Ah, September. I love it. The warm days are still with us, but the freshness of a new school year always makes me feel invigorated and inspired. Parents, students and teachers are caught up in anticipation; planning, setting goals, “finishing up” summer vacation and bracing for the challenges ahead. There is much to do to ensure that our dreams are fulfilled…some day. To get where we want to go we must work and pray and keep our eyes and hearts firmly focused on that hoped-for destination.
For us Catholics and for many the world over, we see our true origin and destination as one and the same – heaven. It’s what we dream of, pray for, live for, and die longing to see. It is the Great Reunion, the Reward, the Homecoming. Every tear will be wiped away, every wound healed, every loss restored.
We know this, but we don’t necessarily have a real-time connection to the concept of heaven as a destination or goal. It’s so far distant, so conceptual. Frankly, we have a hard time imagining what heaven actually is. To add to the confusion, artists throughout the ages have reduced the mystery of heaven to a greeting card image that too often fails to inspire. Anybody here get really, really excited about fluffy clouds and angels with harps?
Well, not to worry. There are many great books out there on the subject, and much smarter, better-educated persons than myself who can feed your hunger for a knowledge of heaven. But I’d like to give you something worthy of the month of September; something refreshing and invigorating to consider. I’d like to get you thinking about heaven the way an Olympic athlete –or Saint Paul – thinks of crossing that finish line! Or the way an archer focuses on a bull’s eye; seating the arrow, grasping the bow-string, pulling back along the cheekbone, taking aim, holding his breath, and… POW!
If absolutely everything we undertake is seen as part of that “taking aim,” then everything we do will come into a sharper, more effective focus. Our prayers, our family life, our work, our apostolates will all be oriented toward a consistent, clarifying, edifying goal – getting home to heaven and bringing others along with us.
That’s what Amazing Catechists is all about, and we pray that our columns this month will help jumpstart your enthusiasm and your sense of focus as your apostolate in catechesis shifts back into high gear. We have new or recent postings from Alice Gunther, Ellen Hrkach, Christine Capolino, Maria Rivera, William O’Leary, Christian Le Blanc, and Mary Lou Rosien, with much more on the way. Check in and please do visit the fascinating conversations going on in our forums. We’d be grateful for your input.
I’d like to share a few additional links with you, today, things I tucked away over the summer that I thought had that same kind of “taking aim” value for our readers; a few short reads that help you think about the importance of living with a specific, defined goal in mind. You might like to share them with your students, especially those in middle school and older.
The first is an essay written by Monsignor Robert Batule, a theology professor at the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in the Diocese of Rockville Center, for his Fourth of July homily. He never titled it, but I like to call it, “An Eye on Heaven.” Eloquently and simply, Monsignor Batule discusses our heavenly citizenship, challenging us to consider that “The kingship of Christ crucified has definite implications for our citizenship.” With political campaigns heating up and our students being challenged on a daily basis to respond to the pressing issues of our day, Monsignor Batule puts aside political parties and urges us onto a greater freedom than anything we can interpret through mere politics.
I met a someone at the Catholic New Media Celebration in Boston, an amazing catechist and speaker named Steve McVey, who has a superb catechetical apostolate, which provides free resources for proving the existence of God. I hope you’ll use them in your classes. I’ll be featuring more of Steve’s work in the future.
Johnnette Benkovic, author and host of “The Abundant Life,” [EWTN] has a great blog, and I appreciated this particular entry, which I think will interest young and old alike, discussing the critical differences between Buddhist teachings and those of Christianity. Too many young people are confused by the fashionable and supposedly “non-religious” appeal of Buddhist practice, not realizing that it runs radically contrary to much that is central and sacred to us as Catholics. They try to mix them together and lose focus. Too often, they lose their faith in the bargain and miss the target all together.
Publisher and author, Cheryl Dickow, has written a new book, “Our Jewish Roots,” reviewed at this site by AC columnist, Christine Capolino. Her review reveals an inspiring work that helps us appreciate the women of the Bible and their relevance to our lives, now.
I’d also like to share a link to my new blog, which provides information about my catechist-training workshops and my book, “Be An Amazing Catechist: Inspire the Faith of Children,” which has sold out its first printing! I hope you’ll stop by and leave a comment.
Check out my interview with a truly amazing catechist, our own Christian Le Blanc. If his columns don’t make you laugh and get you fired up about teaching the Faith, you just might need a medical check-up!
Finally, I’d like to share a fun little column on gossip by Phil Fox Rose at Busted Halo. I can tell you that I struggle with this sin, myself. It’s something I work to avoid and find myself leaping to judgment about. And then when I’m really fed up I gossip about it! I think the writer makes some great points. It might be a good basis for a class discussion. It would behoove us Christians to remember as we consider this particular sin, how much the enemy loves it when we wound each other’s reputations, turn hearts away from our brothers and sisters in Christ, or scandalize a listener who might otherwise have been inspired by the good in his fellow Christian.
We’ve got to keep our eyes on the target. It’s all that matters.
Sincerely in Christ,
Author, “Be An Amazing Catechist: Inspire the Faith of Children”
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