As we approach the weekend, I am getting more and more excited about returning to classes. This is my first weekend of my second year of theological studies. I’ve ordered all my books, scheduled the sitters and arranged for my lodging. Each month for the next ten months will be spent reading, writing, studying, and, of course, praying. It is such a joy to have the opportunity to study theology, because, in the words of one of my professors, I love to study what is REAL.
Since my classes are held away from home, each weekend of classes is like a monthly mini-retreat. A generous Mother Superior has offered us rooms at the nursing home and convent she runs. This opportunity further enhances the retreat-like experience and also provides multiple opportunities for inspiration. It is commonplace to observe one of the sisters giving the elderly residents hugs or listening patiently to their conversations that may, at times, be confused. It was something that struck me so deeply last year that I became devoted to praying for these sisters and their mission. Residences for the elderly are places that are often joked about as drab institutions where undesirable old people go to live out the rest of their miserable days. While some institutions unfortunately may not recognize the gift of the elderly, the home run by the sisters gives hope to any visitor. It is a place that gives the comfort and the peace of Christ at a time when it is most needed. These sisters are preparing their residents for Heaven. It is beautiful to witness.
So why do I like studying what is real? Reality helps us to recognize beauty in places often overlooked. It enables us to see past this existence into a world where everyone is wanted and appreciated. In reality, we get to see as Christ sees.