Lifelong Learner

Bulletin Article, Ordinary Time Sunday 22B

With classes getting into full swing, daylight hours fading away, and temperatures becoming milder or even, according to some, colder, autumn seems to be on its way already. Summer has flown by, as usual, and the equinox is less than a month away. The strangest thing for me this year is that, for the first time in twenty-one years, I won’t be going back to school. I guess that means I should be ready to teach now, but I’m still learning every day. 

During my time at Holy Spirit so far, I’ve given Anointing of the Sick for the first time, I’ve done my first and very interesting house blessing, I’ve had my first couple of Baptisms, and I’ll be starting to meet with couples for marriage preparation. I’ve been learning to use a smart phone, at least to keep track of my calendar and appointments. I’ve also opened a Twitter account, though I don’t really feel the need or desire to tweet very often. I’ve met lots of amazing people in this parish from whom I am learning every day. One of the greatest things about being a priest is having the privilege to meet and get to know so many outstanding people and to begin to see the wonderful ways in which God works in our lives. If we’re open to it, God is trying to teach us every day through the events and people we encounter. 

My exams now are less formal, my assignments less academic, but in some ways I’ll always remain a student. You’ll still see me carry a backpack pretty much everywhere I go. The concept of lifelong learning has been around for many years and takes many forms. The Vatican has also written about the ongoing formation of priests, even after their years of formal seminary education. Blessed John Henry Newman once wrote, “In a higher world it is otherwise, but here below to live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often” (On the Development of Christian Doctrine40). I hope that we can always keep an open mind and continue to learn from everything and everyone that God puts in our lives, even from the most difficult trials and from people with whom we disagree. 

For all of us, our “One Teacher is the Christ,” the Truth in Person (Matthew 23:10). And there’s just one final exam that will really matter. “At the end of life, we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done. We will be judged by, ‘I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat; I was naked, and you clothed me; I was homeless, and you took me in’” (Blessed Teresa of Calcutta). “At the evening of life, we shall be judged on our love” (St. John of the Cross, Sayings 64). May God teach us to love not only “in word and speech, but in deed and truth” (1 John 3:18).

Keep at it. 

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