As I write this, my classroom is ready for another school year.  The desks are clean and ready for students, and everything is organized and pretty.  While on the outside, I am ready to go, on the inside I am nervous and feeling a little defeated.  Teachers throughout our state are striking for wages and less testing, and the Catholic Church is in turmoil.  In the grand scheme of these events, the ones that have me down seem petty: our diocese has refused to improve health insurance for maternity coverage and there is no sign of a raise anywhere in our future.

Why bother?  Why continue to commit to a way of living that requires constant sacrifice and insecurity?

Our pastor, Father Peter, often tells the students at our school his favorite quote from Pope Benedict XVI: “The world will offer you comfort.  But you are not made for comfort, you are made for greatness!”

As a Catholic school teacher, I am made for greatness.  I can have great love for my students.  I can have great teaching days and great lesson plans.  I can have a great community of parents, friends, teachers and students to work with and work for.  I can have a great impact on the lives of the students I teach.  So can you!  Here are some inspiring quotes to get you through those days when you long for comfort but instead recommit to greatness.

As teachers, you kindle in your students a thirst for truth and wisdom. You spark off in them a desire for beauty. You introduce them to their cultural heritage. You help them to discover the treasures of other cultures and peoples. What an awesome responsibility and privilege is yours in the teaching profession.” – Address of John Paul II to the Council, Staff, and Students of the Institute of Catholic Education, Melbourne, Australia, November 28, 1986, #2

“Teaching is a beautiful job; as it allows you to see the growth day by day of people entrusted to your care. It is a little like being parents, at least spiritually. It is a great responsibility. Teaching is a serious commitment, that only a mature and balanced person can undertake. A commitment of this type may inculcate apprehension, but remember that no teacher is ever alone, his or her work is shared with other colleagues and with all the education community to which they belong.  — Pope Francis Audience with Catholic Union of Teachers, March 16, 2015

“As Jesus taught us, all the Law and the Prophets can be summarized in two commandments: love the Lord God and love your neighbor. We can ask ourselves: who is a teacher’s neighbor? The neighbors are your students! It is with them that a teacher passes the day. They seek guidance, orientation, an answer — and first of all, good questions!” — Pope Francis Audience with Catholic Union of Teachers, March 16, 2015

To educate is an act of love, it is to give life. And love is demanding, it calls for the best resources, for a reawakening of the passion to begin this path patiently with young people. The educator in Catholic schools must be, first and foremost, competent and qualified but, at the same time, someone who is rich in humanity and capable of being with young people in a style of pedagogy that helps promote their human and spiritual growth. Youth are in need of quality teaching along with values that are not only articulated but witnessed to. Consistency is an indispensable factor in the education of young people! Consistency! We cannot grow and we cannot educate without consistency: consistency and witness! –Pope Francis February 13, 2015

I hope you have a great year!