by Catherine Maresca
Monthly letters to help put the work of the catechist of the Good Shepherd into the context of the larger world · from the archives.
Each human person, created in God’s image, is a prism through which we somehow encounter the divine. Held up to the light of the Holy One’s enduring love, we, each a precious work of God, spread colored streams, varied and beautiful, into the heart of the beholder. Peace resides in that place beyond even our worthy and sacred differences where we all exist in the unchanging regard of our creator.
Sr. Patricia Marks, A Retreat with Edith Stein
Last June, this remarkable catechist and marriage and family therapist from New Jersey passed away. As a way of walking with her one last time, I read her book, quoted above, during Lent. This passage, concluding her introduction to Edith Stein, was my favorite. I’d like to consider it in CCTheo in Context this month.
We are in the Easter season. New life abounds in the plants and animals around us, hinting at the powerful, beautiful life of the risen Christ. It’s easy to imagine the “colored streams of light” emanating from him both before and after his resurrection, streams of healing, guidance, encouragement, and love. Do we think of these streams becoming stronger and brighter after his death and resurrection? Did they seem dimmer to those who had walked with him before his death? Are there times in our life when they beam brightly, and other times when they are diffused by fogs of trouble, busyness, or indifference? How can we help each other discern the bright light of Christ in our lives every day?
These streams of light also flow from each human person, Sr. Pat reminds us. The gift here is that we need not imagine this light but can experience the extraordinary word, or gift, or beauty of people directly. This is often most true of the youngest children with whom we work. A colleague said to a three-year-old girl one day, “I wonder what the voice of Jesus sounds like.” She immediately whispered back, “I love you!” Another young child visiting our church walked over to the wheelchair of our oldest parishioner and held her hand as we gathered for communion. We catechists are privileged to behold many such moments.
The struggle to see the light of each human person may come for us when they are older, less innocent, and capable of sharing both the light and the shadows within them. And yet light is quite striking in contrast to darkness, and we may allow ourselves to treasure both that contrast and bursts of light in one another.
Sr. Pat points to us as well, as she says “we, each a precious work of God…” We not only behold the streams of light but are also the prisms that cast light for others. Despite our weakness, our faults, our struggles, we still shine, casting the light of God into every corner of our lives.
Many of you have done this for me, for your families, and for your communities. Shine on, dear friends.