Cardinal John Dew
I have recently been reading Pope Francis’ book, The Name of God is Mercy.
Actually, it isn’t a book you read, it is more like a book you pray with, ponder on, meditate and reflect on the profound words of this amazing Pope we have been gifted with.
I used some of Pope Francis’ words at the annual Teachers’ Commissioning Mass at the Cathedral on 16 February. Now that I am writing about those words I will probably have to think of another homily for the Archdiocesan Upper South Island Teachers’ Commissioning Mass at St Mary’s Church, Nelson, Friday 11 March.
The Pope’s idea I used was, ‘God goes to extraordinary lengths to enter our human hearts’. This is true, but do we realise the incredible fact that God wants to enter our hearts and goes to extraordinary lengths to do so?
At the Teachers’ Mass in Wellington, I said any who are involved in Catholic Education are privileged beyond measure to have the opportunities we have to teach the students in our Catholic schools and colleges about the presence of God in our lives, and that God wants to enter our hearts.
Our Catholic schools are all about ‘Encountering Christ’ or they are not doing the job. It is immensely pleasing to visit our schools and colleges and to see the wonderful things happening that do bring about this meeting with Jesus.
However, I also said in my homily the place where children really learn to pray is in the family home; the school helps but the family is the place to encounter Christ.
I returned from Rome after the Synod on the Family last year convinced we must find new ways to assist families to pray. I think they need to be simple ways. For example, prayers at the end of the day, to say ‘thank you’ and ‘sorry’; grace before and after meals; easy ways to think about and talk about where the presence of God was felt during the day.
Families too, just as schools do, have the great privilege of helping one another to create the space for God to enter into their hearts. Maybe for some of us that is what this time of Lent is also about.
Pope Francis has said to us in his Lenten message, ‘Let us not waste this season of Lent’. If we ask ourselves a very simple question we will not waste this ‘blessed and joyful season’.
That question is this: ‘Am I open and ready to receive God into my heart?’ That question must make a difference to the way I pray, the way I enter into another day, to my interactions with others. Do we really know and appreciate the lengths God goes to in order to enter into our hearts?
At the Teachers’ Mass I emphasised the privilege any of us in the Catholic Education have to facilitate for others the opening of their hearts so that God may enter in.
Very obviously that privilege is not just for teachers, it is one we all have and Lent is the blessed time we have to reflect on that. Lent is a time of blessing, it will be more blessed as we reflect and give God the chance to go to the extraordinary lengths God wants to go to so that He may enter our hearts.