WelCom News
A newspaper for the Wellington and Palmerston North Catholic Dioceses

Chaplaincy as a smile

Last night a recent 20-year-old reflected with some of us on the problem of her developing smile lines (if only everyone could see their futures so clearly). I would like to say to her, ‘but developing smile lines is perhaps our first priority in chaplaincy.’ But shouldn’t Eucharist be our first priority?

Well fun is not as easy as people think. That’s why people don’t have enough fun. In fact Christ, who, ‘learned obedience through what he suffered’ (Heb 5:8), ‘endured the cross for the joy which lay ahead’ (Heb 12:2).

Fun is ‘frown’ with the -row- taken out of it and the -u- put in. In the process the face wrinkles with love for the other. Didn’t Mother Teresa say ‘holiness consists in doing God’s will with a smile’. So in chaplaincy we try to be very deliberate about losing our ‘-rows-‘, and helping others lose ‘-rows-‘ so that we can find ‘us’. We think this is loving and the way of God’s hospitality.

Getting back to the Eucharist. Like all Catholic spiritualities chaplaincy spirituality is Eucharistic. We understand the Eucharist to be the celebration of the hospitality of God.

We try to let God’s celebratory hospitality define our lives at Kohanga and in the other areas of our chaplaincy lives. That’s why the title of Tony Campolo’s book The Kingdom of God Is A Party makes so much sense in chaplaincy life.

Thank God for the gift of laughter!

There is a lot more to be said of course. Listening to God helps us to lose our rows with ourselves. Listening to students and staff helps them to lose their rows with themselves.

Social justice and the Gospel message of peace are obviously integral to the life of God’s celebration. We try to maintain the principles in our teaching life and worship. Being fully alive does involve the hard work of learning to cooperate and carry out our responsibilities.

With regard to academic life, Maurice Blondel’s insight is extremely helpful: The secret of Christian Truth is hidden in all genuine research. Staying in touch with this process is so important in an environment where ‘Love rejoices in the Truth’ (1 Cor 13:6).

Finally Eucharist is gratitude – for God’s hospitality and for the people through whom he brings it to us. Thanking for the life of friendship that thrives in the kind and forgiving hospitality of God.