The Mission of the Classroom: A Desire Renewed

The Mission of the Classroom: A Desire Renewed

I entered the evening with no expectations.  Sometimes that is the best place to be with the Lord.

My sister had an extra ticket and so I figured I could go to the event.  There would be adoration and so it couldn’t be a waste of time.  The Lord, in His mercy, blew me away.

The talk was good, but it wasn’t that.  The music was nice, but it wasn’t that.  In all simplicity, it was the Lord.  He knocked, I opened, and He came in.  There were no specific words that He spoke to me, but He filled my heart with a burning desire to be wholly His.

Over the last few years, I have grown more and more comfortable with my role as a teacher.  This year, I have found comfort in reflecting on how my responses have changed since my first year of teaching.  While grateful for the experience I now have, I realized that I was becoming more of a teacher but less of a missionary.  It is good and necessary to think of new projects or ways to present ideas to the students.  Yet I was feeling less and less of this desire to present the glorious truths to them.  Convicted of my mediocrity, I asked the Lord for renewed zeal.

At the beginning of this year, I wrote that I wanted to enter into spiritual battle for my students.  In that, I have failed miserably.  During adoration, as Jesus was processed around the auditorium, I was convicted of that failure and filled with a desire to go to war for them.  I don’t want to just teach them; I want them to encounter the living reality of Christ. Continue reading “The Mission of the Classroom: A Desire Renewed”

A Heart Like His

When I was in high school, a Totus Tuus team would come to my parish each summer.  One year, on the night we were having Adoration, I thought about how the team would do the same program each week.  Each week they would have Adoration and I found myself thinking that it must not be that novel of an experience anymore.  If they did it week after week, they must get used to it and not be as excited as I was, since I rarely had the opportunity to go to Adoration.

Fast forward a few years and I was a member on a Totus Tuus team.  I realized how wrong my earlier assumption had been.  It was because I was closer to Christ that the night for Adoration seemed so much dearer to me than it had before.  No, it wasn’t a particularly new experience, but I yearned for that hour each week when I could just sit before Our Lord.

This memory came to mind because today in my sophomore class I showed a couple clips from “The Passion of the Christ.”  As Jesus carries the cross, there is a part where Mary is racing to reach Him as she recalls a similar incident that took place when He was a child.  My heart was aching with this dear mother and I found myself near tears.  Part of me thinks I shouldn’t have this response anymore since I’ve seen the movie several times.  Yet I think it is almost a requirement that as we draw nearer to the Lord, we develop more of His Heart.  He has a tender heart.  Sin makes us harden our hearts, but Jesus gives us new hearts, hearts of flesh.

 “A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”  (Ezekiel 36:26)

Hearts of flesh feel experiences more intensely.  I find myself wanting the heart Jesus has and yet being fearful of what that will entail.  My heart is already very sensitive at times, how would it respond to being more aware of the impact of sin in the world?  Could I handle a heart like His that would be vulnerable and open to all?  Wouldn’t I get wounded?

We fear being wounded.  Rightfully so, because it hurts.  Yet if we want to follow Jesus, we must carry our cross and live as He did.

And Jesus was wounded.  

His heart could truly love because it was truly open.  In my mind, I seem to imagine that Jesus had this loving heart that was also fiercely guarded, like the armor of a knight.  That is incorrect.  Jesus is the Divine Healer who allows Himself to be wounded for our sake.

The closer we come to the heart of Jesus, the more we will experience in union with Him.  Hearts of steel and stone cannot deeply love.  Jesus desires us to have hearts of flesh.  Hearts that can be wounded, but more importantly, hearts that can love and be loved.

Heart of Jesus, sanctify my heart.

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Converting a Slow Heart

Thursday night, I was sitting in adoration.  When I left and went home, I decided to journal a little bit.  Writing down my thoughts and feelings has always helped me sort through the mess that is my heart.  At times it is only after writing something down, that I will have a revelation about it.  I re-read what I wrote and it clicks.  That’s it!  It is an interesting method of learning from myself.

So I sat down and wrote a bit.  It wasn’t much, but the second to last line I wrote struck me.  I just looked at it again, closed my journal, and laid back on my bed, knowing that I would need to spend more time with it to fully unravel what I had just discovered.

Maybe, like Totus Tuus, I’m teaching not primarily for them, but for the salvation of my own soul.

Perhaps that won’t strike you as particularly profound.  That is alright—the Lord did it for me anyway.  I do find it to be profound.  What if the struggles I encounter in the classroom are not simply the quirks of my students or the secular culture pervading the hearts and minds of the youth?  Or, more accurately, it is that, but that primarily what the Lord desires to do is use all of it for my own salvation.

I’ve had this realization a few times before.  Leading a mission trip to Honduras, I wrote up a talk to give to my mission team.  I still have a phrase written down, the sheet bookmarking a place in my Bible, that came to me while preparing for the talk.  Re-reading it reminds me that it relates to my whole life, not just the experience of leading a mission to Honduras.

In a way, God is calling you to this mission not because of a beautiful gift you have to offer the people of Honduras, but because He desires this mission to convert your heart in some way so as to be more aligned with His.

After I taught Totus Tuus (a catechetical program), I realized that all of the summer was spent not primarily for the sake of educating the youth of the diocese, although that is a great benefit.  I was tricked into thinking it was that.  The real purpose was to form my own heart and soul during the summer through living in community, teaching the Gospel, prayer, and play.  We were told that we were going to help bring Christ to others, but really it was all about going out and encountering Christ ourselves and letting that transform us.

Whether I am teaching or leading a mission trip, the Lord seems to keep pounding on the dense door of my heart, calling me to realize that all I encounter, all I do, all I learn, all is for the salvation of my own soul.  It is for converting this heart that is slow to hear, unwilling to follow, too proud to admit wrongs, and too quick to think I’ve already been converted.

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.  –Philippians 2:12-13