Excelling in Education
Heart, Mind and Spirit.
This theme for this Catholic Education Week (Excelling in Education Heart, Mind and Spirit) goes to the heart of what Catholic Education is about if it is looked at the right way. The word that might let us astray is the word ‘excelling’. In the pursuit of excellence, we can too easily treat life like an Olympic race where virtually all praise goes to the gold medal winner – as for place-getters, who cares! Even if we prize ‘Personal Bests’, God isn’t really interested in them because we are then competing against ourselves and when we don’t beat our previous goal, we often beat ourselves up.
The excellence we are promoting in this week is the excellence that God desires for our lives. We invite God to come and love within our hearts that we may show the extraordinary courteous love which Jesus showed. We invite God to guide our thoughts and imagination so that our minds grow in awe and wonder of the world in which we live. We invite God’s Spirit to guide our lives, so that buoyed up, we can face the life’s challenges and difficulties with hope.
When our hearts, minds and spirits are shaped by this excellent God, all the other things that we would like from Catholic Education fall naturally into place: pursuit of academic excellence, enjoyment in sport, love of art and culture, personal discipline.
Loving God, enter our hearts, minds and spirits. May your Spirit lift us up in love that we may show the life of Jesus to our family, friends and community. We ask this in Jesus’ name, confident that you will hear us.
Sr Kym Harris osb
Many Voices, One Spirit
How are we going to hold them altogether? We often wonder this in our families, our schools and our communities but we may not use those words. The closer we get to one another, the more we love another, the more we come to realise how different each person is. Even in the closest of families, used to doing most things together, the sensitive loving person will be amazed by the variety of personalities. How much more in our schools and communities, where people come from such different backgrounds!
Imposing conformity can seem like the easy way to unity but we all know that gives a false sense of security and eventually leads to failure. For myself, in a group struggling for unity, I try to remind myself that God has made each person uniquely, that each has their own journey and loves each as passionately as he loves me. That gives me a little bit of emotional space in which I can let them be themselves, while at the same time respecting my own self. Just because I ‘listen’ to a person, doesn’t mean I have to go along with them. True love is when we can disagree, and still respect and love another.
It is difficult, and truly the only way to true community lies not in ourselves but in the Holy Spirit who unites us. God delights in difference and somehow can blend it together to make every sunrise unique, every flower, every snowflake. How much more with each of us! As we celebrate Catholic Education Week, it will be enlightening to take some time and reflect on the people in my family or classroom and ask myself what is the unique voice of each person and how the Spirit of God is speaking to me through that person.
Loving God, you delight in the differences you have created in us. Give us the openness of mind and heart to respect and listen not only to our own voice but also to that of the people around us.
Sr Kym Harris osb