He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith

August 8, 2009

Westport shots 008I remember once being given a very difficult class to teach. All of the students were very demotivated, quiet and bored. I was asked to teach them a course explaining the bioethical teaching of the late Pope John Paul the Great. His bioethical teaching was a unique gift to the life of the Catholic Church. For these young people it was certainly not. After a few weeks I decided to resort to buying lots of coffee and cakes and spent the time trying to get to know them. Not the most professional move but I sort of felt that there was something hurt about these children and I needed to know them before I could teach them. We ended up spending quite a few weeks drinking coffee and they turned out to be one of the most formative classes I have ever taught. I decided to ask them why there were so resistant to being taught theology. After a while one of the boys said to me, “You see the problem is Sir … everytime you talk theology … all I can hear is my father’s voice.” These words had a massive impact on me and I knew that they came from his heart. I also knew that from this moment we could start to talk seriously.

I think when we talk about God we have to be very careful not to alienate people. Good literature, beautiful art, reasoned arguments, attentive presence and an open heart can do so much more than the loudspeaker approach to religious belief. In education, particularly of the young, we really need to remind them to live in the present, to see and to hear. 

Beautiful things possess an efficaciousness that will speak to their hearts. When a young person encounters something beautiful there is no mistake who they hear. They are hearing what the Spirit saith.


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