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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 October 29, 2020

An action of small value performed with much love of God is...

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October 29

 

An action of small value
performed with much love of God
is far more excellent
than one of a higher value
performed with less love of God.

St. Francis de Sales


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Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Narcissus of Jerusalem

Accused of an atrocious crime, which Eusebius does not speci...

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St. Narcissus of Jerusalem

Born toward the end of the first century, Narcissus was advanced in age when he was elected bishop of Jerusalem. Many miracles were attributed to the saintly prelate, one of which the historian Eusebius relates: the deacons being out of oil for the lamps to be used in the Easter Vigil liturgical solemnities, the bishop bade them draw water from a well. Pronouncing a blessing over this water, he poured it into the lamps, and it immediately turned to oil to the astonishment of all the faithful. Some of this oil was still preserved when Eusebius wrote of the miracle.
The general veneration of all good men for this holy bishop could not shelter him from evil tongues. Three incorrigible sinners, resentful of Narcissus’ strictness in the observance of ecclesiastical discipline, accused him of an atrocious crime, which Eusebius does not specify. They stressed the “truth” of their shameless slander by terrible oaths: one wished that he would perish by fire, the other to be struck with leprosy, and the other that he to be made blind.

Despite the fact that the faithful unwaveringly believed their bishop innocent, Narcissus – notwithstanding the shock of the detestable calumny – retired into solitude.

Sometime later, divine vengeance pursued the calumniators:  the first man died with his whole family in a fire that consumed his home; the second contracted leprosy, and the third, deeply repentant, died blind from the amount of tears he shed.

So that Jerusalem was not left without a pastor, the surrounding bishops appointed three consecutive pastors to lead the church. On the third bishop’s term, Narcissus reappeared, as one returned from the dead. His innocence having been authentically proven, his whole flock wished to reinstate him. Narcissus acquiesced, but because of his great age, he soon asked St. Alexander to be his coadjutor.

Narcissus continued to serve his flock and even other churches by his earnest prayers and exhortations as St. Alexander testifies in a letter to the Arsinoites in Egypt. In this letter he writes that Narcissus was, at that time, one hundred and sixteen years old. The Roman Martyrology honors his memory on October 29.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

The recitation of the Rosary was always a great help to Vero...

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The Rosary Saves Soldiers in Kuwait

Veronica first learned of the Rosary as a small girl watching her father fingering the beads. At first she thought he was “playing” with the shiny strand, but later, realizing the full meaning of her father’s action, and under the promptings of Grace, she became a devotee of the Rosary as well.

The recitation of the Rosary was always a great help to Veronica, who felt the Blessed Mother’s protection in her life. But then, when her youngest son, Randy, was stationed in Kuwait during Desert Storm, the devotion was to play a crucial role.

While attending a convention of Catholic Women, and greatly concerned for her son’s safety, she confided to a presiding priest that Randy was serving overseas. The good priest then suggested she and others in the group join him in praying a Rosary for Randy’s safety and other pressing intentions. Something compelled Father and the ladies not only to say five decades, but to persevere for several hours.

Two weeks later Veronica received a letter from her son in which he described that he and fellow soldiers had been in a harrowing conflict. As the bullets whizzed by, he feared for his and his buddies’ lives and prayed with all his heart. Suddenly, a great calm came over him and he heard a voice, “from the sky” that assured him they would be alright.

Conferring dates and times, mother and son marvelled at finding that the time in which he and the others were in dire peril was the same day and hour Father, Veronica and her friends were persevering in reciting the Rosary.


Note: Based on a story from 101 Inspirational Stories of the Rosary by Sister Patricia Proctor, OSC

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The recitation of the Rosary was always a great help to Veronica, who felt the Blessed Mother’s protection in her life.

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