By Father Benedict J.F. Brown
Recently this fine paper has publicized the annual Catholic Schools Week in articles and an editorial. As a former school pastor and member of the Archdiocesan School Board, I am always eager to celebrate our commitment to life-long spiritual formation and the accomplishments of our Catholic schools and religious education programs at all levels.
It is wonderful, too, to follow the leadership of Pope Francis in his declaration of 2015 as the Year of Consecrated Life, which The Record is doing with a new feature.
Vowed sisters and brothers are due a great deal of the credit for the success of our educational system. I have noted too, the series of articles from Dr. Judy Bullock, our much appreciated director of the archdiocesan
Office of Worship, as she gives instruction on postures at Mass, particularly standing, which we have begun to do more in recent years, appropriately during the reception of holy Communion.
There is a thread which links each of these newsworthy items: Schools Week, consecrated life and standing at Communion. That thread is the call to Christ-like service and sacrifice, shared by all the baptized.
Our articles, announcements and advertisements carry the valid claims of academic excellence as a hallmark of our schools; that does not make us unique.
We have a high level of discipline and an enviably low teacher/student ratio; that does not make us unique.
Our students go on with scholarships to the best institutions of post-secondary education in the country and the world; that does not make us unique.
What makes us unique (although Lutheran and Episcopalian schools share this feature), is that Mass is celebrated in our schools.
The Mass is that prayer which celebrates and makes present the offering of self, called forth by our baptisms. Sacrifice, on the part of students, staff, faculty alumni, parents and grandparents is the centerpiece of our schools and religious education programs.
In his prize-winning essay, Aaron Stocksdale highlighted “service learning” as an important element in his education. He attended St. Martha School and is currently a sophomore at DeSales High School.
Consecrated religious have made and continue to make that sacrifice for generations in our ministry of formation. And, that consecration to which we are all called, has everything to do with why we stand at Mass.
In an earlier article on the promulgation of the new missal, Dr. Bullock noted the phrase “called to the Supper of the Lamb.” Jesus got that name by his willingness to make of himself a sacrifice of love. He calls us to do the same. In doing so, we consecrate, we make him really present.
We stand, as did the Israelites, when eating the Passover, as people ready to act, ready to move, ready to receive the admonition, “Ite Missa Est” (“Go you are sent”). This is our way of educating, our way of living, our way of praying. This is our faith; we are proud to profess it in Christ’s name. Amen.
Father Benedict J.F. Brown is sacramental moderator of Holy Rosary Church in Springfield, Ky.