Four marks of the Catholic teacher.
Being a Catholic Teacher in many ways is no different from being any other teacher. You still have to be on top of behaviour management, you still have to prepare for lessons, you still have to mark, deal with parents, and a whole host of other things. So what’s the difference? Well the answer to that is lots! But here are a few standout points that should be the mark of the Catholic teacher…
- Teaching the Curriculum from a Catholic worldview. Sometimes this is easier said and done, especially when teaching in a non-Catholic environment, in a world that increasingly rejects Christ. Fr. Edward F. Garesché (1876–1960) in his brief work Teaching for God reminds us however that…The Catholic teacher who is employed in the public schools has indeed a wholesome influence over her charges by the mere goodness of her character and by that intangible influence which every good woman has over a child.
- Being inspired by a Supernatural Vision. On the back of a Catholic worldview, the teacher should be authentically delivering lessons by seeing their role in a Supernatural light: as an apostolate of sorts. Read the words of Dom Chautard… The teacher who has not interior life imagines he has done all that is required of him if he keeps within the limits of the program of his examination. But if he is a man of prayer some word will now and again slip out, not only from his lips but from his heart: some sentiment or other will show itself in his expression, some significant gesture will escape him, yes, the mere way he makes the sign of the Cross, of says a prayer before or after class ―even a class in mathematics!―may have a more profound influence on his students than a whole sermon.
- Willingness to defend the Faith. It seems that on every corner, we find folk who just want to attack the Church or its sacred doctrine. The mark of a Catholic is one who will know their Catechism and defend the Church. You don’t need to have a degree in apologetics to be able to do this either! We only have to pick up the Lives of the Saints for continual inspiration and motivation by their Holy example. Read the Lives of the Saints every day, make it a habit. If you can, read it to your students and let them be inspired too, to defend their Faith. .
- Take your job seriously. Have you ever known anyone who seems to just turn up for work, go through the motions, all for the next pay cheque? We probably all have. But as Catholic teachers we adopt a serious but genteel attitude: love for the students, being well disciplined, an avid learner, studious, always prepared, patient, kind, just, has fortitude, understands perseverance, is a lover of wisdom, arouses and maintains enthusiasm in students so as it enkindles and takes hold within them.
As Catholics, we see these are more than just well meaning ideas that we should aspire to: they are duties of the Faith. I feel for many good Catholic Teachers who work in non-Catholic schools who find it a real challenge to profess their Faith through their vocation. But still, by striving to be a living example of Christ, we can be a light in an otherwise supernaturally dark world.
For more on these points, I recommend you read the bite-size Holy See’s Teaching on Catholic Schools. Buy it, it only costs a few dollars, and carry it about in your pocket. Beyond its brevity, it is an important reminder to us of what education is and how a Catholic Teacher should approach it as a witness for Christ.