December 2006 - District Superior's Letter
To restore all things in Christ requires that children be properly educated. The whole man with all his faculties must be developed and permeated with catholic principles. In this letter, Fr.Rostand writes about the true nature of education and its importance for our future and our children's future.
Our motto is to restore all things in Christ
In my first letter to you after arriving in Canada, I mentioned of my desire and concern “to restore all things in Christ” as Saint Pius X wanted, directly in line with the remarkable work previously and already done. But how can we work more on returning all things to our Lord Jesus Christ? How can we do it in today’s situation? In what shall we start? These were the questions I had constantly in mind while going around the priories.
Our future: our families and children
What struck me the most in these visits throughout the district, were the young families and the many children I could see everywhere in our priories and churches. And I can easily see that there stands the future. It is mainly in educating the youth in a deep Catholic manner that we will best work for restoring everything in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Not just anybody can educate
But this is for no one an easy endeavor and especially for you parents, since educating is “the art of arts, the science of sciences”, according to Saint Gregory Nazianzen. If this is so, then we all have to learn that art and science, parents especially. Many believe that just because they are parents, father or mother, they know how to bring up children as if it would be an infused knowledge or ability. But as a matter of fact, like any other science, it is not. We have to learn it. We may have, or may not have, natural talent in doing it, nevertheless it is still a knowledge we have to learn, to improve. And we must be humble enough to see that.
The true nature of education: Development of all human faculties
Education is a matter of developing all the faculties of a child so that he becomes an adult, to bring up all his abilities. We are talking about physical education, intellectual education and moral education. Physical education means simply to develop a good health, physical good conditions for the body to grow; intellectual education means, of course, to raise an intelligence to the highest level possible according to everyone’s capacity. But it is important to specify that it is not merely the acquiring of a certain level of knowledge, of an academic level of studies (this is important but not sufficient). It is mostly and above all to form minds turned towards the Truth, minds steeped in a Catholic spirit. By moral education we mean to say the training of the will (which is not an easy task), that is to develop virtues, good habits, so that the will would be able to follow the light given by a well-formed intelligence.
Education implies constant direction and guidance
It would be a mistake to believe that these abilities could develop by themselves, without being guided, and helped. Ever since the original sin, the body and soul of every newborn are weakened. The body needs to be taken care of to grow up properly. The mind needs to be educated, corrected by good natural principles and by the true Faith. The will is weak too, and needs to be strengthened and trained. Therefore, to believe that children can be raised without being corrected in all their weaknesses and faults is a practical negation of original sin and its consequences in us.
The Church is a perfect society with the right to educate
That is one of the reasons why the Church has received the mission to teach all nations, to teach the Revelation, to teach how to practice the Faith, to teach how to live saintly, etc. and therefore to educate. Consequently, the Catholic Church has always built schools, universities etc. to fulfill this duty and it is the charge of the priests to try to help and advise you in educating the children.
However, I have noticed that many of you have the good will to achieve your duties as parents. I could see that, for instance, your arduous efforts to support the existing schools of the Society of Saint Pius X in Canada or for home schooling, for those who live too far from our schools. I would like to express my support to you in carrying on this good work, in asking advice from the priests so that the upbringing principles will be more known and put into living habits.
Children must be well educated; it is a necessary task, not an easy one
Our final goal, for every one of us, is of course Heaven, to lead to heaven these children who have been entrusted to us but also to deserve it for ourselves, who have the duty to educate them. And on this we will be judged too: “The parents who will raise in a Christian way their children will be rewarded. They will be harshly punished if they neglect that education,” wrote Saint Jean Chrysostom. Knowing that this work is not that easy, but knowing also that in doing it we work for the restoration of all things in our Lord Jesus Christ, let us then be generous in doing it.
We must pray and make efforts for new catholic schools
As it is our duty to develop and support schools in Canada and even maybe, one day, open new ones, what can we do? The first thing is definitely to pray and offer sacrifices for this intention. For example, when we ask for more vocations let us pray for our schools so that many priestly and religious vocations would come forth from them.
But as schools are also very expensive to run, I would like to insist on the help you could give us in supporting the Saint Joseph Bursary fund. In this spirit, I request that once a month, in all our churches or chapels, there will be a second collection made for the Saint Joseph Bursary. I believe you will understand the importance of this financial support that I am begging of you and hope we will be able to help to develop our schools and increase the spread of Tradition.
Please remember in your prayers all these intentions and being confident in your generosity, which even though I know is often requested, I would like to thank you in advance for your help, especially during the season of Advent.
I wish you a very blessed Christmas.
With my blessing and prayers,
Father Arnaud Rostand
District Superior of Canada