Lessons learned in sickness

So I don’t have a voice.  And I haven’t had one for over three days.

I suppose I shouldn’t say I don’t have a voice.  It has come back, although not as quickly as I expected.  And since I haven’t spoken to anyone today, maybe it’s back in full force.  But I doubt it.

So please pray to St. Blaise.  I need my voice.  I’m not sure what I would do if I permanently damaged it this weekend, teaching when I knew I was straining it beyond its limit.

But all of this has given me some time to think.  First, it occurred to me that this was a lousy way to begin Advent.  Used to going to daily Mass, I haven’t been to Mass since Sunday, where I stood and prayed silently, following the words along in my hymnal but unable to sing the Advent songs I love so much.

Then it occurred to me that perhaps this was a great way to begin Advent.

I’ve slowed down, unable to do anything – I haven’t been to work and I had to cancel class tonight.  Yesterday I ran a few errands, until I realized that meant I had to talk to people.  So today I’ve stayed home.  I read an entire mystery novel – for fun – and begun work on my Christmas presents.  (The problem with making Christmas presents is that you want to blog about them and you cant, because the recipients read your blog.)  This afternoon, after finishing my book, I decided to clean my apartment.

At first, having two days off was strange.  I felt lazy.  I felt like I should go to work today — after all, I wasn’t feeling particularly sick– I just couldn’t talk.  But after thinking about it, I knew if I went to work I’d end up talking at some point.  I could respond to pressing email here at home.  The rest could wait.

So I fought off feelings of laziness and stayed home.

It was hard to cancel class tonight.  I told myself it was hard because I don’t know when we’ll make up the class (there are only four classes left) and I had stayed up late to prepare last night.  I owed it to the guys to go and teach.

But I suppose deep down, it was pride.  I didn’t want to admit that I was unable to teach.  I didn’t want to let people down.

Someone once told me that I stay busy so that I feel wanted and needed.  I suppose that person doesn’t read my blog, but if he still did, I would tell him he was probably right.  When people ask me to lecture or give talks, I always say yes because I want to help people fall in love with the Church.  But it also helps that when I teach and lecture, people affirm me.  People are thankful because they’re hungry.  And I like feeding them.

Pride is a funny thing.  How do you know when you’re truly humble?  Because once you think you’re humble, you’re not.  I want to teach for Christ, not for flattery.  I want to feed people because they’re hungry, not because it boosts my ego.  But how do you separate it all?  One of the joys of teaching is to see that lightbulb go off, to see your students excited about what you’re saying, to realize that something you’ve said is about to change something or everything.

How does that not tickle your pride?  I suppose because nothing have can change their lives.  It’s not what I have; it’s what Christ has.

I’m not giving them something that’s mine — I’m giving them the Church; I’m giving them Jesus.  And that’s exciting.  It’s not me — it’s the Holy Spirit.  I have to keep reminding myself of that.

So maybe this quiet time is good.  I have no voice of my own.  A good lesson for a catechist.


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