Whenever I think of Education of the Heart as demonstrated by Santa Francisca Cabrini, what immediately comes to my mind is the vision of the two “Vs”: Virtues / Values and Vices. As the Prophet Jeremiah tells us in Chapter 17, verses 9-10: “The human heart is untamed! Deceptive more than all things, it gets to be perverse. Who is able to know it? Only Yahweh who searches the hearts and knows the thoughts … ”.
Indeed, these two “Vs” have been in the human heart since the beginning of life. Education of the Heart comes to ensure Values prevails over Vices.
The refugee settlement we are missioned to is organized by and seves people who come from different tribes which are not always on friendly terms with one another. Education of the Heart challenges us in this context, requiring each one of us to work on their values in order for all of us to live in harmony, respecting one another’s differences.
In this process, one should not seek to standardize or integrate one’s culture into the other, but rather to bring about mutual enrichment with the coexistence of the differences that each culture brings.
It is something that does not happen through theorizing, but through consistently reflecting on day-to-day events. For example, in the women’s groups that we have already started, we commence each day by actively sharing our lives together. We also speak about the division of materials, how those with experience can help others, having patience to teach those who struggle with learning, taking care of one another’s children, and moreover what happens with our communication beyond our group times together.
At the Pre-school where Sr. Addise works, Education of the Heart is evidenced through the practice of values with the children and the teachers.
It is an investment with a long-term view as these little ones will grow, developing in themselves the sense of the other, sharing, respect and mutual help, in small gestures in the classroom, and in a very playful way. A cultivated faith in the children’s families provides us with Christian values from which to build on.
In Dzaipi Parish the people are closer to one another and Education of the Heart manifests more through the testimony of who we are and how we share. For example, in this favorable time for cultivating the land, we are sharing our land with the youth group and with some women. We set an example and work together with them in preparing the fields and planting grains and vegetables. People cultivate a deep faith, yet it is unclear whether it is cultural or not. While we work together at times, division afterwards is still evident. Over time we will discover how to put Education of the Heart into practice in this new reality we are in.
What is certain is that Education of the Heart occurs through the experience of evangelical values, regardless of any culture. The way we outwork this principal is different according to the reality of each context. A value that certainly needs to be cultivated with greater intensity wherever we are, is the care for people, the environment and our “Common Home”. Only then will we “form true Christians for the Church and citizens for the World”, as Mother Cabrini told us.
~ written by Sister Gloria Caixeta, MSC
You can read this piece in ITALIAN, SPANISH and PORTUGUESE in the last number of the Generalate newsletter ‘To the Ends of the Earth’ HERE.