-A column for Parents and Children
THE heart is popularly
taken as the seat or centre of the emotions and in speaking of the formation of the heart I intend to deal in general with the emotions. The emotions arc warm. intense.
pulsating with life. and can best be understood in relation to the heart.
This also links up with the Sacred Heart of Jesus who truly man as he was. had a heart which experienced in depth the
ti ma n emot ions. He himsel f tells us to look at his Sacred. Heart which has so loved men. and has urged us to let our hearts respond to his Sacred Heart as the scat .of his love.
Childhood and adolescence are periods of emotional extremes. However the emotional states at this period are not normally very deep. although they can be so on occasion. especially in adolescence. We have to accept this and expect it to show itself from time to Lime. Such occasions of emotional extremes are valuable opportunities to help on in a major way the formation of the heart.
When he was ten years old little John Bosco found a young blackbird. He made a cage for it. fed it and looked after it with great care. It became the source of his greatest joy and pleasure. and he would spend any free moments he had beside it. whistling to it and listening to it singing in return,
First thing in the morning and last thing al night it was in his mind. When he came home from school. the first thing he did was to rush to the cage and call the bird. giving it something he had got in the fields.
One day coming home. he rushed as usual to the cage. but found it covered with blood and his pet lying dead inside. torn and mangled. A cat had managed to get at the cage. catch hold of the bird and in trying to draw it through the bars had badly mangled it. with thc. result that the bird soon died.
John cried bitterly and for several days was tmconsolable. it seemed that his whole world was shattered, With the help of his mother he came to himself, and realized how completely upset he had been over what should never have been capable of upsetting him so much.
He saw clearly what happens when the heart is given inordinatelyto a creature. and he made up his mind that it would not happen again. This .was a lesson he never forgot all his life. and this incident when he was ten years old, was the means of his taking a big step forward in the forming of his heart and emotions.
Love is the basic and principal emotion and it is to the true development of this that the greatest care must he given, all through the years of childhood and adolescence. The human heart easily remains constricted and selfish. From early childhood there are opportunities to enlarge It.
The arrival of another baby, for exaniplc. provides a chance to do this. The heart that before only Amities' itself and its parents is now enlarged to accept a brother or sister. Through the years the child's heart can be continued to enlarge to take in different categories of persons. until with God's help it sem take in the whole world irrespective of race. colour or creed.
his is what the human heart 55;15 made for: and there is hardly anythine which fulfils end develops a human being. as this enlargement of the heart which etin take in all mankind.
A great enemy to the development of the heart is attachment. We have to possess things. but we have to prevent them possessing us. They do possess and imprison us in proportion to our attachment to them.
The human heart is very prone to attach itself to something or other; the question of value can enter very little into it. A child can show great attachment to its toys, being very unwilling to share them with others. while at the same time showing remarkable capacity to acquire those of others!
Here there is the opportunity to begin to teach it detachment. to help it to begin to find joy in sharing and not in grasping and excluding. As thc children get older. thee can be helped to enjoy pleasure and recreation and remain independent of the particular ways in which it can be legitimately enjoyed.
So too with the other things that enter into their lives. Children end young people should be encouraged to save. hut at the same. time gently helped to willingly One a little of their precious savings for the needs of others less fortunate, or in some other way. that is not simply for themselves.
It is not possible in the space available to point out the many ways this can he done. hut what has been said may serve to indicate the lines to go on.
Terence O'Brien, S.D.B.