This is an excerpt taken from a treasure of a book published in 1924 called The Catholic Teacher’s Companion – A Book of Inspiration and Self-Help.
It was originally written for teaching Sisters….
This is a virtue which the teacher has much at heart, and yet she may often be puzzled about the best means for inculcating it.
The Rev. Dr. John M. Cooper has therefore rendered a real service not only to our young people but to our teachers as well by treating the delicate subject so very well in his book, Play Fair.
In order to induce the teacher to take up the book, we shall quote a few passages from the chapter on Purity.
“And God created man to His own image: to the image of God He created him: male and female He created them.”
We are men and proud of it. But God, who treats us as men, not as babies, expects us to play the man’s part. God trusts us. He puts us on our honor in the field of purity as in other fields of our lives.
Our sex nature and powers were given us as a sacred trust for the founding of homes and the protection and upbringing of helpless and defenseless childhood. Around these things cluster like stars many of the glories of life, above all, the hallowed name of mother.
But purity, fallen and dragged in the slimy sewers of sin, turns into something more hideous than rotting leprosy. “Here is a champion swimmer. Look at his broad massive shoulders, his deep chest, his muscles of iron.
Every stroke of his mighty crawl drives him through the water with engine – like force. Trained to the very pink of condition, his sun-tanned, brawny, robust body is a sight that makes you glad to look upon.
One day he ventures out in the river too near the falls, is sucked into its powerful draw, and is swept over the brink. A week later there floats up to the surface from down in the depths a bloated Thing with glassy, mud-filmed eyes, reeking with the stench of decomposition.
So changes purity sucked into the draw of sin.
“Be a man, and chaste,” challenged the old pagan writer. And a modern poet has put a still more stirring challenge into the mouth of the noblest of the knights of poetry, Sir Galahad:
My strong blade carves the casks of men:
My stiff lance thrusteth sure.
My strength is as the strength of ten,
Because my heart is pure.
“Your body is like a frisky, spirited colt or bronco. Treat it kindly and fairly and it will carry you galloping toward your goal in life. Give it a chance. But do not let it throw you or run away with you. Make good in the bronco-busting game. Either you must break the bronco, or the bronco will break you.
Any mollycoddle can get himself thrown over a horse’s head. It takes a man to break in a worthwhile colt.
Be a man, and chaste!”
“Unchaste thoughts and images will come at times, invited or without an invitation. Three things will help keep them out or shoo them away.
*First, keep busy—with hobbies, collections, pets, sports, athletics, live games, books with much action in them, anything. It will be time to mope and daydream when you are ninety years old. Keep on your toes.
*Secondly, if wrong thoughts come, say a short prayer to Our Lord, His Blessed Mother, your Guardian Angel, then turn your attention to some of the things just mentioned and in which you are interested.
*Thirdly, stick to frequent Confession and Communion, weekly if possible. Be master of your thoughts and your tongue as well as of your body. Otherwise a boy becomes master of neither and the cringing flunkey of both.”
Humility is the foundation of all virtuous living, and hence is of basic importance for character training. The normal child is predisposed to humility, as may be seen from the words of Christ wherewith He made the humility of the child the condition for entering into heaven: “Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, he is the greater in the kingdom of heaven.”
But if the teacher should discover that a pupil is conceited, she must set about to correct the defect.
In the first place, she will insist on prompt obedience. She will also insist on the child’s showing proper respect to all his superiors.
W. Foerster maintains that it is important in this connection for the children to arise when their elders address them, never to interrupt the conversation of their elders, and not to sing or whistle in their presence.
Religious education offers still more helpful means. The habit of prayer, insistence on original sin with its tragic consequences, consideration of our many sins and frailties, proper preparation for Confession and Communion—all these are means to impress upon the child the need of deep humility, and afford him an opportunity for practicing this very important virtue.
However, while training her pupils to humility the teacher must be on her guard lest she teach them diffidence and faint-heartedness instead of humility.
Outside of religious motives, there is, indeed, no set of principles that will safely guide her pupils in observing the golden mean between pride and faint-heartedness.
The wisdom and training you give to your child will determine the outcome. It is not the time to give in to weariness, indifference, laziness or careless neglect. Their souls are in your hands…. Painting by Tasha Tudor
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