somewhere in the beginning DialoguesSaint Gregory the Great tells us something about the monk Libertinus, who was abbot of the Fondi monastery. This Libertinus so cherished the memory of his teacher, the holy monk Honoratus, that he carried with him everywhere, like a precious relic, a sandal that was his own. One day, the abbot sent Libertinus on a trip to have some interest in the monastery. On the way, Libertinus met a woman who was holding a dead child in her arms – her own. Seeing the monk driven by a strange instinct, no doubt she awoke from the immense pain she felt while holding her prematurely dead child in her arms, the woman stood before the horse on which the monk was riding and said, ‘Pass nothing further so as not to bring my child back to life. !”. Mad, of course, from those who only appreciate desperate mothers for their children. Libertinus was deeply moved by this inevitable demand, and must have been even more anxious when he realized that, he tried as best he could, that it was impossible for him to turn around the woman and continue on his way. He was simply stuck in it. And the woman seemed convinced – the conviction of the desperate! – That the monk I met can work such miracles. St. Gregory the Great adds that it is not difficult to imagine the strong conflict in the soul of this perfect monk: on the one hand, his complete humility and the utterly extraordinary character of the request urged him to see his way, and not through a chief whom Libertinus had not thought that he could raise the dead; On the other hand, he felt the desire to help that grieving mother, who asked for nothing more than to see her child alive again. In the end, Libertinus decided to try to help her in some way. He dismounted, and, taking the corpse of the infant in his arms, knelt down, and took Honoratus’ sandals out of the folds of his garment, and, laying them upon the breast of the infant, prayed. After a while the miracle happened: the child came back to life! St. Gregory the Great was asked to explain in ordinary terms (“What determines a miracle, the prayer of Libertinus or His Holiness Honorat?”): “Both, together with the faith of the woman. And I am sure that the miracle happened because Libertinus was absolutely confident in the power of the holiness of his mentor Honorat “.
Several years ago, the great medieval Cluj Alexander Baumgartner drew my attention to this story, telling me that he saw in it a kind of metaphor for education. The relationship between the mentor and the student, what the teacher conveys to the student, the student’s respect and trust in the teacher, how the student works on what he has received from the teacher, how the student should value what has been passed on to him and how he should use what he has obtained in order for the educational process to be fruitful , that is, to produce an important result and get rid of absurdity, because futility is the greatest danger inherent in any education.
Today, I believe that the story told by Saint Gregory the Great is not only about education, although it is also about education. I think that if there is something else in this story than telling a miracle, it has to do with the circumstances in which the mechanism of transmission of culture from one generation to the next operates. I see in the sandal of Honoratus the tangible cultural trace left by the ancient generations, and I see in the piety and appreciation which the student of Honoratus shows to his master’s sandal the healthy attitude and, above all, the usefulness which the second generation ought in regard to what he has received from the first generation. Finally, the miracle, that is, the power of tradition that works to save the present, is possible only if the “representatives” of the present believe together in the power of saving the tradition they have received. Second, traditions work effectively for the present only if they are used with great respect.
The miracle of the resurrection of a child performed by Libertinus, as suggested by Saint Gregory the Great, was possible because he valued his master’s sandals – a symbol of tradition. Libertinus put Tradition to work with confidence in his own strength, and bound him to his holiness (which he also learned from Tradition), propelled by the great faith of a mother with the dead child in her arms, undisputedly a product of immense love. As we say today, the accumulation of factors; Without the presence of one of them, the miracle would not have happened. It seems that God allowed the laws of his creation to be forever broken (for only the resurrection is – the strongest contradiction to the laws of creation), to greet this very extraordinary assemblage of factors: trust, appreciation, faith and love. The traditions held by Libertinus, in order to be able to work and contribute to saving from death, must first be cherished. Just as the monk has so reverently preserved the master’s sandal as a true relic, so the culture bequeathed to us must be preserved, that we may wish to become a kind of “living water,” a principle of life untainted by the shadow of death. Only in this way can culture work its miracles on us. What other purpose could the culture of the world have if it could not save us?
I think for anyone who gets to know human nature as much as possible, to understand what people can do, passing on culture from one generation to another over centuries or millennia is truly a miracle. Just as life itself is a miracle, so it is a miracle that the whole world, at the full disposal of men, continues to exist and function despite the destructive actions of its inhabitants. The transmission of culture from generation to generation is a more amazing civilizational phenomenon than the production of culture itself. People produce culture because they have creativity in them and because they are endowed with reason – there is nothing amazing about this, though we often wonder about it. If you believe at all in the Christian God, and therefore understand what the phrase “in image and likeness” means, but also what it means that “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son …”, then you have no reason. To be surprised that people have the seed of creativity in them. But the fact that what is created is transmitted is amazing. Because transmission requires altruism, respect, critical memory, empathy, wisdom and, above all, confidence in those in front of you – qualities that are hard to find in today’s world, and whose values seem to be the opposite of those necessary for the transmission of culture.
If I say that the essence of education, whether it is family or public institutional, is to ensure the fluidity of the transmission of culture from previous generations to the generations that have just arrived, and not to bring labor to the labor market, nor to “develop skills,” am I committing a heresy with regard to the concept of education” European” current and modern?