Thursday, May 28, 2009

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Pretty uneventful Thursday...after opening car doors at the elementary school as students were dropped off by their parents for the day, I grabbed the mail from the front desk of the school for the rectory staff to sort and spent the morning doing a bit of much-needed reading. I wish I could have said it was entirely spiritual, but being a junkie for politics, I spent an inordinate amount of time browsing websites like realclearpolitics and politico. On the plus side, I DID manage to work out a little worksheet for a presentation scheduled for 11:40 that day - Fr. Steve, Associate Pastor here at St. Ben's, planned to show the excellent vocation promotion video Fishers of Men, followed an investiture of the class into the scapular. They all eagerly put it on, and a couple who were already familiar with this beautiful devotion instructed the others in the proper wearing of the scapular, too. Not at all like the 8th grade I graduated from not even a decade ago! I don't think that even I knew what a scapular was at that age, and I was without question the "goody-two-shoes" and "holy roller" of my class. If I didn't know that, I doubt anyone else in my class did!

The class seemed generally receptive to the movie and Fr. Steve's follow-up questions, but I wasn't satisfied with the amount of time given to the questions afterward. I also felt as though someone a little younger, someone not so far removed from the educational system, might "lower their guard" a bit - I wanted to get the Holy Spirit to set the hearts of these newly confirmed Catholics on FIRE! Alas, the all-school Award Ceremony was about to begin, and it looked as though my scheduled talk with grade 8 was not gonna happen after all. Mrs. McCue and Mr Dalton, the two homeroom teachers, graciously granted me permission to stay after the all-school award ceremony to talk with the class a bit longer.

The Awards ceremony itself was quaint and professional. Fr. Beaven dressed formally, which I'm sure the parents and teachers, though perhaps not the students, appreciated very much. Rachel, the principal, seemed geniunely pleased with how quickly the event transpired, as well; the ceremony lasted just over an hour - a new record, according to her.

For my part, I sat in the back watching (mostly) nameless faces (well, nameless to me, anyway, until teachers announced their names as they came forward for awards) receive countless certificates of achievement. Self-esteem is well-guarded at this school. Hopefully the kids aren't spoiled by it - but if 8th grade is any indication, the students at St. Benedict's know that the world doesn't revolve around them, and this is something EVERYONE NEEDS TO KNOW BEFORE STARTING HIGH SCHOOL. A little humility goes a long way - something I found out at the ceremony today, when I kindly asked a woman sitting in front of me to remove her hat, as we WERE in church. Though I did preface my request with an obligatory "I don't mean to be rude..." quip (it seemed like the pastoral thing to do after about 10 minutes of wavering on whether or not to ask the woman the question in the first place), she responded that she was on chemotherapy and consequently would NOT be removing her hat. I apologized immediately at that point and made sure to talk to her again once the ceremony had concluded - she was quite friendly and it seems as though we're both on good terms now. She's the proud parent of two kids at the school; I pray for her and her children as they cope with the cross of cancer in their lives. I'm glad that true humility - what God wanted, rather than what would have kept me most comfortable - won out at the end. I would never have met this woman if I hadn't asked an uncomfortable but necessary question, and it worked out for the good of both of us at the end.

My return back to grade 8 was bound to be brief - I knew that I had very little time with them befoer dismissla, but I also knew that I didn't need very much time, anyway. I wasn't there to promote myself. I was there as an instrument of the Holy Spirit; I was to do my part to promote vocations, nothing more, nothing less. I hope my 10 minute "grill the seminarian" session did the trick. Plenty of good questions all around, but one student in particular seemed VERY interested in what I call the "business of discernment." I told him what I told Mrs. McCue during the pizza lunch we had with the class following the showing of "Fishers of Men": one of the early signs of a priestly vocation is a hearty appetite. Considering this guy had just devoured nearly an entire pizza for lunch, I think he was able to catch the hint. His curiosity and openness at his age reminds me very much of my own interest in the priesthood during 8th grade and my decision to attend Quigley Seminary; perhaps the Holy Spirit will work to bring this young man down the same path I now trod? Even if he doesn't, I hope that both he and the entire 8th grade learn the value of their vocations; we need more holy men and women now more than ever, and as
Papa John Paul II (soon to be JPII the Great!) said, "Do you think there can be anything greater than to bring Jesus to people and people to Jesus?" How can this happen if we don't have the courage to respond to the vocation given to each of us? Lord Jesus, by the vocation you have instilled in each of us, bring all of us closer to you! AMEN!

1 comment:

  1. Traditionally, gentlemen remove their hats in church, ladies cover their heads (and, thus, wear them.) Of course, men don't typically even wear hats these days, unless they are baseball caps or something. Still, I like it when old pews yet have the hat clips attached to the back sides of seating.

    I'm guessing it was a big, fancy hat such as to make it difficult to see around. One of the reasons for the recommendation of so much "simplification" in the time of Pope Paul VI.

    A funny story has it that men riding the old streetcars used to come home from work while exchanging chatter with all kinds of rough language and harsh talk about others. As the electric transit vehicle passed a Church (such as the one you're serving at there on a main thoroughfare) the car would suddenly go quiet, they would remove their hats and make the sign of the cross out of respect. Then they'd go right back to what they were doing before once the streetcar moved on!