Good Morning Folks!
Today, Craig & I have such a treat for you! This is our 100th blog post!!! In celebration, we have a wonderful guest blogger who graciously is sharing with us today!
We are thrilled to introduce you to Sarah Thérèse, who writes a beautiful Catholic blog over at Footprints On My Heart. We know you will be blessed by her story below, and urge you to visit her blog – in addition to ours, of course! 😉 Thank you, Sarah Thérèse , for your wonderful story! Don’t be a stranger around this blog! 😉
It was a cool, late March 2012 morning, several weeks after my college’s Spring break and therefore a bit late to still be considering summer employment. Yet there I was, driving toward a preschool 15 minutes away from my house that, until just two days before, I did not know even existed. I was uncharacteristically very excited about this job interview; considering my more reserved personality, I surprised myself realizing that I couldn’t get there fast enough. I was interviewing for a job at a Montessori preschool and, if I landed it, it would be a real dream come true.
I had first learned of Dr. Maria Montessori and her method of education nearly two years before during my first semester studying Early Childhood Education in college. As a graduate of a lifetime of homeschool, the Montessori Method resonated with me deeply and I was seriously interested in learning everything within my reach. Now, two years later, I was writing a research paper on Montessori and pursuing a job opportunity in the field. With that very first step inside a Montessori classroom on that late March morning, I fell completely in-love.
The job was, indeed, offered to me and I spent that first Summer working with the children. It was a learning experience and I loved every moment of it, even the less pleasant ones (and with children, there are many). I continued learning biographical and (for lack of a better word) “academic” information about Montessori and her method; I enjoyed getting to know the children and their different personalities, observing the ways my coworkers interacted with the children and how the children, in turn, responded to them. Before long, though, I began to notice that something still seemed to be missing. Montessori was also a devout Catholic and that was one aspect that I sorely missed while working in a privately owned, yet still secular environment.
I’ve questioned whether or not I should continue working there. I consider it my dream job and it is a good place to be employed, but is it where God is calling me, or simply another stepping stone along the path there?
Recently, I had the opportunity to visit a Catholic Montessori school and atrium and, oh my goodness, if I thought I fell in-love with the method when I stepped into the first classroom two years ago, I am completely enamored of it now. Christ’s love so evidently shone through every single one of the teachers and there was an atmosphere of genuine peace and joy that was only enhanced by the presence of everyone, students and teachers alike. But my favorite aspect of this visit, aside from seeing the atrium and receiving a very general overview of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, was learning more about Maria Montessori as a devout, religious individual. The teacher who gave me the tour followed my promptings and offered so much more information regarding the religious aspect of the method and the individual than anything I’d found in researching, and I soaked it all in as if I’d been awaiting this moment my entire life.
Two things in particular jumped out at me: namely, her devotion to Our Lady under a particular title and her favorite verse from Sacred Scripture.
I found her personal devotion to Our Lady of the Chair very intriguing. I wasn’t familiar with this title, but it’s supposedly as well known as it is ancient (fifth century). Our Lady sitting – Our Lady of the Chair – belongs to the category of Marian representations called Theotokos. The decisive feature of this representation is not Mary, but Jesus Christ whom she holds on her lap, mostly in a frontal position. In fact, she is the throne upon which Christ is seated; not she is wisdom incarnate, but the throne on which wisdom (Christ) takes place. Theotokos means “Mother of God”: like a mother, she holds the baby on her lap; however, the whole posture indicates reverence and respect due to the Son of God and, at the same time, Mary’s gesture is one of demonstration. She holds the child so that he can be seen by the onlooker.
I was drawn to the example of Our Lady as she embraces the Christ Child, and the example that Montessori leaves us in that message by sharing her personal devotion. As was aforementioned, Theotokos means “Mother of God,” and I believe Montessori’s devotion to this image is a call to Spiritual Motherhood of all the children her method has and continues to form.
The words spoken by St. John the Baptist referring to Jesus basically sum up the entirety of the Montessori Method. Montessori teachers are not there to strictly “teach,” their purpose is to guide and simply be present for the child. The Montessori teacher’s goal is to allow the child to shine and be his or her self, without any pressure and with complete trust and confidence in the individual. Children are the most amazing miracles in the world and each is a precious gift from above. They should be treated as so.
Visiting the Catholic Montessori school was a very real dream come true and I cannot even begin to express how much I look forward to returning for another visit. If you think the Lord is calling you somewhere or to do something, don’t be afraid to respond and test His call. You never know what adventures might lie ahead… And thank you, oh my Jesus, for calling me to love You through serving Your precious children and for teaching me through them about Your great love for me.
Sarah Thérèse is a homeschooler-turned-Montessori teacher assistant currently in her final semester of College and very, very ready to graduate in May with an Associate’s Degree in Early Childhood Education. She blogs about journeying toward a deeper relationship with Christ, and hosts an ongoing series about the Saints at Footprints on My Heart.
Craig & I have a special guest post coming up at Footprints On My Heart February 22nd about a saint very near and dear to our hearts! Stay tuned!!
Sarah Thérèse, thank you, again, for your beautiful testimony! We are blessed to be surrounded by such wonderful brothers & sisters in Christ as we journey through life!
Join us again tomorrow for Food For Thought Friday!!All Our Love,