Teaching piety in school PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 02 March 2016 11:24

REFLECTION

BY FR. ROY CIMAGALA

As chaplain of a primary and secondary school, I consider as one of my responsibilities the task of inculcating the spirit of piety to the children. I consider this, of course, as a most delicate and challenging duty considering the temper of the times, the  mentalities and sensitivities of the today’s young people who are exposed to an environment quite different from mine when I was at their age.

I believe that this task is carried out mainly through example that should be preceded with a lot of prayer and sacrifice. If the kids see the priest praying and always friendly, warm and affectionate with everyone, I suppose they will just follow what they see.

Of course, it is also very helpful to organize collective acts of piety, like daily Masses in the school chapel with a class assigned to attend it, or a class making a visit to the Blessed Sacrament, praying the rosary, or organizing pilgrimages to shrines of Our Lady, or holding a Eucharistic procession with a floral carpet to add color to it, etc.

But this duty can also be fulfilled to a large extent through preaching and teaching. It’s important that all the teachers be trained to highlight the spiritual foundation and moral implications of whatever subject he is teaching, no matter how mundane, secular or technical that subject is.

This is a big challenge today because many of the faculty tend to be simply concerned with the technical aspects of their subjects. Not only are they ignorant or confused about this fundamental aspect of teaching, but also are quite resistant and even hostile to it. That is why a system of proper screening in the selection of teachers is now indispensable.

For my part, I have tried to see how I can give the most appropriate messages in my homilies to the students in the different levels, from grade school to high school. And I thought of devising the following plan.

Everyone should be invited and encouraged to spend time with Christ in the Blessed Sacrament in the chapel. Obviously, I have to explain the real presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, and give a lot of examples about Eucharistic devotion.

Also, everyone should be motivated to develop the Marian  devotion by praying the rosary with the family. There should also be a lot of references to the importance of being grateful, being kind in words and deeds with others, being quick to say sorry and to forgive others, being always thoughtful of others, etc.

For those in Grade 1 to 4, the message of being friendly to everyone, eager to help their classmates, kind to helpers, should be highlighted. Also, the gesture of sharing food and other things can be mentioned quite often, as well as encouragement to always tell the truth and avoid lying.

For those in Grade 5 to 8, I find it relevant to tell themto always be gentle, caring and prayerful, knowing how to listen to others and to respect the views and opinions of others, as well as to study seriously for love of God and not simply for grades.

They should avoid boasting of their achievements, etc.

They can be told often about God’s infinite mercy and thus, to go to confession regularly and to show compassion always to others. They can be reminded about giving good example to others.

They can be introduced to the idea of maintaining a plan of piety, making use of regular practices of piety, like mental prayer, going to Mass often and receiving Communion with a clean soul, going to confession regularly, visit to the Blessed Sacrament.

For those in Years II to IV, I feel that they should be demanded more and more, telling them to go out of their comfort zones, overcoming their laziness and disorder, and develop the attitude of wanting to serve and not to be served, to be temperate in the use of social media, and to be brutally sincere in their mentoring sessions as well as in confession and spiritual direction.

They need to be given more concrete examples of heroic charity that may involve the art of suffering and patience, and the virtue of mercy and compassion. At this stage, a lot of references to prudence and chastity in relationships should be made. They should try to please God all the time, especially in moments of weakness and temptations.

Lastly, they have to be told about how to sanctify their work and concerns, and about the true meaning of freedom. They have to start learning about the apostolic dimension of their life.