In today’s episode I share a great quote from The Congregation For Catholic Education that helps us understand the incredible importance of our own relationship of intimacy with Jesus. We cannot give what we do not possess. As such, to provide a genuine witness as a Catholic teacher, we need to create time and space to develop our own relationship with Jesus.
Intimacy With Jesus And The Catholic Teacher
Well, hey everybody, Jonathan Doyle, welcome once again to The Catholic Teacher Daily Podcast. Blessings on you wherever you are in the world. Hope you’re going well, huh? What a great journey it is, Catholic Education. You give so much. I hope you’re looking after yourself. That’s the first thing I want to say. Every live seminar I do anywhere in the world, I’m always like, “Hey, what are you doing to take care of yourself?”
Let me riff on this for a minute because it’s a funny part of the live seminars. I recently did one in Philadelphia, right about 2000 people. And when I talk about this part everybody laughs because there’s this inner sense of we can’t really do stuff for ourselves. We can’t. We’re teachers. So let me remind you, you give and you give. But where do you receive?
I keep telling people, I’ve got a whole bunch of things in life that I really enjoy doing, a lot of exercise and training and a lot of stuff, reading and stuff that’s a great blessing to me. Please, you can’t give from an empty well, so make sure you’re doing something. And the keyword I always say to people is, joy. What do you do for yourself that brings joy? And then I get comments on Facebook like this is selfish. Jesus went to the cross and suffered. We don’t need to have joy. And I go, “No, sorry. Jesus went to the wedding at Cana.”
Today is a Thursday in the studio and I just prayed the Luminous Mysteries and best I can tell, the wedding feast of Cana was pretty joyful. And I can’t imagine Jesus was sitting in the corner going, “This is terrible. I can’t believe these people are doing this.” Jesus had a lot of joy. His friend, Lazarus, was a millionaire by today’s standards and he always used to love going to Lazarus’s house and hanging out. I doubt they were on bread and water friends.
So joy is okay. It’s okay to have things in life that feed you and restore you. Because for many of you listening, not only are you teaching, but you’ve also got families and everything else that makes up your life. I wasn’t planning on talking about that today, but I want to just remind you, joy. Maybe that’s the Holy spirit speaking, huh? I’ve got to be careful. I need to be very careful that I don’t start telling people that everything I say is inspired by the Holy spirit. That’s not true. I do try. But you’ve got a filter that.
I want to share with you a great quote today. Listen to this. This is from the Congregation for Catholic Education. In our Going Deeper program, which is our online program for teachers, you can find that just at beingcatholic.com.au. So check that out today if you haven’t seen it. Go to beingcatholic.com.au and there’s a tab that says Going Deeper. Go ahead, there’s a free trial. You’ll love it. Most of what we’re doing, Going Deeper comes from the church documents such as the Congregation for Catholic Education. Let me share this beautiful quote with you today. It says this, “The project of the Catholic School is convincing only if carried out by people who are deeply motivated because they witness to a living encounter with Christ.” One more time, “The project of the Catholic School is convincing only if carried out by people who are deeply motivated because they witness to a living encounter with Christ.”
That’s a short quote, but there’s a lot of stuff here. It says, “The project of this school is convincing only,” so there’s a criteria here. They’re saying that the Catholic School is only going to be convincing, convincing its students, convincing its parents, convincing its community if it’s carried out by people who are really motivated. And that’s obvious, isn’t it? Because you go into a school where there’s cynicism and staff don’t and like each other and everything’s just a chore and everyone’s exhausted. It is hard for the gospel to take root in that environment, isn’t it? Because people are worn down and they’re defending themselves and trying to survive in spaces like that, so I get that.
So how do people get motivated? Well, it depends. I’ve been saying for a long time that one of the risks for Catholic Education is that it’s been massively professionalized. So very simply, all the religious tended to leave the schools mostly in the 60s and 70s, a huge outflow of men and women religious out of the schools, so lay people came in. And I don’t think we did a great job at helping enough lay people understand their baptismal connection, grace and how their vocation was going to be sustained. So what we tended to do, I think was look around us and look at other big organizations and go, “What do they do?” Well, they do management and they do systems and they do efficiencies.
And don’t get me wrong, there’s a place, always a place for that. A great Catholic School can have the best systems, the best tech, all of that stuff. But I think what we did is we doubled down on … well, this is a complex system. It’s a complex world, so let’s get really professional. Let’s get really professional in the learning and curriculums, get really professional on the pastoral care. Let’s get really professional in the systems. And I think some of what we lost was what this quote is reminding us of today, a living encounter with Christ as the actual source of motivation that brings people into creating that authentic witness.
And this reminds me of course, and I’ve shared this with you before from Pope Benedict who famously said that, “The job of Catholic Education or catechesis” as he said, “it was not to put people into touch with Jesus.” And not to just go, here’s Jesus. Here he is, here’s his life, here’s what he did and you work it out. He said that the real goal is to put people in intimacy with Christ. So let’s wrap this up.
What I’m talking about today is what we really need is huge numbers of Catholic teachers who have a living encounter with Christ. See if you get a school … the way I do it in live seminars is I say, look, imagine a school has got, say 30 teachers, got 30 staff. Now imagine a school where of those 30 staff, one person has a living encounter with Christ. I’m not judging anyone else. I’m just saying that’s the reality of that particular school. One person has a deep, daily, connected, living encounter with Jesus and 29 don’t. Now what you get is one kind school.
Now, if you imagine a school where say, there’s 30 teachers and 15 have a living daily encounter with Jesus Christ, you get a different kind of school. And if you have a school where there’s 30 teachers and 30 of them have a living encounter with Jesus Christ, you get another kind of school. And the school that is full of teachers who have living encounters with Jesus is a vibrant, usually joyful place. It’s a place where people sin and get things wrong and they ask for forgiveness and they build relationships and they preach the gospel and the Holy Spirit carries them. And I’m not saying it’s fairy dust and unicorns. I’m not. But I’m saying I’ve been doing this long enough and I’ve seen enough schools around the world to see what this looks like in practice.
So all I want to say to you is my dear friend, as you listen to my voice, living encounter with Christ, a daily living connection with him. How? Well, prayer, sacraments. For me, it’s the rosary, it’s trying to get to mass. It’s these beautiful sacramental helps that allow the grace of Jesus to flow into our lives. And if we’re not choosing those things, if we’re not what I like to say, positioning ourselves to be under the fountain of grace, then we end up trying to strive through on our own.
All right, I’ve got to wrap up: Living encounter with Christ. So today, just make a small change. If this has impacted you, just go, you know what? He’s right. I’m going to go to the chapel tomorrow, I’m going to go to mass one extra day and I’m just going to try and really be present to the Eucharist. Just the little things will allow Christ to be really born in your heart in a new way.
Okay, do me a favor. Go to ncea.org. I’m doing the keynote in Baltimore, 10,000 Catholic teachers in April. You got to come and I want to see you there. I want you to come and introduce yourself and say, “Jonathan, I heard you on a podcast. That’s why I came.” ncea.org, it’s going to be amazing. I’m so excited to do that keynote. Can’t wait to meet you all there. Everything else? Let’s wrap up.
Instagram, jonathandoyle47. Grab your phone, just do a quick search, jonathandoyle47. Twitter, @beingcatholic1 and please make sure you’ve subscribed, okay? Just make sure you subscribe to this podcast and the big thing you could do to help, this will be a huge help, grab this link wherever you are listening to it and share it with some teachers. Chuck it on your Facebook page or you can find me on LinkedIn too now. Just do a search for Jonathan Doyle, you’ll find me there on LinkedIn. Just maybe hone your search down to Australia and you’ll find me there, but please share this. Let’s get the message out.
All right, that’s it. I’m going to pray for you. Father God, I thank you for every awesome teacher listening to my voice. What a blessing they are. Thank you for calling them, thank you for placing the grace of baptism on their lives and then calling them into this vocation. Thank you for their yes. Holy Spirit, would you carry them today, tonight, wherever they are listening? Holy Spirit, carry them. Help them to call upon you every morning that you would just prompt them and guide them in Jesus’ name. Bless the Mother. I entrust every one of these teachers to your immaculate heart.