was given in August 1984 by Fr. Herve De La Tour
What is the ultimate end
you must consider in your apostolate as teacher in a Catholic
school? Is it merely a question of arranging courses and
giving grades, of making students recite well their lessons in
grammar and arithmetic? All this is commendable, but it is not
the final purpose of your activity. If God placed you as a
teacher in a Catholic school, it is, after all, to help souls
to develop their spiritual life.
Even though the
proximate end of education is the intellectual life, the
ultimate end of education is to create conditions so that the
supernatural life of our students will be able to blossom. We
want our children to make progress in the love of God, we want
them to become saints.
The life of grace (also
called the interior life) is the great reality of which so
many men and women do not think because no one has ever
impressed them with its importance. The Gospel compares the
gift of grace to a great treasure, a precious pearl; it is
indeed a participation in the intimate life of God. Here is
where your responsibility lies: to help your students to
understand, despite the pagan atmosphere of the modern world,
the "primacy of the spiritual."
Remember this principle
of psychology: Children attach the same importance to things
as do the older people with whom they are associated or whom
they love. Therefore the knowledge of religion and love that
the children have for it will depend on you. It is not only
the priest’s job!
God intends to use you
as an instrument to draw souls to Him. The more united you
will be with Him, the more fruitful your activity will be.
Your vocation as a
teacher makes you like the salt of the earth and the light
which illuminates the house. You should have a great desire to
become saints. Your mission as a leader of souls is an
invitation to aim high.
You owe it to God… to
You owe it to your
students… to their parents…
The fruitfulness of your
activity will be in proportion to your holiness. Teaching is
indeed an apostolate. Listen to the words of Dom Chautard:
Is it not a fact that
too often, because of a lack of interior life, we are unable
to produce in souls anything more than a surface piety,
without any powerful ideals or strong convictions? Those of
us who are teachers: have we not, perhaps, been more
ambitious for the distinction of degrees and for the
reputation of our schools than to impart a solid religious
instruction to souls? Have we not worn ourselves out on less
important things than forming of wills, and imprinting on
well-tried characters the stamp of Jesus Christ? And has not
the most frequent cause of this mediocrity been the common
banality of our interior life?
If the teacher is a
saint (the saying goes), the students will be fervent; if
the teacher is fervent, the students will be pious; if the
teacher is pious, the students will at least be decent. But
if the teacher is only decent, the students will be godless.
The spiritual generation is always one degree less intense
in its life that those who beget Christ.
The teacher who has
not interior life imagines he has done all that is required
of him if he keeps within the limits of the program of his
examination. But if he is a man of prayer some word will now
and again slip out, not only from his lips but from his
heart: some sentiment or other will show itself in his
expression, some significant gesture will escape him, yes,
the mere way he makes the sign of the Cross, of says a
prayer before or after class
―even a class in mathematics!
―may have a more profound influence on his students than a
Sanctity is difficult,
but the important thing is to realize that God has truly
called you to it and that in this call is implied the promise
of the divine help. So pray for humility and confidence.
Holiness does not
consist in doing extraordinary things, but in fulfilling the
will of God with the greatest love possible. Sanctity is not a
matter of "bent heads" and "devout demeanor." It is loving God
through our sufferings, serving Him faithfully amidst trials.
The smallest part of
pure love is more precious in the eyes of God and more
profitable to the Church in its apparent inactivity, than
all the other works taken together. (St. John of the Cross)
This year, you will work
with dedication, but God alone does solid, enduring good.
Therefore if you wish sincerely that your work be
supernatural, you must be united with Him.
How can one be Martha and Mary
at the same time? Here is a little advice:
Outside the hours of
activity properly so called, set aside some minutes of
is necessary, even physically (relaxation). Even more so
to find God. Remember the example of Our Lord (30 years of
hidden life before his life of teaching) of Our Lady (only
seven words in the Gospel).
mental prayer, the soul regains its poise, distinguishes the
accessory from the essential, sees all things from God’s
the grace of God and not in your own efforts alone.
your students as members of the mystical body. In each of
them Our Lord is living. "As long as you did it for one of
these, the least of my brethren, you did it for me."
the means in order to develop your own interior life by
means of the Mass, the Divine Office (Vespers, Compline),
Rosary Confession, Spiritual Guidance, Retreats.
for your students.
Listen to what a great
teacher had to say about the spiritual life.
Even those of us in
the active life are called to a tithe of the contemplative
as well. The strictly cloistered monk and nun lead that life
in the highest degree, but each of us in his station must
pay his due. There are three degrees of prayer: The first,
of the consecrated religious, is total. They pray always,
according to the counsel of our Lord. Their whole life is
the Divine Office, Mass, spiritual reading, mental prayer,
devotions and the minimum work necessary to maintain
physical health. They pray eight hours, sleep eight hours
and divide the other eight between physical work and
recreation. The second degree is the mixed life in the
active orders and secular priesthood, which is still
primarily devoted to prayer. These pray four hours, sleep
eight, work eight
―preaching, teaching, caring for the sick
and poor, and have four hours for recreation. The third
degree is for those in the married state (or single life)
who offer a tithe of their time for prayer
―about two and
one-half hours per day
―with eight hours for work, eight for
sleep and the remaining five and one-half for recreation
with the family.
Prayer is the
proximate end of every immediate work; it is the humble
soil, the humus of our common humanity, irrigated by tears
of contrition. Works without prayer are dead. Prayer and
work are not the same thing
―you cannot use the one as a
substitute for the other, in the heresy of good works on the
one hand or the Quietism on the other. Work needs prayer as
dry cracked leather needs oil, prayer fills the pores of
work and makes it flexible, useful to God. (Dr. John Senior)
To finish, let us pray
together to Our Lady with this beautiful prayer written by a
O Admirable Virgin,
source of calm and serenity, we love thee for the immense
light in thy downcast eyes; for the peaceful expression on
thy tranquil face; and the supernatural beauty which flows
from the wealth of thy interior fullness. Thou art the
Virgin of the Eternal Unseen.
O Mother, detach us
from all that is material and tangible so as to lead us back
to that which is supernatural and which thine eyes behold:
the Invisible and Eternal Presence, Life and Love.
During our distracted
and busy days, keep our minds focused on the Sacred Heart of
Thy Divine Son. In spite of the worldly distractions that
often seduce us, Thou will inspire within us the thirst for