Lessons for Life — Day 23

Sunday, Sept. 17, 1978

The day after tomorrow, twelve million Italian young people will be going back to school for their fall term. Today’s Sunday Angelus conveyed the pope’s cordial greetings and best wishes to the students and teachers alike.

Giosuè Carducci, Italian poet & educator (1835-1907)

Italian poet & educator, Giosuè Carducci (1835-1907)

Italian teachers have in their history classic cases of exemplary love and dedication to teaching. Giosué Carducci was a university professor in Bologna. He went to Florence for some celebration. One evening, he went to take leave of the Minister of Public Instruction. “No, no,” said the Minister, “stay tomorrow also.”Excellency, I cannot. Tomorrow I have class at the University and the boys expect me.” “I dispense it.” “You can dispense me, but I do not dispense myself.” Professor Carducci had a really high concept both the school and the students. He was of the race of those who say: “To teach Latin to John is not enough to know Latin, you must also know and love John.”

Disney's Pinocchio (1940)

Walt Disney’s Pinocchio (1940) on his first day of school

To primary school students, I would like to recall their friend Pinocchio: who not one day skipped school to go see puppets; rather, Pinocchio took to liking school, so much so that during the entire school year, every day, he was the first to enter class and the last to leave.

[When I was a school boy,] nobody came to tell me “you will be pope.” If they had only told me, I would have studied more. I would have prepared myself. Now I am old, there is no time.

His Holiness also dispatched a message to Freiburg, Germany for the opening of the 85th Katholikentag (or “Catholic Day,“) a recurring festival held in Germany, Austria, or Switzerland. Mother Teresa, foundress of the Missionaries of Charity, is attending this year’s gathering with Munich’s Archbishop, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. The pope wrote:

We may sometimes feel that Christian hope in our world has lost its stimulating force. On the one hand, we note a fear of living and despair, and other careless people imprudently want to build and secure their future with their own forces. Against any form of lacking faith and disorienting fatigue and against all forms of blind violence, Katholikentag opposes with a sign of certainty and confidence. Far from pride and man’s deceiving self-sufficiency, it anchors the future and hope in Him alone who can give them: God, the Lord of history.

In other news, after twelve days of secret negotiations, Egypt’s President and Israel’s Prime Minister signed the Camp David Accords today at the White House. This comes as joyful news for the pope and others around the world who have been praying for such a breakthrough. Hopefully, these accords will facilitate peace between these two nations and in the greater Middle East.

What would you like to see the pope to call upon the whole world to pray for?

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