"The first of your obligations is to impart to their minds in a firm and solid manner those truths of the Faith which are the foundation stones of our holy Religion and to train them to practice the teachings of Jesus Christ... You are in an employment in which you are to touch hearts, and this you cannot do except by the Holy Spirit. Pray, God, then, to give you the same grace He gave to the Holy Apostles, that having filled you with His Spirit, for your own sanctification, He may also by the same Spirit enable to you to procure the salvation of others."
Teaching the faith is not principally about knowledge. Knowledge is good, yes, but knowing many "facts" does not assure salvation. That only comes from Jesus Christ - loving Him and following His commandments. So, when one of our Sisters goes out to teach, be it in a Catholic School setting, parish catechesis, or RCIA, this is the first thing on her mind. In fact, it is the ONE THING. All else falls under the one thing. It is for the greater glory of God and the salvation of souls that she embarks on this apostolate, which is truly a gift and an honor.
There is something special about being able to teach the faith, because in the faith there is the fullness of beauty, goodness, and truth. These rise above pure facts, which are often forgotten after a class or exam. We get to walk with the students as they journey closer to the God who is love and learn about how He has a plan for them. As a Sister, this takes on a special meaning, because we have this amazing opportunity to share with our fellow man our Beloved and the One for whom we gave up everything. When you love, you want to share.
"A single soul is more precious before God than all the bodies that are in the universe and consequently, one who helps to reestablish the grace of God in it, to nourish and strengthen it by good example and by the pious instructions given to it, does more holy action than if one were to clothe and feed all the bodies which are upon the earth."
This task, this apostolate in which we are blessed to serve, is not taken on alone. First of all, we have Christ and His Church! We are not creating new teachings, but simply handing on what Jesus taught His Apostles and what they
continued to pass on. Again,what an honor and blessing it is to take part in this handing on! Through the centuries we have had the Church, which Christ Himself set up and imbued with the deposit of faith, to guide us and continually teach us what is true, what is right, what is of God. We are not alone. We also have the blessing of having our fellow Sisters to help in our mission. There are many Sisters with vast experience in teaching the faith at all levels and settings, and as true Sisters will do anything they can to help. There is also the invaluable prayer support.
Finally, we get to follow the model of our Blessed Mother. By teaching the faith, we are educating the children on God in the ways of truth and love, just as she did for Jesus. Also, particularly as a Sister, we reflect how Our Lady directs everything to her Son. Someone may look at her image, say a pray to her, and then she brings that love, that prayer to Jesus. Likewise, we may be the ones in front of a classroom, the one whose voice is heard, but it is all directed towards Jesus. Our efforts are for His glory and to bring people closer to Him. That is the main goal, but He often blesses us besides, with a child's smile, an adult who now more fully understands, a family who prays more together. What a good God we have.
Prayer to Our Lady the Teacher
O Mary, Mother of the Word Incarnate,
You are the teacher of souls
and the sign of true doctrine.
As the infant Jesus nursed from your breast,
so the child Jesus learned the mysteries
contained in your heart.
From the cross,
your Son gave you to his Beloved Disciple
as his Mother and Teacher.
Hear the prayers of your Church
for guidance in her work of educating the faithful
and preparing men to serve God's holy people in the priesthood.
We celebrated not one but two Feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary last week. While there is no shortage of days set aside to honor her, we should stop to reflect on these Feasts. On September 8th we celebrate the Nativity (birth) of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and on the 12th we honor the Most Holy Name of Mary.
We all love to celebrate the birthdays of our family and friends, so of course we should be excited to honor one who is mother, advocate, mentor, and friend all at the same time. In the Catholic Church we usually observe someone’s day of death (the day of their entrance into Heaven). There are only two Saints for whom we make an exception; they are St John the Baptist and the Blessed Virgin Mary. Both are great Saints, who we would do well to imitate in
our own lives, this is especially true of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Due to her Immaculate Conception, there can be no better guide and model for us in our own journey through life than Mary. Through her Immaculate Conception Our Lady was left free from all stain of Original Sin, she is the only one not to inherit the sin of our first parents. Thus Mary spent every moment of her life in seeking and doing the will of God, she will teach us to do the same if we allow her to.
We must not fail to call Mary’s name along our way, when we say her name she intercedes with God for us. When a
person’s name is referred to in the Bible or within the liturgy it is an expression of their personality of their whole being or nature, and is more than just a way to distinguish them from everyone else. For Christians (especially
Catholics), the name of Mary is a sacramental which is always spoken with deepest piety and love. St Bernard of Clairvaux calls Mary the “star of the sea” and then continues,
“ Rightly is she likened to a star. As a star emits a ray without being dimmed, so the Virgin brought forth her Son without receiving any injury. The ray takes naught from the brightness of the star, nor the Son from His Mothers virginal integrity.This is the noble star risen out of Jacob … Mary is that bright and incomparable star, whom we need to see raised above this vast sea, shining by her merits and giving us light by her example."
So let us run to Mary with all our needs, she knows what we need and will give us only what is best for us. We have the greatest friend in the world let us not forget to ask for her help.
Along with May, August, and October, September is dedicated to Our Lady. This month we honor Our Mother under her title Our Lady of Sorrows, or Mater Dolorosa. Devotion to Our Sorrowful Mother is as old as the cross. Appropriately, her feast is celebrated on September 15th, the day following the feast of the Exhaltation of the Holy Cross. Contemplation of the seven sorrows of Our Lady through the Chaplet of the Seven Sorrows or the Via Matris are beneficial ways to express this month's devotion.
The Chaplet of the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady is similar to the rosary, except that it is composed of seven sets of seven Hail Marys, instead of the typical five sets of ten.
The Via Matris is prayed in a similar manner to the Via Crucis, or Stations of the Cross, and they are intimately connected. Both share the same Center, Christ, but the Via Matris allows us to see His life through her tender, maternal eyes. To pray the Via, one calls to mind each of the seven sorrows, spending time with Our Lady in that sorrow before concluding with a Hail Mary and the aspiration, Virgin Most Sorrowful, pray for us.
"Thy mind, O Mary, and thy thought steeped in the blood of our Lord's Passion, were always filled with sorrow, as if they actually beheld the blood flowing from his wounds. Thus her Son himself was that arrow in the heart of Mary; the more amiable he appeared to her, so much the more deeply did the thought of losing him by so cruel a death wound her heart. " ~ St. Alphonsus
The Second Sorrow: The Flight into Egypt
"An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph...and said, 'Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt...' And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Eygpt." ~ Matthew 2:13-15
"Must He then fly from men, who came to save men?" ~ St. Albert the Great
The Fourth Sorrow: Jesus Meets His Mother on the Way to Calvary
"And there followed after him a great multitude of the people, and of women who bewailed and lamented him." ~ Luke 23:27
Teach me, Gracious Mother, to be patient when all the day long my heart is troubled with little, but vexatious, crosses. By your help, may I persevere in following thy Beloved Son till death.
"If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me... What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?" ~ Matthew 16:24-26
The Fifth Sorrow: The Death of Jesus
"Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother... and the disciple whom he loved... He said, 'It is finished'; and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit."
~ John 19:25-30
Mother of Sorrows, you did not leave Calvary until you had drunk with your Son the last drop of the chalice, strengthen me to accept the trials that come each day. Compassionate Mother, silently suffering for me, turn my heart back to Him.
"O all ye that pass by the way, attend, and see if there be any sorrow like to my sorrow." ~ Lamentations 1:12
The Sixth Sorrow: The Piercing and the Pieta
"One of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water...Joseph came and took away his body." ~ John 19:34-39
"O wounds, O wounds of love, I adore you, and in you do I rejoice; for by your means salvation is given to the world."
Virgin Most Sorrowful, pray for us!