Shut up and listen

If you are anything like me (perish the thought!), your prayer time looks something like this:

You’re knelt before your bed, probably tempted to lean over onto your elbows but straighten your lumbar region and flex your core to endure the posture-filled prayer stance that joins you (ever so slightly) with Christ’s cross.  After getting over the minuscule pain, you start off with one spiritual foot into the direction of God’s presence.  You get so giddy that you start showering Him with requests, praise, hymns, maybe even a few curse words if you had a bad day.  In any event, the first part of your prayer is filled with your words… and so is the middle…. and the end….

I got a wonderful idea when I was praying in this way: if I want to be more like God, perhaps I too should shut up and listen.

I took a page out of my Father’s book and, for the past week, have done as little speaking as humanly possible.  While most people looked at me funny because I was abnormally silent in the presence, it turned out to be an epic week.  I learned about their deepest desires, their needs and what makes them genuinely happy.

The best part- I listened as they solved their own problems through their own words.  By talking themselves through it, they became very satisfied with their discoveries and then thanked me (for doing absolutely nothing).

And so it is with prayer.  I think God’s silence speaks more than his words ever could.  That’s why, when I think about the Bible, I think about those written words as great pieces of advice, but there is so much that remains unwritten.  It is like outer space, we know a lot about it, but there is so much more to be discovered.

The only way to discover anything, then, is through silence, His and ours, because seeping through the barrier of words grows the profound roots of Truth.

So shut up every once in a while.  In doing so, you’ll know exactly when you should speak up.

Open the Floodgates

Summertime is coming to a close and from a Teacher’s standpoint, the floodgates are about to burst open. Luckily for us, we have been up to our knees in rough waters when we made our commitment to serving the uneducated. Since then, the riptide of politics has brought the waters up to our necks and it is now our job to play the role of lifeguards and get as many minds to shelter as we can.

Thankfully, we have a life vest in our faith and an unbreakable ship in our God that is filled with the faithful who have trodden waters much worse and found serenity on the peaceful shores of heaven. Connected to His mast, we wade in the storm with outstretched arms, one extending to our students and one grasped firm to His strong and callused carpenter mitts.

Today, as we embark on another year’s journey on the path to righteousness, may we recognize the souls who have been cast to sea and are begging us to take them to a place of safety, serenity, and surprise. May we be the unbroken link between them and God whose presence is made flesh again in us and whose Spirit is manifested deep within the lessons we teach. To do so would be to fulfill our roles as their Guardian Angels.

Live Jesus in our hearts forever!

Budget Cuts to Education

Realities have a way of humbling us. The reality of today’s educational world is one that has us digging in our sofa cusions for economic resources so that our mission can remain. During the course of what should be a relaing summer, the cold reality is that many of us will wait anxiously to find out whether or not we will be employed in the fall. Then finally, the utlimate reality remains: if we are lucky enough to keep our jobs, what new challenges will we face to ensure the proper education of our students? Will we have the resources we need? Will we have the time we need?


Today’s image of the educational system is not a clear one. Sure, it has never been perfectly drawn out to begin with, but the dimmed hue of the eraser has caused man to question whether or not the masterpiece that is “School” will ever been recognized again. We are being recreated and through this reconstruction process, we are fearfully waiting to see just how much of our structure will be erased.


What we fail to recognize is that this eraser might not be coming from our administration nor our nation or state representatives. It might be from God. In the words of the late Archbishop Fulton Sheen,


“Our declaration of Independence affirms certain basic freedoms, such as the right to life, to liberty, and to the persuit of happiness. But in a previous sentence is ascribes this independence to the fact that all of these are the endowments of a Creator. Because man is dependent on God, he is not dependent on a State. But once dependence on God is lost, then the State takes over the attributes of Divinity and, being material in its structure, crushes the last vestige of the human spirit.” (The World’s First Love).


While we wait anxiously inside our holy communities, God, like a Father disciplining His child, strokes the page of education to fill it with mystery and dependence on Him. In a God-less community, the State takes on this role and slashes funds to services in order to save other material riches. In either case, Teachers are asked to sacrifice so that God can use them to fill in the lines anew.


De La Salle knew this would happen to His community of lay Techers. He knew that progress could not happen without change and great sacrifices. In their vows, his Christian Brothers to this day promise to:


“…unite myself and to remain in Society with the Brothers of the Christian Schools to keep togeth- er and by association gratuitous schools wherever they may be, even if I were obliged to beg for alms and to live on bread alone, and to do any- thing in the said Society at which I will be employed, whether by the body of the Society or by the superiors who will have the government thereof” (Rule and Foundational Doc- uments, 204)


Regardless of how we are being affected by the budget cuts to education, we must remember that God’s plan supersedes the legislature. If we want to make this plan a quicker reality, we must be sure to make it known to our local representatives. Whether we are employed or pink-slipped, remember that there is great joy that comes with sacrifice, both inside and outside of the Christian Teacher community.


Live Jesus in our hearts forever!

Practicing the Presence of God

“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”~Matthew 10: 37-39

If we were to walk into the classroom of any Teacher at any given point during the school year, we can bet that he will be focused on one particular facet of his work amidst the torrent of many others. It could be something as little as a mini-lesson on the capitalization of proper nouns or as big as his classroom management plan. There are millions of parts to our work that require our complete focus at any given time throughout the day.


In today’s reading, Jesus reminds us that our primary focus must always be Him. This is a difficult task for us Teachers because it is so very difficult for us to remember our God when our colleagues, our curriculums, and our students are constantly calling for our attention. When we add our home lives into that mix, the image of Christ in our lives becomes a bit more blurred.


The danger in life comes when we loose sight of our primary celestial focus and replace it with another. When we replace God with our planning, our ambitions, our students and/or our families, we place inside our electricity boxes a current-less thread of yarn as opposed to a never ending battery or life. Without Him, we simply cannot function.


The same goes for our Teaching. When we allow ourselves to be carried away from Jesus by the tides of academics, classroom management, and even our student-teacher relationships, we can only drift so far out to sea before we become frightened and weary. After a while, we get tired of treading water and we simply cannot go on without His mighty hand to bring us back to the shore.


Today, whether you find yourself next to Jesus on the shore or floating away from His sight, find Him in your work at every possible moment. I guarantee your Teaching will become more effective.


Live Jesus in our hearts forever!

Children

Children


My Master speaks in poetry

through the soundless words of His truth.

He stories of His past unknown

by the open souls of our youth.


He composes light within them

to shine with melodious grace,

so all who look upon their joy

can also gaze upon His face.


The young reveal the mystery

like the daybreak fills the night

without their life, we are darkness

but in them, in Him, we find light.


Live Jesus in our hearts forever!


Adoration

You see through me

And vanquish the worries that barricade my soul

From passing into You


Once these obstacles have been removed by your awesome power

I can only stand in awe at the might of Your presence


At the mere thought of Your love

My soul falls to its knees

My body remains seated

My mind heads for the door

And my heart unhinges its lock


Slowly, while I push,

You pull

And I forget that there ever was a door.


For You are everywhere

And in everything

Even a mixture of soul and dust

Like me.


Though my eyes be struck blind, my ears deafened

Your presence becomes all the more obvious


Though my tongue be dumbed and my fingers frozen

The hands of my soul will remained clasped

And my mouth will sing Your name


For You are not the King of this world,

You are merely its creator.

You are the King of a world more special

Where physical senses have little value

And spiritual beings surround Your presence


How glad I am when You call me to be here

With You

Without my body,

And the obstacles that keep it entertained.

Rhythm and Rhyme

So many new sights and sounds have returned to us during this springtime. The sun shines brighter and longer. The birds sing earlier and more often. And the sky is a clear blue making the new greens on the earth glow with life. Perhaps that is why April is the official month for poetry?

Winter’s chill has come to a close, Christ’s resurrection is on the horizon, and the earth awaits this glorious rejuvenation. With that, the Guardian Angels of Education will take a page from our inspired Biblical authors and change the writing style to a more creative form. For the month of April, poetry will be the genre by which we will write. Perhaps in doing so, we might challenge our students to write in the same way, using their intellect and creativity to find the deeper meaning within every topic imaginable- especially God.

Adoro Te Devote
Godhead here in hiding, whom I do adore,
Masked by these bare shadows, shape and nothing more,
See, Lord, at thy service low lies here a heart Lost,
all lost in wonder at the God thou art.

Seeing, touching, tasting are in thee deceived:
How says trusty hearing? that shall be believed;
What God’s Son has told me, take for truth I do;
Truth himself speaks truly or there’s nothing true.

On the cross thy godhead made no sign to men,
Here thy very manhood steals from human ken:
Both are my confession, both are my belief,
And I pray the prayer of the dying thief.

I am not like Thomas, wounds I cannot see,
But can plainly call thee Lord and God as he;
Let me to a deeper faith daily nearer move,
Daily make me harder hope and dearer love.

O thou our reminder of Christ crucified,
Living Bread, the life of us for whom he died,
Lend this life to me then: feed and feast my mind,
There be thou the sweetness man was meant to find.

Bring the tender tale true of the Pelican;
Bathe me, Jesu Lord, in what thy bosom ran
Blood whereof a single drop has power to win
All the world forgiveness of its world of sin.

Jesu, whom I look at shrouded here below,
I beseech thee send me what I thirst for so,
Some day to gaze on thee face to face in light
And be blest for ever with thy glory’s sight. Amen.

~St. Thomas Aquinas, Translated by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Live Jesus in our hearts forever!

I Can Find God In That

“The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to Himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church Part I:27

We are continually searching for God amongst the distractions of the world. Sometimes, we actually find Him. Here’s a small example:

“The pencil is made with graphite as its core, its heart, its foundation. This graphite spills out what the hand wishes it to display. As Mother Theresa once said, “I am merely a pencil in the hand of God.” We too are pencils, writing His every word whether we know it or not. However, this fountain of wisdom is wrapped with wood, unable to touch God’s hand directly. This wood is life, which will not disappear until we have dulled our tips by our active faith, sharpened our interior through life’s difficulties, and turned our lives upside down by God who then can erase our errors. When God has written every word He can through us, and we are merely a stub of nothingness, it is then that He will discard our bodies, look at the words on the celestial pages and say, “it is good.” For what He writes through us echoes in our eternal life with Him.”

In the big and in the small, we have all found Christ, at least a glimmer of His presence, in our lives. Please share how you have recognized Him in your comments.

Live Jesus in our hearts forever!

How a Genderless God Leads “His” Children

Johnny is one of your students. He is a fairly hard worker but a jokester most of the time. He has a smile that can change the classroom environment as quick as lightning and a positive attitude that is infectious among his peers.

At one point, after teaching a lesson on the chemical properties of matter, Johnny is working tirelessly trying to complete a science experiment at his table. You notice a slight bit of confusion on his face as he fumbles through his textbook. You decide to pass by to make sure everything is going well because you know that if Johnny is confused, there is a good chance the rest of the class will follow his lead.

When you are about 2 steps away from his desk, he feels your presence and lifts up his head sharply. With his mind still on the experiment, he throws his hand up and blurts out “Mom? I mean… Mrs. Johnson? I don’t get it.”

The students who are close by begin laughing historically at the idea that Johnny would call you “Mom,” but you get caught up in a moment of silent pride. Johnny has subliminally connected the same sense of comfort that he feels at home with school and, more importantly, he feels towards you a love that is similar to that which he has for his mother. Nothing could be more humbling for you as an educator.

As Christian Teachers, we have been given the responsibility to care for God’s Children as if they were our own. To do so, we take on a parenting role that, in the words of Brother Edward Everett, FSC, “is as gentle as a mother and as firm as a father, so that we can be understood as the visible sacrament of God for each child.”

Teachers, like God, fulfill the roles necessary for their students to progress in knowledge and virtue. Sometimes this means playing “mom” while other times it means playing “dad.”

For pedagogical ways to fulfill these roles in your classroom, consult the genderless creator of all parents by constantly putting yourself in His presence. He too likes it when we call Him “Dad.”

Live Jesus in our hearts forever!

The Desk

“In my classroom there are a multitude of desks and chairs that my students occupy for 5 days out of the week. They are nothing special, but they put up with the wear and tear of my lessons every day.

Beside my desk, which is significantly bigger than those of my students, I have an extra chair that is connected nicely to an old, rickety desk from the 1940s. It looks out of place and miniscule in comparison to mine. Strangely enough, both I and my students find ourselves sitting in it from time to time. It is different and we like things that are different.

This desk never belongs to anyone in particular. It is never assigned to my students. It is always available, always present.

This desk is my constant reminder of Jesus. In it, I am reminded that I teach each student in the same way I would teach the child Jesus. Furthermore, when I am seated in it, I recognize my need to let Him teach me how I can best teach His most beloved children, even if it means letting them teach me a few lessons.

I watch how time and again both I and my students are enthralled by its difference and consistency. Was not Jesus different? Is he not consistent? Was He not beat up and scratched as well?

Each morning, I sit in the beat up desk of old and pray, hoping to recognize His presence when I stand up to do His will. If I do it often enough, I usually find Him not only in the image of the desk, but in the spirits within my students and within the lessons I teach.”


Live Jesus in our hearts forever!