This coming Monday (April 29) is my last evening with the 6th graders. Following the closing Mass in church, I should have about 20 minutes left with them and I plan to use that time to send the kids off with something concrete about how to live out their faith as a Catholic.
First, I’m going to show them some images of Chinese artist Liu Bolin who is known for his “Invisible Man” images in which he literally paints himself so as to completely blend in with his surroundings. [Image by TED Conference under CC license]
I will use these images to illustrate the point that, in many ways, we all try to conform and, while it is good to conform to positive things, we sometimes conform to things that are not good for us. As Catholics – as followers of Jesus – we are called to stand out!
With that in mind, I’m going to share 5 ways that we Catholics are called to stand out – 5 characteristics of Catholic identity – that they can practice in their day to day lives. And where do we find this Catholic identity? It’s in the W.A.T.E.R.
When we are baptized in the waters of Baptism, we Catholics are equipped with the following.
We have a(n)…
- W – Way about ourselves. We treat all human persons with respect and perform works of mercy because we recognize that ll people have inherent dignity.
- A – Attitude of gratitude. Our belief in the Resurrection removes all fear and fills us with hope and gratitude to share with others, especially those in despair.
- T – Team that we belong to. We are never alone. We have the Church and the Communion of Saints with us at all times and in all places.
- E – form of Expression that is unique. We express our understanding of the mystery of God using more than words – we use sign, symbol, and ritual.
- R – Resources that support our faith. We have Scripture and Tradition which equip us to understand, explain, and share our faith.
(by the way, these 5 characteristics of Catholic identity are drawn from my book, Practice Makes Catholic! The W.A.T.E.R. acronym does not appear in that book…I just thought it up for my 6th graders!)
To help them remember this, I am going to present them each with a bottle of holy water on the backs of which I will paste a small piece of paper (laminated) with the W.A.T.E.R. acronym identified and described as above.
I should have just enough time to go over each of the 5 characteristics and offer examples for each before we say our tearful goodbyes! 😉