Perhaps the World Ends Here

Perhaps the World Ends Here

I found this poem through a podcast that has a “poem of the day” that they read and analyze a bit. While I often forget, reading and learning more poetry follows a desire I have to immerse my life in more beauty.

The poem is called “Perhaps the World Ends Here” by Joy Harjo.

The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live.

The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table. So it has been since creation, and it will go on.

We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies teethe at the corners. They scrape their knees under it.

It is here that children are given instructions on what it means to be human. We make men at it, we make women.

At this table we gossip, recall enemies and the ghosts of lovers.

Our dreams drink coffee with us as they put their arms around our children. They laugh with us at our poor falling-down selves and as we put ourselves back together once again at the table.

Continue reading “Perhaps the World Ends Here”

You Do Not Belong to the World

“If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first.  If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you.” 
 -John 15: 18-19
The last two days of the semester, I decided to discuss areas where the culture and the Church are at odds.  I knew this would result in a list of topics that often are discussed with passion and heat.  The areas where the Church has a politically incorrect stance that is unforgivable according to moderns.  Overall, the days went well, I believe.  My goal was not to incite riots, but to try to have them apply 12 years of Catholic education to what they will undoubtedly encounter in their secular lives.  
On the board they listed as many of the “controversies” they could think of and then we democratically narrowed them down to the top five.  The top five list varied greatly between the different class periods, but a recurring topic was gay marriage.  Then they brainstormed the common reasons our culture has for defending the stance it holds on these topics.  We narrowed this list of reasons down and I assigned one reason to each group, some reasons taken by a few groups.  In the groups they were supposed to come up with ideas for how the Church might respond to these specific reasons.  It wasn’t a matter of finding an encyclical or Catechism reference, but of applying what they’ve learned for years to specific questions and concerns.  I believe the idea is a great one (of course, I came up with it) but the method needs some creative tweaking.  
The different groups then tell the class how the Church might respond, we discuss a bit, and then move to the next topic.  It isn’t intended to be an exhaustive treatment of the topics, but rather, an opening to begin the discussion of applied theology.  Theology that leaves the written page and textbooks and enters authentically into the human experience.  I don’t believe it is a stretch to do so, but it requires practice.
In my last class period of the day, we only got to discuss one topic.  I knew it would be heated because after five months of classroom time, I’ve come to know some of the different personalities of my students.  I knew who would be upset and I wasn’t looking forward to being seen as a backward bigot.  But if I truly believe what the Church teaches, I must refrain from presenting it in an apologetic manner, unless we mean the art of apologetics.  The order was not kept but turned into a class discussion, one I fought to not have dissolve into chaos and arguments.  I was partly successful.  
I approach the topic of gay marriage with the mentality that I love the Church and I know the Church loves me.  That is not how the culture proceeds.  To me, it seems that the culture looks to hate what the Church teaches, and sometimes feels surprised if there is an area of agreement.  A few students were content to use phrases to challenge me and sit snugly surrounded by their group of like-minded friends.  I tried hard to choose my words carefully, hoping they would convey truth and love with gentleness.  
In the end, I’m not certain I changed any minds or influenced any of them.  There came a point with ten minutes left of class that I decided to salvage what I could in a speech I’ve given different years to my out-going seniors.  I asked them to consider the Church’s motivation, even if they disagreed with her teachings.  Is the Church really holding onto these beliefs because she wants to control people’s sex lives?  Is she doing this because she loves to be hated?  No.  I challenged them, in the midst of their disagreements to consider that perhaps the Church teaches what she does out of love and because she believes it is true.  If Jesus was not met with popularity and instant agreement on His teachings, it would make sense that the Church would face a similar fate.  
The room was quiet and attentive, even if some of them were perhaps raging inwardly, plotting how they would present my intolerance to their parents and friends.  Of course, I hope they don’t hate me, but that is out of my control.  In a conversation with another Theology teacher earlier today, we spoke about how it isn’t our responsibility that the students accept or live the Truth, but it is our responsibility to teach what the Church teaches.  I believe, that with great imperfection, stumbles, and ignorance, I have done that.  So I take comfort in knowing that my minimal discomfort today, a little drop in the oceans of pain others have experienced, is united to the sufferings Christ bore.  
“Remember the word I spoke to you, ‘No slave is greater than his master.’  If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.”  –John 15:20a

Step One: Be a Saint

I know that I am far from being a saint, yet I have this great desire to be one.  Over the past few years I have begun to realize the beauty and necessity of friendships rooted in Christ.  Some friends that I have I would love to speak with daily yet even when months separate our communications, we are able to pick up right where we left off.  Sisterly spiritual encouragement is something for which I am presently grateful.  While they aren’t necessarily my biological sisters (although sometimes they most definitely are), we have a friendship that digs deep into the heart of the matter.  I am able to cut directly to the truth and not hedge around political correctness.  I want these e-mails, letters, and phone calls to be saved as aspects of these stories of souls on their way to Heaven.  Of course this evidence would immediately reveal our imperfections but they would also unearth the deep desires of our hearts.  It is the beauty of the Body of Christ, separated by space and time yet united in the intimacy of Our Lord’s Eucharistic Heart.  When I encounter priests, religious sisters, elderly, young people all striving for Christ, I am renewed and reinvigorated.  The Church is not dead.  She is marching onward.  She is wounded, She is weak, She is comprised of sinful people.  Ah, but She is being sanctified.

Persevere, dear readers, in running the race for Christ, in striving continually for holiness.  Look not at what you are, but what He desires you to be.  Focus not on your imperfections but on His perfections.  Never put out the desire to be a saint.  God wants it of you and the world needs it of you.

“Dear young people, the Church needs genuine witnesses for the new evangelization: men and women whose lives have been transformed by meeting with Jesus, men and women who are capable of communicating this experience to others. The Church needs saints. All are called to holiness, and holy people alone can renew humanity. Many have gone before us along this path of Gospel heroism, and I urge you to turn often to them to pray for their intercession.”   -Pope John Paul II

In times of darkness Our Lord raises up saints.  Well, there is no need to ask if this is a time of darkness.  Therefore, we must be saints.  Anything less is settling.

 

Papa Francesco



His Holiness Pope Francis



“Francis, rebuild my Church which is falling into ruins.”

Perhaps Our Lord spoke these same words to the new pope as he accepted a new cross to be embraced for the sake of the world.  I do not know this pope but I love him already.  Pope Francis.  Simple and humble–his few moments of publicity have merely seemed to reconfirm that image.  Sometimes I am amazed by my love for the Church.  I do not think this love is even enough, but it causes my heart to reach out in faith and love to a man I have never met but one for whom I already feel an attachment.  My students, upon seeing a picture of the pope, gave a dissatisfied sound.  Their thoughts probably centered on disappointment that the pope seemed to be old.  How little they know!  This Vicar of Christ will do great things.  He knows that he cannot do it on his own.  He desires for us to pray for him.  Before blessing the crowd, Pope Francis invited the people to pray for their new leader.  Re-watching the clip at home I was moved to tears.  This morning I was asking the Lord to end this week, this school year because I was finished and tired.  We received a beautiful new pope and I felt suddenly re-energized!

The media will attempt to destroy him over the next few days and weeks.  Lies will circulate and they will try to poison the minds of the public.  And in many ways, it will sadly work.  But I cannot forget the sight of thousands of people waiting in the square for the white smoke to rise, signaling the start of a new papacy.  The youth were present and filled with such joy.  That is what the media cannot disguise.  Such pure joy emanated from St. Peter’s Square as the billowing smoke proclaimed that a new Shepherd had been chosen.  In my classroom miles away from Rome, I could feel the energy and life of the Catholic Church as depicted on the livestream video.  I wasn’t trying to be dramatic but my students could see my joy.  It was tangible.  That is the hope of the Church.  We have joy!!  Yes, I am a young woman.  Yes, I love the Church.  Perhaps the media is right–there aren’t too many people who are like-minded.  But the joy of the Lord is our strength.  And Truth is with us!  Over the past few days I have come across a few articles mocking and belittling the “new evangelization” saying that it will never work because the Church can never win back the people.  Apparently God thinks otherwise.  This Church, as evidenced by the mass of people, by the sheer joy of Catholics around the globe, by her steadfastness and courage, is not dead.  She is very much alive. 

The Church does not look like the world wants Her to look.  I hear my students speak of the old-fashioned aspects of the Church and how She needs to catch up to the rest of society.  I love Her.  Her beauty is beyond comprehension and Her depths are unable to be plumbed.  She is my mother, truly.  And today the princes of the Church entrusted Her to a cardinal from Argentina.  This pope is humble and knows he cannot do all that is being asked of him.  So he asks for our prayers and then will entrust the Church to Our Lady tomorrow.  The Lord does not fail.  Pope Francis will be persecuted, to be sure.  We will be persecuted if we truly embrace a Christian life.  Church Militant, let us enfold our already beloved Pope Francis in prayers.  How little my problems seem when I think of the task that now lies before this man.  He will lead the Church on earth and I have simply to teach a few teenagers about a God and Church I deeply love.  Come, Holy Spirit, overflow on Pope Francis.  May he rebuild your beautiful Church and show us the pathway to Heaven.

Deo Gratias!

“Thank you, my God, for placing in my heart such a love for the pope.”  –St. Josemaria Escriva