Bishop's Blog

Homily: Calgary Catholic School District Mass

According to a news report, a certain school in Garden City, MI was recently faced with a unique problem. A number of 12-year-old girls were beginning to use lipstick and would put it on in the washroom. That was fine, but after they put on their lipstick they would press their lips to the mirror leaving dozens of little lip prints. Every night, the maintenance man would remove them and the next day, the girls would put them back.

Finally the principal decided that something had to be done. He called all the girls to the washroom and met them there with the maintenance man. He explained that all these lip prints were causing a major problem for the custodian who had to clean the mirrors every night.

To demonstrate how difficult it had been to clean the mirrors, he asked the maintenance man to show the girls how much effort was required. He took out a long-handled squeegee, dipped it in the toilet, and cleaned the mirror with it. Since then, there have been no lip prints on the mirror.

The moral of this story... There are teachers, and then there are Educators. I want to add there are also Catholic educators!

As Catholic Educators - "...Lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace."

Past two years - emphasis on sacramental preparation of our students; but there is a prior reality that needs addressing: A couple of weeks ago I received a letter from a Catholic teacher in which she poured out her soul about the attitude of the staff in her school regarding the Eucharist - we seem to have lost sight of the meaning, purpose and importance - our behaviour or sometimes the lack thereof betrays us

NMI 36. ... I therefore wish to insist that sharing in the Eucharist should really be the heart of Sunday for every baptized person. It is a fundamental duty, to be fulfilled not just in order to observe a precept but as something felt as essential to a truly informed and consistent Christian life.... In many regions Christians are, or are becoming, a "little flock" (Lk 12:32). This presents them with the challenge, often in isolated and difficult situations, to bear stronger witness to the distinguishing elements of their own identity. The duty to take part in the Eucharist every Sunday is one of these. The Sunday Eucharist which every week gathers Christians together as God's family round the table of the Word and the Bread of Life, is also the most natural antidote to dispersion. It is the privileged place where communion is ceaselessly proclaimed and nurtured.

Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life. "Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch... Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people"

  • Not staying on the beach but seizing the moment
  • Developing more of an interior life, being as well as doing
  • Persevering in commitments to family and the community and moving ahead with our values even in the face of problems or the resistance of society
  • Seeing things freshly, through new eyes
  • Embracing our fragility
  • Daring what has never been done before, going beyond negative definitions to those that are positive, being audacious, being a leaven in the world
  • Not being afraid of change; trusting in God's presence even in the most difficult situations
  • Risking to live the gospel in one's daily life in the family, at work, at the parish and in the community
  • Developing school curricula that help teachers challenge the consumer culture
  • Listening to Christ who asks us to go out into the deep water, to unknown territory where our feet don't touch, responding with a deep faith and love that is sensitive to others
  • Trusting, believing, hoping and proclaiming that God is with us

A new school year is opening us like a vast ocean upon which we shall venture, relying on the help of Christ. The Son of God, who became incarnate two thousand years ago out of love for humanity, is at work even today: we need discerning eyes to see this and, above all, a generous heart to become the instruments of his work.

The mission of the Church is very clear: "Go, therefore, make disciples of all nations; baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all the commands that I gave you. And look, I am with you always; yes, to the end of time." (Mt.28:19-20)

General Catechetical Directory - moves beyond the terminology of "religion teacher" to that of "catechists"; re-enforcing the notion that we are in the disciples making business. The missionary mandate accompanies us into this school year and urges us to share the enthusiasm of the very first Christians. We can count on the power of the same Spirit who was poured out at Pentecost and who impels us still today to start out anew, sustained by hope.

"There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to t he one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all."

At the beginning of this school year, our steps must quicken as we travel the highways of the world. Many are the paths on which each one of us must travel, but there is no distance between those who are united in the same communion, the communion which is daily nourished at the table of the Eucharistic Bread and the Word of Life. Every Sunday, the Risen Christ asks us to meet him as it were once more in the Upper Room where, on the evening of "the first day of the week" he appeared to his disciples in order to "breathe" on them his life-giving Spirit and launch them on the great adventure of proclaiming the Gospel.

☩ Frederick Henry
Bishop Emeritus

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