It is to such as these…

Jesus Blesses Little Children

People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.

(Mark 10: 13 – 16 NRSV)

I love my job. I hate the marking and report-card writing, enjoy the holidays and don’t overly mind lesson planing but what I love most is the students. I love the glimpses I receive into their faith life. God uses them to teach me many things. An overaching idea of the curriculum in my year level is understanding what strengthens the faith of a community. Without a doubt, working with my students strengthens my faith.

Lasset_die_Kindlein_(Uhde) - let the children come to meHere are some questions I put to the students in my grade recently and some of their responses. It is a kind-of 7 Quick Takes as I’ll give 7 of my favourite answers from each question!

What are our shared beliefs?

  1. Jesus is the messiah who came to save us from slavery
  2. Jesus rose from the dead
  3. Jesus came to give us great joy
  4. The messiah came to earth
  5. Mary was God’s mum
  6. The angels informed the shepherds that Jesus was born
  7. Catholics believe in the Trinity while Jews only believe in God the Father. They don’t believe that Jesus Christ is the messiah. Our shared beliefs are Jesus is a historical figure.

Who and what strengthens the faith of our community?                                                 (I couldn’t keep this at seven so made a list of seven Whos and a list of seven Whats!)

  1. Families of the Catholic Church
  2. Mary mother of God
  3. People who go to church
  4. Seminarians, priests, sisters, nuns
  5. Angels
  6. Pope
  7. Saints
  1. Having school mass
  2. Lent
  3. Rosary
  4. Confession / Reconciliation
  5. Readings from the Bible
  6. The Psalms
  7. Hymns

How does our community reach out to others?

  1. Charity, almsgiving (spelt armsgiving – cute!)
  2. Donate: food, toys, money, to the parish, for people
  3. Giving orphans a home that is safe
  4. Vinnies, Vinnies Christmas Appeal, Vinnies Soup Drive
  5. Say something when you know it was wrong
  6. Show them that we follow God
  7. Prayer

Why do Catholics celebrate Eucharist?

  1. It’s Jesus’ Soul, Divinity, Body and Blood
  2. We praise and glorify Jesus
  3. To thank Jesus Christ for what he did for us
  4. To remember all his glory
  5. It’s a way of talking to God
  6. To understand what Jesus’ mission was and to know what he did to help others
  7. Catholics celebrate Eucharist as a symbol remembrance of Jesus’ sacrifice for us on the cross (that came complete with its own cross out!)

How does the Eucharist benefit Catholics?

  1. It cleanses them from sin
  2. Their hearts fill with joy
  3. Always there to protect us from harm
  4. To share the Body and Blood of Christ
  5. Leads you away from sin
  6. Fills us with more of Christ’s love
  7. It makes our souls stronger. Jesus is giving us his Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.

I see why we need to become like a little child to enter the Kingdom of Heaven!

7 Quick Takes: My Heavenly Friends

May I introduce you to my collection of saints, these heavenly friends who intercede for and inspire me?

1. St Margaret of Scotland: a mother and queen, she and her husband King Malcolm both prayed together and fed the homeless together. One of her sons became St David (my second youngest brother is a David). She is my Confirmation saint. My ancestry is part Scottish (even if St Margaret herself wasn’t). She had eight children and took seriously their religious education. Beauty in churches, beautiful church ornaments and beautiful priestly vestments were very important to her as was good education.

2. St Martin de Porres: humble of heart, one of the least in God’s kingdom, he was a lay Dominican. He loved animals, helped orphans, planted fruit trees and fed the homeless, treated the sick and longed to win the crown of martyrdom. My school is named after him. Becoming a teacher and being at that particular school parish played a big part in saving my soul. In our school parish, his statue gazes at the crucifix and so he reminds me to keep my eyes fixed on Christ crucified.

3. St Catherine of Siena: a Doctor of the Church, an example of the feminine genius, she had more than twenty siblings born before her. She was a lay Dominican. I share her name, being named after my great-grandmother Catherine. My great-grandmother’s son was born of the feast of St Rose of Lima and died on the feast of St Martin de Porres (St Rose of Lima was another Lay Dominican). Almost every work day for almost six years, I have seen the Siena Centre across the road. I would like to know St Catherine better. Her nickname meant Joy.

4. St Catherine del Ricci: another lay Dominican, she was also a mystic. Her feast day is nine months before my birthday. I was given her as a patron saint after I prayed for someone who would help me with my illness and my vocation.

5. St Therese of Lisieux: not a lay Dominican but a Carmelite! Who can’t love St Therese? I fell in love with her when I read Story of a Soul. She wanted to be all things and have all vocations but in the end realised that her vocation was to be love in the heart of the Church. Her parents both desired to be religious but in the end, their call to holiness was through the vocation of marriage. They remind me that the vocation of motherhood is to be love at the heart of the domestic church.

5. St Gianna Beretta Molla: a wife, a mum, a doctor, ardently pro-life. Becoming pro-life also played a huge role in helping save my soul. A recent conversation reminded me that several years ago she had been given to me as a patron saint. In that same conversation, it was highlighted to me that parents are the first teachers of the faith. She was mentioned in a talk I listened to recently on the feminine genius.

7. Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati: if you do not know this saint-to-be, you really need to read about him. He exemplifies the Beatitudes. He loved the Rosary, the Eucharist, the poor, his friends, his family and Jesus. He struggled with his vocation. He was also a lay Dominican. He is the patron of Frassati Australia, including Frassati Youth, and Frassati has played and is playing a big part in my walk to holiness. Pier Giorgio never lost his baptismal grace and when you look at photos of him, you can just see the beauty of his soul shining out. He loved mountain climbing. Verso l’alto!

In the end, it’s not that I’ve collected these saints; rather, they have collected me! It’s comforting to know that they pray for me even when I forget to pay them attention. God, I think, has also given their friendship to me as a gift to help me work out my vocation. It’s something that I think about, the common themes that run through their many of their stories.

Please comment and tell me who your heavenly friends are!