Monthly letters to help put the work of the catechist of the Good Shepherd into the context of the larger world · from the archives
by Catherine Maresca
Our Tuesday afternoon atrium met on November 1 this year, so naturally our prayer service focused on the feast of All Saints. All of the 9-12 year olds wanted to help prepare this celebration. They chose songs, wrote prayers, searched for and practiced readings, brought in tokens of beloved family or saints in heaven, and prepared the space and prayer table. Not surprisingly, the process yielded a new take on this traditional commemoration. The readings chosen were the story of Zaccheus (inspired by Sunday’s Gospel) and the conversion and baptism of Paul (from Acts) as two examples of becoming a follower of Jesus. During our reflection one of the girls suggested the lesson to be learned from Acts was that Paul (and we) should be tolerant of every way people worship God in the world.
It was this last thought that stopped me in my tracks. I had thought that Paul’s mistake was persecuting those that followed Jesus, corrected by his becoming one of those that followed Jesus himself. Our nine-year-old, however, with the wide perspective of the cosmic child, saw in Paul’s story the problem of people persecuting others throughout history for their beliefs. A persecution that we must abandon in our deeds and a prejudice we must abandon in our hearts.
We celebrate God’s gracious gifts this month on Thanksgiving Day. Part of this grace is offering humankind many ways to approach and live in relationship with the Holy One. Ways appropriate to the language, the history, the culture, and even the circumstances of each of us. Let us thank God together for this and every kindness received in God’s bountiful love.A post-election footnote: I wrote the above last week. In the light of the election I reread it this week. The message of tolerance for all, and gratitude for the graciousness of God’s presence among all of us, consoles me. Our love for God and work for children compels us to continue to build God’s Kindom with faith, hope, and love.