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Header-When Saints formed Children

  Biografia y Escritos de San Juan Bosco

 

"God made me to know, love, and serve Him in this world in order to be happy with Him in the next." 

Thus does the child correctly answer the catechism question of why God made him.

In consonance with this basic notion, Catholic education has traditionally meant fashioning the child's whole personality for the practice of virtue.  It thus produced children with consciences, in marked contrast to the troubled and problem children so prevalent today.

Modern schools have, for the most part, lost sight of - or utterly ignore -  the true finality of education. Let us look back then, to a time when saints formed children, leading them along the path of virtue.

Following are some selected passages from the educational guidelines laid down by Saint John Bosco in the last century. These forgotten truths are every bit as timely now as then.

 

Pray:  Novena to St. John Bosco

 

On music: "Any educational center without music is a body without a soul. Music educates, soothes, and elevates;  it is a most efficacious means for instilling discipline and contributing to morality."

St John Bosco paintingOn love for beauty: "The teacher must also help his charges perfect their sentiments for beauty. This is a natural sentiment, but it must be developed and perfected. All children have a capacity to appreciate the beauties of nature, art, and religion."

"I recall that when I was a boy my mother taught me to look up and gaze at the sky and to observe the marvels of the countryside. During the serene and starlit nights, she took me outside and showed me the heavens and said to me,  'It is God Who created the world and put so many beautiful stars above.

If the firmament is so beautiful, how will paradise be?'

And when spring came around, with its wealth of flowers across the countryside, she would exclaim: 'How many beautiful things the Lord has made for us!' And when the clouds gathered, and the skies darkened and the thunder roared: 'How powerful the Lord is! Who can resist Him? Therefore, let us not commit sins.'

And in winter, when all was covered with snow and ice, and we would gather together around the fire, she even amidst our poverty, would say: 'How grateful we should be to the Lord Who has provided us with all that is necessary! God is truly our Father: Our Father, Who art in heaven..."

 

On intellectual formation: "To cultivate only the intellect,  abandoning all the other human faculties, is to deform man."

"Intellectual education encompasses a series of norms, of practical measures and appropriate resources to provide the juvenile intelligence with the knowledge of letters and sciences indispensable and helpful for life. But the school should not presume to take the place of the family,  and much less the Church. School must teach in relation to life."

 

On moral formation: "All, or nearly all, educators see the development of the intellect as their principal responsibility to the child."

St John Bosco - photograph - hearing confession"However,  this displays a lack of prudence, for they do not understand—or else easily lose sight of—human nature and the reciprocal dependency of our faculties. They direct all their efforts to the development of the cognitive faculties and sentiments, which they erroneously and tragically confound with the faculty of love. In so doing, they completely disregard the sovereign faculty,  the will, which is the only source of true and pure love, and of which the sensibility is but a type of outward appearance."

"What is the obligation of the Christian teacher? According to the spirit of Jesus Christ and the practice of His moral law, the mother, the father or the teacher, must avoid giving a vitiated education to the children.  Providence has entrusted to them; their immediate end must be to direct the child along the path of sanctity, whose guideposts are renunciation and generosity. To communicate the spirit of sacrifice,  the teacher must direct his charges,  above all, to cultivate their reason and will without neglecting any of the other faculties."

 

On social formation: "Games are also social elements that should not be belittled. For this reason, we give them much importance. Games teach the child to control himself and not to injure or bother his companion:  to develop social sensibility, to increase habits of courtesy, affability, and manners,  to stimulate the exercise of justice and loyalty,  indispensable conditions not only for games but for all forms of social activity."

 

On religious education: "Education must develop in youth a passion for good and a hatred of evil. The teacher is duty-bound to understand that this is an effect of correspondence or lack of conformity to the will of God."

"One of the defects or vices of modern pedagogy is the reduction of religion to pure sentiment. For this reason, it does not want to speak to children about, or even name, the eternal truths: death, judgment, and much less, hell."

 St John Bosco - Image collage


From Biografia y Escritos de San Juan Bosco, Madrid: B.A.C., 1955.

 

 

 

Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for December 5, 2019

It is impossible to save one's soul without devotion to Mary...

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December 5

 

It is impossible to save one's soul
without devotion to Mary
and without her protection.

Saint Anselm, Doctor of the Church


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Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Sabas

His uncle’s wife treated him so harshly that when he was e...

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St. Sabas

Sabas was born in Cappadocia, the son of an army officer, who transferring to Alexandria, took with him his wife and left Sabas with his brother-in-law, who was also left in charge of the estate. His uncle’s wife treated Sabas so harshly that when he was eight he ran away to another uncle, Gregory, his father’s brother. As guardian of the boy, Gregory thought he should also run the estate, and trouble ensued. Upset, Sabas, who was of a quiet disposition, ran away again, this time to a monastery.

At the age of thirty, he obtained leave to live as a hermit five days of the week, and later retired into further solitude in the desert towards Jericho. After four years in the wilderness, hearing of his holiness, disciples began to flock to him, and, eventually, a monastery was established. St. Sabas was ordained a priest in 491 to minister the sacraments to his monks.

After the death of Sabas' father, his mother moved to Palestine and lived under her son’s direction. With the money his mother brought, he built three hospitals and a monastery.

In 511 when the holy abbot was seventy years old, Elias the Patriarch of Jerusalem sent him to Emperor Anastasius who was supporting the Eutychian heresy and persecuting the orthodox bishops.  But Anastasius was obdurate and contrived to have Elias deposed, exiled and replaced. For several years Sabas traveled, preaching and bringing those who had strayed back to the true faith and right living.

In his ninety-first year, he again traveled to Constantinople, this time to iron out trouble that had arisen in connection with a Samaritan revolt. This time he was successful and had the good will of Emperor Justinian who wished to lavish funds on his monastery. Instead, Sabas asked for a remission of taxes in favor of the Palestinians in consideration of what they had suffered on account of the Samaritans.

Back at his monastery, and feeling himself ailing, he appointed his successor and then spent four days in silence preparing to meet his Maker. On the evening of December 5, 532 he departed to Him Whom he had served since his boyhood.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

One year, there was a famine, and most people were obliged t...

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The Heavenly Baker

In the time when Saint Catherine of Siena walked the streets of her quaint medieval town, she sometimes stayed at the house of a widow-friend, Alessia, to avoid the distractions of her noisy home.

One year, there was a famine, and most people were obliged to buy long stored wheat. The bread made from this wheat had a sour after-taste. But as the new harvest came in, and there was fresh wheat to buy, Alessia remarked to St. Catherine:

“Mother, this old wheat makes sour bread, so as the Lord has had pity on us, I will throw away the little that I still have.”

“You wish to throw away what the Lord has given us for our food?” replied Catherine, “at least give it to those who don’t even have that.”

“O, I feel guilty giving from the old wheat…I’d rather give from the new, fresh batch,” remonstrated Alessia.

Saint Catherine then asked that she give her the flour and some water, for she wished to make bread for the poor of Our Lord.

As Catherine worked, not only did she produce an astounding number of loaves from so little flour, but turned them out so fast that Alessia and her maid couldn’t believe their eyes.

Served at table, everyone was amazed how delicious and sweet these loaves were. “We haven’t tasted better!” they exclaimed. 

Moreover, when taken out to the poor and to the Friars, the bin kept giving without emptying.

Sometime later, on hearing of this miracle, St. Catherine’s confessor, Blessed Raymond of Capua, sensed that there was something “more” to this story, and pressed his spiritual child to tell him all.

So Catherine explained that as she had approached the flour box, she had seen the sweet Lady Mary standing there with several angels and saints graciously offering to help her make the bread.  So Mary Most Holy began to work the dough with Catherine, and by virtue of those immaculate hands not only was the wheat made sweet, but the number of loaves multiplied. 

“The Madonna herself gave me the loaves as she made them,” related Catherine, “and I passed them onto Alessia and her maid.”

“No wonder,” writes Blessed Raymond in his biography of Saint Catherine, “that that bread seemed so sweet , since it was made by the perfect hands of the holy queen, in whose most sacred body, the Trinity made the Bread that came down from heaven to give life to all unbelievers.”

And the same writer asserts that years after in Siena, people still treasured pieces of this blessed bread as relics. 

 

Taken from The Life of Saint Catherine of Siena by Blessed Raymond of Capua - By Andrea F. Phillips

 

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One year, there was a famine, and most people were obliged to buy long stored wheat.

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