Finding Joy in the Unordinary Life of the First Year Teacher

I am a first year teacher.

I have tried to write this post 7 times. Each time I have tried to sit down and write, I find something that stops me. Some of those reasons could be; copies that need to be made, student conferences or issues, meetings, lesson planning, or grading- to name a few.

My life is consumed with early mornings finalizing lesson plans, constant questions, little answers, and 45 young eyes that watch my every move…. every single day.

I can’t seem to find the words that can perfectly explain what my life has been like for the last 3 months and how drastically it has changed, the only thing that I can think of is a phrase that is taken directly from the catechism…. “Jesus Christ makes man fully alive“. 

I have repeated this phrase many times when asked how my first few months of full time teaching has gone… “I have never felt more exhausted…or fully alive.” 


These last few months have been ones of tremendous change in my life… I moved out of my childhood home, started my career, got engaged (thank you, Jesus!), and am living by myself in Denver. There is so much I have to be thankful for…. However, I have never felt under so much spiritual attack.

Everyday there are 45 kids that come through my classroom who become my responsibility. They rely on me to teach them skills in writing and reading which can help them further their education. Yet, the most daunting task that I have felt is the responsibility of caring for the souls of my 45 students.

The battle has already begun for my students young souls and, in conjunction with the holy spirit, I am charged with the task of helping fill their souls with tools to help in their relationship with Our Lord and the bridegroom, the Church. I have never been so intimated before and on more than one occasion have cried thinking about how inept I feel to lead these young ones.

I am no Saint.

Saint’s are the ones who are supposed to do this, right? The “holy” ones are those who are meant to lead the young and nurture their souls to find Christ. Well, that’s not me… at least not yet.

I know full well what these students are going to face if they choose to follow Christ when they leave our tiny community.

How can I protect them when I myself am still trying to figure out this whole prayer thing?

They are going to face the enemy head on. The world outside the walls of our school and church are a playground for the enemy and it prowls, lurking behind every “pleasure” in the world, and seeking to break the strong.

Well, what I have learned in the past few months is that we are not living out our Christian faith if we don’t offer up every moment, little or big, in witness to Mary’s words at the time of the Annunciation and say “be it done unto me according to Thy word.”

It’s in our little “fiats” that we are truly becoming saints. It is in the everyday and mundane walks of life where we answer ‘yes’ to Christ’s call to us, that we are becoming not just who we are meant to be- but we are becoming fully alive in Christ Jesus.


I have never felt more fully alive than when I am with my students and encountering Christ alongside them. They are showing me Christ’s love in a real and profound way.

My students are teaching me the reality of Sainthood. I may not be totally enough for my them on my own, but I have help. The God that I fell so in love with is there with me each and every single day as I enter my school, as I collaborate with co-teachers, as I pray with my students, and as I fight for their souls. I am not alone.

1 Peter 4:10 “As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace.”  

Please pray for me.

 

 

Catholic Women + Veiling = What’s the deal?

Regarding the use of head coverings for women the 1917 Code of Canon Law of the Catholic Church stated that, “Canon 1262, that women must cover their heads — ‘especially when they approach the holy table'”(“mulieres autem, capite cooperto et modeste vestitae, maxime cum ad mensam Dominicam accedunt”). (http://www.fisheaters.com/theveil.html) There has been a great amount of debate as to whether after the Second Vatican Council this code of Canon Law was still valid and if women were still required to wear the head coverings in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. Many argue that after the Second Vatican Council it no longer applied because it was specifically never reaffirmed as to it being a requirement; therefore, after the council had ended this tradition faded and many women no longer wore veils. The counter argument to this was that because there was no discussion of it and there weren’t outright statements about its validity, therefore, women were (and still are) supposed to wear head coverings.

When I was younger and would attend Mass, there were always the few women who still wore the veil in compliance with the Canon Law and I never truly understood it. Actually I guess it wasn’t as much a lack of understanding as much as it was intimidation. I was intimidated because I saw their head covered as being an outward sign of their holiness. I thought, “only the holiest of women would wear a veil, or even be bold enough to do so.” I confronted this sort of thinking the previous semester when Our Lord began putting this deep desire for humility and modesty on my heart, and slowly I felt like he was calling me to be bold and veil myself in His presence. My prayer life and devotion increased because I was truly trying to understand exactly why women wore head coverings in the past, why they stopped, and why it is slowly make a resurgence. All of this led me to Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. In chapter 11 of his first letter starting with verse 5 he states:

“But any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled dishonors her head- it is the same as if her head were shaven. For if a woman will not veil herself, then she should cut off her hair; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to be shorn, or shaven, let her wear a veil.”

What is Saint Paul saying here? First let me note that he wasn’t sexist and against women at all. He was just pointing out one of the many beautiful things about us, that we were made to honor our Lord, especially in modesty. Saint Paul goes on later to talk about, “nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman.”

Wow! Saint Paul is now telling us that it isn’t because men and woman are independent from one another. It is in the love of the family unit that draws women to veil what is most sacred to us…. the gift to bear life. We veil this gift because it is not for our own glory, or for the glory of the man, but for God’s own glory.

This scripture and the one in Song of Solomon which says, “Behold you are beautiful, my love, behold you are beautiful! Your eyes are doves behind your veil.” (Song of Songs 4:1) were the two answers from Our Lord that I needed in order to understand what the veil truly represented, and in that understanding have the boldness to wear the veil in humility as Our Lord had been asking.

I realized that my first perception of the veil was wrong. The veil isn’t a symbol of holiness but rather one of submission to God’s will. The veil is an outward sign that God’s glory is the sole purpose of worship and nothing else, the veil is the outward sign of the protection we as women have for the lives that we bear. We are not covering up our “feminine glory” because of shame but rather allowing for Christ’s glory to shine instead. I heard a beautiful comment on this very discussion that mentioned that as women we submit ourselves to husbands much as Our Lady submitted to the plan of the Holy Spirit, her spouse, and in every image of Our Lady what is she wearing? You got it. A veil. This veil is a sign that we will be obedient, just as Our Lady was obedient, and that like her we will continue to protect and remain to be vessels of life.

There are different forms of head coverings including; a veil (or mantilla) that is black or white, a simple hat, a shawl wrapped over your head, a cotton scarf, or any long scarf that you can easily maneuver to wrap around your head. I wear a lace scarf I happened to buy at Forever 21 a year ago that just happens to work perfect! I just wrap it around my head whenever I am in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.

Be bold sisters in Christ.

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