Thursday, August 30, 2018

Ring the Bell

"Often what is perhaps fundamentally lacking among Catholics who work in a school is a clear realisation of the identity of a Catholic school and the courage to follow all the consequences of its uniqueness" (#66).

We are in a fight.

If we ever needed the Lord before, we sure do need Him now. The Catholic Church is under attack. I guess it always has been. The forces of evil, having been defeated by the Resurrection of Jesus, have set their sights on turning Christ's Triumph into a Pyrrhic victory. If they're going down, they may as well go down swinging. 

Well, the forces of evil are swinging. And even though as believers we have every reason to trust in God's Providence, we must acknowledge the fight and start swinging back. Bl. Basil Moreau, founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross, states:
I am convinced that Providence, which has in the past done everything necessary for the development and perfection of its work, will continue to bestow on us the most abundant blessings. To insure this, we must be constantly animated by the spirit of zeal and generosity which so holy an undertaking requires. We must place all our confidence in the Lord (Giallanza, p. xviii).
"We must be constantly animated by the spirit of zeal..." Zeal? Great energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause or objective? 

"...and generosity which so holy an undertaking requires." Generosity? The quality of showing a readiness to give more of something, as money or time, than is strictly necessary or expected?

Most of us have tended toward selfish complacency. We justify our excess and delude ourselves into thinking that we are immune to the effects of immorality and impurity. 

I certainly do. Sadly, much like the rich young man who departs from Jesus sad because he has too many possessions from which he does not want to part, I hold on to things of this world: possessions, pleasure, prestige. I live a blessed life but do little to recognize that blessing and spread it to others. I work for the Church. This gives me some semblance of righteousness; it basically makes me a Pharisee.

As a Catholic school principal, I would try to align all aspects of our school to both our mission and our Church. Something as seemingly unimportant, though, as food served in the cafeteria betrayed my efforts to do what's best for children. Chips? Fries? Sports drinks? Ice cream?

And that's just one example.

What if we woke up? The current state of our Church should encourage us to see the need for us to do so.

What if we stood up? Our world is in need of zealous and generous holy women and men who can point us toward the True, the Good, the Beautiful. Instead of leaving, in the words of Fr. Mike Schmitz, the current crisis beckons us to lead!

What if we started - and/or continued with even greater vigor - fighting back? In leading we must lean in to the teachings of the Church, harken back to a reliance upon scripture, and participate with greater regularity in prayer, fasting and the sacraments.

The Church is broken. It always has been and will be precisely because it is human. But, Christ sanctified our humanity and He came so that we might know the way.

Now more than ever, we must follow and imitate Christ with courage and conviction. We must invoke the power of the Holy Spirit in stepping up and out in faith against the forces of evil. And as we do, let us also, as William Saroyan writes, "Seek goodness everywhere, and when it is found, bring it out of its hiding place and let it be free and unashamed."

There is good left in our world - good people, good priests - and it's worth fighting for.

In a time when our faith in the Church is shaken, may our Catholic schools shine as beacons of light and hope. In our schools we hold the promise of a future Church that can learn from the sins of its fathers and learn instead how to stand and fight. In our children we find hope. In the words of St. John Paul II:
I have seen enough evidence to be unshakably convinced that no difficulty, no fear is so great that it can completely suffocate the hope that springs eternal in the hearts of the young. You are our hope, the young are our hope! (
Our Catholic schools are uniquely positioned to impart true education - an education that encompasses both the intellect and morality - at a time when the rest of the world relies on relativity and you doing "you" instead of what's right.

Teachers, we need you to be imitators of Christ. Be the prototype for your students to follow all the way to Christ Himself. Believe that you write on the very souls of your students. "Teaching has an extraordinary moral depth and is one of man's most excellent and creative activities, for the teacher does not write on inanimate material, but on the very spirits of human beings."
(The Catholic School on the Threshold of the Third Millennium, #19) Every moment matters. Every moment is incarnational, a chance to be Christ to others.

Principals, we need you to position your schools in such a way that you would have "the courage to follow all the consequences of its [your Catholic school's] uniqueness" (The Catholic School, #66). Put Christ and your students in the center of everything that you do within your school. Fight for your students. Demand the best from everyone that works for our children. Support those within your schools to be better teachers and better Christians. Make your schools more unabashedly Catholic: celebrate the Eucharist more and with greater reverence; make the Sacrament of Reconciliation available; institute Adoration; pray the Rosary; learn about any or all of the things that make us Catholic. 

Parents and families, the battle is on your doorstep, if not already in your homes, too. Put down your devices, put aside the pursuit of more money, and things, and luxuries. Stop binging on Netflix and playing Fantasy football, quit following the feeds of Facebook, and put your family first. 

Students, you have a voice. And you, more than adults in most cases, know good from bad and are willing to act on it. Help push us adults to holiness. You are worth it and worthy of our best. Inspire the holy women and men in your lives to act boldly in support of our Lord and in opposition of the enemy. Trust in Providence if not people. To reiterate the words of Bl. Moreau, trust in "Providence, which has in the past done everything necessary for the development and perfection of its work, will continue to bestow on us the most abundant blessings."

Catholics, our Church and our world is under attack. Let's pray for the victims of abuse and all those impacted by the effects of this evil. Let's pray for our priests and religious that with greater strength and fidelity they may live their vocation and lead our Church. Let's fast. Jesus tells His disciples that the toughest demons require both prayer and fasting (Mark 9:29). Let's harden our resolve and not our hearts. Let us invoke Mother Mary and the Holy Spirit that they may lead, guide and protect us so that we may lead, guide and protect our children, our weak and vulnerable, our world.

Let's wake up.

Let's stand up.

Let's fight.

Ring the bell.

Giallanza, J. (2010). Praying from the Heart of Holy Cross Spirituality. Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press.