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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 July 25, 2021

When you can do nothing at prayer, make acts of humility, co...

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July 25

 

When you can do nothing at prayer,
make acts of humility, comparing
your nothingness with God’s greatness,
your ingratitude with His benefits,
your lack of virtue with the purity and perfection of the saints.

St. Claude de la Colombière


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St. James the Greater

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St. James the Greater

James the Greater was the son of Zebedee and Salome, one of the women at the tomb on Easter morning, (Matt.27:56, Mark 15:40, 16:1) and the brother of John – probably the elder of the two. He is called “the greater” to distinguish him from James the Lesser, who was probably shorter in stature.

There is evidence in Scriptures that these two brothers were cousins of the Lord, which may explain Our Lord entrusting His mother to John as He was dying. Both James and John were probably of a fiery temperament for which they were called “sons of thunder.”  They once wished to call fire upon a city, for which Our Lord rebuked them. (Luke 9:51-6)

James was one of the first apostles called by Jesus, and was one of the three selected to witness His transfiguration.

James was apostle in Iberia, in the region of present-day Spain. Ancient tradition ascertains that when praying one night in the year 40, the Virgin Mother, then still living, appeared to him on the banks of the River Ebro to encourage him in his difficult mission. She was accompanied by a multitude of angels who bore with them a marble pillar on top of which was a small statue of her holding the Child Jesus. She bid James build a shrine where the pillar was to be placed, which he did, the first shrine dedicated to the Mother of God on earth. Today, the sacred pillar, still in the same spot, is enshrined in the great Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar in Zaragoza.

James returned to Judea after this apparition, and was the first apostle to suffer martyrdom. He died by the sword in Jerusalem at the command of Herod Agrippa in the year 44. His relics rest in the city of Compostela in northern Spain, the final destination of the famous pilgrims of the “Camino de Compostela.”

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In the Secret of the Rosary, St. Louis de Montfort relates t...

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The Rosary and the Possessed Girl

In his book, The Secret of the Rosary, St. Louis de Montfort relates that a Dominican, Father Jean Amat, was once giving a Lenten Mission in the Kingdom of Aragon, Spain, when a young girl, possessed by the devil was brought to him.

Father Amat began the exorcism. After several unsuccessful attempts, the priest had an idea; taking his Rosary, he looped it around the girl’s neck. 

No sooner had he done this, the girl began to squirm and scream and the devil, shouting through her mouth shrieked, “Take if off, take off; these beads are tormenting me!”

At last, moved to pity for the girl, the priest lifted the Rosary beads off her neck.

The next night, while the good Dominican lay in bed, the same devils who possessed the young girl entered his room. Foaming with rage, they tried to seize him, but he had his Rosary clasped in his hand and no efforts from the infernal spirits could wrench the blessed beads from him.

Then, going on the offensive and using the Rosary as a physical weapon, Fr. Amat scourged the demons crying out, “Holy Mary, Our Lady of the Rosary, help me, come to my aid!” at which the demons took flight.

The next day on his way to church, the priest met the poor girl, still possessed. One of the devils within her taunted him, “Well, brother, if you had been without your Rosary, we should have made short work of you…”

With renewed trust and vigor, the priest unlaced his Rosary from his belt, and flinging it around the girl’s neck commanded, “By the sacred names of Jesus and Mary His Holy Mother, and by the power of the holy Rosary, I command you, evil spirits, leave the body of this girl at once.”

The demons were immediately forced to obey him, and the young girl was freed.

“These stories,” concludes St. Louis de Montfort, “show the power of the holy Rosary in overcoming all sorts of temptations from the evil spirits and all sorts of sins because these blessed beads of the Rosary put devils to rout.”

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In the Secret of the Rosary, St. Louis de Montfort relates that a Dominican, Father Jean Amat, was once giving a Lenten Mission in the Kingdom of Aragon, Spain, when a young girl, possessed by the devil was brought to him.

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