Oh!… Imagine on Judgment Day, your son or daughter, pointing their finger at you: “I am lost forever because of you!”
“I came before God, not only with empty hands, but with my hands full of rot, because I lived in sin.”
“I lived in sin because of the bad education you gave me!” Oh!…
Msgr. João Scognamiglio Clá Dias, EP (excerpt from the video below)
First Commandment for the Education of Children
Education must begin at an early age. Everything has its beginning on the mother’s lap, it starts there. Msgr. João Clá quoted Napoleon Bonaparte who said that “a child’s education begins 100 years before he is born”. Msgr. João Clá says that for him it begins 200 years before the child is born. For everything that has happened in the family before, passes from father to son, from father to daughter, etc., until the birth of that little one that receives all that tradition that is behind him. He inherits its inclinations, its aspirations, etc. And there begins another phase of education, but it is from these earliest days that children must be educated.
St. Jane Frances de Chantal
Msgr. João Scognamiglio Clá reminds us in the video below that the family’s principle objective is to provide a genuine education for its children. Here is an example of a child who was taught the truths of our faith at a very young age.
Memorizing short prayers like the one from Fatima on this colouring page, will not only benefit the child now but may help in later more difficult years when tempted against faith – prayers learned in early childhood build up a powerful arsenal for the later battles of life.
So let's face an important question:
At what age does a person define their mentality and decide the course of their life?
Though opinions are divided of course, the general public opinion is that mentalities are largely formed during a person’s youth — their adolescent and teenage years — and some think even when the person is well on their way to adulthood, during university studies, when young people come in contact with new ideas and tendencies, that confront their normal way of life, and they either adhere to these new ideas or reject them.
But in truth, the period of youth and young adulthood, is not when a person’s mentality is formed.
Msgr. João Clá, in his preface to the Autobiographical Notes of Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, presented this same question and he said that Dr. Plinio’s view was diametrically opposed to this general opinion. Dr. Plinio shows us that the great resolutions people make in life: the choice between good and evil, their vocation, and their main preferences are actually made at a very early age, almost imperceptibly. It is in the tendencies manifested in early childhood that the future inclinations of a child can be discerned. And as the saying goes — the direction the tree leans, is the direction where it will fall.
In this same way, when a person reaches the age of adolescence to young adulthood, except for a few exceptions to the rule, they will make decisions in the same manner that their tendencies have already indicated in their early years. Then, at each age they will take a few more steps and will define their position with greater clarity — in the face of the reality before them, their own conscience, and their position before God.
But once again, we emphasize that the choice people make between good and evil, their vocation, and their main preferences for life are actually made at a very early age. Parents need to be aware of this and educate their children very carefully during these first years of life.
Video - The Education of Children
I have a tremendous obligation concerning the holiness of my children. I will be accountable before God for the time they have been under my care if I have not formed them properly.
Msgr. João Scognamiglio Clá Dias, EP
The Example of Dona Lucilia
From a tender age, even without knowing the word “sanctity”, he understood that he should move toward it, modeled after his mother…
Dr. Plinio cherished the memory that when he was very small, around one or two years old, he would often awaken in the early morning hours and be unable to fall back to sleep. Feeling the need for protection and comfort, Plinio would start calling Dona Lucilia, but since he could not yet pronounce his words correctly, instead of saying mãezinha, – the diminutive for mãe, mother – he would say:
— Manguinha! Manguinha!
But alas, “manguinha” would not stir from her serene and deep repose!
Dona Lucilia had arranged that her son’s little bed be placed close beside her own, so that he could awaken her during the night whenever he felt restless or unwell. So without further ado, he approached his mother’s bed, and patted her arm, trying to awaken her. Faced with unsuccess, he made a last attempt: crawling onto the bed, and seating himself on her chest, he endeavored to pry open her eyes with his little fingers. She finally woke up and began to caress him, to play with him, and to tell him stories, tending to him with utmost kindness, so as to console him and help him drift back to sleep. “I felt, all at the same time, a deep, velvety affection that enfolded and soothed me, along with a compassion that showed me how keenly she understood my suffering and the distress in which I found myself.”
This was but one instance of his mother’s unwavering attitude of soul, not only throughout her life, but also after departing to eternity, in relation to her son and to all those who would have recourse to her inexhaustible goodness.
This is why, on another occasion, Dr. Plinio affirmed: “The first graces that I recall having received were of a great sensitivity in regard to my mother. She impressed me much more by what I perceived of her soul than by her words. Her presence exerted a profound impact on me. Even when I was far away from her, I knew what she would like or dislike, and it displeased me to go against her will.”
Dona Lucilia was the criterion, the track, the “Tables of the Law” that sustained his spiritual life: from a tender age, even without knowing the word sanctity, he understood that he should move toward it, modeled after his mother. Dr. Plinio confirms: “I spent my whole life analyzing her, drawing from her and, as much as possible, trying to resemble her. Words fall short to express how she nourished my initial innocence, but I hope they at least serve as an expression of my boundless respect, my veneration and my gratitude.”
Msgr. João Scognamiglio Clá Dias. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, A Prophet for Our Times. São Paulo, 2017, p. 49-50.
A Little Story
Here is an example of the impact of another mother’s simple loving words to her little child:
St. Yves or Ivo, lived in Brittany, France in the 13th century. His parents were very pious and when he was born they were determined to give him a good education from day one. His mother said over and over to him, “Yves, you must be a Saint.” And when he was old enough to ask, he asked her, “Mother, what is a Saint?”
“A Saint, my child, is one whom God has made to be for ever with Himself in Heaven. A Saint is one who loves God above all things, and His Son Jesus Christ: one who keeps all the commandments of God, that he may be with Jesus Christ in Heaven.”
His mother gave him lessons every day about holiness and he said to her one day, “My mother, I must be a Saint; I will love God with my whole heart, and all my lifetime I will try to please Him.”
His father taught him more about loving his neighbour and would take his little boy with him to help people. And the boy indeed grew up to be a Saint.
But the time came when he had to leave his father s house and could no longer be under the watchful eyes of his mother. He was sent to Paris to one of the great schools there, to cultivate those talents which he had received from God.
In that city he was surrounded by those who thought only of gratifying their evil inclinations, and who forgot that God made them for the eternal joys of Heaven. In the midst of all these temptations and angers the young Yves remained pure as an angel. He made use of those arms which God has placed in the hands of every Christian, and which make him invincible if he only makes use of them viz., prayer, vigilance, and going frequently to the holy Sacraments. Those words he used to hear so often from the lips of his good mother also sustained him in the combat: ” Yves, my child, you must be a Saint.”
When his studies had come to an end, he left the college as pure as when he had entered it, his soul adorned with virtues and merits, and his mind full of knowledge both secular and religious.
It was a joyful day for his parents when he returned to them; they began already to reap the harvest of the good seed they had so carefully sown in his tender soul when an infant at their feet.
It is not necessary here to follow the career of this youthful Saint; it continued and ended as it had begun, and he died, after a long and happy life, renowned and beloved. Whenever anyone spoke to him of the holy life he led, and of the great virtues of which he gave so beautiful an example, he used always to answer : “If there is any good in me, I owe it all to my mother s exhortations and to my father s holy words ; from the first moment that I was capable of knowing anything, my mother used to say to me : Yves, you must be a Saint. These words have been for me my safety in dangers, my courage in trials, and the guiding star of my whole life.”
God grant that every parent who may hear these words, may repeat them over and over again to their little ones, that they one day may become Saints in Heaven along with Saint Yves. From his Life. (Catechism in Examples)
St. Peter of Verona
Young Peter was sent to a Catholic school when he was old enough. His parents were obliged to send him there, because there was no school in Verona belonging to their heretical sect, and they did not want him to be brought up without education… Listen to the story.
One Last Story...
Do we realize the value of our children?
One more story to tell the children:
LEONIDAS AND HIS SON
St. Leonidas, the martyr, had a son whose name was Origen. He loved him dearly because he was his youngest child. He watched over him with the greatest care that no evil might befall him, and he taught him to love God from his very infancy.
Origen grew up a pious child. He had a great horror of sin, no matter how small, and he seemed to have one only desire — that of pleasing God.
Leonidas had a feeling of reverence for his little boy. Often at night, when the child was sleeping in his little bed, he would go quietly up to him and uncover his breast and kiss it.
Once someone happened to surprise him in this act of piety, and asked him why he did so.
“Do you not know,” he said, “that this child is the Living Temple of the Holy Ghost? In him He resides, for he is His chosen dwelling-place, and I love to honour the place where God reposes.”
You, too, are God’s Temple, my child. How carefully you ought to shun every evil, that you may keep pure and holy that temple which God has chosen for Himself, and which He created to be eternally happy in Heaven. (Rev. D. Chisholm)
This is the second post of a new series on the education of children, following up and elaborating on the 10 post series – Ten Commandments for the Education of Children.
If you listened to the audio theatre presentation at the top of this page and want to know more about St. Jane Frances de Chantal’s later life, the link below will bring you to an excellent article about her from the Heralds of the Gospel Magazine:
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