Help Catholic (and public) Schools

The first book in my School Spirit series is finally complete. It is an Educator’s guide for reading the Gospel that all teachers can use to enlighten our students with the “richer and fuller meaning” of the lessons we teach.  Whether you share knowledge in the classroom, home, church, workplace or anywhere else in the greater community, this book will help you spread the Gospel message through your vocation by imitating the master Educator- Jesus. 
Also, by purchasing this book you will help fund the mission of the NativityMiguel Network of Schools, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to serving the poor through Catholic schooling.  
Here is what people are saying about it:
“Teacher and writer, Timothy J. Burdick has crafted a book that equips teachers to proclaim the gospel without speaking a word. A few minutes every morning reading School Spirit will prime teachers to set an example that will bring the living Word of God to their students. And so the gospel that works in our hearts by the Holy Spirit will touch their lives.”  ~Bert Ghezzi, co-author of Discover Christ Developing a Persona Relationship with Jesus
“School Spirit  is not just for teachers.  Anyone who is looking for inspiration for prayer and reflection will appreciate this book.  Tim Burdick takes you through the entire Gospel of Mark in 180 brief reflections, perfect for anyone on-the-go who wants to nurture the spirit on a daily basis but has to work within the reality of time constraints.” ~Br. Thomas Hetland, FSC, Christian Brothers of the Midwest
“Timothy Burdick’s School Spirit taught me how to pause, reflect and see ways that the Gospel is alive and well in our classrooms and schools.  It was refreshing for me to read these Gospel reflections.  They were beautifully organized so that each day I could apply Jesus’ teachings practically in the classroom on a daily basis.” ~Melodie Wyttenbach, Director of Mission Effectiveness, NativityMiguel Network of Schools
Live Jesus in our hearts forever!

The World’s First Love by Fulton J. Sheen


Front CoverVery few books have the ability to envelope one’s mind and soul as much as Fulton J. Sheen’s, The World’s First Love.  I must admit that for the past few months, the majority of my time has not been dedicated to the Guardian Angels of Education.  Rather, it has been dedicated to savoring the spiritual food that this book presents.  On every page it seemed like there is something delectable to chew on, to ponder, and to fall more in love with in regard to Our blessed Mother.  
It has been a month since I finished this book, and as I write this post, I am still enamored with the vibrations of Sheen’s words.  His sheer love for our Spiritual Mother is painted in the eloquence of his words that so beautifully describe her. In this book, he describes Our Lady’s role our tireless spiritual companion and he calls us to recognize her importance amongst the backdrop of modern society.  
One of the arguments he makes is that the roles of both men and women have changed  since the promotion of a equality amongst genders.  He claims that since men and women are becoming more and more “equal” in the economic and social senses, the rearing of “real men” and “real women” has been affected to a point that little honor is given to either of the sexes.  He argues that women and their innate nurturing dispositions are the foundation of functional society.  Like Mary, their ability to foster boys and girls into “real men” and “real women” is pivotal to the survival of our race.  Without strong women, both men and children lack direction and love.
As I stated before, this book is filled with so much spiritual “meat” that every page requires the reader to ponder in their hearts the meaning of Mary’s role in their lives as well as her importance to Christ’s plan of salvation.  It is the best book I have read in many years and I recommend it to anyone who has questions about Mary or the Catholic Church in general.

Live Jesus in our hearts forever!

The Educator’s Life Journey By: Antonio Botana, fsc

In all of the articles I have read throughout my brief, yet very involved Educational career, none have made more of an impact on my Educational beliefs than “The Educator’s Life Journey” by Brother Antonio Botana. This masterpiece draws out a framework for educational success that combines the logical with the spiritual. Through St. De La Salle’s charism, Botana gets straight to the root of what every Christian Teacher’s motivation should be as they go about their daily vocations.

Whether you are serving the poor, the rich, public schools or private, Brother Antonio outlines your mission and allows the Holy Spirit to fill in the lines with your talents.

Please, take the time to read this invaluable and free Lasallian resource. It will certainly help you understand God’s will for the schools in which you serve.

Click here to view the The Educator’s Life Journey in its PDF entirety.

Live Jesus in our hearts forever!

Summer Reading- Enrique’s Journey

We are a nation of Immigrants. Some of us are generations removed from our immigrant relatives while others arrive daily by risking their lives to cross the imaginary borderline that separates them from poverty and hopelessness in the native countries. Their story, and those of our immigrant ancestors is depicted in Sonia Nazario ‘s masterpiece, Enrique’s Journey.

While the story of immigration may be universal for all Americans, the specifics vary in detail. Most of our relatives came by boat from the Eastern Hemisphere while others, like Enrique, have traveled in a more contemporary, but equally dangerous route- atop the ever-curving train cars underneath the blistering Mexican sun.

From the beginning of this book, the reader is enticed by the sheer grit that Enrique must face to travel by himself to the united States from Honduras. While in his middle teens, he embarks on his journey not for economic stability, not for pride, and not for adventure- he does it for love. His mother left him to go al norte when he was just five. He misses her, and he wishes with all of his heart to be with her again.

The author tells Enrique’s story against the backdrop of factual information. She spent years traveling the route that most Central Americans take to enter into the country illegally. Using recent statistics, she paints a vivid picture that encompasses the ideological motives of those who seek a better life for themselves. She joins these ideologies with real life testimonies from those who have lived, and continue to live, through the struggle of globalized poverty.

This book does a fantastic job of joining the pros and cons of illegal immigration into a gut-wrenching love story of Enrique’s life. It is a must read for all teachers, especially those who serve migrant, children of migrants, and impoverished students with problems at home.

For more information on Enrique’s Journey, including pruchasing information, click here.

Live Jesus in our hearts, forever!

Spiritual Reading

Ask any elementary teacher what their recommendation would be to any struggling student and 9 times out of 10, their answer will be “Read!” Whether it is through research, extra practice or even for fun, the unanimous advice will remain the same- we must fall in love with reading.

And why do we offer such great advice? Because we know it works. Even those teachers who don’t like reading very much (we know you’re out there) can agree that if a student is a good reader, they are normally more creative, more conceptual, and more likely to succeed in our classrooms.

In the same way reading affects academic performance, it has the possibility of illuminating our spiritual lives as well. We do this by reading Spiritual books that deal specifically with religion, doctrine, and faith. Through these books, we bring to light our intellectual gifts that God has given us through the books He guides us to read.

St. De La Salle understood the importance of this fruitful practice. In his “Collection of Various Short Treatises,” which is a Spiritual reading piece that should be on the top of every Christian teacher’s reading list. In it, he wrote:

Do not begin reading without placing yourself in the presence of God and asking him by a short prayer for the grace and the light to understand and to practice what you will read.

Never read through curiosity, and do not read hurriedly to get through a book quickly. Stop from time to time to relish your reading. Reflect on and examine yourself about what prevents you from practicing what you read. When it is something you could do, ask yourself why you do not do so. Read your spiritual book as if it were a letter sent by Jesus Christ to make his holy will known to you. Above all, read Holy Scripture with the most profound respect; reverence even the least syllable. Read it with a submissive spirit. Practice what you understand; adore what you do not understand. If you want to know the meaning, ask for an explanation of the passage from those who have the intelligence for it.

Frequently review interiorly and strive to engrave upon your heart what you have most relished in your reading.

At the end of the exercise, do not fail to thank God for the truths you have appreciated and remembered, and beg God to enable you to practice them.

The compete version of “Collection of Various Short Treatises” can be found on the link on the right hand side of this website along with the entire complete works of St. De La Salle.

Like La Salle, we should keep the sacred scriptures of the Bible as our primary source of spiritual truth. Guided by the magisterium, we unite ourselves with Jesus, the word incarnate, through the teachings of His Church.

Let’s make sure to make Spiritual reading, especially of the Holy Bible, a daily practice to help strengthen our faith. Whether it is during the beginning, middle, or end of our day, may we strive to read the letters that God has left us through His most inspired authors of the past.

To steal a quote from Father Larry Richards, “No Bible, no breakfast. No Bible, no bed.”

Live Jesus in our hearts forever!

Those Silly Saints

We Catholics put our Saints on top of a pillar of holiness. But did you know that St. Simeon Stylite lived on top of a pillar to achieve holiness… for 37 years!

The Saints were so human.  They’re also funny and quite entertaining. The book Saint-Watching by Phylis McGinley is a compilation of stories that range from the hysterical to the downright weird of those canonized brothers and sisters of ours.

Here are a few sneak peeks:

St. Christina the Astonishing hated the smell of unwashed flesh. So, when the poor and needy came to honor her during her funeral, her coffin rose to the ceiling to get away from their dirty stench. Being the obedient Nun that she was, she (and her coffin) came back down at the scoffing of the priest doing the service.

St. Bridget could make hens lay eggs on command for visitors. She could also make trees shake their fruit to the ground.

St. Ignatius (who apparently was quite the pool shark) was robbed (not playing pool). Two weeks later, he had heard that his thief had gotten sick. So, he traveled 100 miles on foot to take care of him.

St. Mary Mazzarello, after receiving her last rights, said, “Well that’s my passport. I expect I can leave now!?”

St. Charles Borromeo was apparently a chess whiz. So much that he was once quoted saying, “If the end of the world came, I’d keep playing chess.”

Last but not least, St. John Bosco was commonly thought to be crazy by his co-clergy. When they came to take him to the asylum, he cordially allowed these fellow priests to enter the carriage first. Once they were in, he slapped the horse and yelled “To the asylum!” Since the men at the asylum were awaiting a “crazy man,” they were not surprised to see two that claimed they weren’t John Bosco.

Want more? By the book at ebay or Amazon for a buck and enjoy the softer side of the Saints.

Phyllis McGinley
Hardcover: 243 pages
Publisher: Viking Adult; Second printing before publication. edition (August 18, 1969)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0670167754
ISBN-13: 978-0670167753

Live Jesus in our hearts forever!

Summer Reading- “Meditations for the Time of Retreat”

Summer is upon us which means teachers everywhere will be taking advantage of Summer break. I am hoping that many of us will pick up a good book to help us with our spirituality. The book I am recommending in this entry will do just that. It is called “Meditations for the Time of Retreat” by St. John Baptist De La Salle.

As many of you have seen, I have added a couple of pictures to the bottom of the blog. The first is of St. John Baptist De La Salle (1651-1719), Patron of Christian Schools in the Catholic Church. This man was a pioneer for spirituality in the classroom and established many of the common practices we follow today.

La Salle’s vision went deep enough to establish a religious congregation made up of men who were willing to serve as life-long teachers. These men, today known as “Christian Brothers,” have dedicated their lives to the construction of God’s children inside the classrooms of Christian schools. Their community is a worldwide fraternity that has vowed life to teaching, obedience, poverty, and communal life. In the past 300 years, their ministry has been blessed to cover over 85 countries in which Lasallian schools offer Christian education to over 700,000 children and young adults.

Now that you know the history of the author, I must implore that you read his book, “Meditations for the Time of Retreat.” From the Introduction by Brother Miguel Campos F.S.C. to the direct and logical style of La Salle, this book is a must read for anyone who has been called to the vocation of Teaching. In all truth, there is so much wisdom in this book that it is hard to pick out one quote or phrase that would touch upon the profundity of La Salle’s words. It is simply a necessity for any Christian teacher because it touches on several themes that we practice everyday in our classrooms.  Some of these topics include how to live our Christianity as Teachers, how to discipline our poorly beaving students with dignity, and how to keep all of our pupils away from the sins.

The best part about this book is that it is free. You can download the PDF file at any time. Start on page 412 to read “Meditations for the Time of Retreat.”

If you have trouble, click here to go to the Lasallian website where La Salle’s complete works can be downloaded in English. Then, search for “Meditations for the Time of Retreat,” place yourself in the presence of God and read the words of this great Saint.

Live Jesus in our hearts forever!

Books for Teachers- The Wolf Shall Dwell With the Lamb

The Wolf Shall Dwell With the Lamb:
A Spirituality for Leadership in a Multicultural Community
By: Eric H. F. Law

This book is a great resource for anyone, especially teachers, who find themselves working in a diverse, multicultural setting. The author lays out a very convincing and logical explanation as to how we react to our faith and to our community when two or more cultures are brought together. He uses theological and culturally anthropological sources help us understand how we must be able to work together to achieve the American dream of peaceful diversity that we have been struggling with since the days of our founding fathers.

The author uses many generalities that have the possibility of being taken in an offensive way by the reader. It is recommended that this book be read with an open mind, as it has the ability to uncover certain cultural truths that go unnoticed or ignored by people every day.

In one of these eye-opening arguments, Mr. Law compares Jesus Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection to the faith of certain cultural groups. He notes that minority groups tend to relate more to Christ’s suffering. This comes with good reason in that minorities tend to suffer more than the majority. He claims that the faith of this group looks forward to the hope for the alleviation of problems and the resurrected life the Jesus promises to them.

On the contrary, Law remarks that those of the majority have what is called a “resurrected” faith already. Logically, those who are in the majority (with some exceptions) have not suffered to the point that the minority has. As a result, the people of faith in the majority tend to seek suffering in order to create a spiritual balance that they crave. People of this group tend to look for ways to sacrifice, fast, and give because they live in fear of God’s judgment.

Law stresses that individuals from both groups are destined to go through their own spiritual deaths in order to fully understand their faith. Through this death we become knowledgeable of the sufferings that both groups experience. This “death” serves as a focal point for the times when we find our faith being lived in the constant balancing act of joy and pain, or suffering and resurrection, that life instills upon us. From this focal point, we can restrict the “isms” of our nation and open the lines of communication in our multicultural settings.

When understood with an open mind, this book gives us the keys to operate successfully in the diverse nation we make up. Whether we are part of the minority or the majority, Mr. Law challenges us to ponder his logical statements so that we can truly become The “United” States of America.

Basic details
Paperback: 131 pages
Publisher: Chalice Press (August 1993)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 082724231X
ISBN-13: 978-0827242319

May Jesus live in our hearts forever!