Intellectual Information and Spiritual Formation in the Moral and Religious Education of Children and Youth

Patriarch Daniel of Romania

Source: Basilica News Agency

The eighth edition of the National Assembly "Christ Conveyed to Children," organized by the Romanian Patriarchate in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Scientific Research and the World Vision Organization, took place at the Holy Cross–Caraiman Monastery in Buşteni, from Septemer 22-23 and featured and address by His Beatitude Daniel, Patriarch of Romania:

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The National Assembly “Christ Conveyed to Children” celebrates today its eighth edition, being organized by the Romanian Patriarchate in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Scientific Research and the World Vision Organization in Romania.

Our Church is preoccupied today especially with the enhancement of the quality of theological education at all levels, starting with the theological seminaries and faculties, and up to religious education in schools and parish catechetical programs.

This concern derives from the immense responsibility of the Church to transmit religious faith, cultural and national identity, to educate the new generations of children and youth, following the exhortation of Saint Paul the Apostle: Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle (2 Thessalonians 2:15). This exigence regards the entire Church, but a special role is played by the professors teaching religion and the catechists from parishes.

The purpose of the educational upbringing in religious schools and in parish catechesis is to form children and young men into faithful Christians, loving Christ and the Church, capable of dialogue and cooperation in family and society.

Today’s Christian population of Romania is confronted with a more and more secularized approach to education, which aims at excluding the Christian contribution in the educational process, in exchange for a system limited only to the knowledge of the material, finite and passing world, without apprehending the work of God’s grace over creation and in people’s lives.

The Holy Fathers of the Church were permanently preoccupied with the spiritual and intellectual growth of the faithful, and especially of the youth they shepherded. Both for their times, and over the ages, they proved to be guides or tutors who indicated the spiritual life and offered different solutions to major problems that concerned the society of their times, emphasizing the role played by education in the life of the society. In this regard, Saint Gregory the Theologian considered that “as admitted by men of sense, the first of our advantages is education” (Funeral Oration on the Great St. Basil, Bishop of Cæsarea in Cappadocia, Orations 43, 11).

Having as a model the forming and educational mission of the Holy Fathers of the Church, today’s Christian education must be ordered and realized according to the specific spiritual needs and capabilities of every age, i.e. the spiritual endowment of children and youth with the best fundamental moral and religious knowledge, in order to cultivate kindness and the beauty of the soul.

Therefore, Christian education of children and youth must not be limited to transmitting intellectual information, but should especially aim for their moral and spiritual formation, shaping their character and personality according to the ideal of the Gospel of Christ’s love and according to the spiritual life of the Church. In other words, the final target of religious and moral education must be the spiritual upbringing of children and youth in the love of God and fellow people, especially by involving them both in the liturgical life of the Church, and in the cultural, social and philanthropic activities of the parish community.

This endeavor implies a more intensive cooperation between the professor of religious education and the parish catechist, an involvement of both educational factors in the process of spiritual upbringing of children and youth. In this regard, a rethinking of the role and the vocation of the professor of religious education and of the catechist in the educational upbringing is required. Since education in our country finds itself in a constant state of reform and transition, not only the purely informative aspect of the educational process has to be emphasized, but also the formative dimension of the pupil. It is well known that the current system stresses the cognitive aspect, often neglecting its harmonization with the affective and behavioral aspect of the person. That is why intellectual knowledge about God must be accompanied by the knowledge of God through experiencing faith as an active participation in the Divine Liturgy and the other services of the Church. Depriving children and youth of the communal and liturgical experience of the Church long-term can cause indifference and their alienation from the living experience of the Church and from the formative and spiritual aspect, resulting in serious consequences for their spiritual lives. It is exactly spiritual formation that offers a meaning to their life within family and society, and also to their orientation towards the eternal love of God, of the Most Holy Trinity.

We bless and congratulate all the educators animated by responsibility and sacrificial love, who were and are involved in this educational project that brings rich fruits in the missionary, pastoral, educational and catechetical activity of our Church.

Patriarch Daniel of Romania
Edited by

23 сентября 2015 г.

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