In the fourteenth century, Catherine of Sienna penned these words: “If you are what you should be, you will set the world ablaze.” As adults, most of us have a sense of who we are- or who we should be. We comprehend what our capabilities are and recognize when we are not living up to our potentials. Furthermore, Catherine also implied that when we are faithful to the plan God has intended for each of us, incredible things happen.
This past weekend, I found some time to do some reflective reading. After reading these words of Catherine of Sienna, I reflected on how as educators, it is important that we establish connections between the Gospel and the everyday lives of the children who fill our classrooms. This is a huge task, one that continues to challenge us daily. Children need to know that even at young ages, their abilities to set the world on fire have just as much potential as any adult’s. Children need to know that following the Gospel message encourages them- and frees them- to set the world ablaze. Children need to recognize their gifts and talents that are unique to each of them, but then be willing to share these gifts with the greater community. In Paul’s letter to the Romans he writes:” We have many parts in one body, but all the parts don’t have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually part of one another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us exercise them.” It is an absolute joy for me to witness the many different ways our children share their gifts and talents with the greater community. I’ve shared many with you already this year. Our school is blessed.
Pope Francis has shared ten suggestions of what we all can do during Lent. Here are a few:
- Do something: “Lent is a fitting time for self-denial; we would do well to ask ourselves what we can give up in order to help and enrich others by our own poverty. Let us not forget that real poverty hurts: no self-denial is real without this dimension of penance.”
- Take part in the sacraments: “Lent is a favorable time for letting Christ serve us so that we in turn may become more like him. This happens whenever we hear the word of God and receive the sacraments, especially the Eucharist. There we become what we receive: the Body of Christ.”
- Prayer: “Lent is a time of prayer, of more intense prayer, more prolonged, more assiduous, more able to take on the needs of the brethren; intercessory prayer, to intercede before God for the many situations of poverty and suffering.”
- Help the Poor: “In the poor and outcast we see Christ’s face; by loving and helping the poor, we love and serve Christ. “
Real hope for the future comes from giving generously of ourselves now. Matthew Kelly writes in his book The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic: “But you and I, we are the music makers; we are the storytellers, teachers, and poets; we are the men and women of vision and leadership. Let us sit with God for a few minutes each day and dream with him, and with the vision he places in our hearts, go out into the world with a contagious love that cannot be ignored.”
Perhaps over these weeks of Lent, take the time, as I will be, to spend a few minutes with God each day, just listening. Incredible things can happen. And then consider acting on one. Just last year, one of our parents made it her mission to write a kind note to someone different every day during Lent. It could have been a note of thanksgiving, appreciation, forgiveness, love etc. I was a lucky recipient of one of those notes, and I can tell you it was both transforming and inspirational. Remember, incredible kindness can happen every day! Simple acts can be so transforming…try it!