Education in Virtue

Why pursue a life of virtue? The ancient Greeks believed that “virtue is its own reward.” Blessed John Henry Newman, soon to be canonized, agreed but clarified, “Virtue is its own reward, and brings with it the truest and highest pleasure; but if we cultivate it only for pleasure's sake, we are selfish, not religious, and will never gain the pleasure, because we can never have the virtue.” As saints so often do, Newman elucidates the truth that virtue lies in directing the will towards the proper good. The pursuit of virtue prior to Christianity was done for the purposes of inward, selfish perfection. They recognized the natural virtues of prudence, temperance, justice, and fortitude. Christianity added the supernatural virtues of faith, hope, and charity. These virtues, in particular, call the person out of himself and direct him towards the other. This is the key movement required to achieve true and lasting pleasure, the pleasure that comes as a result of loving and serving others.

This theme for the virtue sequence the coming school year is charity. As St. Paul so famously stated, it is the greatest good. All else is empty without it (1 Cor 13). What is true charity? Unfortunately, it is often reduced to making a monetary donation to a cause. In reality, it is a supernatural virtue that comes from God. It is not naturally attainable. Only through the grace of God, can one possess true charity.

The saints are the best examples of this virtue. St. John Bosco, our model par excellence in education, developed the Salesian way of teaching and mentoring children. It was grounded in charity. There are six principles of the Salesian way:

  • I will be cheerful.
  • I will do my duties well.
  • I will stay close to Jesus in the Eucharist.
  • I will honor Mary as my mother and helper.
  • I will choose to be kind.
  • I want to serve rather than be served.

As the teachers lead students in pursuing the life of virtue this year, they will also be modeling the Salesian way of St. John Bosco and calling the students to do the same. Each classroom will display the virtue sequence and an infographic of the Salesian way. All will be called on a daily basis to grow in charity, that is, the act of loving God and neighbor in order to bring about the peace that surpasses understanding (Phil 4:7).

September - Gratitude (justice)

October - Docility (prudence)

November - Magnanimity (fortitude)

December - Charity (theological)

January - Orderliness (temperance)

February - Sincerity (justice)

March - Patience (fortitude)

April - Honesty (temperance)

May - Generosity (justice)