Virtuous School Children: Is it Possible?

4 of the 5 (missing - college kid)...obligatory first day of school photo!

4 of the 5 (missing – college kid)…obligatory first day of school photo!

Here we are again.

The beginning of the school year – just a couple days away from more chaos and HOMEWORK! Oh, the HOMEWORK!

This year, I am determined to stay on top of it all. I bought several tools to help me: an Erin Condren Life Planner, the Whole Enchilada organizing system from Catholic Sistas, and lots of WINE!

I must stay organized…tasks are important…chaos feels – CHAOTIC! I want things to run smoothly.

Above all, my prayer is for virtue this year – with our whole family. This involves relationships instead of tasks…this could get messy.

Praying for and practicing virtue in this culture is heroic, for sure. And for our kids to practice this in the public schools, perhaps they will even be outcasts. But, for the grace of God we go (or “geaux” as we say in South Louisiana).

St. Louis de Monfort, in True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, outlines 10 principal virtues of the Blessed Mother. These virtues are:

1. Profound Humility
2. Lively Faith
3. Blind Obedience
4. Continual Mental Prayer
5. Mortification of all things
6. Divine Purity
7. Ardent Charity
8. Heroic Patience
9. Angelic Sweetness
10. Divine Wisdom

These are incredible virtues to pray for and practice in school, home, and the work world.
Here is how I plan to encourage our children’s practice of these virtues for the new school year:

1. Profound Humility:
I often tell our children, “This is not about you.” Our children receive so many messages indicating the world owes them. They are the selfie generation; they are the social media-it’s about me-look at me culture; they live life in 140 characters, mostly generated at others looking toward them. True humility starts with gratitude and focus on Jesus Christ. It’s about HIM. Telling our children it isn’t about them is not to dismiss them, but to call them into a deeper relationship with God. When they can turn away from their own selfishness, they can turn to others and give of themselves.

2. Lively Faith:
Are the kids excited about being Catholic, or do they see it as a chore, or something we do on Sundays? If our kids are interested in attending a diocesan event, or a youth rally, or Adoration, or Youth night at the parish, we find ways to make that happen. I find that by supporting their desires to attend these events, they are able to bring that into their entire lives, not just their “faith life.” Our kids have invited others to these events, touting the event as FUN. They are total evangelizers, and do not even know it!

3. Blind Obedience: Do your kids always question the teacher? Do we as parents always question the authority? I’m not talking about unreasonable requests of the authority of the school. I’m talking about the day-to-day jobs these teachers and administrators are doing to educate our children. Are we accepting reasonable requests meant in our best interest and our children’s best interest? Furthermore, are our kids obeying our requests in regards to homework, curfews, boundaries with friends, and other items we deem appropriate for their growth?

4. Continual Mental Prayer: Our kids attend public school, so prayer in school is not an intentional organized thing. However, we always remind our kids to pray during the day. We encourage them to pray, asking intercession of saints like St. Joseph Cupertino, especially when they have a big test coming up. We encourage them to say grace before eating lunch. We always tell them, “No one can stop the prayer of your heart. Ever.”

5. Mortification of all things: We have a daughter who loves to spend money, most of the time on frivolous things. During school, we teach her to leave her money at home. We teach all of the kids to notice those at school who have less than they do, and to understand we can stand in solidarity with them by mortifying our own desires for things. We want them to seek Christ with their whole hearts, and to not let things get in the way of that seeking.

6. Divine Purity: For us, divine purity is not just about our kids remaining virgins and pure, but to see their bodies as gifts from God. We teach them that because their bodies are gifts, we are to treat them with respect and dignity. Dressing modestly for school dances, obeying uniform rules, and thinking of others in that way as well encompass purity. We monitor their social media sites and check text messages, especially when they are at ages where a text message can be misconstrued. We always told our oldest daughter, “Checking your text messages helps us to help you if you are sort of in a corner, and you don’t know how to get out by yourself.”

7. Heroic Patience: Sometimes, our kids are aggravated with friends. We try to model patience with one another in our home. We fail, but we always try. Patience is a virtue, we have always been told. We tell the children that Our Lord is always heroically patient with our shortcomings. We want them to bear the shortcomings and aggravations with others in the same way the Lord bears our nuances.

8. Ardent Charity: Do our kids make friends and share their love of God? Do they love to the point of serving others? Do they give until it hurts? Do they show their love to one another, even during stressful homework moments? Do they assist each other, especially the younger children with homework and projects?

9. Angelic Sweetness: What words do our children use when speaking with friends and family? What is their tone? What is the tone the hubs and I use when speaking to one another? Do we model sweet words, kind words, and kind actions?

10. Divine Wisdom: Do the kids seek God above all? Even above all the knowledge of books? Do they use this wisdom to make decisions, both at home and at school? How?

Our Blessed Mother has so much to teach us about seeking God above all. She leads us to Jesus, her son, always. Through her virtue, we live our faith fully in any setting, including home, work, and school. How about starting the school year off helping our children to develop virtue in this way? I know this is where I will focus for now.

Blessed Mother, protect our children this school year. Lead them to your Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ. There, tuck them gently into the inner-recesses of His Most Sacred Heart, where only virtue reigns. Amen.

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Comments

  1. Samantha Hall says:

    Hi Mary,
    I am so interested in planning systems and am eternally searching for the right one! I hope you will blog about your experience with the Erin Condren life planner, which is beautiful! I like the Catholic Sista’s option for the obvious inclusion of the Liturgical year and Catholic tradition. I am curious as to how you will use them together.

    I really appreciate your ideas on carrying the virtues into the school. Our family recently moved back to my husband’s hometown because of the public school system. Our children previously attended Catholic school but due to continued tuition increases and the elimination of a multi-child discount, our family could not sustain this model of education. I know God cannot be contained in just a Catholic school and my highest priority is to help our children (11, 9, 6) understand that our faith is a living thing that we practice everywhere by loving and serving our neighbor – at school, in sports, at church, and during playtime. In many ways, I think I felt security that the Catholic school was doing the formation because I wasn’t equipped enough to do it but that was really my own confidence issue and not true. I just have to be more intentional about teaching the tradition and doctrine while reflecting on scripture.

    I look forward to following your blog and your planner experience!

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