Forming Children of the Light

by Father James Chelich
2006

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Jesus said: I am the light of the world. No follower of mine shall ever walk in darkness, no, he shall possess the light of life. John 8:12
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Jesus also said: You are the light of the world…your light must shine before men… Matthew 5:14

Children of Light know how to pierce the darkness where ever it exists.
Children of the Light know how to transform love into matter and matter into love.

At Saint Thomas the Apostle School we awaken our children and young people to their dignity as Children of the Light.
This was God’s gift to them at their Baptism.
We teach them the Arts of the Children of the Light.
We train them in these arts and hold them accountable for practicing them, even as we hold each other accountable for practicing them.

Speaking the Truth
Why are we disappointed when our children fail to speak the truth the first time we ask for it? We should be well aware that adults as well as children often fail to tell the truth out of fear. What is of greater importance to forming human character is that, having lied, a person afterwards thinks about it and then returns and amends what they said with the truth.

Children of the Light are trained to identify in themselves the fear that causes them to cover up the truth, and then to summon the courage to return with the truth when and where it is called for. The Children of the Light believe that the truth is essential if one and all are to be free.

Naming the Darkness for What It Is
All too often, when a person senses that something is wrong in a situation, they are strongly dissuaded from voicing their feelings and trying to identify the wrong-at-work. This coercion to be silent and unquestioning comes from their prior training in counterfeit politeness or through outright social pressure. Children of the Light are encouraged to sound out their feelings, to give them expression, and to accurately name the wrong-at-work – calling it what it is.

Extending Compassion, Even Where it is Disapproved
People do not like to think that they are capable of suppressing compassion. But this is often a carefully inculcated feature in the way they were brought up. In a variety of ways they are given to understand that there are borders at which their charity, patience and mercy must stop. Some people are to be included and some are to be excluded from their compassion and vital concern. Children of the Light are trained to identify these borders and to ignore them. For Children of the Light mercy has no borders, and their vital concern extends to all.

Using One’s Strengths to Encourage and Lift Up the Weak
Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, talents and disabilities. Upon discovering their strengths and talents, people are tempted to compare themselves to others – especially those weaker than themselves and less gifted in these ways. This leads them to see themselves as superior to the weak and less gifted, and to take pride in this distinction. People then try to feel strong by using their talents and strengths to oppress or belittle the weak. This, however, only leads them in the wrong direction: to a deeper and deeper insecurity about their own talents and strength. They then turn to others who are strong and talented in the same way in the hope of mutually supporting one another’s collapsing self-confidence. They tell themselves: “we must be strong because we are stronger and more talented than them!” Children of the Light are trained to discover their strengths and talents and to take genuine joy in them. They are taught, however, that strength or talent is given only for the encouragement and service of those who are weaker than themselves in this way. Children of the Light learn to experience their personal strength through encouraging and lifting up those who are weaker or less talented than themselves. Only in this way will their confidence in themselves and their strength or talent grow. The Children of the Light bring hope to the lives of the weak and give them reason not to turn to violence against those who humiliate or oppress them.

Seeing the Beauty Around You
Children of the Light are taught to notice the beauty in the world around them, to pause in their activity and draw the beauty into themselves, to delight in it and to give God praise for it. Children of the Light learn that only when they can see the beauty in the world around them will they be able to see the beauty in themselves. Children of the Light know themselves to be beautiful, even without the permission of others.

Seeing the Goodness in Others
Children of the Light are taught to see the good as well as the not-so-good in themselves and in others. They are taught to establish a healthy boundary between themselves and the not-so-good in others. They are also taught to establish healthy personal patterns of thought and behavior to contain the not-so-good in themselves. Children of the Light see the good in themselves and in all others. They value it and make efforts to encourage it to grow. They see, value and encourage the good even in those from whom they know they must stand at a distance.

Laughing Heartily in Joy
Children of the Light are taught to laugh heartily at themselves and the idiosyncrasies of life, and to find joy in the success of others. They train themselves never to laugh at or at the expense of another.

Weeping Deeply in Sorrow
Children of the Light are taught to allow themselves to feel sorrow and to express it. They are trained, however, to feel and express the sorrows of others — not just their own. This brings them into solidarity with humanity.

Sacrificing Self to Provide for Others
Children of the Light are taught that it is noble to sacrifice themselves to provide for the necessities of others. They are taught to do this anonymously, without drawing any attention to themselves. They desire those for whom they provide to be left wondering at the providence of God, rather than admiring them. This is important for Children of the Light, for they see themselves as the agents of God’s providence for the blessing of others and, instruments of awakening humanity to the existence of God. This is their greatest joy.

Drawing Light from Light
Children of the Light are not “a light unto themselves” They understand that the same venial and sometimes dark things that work in others, work also in them. Alone, their own light will all too easily be overshadowed and then extinguished by personal doubt, weakness, fear or sadness. Children of the Light live from The Light – God’s light, not their own. The fullness of God’s light shines in Jesus. The Children of Light know that He is with them always, and that his power firmly holds the world and all things in it. Children of the Light are taught to make conscious contact with His presence throughout their day, and to consciously seek wisdom and draw strength from Him. This brings them unassailable freedom, confidence and joy in living.