On this memorial of St John Bosco, his words of wisdom, as communicated to his Salesian brethren, on the challenge of being an educator.
‘Perhaps you think that what I am suggesting is too easy or not practical enough. Yet I assure you that if you abide by what I say, you will be successful. You will see that by these means you will win over those who in the be-ginning had not given the least cause for any hope.
If too often we see our efforts cast to the winds, devoid of any good results, if the fruit of our labours is nothing but a bunch of thorns and thistles, I believe we are to attribute this sad failure to the fact that we have not yet learned the way of keeping discipline in the manner I have explained above.
Only moral strength can win the human heart, which Saint Gregory tells us is like an impregnable fortress that cannot be conquered except by affection and kindness.
What I recommend is hard, I know, especially for young adults whose first inclination towards obtaining discipline is to act on the spur of the moment and inflict punishments. But I assure you; real success can only be the result of patience. Impatience merely disgusts the children and spreads discontent among the best of them.
Long experience has taught me that patience is the only remedy for even the worst cases of disobedience and irresponsiveness. Sometimes, after making many patient efforts without obtaining success, I deemed it necessary to resort to severe measures. Yet these never achieved anything, and in the end I always found that charity finally triumphed where severity had met with failure. Charity is the cure-all though it may be slow in affecting its cure.
Remember that education is a difficult art and that God alone is its true master. We will never succeed in it unless he teaches us the way. While depending humbly and entirely on him, we should try with might and main to acquire that moral strength which is a stranger to force and rigour. Let us strive to make ourselves loved, to instil into our children the high ideal of duty and the holy fear of God, and we will soon possess their hearts. Then, with natural ease, they will join us in praising Jesus Christ our Lord, who is our model, our patron, our exemplar in all things, but especially in the education of the young’.
St John Bosco, 1815-1888
O God, who didst raise up Saint John Bosco thy Confessor to be a father and teacher of the young, and through him, with the aid of the Virgin Mary, didst will that new families should flourish in thy Church: grant, we beseech thee; that being kindled by the same fire of charity, we may have the strength to seek for souls, and to serve thee alone; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
Fr Lee Kenyon