getting back to Francisco de osuna… some nice summertime reflections on school/schooling… teaching and learning. he’s talking about prayer, here, but – where we read “teacher” we could read “play” or “playwright” or “theater”?]


If you are searching for a teacher, use every possible ethical means to ascertain if he is experienced in prayer and himself has undergone what he is about to teach. If he has not, do not assign him the task, regardless of how many other things and devotions he knows, for he cannot sing the canticle he does not know. Just as someone who does not know how to paint cannot make a painter of you, so the person who has never been recollected cannot advise you in this matter, and believe me, he will harm you seriously, advising one thing when he should advise something quite different… With respect to how one should teach, the best method is to encourage the pupil to do most of the talking along the road, having him ask about doubts that assail him all at once and describe his experiences in order to understand what is happening to him. The teacher is to reply more to the pupil’s heart than his words, more to what he intends to say than what he actually does say, for no one can explain adequately what he feels. The person who has experienced interior things, however, already understands them at once so that just hearing the first three words form his pupil, regardless of how unsuitable they are, the teacher can inform him that his explanation is not adequate and show him how to ask about the experience and then explain how the experience usually occurs in a person and the different ways in which it can come… If one presumes to teach recollection on the basis of books rather than experience his teaching will not be a fountain that reveals life, for what he imparts by words does not flow out into action…

Brother, do not aspire to be a teacher before you are a good student, and as befits a master, be sure you are solidly informed in your discipline before teaching. If not, you will be like the little bird that feels some desire and ability to fly, but trying its wings prematurely, it tires quickly and falls, unable to return to the repose of the little nest it left because it sought to fly before its wings were strong. Suppose your response is that obedience has made you a teacher. Very well, but obedience gives you only the responsibility, not the capability….

From what I have said, observe that your first responsibility is to remedy that part of the student’s spiritual life most sorely in need: that is, the heart. As the first formed part of our natural being, the heart should first be reformed, and Saint Bonaventure declares that scattering without is the result of dissolution within…

Your first recommendation to a person just entering the order, therefore, is to guard his heart and not fret about the exterior, for if the interior is in order, very little effort is needed to control the exterior.

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