The first item of international news I remember in my life was when Pope John Paul II became Pope. Growing up as an evangelical Protestant kid, I would play "confession;" I'd make someone stand outside a window curtain while I went in and said, "Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned." I suspected that becoming a nun might be a great way to marry a handsome baron, a' la The Sound of Music.
But never in a million years did I dream that I would teach at a Catholic school.
During this year in a Catholic school, I learned so many things. I learned:
* Wearing high heels six days a week makes my feet ugly.
* That when Catholics say they have an "intention," it means they have a prayer request.
* Sometimes they sing "A Mighty Fortress is Our God" by Martin Luther during Mass. That took me aback until I realized... the Reformation? They're over it.
* That more than any creed or sacrament, the one thing that most Christians still have in common during worship is the Lord's Prayer/Our Father. Which is kind of beautiful, I think. After all these years and differences, we keep coming to the same Daddy for daily bread.
* That crucifix? When Catholics see it, they see love, love, love. No greater love hath a man than this.
* That when you tell a Catholic child that you went to Bible College to do ministry, they look at you aghast and say, "YOU used to be a NUN?!?!" ...as if I could ever be so brave as to take monastic orders. As if my life has been spicy enough to take orders and then cast them aside...
* NO Christian Church or communion understands and does service to others better than Catholics. Period.
* When you sing, you pray twice.
* They are utterly kind and generous, but will defend faith and family tooth and nail, like lions. Thank God.
* There are true and real differences amongst Christians in doctrine, and doctrine forms lifestyle.
* Even though there are true and real differences in doctrine, MANY perceived differences come from a difference in vocabulary. I have been so grateful to build a small amount of "trilingualism" between my Protestant, Orthodox, and Catholic experiences.
* That preparing children's souls for eternity is THE goal. (not state tests, not college prep, not scholarship, not sports or arts talent) Souls. Eternity. Nothing less will suit.
Most of all, I learned that whatever the lens you look at Christianity through, the picture is always the same. The hope is to be with, to be like Jesus. Each day, more and more. We call it discipleship, sanctification, theosis. The human soul thirsts and needs. We need to be with Him. We need to be like Him. Even in the ways we fail that, there is wholeness to be gained from the attempt. And at the end of the day, He wraps His arms around us. Calls us blessed. Loved. Home.
With my sweet Catholics, I learned to pray:
"I love You, Jesus, my Love; I repent of ever having offended You. Never let me offend You again. Grant that I may love You always; and then do with me as You will."
Grant that I may love You always; and then do with me as You will.
Never in a million years did I dream that I would teach in a Catholic school.
But I'm so glad I have.