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Frontier Catholicism


“I always say that improvisation is the utterance of one's spirit, and it dictates your life experience, and that's how you find your concepts and your way for painting your musical picture.” ~ Dianne Reeves

A number of years ago my cousin Peter, a brilliant and scholarly man if ever there was one, alerted me to the fact that the City University in New York where he served as a Professor was looking to hire Adjunct Professors. It was their way of inexpensively augmenting their faculty with individuals who had corporate experience, perhaps also in rebuttal to the common and prevailing complaint that the college professors who largely populate the teaching rosters of the Universities in our country do not have any “real world experience.”

In any event, the opportunity intrigued me and I quickly threw my hat into the ring for consideration. Within less than 15 minutes of submitting my resume via email, I received a call from the head of the University’s Marketing Department asking me if I could interview the following morning. I agreed to do so, however it left me precious little time to prepare.

Nonetheless I managed to cobble together 3 or 4 hypothetical syllabi, dependent upon which course I would be expected to teach, complete with answers to the commonly asked interview questions as well as a few verbatim conversational comments on my thoughts pertaining to higher learning, what the future might hold and so on and so on.

Upon arriving 20 minutes early for my much anticipated interview, I was greeted by a somewhat disheveled, bookish sort of man who invited me into an office that resembled the apartment wherein my friend David lived and held his well-attended Tuesday Evening Poker Nights. I almost expected to see a few burnt out cigars and a crushed Pabst Blue Ribbon can sitting atop the nine of diamonds on the small table that sat near the enormous bookshelf that consumed this man’s entire wall.

We had barely exchanged pleasantries before I was handed a schedule and told that “Communication Skills For Sales Professionals,” the class I was assigned to teach despite never having held a job in Sales, would begin a week from next Wednesday at 5:25pm in Room 311 at the Park Avenue South Building on the Southeast corner of East 26th St. “The pay is...well, it’s terrible,” he admitted, going on to explain that I had until tomorrow at 3:00PM to get my Campus ID Card, which could be obtained in the Security Office two doors down from the Bursar at the Madison Avenue Building on 25th Street. “Go through the side door to avoid the panhandlers” was the final bit of advice he offered before hastily shuffling me out of his office so that he could meet with the next future Adjunct.

Teaching the class turned out to be an amazingly enjoyable experience and it went very well. The students were a delight, many of them here from overseas studying abroad. I had no “problem students,” and for that matter I had no issues whatsoever with any of them. This perhaps due to the fact that when asked about my grading policy on the first day, I responded “Are As and Bs OK with everyone?” much to their slack-jawed amazement.

Did I know what I was doing? Not really...

Were there more than a few nights when I would get up in front of that full classroom and ad-lib for extended periods of time? Absolutely.

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Was I even qualified for the job? .... I’ll leave that up to you the reader to decide.

But I tell this story as a lead-in to today’s Gospel (Luke 10:1-12) wherein Jesus appoints his disciples, who have been chosen to be sent ahead in pairs to every town he intended to visit. “Go on your way; behold I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals, and greet no one along the way.”

Talk about runnin’ on faith!

Jesus explains to them in no uncertain terms the challenges, obstacles and dangers which will await them. Like lambs among the wolves. They will succeed, however, because the power of God is working with them.

St. Teresa of Avila was always quick to point out that “Christ has no body on earth but ours; no hands but ours; no feet but ours.“ She knew that we the members of the Mystical Body of Christ are in essence the eyes through which the compassion of Christ looks out to the world. We are the feet with which he is to go about doing good. Ours are the hands, she explained, with which he is to bless others now.

We have the Sacraments, particularly the Eucharist and Reconciliation, to fuel and refresh our spiritual souls. We have the Holy Mass, which we celebrate so that God may be glorified and the world may be saved; “May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands. For the praise and glory of his name. For our good and the good of all his holy church.” We have the lives of the Saints, Eucharistic Adoration, the immense power associated with prayer, especially the Rosary. We have our Blessed Mother, who promises to hold our hand and never leave us.

The 10th Chapter of Luke certainly details the story of what was an exciting time in our Church. The times we live in today are exciting as well, however it is important to realize that the battle has begun. This is not a battle fought with bullets or swords ~ not yet anyway ~ but instead the battle of truth versus moral relativism, or whatever fad is next in line. Jesus the Good Shepherd is sending us out, like lambs among the ravenous wolves, to be missionaries for his bride the Church We are sent by the Lord to spread his word and do his work. The Christian Gospel is to be lived and to to be shared.

It is to be fought for.

“The Kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe the Gospel.” ~ Mark 1:15


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