“Children come to us a a rain of souls, as a richness and a promise which can always be fulfilled but which needs the help of our efforts for its fulfillment.”
Who Was Maria Montessori?
Maria Montessori, born in 1870, was the first woman in Italy to receive a medical degree. She worked in the fields of psychiatry, education and anthropology. She believed that each child is born with a unique potential to be revealed, rather than as a “blank slate” waiting to be written upon. Her main contributions to the work of those of us raising and educating children are in these areas:
- Preparing the most natural and life-supporting environments for the child
- Observing the child living freely in this environment
- Continually adapting the environment in order that the chid may fulfill his or her greatest potential, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
On the eve of her death (May 5, 1952), Dr. Maria Montessori sent this message to Catholic teachers gathered at a meeting in London, England.
Never, as in this moment, has the Christian faith needed the sincere effort of those who profess it. I would like to ask all of you, who are gathered in this meeting, to consider the great help that children can bring to the defense of our faith.
Children come to us a a rain of souls, as a richness and a promise which can always be fulfilled but which needs the help of our efforts for its fulfillment.
Do not consider a child a weakling: the child is the builder of the human personality. That this personality be Christian or not depends on the environment around him and on those who guide his religious formation.
Do not think that because the child cannot understand in the same way that we adults understand that it is useless to allow him to participate in our religious practices.
The staunchest and deepest faith is generally found among the unsophisticated people whose women take their children to church while they are still breastfed: the child’s unconscious absorbs divine powers while the conscious reasoning of adults is only human.
You who enjoy the great gift of belonging to the Catholic faith must feel the great responsibility you have for future generations because, among you, there are those who have renounced the world to bring the world to God.
Take then, as help in your task, with faith and humility, “the all-powerful children” (Benedict XV). Take as your special task to watch that their limpid light be not dimmed. Protect their development those natural energies implanted in the souls of children by the guiding hand of God. May God be with you at this meeting, and may He guide you in your conclusions and decisions.