Patrick Ward writes…
So Pope Benedict has spoken to the children and young people of England, Scotland and Wales in what one observer called “the most beautiful speech I’ve ever heard him give.” The theme of The Big Assembly was taken from John 10:10’s scripture passage, “I have come that you may have life, life to the full.” His message was simple and profound: Know God. Love God. Your life will be transformed.
“Once you enter into friendship with God, your life begins to change.”
I spoke to numerous children and young people at the event. I also spoke to teachers and headteachers. This message was as much for them as it was for the children. For Pope Benedict reminded them:
“The presence of religious in Catholic schools is a powerful reminder of the much-discussed Catholic ethos that needs to transform every aspect of school life. This extends far beyond the self-evident requirement that the content of the teaching should always be in conformity with Church doctrine. It means that the life of faith needs to be the driving force behind every activity in the school, so that the Church’s mission may be served effectively, and the young people may discover the joy of entering into Christ’s ‘being for others’.”
“This extends far beyond the self-evident requirement that the content of the teaching should always be in conformity with Church doctrine.” Challenging words for our teachers and headteachers who face many obstacles, whether that be the pressure of school tables or their own personal beliefs.
I met one secondary school headteacher after the event. He told me how encouraged he had been by the Pope’s words. Living out this professional life of high ideals, he admitted, certainly brings challenges. And yet, he said, the spiritual strength he felt from the Pope’s understanding almost moved him to tears.
As we now start a year of Catholic Education (announced by Bishop Malcolm McMahon today) let us keep our teachers, headteachers and governors in prayer so that they may go “far beyond” the self-evident requirement and provide our children with an experience of their Catholic faith that enables them to “live life to the full.”