kathryn Lopez

Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, writes a weekly column of conservative political and social commentary for Newspaper Enterprise Association.