We are beginning to see the first small signs of autumn as the mornings grow darker, crisper, and the leaves of the trees gain faint shades of red and gold at their edges. This is a tell-tale sign that school is, for most if not all, in full swing as well. Teachers are grading first assignments and learning students’ names, personalities, and are perhaps encountering their first challenges in the classroom as well.
The Call of a Teacher
Teachers are entrusted with a great vocation: the education of our young people. They are called to witness Christ the Teacher not only through their words but also through their actions, modeling Him and His saints throughout the day. Pope Benedict XVI, in his 2010 Address to Teachers and Religious, said that “The task of a teacher is not simply to impart information or to provide training in skills intended to deliver some economic benefit to society; education is not and must never be considered as purely utilitarian. It is about forming the human person, equipping him or her to live life to the full, in short it is about imparting wisdom. And true wisdom is inseparable from knowledge of the Creator, for ‘both we and our words are in his hand, as are all understanding and skill in crafts (Wis 7:16).’”
A Teacher’s Role
St. Frances Mary Cabrini founded many schools, and herself developed a small “rule” for the teachers who taught there. It included the following points:
“Fashion the hearts of the students to a love of religion and the practice of virtue.
Safeguard the children confided to you as on precious loan.
Let your example speak louder than your words.
Maintain a maternal solicitude for the children.
Study well the personalities, the strengths of the students, because one cannot presume they are all the same. Treat each one according to their capacity and the gifts they have received from God.
Seek to form character.
Do not embarrass, correct patiently.
Do not show dislike either in words or actions.
Do not speak of the students’ defects to others.
Use all possible diligence to plan your schoolwork at the beginning of the year. Always be ready to answer to educational authorities and satisfy the families of the students.
See that the environment is clean and well ordered.”
We can see that the call of the teacher is a demanding one, and it is a call that many of the saints answered. There have been many saints throughout the years who were involved to some degree in education and formation. Good teachers are necessary to the life and growth of the Church, and we should pray for them. What better time is there to pray for our teachers than at the start of a new school year?
With that in mind, here is a short litany of saints who were educators and students, whether in a traditional or non-traditional setting. Let’s pray for all of the teachers and students in our communities!
Litany for Teachers
St. John Bosco, pray for us
St. Jean-Baptiste de La Salle, pray for us
St. Frances Mary Cabrini, pray for us
St. John Henry Newman, pray for us
St. Paul, pray for us
St. Ambrose, pray for us
St. Albert the Great, pray for us
St. Thomas Aquinas, pray for us
The Evangelists: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, pray for us
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, pray for us
St. Hildegard von Bingen, pray for us
St. Philip Neri, pray for us
St. Francis de Sales, pray for us
St. John Cantius, pray for us
St. Angela Merici, pray for us
St. Katherine Drexel, pray for us
St. Rose Philippine Duschesne, pray for us
St. Joseph of Cupertino, pray for us and especially for our students
Mary and Joseph, first educators of the Christ-child, pray for us
Heavenly Father, give our teachers the capacity to witness Your Love to their students
Christ the Teacher, guide the words and actions of our teachers
Holy Spirit, enlighten their minds and hearts
Let us pray:
Holy Trinity, through the intercession of these your saints, we pray for all teachers and students we hold dear, and for renewal of Christ-like education throughout the whole Church.
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