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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 June 16, 2021

We should blush with shame to show so much resentment at wha...

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June 16

 

We should blush with shame
to show so much resentment at what is done or said against us,
knowing that so many injuries and affronts
have been offered to our Redeemer and the saints.

St. Teresa of Avila


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Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Lutgardis

Her forehead and hair were often made wet with drops of bloo...

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St. Lutgardis

Born in the Netherlands in 1182, Lutgardis was sent to a Benedictine convent at the age of twelve because her merchant father had lost the money meant for her dowry, and marriage without it seemed unlikely.

She was fond of worldly things, and had no inclination toward a religious life. However, one afternoon she had a vision of Our Lord, Who showed her His sacred wounds and asked her to love Him and Him alone.

Lutgardis immediately renounced all worldly pleasures and became a religious. She often saw Christ while engaged in prayer, and was allowed to share in His sufferings: her forehead and hair were often made wet with drops of blood when she meditated on The Passion.

Desiring to live under a stricter rule, Lutgardis later joined a Cistercian convent at Aywieres. There she spent the final thirty years of her life, becoming known as a mystic with the gifts of healing and prophecy. During the last eleven years prior to her death she was totally blind, an affliction which she treated as an extraordinary gift from God because it reduced the distractions of the outside world.

Before she died, Our Lord appeared to her to warn her of her approaching death, and asked her to prepare for this event in three ways. She was to give praise to God for what she had received, pray constantly for the conversion of sinners and rely in all things on God alone. She died soon after the vision on June 16, 1246.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

Fatima custodians often meet people who know little or nothi...

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Visiting a Muslim Family

Fatima custodians often meet people who know little or nothing about the Catholic faith.  A few years ago I had such an experience in Florida. 

Upon arrival at the home, an elderly grandmother with a group of young children and teens met me at the door. The group was sullen as I brought in the statue, set up the projector and began the introduction.  Unknown to me, I was speaking to a Muslim family.

At a certain point, one of the teens vehemently objected to the phrase “Mother of God” and accused me of blasphemy since Jesus was not God. Quickly the visit became an interesting defense of the Catholic faith. After answering several more objections to the best of my ability, my Islamic hosts allowed me to explain the Rosary, with an attentive audience, I proceeded to pray alone.

After reciting the Rosary, the attendants and I listened to the hostess, who explained why she had assembled the family for the visit.

Several weeks ago, she was hospitalized for a serious illness. She felt alone and abandoned until one day a stranger walked in with a bouquet of flowers, placed it by the bedside and stayed to listen to all of her concerns. The stranger returned repeatedly to renew her flowers, fix her pillows and talk to her. Then the Muslim mother questioned the stranger’s motives, explaining that her own family wasn’t visiting her. The stranger replied that she was a Catholic and Catholics are encouraged to visit the sick.

Requesting more information about the Catholic faith, the mother was told that it was against hospital policy to discuss religion and therefore she would have to search for information on her own.

Upon her release from the hospital, my hostess entered a nearby Catholic church and encountered an America Needs Fatima flier about Our Lady of Fatima. She called the number and set up a home visit to which she then invited her family.

I may never know what has happened to the family, but I regularly pray that their interest in Catholicism has brought them into the folds of the Catholic Church. Of one thing I am certain: Our Lady will never abandon those who invite her into their homes.

By Michael Chad Shibler

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Fatima custodians often meet people who know little or nothing about the Catholic faith.  A few years ago I had such an experience in Florida

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