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The ACE Morning Offering

Friday, October 07, 2016 by Kevin Fitszimmons, ACE 22 - Mobile

The ACE Morning Offering

Every member of ACE Teaching Fellows gets a card just like the one above. There’s one on my bedside table and an extra in my wallet—just to be safe. Wherever I am, I have the ACE Morning Offering with me.

Kevin Fitzsimmons ACE Morning Offering Many saints, including Pope John Paul II, considered some kind of prayer to start the day to be of extreme importance. The ACE Morning Offering tweaks that traditional prayer used to consecrate one’s day to God in general. In ACE, we specifically consecrate our day to the model of Christ the Teacher.

As something that I pray every day before I enter the world as an ACE teacher, I wanted to share what it means to me—everything from the front cover to the last word.

The Front Cover

The front of the card is the stained glass image depicting The Visitation of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth. Okay, besides it being really beautiful, I know what you’re thinking: “What does The Visitation have to do with teaching?” You got me. Or actually…you get ACE, I think.

The truth is, I don’t think the Visitation is about teaching at all. If you recall, one of the most beautiful parts of this story comes in Mary’s “Magnificat,” where she joyously proclaims the goodness of God and her willingness to serve Him in this endeavor of birthing His Son. This solidifies the “Fiat” or “Yes! Lord, let it be done to me” she gave when the angel Gabriel gave her the news that she was about to birth the Savior of the whole world. Wow Mary! I have always been impressed with the bravery and humility in that action from our Blessed Mother.

And in turn, ACE is asking the same thing of us. So when I look at that picture, I am reminded of my own “Yes!” – to ACE, my students, my new community members – and my “let it be done to me” way of serving our Lord in the way that He has called me.

Don’t all good things (especially prayers!) start out with a little thanksgiving?

Loving God, Thank you for the gift of this day.

Don’t all good things (especially prayers!) start out with a little thanksgiving? Like that one time you really wanted some money from your Mom, so you thanked her for everything she does for you and how sweet and beautiful of a mommy she is, right? No. Not like that at all!

We start off thanking God because we appreciate the precious nature of the day. In a world overrun with the busy humdrum of daily living, the first thing we say to God after waking up is, “Hey God, this day has the chance to be awesome! Because you made it like that. HOW COOL?! Thanks for it!” As we acknowledge this first gift from our Creator, our mindset shifts into a place of humble and joyful service for the day.

Help me, Jesus, to see you in the faces of my students, my community, my co-workers, and all whom I encounter.

Isn’t this what we are all called to do every single day with every single person? It sounds so simple. But we all know that it is certainly not. I need help with this. And some days, the people around me make it hard. We all know that person, or that student, or that stranger on the road who cuts us off in our own life. So after we thank God, we tell Him that we won’t be able to do what He wants us to do unless He helps us.

“Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.”

But it’s a big step to recognize that we need that assistance! Because then we are aware of it as we “encounter” (love the use of that word!) each person in that day. And that’s what they are, encounters – beautiful opportunities to spread God’s love and grace and mercy to another soul, precious moments to offer another person a little brightness from His radiance, chances to show the proverbial “other” that they have real, human dignity in our eyes. Let’s take those opportunities and make the most of them today, Jesus. You and me. St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta has an awesome quote that I’ve been vibing with lately, and it fits perfectly with this effort to see Jesus in all people: “Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.” With Jesus at my side, challenge accepted.

Help me and all in ACE to follow your example as Teacher, bringing your gifts of faith, hope, and love to all we serve.

More casually said, “So, Lord, I’m, uh…gonna need some more help from you today!” Either way, in this moment, we are truly consecrating our day to Christ the Teacher, who is the best example in the history of the teaching ministry. In that same breath, we are praying for the larger ACE network, a community of almost 200 teachers across the country and nearly 2,000 graduates, that they might be able to do the same.

Notice how the prayer doesn’t go on to say that exemplifying Christ Teacher includes having the best lesson plans with the trendiest, most engaging activities, or the most up-to-date gradebooks, or the most full and positive parent contact logs. Nope. It’s about something deeper, something more essential. To quote good ol’ country artist Alan Jackson: “Faith, hope, and love are some good things that He gave us. And the greatest is love.” (see: “Where Were You” by Alan Jackson). This prayer is about us bringing those good things in the realest ways to the children we are so blessed to serve each day. And it’s in that moment that we should reflect on how we can do it really well.

Let all that I think, say, and do be a prayer that draws me closer to you, knowing that nothing can separate us from your love. Amen.

No comment. Because you can’t say it any better than that right there!

We now prepare to enter into the rest of this day, this week, and this year as the Morning Offering leaves me every morning – dedicated to Christ in search of Him in the true service of His people.

As St. Paul prays for us all, I pray for you:

“And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”

Interested in becoming an ACE Teaching Fellow? Applications are now open! Start yours today! ace.nd.edu/teach/apply