“I don’t find it hard to explain how I believe; I find it hard to explain why I believe.”
This quote isn’t from someone famous. It’s not from someone of great wealth, or someone who has travelled the world seeking knowledge and experience. This startlingly philosophical musing is from a ten year old student here at St. Patrick’s, who offered his comment in a religion class a while ago. The depth of this insight was impressive, and led to more class discussion around the ‘why’ we believe. There was a time when there would have been no question at all, but this is from a child of this 21st century, and these words may predict the state of youthful Christian faith in the years to come. It strikes particularly close as we enter into the season of Lent.
How we demonstrate our faith in our Catholic school, especially during Lent, is really not difficult. We enjoy the fun tradition of a pancake lunch on Shrove Tuesday, provided by our great School Council hot lunch committee. As a whole school, we will attend Ash Wednesday Mass at St. Martha’s Church at 11:00 a.m. along with our friends at Children of St. Martha School, and all of our Holy Spirit schools who will celebrate Ash Wednesday at their respective parishes. During the forty days of Lent, our classrooms will attend Mass at St. Martha’s, our grade 2 children will experience their First Communion Retreat, the Gr. 6 Confirmation Retreat will be held, and our school will have a retreat on our feast day – March 17th. Our classrooms will participate in weekly prayer during the Lenten season, and Lent becomes a focus of our religious education program in each class. Everything culminates with school liturgies during Holy Week, the days prior to Good Friday. These experiences are the outward signs of our faith, the commitment we make as a Catholic school, and the commitment parents make when you register your children in a Holy Spirit school.
No, it’s not difficult to talk about all that we do to celebrate our faith, but as that wise person mused – why do we believe? And how do we describe ‘why’ to others? I often think that the most thoughtful, insightful and faith-filled conversations happen in our religion classes, at all levels. We explore the ‘why’ on a daily basis; talk about the challenges to faith that we face. We combine the ‘how’ with the ‘why’ to bring new faith understandings to our students, especially during the Lenten journey. And, hopefully these conversations are carried on at home, too, bringing the home-school-church connection full circle.
The season of Lent calls all of us to explore the ‘why’ of our faith, as well as the ‘how’. Sometimes it takes a ten year old to be our reminder. But that’s ok. It speaks well for the future.