Reading: From Christian Education by Bl. Basil Moreau
Seriousness comes through faithfulness to self-control. It is impossible for teachers to be truly serious unless they are able to control their exterior selves. Seriousness, however, does not force a person into pedantry or affectation. Teachers should carefully avoid mean and threatening looks, gloomy and scowling faces, angry voices, and bitter, biting, and satirical words. The aim of seriousness is not to intimidate students, to keep them from showing themselves as they really are, to make them afraid of making mistakes, or to hinder the development of good qualities that might exist in them. Seriousness does not in any way exclude kindness, tenderness, or an affable way with students, which can win them over and lead them with docility.
Seriousness is a virtue that assumes a mental maturity and wisdom in the one who possesses it, along with a real faith in the presence of God. It is a virtue that requires noble sentiments and true humility. It will give you the dignity in attitude that inspires respect, commands attention, and enables you to exercise the authority and leadership that you need. Although seriousness does not rule out affection for young people, neither does it permit too great a familiarity with them, and it doesn’t allow unseemly clowning, childish pranks and jokes, and ridiculous punishments that will discredit the teacher and earn the dislike of students. Teachers who wish to maintain this virtue in their lives guard against giving any particular student too great attention. This is the way one most often loses this virtue. It is the responsibility of a young teacher especially to develop this virtue in order not to lose the dignity of the mission of teaching and the respect that the teacher is owed by students. §
MEDITATION — FR. FRANK BRAWNER, INSTITUTE CHAPLAIN
It seems, in the midst of the Novel Coronavirus outbreak, seriousness is a virtue more considered and felt than at any other time in memory. Today in the United States and throughout the whole world every human act, every act of man, is being weighted more gravely as the very health of persons known and unknown rests in the balance. The theme of seriousness in life and in education this month is rather more than apropos.
In education, as in all things, seriousness is experienced with respect to the object of our attention. We react with greater seriousness when encountered by a mountain lion rather than a house-cat, because a mountain lion has the potential to threaten our very earthly existence, and a house-cat merely thinks he does. We comport ourselves with respect to the gravity and potentiality of the situation at hand. So then we ask with respect to education, what is its object? And what potential, what end exists within the proper understanding of education?
The student is the object of education, and salvation its purpose. What task is more grave, more serious than this? To cooperate with Christ Jesus in the redemption of the world is the most noble and important of missions, for the potential of a student is to be a saint and a sharer in the very life of God. The educator should bear this in mind; their actions, no matter how insignificant seeming, either lead a student to heaven where they will be like God for they will see Him as He is, or damnation, where the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched. This reality should be at the forefront of every decision made, when the cardinal virtue of Justice (under which in a sense, I believe, seriousness rests) demands that we give to each what is their due. What does a teacher owe their students? Folly? A juvenile and silly posture? Or an earnest and sober engagement?
On the other hand, as joy also belongs to humanity and its end, it must belong in a sense, likewise to seriousness. True, seriousness avoids distractions or affectations ill-suited to the ends for which it is employed. But might we be distracted from holy rest or play by formal study? What school would impose difficult homework, or a luncheon fast on her patronal feast? Is this not also a lack of a certain seriousness of occasion?
We must exercise true seriousness in our life. We must never fail to recognize the gravity of the education of students, because of their divine potential. We must reveal by our own character the value inherent in their lives and callings. There can be no room for vagaries.
Have I underestimated the serious goods I might achieve with my students, habitually or in particular situations? Have I taken for granted my daily duties and responsibilities in preserving and building up my school community? Have I overestimated the importance of my personal life in comparison to my teaching duties?
Almighty God, you have formed and fashioned a world made for the solemn purpose of your majesty. Direct our hearts and minds so that we might see in our own vocations the gravity and nobility of your purpose, and strengthen our wills to reflect the seriousness of these missions more perfectly in the world.
Through Christ our Lord,
Please also offer one Mass and one Rosary some time this month for the intentions of the members of the Confraternity.