A new year, some new classes, and nearly 80 new students. Some interesting things have already transpired, some for which I suppose I asked. I thought it would be neat if my students took a temperament test and then I could review the results and try to discover some of their characteristics quickly. So in class I gave them the web address that I wanted them to go to take the test and it just happened to be one for Catholic Match. I didn’t fully understand what I was setting myself up for until I was preparing to write the address on the board. When I did, the response was typical–some chuckling, a few muffled remarks, and the overall questioning air that seemed to compel me to confess or deny their silent accusation. I did neither, for the most part. Perhaps the next embarrassing thing was telling them that they couldn’t do this assignment at school either, because the school had blocked the address. At times I forget about the person of the high schooler and fail to remember that many trivial things can be made ridiculous when presented to a group of teenagers. Another interesting thing occurred when I reviewed the syllabus and mentioned the school policy on cell phones. In order to make it absolutely clear to them, I added a line that said that failure to comply with the rules would result in harsher penalties. My seniors primarily glazed over that but my sophomore classes picked up on it and some wanted to know what the penalty was. I hedged and simply told them that they didn’t really want to find out.
As I was speaking to my seniors today I tried to present the idea of sanctity to them. I called them to become saints and to not wait for later or to assume that knowing the answers is sufficient. As I spoke to them I realized how much of this I need to remember. I cannot simply spend my day talking about Jesus, I must talk to Him. The more I interact with my students, the more I realize how much further I have to grow in sanctity. The thought came to me today that God is using this job as a way to draw me closer to Himself, that all of the challenges and problems are His way of perfecting me. There is a lot of perfecting that needs to take place. Today I considered my deficiency in love. I want to love only those who like me. Praying outside the abortion clinic in college was my initial experience of forcing myself to love in the face of intense adversity. However, school is different. It is much more of a marathon. It isn’t exhilarating or enlightening to love my students in the midst of their utter humanity. It doesn’t seem heroic, it doesn’t fill me with warm feelings, and I don’t have someone to talk to about how much I feel like I grew in the process. Instead, it is just hard. I don’t want to do it and I can feel myself rebel. Loving to the point of pain. That is my calling and yet I fail to do it so often. I was serious when I told them that I would help sanctify them and they will help sanctify me. Then I realize that if I truly desired to be a saint above all other desires, if my holiness was what I was concerned about more than my physical or mental health, how much more I would do to further that goal. It is often surprising how lukewarm we can be while mistakenly thinking we are so zealous and hard-core. How good it is that we have a God who knows the trappings of human nature because He took them on Himself. But our desire to please Him and live for Him does please Him. And if we are serious, we will accept the grace He offers to live out His will.
MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.