This excerpt is a lesson for all educators…including, and especially, mothers and fathers. There aren’t many schools nowadays that are reputable (there are some, indeed), so mothers and fathers have had to take much of burden of educating their children, especially in their religion. Take heart, your reward will be great in heaven!
Some readers may be tempted to restrict the idea of the pupils’ success to what is seen on the night of the school commencement. But we have in mind the school commencement merely as the scene whence the graduates must pass to the larger stage of the world to play their parts.
The Rev. Daniel A. Lord, S.J., has brought out vividly the part that the Sisters play in both phases of the pupil’s success:
Back stage, hot in heavy habits that were never designed for work among canvas wings, the Sisters, tired, flushed, but happy, watched the end of their year’s work.
The next day they too were to leave; some for the motherhouse, some for the summer courses at Catholic colleges, all eventually for the annual retreat.
The curtain dropped for the last time, and the boys and girls surged out to greet happy relatives, some with a quick good-by to their teachers, others thoughtless and forgetful of all except that for them school was at an end and they were free.
Yet, though few children came to thank them, and fewer still of that seething audience gave a passing thought to the Sisters backstage, all that was epitomized in the entertainment just concluded, and the diploma just conferred was credited by a higher Power to them.
Because of their patient drilling some boy would rise higher in life. Later on some girl would come with the man who loved her, to seek out the Sister who had kept her feet straight in her youthful days.
Some boy in the grip of temptation would remember her insistent lessons of loyalty to God and put sin ruthlessly behind him. Perhaps in some distant day a wanderer from the faith of his fathers would on his deathbed murmur the act of contrition she taught him, and by that childhood prayer open for himself the gates of eternal bliss.
And perhaps before God’s altar some young priest, in the full tide of his newly-received priesthood, would pause at the Memento to whisper the name of the nun whose lessons and prayers had first turned his eyes toward the service of the Sanctuary.
Her work, unrecognized, unappreciated, but heroic with the heroism of patient unselfishness and devotion to a high ideal, is one of the loveliest things in the Church today.
She is the greatest asset of Catholic education. I crave your thanks for the teaching Sister.
The Rev. Robert Schwickerath, S.J., relates an incident of the life of Father Bonifacio, a distinguished Jesuit educator, who for more than forty years taught the classics.
One day he was visited by his brother, a professor in a university, whom he had not seen for many years. When the professor heard that the Father had spent all the years of his life in the Order in teaching Latin and Greek to young boys, he exclaimed:
“You have wasted your great talents in such inferior work! I expected to find you at least a professor of philosophy or theology. What have you done that this post is assigned to you?”
Father Bonifacio quietly opened a little book, and showed him the list of hundreds of pupils whom he had taught, many of whom occupied high positions in Church or State, or in the world of business.
Pointing at their names, the Father said with a pleasant smile:
“The success which my pupils have achieved is to me a far sweeter reward than any honor which I might have obtained the most celebrated university.”
Father Schwickerath justly adds to this account that “not all teachers have the consolation of seeing their pupils in high positions. It happens that the best efforts of a devoted teacher seem to be lost on many pupils. Even this will not discourage the religious teacher.
He will remember that his model, Jesus Christ, did not reap the fruit which might have been expected from such a Master. Not all that He sowed brought forth fruit a hundredfold, not even thirtyfold. Some fell upon stony ground, and other some fell among the thorns, and yet He went on patiently sowing.
So a teacher ought not to be disheartened if the success should not correspond with his labors. He knows that one reward is certainly in store for him, the measure of which will not be his success, but his zeal; not the fruit but his efforts.”
It is the prospect of this reward that inspires the devoted service of our Sisters.
Not long ago, in distant Algiers, an American tourist visited the lepers’ colony out of pure curiosity. These poor lepers were cared for by a Community of Sisters. The man was attracted by one of these self-sacrificing women because of her youth, beauty, and refinement, and to his surprise he learned that she was an American girl.
Being introduced to her, he said: “Sister, I would not do this work for $10,000 a year.”
“No,” said the Sister, “nor would I do it for $100,000 nor a million a year.”
“Really,” said the stranger, “you surprise me. What, then, do you receive?”
“Nothing,” was the reply, “absolutely nothing.”
“Then why do you do it?”
The Sister lifted the crucifix that was pending from her rosary and, sweetly kissing it, said, “I do it for the love of Him, for Jesus who died for the love of them and for the love of me. In the loathsome ulcers of these poor lepers I see the wounds of my crowned and crucified Savior.”
For the rest, we believe that the very choicest reward will be meted out to the School Sisters for that portion of their work that to human seeming is generally in vain. Our School Sisters may gain honor from their talented pupils; they will earn their bread (in a certain sense) by training the vast body of mediocre children; but they will merit heaven by the patient labors they devote to the dullards in their schools.
A holy house is one in which God is truly King; in which He reigns supreme over the minds and hearts of the inmates; in which every word and act honors His name. One feels on entering such a house, nay, even on approaching it, that the very atmosphere within and without is laden with holy and heavenly influences. -True Womanhood, Rev. Bernard O’Reilly, 1894 https://amzn.to/2PsM94w (afflink)
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With his facile pen and from the wealth of his nation-wide experience, the well-known author treats anything and everything that might be included under the heading of home education: the pre-marriage training of prospective parents, the problems of the pre-school days down through the years of adolescence. No topic is neglected. “What is most praiseworthy is Fr. Lord’s insistence throughout that no educational agency can supplant the work that must be done by parents.” – Felix M. Kirsch, O.F.M. https://amzn.to/2T06u28 (afflink)
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Very very true, for parent teachers too! Excellent reminders! 🙂