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Spiritually Healthy Children View Comments
By Alicia von Stamwitz

DURING ART CLASS one day, a first-grade teacher noticed that one child was particularly engrossed in his drawing. She eventually wandered over and asked the child, “What are you drawing?”

“God,” he said, without looking up from his paper. The teacher said carefully, “But no one really knows what God looks like.”

“They will in a second!” he said.

I love this story because it captures something we all appreciate, but few of us think to nurture: the spiritual vitality and imagination of young children.

Most parents are keenly aware of their children’s social, emotional, intellectual and physical development. We record our children’s height with pencil marks on the kitchen wall and note milestones in photo albums and scrapbooks. We monitor their health and celebrate their achievements. As they grow older, we track their academic progress.

But how many of us track our children’s spiritual health and development?

In some ways, former generations had it easier. Spirituality was equated with religious practice. Those days are gone.

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Alicia von Stamwitz studied early childhood education at Tufts University in Massachusetts and journalism and communication at Washington University in St. Louis. She has taught middle school and preschool students and worked for Liguori Publications for 27 years. She is now an independent consultant and freelance author.

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Robert Bellarmine: When Robert Bellarmine was ordained in 1570, the study of Church history and the fathers of the Church was in a sad state of neglect. A promising scholar from his youth in Tuscany, he devoted his energy to these two subjects, as well as to Scripture, in order to systematize Church doctrine against the attacks of the Protestant Reformers. He was the first Jesuit to become a professor at Louvain. 
<p>His most famous work is his three-volume <i>Disputations on the Controversies </i><em>of the Christian Faith</em>. Particularly noteworthy are the sections on the temporal power of the pope and the role of the laity. He incurred the anger of monarchists in England and France by showing the divine-right-of-kings theory untenable. He developed the theory of the indirect power of the pope in temporal affairs; although he was defending the pope against the Scottish philosopher Barclay, he also incurred the ire of Pope Sixtus V. </p><p>Bellarmine was made a cardinal by Pope Clement VIII on the grounds that "he had not his equal for learning." While he occupied apartments in the Vatican, Bellarmine relaxed none of his former austerities. He limited his household expenses to what was barely essential, eating only the food available to the poor. He was known to have ransomed a soldier who had deserted from the army and he used the hangings of his rooms to clothe poor people, remarking, "The walls won't catch cold." </p><p>Among many activities, he became theologian to Pope Clement VIII, preparing two catechisms which have had great influence in the Church. </p><p>The last major controversy of Bellarmine's life came in 1616 when he had to admonish his friend Galileo, whom he admired. Bellarmine delivered the admonition on behalf of the Holy Office, which had decided that the heliocentric theory of Copernicus (the sun as stationary) was contrary to Scripture. The admonition amounted to a caution against putting forward—other than as a hypothesis—theories not yet fully proved. This shows that saints are not infallible. </p><p>Bellarmine died on September 17, 1621. The process for his canonization was begun in 1627 but was delayed until 1930 for political reasons, stemming from his writings. In 1930, Pope Pius XI canonized him and the next year declared him a doctor of the Church.</p> American Catholic Blog The joy of the Lord is our strength. Therefore, each of us will accept a life of poverty in cheerful trust. We will minister to Christ in the distressing disguise of the poor with cheerful devotion. If our work is done with joy, we will have no reason to be unhappy.

 
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