Engaging in service 'for the greater glory of God' Print
Our Catholic Schools
Thursday, Jan. 22, 2009 -- 1:00 AM
Our Catholic Schools by Michael Lancaster

Ad majorem Dei gloriam -- It was the first Latin phrase that I committed to memory. The cross and the four letters A.M.D.G. were mandatory on all homework assignments for Sister Dolorosa's eighth grade class.

At my home parish, eighth grade meant not only graduation, but Confirmation, and Confirmation meant knowing who you were, why you were created, and what God wanted you to do. In eighth grade it was difficult enough to discern right from wrong, much less discern the will of God in your life. How do you hear God through the voices of friends, raging hormones, new and strange emotions, and trying to retain the pleasures of childhood while balancing on the edge of an adult world?

Well, Sister Dolorosa was there to help. Long before there was WWJD (What would Jesus do?) there was AMGD. And Sister Dolorosa told us that every thought, every action should be . . . AMGD -- ad majorem Dei gloriam -- for the greater glory of God

It served as a simple reminder of who we are, children of God, and why we were created, to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him. . . . Though we may not have been able to articulate God's will for us in our lives, we could pretty well tell if our thoughts and actions served and glorified God, or not. If they did, then we were on the right track. If not, then we needed an attitude adjustment.

All that we thought, all that we did (even our algebra homework), was to serve God and give him glory. AMDG.

This week we celebrate Catholic schools with the theme, "Celebrate Service." The idea of service is central to our faith and to our schools. As Christ so humbled himself in obedience to serve the will of the Father that we might be saved, so too should we serve God and each other.

Service takes many forms, some more visible than others. Among the former are the Corporal Works of Mercy, feed the poor, clothe the naked, visit the imprisoned. These are visible works of service when we organize food drives, volunteer at the food pantry, organize coat drives, or visit those in nursing homes.

In Catholic schools, teaching service and providing opportunities for students to serve others are not only parts of the curriculum, but are embedded in the culture of the Catholic school. Students learn to serve each other, following the examples of their teachers who exemplify Gospel values. In Catholic schools, service is not just something that we do, but it is part of who we are.

Catholic schools serve to educate students in morals so they act as conscientious and upstanding members of society. Catholic schools provide a choice for parents in the education of their children.

They respect the dignity and importance of the parental responsibility by recognizing parents as the primary educators of their children and working with them in that endeavor. They teach religion and its value, not only for personal salvation but for the good of society, helping to foster an appreciation for, and appreciation of, freedom of religion.

 Teachers in Catholic schools help lead students to the truth, to foster a love for the discovery of the truth about the world, and to lead them to the truth that is Christ. This is how our schools serve, ad majorem Dei gloriam.

Michael Lancaster is the superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Madison.