I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith (2 Timothy 4:7). In this passage, St. Paul presented himself as a hero in the faith. Our society today, needs people who are brave, strong willed and assertive, heroin like Esther as recorded in the book of Esther 7:3-4. This verse focuses on how God used the brave queen Esther to save the lives of the Jews. Every hero or legend has a life that is well disciplined and value driven; these values make them different from ordinary people in the society. They show us the ideal; they work for the peace and the good of all. The society needs people who would correct wrong doings; people who will serve as a voice for the voiceless, people who cannot cover the truth. In 2 Samuel chapter 12, we saw how God sent Prophet Nathan to tell King David the truth about his sinful act. These people are like light lit on a hill top that cannot be hidden (Matthew 5:14). These sets of people should be found in every nook and cranny of our society. People who cannot compromise themselves or take bribes for any reason, people who are willing to fight for justice, in a country that is deteriorating by corruption, greed and selfishness, the intervention of God-fearing people is needed to put things right.
Saints are people who are recognized as having an exceptional degree of holiness. They are reckoned as those that are very close to God. These are people that do ordinary things in an extraordinary way. They are people that are always ready to make sacrifices even when it is difficult to do so. They go out of their way either to save lives or to put things in order in places where there is misunderstanding, chaos or disagreement. No wonder it is said that God sends his saints to the world when they are most needed, not men and women of general holiness, but specialized expert who fit into the pattern of the times and are capable of giving God’s tone to the world.
The word saint is often used in the Catholic Church to tell us about our heroes or heroine in the faith, those whose lifestyle is worth emulating. They have left their legacy behind. People are not called saints when they are alive, but that does not mean that there are no Saints on earth. The pronouncement of Sainthood is done after the death of the person with proper investigation. As Christians, we are all called to become Saints that is why we are made in the image and likeness of God, so Sainthood is meant for all of us. God has no favorite, anyone who does the will of God or abide in his word is a Christian and a friend of God. This relationship continues as they transit from here (earth) to the next (heaven).
Similarly, this week the Catholic Church celebrates the feast of Saint Maria Goretti (martyr). She was born into the family of Luigi and Assunta in the year 1890 of the Eastern side of Italy. Her father died when she was nine and they suffered hardship, Assunta (mother) struggled to raise the children in a Godly way. Maria took out time to do constant prayers and meditations. She was taught by her mother some Christian virtues and practices as she grew up. She was not educated, but had the opportunity of learning from her mother. She does things out of love of God, not grudge. It was from her mother that Maria learned never to sin “at any cost”. On the other hand Alessandro her neighbour’s son was the depressed young teenager. He was attracted to Maria unnecessarily and wanted to have her at all cost, but she refused, and he stabbed her severally to death. He later repented and went to Maria’s mother for forgiveness. He was later released from prison after attaining good virtues and character; Maria’s mother forgave him and took him to her home.
Good characters are not easy to come by; it takes a lot of effort to attain it. For someone to imbibe good manners, such a person would have engaged in constant practice because it is said that practice make perfection. In 1 Cor 9: 27 St. Paul compared attaining self-discipline and good character to an athlete that engaged in constant practice in other to win. The teaching of good manners is very important and it goes a long way in the life of an individual. Ignorance is not an excuse, we should be ready to learn and be open to corrections. The school is one of the places where good characters can easily be imbibed in the life of an individual; teaching of morals, values, discipline and good behaviour can easily be taught in schools where we have teachers that are well trained in their various fields of discipline. The school is at the forefront in this regard, education is the best policy because it is like a light in the darkness. It is a powerful weapon that liberates us from the bondage of ignorance.
The school has a lot of roles to play in the teaching of morals and values that is why our educational system should be given more attention. Train a child in the way he should go when he is old, he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6). The school is a formation ground where lives are molded, shaped and transformed. Schools should be well equipped with all the necessary materials that will help in the teaching and learning process. But many a times these materials are not found in schools, especially public schools, children who attend this kind of schools may not achieve much because there are no materials for learning. Some public schools have no chairs, no tables, no blackboard, no library among others, another problem facing public schools is inadequate teachers. Teachers in public schools are not serious with their jobs, they come to school at will, and worse still schools situated in the villages are nothing to write home about. Many public schools have become a write-off because nobody bothers about them; the so-called supervisors are only concerned with the checking of statutory records and nothing more.
On the other hand, some children are not interested in learning; the issue of going to school is a no go area. They feel that without education they can still make their money and become rich. These set of people when they become politicians and have access to power, they will pay little or no attention to education because they never passed through it. Many parents have also failed in their responsibility of taking care of their children, they have forgotten that in the process of caring for them (children) they are able to discover bad habit(s) and make appropriate correction (good character). “Whoever loves discipline, loves knowledge, but hates correction is stupid” (Proverbs 12:1). Unfortunately, children are left at the mercy of caregivers or nannies who are only interested in their money and nothing more. Training a child is not the work of the teacher alone; it involves the parents, the teachers, the society and the co-operation of the child.
Finally, the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10), any society that instills good morals, characters and values on her citizens will enjoy peace, tranquility and progress. Any society that fails in its civic responsibilities to its citizens will face the repercussion.
Sr Margret Ogbebor SSMA is a Catholic Nun, working in the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto. She is the Head Teacher of St Martin de Porres Nursery and Primary School Katsina. email@example.com