Rules, rules, rules, rules, I don’t like rules. Not too long ago a good friend and I took a trip down to St. Mary of the Woods, Indiana to visit the motherhouse of many of the women who taught me as a grammar school child. It was magical. As we walked through the cemetery, we happened upon the grave of Sister Lawrence Marie. Sister taught me in both fourth and fifth grades and died shortly after that. (I don’t think there was any connection, at least I hope not.) Later we visited with my eighth grade teacher who is in the early stages of dementia. My schoolmates and I may have had something to do with that.
I couldn’t help but think as we walked the campus, that this is were the young women who I thought were old at the time, studied, prayed and played, the same things they did with me and my classmates.
We eventually found our way to the bookstore where I paged through a number of books on Saint Mother Theodore Guerin (1798-1856) the foundress of their community. I kept coming across the admonition she gave to her teachers, “Love the children—love those put in your care.” I taught for 20 years and almost all that time was taking education classes eventually earning a masters and a doctorate. In all the classes I took and books I studied, I don’t ever remember seeing that rule, love the children.
In today’s first reading from Acts we read about Paul and Barnabas’ debate with the early Christian Community regarding rules. Although Paul and Barnabas stood their ground, Mother Guerin would have been a great help and supporter. Maybe she gleaned her wisdom from Paul and Barnabas. Either way, thank God she was around to establish the community that taught me the Good News.
Dan O’Donnell is a Passionist Partner and a longtime friend of the Passionists. He lives in Chicago.