Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Why Catholic Education? (Part 3)


As I close, I'd like to issue a challenge. A key component to teaching is to have students self-assess and reflect upon their learning at the end of a unit of study. As such, I'll leave you with two questions. Together we will look into an answer to the first. The second will be yours for reflection. 

1. What is a good Catholic? 

2. Are you a good Catholic? 

Many times this evening I've used the phrase "good Catholic" to describe the end product of Catholic education but I've yet to define it. I propose that as an answer to the first question, we look no further than the successor of Peter, Pope Francis I. 

We all know Pope Francis's story: he is the first Pope from the New World - Latin America. First Jesuit. First Pope to take the name Francis. He moved out of the papal residence and into a humble apartment. He walks and takes public transportation. He cooks for himself. 

From his first act as Pope to everything between then and now he has infused our Church with a new energy, a revitalization, a refocus, a Resurrection of sorts as if he had been planning what he would do when he became Pope all of his life. Time Magazine's Person of the Year - he did more with 9 months than I've done with all 418 of mine combined - has given all of us a new perspective, a new hope, a new way of looking at ourselves, our world and most importantly our Church.

He has given us all a Catholic education. He has taught us what it means to be a good Catholic.

1.2 billion Catholics. The largest ongoing historical institution in the world. He has taught us how to treat others. He has taught us how to be proud of our Catholic faith. He has taught us how to be in the world but not of the world. He has challenged capitalism and forced us to see the poor and marginalized with new and fresh eyes - as people. He has taught us how to remain true to both Church teaching and the Gospel message of love. He embraces a battlefield Church and prefers to be out among the sick, the lonely, the desolate, the sinners as opposed to remaining clean, comfortable and holy up in Church steeples, Papal residences and ivory towers. "I prefer a Church which is bruised," the Pope admits, "hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security." The authenticity of his humility and poverty inspire.

He practices what he preaches and is including himself in the reform he is urging us to embrace- "Since I am called to put into practice what I ask of others, I too must think about a conversion of the papacy." He isn't just challenging the Church or the world, he is a part of this realignment. 

Why Catholic education? Because what the world needs is more good Catholics. People who love more. People who do more to help others. People who see through the lies of our world straight into the truth of the Gospel. We need good Catholics who are more compassionate, patient, humble, forgiving, tolerant. Much like our new Pope, we need not be worried about labels like conservative or liberal. Our Lord, Jesus Christ, was a revolutionary. Let us live in accordance with His teachings without fear and with much joy! Let us be faithful. Let us be authentic. Imagine Churches filled with good Catholics. Imagine our worship. Imagine the music. Imagine if the people in the pews felt an intense burning desire to participate with full, conscious and active participation throughout Mass and in life! Imagine the vocations that could arise and in turn, the homilies and vocations that would result from a Church on fire with God's love! Imagine a Church whose members desired above all else to make God known, loved and served!

Imagine a world filled with good Catholics.

Can you see it? Can you envision it? Can you hear what it sounds like? Taste it? Smell it? Can you feel it?

Together we can make this vision a reality. Together we are making this vision a reality every day, with every student, because of each and every one of our Catholic schools.

Why Catholic education? It can do so much more than raise test scores, improve behavior and offer a faith-based education. Catholic education can create good Catholics...and a few good Catholics can change the world.