Why the Virtue of Vigilance should not be ignored.

Jan 30, 17 Why the Virtue of Vigilance should not be ignored.

Children are at rest when they know they’re being observed. This is particularly true when a child is tempted to do something they’ve been told not to thus they refrain from acting on their impulse, at least for that moment. Another point to consider is that children crave for the presence of their parents in the simplest ways i.e. eating at the dinner table, reading a book or playing at the park. The common thread in these examples is that the virtue of vigilance provides a simple and direct way of guiding a child toward God.

The Vigilance of St. John Bosco

The virtue of vigilance was often stressed by the great Saint and educator John Bosco as a way of guiding his students toward an intimate communion with Christ. The practice of vigilance was not solely relegated within the classroom. It was practiced more often than not in the extracurricular activities his pupils were involved in thus they would know that Don Bosco truly cared for them and was watching over them. In essence the virtue of diligence was a means by which St. John Bosco visibly expressed his love to his students and they knew it.

Cultivating the Soul

When a farmer sets out to prepare his land for the upcoming harvest he knows that great care must be taken to ensure a healthy yield. This requires constant vigilance of the crop itself making sure it is taken care of for the sole purpose of producing edible food. This method parallels how we would cultivate the religious development of a child and echoes what St. Jon Bosco would stress and what would eventually lead to the development of his Preventive System of instruction (Reason, Religion and Kindness).

His Preventive system of educating was not to minimize or stifle a child’s abilities. On the contrary the aim of teaching religion (Preventive System) for St. John Bosco was exercising a genuine care for the soul of a child so that the child would definitively know he is loved. The virtue of vigilance by its very nature fosters and engagement directed toward the religious development of a child in a healthy and productive way.

The Gift of being Spiritually Vigilant

A great way the devil distracts us from our daily walk with Christ is injecting the notion; “I’ll get to it later.” When this attitude spills over toward the parenting of our children, the long term effects can be negatively devastating with the child perceiving that his parents have no interest in him. Authentic spiritual vigilance means a direct concerted effort to guide the religious development of our children by our authentic witness of faith and second how they interpret our witness and apply these actions in their own lives e.g. “like father like son.”  

The value of being vigilant over the religious development of our children cannot be overstated. It does not mean hovering around our child protecting him from the elements of the world. On the contrary it means teaching and guiding him on how to navigate the world through a Catholic lens rooted in Christ. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (2727) provides us with a fitting closing reflection on the virtue of vigilance in light of Christian prayer:

We must also face the fact that certain attitudes deriving from the mentality of “this present world” can penetrate our lives if we are not vigilant. For example, some would have it that only that is true which can be verified by reason and science; yet prayer is a mystery that overflows both our conscious and unconscious lives. Others overly prize production and profit; thus prayer, being unproductive, is useless. Still others exalt sensuality and comfort as the criteria of the true, the good, and the beautiful; whereas prayer, the “love of beauty” (philokalia), is caught up in the glory of the living and true God. Finally, some see prayer as a flight from the world in reaction against activism; but in fact, Christian prayer is neither an escape from reality nor a divorce from life.

St. John Bosco, Pray for us!

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