One Little Success for the Holy Spirit

It is the little things that seem to make a world of difference.  I remember reading a quote by a saint that essentially critiqued the readers for allowing their emotions to control them so much.  That we allow ourselves to become unduly happy when things go well and inordinately depressed when things go badly.  Instead, we are to remain more constant, trusting everything to the Lord.

I do not do that very well.  Nevertheless, today is one of those days that I am perhaps unduly happy.  I’ll take it.  There were a couple moments today that I felt a beautiful joy.  The simple thing of placing in the classroom another tissue box decorated by a student in a Theological theme.  Silly, perhaps.  I just loved the idea that even my tissue boxes are decorated with Scripture and pictures of saints.  The little things.

Today I felt elated as I won a victory when I didn’t even know I was in a battle.  A couple weeks ago I was perusing an online Catholic bookstore.  I love books.  I love to buy books.  I wish I could buy more books.  I saw that Delivered was being sold, a book that gives testimonies of people who have fought and conquered, with God’s grace, an addiction to pornography.  I looked at the cover, read a snippet of the book, and was intrigued.  The price was $8-9 for one copy.  However, one could purchase 20 books at only $2 per book.  I love a good deal.  Good deals and good books make one of the most irresistible combinations.

Trish, do you really need 20 copies of a book you have never even read?  I was just about to say “No” when I felt something within that told me to just buy them.  So I did.  And then I impatiently waited 2 weeks for them to arrive at my doorstep.  Last night I opened the box, took off the plastic wrap from one of the books, and began to read through it.  I didn’t read the whole book, but I read a few of the stories and I was taken.  I don’t know much about pornography.  In many ways it seems like it is in a different world than I am in.  I know this crisis affects me because it affects people I interact with, but I don’t typically think of pornography on a daily or weekly basis.

The problem that remained was how would I get them into the hands of my students.  I could have the most life-changing book but unless they were reading it, it wouldn’t make a difference.  So I did what any self-respecting teacher would do.  I offered them extra credit.  The good sign was that neither class asked how much extra credit.  All they have to do is read one of the stories (10-15 pages) and write two paragraphs–one summarizing the story and another speaking about pornography and the effect it has on the world, what they think of it, or other problems that go along with pornography addiction.

Nine students from each class took the book and I was thrilled.  Just having it in their hands is a success I am willing to celebrate.  My hope is that the one story they have to read for extra credit will turn into curiosity about the other stories.  Maybe they will tell another classmate or someone in another class about the book and lend it to them.  The possibilities are endless!

This is a rather small thing considering that maybe none of them will actually follow through.  Yet it seems like a triumph to me.  I will take that triumph, minuscule though it may be, because victories do not come often or easily in this battlefield.  So perhaps the Holy Spirit is doing something great through these little books that my students are being bribed to read.

Now who says that buying an excessive number of books is a bad thing?

(Purchase your own copy of Delivered and spread the truth!    

After the first day, I am still running on excitement.  One of my students spoke to me after class about something and as I was looking for a paper he quietly asked about the book and how I found it.  I told him I received an e-mail from a place advertising the book and I just decided to buy 20 copies.  Quietly he told me that he wished he had the book 5 years ago.  It took a moment but what he was telling me finally sank in.  He told me he plans to read the whole book.  Deo gratias!  Keep going, Holy Spirit, keep going!

Society’s Plague

At times I wonder how much I live in reality.  I know in theory how the world is decaying but I can say that much of my life has been fairly sheltered.  And I am not complaining.  But sometimes I want to know the secret lives of my students.  I think some of them would shock me.  My students aren’t bad but I am certain that some of them are far more worldly than I am.  While I don’t particularly desire to be worldly I think it would be good for me to know exactly what are the difficulties that my students face on a daily basis, what do they struggle with, how are they tempted.

Last week I was explaining the arguments for God’s existence as a review for our quiz.  While recapping the argument from beauty, one of my students asked if the devil created ugly things them.  I told them that the devil will twist and distort beauty.  A couple more questions and clarifications were added and as I was speaking I felt like I would be avoiding the topic if I didn’t include it.  I told them that pornography distorts beauty.  That woman has this inherent beauty and that the devil distorts that by making her purely physical or an object.  I noticed a shift in the feel of the room.  Some of the boys who previously were making pretty good eye contact were suddenly not meeting my eyes.  It wasn’t as though they all got red or gave tell-tale signs, but I noticed a shift in the atmosphere.  Perhaps I am reading too much into it, but almost a subtle admission of guilt and perhaps some curiosity about it.  And I wondered how the scourge of pornography is impacting our Catholic high schools.  I want to know how prevalent the problem is and yet I feel as though if I knew I would simply feel discouraged.  What a society they are being sent into and are a part of now.  It is difficult to try to teach them the truth when doing so means that one must speak against nearly everything found in the culture.  They begin to think that the Church is against everything instead of seeing that society is running away from God.  This is certain the time of the Church Militant.  But have no fear, the Church Triumphant and Suffering are in this with us!

Our Lady, Help of Christians, pray for us.