Sacred Scripture often uses the word soul to express the totality of a human person. According to Catholic faith tradition ‘soul’ is described as the innermost aspect of what it means to be human, that dimension about a human life which is most especially in God’s image. Soul signifies the spiritual principle of the human person and intimate relationship to God.
“…then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” – Genesis 2:7
In this story from Genesis we see human beings created by God. From this passage we see that humanity is all at once a physical and spiritual experience. To be human is to be seen and unseen; body and soul; earthly matter and breath of Heaven. We humans are paradoxical, gritty, complex, multi-dimensional beings – bodies with obvious physical characteristics animated and sustained by God’s willful yet invisible spirit. By God’s amazing grace – or energy if you prefer – we have come into existence.
Especially as Catholic school educators who are each called to be a lively mission driven presence within our school community, it is a good time to pause and remember that – like all people – the students we serve are creations of God with both visible and invisible truths. Just like with the elusive Kingdom of God, our complex humanity is both an “already” and “not yet” adventure. We are always in the act of becoming…growing in awareness of our true nature and God’s ever intimate proximity.
To help one another and our students grasp what is real but unseen, we must strive to be soulful educators. Soulful educators understand that there is more to the human condition than meets the eye, more to the children in our classrooms than our five senses can affirm. For soulful educators this is more than opinion, pedagogy or wishful thinking. It is the development of a “sixth sense” awareness within one’s teaching practice. Soulful educators embrace the promise and mystery of both the observable and unseen truth found in their students. Soulful educators invite the unseen hand of God to help them shape and support the holistic development of children. Soulful educators are persons of expansion and inclusion, joyfully offering a courageous “yes” to serve the needs of others – most especially the lost souls sometimes found within our schools. To be soulful is to feel and affirm a vibrational reverence for all human life as divinely created, connected and sustained. It is to affirm our shared human heritage, dignity and destiny as God’s beloved children.
This year in a special way, may we who serve young people on the Ledge commit to being soulful educators, deeply aware of the glorious “both/and ” of our mysterious lives which have been created and sustained by the very breath of God. Let us personally commit to helping each student and one another to recognize this truth…especially as revealed and affirmed through God’s Word and the many personal gifts God bestows. Let us joyfully and soulfully help young people to unpack the Gospel and share their heavenly gifts.
Blessings for a deeply soulful and successful academic year!
Eamonn O’Keeffe: High School Principal
1) Mt 16:25-26; Jn 15:13; Acts 2:41
2) The Catechism of the Catholic Church, #363
3) David Tracy Blessed Rage for Order: The New Pluralism in Theology
4) Richard Rohr, OFM Dancing Standing Still