The Spirit is at work in our schools

As we continue in the Easter Season, it is with a renewed hope that death is not the end and that we have been saved from our sins through Jesus's sacrifice. Many of us struggle to go from hope to faith, from faith to belief. This is why I love the story of Thomas the Apostle.

Jesus revealed much to Thomas, and yet when the moment came to go from hope to have faith and a real belief in all that he was told, he questioned it. This sounds very familiar to me! The world is a messy place, and faith and belief are not always easy. With these COVID days, the failings of our Church and some of its leaders over the last few years, and the general state of affairs in our world, it is sometimes hard to believe the Spirit is at work. It is sometimes hard to see beyond the Passion -- the suffering present in the world.

Thomas was labeled a doubter, but he wasn't alone in his doubt. There is also the image in Matthew's Gospel of Peter, the rock on whom our Church is built, walking towards Jesus on the water and then panicking when he saw a storm coming. This is liberating; it tells us that doubt is ok and that sometimes belief is hard. We should not beat ourselves up over this but reflect on the struggle, reflect on the cross of Jesus and, most importantly, find hope in the Resurrection and give ourselves a break if we just aren't sure. Instead of being defeated, slow down, find that quiet time, and let Jesus enter our heart, listen quietly and let the Spirit work.

As I reflect on this past year, I am blown away by the faith and true belief of the school leaders and teachers. These courageous women and men know that their work brings students and families closer to Christ through high-quality Catholic schools and must continue regardless of the challenges presented. In the face of a global pandemic, surging COVID rates, and fear sweeping our communities, these school leaders and teachers became a voice of calm and a place of stability. Catholic schools continued to be a place where students could safely learn, be loved, and feel a sense of connection that has been a challenge for so many during these days. Unlike Thomas or Peter, there was no doubt among these amazing professionals.

This Easter Season, we must challenge ourselves to believe in the Resurrection and not just have hope in the Resurrection. The actions of these school leaders and teachers created moments of grace that show the Spirit is at work in the world today. We must look for these moments each day, these moments of grace and love. It is far too easy to see the darkness and sadness and dwell on the Passion of Christ and miss the joy of the Resurrection and the hope it brings.

There is pain and suffering in the world, physical and emotional wounds and struggles that beat us down, this suffering can challenge our faith and our belief. The story of Thomas and Peter should give us permission to say this challenge is ok. Use the suffering and questions in our lives as an opportunity to try and see the Spirit at work in the world; to see those moments of grace and growth that fill our days if we are open to them.

I am grateful for untold moments of grace this past year in Catholic schools. The faith and commitment of teachers and school leaders changed the lives of students and families.

The Spirit is at work in the world, and this Easter Season, may our eyes be open to this presence.

- Michael B. Reardon is executive director of the Catholic Schools Foundation,