Teaching in Action: Religion Class with Mr. Lyons

Xavier is proud of our world-class faculty and the rigorous curriculum they provide our students. Throughout this year, we’ll be highlighting some of the insightful work from our leaders in the classroom. 

At Xavier, we place a premium on teaching and learning. 

Here is a quick glance at recent lesson from Mr. Lyons on how the Ten Commandments are not meant to limit our freedom, but rather to enhance it. The story he shared with his students was about a mop named Priscilla. Now, you might be thinking, "What does a mop have to do with religion?" But hear us out…

Priscilla isn't just any ordinary mop. By a unique act of God, she has been given the gift of personhood. Of course, she remains a mop, and her function is still to mop. But the gift of personhood gives her qualities that are distinctly human: she has a brain to think, a heart to love, and a face so she now has an identity, which means that she is no longer just a "what" but a "who."  

Of course, with personhood comes the gift of free will, the ability to choose to do what is right for the sake of love. Unfortunately, Priscilla has chosen to use her free will to do some very “unmoplike” things, like trying to act like a lawnmower, plugging herself into an outlet and trying to be a toaster oven, mopping without water, and never rinsing or changing her water.  In an effort to help Priscilla to reach her full potential and be the best mop she can be, the class decided to give her some guidelines, which they named “Mop Rules.”  These include 1) Don’t mow the lawn; 2) Don’t act like a toaster oven; 3) Use water; 4) Rinse; and 5) Change the water when it gets dirty.  The pressing question then becomes, “Do the Mop Rules limit Priscilla’s freedom?”  
Lucien Delaney with Priscilla the mop

After a lively and lengthy discussion, the class reached the conclusion that the Mop Rules don’t limit her freedom because she still has the ability to attempt to break them.  Instead, the Mop Rules define for Priscilla what it means to be a mop so that she can be the best mop she can be.  

So what does this have to do with religion? Mr. Lyons used Priscilla's story to teach his students an important lesson: The Ten Commandments do not limit our freedom. Instead, they define what it means to be truly human. Therefore, if we want to live a fully human life, to be everything God made us to be, we must keep the Commandments.

This might seem like a simple lesson, but it's one that we all need to be reminded of from time to time. In today's society, we are bombarded with messages that tell us that freedom means doing whatever we want, whenever we want. But the truth is that true freedom comes from living a life that is in line with God's plan for us.

The story of Priscilla the mop might seem like a silly one, but it holds an important lesson for us all. Rather than limiting our freedom, the Commandments serve as a tool to help us maintain moral cleanliness and live a more fully human life. As we go about our daily lives, let us remember the lesson of Priscilla the mop and strive to live in accordance with the Ten Commandments.