This ornament is from a few years back, but because the school year is starting up again it popped into my mind. At church, I have hundreds of children and parents to organize into classes and sessions. There are so many details to attend to that it is very easy to feel overwhelmed and annoyed. I hear lots of "Whaaaaaat?" from my coworkers as they open emails and respond to the latest crisis.
On days like these, I have to remind myself of the true reason for Religious Education - "to train up a child in the way he or she ought to go, and when they are old they will not depart from it." (Proverbs 22:6) Bible speak for "the way to go" translates to "the path of discipleship," referring to a decision to follow the Lord in a life-long journey, up hill and down vale, in storm and sun. Dr. Seuss' story "The Sneetches" reminds us of this. The role of the catechist is not the same as the karate teacher. Faith formation is not just another after school activity. We hope to pass on the teachings of Christ, 'the teachings that are one with him, " as St. Catherine of Siena reminded us. If a child can be guided onto the path of discipleship, then it won't make any difference if one group is wearing stars and another is not. Both groups will be able to see the image of God in themselves and in those who are not themselves.
As they open their books again this month all over the country, let's pray that all children and adults "grow in wisdom and grace, in favor with God and with people" (Luke 2:52) this year.