Monday, March 11, 2013

Today a priest called me "teacher." ... That was new.

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves…” Philippians 2:3

One of my Top 10 favorite memories of all time was the final day I taught Voice & Shakespeare at the Rose Bruford College of Theatre & Performance. As I was bidding farewell and many broken legs to my students – the bright and shining future of British stage performance – a number of them expressed gratitude for their semester with me and their interest in private lessons, as I was not planning on returning to work at the school permanently. It was the culmination of a spring’s worth of teaching these actors-in-training to forget everything they ever thought they knew about speech – in order to re-learn the beauty of language and the power of articulation when it comes to communicating a thought or idea. Basically the nerdiest medium in the theatre world, and definitely the most fun. It’s been a few years since then, but I’ve always held in my heart that wonderful satisfaction of watching my students progress by leaps and bounds over the course of a few weeks.  And the joy I felt in those brilliant moments when I witnessed, firsthand, the little light bulbs going off in their brains. And suddenly they got it. And it changed everything. And they were growing.

When you do what you do not only because you love it, but also because at its core lies the simple intention to help another person become a better version of him or herself – the potential for fulfillment when the fruits of that intention are realized, is increased a hundredfold. I loved my time as a teacher in the UK and was admittedly disappointed when I came home to discover that there was essentially no job-market for someone my age in the field for which I had undergone an extensive amount of training. Of course these days I’m not complaining for one second that I didn’t move on to a career in voice/speech/theatre… for we all know that the Lord had other tres tres awesome plans for me J. But the handful of opportunities I’ve had since finishing grad school, to actually utilize what I studied in a professional context, have always been a source of momentary bursts of joy that… are just fun to encounter every once in a while.

So you might be able to imagine my delight at having recently taken up teaching phonetics and pronunciation to a couple of the priests at my home parish. These guys are already awesome, brilliant and give some pretty sweet homilies. But a bit more clarity in articulation is good for everyone, even us lazy ‘mericans who are often sloppy with our speech. So after receiving two new Rogationist priests whose native language is not English, over the last few months, I offered to help them out as much as I am able in the time I have left here at home. So far we’ve had a couple of classes and they are both making crazy progress. Go Holy Spirit go!

Thankfully we’ve started our lessons in the middle of Lent – which provides me with the oh-so-necessary reminder of the care I must take not to become proud of the work God is doing through me. I am so happy and humbled to be working with these good and holy men, but I will need to remember that whatever progress they make will never be to my credit. Rather all the glory belongs to the Lord Our God, and it is for Him that I have offered to help these priests – that they may be more well equipped to preach the Gospel and share His Good News with those who will listen. Please pray these men of God who are making the fantastic effort to improve their speech for the sake of the salvation of souls.

Humility, of course, has always been my greatest struggle. Yesterday’s run was my longest distance ever at 14.01 mi. And after a brief post-run prayer of thanksgiving, I found myself grumbling (at times inwardly and at other times not-so-inwardly) for much of the day, about my newly acquired blisters, instead of being thankful to share in the physical discomfort of those who suffer… not to mention Christ Himself. Oh what a long way I have to go. But since I am still so imperfect that I grumble about these little things, I am at least thankful for the grace to be able to recognize my sinfulness every once-in-a-while. More often these days I pray for the grace to first recognize the plank in my own eye. God answers my prayers in the affirmative more than I deserve, so I only hope that He will strengthen me enough to keep praying for this kind of purification for the rest of my life.

Tomorrow the conclave begins and, God willing, we will soon have a new pope. Beginning tonight I will join my brothers at St. Michael’s Abbey (in spirit) in their 24-Hour Day of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in intercession for the Cardinal Electors in Conclave. I am joyful in anticipation of our new pontiff, as are millions of Catholics around the world. But while most will have their prayers focused primarily on the outcome of the happenings in Vatican City, much of my focus will remain on our dear Pope Emeritus. My prayers are for his intercession through this conclave. God only knows the power of the prayers being offered up by this holy-beyond-all-reason former pope turned monk. I also continue to ask Our Lady to protect and strengthen him… that he may have many years left on earth to become a saint and intercede for us in the world!

God be with us.
Ave Maria. 

LOL... I'm not discerning Dominican life anymore, but finding this was pretty funny.

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