Practice What You Teach: Opening Mass for Teachers

Monday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Today Moses answers the most important of all questions: “Why are we here, and what is our purpose?”  by telling us, “to love and serve the Lord, your God, with all your heart and all your soul” (Dt 10:12), which happens to also be the answer found in the first page of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (cf. CCC par. 1). This is the sole purpose for our existence.

Many students grow up to be spiritual orphans, not knowing their Heavenly Father, often times because of no fault of their own. Our mission must be tied in with our identity. We are sons and daughters of God, and we must communicate this to our students. What good does it do as a Catholic institution to provide academics in a competitive field such as academia (which they can get in any number of places) if we do not prepare them for what truly and ultimately matters, i.e. eternity? Our lives must reflect this reality.

“We are sons and daughters of God, and we must communicate this to our students.”

Upon receiving diaconate ordination, the bishop says to the newly ordained: “Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.” Do we truly believe what we teach? Children are very perceptive and they can often see through the façade. They will know whether you mean what you say. They will know whether it matters to you. Do we go to Mass every week? Do we follow all the tenants of our faith? Do we regularly pray? If it doesn’t matter to us, it most certainly won’t matter to them – practice what you teach.

I’ve often used the metaphor of flying. During the pre-flight instructions, the flight attendant will say that in case of an emergency, where there is a lack of oxygen, masks will descend from the ceiling, and before helping someone else with their mask, we must first put on ours. What help will it be to the other person if we ourselves are suffocating? It’s the same with the spiritual life. What good does it do for our students if spiritually we are lacking ourselves? 

Show your students that you love the Lord. On a personal note, coming from someone who could never afford to be sent to a Catholic school, you don’t realize how blessed we are here that we can openly speak about our faith. It is a luxury I never had. As St. Paul reminds us, we are not orphans, but children of God (cf. Gal 4:7). We have a loving God, therefore, let us live as though we are not orphaned. Whether you teach math, science, literature, or religion, start your class with a prayer. You may be the only face of God these children will see all year. 

“Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.”

Comments · 1

  1. That was so powerful Father. What a great way to have our beautiful teachers start out their daily classes. I love it. Thank you for posting.

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