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Saturday, 31 August 2013

Homeschooling Part 20 The Rational Child and Virtues 2

Too many parents have been taught that there is a head-heart dichotomy. Not enough parents understand that the darkening of the intellect is a result of sin.

The intellect and the heart bring one to God, and for the child, both grow together. The idea that a child is not growing intellectually while even in the womb has long been proven false by both science and psychology. Now, the formation of the child and the teaching of the virtues must involve both the heart and the head.

This idea that religion is merely picked up by example has never been  a Catholic idea, but a Protestant one. When the Protestant Revolt threw out tradition and over a thousand years of approaching Faith through Reason, Christianity was doomed to weakness.

The virtues inform both the heart and the intellect and some virtues specifically perfect the intellect.

I shall take the virtues one by one and help the parents who are following this series see that as parents part of their role is not merely loving the child but passing down the Faith both in theory and in practice.

What the Protestant Revolt did and what Satan is doing daily is separating Faith from Reason, heart from intellect.

What has been created in the minds of many contemporary parents is a skewed idea of the normal child.

A normal child develops his character by cooperating with grace in the same manner as an adult does. But, the child is actually more sensitive to his surroundings and to the movements of grace because he has not sinned as much, not because he does not have concupiscence, but because the habits of sinned have not become ingrained.

The habits of virtues, therefore, can be taught more readily to a child than to an adult, who must first be purified of sin, imperfections, the tendencies toward sin and a corrupted imagination.

One can see why early formation in the virtues is key to becoming a saint.  And, this formation does not happen automatically, but under certain conditions.

Order is a sign of a normal child, a child who has been allowed to develop the virtues at an early age. Disorder is a sign of a child who has been denied the opportunity for growth in the virtues. I am not referring to physical or mental illnesses in this or any posts.

The signs of the normalized child were outlined first by Dr. Montessori and some may be surprised by the list.  Now, I must add a distinction here for the sake of clarity. Baptism changes us. It takes away Original Sin, but there is more. I remind parents that we are all born in sin, with a fallen nature, and literally slaves to sin. Here is a list from the CCC as a reminder of the consequences of baptism. I repeat them here to emphasize that in teaching children, there will be a difference in children who are baptized and those who are not.  The entire person is given the Indwelling of the Holy Trinity in mind, soul, body. This makes a difference in formation.

By Baptism all sins are forgiven, original sin and all personal sins, as well as all punishment for sin.66 In those who have been reborn nothing remains that would impede their entry into the Kingdom of God, neither Adam's sin, nor personal sin, nor the consequences of sin, the gravest of which is separation from God.

The Most Holy Trinity gives the baptized sanctifying grace, the grace of justification: 

- enabling them to believe in God, to hope in him, and to love him through the theological virtues; 

- giving them the power to live and act under the prompting of the Holy Spirit through the gifts of the Holy Spirit; 

- allowing them to grow in goodness through the moral virtues. 

Thus the whole organism of the Christian's supernatural life has its roots in Baptism

 Incorporated into Christ by Baptism, the person baptized is configured to Christ. Baptism seals the Christian with the indelible spiritual mark (character) of his belonging to Christ. No sin can erase this mark, even if sin prevents Baptism from bearing the fruits of salvation.83  Sections 1263- 1272, with some omissions.

I have highlighted the sections pertinent to this post. Remember that personality and character grow together, and that it would be a violence to the child to interrupt the flow of graces given to become the adult he is to become, through Christ and the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Notice how the giving of the infused theological virtues, faith, hope, and charity, and of the cardinal, also called, the moral virtues or intellectual virtues. The source of these virtues is sanctifying grace. I shall go more into detail in the next posts.  Here is a brief note from my perfection guru, Garrigou-Lagrange on this subject.

In conformity with tradition and with a decision of Pope Clement V at the Council of Vienne,(5) the Catechism of the Council of Trent (Part II, On baptism and its effects), answers: "The grace (sanctifying), which baptism confers, is accompanied by the glorious cortege of all the virtues, which, by a special gift of God, penetrate the soul simultaneously with it." This gift is an admirable effect of the Savior's passion which is applied to us by the sacrament of regeneration.
Moreover, in this bestowal of the infused moral virtues, there is a lofty fitness that has been well set forth by St. Thomas.(6) The means, he observes, must be proportioned to the end. By the infused theological virtues we are raised and directed toward the supernatural last end. Hence it is highly fitting that we should be raised and directed by the infused moral virtues in regard to supernatural means capable of leading us to our supernatural end.

In each of these categories, I have placed virtues for the parent to be aware for the sake of helping the child, who is the main creator of himself. With grace, love, the proper environment  character is formed and that involves the mind, the heart, the soul.  I shall continue this in the next several posts. There are subcategories of virtues aligned with the main ones listed above, and all of these can be encouraged in the young child. The cardinal virtues are called such as they are "hinges" like on a door, cardo, in Latin, in Summa de bono,  by Philip the Chancellor, found on this site. 

A child without baptism can develop natural or human virtues, which are good and salutary, but he cannot develop these or have these elevated without grace. Without grace, the life of the virtues becomes anemic, almost impossible to follow, and finally, dies under sin. Now, the signs of the normalized child, character traits which have been enhanced by grace, are these discovered by Montessori:

1) Love of work

(2) Concentration

(3) Self-discipline

(4) Sociability. 

As one who is Montessori trained and one who has worked in several schools, including my own, I can say that I have witnessed this normalization over and over and over. Grace helps the child in these key areas of character development. To be continued....

By the way, parents, if you have not read this book, do so. I taught it along with another of the author and cannot recommend it to highly.