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17. A CONTEMPORARY REFLEXION ON THE PEDAGOGY OF LOVE

Murialdo did not give us a treatise on pedagogy but offered us a safe way to be educators: to experience God’s love and put ourselves at the service of the people entrusted to us because they also do the same experience. We educate the heart because it is important to understand not only the material but also the spiritual needs of people. They express the need to make a strong experience to be loved not because they are perfect or deserve it, but because they are people already loved by God. It is to know that they are loved that changes people, beyond any method as well as each thanks to every method that the pedagogy of love can put in place.

Nathalì Montaño Ocejo

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17. A CONTEMPORARY REFLEXION ON THE PEDAGOGY OF LOVE

(Nathalì Montaño Ocejo)


I would like to begin this paper with a little story…
In a faraway and warm land there was a girl who grew up blessed with the wonderful love of a family united, believing and active in the service of God. She, as it is for all, had suffered for some vicissitudes of her life, but always believed that God loved her. Within hers heart, however, was growing by the day a sense of guilt for not being perfect for Him. She did not know it, but this weight was getting bigger, so much so that she began to lose her joy…
What has happened to this teenager? Why I think her experience is relevant in these moments? Because she was rescued by the followers of Murialdo. Then she did not know, but she was conquered by the “Pedagogy of Love.” I guess, maybe in a different way, each of us has made his/her contribution to this “Pedagogy of love,” which is simply to refer to the style of education that St Leonard Murialdo developed in his work with children and young people most in need… When analyzed with simplicity, the phrase “Pedagogy of Love” means “to teach to love,” “educate with a lot of love,” “make of love the transverse and organizational axis throughout the learning curriculum…” A quantity of pedagogical attitudes which could take the form of what we would call “the education of the heart.”
But what is “educating the heart?” Why God entrusts to us the heart of children and young people? As an educator, what should I do in practice to educate their hearts? You need to specify that to be educated is the heart of the poorest children and young people, and it is not only material poverty but poverty of all kinds, especially spiritual ones.
“Educating the Heart” of children and young people that God has entrusted to us, through the “Pedagogy of Love,” means, among many consequences, to develop those values originated directly from love. However, nowadays? What happens in this new century, in this technological age, and in the midst of the networks of means of mass communication that surround society? What place for the “Pedagogy of Love?”
It is clear that in the educational experience of Murialdo there is not a great theoretical development about this pedagogy. He did just the essentials: he discovered the Love of God and let Him love him, loved Him passionately, and, out of love for Him, he put himself at the service of the poor children and young people, strongly loving them and letting himself be loved by them, since, even if time rolls by, love remains.
We find along our way young people hungry for love and understanding, who believe that they find the sense of their lives through drugs, delinquency, and other pleasures. They grew up in the midst of comfort previously only dreamt of, including mass media deeply influencing their perceptions of the world. They have parents, taken with work, who could not devote to their children all the time they wanted to, and are living in the midst of a materialistic and superficial culture. They are guys who are afraid to admit that they have different sexual inclinations, afraid to confess they are not able to find the true meaning of freedom or follow their calling in life. Surely the youth of today, in their heart, are not so different from the youth of two centuries ago, and continue to need what St Leonard told us they needed: to feel loved by God and free to make the best decisions for their life.
As it was already covered in other areas and in the vast literature of the Congregation of St. Joseph, the founding experience of Murialdine pedagogy is the discovery of feeling loved by God (1 Jn 4:16), with an infinite, personal, merciful , tender , eternal and current love…
It is from here, from this point, that the little opening story continues… this young woman felt fully loved by God, she realized that He loved her even though she was not perfect, He loved her even though she went wrong, even though she fell, even though she would not fulfil the expectations of society… and it was always so, and nothing else was important. So, without resolving it, naturally, she made sure that every young and boy she met felt and lived this same experience, in his own school, parish, in other countries, in his working environment, no matter where he was… It is now fifteen years since this first meeting, and she feels, without any doubt, that the treasure found and shared is never exhausted. Now she is a fulfilled, happy and loved woman, to whom God, every day, gives a new opportunity to be better and she hopes she will continue to be the tool He needs to spread the “Pedagogy of Love.”
In conclusion, I would venture to say that, although time is passing, although some problems and situations change, love remains the vital experience that is capable of transforming thirsty and hungry hearts in other hearts that generously distribute love and goodness to those who are around. We need not fear, therefore, that the “Pedagogy of Love” will come to be old-fashioned or outdated, we trust in what God himself reveals to us, that even if everything passes away, his love will never pass away.


Nathalì Montaño Ocejo

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