Mass for Catholic Educators
September 18, 2016
I am not sure if this is true or not but, perhaps, you have heard that the Diocese of Raleigh is building a new Cathedral! Just the other day on a school visit, one student asked me an interesting question: “What is your hope for our new Cathedral?” While I gave a brief and quick response, I took some further time to reflect upon the question and would like to share with you three specific hopes I have for Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral, which apply to our own spiritual growth.
First, it is my hope and prayer that our new cathedral, a magnificent and glorious presence in our city and in the middle of a university campus, will make us “look up.” How easy it is for Catholic Educators and all of us, in the midst of so many demands and responsibilities, to go through each day with our eyes focused only on what is in front of us. Such a way of living and working makes it is easy to forget what we are doing and why we are doing it; to forget the ultimate purpose and reason for our lives and the work and ministry we carry out. It is only when we “look up” that we are reminded that everything we do is for the glory of God, the One alone who sustains us and gives us the zeal, stamina and perseverance we need. Think about it: do you look up to God before you begin your day; in the course of the day; at the end of the day? Perhaps you can leave here with a renewed commitment to be more prayerful with your eyes focused on that which is above.
“Looking up” also helps us to create within our schools what Pope Francis calls “a culture of encounter.” For this to happen he says here must be moments in the course of the day when we shut off our cell phone; stop texting and walk away from facebook so we truly encounter one another in real time; person to person; heart to heart. He said: “Do not just see, but look. Do not just meet and pass by, but stop. Then, we have a fruitful encounter recognizing the dignity of the living person God puts before us.” Each day, there are students right in your midst hoping and praying you will be that person for them. Please “look up.”
Secondly, it is my hope and prayer that Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral will be a sign of our unity as brothers and sisters in Christ. When the young student asked me about my hope for Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral, I was so happy that she referred to it as “our” cathedral. That is what it is----a mother church for all in the diocese that will gather us in our rich diversity and as one holy family. Dear Catholic Educators, that unity must be reflected daily in our schools and communities. So many people including our students are asking me these days: “What we can do in the midst of the unsettling times we are facing in our nation where there is so much division and harsh rhetoric?” My response is to make sure that where we are situated we reflect the opposite: always speaking respectfully to those we serve and with whom we work even those who disagree with us; avoid labeling and categorizing and dismissing one another. The Reading today from the Book of Proverbs adds this sound advice: Do not quarrel; Do not be envious; do not delay in doing what is right and good. For then, as Jesus says: your light will shine for all to see. When people visit your school may they recognize it as a unified and holy family.
Finally, it is my hope and prayer, as I mentioned in my two high school visits this semester, that our new Cathedral will foster a renewed devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus. In the coming weeks, I will be releasing a Pastoral Letter on this topic and will ask you to incorporate it in your theology classrooms. At the heart of it is the reminder that God’s name and the name of His divine Son is holy and is to be revered and respected and never to be taken in vain. Of course, this certainly means that God’s name is never associated with any profanity but even more than that. While we may not ever intend to use God’s name in vain, we can do so without even thinking about it by simply inserting it into casual phrases: Oh my God. Oh my Lord that have nothing to do with praise and honor but simply is casual and vocabulary. I am asking all of you, through your example, to help our students embrace this important lesson and to make sure that in your schools the Holy Name of Jesus, the Holy Name of God is revered and respected.
Dear friends in Christ, strengthened by God’s Word and the gift of His Son in this Holy Eucharist may we be renewed and sustained and go back to our schools with a firm resolve to “look up” so that all we do is for the glory of God and so that within our schools there is truly a “culture of encounter.” May we also be resolved to foster unity within our schools and to work together as a holy family. And may our schools and communities at every moment respect and revere the Holy Name of Jesus for at His Name every knee must bend in the heavens, on the earth and under earth and every tongue proclaim to the glory of the Father that Jesus Christ is Lord...forever and ever.” Amen.