Learning like children

The catechical programs are beginnning in many parishes these days. Circumstances for formation in faith are so different  for young people today than they were in my day.

I was raised in a Catholic neighborhood, in a Catholic school and in a Catholic family. My youth revolved around our church and our parish. The Catholic faith was in the air I breathed.

Today’s so different. We live in a pluralist society, with people who have many different ways of seeing life. Our schools are pluralistic; they try to present things fairly, without favoring one philosophy or way of looking at things over another.

To get along today you have to respect everyone’s point of view.

One weakness of pluralism, however, is that you don’t pursue your own spiritual tradition or draw from its wisdom. You can get lost in a world of many ideas and never follow one of them. You listen to the latest teachers and watch for the newest trends.

Or, worst still, you end up listening only to yourself and what you think and what you want.

Our Catholic spiritual tradition comes from Jesus Christ. We believe he is the Son of God, who came to teach us the way to live here on earth and to prepare us for a life to come. He is God with us, our Teacher, our Guide, our Companion all our days. He is the great sign of God’s love.

He is more important than Gandhi, or the Dalai Lama, or Oprah, or the latest celebrity at the top of the charts.

To know him, to love him and to be like him is the most important thing we can do in life. He’s the Rock on whom we stand; the Bread that feeds us; the Love that dies for us.

In Sunday’s gospel (Mark 9,30-37)  Jesus tells his disciples to become like little children and learn from him. Young or old, we’re all called to do that.

1 thought on “Learning like children

  1. mystagogyfortheanawim

    Dear Fr. Victor… let us talk about the Gospel of the Slow Learner and How God can use the Whole World as a Catechist for the Poor in Spirit…
    Fr. Victor…
    I am the slowest of learners…
    a cradle Catholic…
    I have a Catholic education
    through high school until my senior year…
    Class of 1964… that’s 45 years ago… and much of its shelf life has gone out of it.
    I had only a couple of semesters of college and quit because I was flunking out. I couldn’t keep up. Everyone could learn faster than I could. Even if I bought the text before class started… by midterms I was behind. My academic record a litany of incompletes. Since then, a few more attempts – but with the same result. No degree. I’ve read a lot… but not in a systematic way. I don’t have the vocabulary of the academy … third person. And I write in sentence fragments because my rules of punctuation and grammar got lost long before I started having senior moments. I write in first person singular because I truly don’t remember who said what in my reading over all these years. Plus, my first memory at age 2 was of the Presence of God…and life is my catechist through the Grace of the Holy Spirit.

    Pluralism? — kay passa? Pluralism? I have know Hindus but I can’t tell you 5 things about Hinduism. I know Buddhists but I can’t tell you anything about Buddhism… I have known scientist who speak the language of science… so I learned just enough ‘science’ to talk to them in a language they could understand.

    A few weeks ago, I was having lunch in an Asian Restaurant. The waiter spotted my chaplet on my wrist — but he ‘saw it’ as Buddhist prayer beads and mentioned it to the cashier. She came rushing over and asked if I were Buddhist. I replied no, removed the chaplet from my wrist and showed her the Cross… She a long, long way from home shared with me in very broken English her homesickness. She described a devotion that gave her comfort and consolation… Every word she said reminded me of the Blessed Virgin Mary. I know she was talking about Buddhist ‘stuff’ but to the ear of my heart — I heard the most vivid description of Mary! God was teaching me about Mary using the ‘language’ of Buddhism… not the doctrines or –ismness of Buddhism. What was important though, was this woman opening to me a complete stranger, her woundedness… her brokenness… in complete trust. God was using her to teach me more about Our Blessed Mother…

    I can ‘speak’ just enough Buddhist, to get me from the airport to my hotel and maybe report missing luggage…. using the parable of tourist language courses. I can speak just enough Buddhist to let people know I mean no harm and I come in the Peace of Jesus Christ… and I listen with the ear of my heart as Jesus whispers… can you see me here? can you hear The Word of God in their poverty of spirit?

    And Gandhi! — I don’t know anything about Hinduism… Some how he was a catechism on what it means to Live the Sermon on the Mount — today, in the then 20th century. How was it possible that he could so remind me of Jesus!.. It was like the two guys meeting Jesus on the Road to Emmaus! They recognized him in the breaking of the bread… and how their hearts were stirred. And no, I don’t believe in reincarnation or anything like that… It was about the Living Word of Jesus Christ flowing through the Beatitudes spoken on a Mount centuries ago ringing true in my heart today.

    I was in the Air Force, I made dog tags for those going to Vietnam. I walked them through their dying as I filled out their forms. I did that day after day… week after week until my heart just broke. Actually, I did last very long at all. Years later, it was Gandhi who reminded me that EVERYTHING that Jesus taught was true today and forever. Gandhi had lived more like Jesus than a whole lot of people I was being taught to regard… it was the gap between the teaching and the living of the teaching TODAY that was the problem.
    When you’re sitting there making dog tags for your brothers and sisters, you aren’t gonna quote the Council of Trent to help the day move along!
    There was no a crisis in faith… but rather faith that matured into fearless love by the grace of God… they reminded me of Jesus… and I sat humbled by their poverty.

    The faith that had become fearless love shone in the faces of those who taught me about the nonviolence of Jesus… his unconditional love for us… sometimes a famous face reminded me of Jesus… sometimes the most ordinary of voices sounded like Jesus…
    and everything and everyone refers back to the Source of all Love…


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