I Wake Up So Early For A Reason
I didn’t get to sleep until almost midnight on the night last week when Clemson won the national championship of major-college football. I had a hunch the game would come down to the final minute, and it did – actually, to the final six seconds. Heck of a game.
All of that notwithstanding, I found myself staring at the clock at about 4:50 a.m. – only a few minutes before the alarm was set to go off. My body sensed that the time had come, and my subconscious clearly realizes that my conscious hates to hear the alarm at full blast. It irritates me; always has. As a result, you might imagine my gratitude at hearing it infrequently because I always wake up early.
There is a reason for that – a reason I get up so early, even after a late night. It dates more than 50 years to my days as an altar boy at my home parish – St. John the Evangelist in Uniontown, Pa. In those days there were two morning Masses through the week – at 6:45 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. I often served one … sometimes both … Masses on a given morning. After Mass, I went out the sacristy door and walked the 50-or-so steps to the building that served as the home for the reason I wake up so early even today – St. John the Evangelist School.
These memories flooded my mind as I read the theme for National Catholic Schools Week this year – “Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service.” We observe NCSW beginning in about 10 days; it runs this year from Jan. 29 through Feb. 4.
I truly believe I wake up early because of the 12 years I spent in the St. John community of faith, knowledge and service. For at least nine months every year – for many years – I was on the server schedule. My faith woke me up early so that I could start the day with the knowledge that I was serving Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, our priests as an assistant to their celebration of Mass, and the members of St. John the Evangelist as one of the parish’s altar servers.
No other school I could have attended would have provided the collective focus on all three elements – faith, knowledge and service – that I enjoyed as a St. John Golden Eagle. They have served decades as the foundation for everything – for me, at least.
That’s not saying that I have always provided an example that suggested as much. All of us fall short – sometimes in big ways, other times not so big. Our human nature makes us incapable of achieving, alone, what we can do with God at the center of our lives. I am grateful – and I hope you are – that there are 26 Catholic schools across our diocese that strive to provide the same foundation to thousands of students.
Say some prayers next week for our school communities – for the families, students, faculty and staff who come together in faith, knowledge and service. May they shine the light of God’s love and mercy on everyone they encounter.