Monday, October 12, 2015


I had the amazing opportunity the week before last to travel to Rome for the diaconate ordination of a former student of mine, Alex Padilla. My time at the Vatican offered me ample opportunity to pray, reflect and explore. Being in the home of our Church, seeing the head of our Church, and being in the Church for the Celebration of the Eucharist and an Ordination fed me in many ways. I went to Mass three times in four days. I received the Sacrament of Reconciliation in the Cathedral of St. John Lateran. 
At the same time, I ate too much and I slept too little. I worked too often and I missed my girls. 
Furthermore, I desired more time in Vatican City and Rome but longed to be back home almost immediately after the conclusion of the events of Thursday. I felt incredibly blessed to go while simultaneously feeling guilty about leaving work and my family. 

During our beginning of the year retreat, we focused on the concept of margin – the difference between our load and our limit. While I have definitely longed for more margin in my life and recognized the importance of fighting for it, I have also come to realize that the ideal space between these two concepts – or any two – must be met with a healthy tension. 

Like a rubber band, if it is too loose, it doesn’t hold. Too tight and it breaks. 

But, with an appropriate amount of tension it has purpose and strength. It holds together while still being able to adapt and adjust.

I once confided in a mentor my struggles with feeling like I'm always being pulled between home and work, between my family and my ministry. He advised that perhaps this tension was a good sign that I was keeping these two sides of my life in proper perspective and that maybe it indicated to me the importance of both. Lose that tension, he said, and it may mean either your marriage is in trouble or you need to find something else to do with your career. 

Too much margin and we may lose our way; too little and we snap. But, with an appropriate amount of tension between our load and our limit we can find strength and purpose. It is the space that allows us to engage in healthy risks that push us just beyond our capabilities. It is the balance between entitlement and despair that drive us to accomplish and help. It is the interplay between heaven and earth. It is the fight between who we are and who we are created to be. 

The homily from the Ordination, given by his Eminence Timothy Cardinal Donal, focused on the mystery of the contradictions of our lives of faith – the balance, tension, and margin between submission and freedom, fullness and being emptied, life and death, humility and salvation. St. Therese was a cloistered nun and yet she is now known throughout the world. St. Peter was a cowardly fisherman who was given the keys to the Kingdom of God. 

We, too, can find Christ in this balance, in these interplays and paradoxes. He turns water into wine. He turns sinners into saints. He brings life from even death. 

It is in these contradictions that He can transform us, too. There is grace in living in the balance, the tension, the margin.

Let Him turn your "life upside down, with your head on the ground and your feet aimed heavenward" (Cardinal Donal). Give and you will receive. Knock and the door will open. Fight for balance. Embrace tension. Seek margin. 

Leave everything behind and give Him every part of you. 

It is the safest risky move and the riskiest safe move you’ll ever make. 

Saturday, October 10, 2015

The Right Battles

In light of all of the news about Syrian refugees over the past few weeks, I have been humbled by the fact that I consider my daily crosses to be difficult. My family is healthy. We have enough food to eat, a nice house, two cars, and many other blessings. While I may worry about a reckless driver or unstable person every now and again, I do not live in fear that I may lose my life.  

This video: speaks about the need for teachers to be strategic in the battles that they fight. Not everything is worthy of a battle. Maybe getting a student to follow directions is a great first step; worry about them putting in their best effort later. Maybe getting a parent in for a meeting is more important than getting them to stop sending candy for snack. 

We also need to recognize the truth behind the battles that we should be fighting. Perhaps one of the greatest tactics used by our enemy is for us to get so wrapped up in the things that don't really matter that we lose sight of the bigger picture. The enemy traps us into thinking and feeling that the battle is with a colleague, student, parent, administrator, wife, child instead of with him. The enemy preys upon us so that we argue and hold grudges and fill with resentment so that kids who are hurting inside don't get the love they need, so that cycles of poverty can continue, so that ignorance's roots grow deeper and so that the ranks of those in God's Kingdom do not increase. 

Like the deaf man from the Gospel a few weeks ago, we often cannot hear the cries that matter. Furthermore, we often remain mute to telling others the story of hope in Jesus Christ. May Jesus open our ears so that we can hear the voices in need of our help. May He open our lips so that we can speak the words of His Hope. May the Spirit move within ourselves and our school in such a stirring way that we cannot help but tell others about this Good News! 

We are Hope Spreaders.

We are Love Givers.

We are Truth Tellers.

We are World Changers.

We are Catholic educators.

We are Teachers.

We are Incarnational. 

We are ICS.