Education is up in the air these days. Our schools are struggling. How will kids be educated?
Our faith formation programs are struggling too. The Mass and sacraments–ordinary ways we pray–are drastically curtailed. What do we do?
Could our homes and families become our churches? Can we find teachers and temporary sacraments there?
A friend of mine was in prison for awhile and ended up once in solitary confinement after a fight he had with another inmate. He told me he remembered in the dark what a nun had told him about the rosary. Ten Hail Mary’s and an Our Father. He started counting the prayers on his fingers and, after awhile, he found a great peace came over him, so much so that after getting out of confinement he asked the chaplain for a rosary. It led to a profound conversion. He was changed by the experience there in the dark.
We’re living in the dark these days, but do these days have to diminish us? Maybe we can learn to pray more simply these days. Simple prayers we may have abandoned, maybe there’s a bible or a prayerbook lying forgotten in a drawer. Simple prayers are always the best, because God takes simple form to come to us. Jesus came “in the form of a slave,” remember, he used simple things like bread and wine to bring us his greatest gift.
This could be a time to pray simple prayers and to teach them to our kids. You never know when they’ll bring them peace.
Dear Fr. Victor… let us talk about the Gospel of the Slow Learner and How God can use the Whole World as a Catechist for the Poor in Spirit…
I am the slowest of learners…
a cradle Catholic…
I have a Catholic education
through high school until my senior year…
Class of 1964… that’s 45 years ago… and much of its shelf life has gone out of it.
I had only a couple of semesters of college and quit because I was flunking out. I couldn’t keep up. Everyone could learn faster than I could. Even if I bought the text before class started… by midterms I was behind. My academic record a litany of incompletes. Since then, a few more attempts – but with the same result. No degree. I’ve read a lot… but not in a systematic way. I don’t have the vocabulary of the academy … third person. And I write in sentence fragments because my rules of punctuation and grammar got lost long before I started having senior moments. I write in first person singular because I truly don’t remember who said what in my reading over all these years. Plus, my first memory at age 2 was of the Presence of God…and life is my catechist through the Grace of the Holy Spirit.
Pluralism? — kay passa? Pluralism? I have know Hindus but I can’t tell you 5 things about Hinduism. I know Buddhists but I can’t tell you anything about Buddhism… I have known scientist who speak the language of science… so I learned just enough ‘science’ to talk to them in a language they could understand.
A few weeks ago, I was having lunch in an Asian Restaurant. The waiter spotted my chaplet on my wrist — but he ‘saw it’ as Buddhist prayer beads and mentioned it to the cashier. She came rushing over and asked if I were Buddhist. I replied no, removed the chaplet from my wrist and showed her the Cross… She a long, long way from home shared with me in very broken English her homesickness. She described a devotion that gave her comfort and consolation… Every word she said reminded me of the Blessed Virgin Mary. I know she was talking about Buddhist ‘stuff’ but to the ear of my heart — I heard the most vivid description of Mary! God was teaching me about Mary using the ‘language’ of Buddhism… not the doctrines or –ismness of Buddhism. What was important though, was this woman opening to me a complete stranger, her woundedness… her brokenness… in complete trust. God was using her to teach me more about Our Blessed Mother…
I can ‘speak’ just enough Buddhist, to get me from the airport to my hotel and maybe report missing luggage…. using the parable of tourist language courses. I can speak just enough Buddhist to let people know I mean no harm and I come in the Peace of Jesus Christ… and I listen with the ear of my heart as Jesus whispers… can you see me here? can you hear The Word of God in their poverty of spirit?
And Gandhi! — I don’t know anything about Hinduism… Some how he was a catechism on what it means to Live the Sermon on the Mount — today, in the then 20th century. How was it possible that he could so remind me of Jesus!.. It was like the two guys meeting Jesus on the Road to Emmaus! They recognized him in the breaking of the bread… and how their hearts were stirred. And no, I don’t believe in reincarnation or anything like that… It was about the Living Word of Jesus Christ flowing through the Beatitudes spoken on a Mount centuries ago ringing true in my heart today.
I was in the Air Force, I made dog tags for those going to Vietnam. I walked them through their dying as I filled out their forms. I did that day after day… week after week until my heart just broke. Actually, I did last very long at all. Years later, it was Gandhi who reminded me that EVERYTHING that Jesus taught was true today and forever. Gandhi had lived more like Jesus than a whole lot of people I was being taught to regard… it was the gap between the teaching and the living of the teaching TODAY that was the problem.
When you’re sitting there making dog tags for your brothers and sisters, you aren’t gonna quote the Council of Trent to help the day move along!
There was no a crisis in faith… but rather faith that matured into fearless love by the grace of God… they reminded me of Jesus… and I sat humbled by their poverty.
The faith that had become fearless love shone in the faces of those who taught me about the nonviolence of Jesus… his unconditional love for us… sometimes a famous face reminded me of Jesus… sometimes the most ordinary of voices sounded like Jesus…
and everything and everyone refers back to the Source of all Love…
Lord of All, the simple and the complex!
Thank You for these gifts we receive these days: lengthening Darkness, time to Ponder, Pray, Recall, Hope, Connect with You and our fellow human beings – all created and given by the Giver of Good & Perfect gifts. Love & Amen!
Dear Father Victor, your post moves me to grow in ways that are simple, yet sometimes most profound. This pandemic-imposed Solitude demands no less and gives us the opportunity to find God and in so doing find ourselves. And it is also a time to pray for family. No kids, but 20-something nieces and nephews. A generation that needs prayer. I learned from GMC that doing it one day at a time is the best way to learn and pray now. And see whatever the Day brings….