God calls us to a different way

In a climate of fear, there is a tendency to narrow our circle. God calls us to a different way: working together, needing each other, being the body of Christ.

“May St Joseph, model of integrity and solidarity, inspire us to serve and to care for all,” Bishop Vincent Long.

Family – the centre of life

In this time of crisis, the family has been the centre of life. Like the family in the Swiss Family Robinson, families are being called to build educational and emotional structures to support each other in their isolation. We are all being called to a different way of working and being as the Body of Christ. Parents are being reaffirmed the first educators of their children. Mothers, particularly, are being challenged to give above and beyond in supporting families at this point in time. Since we are celebrating Mothers’ Day, I thought I would reflect on this great role that mothers (and fathers) play in the education of our children.

In 1965, the Vatican stated:

Since parents have given children their life, they are bound by the most serious obligation to educate their offspring and therefore must be recognized as the primary and principal educators. …Parents are the ones who must create a family atmosphere animated by love and respect for God and man, in which the well-rounded personal and social education of children is fostered. Hence the family is the first school of the social virtues that every society needs. 

Many parents have found the challenge of assisting in remote and online learning difficult.  But reports are also indicating that parents are also actively rediscovering their vocation as first educators of their children to be a joyful revelation. They are exploring values leading them to consider the way their families live together, love together and support each other. They are contemplating what is really essential to healthy family life and relationships. As The Little “It is only with the heart that one sees rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye.” It is a time of learning to see with the heart, to realise those essentials that have not been visible because we have been preoccupied with looking elsewhere.

What has become visible in these difficult times is recognising the need to connect more deeply with those who live with us on daily basis. This connection consists of developing routines that all may flourish and live fully. Routines such as recreation, sharing meals together, time for personal study and prayer, conversation that leads to deep understanding of each other’s passions, talents and viewpoints. We are realising the value of those small steps, everyday moments and activities that lead to building character and resilience. We are realising the wisdom of our grandmothers, to take things more slowly, and savour the simple joys of life, as poet Elena Mikhalkova reminds us:

My grandmother once gave me a tip:
In difficult times, you move forward in small steps.
Do what you have to do, but little by little.
Don’t think about the future, or what may happen tomorrow.
Wash the dishes.
Remove the dust.
Write a letter.
Make a soup.
You see?
You are advancing step by step.
Take a step and stop.
Rest a little.
Praise yourself.
Take another step.
Then another.
You won’t notice, but your steps will grow more and more.
And the time will come when you can think about the future without crying.

Seek out those in need

Parents are creating opportunities for their children to value virtue, to seek out those in need. As educators they are focusing on the connection with community and those who are vulnerable, elderly, lonely. Parents are realising that work should be a means of sustaining family life, not an obligation or necessity that diminishes family life.  We need to focus on creating a new normal.

Poet and activist Sonya Renee Taylor calls us to dream of a more just world:

“We will not go back to normal. Normal never was. Our pre-corona existence was not normal other than we normalized greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate and lack. We are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment. One that fits all of humanity and nature. What we have been forced to leave behind we needed to leave behind. What is getting us through is what we will need to take forward, all the rest is up to us. DREAM. While have so much time. DREAM of the life you want. DREAM of the world you desire to exist in. Look for the places in your new dreams that have parts of the old world and remove them. What is the dream then? From there we can add to the collective weaving of whatever it is that is next. If we are gonna heal, let it be glorious.”

In the midst of this crisis, we are also challenged to consider what will be our legacy to future generations. Autumn Peltier is an Anishinaabe-kwe and a member of the Wiikwemkoong First Nation. She is best known as an internationally recognized advocate for clean water. She is a water protector and has been called a “water warrior”.  She says:

One day I will be an ancestor and I want my descendants to know that I used my voice so that they could have a future.

There is a challenge for us all …What do you want your legacy to be with your descendants?

How will you respond to the call

One day I will be ancestor and I want my descendants to know…….

Your descendants need not be biological but those who come after you in your world. What do you want to leave them? What is your calling and how are you living this out?

Year 9 – Importance of one person

Our Year 9s have been reflecting on the importance of one person in their life who lives out the Eucharistic themes of meal, thanksgiving, Christ present, call to action. As Mother’s Day is with us, many have chosen to celebrate the role of mothers and grandmothers. Students shared their personal experiences:

Thank you for sacrificing countless hours and money, I remember a time where you told me you were going to move jobs just so you could spend the afternoons and holidays with me. Thank you for going to all the trouble of finding a new job just so you could come on holidays with me and spend more time at home with me. This reflected sacrifice because you changed your entire livelihood just to make me happier.

Another student shares:

Every Sunday my mum, sister and I go over to my ma’s and enjoy a cup of tea and scones at her house after we go on a walk around the back of Higgins. As I said before I love how I get to share a meal with my loved ones as it makes me feel so good inside, which I love that feeling.

Finally, reinforcing the theme of parents and grandparents who are our first educators in faith – do you remember who taught you to say The Lord’s Prayer or the Hail Mary?

My Nonna believed that Christ constantly surrounded us and guided us throughout life’s hardest decisions. I fondly remember her teaching us how and when to prayer to God. She provided us with a deeper understanding and appreciation for God’s work. Through prayer with were able to feel Christs presence and find a voice who was able to listen to us without shame or judgement. I also remember practising using her dark blue Rosary beads. She had taught me how to count prayers as well as introducing me to the Our Father and Hail Mary. Looking back at those memories, I realise how she used faith to make me believe that through prayer miracles were real.

Year 10 – Importance of spiritual values and relationships

Our Year 10s have been reflecting on what spiritual values and relationships are important to them and they meet God in their everyday lives. The following highlights many sentiments expressed:

“My mum is a special person she will do anything, anytime, anywhere for me and my siblings. The God in her comes out every day for example she makes my lunch every morning, she cleans for everyone, and every night she cooks us dinner.  A kiss and a hug each night before I go to sleep displays the love she has for me, like God’s is unconditional.  Even if I have done something wrong through the day, she always forgives me and ensures I learn from my wrong.”

We have been encouraged by the depth and detail of these responses.

It is an Armstrong Family tradition to celebrate special family moments by playing Louis Armstrong’s ‘What a Wonderful World’. The lyrics show us how to focus on the positives. Perhaps you can celebrate the lives of your mothers, foster mothers, and grandmothers present and with God and think of the wonderful everyday joy they share with you and for being God-present in your life.

What a Wonderful World

I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself what a wonderful world

I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself what a wonderful world

The colors of the rainbow, so pretty in the sky
Also on the faces of people going by
I see friends shaking hands, saying how do you do
They’re only saying I love you

I see babies crying, I watch them grow
They’ll learn so much more than I’ll ever know
Then I think to myself what a wonderful world

The colors of the rainbow, so pretty in the sky
Also on the faces of people…

Writers: Douglas George, Thiele Bob

Mrs Anne Armstrong
Religious Coordinator

SOME FURTHER READING FOR YOUR ENJOYMENT IN THIS OPPORTUNITY FOR READING AND CONTEMPLATION

THE POSITIVES OF STAYING HOME WITH YOUR KIDS

https://www.relationshipsnsw.org.au/the-positives-of-families-staying-at-home-during-the-coronavirus/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/01/12/the-most-important-thing-you-can-do-with-your-kids-eat-dinner-with-them/

https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/corona-virus-inspiration-and-introspection/

https://www.axios.com/coronavirus-family-revival-00bb56ee-26e4-4c64-a0f7-380f13437b14.html

https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/05/06/e-b-white-letters-of-note-book/

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2020/may/01/knuckling-down-in-lockdown-how-to-stay-motivated-while-studying-at-home?

https://www.edutopia.org/article/why-are-some-kids-thriving-during-remote-learning

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-03-27/more-family-time-working-from-home-during-coronavirus/12086052

ETHICAL AND POLITICAL INSIGHTS

http://bostonreview.net/philosophy-religion/vafa-ghazavi-ethics-distance

https://thejesuitpost.org/2020/04/the-common-good-and-coronavirus-time-to-re-think-politics/

THE CHALLENGE TO BUILD A BETTER WORLD

https://www.fastcompany.com/90494075/will-we-settle-for-just-beating-the-virus-or-will-we-build-a-better-wor

https://today.uic.edu/events/the-breathing-room-envisioning-a-more-just-post-pandemic-world

https://theconversation.com/coronavirus-lockdowns-effect-on-air-pollution-provides-rare-glimpse-of-low-carbon-future-134685

 

FINALLY, SOMETHING TO REMEMBER YOUR TIME TOGETHER

https://kidsactivitiesblog.com/137721/family-handprint/

SOMETHING TO WATCH

https://thejesuitpost.org/2020/04/the-stones-would-cry-out-andrea-bocellis-easter-concert/

ANDREA BOCELLI – FROM DUOMO CATHEDRAL – INSPIRATIONAL

https://www.kveller.com/this-fiddler-on-the-roof-coronavirus-parody-is-a-delight/ Fiddler on The Roof Parody

SOMETHING TO DO

https://350.org/art-for-a-just-recovery/ Create your own artwork and submit it in this art for a just recovery

SOMETHING TO ASPIRE TO

https://www.thetablet.co.uk/blogs/1/1412/covid-19-and-the-help-of-human-kindness Covid ad the Help of Human Kindness

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