“The mission of Catholic education is based on the beauty and the attraction of the Gospel”, says Bishop James
Do we need Catholic teaching? Provocative question asked during a national session! Do we need the Catholic School? Barring a huge surprise, I guess the response of the new diocesan director, his assistants and the heads of establishments who receive their mission letter. But if so, why? The texts and today’s party provide some answers. I remember three expressions: attraction, body, to take care.
Yes, attraction ! In the Gospel, Christ is surrounded by a crowd that has come to listen to him. He attracts ! This crowd is such that even his family cannot approach him. All these people are thirsty to give meaning to their lives: who is going to teach me the art of living? Who is going to help me give meaning to my life, to find my place in this world? This crowd is just as much the children and young people attending our establishments as their parents, and also the teachers, and the volunteers of the Ogec (1). And Christ offers himself to everyone. He teaches, he lifts up, he liberates. Today, his Gospel is “the reference for the educational projects of establishments… For it is Christ who is the foundation of the educational project of the Catholic school” (art. 23). In the light of Christ and his Gospel, we live the beautiful Christian educational mission, that of “training men and women capable of reasoning with rigor, to act with rectitude and better serve human society” (2). Today we celebrate the holy martyrs of Korea. I think of the birth of this Church: young Korean intellectuals at the end of the 18e century, discover, through books from China, the message of the Gospel. They were curious, eager to give meaning to their lives, like us today. And they’re drawn to the Christian message; they find it so beautiful that they go to China. They want to be explained to them. And, on their return, after having received baptism, they, young lay people, return to Korea to make it known. I entrust to their intercession the diocesan director and the new heads of lay establishments like them, responsible in Catholic schools for proposing the Gospel and Christian education, an education that takes into account the whole of person, body, heart, mind. And this message of Christ attracts today! Witness the children and young people who ask for baptism or confirmation: they are for me the sign of an establishment that lives the educational mission of Catholic education!
But again, what does Christ propose? A family: “my mother and my brothers are those who listen to the word of God and put it into practice”. This family forms a body. Here is one of the gifts of Christ and what a gift! We are not alone to consider our future, to train ourselves, to face the problems of the epidemic, global warming or violence! “In Christ, we comfort each other, we encourage each other with love,” Saint Paul tells us. We are one body! We learn to live and work together. It is the pedagogy of Christ, recalled in the statute (art. 74) in four words: attention, call, confidence, accompaniment. Yes, body by being attentive to each other, in the teachers’ room, or on the playground. A small child was coming home from school and the mother asks him: have you seen the headmistress? What did she tell you? « She looked at me. » Wonderful attention especially to the little ones! Make one body by calling everyone personally, because they are unique: « I have a hundred names to remember », a teacher told me these days. Joining forces by trusting the young people who attend our institutions: “Go ahead! You are capable ! « . Because they are a chance for the whole body! Become one by accompanying, by hearing from each other, by rendering service in the following of Christ, and by repeating: “No matter what happens, I am with you! »
Yes make body by taking care each other, and ourselves. How ? I come back to the young Koreans! A small group in the midst of a huge people, they needed to nurture their commitment, to link it to Christ and to the Gospel. So they write first to the bishop of Peking and then to the pope to beg him to send priests. This is how Louis Beaulieu, a youngster from Langon, goes to Korea. The experience of the first Christians in Korea is our experience: How can we stick to our commitments? Where to draw the strength to love, to serve? In prayer, meditation, the Eucharist like this evening. So, yes, we need Catholic teaching to live the educational mission, a mission based on the beauty and the attraction of the Gospel, where we unite and take care of each other, and the Lord takes care of us. Amen.