Another year has flown by and another Christmas has passed. The excitement that spread while we decorated, baked, entertained and shopped has vanished into the frigid wind. As we plunge into January, we put away the decorations and the world suddenly seems a little darker. We return to the normal unexciting routine.
It becomes a challenge for the catechist to find inspiration from January to March. We leave our homes in the dark and return after the sun has set. Some of us may feel a bit melancholy. As I taught my class in this first week of the year, the students could not seem to get the dust out of their eyes. Their exhausted bodies resisted any kind of real thinking. They trudged on through the week and moaned every time I mentioned the word “homework.” The bleakest days of winter can consume the most faithful souls with doubt. I know exactly how they feel. During this time of the year, I quickly grow tired of the sound of my own voice. I often wonder if I am making any sense. I do anything to put some energy into my lessons.
Whether you teach religion full-time or volunteer at your parish religious education program, the battle against the culture never ends. The media piles the garbage higher than ever in these days when we are left with little else to do than watch television. We are told about the latest celebrity to enter rehab; how the New York City Mayor’s office sent out pamphlets on how to “safely” prepare heroin; the music superstar who accepted an award while intoxicated. The lunacy snowballs as the days proceed. Our students are rendered blind and deaf to the message of Jesus Christ. Dysfunction has become the new “normal”. People who find consolation in God are left in the cold. Pope John Paul II spoke to educators and students in a homily on September 10, 2000 about our obligation:
“As scholars and teachers who have opened your hearts to Christ, your vocation is that of living and bearing witness in an effective way to this relationship between the individual branches of knowledge and that supreme “knowledge” which concerns God, and which in a sense coincides with him, with his Word made flesh and with the Spirit of truth given by him.”
His words are easy to forget this time of year. It is difficult to teach the faith when we are not inspired. We forget why we initially came to the noble profession. Even though you may be tired, these are not the days to rest. As you enter your classroom, demonstrate Christ to your students. Illuminate their ever-darkening world with His light. Do not be afraid to bear His witness in the heart of the storm. As Jesus said to the deaf mute “Ephphatha, be opened!” (Mk 7:34) We must awaken our students to His truth. They have been sucked in by a culture that is not willing to let them go. Remember that the Truth will set them free! Stay strong and draw your power from the Master Teacher.