Today is the day of the year that always gives me slight heart palpitations. Being the parent of public school children, there is always a bit of a sting that comes to me as we sit in our pew and listen to the advertising of the start of Catholic Schools Week.
I am the product of 12 years of a Catholic education. In fact, my uncle, a Franciscan priest, referred to me in the homily of our wedding day mass, as being "marinated in the juices of Catholicism." It was such a great line and I was proud of that description. I enjoyed my years at school and I am grateful that I had such a loving, extended family there.
The experience my children have had so far in the public school has been a positive one, too. In fact, I have learned the light of Christ is not limited within the walls of a parochial school. The teachers and staff provide a safe, loving environment in the schools my children attend. Even though talk of faith and religion are not spoken outwardly there, the subtle examples are evident and enrich what we teach them at home.
While sitting there in mass today, my palpitations eased because I believe that Christ had my back once again. Our celebrant was the priest who went to public school; the readings spoke of being fishers of men and going forth to preach the gospel; and the hymns (The Summons and We Are Called) called us to follow Christ and bring his love to all people. It was then that I realized something else.
School is not only a place where our children can learn the good news, it is a place where they can be the good news. My hope is that our presence at school, whether we are students or parents, is not solely to receive, but to give. In other words, "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." Matthew 5:16.
That can be done everywhere.
My point is this: whether we attend Catholic or public school, private school or home school, each and every one of us is called to be the Light of Christ. There is a need for all of us because we are many parts that make up one body....The Body of Christ.