Tonight I was asked to substitute in a CCD class of sixth graders at church. There were ten of them. We prayed, watched a DVD about Juan Diego, made Christmas cards for our Priests, and processed into the Church to look at the Advent banners and to study the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. They also ate a truckload of Oreos, brownie bites, and candy canes because tonight was their "Christmas party" - their last class until after the new year.
Before the class, I was kind of nervous. I don't have any experience with sixth graders. Right now, my expertise cuts off at fourth grade and doesn't pick up again until college. But it turned out to be a joyful time. I loved talking about Jesus with these kids. I loved hearing their perspectives on things.
I came home with a sense that my black cloud, my Eeyore outlook, my frustration with life had lifted. I've heard it a thousand times that if you're feeling depressed, you have to do something to get your focus off yourself. Serving others is the ideal way to do this. It's true. And tonight, those sixth graders were saving grace for me. Praise Jesus.
Tonight our parish had a five o' clock Mass in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Before I left the building, I stood for a moment in front of her image and smelled the roses and read the words spoken by Our Lady to Juan Diego in the midst of his concern for his sick uncle:
"Listen and let it penetrate your heart ... do not be troubled or weighed down with grief. Do not fear any illness or vexation, anxiety or pain. Am I not here who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not your fountain of life? Are you not in the folds of my mantle? In the crossing of my arms? Is there anything else you need?"Along with the medicine that those sixth graders provided for me, these words of Mary are also penetrating my mind. Thanks be to God!