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Reading: From The Preventative System in the Education of the Young
Critical Edition: P. Braido – Translation & Notes: P. Laws Introduction
by St. John Bosco
II: Application of the Preventive System
The practice of this system is all based on the words of St Paul, who says: Love is patient,
love is kind… it bears all things… hopes all things, endures all things. ( 1 Cor. 13:4.7 passim)
Love is kindly, and patient; it puts up with all things, but hopes all things and endures any disturbance. For this reason only a Christian can successfully apply the Preventive system. Reason and Religion are the means the educator should constantly make use of, teaching them, making use of them himself, if he wishes to be obeyed and to attain his goal.
1: For this reason the Director should be dedicated to his pupils, nor should he ever assume tasks that would take him away from his duties; on the contrary, he should be among his pupils every time they are not taken up with other legitimate tasks, unless they are duly assisted by others.
2: The teachers, the technical instructors, the assistants should all be of known moral rectitude. They should try to avoid like the plague every kind of (morbid) affection or exclusive friendship with the pupils, and they should realise that the wrongdoing of just one person can compromise an educational Institute. They should operate in a way that the students are never alone. As far as possible the assistants should precede them to the place where they are required to assemble; they should remain with them until others come to assist them; they should never allow them to be idle.
3: Give them ample liberty to jump, run, make a din as much as they please. Gymnastics, music, declamation (of poems, etc), theatricals, hikes, are very effective methods for getting discipline; they favour good living and good health. One must only ensure that the plot, the characters and the dialogue are not unsuitable. That great friend of youth, St Phillip Neri used to say, “Do whatever you wish; for me it is enough you do not sin”.
4: Frequent Confession, frequent Communion, daily Mass are the pillars that ought to support an educational edifice, from which one would want to keep at bay threats and violence. Never require the youngsters to go to the Holy Sacraments, but just encourage them, and offer them every opportunity to make good use of them. Then on the occasion of retreats, novenas, homilies, religious instructions, one should highlight the beauty, the greatness, the holiness of that Religion which proposes with such easy methods things as useful to civil society, to peace of heart, to the salvation of one’s soul, as are these holy sacraments. In this way the young people will become involved spontaneously in these religious practices, with pleasure and with fruit. (1)
(1) Not long ago a minister of the Queen of England, visiting an Institute in Turin was taken to a large hall where about 500 boys were studying. He was not a little amazed at seeing so many children in perfect silence, with no supervision. His amazement grew even more when he came to know that perhaps in an entire year, one did not have to complain of a word being said out of place, or so much as threaten a punishment, much less inflict one. “Tell me, how ever is it possible to obtain such silence and such discipline”, he asked. And he added to his secretary, “Write down whatever he says”. “Sir”, replied the Director of the establishment, “the means we use is not available to you.” “Why?” “Because they are secrets known only to Catholics.” “What are they?” “Frequent Confession and Communion, and Daily Mass well heard.” “You are absolutely right. We lack these powerful means of education.” “If you do not make use of these religious means, you must turn to threats and the stick”. “You are right! You are right! Religion or the rod, I want to recount this in London”.
Meditation — Andrew Seeley
Reason and Religion, St. John Bosco emphasizes, are the chief means to effectively achieve discipline without “threats and the stick”. But the Preventative Method begins with love, with friendship. Not an improper or exclusive friendship, where the teacher is satisfying his own need for love and affirmation. The proper friendship a teacher offers his students is really a sharing in “caritas”, the divine love which impels Him who is without need to offer us a share in His life.
As a parent, I have always found that what children really want is not “quality time”, at least not at the expense of quantity time. The affection that binds children to parents comes from being an intimate part of their daily, hourly routine. Presence and the often simple interactions that come from it establish the loving authority of parents. Appropriately adapted to a school setting, presence provides teachers with abundant occasions for showing their real love and concern for students. It provides the context that helps the students accept the reasons for the rules that protect the community and allow it to flourish. Once well-established, teachers can allow students greater freedom, because they know the students will respond well when they need to be reined in.
The founders of our nation knew so well that religion is essential if a people is to live freely. “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious People. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other,” wrote John Adams. St. John would add, “Religion, and the grace of the sacraments.” As Catholic teachers, we are so blessed to have this palpable divine assistance in fulfilling our duties. We should praise the Lord frequently for this, in the depths of our hearts and in the ears of our students.
Examen — To what extent do I seek the approval of my students out of a need for affirmation? To what extent do I enforce discipline because I want to approve of myself? Do I make myself present and available to students when overseeing their activities, or do I ignore them so I can engage in more self-fulfilling activities? Do I encourage my students to frequent the sacraments, and make myself an example for them?
Prayer — Lord Jesus, thank You for the great graces You have obtained for us through Your Passion. May Your sacraments fill my heart with the love that You had for your disciples. Use me to communicate Your loving, authoritative presence those You have entrusted to my care.
(Please also offer one Mass and one Rosary some time this month for the intentions of the members of the Confraternity.)
Please pray for the needs of your fellow teachers:
Recently, Mariann Lupinacci-Kosinski, principal of ICLE member school St. John Paul II Classical School in Lincoln Park, MI, passed away. She was diagnosed earlier this year with a fast-growing cancer, and even the school community did not know how serious it was until just before Easter. She was an extraordinary woman who had been widowed twice, never complained, and was completely devoted to the faculty and students of her beloved little school. She was a joyful daughter of God who lived her faith in an unassuming way. Please pray for the repose of her soul, and for the consolation of her family and all who love her in that community.
Holy Spirit guidance and healing for MEA. – Fernanda
Lord, give strength to all school leaders and teachers who face great challenges in this work of education, especially in this very difficult time. Give them renewed vision, deep joy, and great confidence in your help. – Colleen
For a family friend who was hurt in a bad skiing accident. – Elisabeth
For our school families and the safe reopening of our school. – Cyril
For all school leaders as they make the decisions and face the trials of this new school year. Lord, grant them wisdom and peace. – Amy
For the virtues of perseverance and studiousness as I begin graduate studies in philosophy of education. – Tomas
Lord Jesus, bless Annemarie, who is in the hospital, and her husband.
For inspiration, guidance, and blessings for a start-up school working with their home diocese–that the Lord will guide all parties to perfectly carry out his will.
The father of a student of one of our members has died, leaving behind a young family. We pray for the repose of his soul and for the consolation of his family, as well as for wisdom and peace for his teacher and the rest of the school community.
Please pray for Phil, a doctor from Denver, CO, who has been diagnosed with COVID-19. Phil is the father of 7 young children.
Please pray for the family of Matthew and Terrie Walz. Matthew is a professor at the University of Dallas, and a friend of the Institute. Terrie’s father has been diagnosed with brain tumor; the CoVid crisis has made getting treatment difficult and dangerous.
For the healing and containment of the Coronavirus disease and for all those who have been affected – physically, economically, and spiritually.
Please pray for Fr. John Belmonte, SJ, Superintendent in the Diocese of Joliat, Illinois, who will soon be undergoing surgery to repair a broken shoulder.
Please pray for the repose of the soul of Suzanne Fessler, long-time principal at St. Mary’s High School in Phoenix, who oversaw the transition of the high school to a focus on the development of wisdom and virtue.
For Father Frank Brawner and his health, healing, and continued strength in his ministry. – Susan
For the healing of Shirley Balangue, mother of Cyril Cruz, Principal of Holy Innocents School in Long Beach, CA.
For the continued health and healing of Simon Vander Weele, son of Rosemary and Jon Vander Weele of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Classical School in Denver, CO.
Pray for healing for Mr. K., Latin teacher at an ICLE member school. We ask for healing and relief from fluid buildup in the lung and cancer.
Please pray for a wonderful theology professor who is undergoing persecution for upholding Catholic teaching on sexuality. – Andrew
My wife’s conversion to Catholicism. – Adam
Increase in fertility, marriage, families; for grandparents; for a special spouse for a friend. – Rosemary
For the Holy Spirit’s increase in the hearts of all concerned with Catholic education in the Pensacola-Tallahassee diocese, especially that He lead us into deeper prayer, greater intimacy with Him. – Leslie
Souls in Purgatory especially those who have no one to pray for them; those in the Bahamas and elsewhere affected by natural disasters. – Lisa
Please pray that I teach and love my students and teachers as would Christ the Teacher. – Joseph & Juliana
For a new teacher in 5th grade; for our Johnsburg Catholic school to become Classical Liberal Arts; for increase in marriage, fertility, families; for young adults’ conversion and love for Jesus and His Church. – Rosemary
Help making good choices about family issues. – Susan
That our parish school community would grow as an evangelizing community, proclaiming, encountering and responding to the kerygmatic proclamation of Jesus Christ. – Nathalie
That Catholic schools and parents be of one heart and one mind by creating their institutions and homes coherently, as “missionary outposts of the Universal Church” with one goal: that the truth of all things, beginning and ending in Jesus Christ, be known and loved through the details in everything. – Ruth
For teachers everywhere. – Chris