|This post links to RAnn at This That and Other Things' Sunday Snippets and Chris at Campfires and Cleats' Memoir Mondays. Thanks for hosting, RAnn and Chris!|
|St Expeditus' feast day is celebrated on April 19.|
Image from www.molossia.org
St Expeditius and I first met by the petition table at our parish a few months ago. There he was, with his generous head of tight dark curls, wearing a wide red cloak and Roman soldier uniform, holding high a Crucifix with his right hand, and a palm frond in his left, stepping on a black crow, on pocket-sized prayer cards arranged neatly in a fan. I love freebies. Whether it’s sachets of Nescafe at the train station, or shampoo samples in a magazine, or prayer cards of a new saint I want to recruit into my holy posse. Trying to read the prayer on the back, it took me a second and a half to remember that I don’t any know Portuguese. I slip a card into my purse, where it slowly drifts down the dark, murky depths, promptly forgotten.
On a Friday afternoon several weeks later, I empty my purse on the dining table, determined to figure out, once and for all, why it is so heavy. I find the old batteries meant for the recycling bin, 14 receipts of varying lengths and degrees of crumpledness, 6 rocks and 2 1/2 twigs from Olive, 2 Polly Pocket dolls (one brunette, one redhead), 18.75 Swiss Francs in coins in my wallet, Ross’ missing glove, a shriveled French fry, and St Expeditius.
On the internet that evening, I find out that, like St Judas Thaddeus, St Expeditus is called on for urgent cases, and is the patron saint of students, examinees, and success in lawsuits. I wish that I had known about him earlier. Two weeks earlier, Luke had taken a terribly important, life-or-death exam, the results of which would dictate whether he entered the university- or vocational-track high school. (I still think it’s cruel that the Swiss school system imposes this exam on the kids at 6th grade. They’re only 12 years old!) The results had come in the mail that very morning. Luke was devastated that he hadn’t passed, as were Ross and I, though we made sure not to show it. One of the St Expeditus websites had a petition page. I wrote a petition asking for St Expeditius’ help in making sure that Luke turned out alright, despite not getting into the university-track high school, as well as for help for my mum, who was has been embroiled in a long-running legal battle with a former employee who had robbed her company blind.
The following Monday, we were allowed to view the exam papers. Ross, Olive, and I spent four hours that afternoon at the high school, attempting to make a case for the two additional points that Luke needed to make the cut. (Luke himself was at home, too despondent to come.) We managed to wrangle an additional point in the math exam, conceded very grudgingly by the instructor. There was not much we could do with the German parts, as neither Ross nor I (nor Olive) could claim any degree of proficiency. We queued up three different times to ask for Luke’s German essay to be re-evaluated. Three different instructors said that he received a fair grade, and they could not justify any additional marks. And while she was a good sport at the beginning, around two hours in, Olive is writhing around on the floor, in the death throes of boredom, sobbing, “Why are you doing this to a little child? What kind of parents are you? I’m only 4! This is not a place for little children!” (And indeed, she is right. We are bad parents. There are no other 4-year-olds there.) We went home quite deflated.
Ross and I arranged to meet with the headmistress at Luke’s primary school. She reminded us that Luke would have a second and third chance to test into the university-track school, in two- and three- years. While she reassured us of the quality of the vocational high school, she did recommend that we look into a private Catholic school that had a curriculum tailored to helping students test into the university-track school in 8th and 9th grade. I immediately liked the idea. Ross, who tends to view anything remotely religious with great suspicion, was also surprisingly onboard with it. The “only” question was cost. The monthly fees for private school in Switzerland are as much as the rent on our apartment. In my mind, I decide that I’d go back to work if that’s what it took.
On Easter Sunday, I receive an email from Uncle V. He’s wishing all of us a Happy Easter. He says he had an inner discernment that we should look into private Catholic school for Luke. It would offer a more structured and controlled environment, which would suit someone of Luke’s temperament. That’s really amazing, I think to myself. Those were the words of the headmistress, verbatim, and Ross and I hadn’t told anyone anything about that. Don’t worry about the cost, Uncle V says. The Lord will sort that out.
I spent most of the following Wednesday morning (Easter Monday was a holiday, preparing for catechism class takes most of Tuesday) painstakingly writing a letter in German to the rector of the private Catholic school, requesting an interview.
Maeve had a play date with a classmate of hers that afternoon. On coming home afterwards, I peered into our mailbox as we went into our apartment building. Strange. I could see there was a letter. I had already picked up the mail in the morning. Did the post come a second time? I could see that it was from the high school. I didn’t have my key, so I rang the bell for Luke to buzz us in. The girls and I went up, I fetched the mail key, and went back downstairs.
We were expecting the school to send us an updated grade for Luke, to reflect the additional point we had wrangled that afternoon at the high school (which we already knew was still not enough to get him in). Just before I turned my key, I prayed, “Lord, I trust in the goodness of Your plan for Luke. Your Will be done.” Of course, in the natural, prayer at this stage of the game is not going to do anything. The letter sitting in front of me was printed 3 or 4 days ago. My praying at that moment wasn’t going to change what was written in it. But God’s ways are not our ways. As Joel Osteen says, we serve a supernatural God!
I ran upstairs as fast as I could, and pulled Luke and the girls into an improvised Maori Haka tribal dance. I now understand why, from the dawn of time, humans have danced in celebration. In the presence of unexpected overflowing joy, one has simply got to move one's booty! He was invited to participate in the 6-month probationary period, just like all the other kids who passed! Luke passed! I was still shrieking, grinning like a madwoman, when Ross came home an hour and a half later. “You’re more excited about this than anyone, Mom,” observes Luke.
I call the headmistress at Luke’s school to share the news with her. “What exactly did you do, Frau Coeur? I don’t think that’s ever happened before,” she says. I guess I am too excited to be coherent, and she says kindly, “You can speak English, if you want.” In any case, I explained that Ross and I had gone to the exam review…
“Congratulations to Luke, and thank you for letting me know, “ she says. “I don’t know if I would’ve believed him if he came to me with this news himself, as I’ve never heard of it happening before,” she adds.
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“Please stop going around calling it a miracle,” says Ross, very exasperated. “You’re confusing the children about how the real world works.”
“It’s unprecedented, unheard of, never happened before, not possible. That’s a miracle,” I declare. I want to say, “It’s got the signature of God my Almighty Father in Heaven written all over it!” while pointing up to the sky, like I’ve seen Joel Osteen do. But with the smoke coming out of Ross’ ears, I’m afraid he might just explode, and that’d make a huge mess. Anyway, I’ll save that for the next time we have a miracle …
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PS. I had promised an update on my dilemma with M, which I had discussed in a previous post. Funnily enough, three days after I had decided to "fight like an angel" and keep him until the end, M’s mother asked whether he could transfer back to the Thursday group (where he originally was before he came to me). It turns out that his Tuesday afternoons were too hectic, as he also had karate lessons in the afternoon. Also, he had been asking to go back to the Thursday group for a long time, as all his good friends were there. In any case, it ends with everyone happy. M is happy back with his friends. My Tuesday afternoon catechism session is a lot more manageable. We’re actually able to have discussions. Was that whole thing a pop-quiz, dear Lord? Whatever You like to call it, thank You, Almighty God, for making everything work out in the end. Your Ways are much better than ours, O Lord.