Category Spiritual Formation

“An idea is more than an image or picture; it is, so to speak, a spiritual germ endowed with vital force—with power, that is, to grow, and to produce after its kind. It is the very nature of an idea to grow: as the vegetable germ secretes that it lives by, so, fairly implant an idea in the child’s mind, and it will secrete its own food, grow, and bear fruit in the form of a succession of kindred ideas.”
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In the six volumes of her Home Education Series, Charlotte Mason speaks of joy over 270 times. This is not surprising, for the consistent experience of joy is essential to a child’s well-being. Through experience, parents and teachers know how difficult it is to help the sullen child move forward. Ms. Mason would take it a step farther, arguing that “The happiness of the child is the condition of his progress.” Thus, “his lessons should be joyous and that occasions of friction in the schoolroom are greatly to be deprecated.”
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When Charlotte Mason discussed the spiritual life in relationship to ideas, she identified spiritual life as the life of thought, of feeling, of the soul, of that which is not physical. This very human life needs food, and “this life is sustained upon only one manner of diet: the diet of ideas — the living progeny of living minds.”  She uses this framework—the spiritual life is sustained only by a diet of ideas—to answer the perennial question, “What manner of schoolbooks should our boys and girls use?”
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A great power has been placed in the hands of parents and teachers, the power to enthrone the King, to induct the Priest into the innermost chamber of a child’s heart. There is no greater service to be done for a child, no greater gift to be given a child. For what does it matter if a child gains the whole world but loses his soul?
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The work of Christ establishes us as belonging to community, and this shared belonging is foundational to the experience of the Father. We are to be both participants and instruments of belonging, the kind of belonging that creates joy. Charlotte Mason calls this need to belong the “desire of society” and places it among the desires that are both primary and universal.
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