A Revolution of the Heart: Celebrating the New Millennium at St. James Cathedral
"The greatest challenge of the day is: how to bring about a revolution
of the heart; a revolution which has to start with each one of us."
- Dorothy Day
The one thing I never really expected about being a parent is all the
fretting I would do. I have two little boys, ages four and seven, and like
parents everywhere, I whirl around them trying to fix the things that go wrong
with their days: Albert's swollen bug bite, Ted's lost library book, all the
dozens of daily bumps and scratches, hurts and victories.
But lurking behind the little worries is a real fear that seems very
potent at the end of the 20th Century. Am I truly able to guide my children
through life? Am I strong enough to help them through all the danger zones of
the Internet or school or a rebellious adolescence? Will they be all right? Will
I do the right things? I know I'm not the only parent who lies awake at night
worrying about my children's destiny. From Cain and Abel to the Prodigal Son to
Anakin Skywalker, our stories and myths are full of children who somehow lose
their way and it never seems quite certain why.
That's why the American Bishops' Jubilee Pledge for Charity, Justice and
Peace is so important. The Pledge, which will be honored by Catholics around the
country as a way to celebrate the New Year, calls us to live our lives by more
consciously seeking charity, justice and peace.
It's a challenge. Attempting to live a life of service to others is
profoundly countercultural, particularly in the Palm Pilot '90s, when we're
rewarded for doing more and moving faster and recording every step we take.
Service to others can't be measured that way and so it often seems like failure
from the perspective of popular culture. I know it does in our home, at least,
where our attempts to live a simple lifestyle based around service seems to us
increasingly like falling behind.
But the challenge of the Pledge is matched, perhaps exceeded, by the real
comfort it brings: the knowledge that this challenge that is so fundamentally
part of our faith is not ours to bear alone. Instead, it's something we do
together, as part of a community. When I walk into St. James with my family, I
am surrounded by people who are striving to live their lives for others - from
serving the needs of those who are homeless to assisting the elderly and the
needy - and it is in this community that I can feel comfortable at last that my
children are learning the lessons they will need to grow into good and strong
Dorothy Day once described her greatest challenge as creating a
"revolution of the heart." That is the essence of the Jubilee Pledge. My own
interpretation of this challenge is much more mundane yet just as deeply felt.
When my boys grow up, they may be firefighters or they may be artists or they
may develop whatever software has become twenty years from now. But most
important, with the support of a community around them, my husband and I can
strive to help them grow up to be of service to others. And that will be the
Mary Bourguignon is a parishioner and a principal at Cedar River Associates, a
public policy consulting firm. She is an active religious education volunteer at
St. James Cathedral.