The Art of Teaching


“The art of teaching is a vocation. It calls for fitness and training as well as a consecration; hence it is a special kind of vocation. Whether one is called upon to teach religion or one of the secular subjects is of no vital concern. All knowledge comes from God and is a remote reflection of His divine wisdom. The teacher participates in the creative power of God in the sense that he forms and educates the mind and will and other spiritual powers which the Creator left for others to develop in His children. The ultimate objective of education is to know God better, to love Him unselfishly, and to serve Him prayerfully.

“Pope Pius XI, in his famous encyclical, “On the Christian Education of Youth,” thus defines the aim and nature of Catholic education:

This is the preeminent educational mission of the Church… The proper and immediate end of Christian education is to co-operate with divine grace in forming the true and perfect Christian, that is, to form Christ Himself in those regenerated by baptism… For the true Christian must live a supernatural life in Christ.

“The teacher’s vocation is a dedicated service that is second to none in importance. Speaking particularly of the priest’s obligation to teach religion, a document of the Holy See declares: ‘The office of teaching has precedence over the sacramental and liturgical ministry according to the divine command of Christ to the Apostles. The Apostles, obeying this command, placed the work of teaching ahead of any other activity; for St. Paul himself could affirm, “Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the Gospel.” The reason for the precedence of the teaching office is evident; one cannot enrich the soul with grace if it has not first been enlightened with truth.'”

– Very Rev. Joseph B. Collins, SS; Confraternity Teacher’s Guide (1960)

“Religion teachers engage in an apostolate”

apple“First of all, therefore, in this ministry of teaching, a spiritual formation is necessary. Religion teachers engage in an apostolate: that of living the truths of the faith and of explaining them to others, that these in turn may know and live them. As in any true apostolate, its members must first form themselves in order to inform others. This consists essentially in carrying out a rule of life which includes daily prayer, recitation of the rosary, faithful attendance at Mass, frequent reception of the sacraments, and periodical days of recollection and retreats, according to one’s station in life. Provision must be made, moreover, for spiritual reading and daily meditation or mental prayer. Sermons, instructions, and spiritual direction from a regular confessor are almost indispensable aids for growth and development of the heart and soul of one engaged in the apostolate of teaching. From all these means of sanctification the religion teacher will be inspired and empowered to carry out the difficult duties of his special vocation.”

– Very Rev. Joseph B. Collins, SS; Confraternity Teacher’s Guide (1960)

Supernatural Love: “Teaching is not the principal thing…”

The teacher of religion should love his students with a love which sees in them the image of Christ. He should love them even as our Lord loved children and took them to His heart when He was on earth. ‘The charity of Jesus Christ,’ wrote Bishop Dupanloup, ‘and your love for children will inspire in you a disinterested and enlightened devotion toward them. In a well-conducted class, teaching is not the principal thing, the chief thing is piety and personal, affectionate influence on the children.’

-Very Rev. Joseph B. Collins, SS,  Confraternity Teacher’s Guide (1960)

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