It’s been two weeks since I last wrote a blog. Actually I’ve written three blogs since then but never quite got to revising them for posting. The project consuming my time these past few weeks is a new curriculum for our parish school: “Catholic Liberal Education”. Ironically, it would be considered a bold move in San Francisco to implement “Liberal Education” because some are saying “liberal” is a code word for “conservative.” I think we are all confused about what liberal and conservative mean. More and more critical thinkers, however, including our school faculty and a growing number of parents, are realizing that Catholic Liberal Education is indeed “liberal” in that it frees the mind to think broadly but also “conservative” in that it conserves the great western intellectual treasury of art, history, literature, and science. A successful school must be both liberal and conservative, in the fullest sense of those words. And so we are moving forward with the Catholic Liberal Education model here at Star of the Sea, but it will take a lot of everyone’s time and energy.
My time is also given to the Missionaries of Charity here in San Francisco, for whom I’m giving a five-day seminar on the Sacred Liturgy. To save time, I’ve dusted off some old talks I gave years ago in Rome to the Novitiate there. These talks are based largely on the documents of Vatican II and Joseph Ratzinger’s landmark Introduction to the Spirit of the Liturgy (now reissued by Ignatius Press with new prefaces by Pope Benedict and Cardinal Sarah).
I haven’t had much time to “prepare” this seminar. Lack of time never bothered Mother Teresa. She would ask a priest to give a retreat or seminar to her sisters on very short notice. If the priest objected that he needed more time to prepare the talks, Mother would reply: “Father, you are a priest. Just tell them about God.” We don’t take that advice strictly literally, lest we priests become lazy in preparing homilies and lessons. St. John Vianney, patron saint of parish priests, spent hours preparing his homilies. But if you simply don’t have time, you trust the Holy Spirit to make up for your lack. Mother Teresa didn’t want priests to trust too much in their own intelligence when preparing talks. The work is God’s, not ours, she would insist.
And indeed the first day of my seminar was inspired. I was inspired, and the sisters were inspired, at the 6am Mass on Wednesday which began our seminar. I’ll tell you about what happened, if I have time to finish this blog, in a subsequent post. Right now I’ve got to get on my scooter and get over to the convent for another day of seminar.