…by guest blogger Ryan McLaughlin is a husband, the proud dad of a one-year-old boy named Arthur (and a little girl due in February!), and a math teacher. After years of searching, praying, and reading, he and his family were received into the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil this past April. Ryan enjoys writing about the beauty and grace he’s found in the Catholic faith on his blog, The Back of the World
I first found Ryan’s excellent blog and was attracted to his excellent writing. I also like the fact that he’s a smart convert from Evangelicalism, (his excellent seven part conversion story is here) he’s got a sharp way with words and his angle “The Back of the World” with its reference quote to Chesterton holds hands with what I’m trying to with Standing on My Head…a kindred spirit I guess.
Here’s Ryan’s contribution. I encourage you to stop by his blog and bookmark it!
And the Beat Goes On: The Sacred Heart, The Zombie Apocalypse, and a Sure Hope for 12-Year-Old Boys
By day, I’m the guy you used to love to hate: I teach math. I work at a Catholic school just outside of Boston, where every day I try to convince a gaggle of 12- and 13-year-olds that Pre-Algebra is actually far, far cooler than Taylor Swift. I love my job because it’s always challenging, and never boring. I particularly love teaching at a Catholic school, in part because it’s a never-ending source of opportunities to engage in the New Evangelization…
Recently, I’ve noticed a growing obsession among some of the 7th grade boys in my class: they’re constantly talking about the End of the World. Mayan calendars, Nostradamus, the Antichrist, and more fill the whispered conversations they have when they think I’m out of earshot. I don’t think they’re nervous about the complete and utter destruction of civilization, so much as they’re just hoping for some big explosions and gun fights with zombies.
One day a couple of weeks ago, our parochial vicar stopped into my class just to say “hi”, and two of these boys practically jumped out of their seats to get his attention. They wanted to know: did he think the Bible supported the idea that the world is going to end this December?!
Fr. Murphy lovingly and patiently directed my students to the words of Christ: “no man knows the hour or the day.” But the lads still weren’t satisfied: isn’t there some passage in Revelation that lines up with some prophecy of Nostradamus? Father gently replied that he’d take Christ’s words over Nostradamus’ any day of the week.
I couldn’t help but think of another thing our Lord said: “Surely, I am with you always, even unto the end of the age”…
As adults, we may not be getting our apocalyptic prophecy from the check-out lane at the grocery store, like my students seem to be. But we often act as if the world is coming to an untimely end, don’t we? The stock market goes down, an election turns out differently than we hoped, a natural disaster strikes… and suddenly we lose all hope. We act as if He isn’t with us unto the end of the age.
One of the greatest joys in my Christian life was discovering the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus a few years ago. In the Sacred Heart, I found an incredible reminder of the unconquerable love of God. In the midst of all of my fears and anxieties, I heard the steady heartbeat of my Savior. After starting the RCIA process to be received into the Catholic Church, I grew to love the Sacred Heart even more as I realized that my God loves His people so much that He comes to them in the Eucharist every time the Mass is celebrated.
Whenever I’m upset about my life’s circumstances, or worried about the state of the world around me, the Sacred Heart reminds me that He is with me always. Whenever my trials and tribulations seem like the “end of the world,” I can pray with St. Gertrude: “O Sacred Heart of Jesus, fountain of eternal life, Your Heart is a glowing furnace of love. You are my refuge and my sanctuary.”
As we continue on in the Year of Faith, and consider how we are to carry on the New Evangelization, I believe we have to take this refuge in the Love of God. As the world continues on its downward slide, it’s our confidence in the Sacred Heart of Jesus that will set us apart, and give us the boldness we need to stand for the Faith.
Last month, the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization had this to say:“Conscious of the fact that the Lord is the guide of history, and therefore that evil will not have the last word, the bishops invite Christians to overcome fear with faith and to look at the world with serene courage because, while full of contradictions and challenges, this is still the world God loves.”
I think if we’re to be effective in our efforts for the New Evangelization, we have to hear the steady beat of the Sacred Heart over the cries of fear around us. We have to look upon the Blessed Sacrament and rejoice amidst confusion, for in it we see the fulfillment of Christ’s promise to be with us unto the ends of the age. After all, this is all that we have to offer those around us, 12-year-olds and adults alike.
Now, go finish those math problems, or I’ll call your mom…