Happy National Catholic Schools Week! This past Sunday the Church I attended brought attention to this special week by having the children of the attached grade school participate in the Masses as lectors, gift bearers, and even ushers distributing parish bulletins afterwards. But it was a detail in the deacon’s homily that really caught my attention.
In describing what makes a Catholic school unique, Deacon Steven talked about the value system used at the school. It’s quite easy to remember, as it uses CHRIST as an acronym: Courage, Hope, Respect, Integrity, Service, and Thankfulness. All aspects of the education and social support provided by the school are formulated with these values in mind. Each day one of these values is identified for special focus. Upon hearing this, my first thought was, “That’s what I need!” I loved the idea of having one specific value or virtue to focus on within a day. Once one has a prayer routine going, it can be challenging to keep it from being ….well, routine (aka going through the motions).
While I love using the Magnificat to frame my morning and evening prayer, it can be difficult to keep God in mind throughout the day. If we are to be Christ-bearers in the world today, living out a Christ-centric life is the goal for all baptized. We are each called to our own mission by God with the gifts and skills He has provided in us. Yet our very human nature can be a stumbling block many times throughout a day. Just like any sport or hobby, practice makes one better able to demonstrate one’s abilities. Reading scripture and talking to God is wonderful, but living a Christ-centric life does not stop with acknowledging Jesus as the Son of God. Rather it calls us to transform and share the love and light of Jesus with all who cross our path. It’s incorporating everything we learn about Jesus and the Trinity into our daily lives, allowing ourselves to be transformed by Him.
Using a device like making Christ an acronym for a set of Christian values is a helpful tool to put into practice what we learn from Jesus. Can you imagine each day selecting a value (randomly generated perhaps with a roll of a dice?) and placing that value front and center of all you do? How much more could you bring the love of Christ to a business meeting when your focus for the day is on Courage? How could the relationship with your friends be deepened when you practice the value of Respect? Or maybe it’s Service that can help you push through a cranky attitude when you’re around your family? No, it won’t be easy, but focusing on one specific virtue during a day can help reveal where our weaknesses are and hold ourselves accountable each day.
Lent begins in three weeks, but one doesn’t need to wait until then to put a focus on improving the practice of our faith into which we have been baptized. Now is the time to reflect on where our weaknesses are and what we can do to strengthen the demonstration of our faith to those around us. Hopefully this example either strikes a chord with you and encourages you to stay focused on living out Christ’s doctrine each day, or prompts you to think of your own version to help you shine the light of Christ into this needful world.