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“Sharing truth is what we are called to do” ~ 2011 St. Catherine of Siena Prayer Service

April 8, 2011

Friday, April 8 – Jamie Zwijack’s preaching from the St. Catherine of Siena Prayer Service

Everyone here right now – we are all students.  Some of us may fulfill the more conventional student role – we take that on as our official title.  When we’re asked our occupation, we might reply “ student”.  But really, all of us in this room – we are all students.  Because we’re all learning.  Everyday, always – we’re learning new things.  Whether it’s learning something new about the world around us or learning something new about ourselves – we are always learning.

St. Catherine, although she doesn’t actually use the word, is referring to our learning.  Her concern, though, is not the learning itself.  Rather, she is most interested in what happens after the learning.  Because the learning is the easy part.  But what we choose to do with what we learn, that’s the hard part.  And THAT is what Catherine’s words are about.  She echoes the message of what we heard from Romans when she urges us to speak truth.  We are called to find that truth in what we learn and then to proclaim it loudly!  Whether it is through our words or through our actions, we are called as students and learners to spread the good news – to spread the truth that we uncover in our process of learning.  This is our responsibility as students.  And it is, by no means, an easy responsibility to have.  Sometimes truth is a powerful and difficult thing to embrace, much less to share.  But it is our responsibility nonetheless.

A few weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to travel to a Catholic Worker community in Kansas City as part of one of our alternative spring break programs.  The Catholic Worker movement is something that is close to my heart.  And this trip was a reminder why the Worker is so important to me – this particular community really embodied the beauty of what it means to speak truth both through words and actions.  One of the members of this community, Diana, is the 11-year-old daughter of the founding couple of the House.  One morning, I was awake earlier than the rest of the group.  And so was Diana.  She was excited to have someone else awake.  So her and I were in the kitchen – we made toast – and we sat at the table flipping through the newspaper while we ate it.  We talked about what was happening in Japan and in the other areas of the world that the front page highlighted.  Then she started flipping frantically through the paper and finally came to the page with the letters to the editor.  She scanned the page and then laid the paper down, disappointed.  She said to me “Do you know how many times I’ve written to this guy?  And he never puts my letter in here!”  She explained that her 5 th grade class did a project where everyone had to write a letter to the editor of the Kansas City Star.  She said that her classmates wrote about “stupid things”, as she called them.  She said they wrote about school uniforms and about having long school days.  And she said that when she wrote her letter, they laughed at her.  I asked her what she wrote about.  She made me promise not to make fun of her, which I did and I asked her again what she wrote about.  She said, “Closing the Nuclear Weapons Plant!”
Like all of us, Diana, is a student.  She is a learner.  And she has found truth in her learning.  And at the risk of her fellow 5 th graders teasing her, she spoke that truth.  Diana took on the challenge that St. Catherine gives us, the urge to speak truth that we hear in Romans.  Diana accepted her responsibility as a student, even if it was difficult for her. Luckily, St. Catherine recognizes the heaviness of what it means to have this responsibility.  She recognizes that she is urging us to do something that might not be so easy.  In her prayer reflection, she says to God, “You have gifted me with power from yourself.”  And she recognizes that the Holy Spirit has given her the gift of will.  We are given the power of God and the will of the Holy Spirit!  What else could fill us more wholly?!  What else could allow us to feel God’s love more fully?!  These are holy gifts that we have with us ALWAYS.  We are never alone.  We are never empty.  Because we are always filled with these gifts.  And these gifts can be, for us, a strength and an encouragement to do what we’re meant to do.  And what we are meant to do is to spread the truth of our learning.  Whether we’re an 11-year-old girl, a college student, an adult – we are all students.  And as students we all have this responsibility.  Sharing truth is what we are meant to do.  Sharing truth is what we are called to do.

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