By: Deacon Marques Silva
Crosby, Stills and Nash were on to something with their 1970 hit, “Teach Your Children.” Education has been so important in the formation of society and cultures. U.S. Catholic education has a long tradition of effectively presenting and teaching the systematic truths of the faith, and yet, for the past 40 years, that education system has experienced a number of challenges in forming virtue and holiness. It is an unfortunate truth that many U.S. Catholics have no clue what we believe or understand, our theology of work.
For the public schools here in the fair Commonwealth of Virginia, school is back in session. The Catholic schools are already a week into the year. Summer is waning and the hustle and bustle of academics and sports have only just begun. I thought I might offer a total of seven thoughts for parents and students to consider as they ease back into the academic year.
- Teach your children that eternity is more important than this short time here on terra firma. The education of your son and daughter is vitally important to their future employment and development of proper character for an individual participating in society and the local business community. Neither academics nor science will get them into heaven — a placement that will last slightly longer than their job on Wall Street. They need to be active members of the parish community and participating in the sacraments regularly (Mass at least once per week on Sundays and monthly confession).
- Teach your kids that the unity and community of the family is important to their success in life. Schedule your family meals so that everyone may sit and eat not eat and run. Meals are not just about eating. They are also about community where they may share and experience laughter, dreams, trials and triumphs. Mealtimes are meant to point us to and remind us of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Communion is not just with the Lord, but with the community that gathers at the altar and table.
- Teach your children that you love them for who they are, not what they accomplish. Accomplishments are great, but not necessary. They need to know that their worth is because of who they are, not what they do. Tell them that you are proud of them even when they do not meet their goals, and most especially your goals. Many times the journey is more important than the destination.
- Teach them to enjoy life and that rest is an important part of that life. If your kids are not getting home or going to bed until the wee hours of the morning, they are doing way too much. They need to learn how to relax and rest in order for their pyschosocial development to mature in a healthy manner.
- Learn that you are more than your academics and achievements. Your parents, family and friends love you because of who you are, not what you do. Enjoy academics and sports, but remember that they do not determine your worth or salvation.
- Learn that religion is the greatest of all sciences. It is true that your academics will help you secure a good job and, one day, independence. Jesus, through His Church, offers you eternal joy, happiness and salvation. Religious education, youth group and theology classes will teach us the most important information: how to love and be loved; “Who am I?”; “Why and I here?” and “What is my purpose on this planet?”
- Learn that rest and relaxation is part of your education. You do not have to be moving all the time. In fact, it is unhealthy. You were built to sit back and relax in order for your mind to process and integrate all the experiences of the day. If you are always moving and doing something, your mind neither has the time nor the resources to keep you mentally sound. Did you know that creativity is directly linked to relaxation and reflection?
Hopefully these tips will assist in a fruitful academic year, not just in academics, but the school of prayer and holiness.