It is amazing how quickly a group of middle school students can go from angelic to... well, not so angelic. One of the most interesting things for me as a young Sister is trying to find the right balance in my interaction with the youth. Many of the urban schools our sisters staff have students with parent(s) in jail, drug and alcohol problems in the home, and no supervision outside of school. Of course, this makes math, reading, and writing seem like wastes of time.
But, my job is to teach math, reading, writing, and religion. What do we mean by religion? Certainly it is the truth as taught by the Magisterium of the Catholic Church without deviation! But it is also the spirit of Jesus in compassion, forgiveness, love, joy, comfort, security, trust, and mercy. So, what is the job of a religious woman in a school teaching religion? I would say it is a tall order because it entails showing Jesus in a concrete way to every student we meet. How do we keep order and discipline while showing compassion and love? It is difficult but well worth it.
Yesterday one of my students handed in a beautiful essay about why prejudice still exists in our world. I don't remember her exact words but she said something like, "We are all called to be like our Blessed Mother - loving, kind, compassionate, and always looking out for one another." Here is a city-kid, who has more than enough issues to deal with, worrying so selflessly about the future of our world, and entrusting it to our Blessed Mother. As I sat at my desk reading this honest essay I felt like crying. I realized how deep her faith was and how lovingly she entrusted all the problems of the world to Mary. The faith of children leads us forward.
My prayer this day is that I might imitate this child's love of Jesus and His mother, Mary, and give them all my difficulties, sorrows, joys, and achievements in the classroom. May I be a servant of each of the children I meet every day. Thank you, Lord!