There are times when I am teaching and I realize that the different experiences I have had in my life have greatly shaped what and how I teach. The other day we were talking about the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River and the descent of the Holy Spirit. This naturally led to thinking about different places in the Bible where the Spirit has descended. Pentecost was one of the first answers–probably because it is the most used example and because most of my sophomores are going through Confirmation right now.
Whenever I speak about the Holy Spirit I think of one of my friends from college and how they would laugh at me now. My time in college greatly changed my relationship with the Holy Spirit. There is still much work to be done but I would never have had the conversation I had with my students if not for different people in my life. I told one of my classes that what happened at Pentecost still happens today. That people actually do speak in different languages and that people are still being healed. My example of people speaking in different languages didn’t seem to impact them but when I told a story of someone I knew who was healed, that was an altogether different story.
“You know her?”
“Yes.” I went on to tell them that I was pretty good friends with this person.
“Whoa! Like you really know her?”
There was more that I wanted to share with them but I didn’t want them to begin to disbelieve. Even as I was telling them about the power of the Holy Spirit I could feel their disbelief reconfirm my belief. So often we are willing to chalk up the incredible and miraculous to untrue or mere exaggerations. It was as I was telling my students that miracles do happen that I began to ponder if I still believed it. Not that I doubt miracles but I think too often I have the tendency of not giving the chance for the miraculous the credibility it deserves.
I desire to invite the Holy Spirit back into the classroom. As a Catholic school we have little problem talking about Jesus. But what if we allowed the Holy Spirit to become more than a little dove that descends upon Old and New Testament figures but rather is living and active in our daily lives? What if the students could know that the Holy Spirit can radically transform their lives if they are open? Perhaps for this to happen their teacher needs to reach for an even deeper relationship with the Holy Spirit and allow Him to revolutionize her teaching.
What if we taught in such a way that conversion was the primary goal and that the necessary consequence of that would be learning the material. I don’t understand how this can happen exactly or what would be necessary for this to take place, but I desire for it to happen. If I taught English I would still pray for my students, but as a Theology teacher my main prayer is for their conversion and then secondarily for them to learn the material. The battle is breaking into their world and showing them the importance of their faith now. That must be a task that only the Holy Spirit can accomplish.
Veni, Sancte Spiritus.