“If the angels were capable of envy, they would envy us for two things: one is the receiving of Holy Communion, and the other is suffering.” (Diary 1804).
I have been teaching people for a very long time now – a very very long time… And I love it! Even before I taught full-time as a tutor – when I worked in commerce – every single role that I had included elements of teaching, training and mentoring. Perhaps teaching is in my blood?
I love my students and my students generally like me. I can say this without pride, because it is a simple fact. Of course there are times when I need to be very firm with a student and they know that they are going to be uncomfortable for a while, but even during those times, generally they realise that this is for their own good – and they need to get to work and use that extra study to get some great results!
Because I have been doing this for so long, I have had a lot of time to reflect on what it is that makes a good teacher. And in my opinion, it comes down to one thing and one thing alone.
Relationship. Every single good teacher has a GOOD relationship with their students.
This means, that the teacher respects their students and the students respect their teacher. And this means that the teacher cares about their students and their students trust their teacher – even when they are being asked to work very hard indeed – because they can see that the work is in their own best interests.
It is the same for us with God. We suffer as my students study - FOR THE GREATER GOOD. Once we understand that, we can bear any suffering, any pain and any torment. That is how martyrs are made!
The other day, during Mass as we stood to pray the Our Father together as a congregation, it occurred to me what a beautiful gift from God this prayer is for us... After all, Christ gave us the Our Father prayer when people asked Him how they should pray.
“This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’” (Matthew 6:9-13).
By some infinitely merciful act of kindness and condescension, Christ – God the Son – very kindly allowed us mere humans to have an insight into His most holy relationship with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit.
Imagine how beautifully Our Blessed Lord would have recited the Our Father – because for Him it was not a mere recitation – but it was a conversation with His Beloved. Imagine how He meant every word that He said. Imagine His dignity in asking and in giving thanks. Imagine the rejoicing of the Angels of Heaven in hearing Him pray – their joy in hearing the sound of His soul.
How they long to hear the voice of their Beloved!
Can you just imagine it?
Imagine the angels that surround the altar at every single Mass. Can you imagine the celebration of the Mass in Heaven? Can you imagine the beauty?
Almost twenty years ago now, some of my sisters and I travelled through Europe. The highlight of our trip was when we were able to attend Christmas Eve Midnight Mass in Saint Peter’s Basilica celebrated by Saint Pope John Paul II. The mass was conducted in Italian and we did not understand a word! Further, we were standing somewhere in the back of the Cathedral and only saw the Holy Father and the altar from a great distance.
But it was a beautiful mass. Perhaps the most beautiful mass I have ever attended… And I have never forgotten that mass or the beauty that I witnessed there.
Imagine the incomparable beauty of Heaven where the view is not obscured, and we are not witness to a Saint celebrating the sacrament of the Mass – but to the Son of God Himself. Such a joy is surely only possible in the next life – for this world and all inside it is not enough to contain the joy of such a blessed event!
Saint Faustina wrote in her Dairy 1804, “If the angels were capable of envy, they would envy us for two things: one is the receiving of Holy Communion, and the other is suffering.”
And why does Saint Faustina say this thing about the angels?
The answer is simple…
There is a CLOSENESS to God for us through both of these – both through the Holy Eucharist, which accepts God into our souls, and through suffering, where we walk beside our God on His journey to Calvary.
And that closeness is really what relationship is all about…
That is why good teachers need to first build strong relationships with their students. They must be able to earn their student’s trust. They must be their student’s mentor and even their friend. Often students walk through my door bursting with news to share with me. They tell me about how they handled their assessments, and what feedback their teacher gave them. If I had no interest in them, they would soon not trust me enough to share these things with me. But they know that I am waiting to hear how they went and interested to listen to their stories and their voice.
And I can do all of this despite the fact that I am a very very flawed and sinful human being. Imagine what God does for us? Imagine how He waits to hear our voice and listen to our stories. He, who is perfect and divine and love itself…
For just as my students wait to share their news with me, and my children and husband and I share stories about our day, Christ – the Son of God – shared His Holy Voice with His Father…
He even showed us how to do that too so that we could be more like Him...
He said… “Our Father in Heaven…”
Now, it is my turn to say the same…
For surely all the angels and the saints in Heaven are waiting eagerly to hear my voice as I cry up to my Father – my Dad, my Daddy – who LOVES me more than I shall ever know…
For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.