Don’t Be Nice

don't be nice

This past Monday, we began our Lenten journey as a community with our first Lenten Liturgy.  The service was led by Mrs. Duke’s talented grade 1 class. Two themes were presented at the service: ‘fasting’ and ‘being a better person’. The second theme felt especially relevant to me, given a personal experience last Saturday.  Every Saturday night, I take part in a ‘Pray and Play’ prayer pray and play bloggroup.  We meet at St. Martha’s Parish, pray the Rosary, and then go play hockey. ‘Pray and Play’ is a great opportunity to gather as part of a faith community.  After the game, I was greeted by a homeless man at the arena asking for money.  I politely declined, as I truly did not have any spare change on me.  Soon after, the homeless man asked me for a ride to the homeless shelter.  I made an excuse that I was driving in the other direction.  I was not ‘being a better person’.

I often ask students to be nice.  Sometimes, I have been described as a nice guy.  When did Jesus ever mention being nice to others?  When did Jesus ever ask us to be a nice guy?  I once read:

          God does not say: “I was hungry, and you felt sorry for me.  I was naked, and you             felt embarrassment.  I was sick, and you had feelings of sympathy toward me.”  All             of which would have been simply nice. (Author Unknown)

Jesus does not want me to be nice to my neighbour; he wants me to love my neighbour—all of my neighbours.  He wants the hungry fed, the naked clothed, and the abandoned cared for.

Back to my Saturday night experience.  I was polite, but I was not even nice. Had I given the homeless man money, that might have been a nice gesture; but I do not think that could have been called love. A ride to the homeless shelter?  We all have to make decisions and safety must be a factor, but on Saturday I definitely did not exhibit love.  How hard would it have been to ask one of my fellow Pray and Play members—members of a faith community—to join me in giving a homeless man a ride to a shelter?  In my opinion, Jesus would have supported loving actions even more than simply prayer.  For my inaction and my cowardice, I ask forgiveness.  Faith is a matter of action.  This lent I want to take up the challenge that our grade 1s gave us: ‘being a better person’.  I can only do this as I Walk Together with my neighbour.  Walking Together: not in a polite way of being nice, but in a challenging way of showing love.

During our Lenten journey, we tell God and each other that we are sorry.  We are going to try, with God’s help, to become better people.  I invite everyone to follow the three traditional practices during Lent: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

  • pillarsoflentPrayer – Every Friday our staff meets for prayer at 8:15 a.m. in our chapel.
    Recently, we have had a lot more students join us.  Please come out and join us on Friday.  Also, join us for our many Lenten Liturgies;
  • Fasting – Like many, I will be giving something up for Lent. Lent can be more than a time of fasting; it can be a season of feasting. We can use Lent to fast from certain things and to feast on others.  This Lent, I will fast from simply being nice, and feast on loving action;
  • Almsgiving – We recently just finished a very successful Food Bank drive. Our small school collected 807 lbs of food with a value of $2017.  Also, our Cake Auction raised $1180 for one of our families.  Thank you to everyone for supporting these events, and to the students for organizing the events.

lent blogThis Lent, I hope to ‘become a better person’ by going above and beyond being nice by showing loving actions to my neighbours. All my neighbours.

Lenten Blessing,

Greg Kostiuk


unpluged get


Often, I hear concerns about the number of hours students are in front of a screen or ‘plugged’ in. I have those same concerns. Also, I have concerns about the number of hours staff are ‘plugged’ in and more specifically, how much time I am ‘plugged’ in. I am all for being a connected educator, but recently I decided to informally track how often I was ‘plugged’ in during a typical week. I tracked how much time I spent in front of a laptop screen during the school day and evening. The amount of time I was on social media. The number of times I checked my iPhone. After looking at my informal and alarming numbers I have realized I am not ‘plugged’ in, but I am tied to digital technology/social media/connected educators. This tie does not feel like a save support, but an unhealthy ‘ball and chain’. I do not feel being ‘plugged’ in is a stress factor for me, for those of you that know me I am pretty laid back. That being said, being constantly ‘plugged’ in is not healthy, physically or mentally.

Therefore, I have decide to detox or get ‘unplugged’ for the next week. I have a terrific opportunity as the teaching staff has a bit of a break next week. So starting at the Friday bell I will be ‘unplugged’ and not using my laptop, not constantly checking emails, not engaging in social media, not checking the NHL app to see how Chicago is playing, no Netflix, no YouTube, no Instagram, etc.

Now I am a realist. I will still have the iPhone on simply in case someone has to contact me for an emergency. I will have to go online to approve time sheets or else some staff will not get paid. I may not be 100% ‘unplugged’, but I am aiming for 98%. I will enjoy my ‘unplugged’ time with family and friends.


Greg Kostiuk

PS – I plan on ‘unplugging’ on a regular basis, hopefully daily.