I never realized how controversial the simple truth could be until I stepped foot into my classroom. Prior to this I knew in theory that some truths people didn’t like but I was awakened to a whole new realm of this in one of my classes. The truth is offensive. I told my students that the Catholic Church had the fullness of the Truth and I didn’t expect the firestorm that would follow. It wasn’t always a verbal defense that they provided but I could tell that they were mad at me or mad at the Church. And I’m not certain if I ever really solved the problem. Because I am realizing more fully that I cannot make anyone believe. If only I could pray them into accepting the truth. Yet all I can do is pray for them and strive to present the Truth in the best possible way. I find myself desiring to protect the Church against any assaults they might hurl at Her. In the midst of the moment I forget that the Church can defend Herself adequately and I need have no concerns about Her being found lacking. I look at their lack of love for the Church and I am bewildered. It takes a while for me to remind myself that I did not always harbor this love for the Church that I do now.
I desired a mission and the Lord has placed me in the missionary field of a classroom in a Catholic high school. My idealistic view of teaching is not completely gone, although the past couple months has tempered it. How do I give the love I have to them? How do I take their skepticism and help it become belief? It is not because of me that any of their hearts will be converted. I am convinced of this. My beautiful lessons seem to be less than impressive to them. The very things that fill me with joy can put them to sleep. Despite the resistance that some of them put up to the Church, to the Truth, to me, I know that these hours that they spend in my classroom will impact them in some way unforseen to anyone. Initially, I was glad to see them write the correct answers on the paper, knowing that even if they didn’t believe the answer they had to memorize it for the test. Now, I want much more from them. I find myself desiring rebuttal rather than the perfectly formulated answer that they could care less about. I want them to care deeply one way or the other. In some ways it is hard to rouse this generation to action or to convince them to be totally committed to something even though in their core that is what they desire. But then again my own heart is so slow to be awakened and called to action.
How the heart of Our Lord must ache for us, His beloved ones! My desire for them to accept the truth is not as firmly rooted as is the Lord’s desire for them to become what they are called to be. My love for them wavers and changes based on the day. But the Lord’s love remains firm and unyielding. I pray to have His heart for them so that I may love them as I ought. How far I have to go. Where I see battle lines to be drawn, Our Lord sees lost sheep to find and craddle in His arms. Where I see rebellion, Our Lord sees the pain and hurt that they have experienced. Teaching one of my classes about David I was struck again by the call to be a woman after God’s own heart. I am called to become more and more like God and by doing so to become the saint that He desires me to be, that He needs me to be. Because only a saint can fulfill the call that the Lord has placed upon my heart, upon the heart of each person.
While my title may be “teacher” I am striving to embrace more fully the title of “missionary” so that I may remember that every place needs to be evangelized and that this is not my home. For now, my mission field is the classroom and my students are the ones who need to hear the Gospel proclaimed to them. Regardless of how small or large the task appears to me, I must remember that because the Lord wills this of me in this present moment, this task is the most important thing for me. This is my mission, this is my street, this is my life.
“Do not be afraid to go out onto the streets and into public places like the first apostles who preached Christ and the Good News of salvation in the squares of cities, towns, and villages.” Bl. Pope John Paul II (WYD 1993)