Compassionate & Loving
Pupils at SSPP are growing to be compassionate towards others, near and far, especially the less fortunate; and loving by their just actions and forgiving words.
"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." (1 Corinthians 13:13)
The word compassion comes from two Latin words, the first meaning ‘with’ and the second meaning ‘to change’, especially in the sense of suffering adverse change.
To be compassionate is to experience suffering or change alongside someone else – to listen to their cares and concerns and to share their joys and sorrows, to see the world through their eyes, to step into their shoes, to empathise.
Being able to empathise is a virtue very necessary for being a good human being. To live successfully in a family, or a school community, or workplace, or in wider society, means being able to see, understand and feel things from other points of view, even ones to which I may not be particularly sympathetic. In the Christian tradition, it is never enough simply to be attentive: we must allow ourselves to be moved by what we see, especially by the plight of those who suffer or are less fortunate than we are.
Getting children to stop and notice how others are experiencing their lives, and how they feel, and why they say and believe what they do, is an important aspect of parenting and teaching. Ultimately, it is what makes us kind and, at a deeper level, opens up the possibility of being loving through our just and merciful actions and forgiving words.
Jesus’ great commandment is “Love one another.” (John 13:34) The more we love others, the more we are truly human and most truly ourselves.
Love is something that is learned not by being taught but by having first experienced it for ourselves. Parents are the first and best teachers by what they say and do. The most important lesson they teach their children is love. It is by being loved that we learn to love.
Of course, it is easy to love those who love us. In speaking about love, Jesus throws out the challenge to take love deeper: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.’” (Matthew 5:43-44) This is where love becomes challenging. To love in this way is to love as God loves.
Schools build on the foundations laid by parents. By building up communities characterised by compassion and love, schools create the context in which children can learn and acquire these virtues for themselves. Schools can also show children people, living and dead, who exemplify these virtues and, conversely, show situations where their opposites have done terrible damage to people and society. In an educational context, we should take children to horizons of experience that may be very unfamiliar to them and give them perspectives which allow them to see the world as the compassionate and loving God sees it.
The second half of the spring term is another time of preparation. We enter the solemn period of Lent which builds towards Jesus making the ultimate sacrifice. We act out his Passion through our telling of the Stations of the Cross – highlighting just how much God loves us, that he was willing to have his only son die for us.
This is time where we often collect for CAFOD. This type of fundraising can come through abstinence (giving elements we enjoy up for a period of time). Other charities are supported constantly throughout the year from Harvest time, through Christmas appeals and into the spring and summer terms. We support project Malachi and the work of the Salvation Army. Pupil representatives take a set of donations with them to homeless centres to see how they are used. In the past, they have been given the chance to sit with and talk to those who receive this support.
We spend so much of our RE and PSHE time focussing on getting children to empathise with others. As a Gold Rights Respecting school, our children are acutely aware of the rights of those with disabilities to take a full and active part in society, starting with how children are treated in our own school community.
Questions for reflection . .
Do we create imaginative opportunities for us all to step into the shoes of others (the homeless, refugees, people with disability, the poor, the marginalized, etc.)?
Do we raise questions of social justice? How?
How does SSPP show compassion within its own community? Especially to those in trouble or need?