Marist School cycles through a series of six themes each year that reflect Marian values and the pillars of the Society of Mary. This year, our students have been reflecting on the theme of “Humility and Simplicity.” From the first opening Mass with Bishop Zarama to the last day of classes, students have been challenged to consider how they live their lives with these two values, in a school geared toward achievement and success.
We have incorporated this theme into our family in both a serious and a lighthearted way. If we hear something said that might be a bit out of line, we will say “humility and simplicity please!”.
I have often said to my friends and family that we tend to live in “La La Land.” Our lives are so abundantly blessed. When we do not leave our bubble of comfort, we forget that there are so many who have considerable need. We forget that our problems are merely “first world problems.” Thank God for Marist school, where are children are gently marinated in the lifelong importance of quiet, humble service.
Without our choice, my family learned to live humility and simplicity in the past year as well – albeit to a much smaller degree than most. My husband learned that he was to lose his job of more than 15 years around Christmas of 2014. He was very happy at his job, and was at the height of his career. We went through all the emotions you can imagine in the year following – how is this going to change our lives? Our future? Our childrens’ futures? Why is this happening now when the children are so happy at Marist? When we are so close to college? We prayed, we went to adoration, and we had many moments when we lost our trust in God and God’s plan for our family.
Father Tom Ellerman (Class of ’58) is a regular fixture at the MMPG rosary on Friday morning. All the moms love having him, and he has added both humor and guidance to all of us gathering to pray. In a Marist Way meeting in September, Fr. Tom was speaking on Marist values, and told the group that the Latin word for humility comes from the word “dirt.” He reminded the group that listening to the voice of God and opening our minds with a humble heart will, as Jesus did, make all things new. He said that in the end, we are “dirt,” and to dirt we will return.
For a while, my husband and I felt a bit like dirt. We had to do things we didn’t think we’d ever have to do. We had to say things we didn’t think we’d ever have to say. We made changes to our lives that we didn’t think we’d ever have to make. We were humbled.
Humility can certainly be expressed through simplicity. We were forced to simplify our lives – we stopped doing certain things that were part of our routine. We started doing new things. For one thing, when you are on a strict budget, you do not eat out. Or get Starbucks. Or shop because you are bored. Instead, we regularly ate family dinners together that were homemade. Was it a blessing? You bet it was. There is nothing like getting a teenager to talk like sitting around a proper dinner table with comfort food to get them to open up and tell you about their day. Through this experience, we were truly blessed, and our children learned a lot of powerful lessons in both humility and simplicity.
We have tried (I emphasize tried) to teach our children not to boast. However, we should encourage them to boast of what their God has done for them. I was touched by the second reading last Sunday from Romans 5:
“We boast in hope of the glory of God.
Not only that, but we even boast of our afflictions,
knowing that affliction produces endurance,
and endurance, proven character,
and proven character, hope,
and hope does not disappoint,
because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts
through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”
So I would like to boast that through our family’s challenges, God has continued to pour out His love for us. Our brother Jesus walks with us daily. The Holy Spirit continues to guide us on our journey, and we continue to be strengthened by the Spirit of Mary that touches each member of our family.