Friday, February 1, 2013

The First of February

I am hoping for a better month than last.  I have heard so many sad stories and  have had to deal with so many sensitive situations in January as part of my work as a CRE in a Catholic parish that I could use a little spiritual renewal myself.  The annual retreat for certified CREs is coming in April and can't come soon enough for me.  Happily, we'll be having a Parish Renewal during Lent which will make a nice interim exercise.

This depressed economy is wreaking havoc on so many good and hard-working folk in my community, so many are still suffering from the aftershocks of Sandy and still more are carrying heavy personal burdens.  Working with families as I do, I have access to a lot of very private information and I am constantly amazed by how many quiet heroes there are: ordinary people making the best of painfully extraordinary circumstances.

But even in the midst of it all, there is comic relief.  We recently celebrated First Confession with our 2nd graders.  One of my more enjoyable tasks as CRE is doing some real hands-on work preparing the children for sacraments.  Prior to First Confession, we did role-play practices with me as the priest and the children as themselves, as penitents.  I told them not to tell me their real sins as they practiced but some of them exercised such imagination [at least, I hope it was imagination] that I had a hard time maintaining a straight face.  One innocent little boy with the face of a choir boy and the reverent voice of a budding saint confessed that he "threw away just one of his big sister's best earrings because he was mad at her."  In my role as pseudo priest, I gave a short homily on the evils of revenge and talked about some better methods of resolving personal conflict, all the while hoping that this wasn't a true story and that grandma's heirloom diamond earrings weren't involved.  One almost had to admire the diabolical inspiration of throwing away "just one" earring of the pair: the remaining earring being a constant reminder of the loss of its mate.  Another young cherub, solemnly confessed that he hated going to school because the kids in his class were always saying things like "Jesus f-----g Christ".  What could I do but solemnly agree that it must be very difficult to attend such a school but then suggest that perhaps church wasn't quite the right place to quote his classmates so accurately.  These stories are funny precisely because the contrast between the child and the story is so great.  But, when examined more closely, they also contain a certain element of pathos: a commentary on how pervasive our secular culture is and how it has the power to corrupt even the very young and very innocent.  Maybe I have been at this too long, 20 years in catechetics and 4 years before that as a teacher in a parochial school, but it's just sad that even the comic relief moments are tainted by the rank perfume of what Baudelaire called the fleurs de mal.

Well, I have depressed myself quite enough for the time being ... but I needed to vent.  Ironically, I expect February to be a happier month even though Lent begins on the 13th.  Lent, for all its solemnity, ultimately points to Easter truth and on a more ordinary level, culminates in Spring.  

1 comment:

Vickie said...

Oh Regina, your last statement is so very true.
God bless you and your work. The secular influence these days is horrible. My kids are at Catholic High School and I still wonder plenty sometimes!