Sunday, December 09, 2007

Last day of class

I taught two sections this semester of a course on social justice. I never write out what I am going to say--I have outlines, plans, but never anything word-for-word. At the end of one class, I sort of stumbled through a "here's what I hope for you" speech, and walked away thinking, "I sure wish I'd said...." So I wrote it down. And the next day, when the other section met for the last time, I mostly said, but at points actually read them this:

Whether you are Catholic or not, Christian or not, I hope that you come away with a deeper sense that a better world is possible and that you can work in small ways and/or in large ways to help make that possible

Again Catholic, Christian, or not, I hope that you have come to a deeper understanding that the Church is convinced that the gospel demands that all people, especially Christians, should work for justice in the world, and especially that they attend to the needs of the poor and marginalized. (I know the Church fails to live this, I know I—like most “first world” Christians—fail to live it, but) I hope that you have seen something more of the Church’s vision of a world where the dignity of the human person is respected, the common good is worked for, creation is cared for, and the poor and marginalized are included and have all that they need.

I also hope that those of you who do consider yourselves Christian have come to see that the Gospel demands more of you than going to Mass an hour every week on your way to the same ole American Dream the rest of the world is pursuing. I hope that this class has helped you to rethink a bit what you will do with your life. It’s funny. Sometimes I wonder if the next Dorothy Day, the next Daniel Berrigan, the next St. Francis, the next St. Therese of Liseuax might not be sitting in my class. Their lives, to borrow Daniel Berrigan’s line about Dorothy Day, were lived as though the truth is true.

I know none of us will live it perfectly. But I hope this class has given you something to aspire to. The gospel that God so loved the world that He gave his only Son for us, and that we encounter Christ in each encounter with the least of these. I hope that all of us go forth from this semester together a bit more equipped to live as though that truth is true.

I loved watching their faces as I said the line about the next Dorothy Day being in the class. I actually added a line there about how they all had to start learning that truth sometime, somewhere. Why not here?

Anyway, it occurs to me that it is of course a good Advent message, heck, a good anytime-of-the-year challenge to all of us: let us live as though the truth is true. Of course, I'm also tempted to add: and if we don't know what's true, by God, let's start trying to figure it out!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Happy New Year!

Well, the vestments have changed to purple, and a single candle of four is glowing on all the wreaths. It's always fascinated me that we have so many kinds of years--calendar years, school years, fiscal years, and, of course, liturgical years. So strange that this particular year begins as so much is coming to an end--the semester, the leaves, etc. It's also a bit scary to feel so scattered, overwhelmed, and not-ready-for-anything in the face of that for which advent would have us prepare. Find us ready, Lord.