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Respect and the Golden Words

By Anna Sherman – Director of Religious Education, Holy Name parish

In 2000 while living in Belgium per Army orders, I accepted the position as Religious Education Coordinator for the Catholic Church on base. It was a fantastic and diverse community, and I was honored to work with many people from different backgrounds. My boss was a Monsignor, but a Colonel first. He was a good man, and I knew he had a good heart. He cared for his soldiers, but he was tough as nails. Monsignor had a difficult time communicating with his parishioners, as he kept everyone on their toes. One day he would be happy, the next day, angry. He had a lively vocabulary that put sailors to shame, which would either make you laugh or cry, but I remember, we all respected Monsignor; even more so when we found out that he had been ill for quite some time. I may not have seen eye to eye with him on a lot of issues, but I respected him.

And one of them, a scholar of the law, tested him by asking, “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:35-40)

I am the worst when it comes to reading the Bible (I am human, and I do try), but these are my favorite words that I attempt to live by every day. These are the words I teach my own children, when they feel like listening. These should be the words that are not only taught to our children, but adults as well. Because it feels as if something has been lost in our society. We forgot how to love our neighbor. We teach our children how to use manners and to use the golden words of “please” and “thank you,” but as adults, we are not practicing what we preach. We teach our children to respect adults, but it saddens me when I see adults themselves yell and belittle teachers, priests, or one another. Oh, trust me, I have experienced both of this in parishes and schools, and as much as I want to reenact a worldwide wrestling stunt, I say a short prayer to my guardian angel and a prayer for the other person. We should speak up for what is right, and when we see injustice; we might not all agree on the same thing, and we might not see eye to eye, but there is no reason to disrespect one another. Fortunately, though, we are all human.

I make mistakes, all the time. I think half my life is spent saying, “I own it” and “I’m sorry.” I am a once a month regular for confession, which reminds me it is about time. Go to confession! If you go to confession, say, “I’m sorry.” That is truly the best feeling in the world. Don’t let pride get in the way. Pride will only hurt and send you down in a whirlwind spiral, making you miserable, sending out bad vibes. Who wants that?

As I would tell my students, please respect and love one another. If you do something wrong, say, “I’m sorry.” Use your golden words. And to the adults, practice what you preach, do unto others as you would want them to do unto you.