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Divine Teacher, may the whole world follow your Gospel the distinction between childhood and adulthood is also fading away. This is happening not only in the style and manner of dress, food, games, entertainment and language of children, but also in sexuality and crime. The media and market forces drive all this along, but adults are accomplices and children end up as victims of the ambiguity of this culture. As Elizabeth-Anne Stewart writes in her book Jesus the Holy Fool, “Here in the West we have either held that “children should be seen and not heard,” completely overlooking the possibility that they may have something of value to contribute, or else we have treated them as “miniadults”, hurrying their growth with designer clothes and adult forms of entertainment, as though their very childishness is problematic.” In a certain sense these attitudes are confirming what theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar once wrote in his book Man in History, “Everywhere outside Christianity the child is automatically sacrificed.” The child is sacrificed on the altars of the economy of the country, the vested interests of politicians, the profits of business companies, the ambitions of parents, the deviant pleasures of disturbed adults, and on a thousand other altars. That this happens also within the Church is a tragedy not only for the child but also for the Church. It is a tragedy for the Church because, as Timothy Radcliffe states in his most recent book Taking the Plunge, “When we bring a child to the font to be baptized, we are entrusting him to Christ, forever the child of Bethlehem and the eternal Son of the Father. We are praying that this child may indeed have a childhood and so become an adult of God with something of Christ’s fresh spontaneity. At the font we commit ourselves to build communities in which children can grow in confidence and whose trust in adults will not be abused.” It would also be a tragedy for the SDC if it were to stop considering children as its greatest treasure, the way it has been doing since its very beginning. The spirit of the SDC, in the words of Dun Ìor© himself, is “to keep children close to its heart just as Christ, our Lord and Master, embraced and blessed

them; and to do it’s utmost through teaching and watchfulness to protect them from predatory beasts.” Children in the SDC are always considered a blessing and never a burden and the doors of the SDC Centres are always wide open for them. Children are welcomed with joy and sincere love. Children are cared for and cherished for who they are. The SDC Centres should be, in Neil Postman’s words, “an act of rebellion” against a culture that is betraying the child. Dedicating one’s time and energy daily to the welfare of children without expecting any recompense is already an act of disobedience, if not also an insult, to those who treat children as objects of personal gain. Teaching children to be cautious in their words and manners, to control their impulsivity and delay gratification, to be modest in dress and disciplined in behaviour, to play without competing, to limit their exposure to the media and to be critical of what they see and hear is a form of resistance to many of the social trends of the culture we are living in. According to Postman those who resist these modern trends would be contributing to what he calls the “monastery effect” because, like the monasteries of the Middle Ages, they would be helping to keep alive a humane tradition that promotes man’s true dignity. Natalino Camilleri sdc Superior General


Preca Calling - February 2013  

- Review Year 2012