Cardijn - The Teacher
EDUCATION = YESTERDAY - TOMORROW
Many think that education is a modern phenomenon. It is very modern
if one equates education with institutional education of the vast
masses of people. Yet it could be as old as the world if one sees
education as the passing of knowledge and experience from one
generation to the next.
The institutional aspect of education is brand new in relation to
history. Yesterday, it was the little one room school house with a
teacher teaching six subjects. In less than a few generations the
small school house has been mutated to large factory-like
Not long ago when even the little school house was not on the scene,
some type of education was going on in the villages of history. I
remember de-briefing my dad on his education. " I never went to
school, I started to work on my uncle's farm when I was six years
old." My first job was to go out and gather firewood for my aunt to
cook and heat the house. When I was about eight years old, my uncle
started to teach me how to plough with the oxen, a few years later
when I was strong enough, I would plough by myself. "Did you ever
get any religious education? " my aunt would tell me stories about
Jesus. On some Sundays, not all Sundays, I would go to mass and
listen to the priest. Two days before the bishop came to confirm me,
a women taught me the answers to the questions that the bishop was
going to ask me." This was the world of 1907 about 90 miles from
Institutional learning for the vast masses of the population, even
at the level, of the one room school house was still in the future.
Education as we know it today was the privilege of a very small
urban elite. It was this group who had the monopoly of "book
learning". It was this elite who developed the modern educational
system. When the vast masses of people, like my dad, started the
trek from the village to the city (today this trek continues in the
third world at an even more accelerated pace) they were met by the
book learners. The task of this small minority was to integrate,
incorporate and sculpture the vast unwashed masses into their image.
Education "imperialism" can have no strange gods interfering. It
imposes its curriculum and methods. The stranger must leave his
curriculum, history and methods of learning at the door of the
school house and pick them up when leaving.
Within the system, the silence of ethnic cultures is deafening. This
destructive act is always preceded by making what is to be destroyed
feel inferior. The school door opens to allow one entry into a new
world; so leave your baggage at the door. The vast masses are to be
cloned to the urban elite. In fact, they felt so inferior that they
were willing and ready to be cloned to the urban elite. A "superior"
people had nothing to learn from an inferior people. What could one
learn from children who did not wear ties and had a slight smell of
garlic about them?
"Take that garlic garland from around your neck, Teresa and put it
in the waste paper basket!" ....but teacher, my mother put it on me
because she says that it will keep sickness away from me."...Don't
be so silly. Garlic just smells, it cannot do anything." Herbal
medicine, where is your sting? Chemical medicine had won its first
battle. Imperialism has always been a one-way street: it imposes
from the top. It has no time or willingness to listen or learn from
Who will win?
The "book learners" have won the first major battle of the rural to
urban trek. The question is will they win the war? Will they
continue to produce homogenized persons without roots, racing around
like so many shooting stars? It is too early to declare the victor.
The rapidly growing population of the world may just force urban
elites to start doubting their imposing ways. They may have to admit
that the "life learners" of the past may have had something to offer
the modern world.
Their methods may have been different, but they would seem to have
been effective. Mothers teaching daughters; fathers teaching sons.
History transmitted through the image language of proverbs. Morality
developing through old morality plays. The basic elements of
mathematics passed on by card games; in England it was cribbage
while in Italy it was "scopa" (broom). In those days, mathematics
was fun. True, they could neither read nor write but they were great
story tellers. Without word symbols, their memories were crowded by
meaningful stories of the past, that were designed to help them in
the present. Some of the best communicators that I met in my travels
in the third world were village leaders. Illiterate, they were, but
stupid no! Without books, they had to learn from life. They were
avid "readers" of the signs of the time.
Read the Signs of the Time.
It would seem that the book learners of the Vatican Council embraced
the methods of life learners by insisting that the church read the
signs of the time. This discovery will not be easy to implement.
Book learning will try to force the signs of the time into their
book learning. It will be difficult to leave the books on the
shelves and learn from life and only then to see if books have
anything to say to life. Life learning is not magic. It is the
oldest method of education and its secrets are still to be unlocked
by the book learners. To life learners, reading the signs of the
time was not just a hobby, it was top priority, their very survival
depended on their reading of the signs of the time.
We must "de-colonize" education. The colonies of education, the life
learners, very much like herbal medicine, must re-discover their
dignity and methods of education. Life and its cultural fruits are
still the main methods of learning today as they were yesterday. Can
we de-colonize education without destroying the book learners? The
book learners feel so safe that they are still to recognize the
threat that they face. What they fail to see is that television with
its images and stories is a powerful ally of life learners. TV has
become the modern story tellers of old. The only real difference is
that in the past the story tellers told stories to strengthen life.
The modern ones tells us stories so that we will buy toothpaste,
autos etc., they are stories with a fish hook in them.
Whatever their contents and ends, we have rediscovered the methods
of the life learners. The elites are in retreat over a wide front.
They have lost the prime hours on TV and they are moving into
smaller and smaller theaters. TV has replaced the village file clerk
that inserted visible images of life into the memory box. The power
of TV is still mitigated because the book learners are still the
prime writers of TV stories, but sooner or later the readers of the
signs of the time will take over.
In the near past, the "book learners" and life" learners" could live
in a type of coexistence. Today, the choice is between a reverse
imperialism where the life learners will move the book learners off
the stage of history and a new type of learning will appear where
book learning will be the fruit of life learning. In the words of
Cardijn, we will enter the age of "cooperative learning".
Intellectuals will learn from workers and workers will learn from
intellectuals both reading the signs, not just of their own isolated
worlds but rather the real developing world as it really is.
Ideological visions or nightmares of the world are giving way to the
real hard facts of life. It is these facts that are the roots of
real thinking. Anything less is incestuous, and as we know incest
Cardijn....A Convert to "Life Learning"
After this rather long back grounder, it is time that we get to
Cardijn and the subject of education. Cardijn did not come to life
learning directly. He had to go through the book learning par
excellence of seminary education. With a wink of time, he was
suddenly thrown into book learning while his friends went into the
world of work and life learning. His conversion to life learning was
a slow process that demanded that he be weaned from book learning.
He preached to young workers, they did not listen. He tried well
prepared lectures, they still did not hear. He tried small study
groups, he soon found out that young workers were not intellectually
bent. After numberless experiments and failures, he said" "I started
by thirteen years of failures" and then he added:"and now I have
been trying for forty-one years, and I still go on." Slowly but
surely, he discovered that culture forms people in its own image. A
Christian culture would form Christians. A Christian culture based
on the gospels would allow the freedom of God's children to become
fully themselves. God's glory is the person fulfilled." A
materialistic culture must form people to believe that production
and consumption is the beginning and end of life.
Window in Space.
If culture has the power to mold people, imagine its power when it
comes to grips with the stranger that enters the culture. Like a
magnifying glass concentrating solar power to a burning pin point,
culture goes out to meet the stranger. Cardijn describes this entry:
"young workers before fourteen years old are too young to educate to
life, after they reach 25, it is getting very late. This window in
space was for Cardijn the time when the "iron was hot" for life
education. Today with a longer education period, this window could
well start at 18 and stretch out to 30 years of age.
The cultural power of the modern religion of consumerism reserves
all of its "evangelical power" for this age range. The beer
companies address all of their ads to this group. This group is
analyzed by the graduates of book learning universities attracted by
the big bucks of the corporations.
The total power of the culture comes to bear on the young when they
start to leave the nest. Then the pull of the peer group starts to
compete with the influence of the family. The young person then
starts to participate in an exercise of cooperative learning in the
give and take of the peer group of friends. The young person becomes
both teacher and student as he shares his "insides" with the other.
The parents, even the most open variety have difficulty in
understanding the workings of freedom, especially the strong urge of
privacy in new relationships.. This struggle of leaving and becoming
is the eternal ejection of life from the family womb. The tension of
this struggle is powerful enough when this passage happens in a
known and stable culture. These tensions are very much stronger in a
culture that is still in its very formative stage of development.
Many Christian families have raised their children to live in a
Christian culture to suddenly realize that their children have been
thrown into an inferno of a new materialistic culture seeking to
become the new culture. Their family formed values around the pole
of Christian culture are contested by the values of power and money
as expressed in peer groups. They can only survive and thrive in
this new world, in the measure that they have been formed to face
this culture, absorb what is human and civilized of the new and
throw out that which does not help Christian values to develop. This
will demand a whole new type of education. Most of our present
education is designed for the student to fit into the culture, now
we must shift gears to educate youth not only to refuse to fit in
but even more to change it.
The Bottom Line
This passage from family life into the whole culture is recognized
by the "book learners" as crucial. It is a time to cram the
"computer like mind" full to the point of short-circuiting thinking.
The church very much controlled by book learners spends the greatest
part of its scarce budget training their clerical elite. So much so,
that very little remains in the budget to aid the life learners of
the masses of the people. Most of the non-seminary or non-college
youth are abandoned to learn and form themselves often in the image
of the culture. This was true in Cardijn's day and unfortunately, it
remains so today.
The bottom line of our modern culture is power and money. The vast
masses of people leave the family and go directly into the modern
culture where they are delivered to the power of the "priests" of
the god of power and money. The advertising priesthood have budgets
that all together exceeds the budget of churches and education
establishments put together. Very little of this budget, if anything
goes to win over the elites of our society. Rather these budgets are
directed to reach and control the minds of the vast masses of
These resources are used with abandon. It aims for Cardijn's window
in space. A one minute ad on a major sporting event will cost over a
million dollars to produce and then half a million dollars each time
that it is aired on TV. With diabolic power it slides images instead
of ideas into the minds of people. To make sure that we will not
forget the idea, it is accompanied by music to assure easy retrieval
from our "file boxes." These priests of Baal are well grounded in
modern psychology. They liberally use sex, knowing full well that sex
is at its height of power when persons are young. Sex is very much
the hook to buy the car. Along with sex, joy, the great virtue comes
out of a beer bottle. Cardijn knew that the window in space was all
important, the advertisers also know this well but backed up with
budgets that are nearly infinite makes the battle a David-Goliath
type. This total education of the masses are paid by the masses
themselves. They pay taxes to governments who in turn give tax
breaks to the advertisers. As long as advertising is looked upon as
a legitimate business expenditure, the process of incorporating
youth into the "majority" religion will continue to pick up speed.
The new religion is fast becoming the newly "established" church.
I have insisted on the methods of education, this does not mean that
the contents of education are less important. Yet as important as
are contents, without methods, the contents remain in the pantries
of life. The contents of the Christian faith is beauty beyond words.
The Triune God who created the incredible complexities of nature and
the person which have never been as visible as they are today, lives
not in a far off planet-not in the sky but resides in splendid
mystery in the awesome mystery of each person. It was this reality
beyond all human understanding that was the motivating force that
kept Cardijn running. This was his bottom line. It was this truth
that kept him seeking methods that would assure life learners could
live the contents of the message of the gospels. Advertisers, like
thieves in the night, slip their images in the minds of young
workers. Cardijn on the other hand wanted young workers to develop
their own images by bringing young workers to reflect together on
their every day life. If one wants to destroy the power of
advertisers, just get persons together and discuss the ads.
Suddenly, its power evaporates into a lie.
See - Judge - Act.
It was Cardijn's love of young workers which allowed him to discover
the real law of education - that life forms life. A book learner may
be happy to discover a law, but for Cardijn it was not enough to
know this law, for real knowledge only comes from knowledge living
and acting in people. It was this process that led to the
revolutionary method of education, the see, judge, and act method .
Some call it the enquiry method of education and other have named it
the discovery method. Cardijn had discovered that young workers read
little or anything. He soon realized that they were not book
learners. This fact did not stop the minds of young workers to be
forever seeking, inquiring and discovering. For a small minority,
this leads them to the accumulated knowledge held in books. For the
vast majority, this same inquisitiveness was directed towards every
Another important difference between formal education and post
school education is the freedom to learn. In school, they must
suffer the teacher and curriculum. In the post school setting,
freedom reigns. Most young workers enjoy their freedom to make
The starting of a YCW group is a testing of this freedom. The first
meeting can come about by curiosity, friendship etc. It is the
second meeting that is all important. Will they come back? Freedom
is the key to real education. It is very much akin to going to a
movie or watching television. You make a decision to go to see a
movie. So the movie can start slowly and move towards its high
point. Even if the movie does not come up to your expectations, most
will suffer till the end. TV drama is totally different, if it does
not grab you in the very beginning, all one has to do is push a
button and the drama is erased before it starts. So TV must grab the
viewer right from the beginning or else, the watcher can just "walk
out". Cardijn's "mind grabber" was to get young workers to discuss
their own lives. They established their own curriculum. The topic
for next week will be working conditions.
To move from book knowledge to life knowledge is not easy; in fact,
it is very difficult. It would seem that the building blocks of the
mind must be broken down to become living stones. Just as one is
trained to read, one must be trained to see. One must be trained to
see, so as to be able to read the signs of the times. The Cardijn
method trains people to see beyond the acceptable in the culture. An
inquiry into working conditions will get young workers to discuss in
the vein of "I think" that conditions are unsafe, or "I think" that
the employer does not care about safety. The method does not really
care what you think rather it wants one to start noting the facts or
the reality of the situation. The YCW notebook is the genesis of YCW
education. Just as Darwin noted everything in his book, the young
worker starts to see reality and jotting facts in his notebook. The
young workers will later bring out their fact book and read," on
three machines there were three safety guards missing"," oil slick
can be seen on the walkways etc". I think does not bring out
problems only what one thinks. The YCW teaches that thought must be
directed towards that which may harm the worker.
I remember well one of the first meeting that I attended. It was an
inquiry on family life. The see part brought out the fact that most
young workers rarely went out socially with their parents. They
spent little time at home. Our reactions were that this was a normal
thing, everybody did it and if everybody did it then it must be
right. It is this culturally right thing that must be put under the
microscope:" Does this gulf fulfill the person"? Then the thought
patterns come into vogue. "Is it right that we know the corner store
owner better than our parents. Once we start to step outside of the
norm of everyday culture, we are grabbed by the whys of the
situation. It is these "micro-sightings which are the elements of
real education. Cardijn kept saying " Workers must be given a
training adapted to their means which will allow them to rise
gradually". The "See" part of the method moves us away from theory
into reality. It is in reality that theories are either discarded in
the compost heap of history or start to flower. The "See"part also
raises the confidence of young workers in themselves. Cardijn sums
up this education of the real in these words: "It is the fruit of
such findings, remarks, observations and reflections which go to
form what I call 'personal knowledge', incomparably richer and more
fruitful than book knowledge or hearsay. We do not appreciate
sufficiently this personal knowledge and more often we are not even
conscious of it."
In the YCW group, each young worker exchanges with the other his
personal knowledge. Each person has his own world of knowledge and
experience. By listening to the other, we are introduced into a new
world. It would seem that each person has his own book of life
within him. All the person wants is for the other to read or listen
to his book.
Cardijn through his long search had discovered that education is a
pluralistic road. Some are called to master abstract thought. Their
wholeness and suffering will come about in their seeking to make
real their abstract thinking. Their seed must be planted in the soil
of reality if it is to grow. Others, the vast majority are called to
a more practical way of thinking. It is this happy combination of
theoretical and practical thinking which, if it cannot be reached in
each individual, should be strived for in the community. A single
mold for all education denies the pluralistic gifts and talents of
all the people.
The book learner must seek a new role, a more cooperative role, with
the life learners. The see part of the inquiry method makes reality
come alive, the negative as well as the positive. The negative side
seems to come alive first of all. One may be able to see bad working
conditions but at the same time, one becomes conscious of worker
solidarity. You may see families breaking down but others not only
surviving but thriving. The more that you see of life around you,
the more that you discover there is always more good than evil in
our world. This balanced view of the world is a product of looking
and become more conscious of the real world. The ideological
approach to education skips over the world as it is to jump to an
ideal world that they would like to see. With every economic
recession, the Marxists see the coming collapse of the capitalist
system. With the decline of morality, the moralist sees the end of
our civilization. There are still other "future" thinking who take a
quantum leap over this suffering generation and insist on discussing
only the far future. This is wonderful opiate to forget the near
future. The training of seeing reality with all its beauty and
blemishes and ugliness, roots people in the world of today.
Just as a book learner reads books, so does a young worker learn to
read life. Life is the curriculum of the young worker. The see
method is the integral method of the curriculum. I remember a YCW
extension worker in India telling me "a bishop asked him why the YCW
had not produced a step-by-step manual. The extension worker opened
the window of the house and pointed out to the multitude of people
and said:" That is our manual".
This revolutionary type of education respects the freedom and pace
of the individual. It does not impose knowledge rather it allows
personal knowledge to become more. There are no grades or awards for
the discovery of one's possibilities. This formidable type of
education could not be contained within just the world of young
workers. Soon students took on the see, judge, method and gave birth
to the Young Christian Students. Later still, young families
embraced the method and developed the Christian Family movement. The
movements that are now using the method are too many to count.
If the see part of the inquiry plunges us into the real, the judge
part plunges us into faith. Reality is put on the anvil of the
ideal. "A truth of faith, the eternal and temporal destiny of each
young worker called to be a Son of god. A truth of experience, the
terrible contradiction which exists between the real state of young
workers and this eternal and temporal destiny."(Cardijn 1948). This
Cardijn dialectic between reality and ideal is the heart of the
method. We are not called to judge people, this only God can do, yet
we are called to judge real situations and their consequences on
people. It is one thing to quantify the problem of youth
unemployment. It is quite another to discover what unemployment does
to the innards of young workers. The workers bring the growing
despair, alienation and uselessness of their unemployed brother
workers. These facts are put before the tribunal of the dignity and
importance of young workers. The judge part of the inquiry moves the
YCW member beyond the tip of the social iceberg. "What happens to
Jim after he has been out of work for six months?" He has stopped
looking for work. The constant is that he is deeply wounded his
spirit. The general public tends to tag him as lazy and does not
want to work. How easily does the victim become the scapegoat for an
employment situation which is not of his making. Jim loses
confidence in himself. He starts to get in trouble. What
co-relationship exists between forcible idle hands, and family
tension and rising crime in our cities.
The judge part of the inquiry wants to lay bare the very roots of
unemployment which are deep within the economic system. A healthy
anger starts to develop in the YCW member as he becomes conscious,
not just of social injustice in general but more particularly what
it is doing to his friends.
As young workers are trained to see, they are also trained to make
sound judgements on the reality that they swim in. The real facts of
life are to be fashioned on the anvil: "Do they diminish or increase
the dignity of young workers"? The solidarity of unemployed young
workers must be strengthened and at the same time the scourge of
youth - unemployment - must be tackled. A system that visits its
weakness on the weak must be changed.
The energy of the judge part of the inquiry is often supplied by the
very fact that it is our friends who are suffering. Suffering is the
great learning tool of life learning. Suffering moves us from the
surface of life into the very bowels of our world. Cold statistics
take on a life of their own. The news bulletin reports that "twenty
percent of the unemployed are below 24 years of age. Your heart
translates these words into the suffering and loneliness and efforts
of Jack, Jim, Susan and Peter.
When our friends suffer, we suffer. Another step and we can make
contact with the suffering of Jesus..the worker. This movement from
fact, to statistic, to person, to friend, to Jesus is a progressive
discovery towards the suffering Trinity living in people.
It is through friendship that we become ourselves. Jesus is no
longer a person who lives in the past rather he can be found in the
suffering of the young worker. There he lives within and beyond the
weaknesses of your friend. How strong is the urge within you to help
your friend to find work and become himself! How you want to
struggle for a world that does not diminish people or even eat them
up. How you pray that not only will the friend find work but that he
will join the YCW to aid in the struggle to change the word.
Suddenly,(all real discoveries are sudden) you discover that when
you went out to aid your friend, you had gone out to aid the perfect
person, Jesus living in your friend. With the same suddenness, you
discover that when you stand up to change the system that does not
respect people, you have moved center stage into the mystery of
creation. Friendship and the beauty of creation are the "divine
traps" laid in our way to assure an earthly and incarnational
spirituality. We are now on a road that does not allows us to escape
from the world but rather one that leads into the very depth of
creation where the creator exists in the continual act of creation.
The greatest mystery of the incarnation forcibly moves us out of
books, out of the archives of history and moves us towards persons.
Is not this the central mystery? God took on the good of human
beings and creation when the Son came to seek out the good in people
The initial creative anger, the power of suffering, the wounded
dignity of friends, all together will necessarily lead us to action.
Discussion groups may discuss unemployment which may or may not lead
to some type of intellectual growth. Discussion groups who discover
their friends suffering will either disband or do something about
the problem. Suffering does not allow any neutrality, you either run
to embrace it or you run away from it. It may lead to some
individual action to help a young worker to get a job. It may be an
action to bring unemployed young workers of the area together for a
meeting to discuss the problem. They can then find a voice to
protest their state. Such actions, small or large are the final
elements of education. It is not any action that educates but action
that tries to remedy the concrete distress of specific people that
will form people. One can preach and teach love but it is only by
loving that one comes to love. The see part of the inquiry trains
the mind, the judge part forms the heart and action incarnates it
all. Cardijn describes action as learning "One cannot educate in a
closed room. You can explain how to forge metal on a blackboard but
if you never put a hammer in the worker's hand, he will never be a
The smallest action is a step towards the actualization of thinking.
Every action has the potential of growth. It is like the mustard
seed planted in the earth that produces the mustard tree of the
gospels. Who sees the first small act of the seed? Who cares? Yet,
it is the action of the seed breaking its cover and communicating
with the energy of the earth that brings the tree to life. The whole
tree is contained in the seed.
Does not the power of God work in such microscopic ways? A carpenter
from Nazareth, an unknown in an unknown town, named Jesus becomes he
who saves and allows us to fulfil ourselves. How easily do we forget
that Jesus is human, a carpenter, a furniture maker who worked with
his hands. We want to forget the mystery of the seed silently
growing, this is too simple. We must overpower the humanity of Jesus
by drowning him in his divinity. We must forget our beginnings, it
is only the mature polished figure that counts.
Around the smallest step out of oneself does the trek to one's
becoming start. The first step into the world and our humanity
starts. Too many insist that you cannot give what you have not got.
This leads to the error that you must form people before they can
give. Nonsense! the first step of the mustard seed is the beginning
of the mustard tree. The first step of the child can lead to running
the mile in below 4 minutes. The first action of a YCW member of
inviting and unemployed young worker to a meeting may be the first
step to his becoming what God had in mind when he was created. If
you have but a thimble full of love, give it to the other and it
will be returned to you a thousandfold. The more that one shares
oneself, the more that one becomes.
Hidden in the smallest act of love is the creative act of God. One
does not grow by the addition of acts, this will quickly lead to
activism. The smallest act is the light in the darkness. It takes
strength, courage, imagination and creativity to do something that
your peers do not understand. Does not action lead to prayer? The
powerful fear of being different can only be exorcized by praying to
a power beyond ourselves.
Cardijn, the great integrator, would continually ask YCW leaders to
visit young workers in hospitals, talk to them, discuss their
proposed action with them and asking them to attach their sufferings
to the proposed action. And after the action, reporting back what
happened to the sick young worker. Prayer, offering, suffering,
sacrifice, all activated by one small action. When the seed of love
is planted in the black soil of reality, it is a whole life that
starts to grow, The whole is the beginning.
Cardijn not an Elitist
Training gradually develops an elite. The danger of elite leadership
training is that you make young workers unlike their fellow workers.
They start to speak differently. They are interested in "higher
things." They are educated out of their social situations. How many
young workers have been educated in seminaries and colleges who have
no time for workers?
Real elite training is to train people to serve people. Great
attention must be given that leadership training does not isolate
leaders from their known friends. When I was international president
of the YCW, it was invited to visit the YCW in Angers, France. They
showed me how this problem was treated. At the very first meeting,
the young worker was given a friendship card which was designed to
note the friendship networks of the young worker. Who is your
friend? Anyone that you can call by their first name. At work, in
your neighborhood, on the bus going to work, at night school.
Immediately, one gets an idea on whether the new member is an
introvert or an extrovert. The first will have very few friends in
every area of life while the second will have many more names on his
card. It will only later that one will discover the depth of these
friendships. The card does show the number of peer groups that the
member is part of. These are educational groups and even more the
hearth of human friendship and love.
The members of the peer groups start to notice that a change is
happening to one of their members. What is it? What is going on?
Friends always feel any change in the other. Yet the YCW member
cannot find the words to explain what he is doing. Sooner or later,
the YCW group must step out on the public space. When the section
has discovered the depth and breadth of youth employment, it must
bring their findings before the community. This is generally called
a general meeting. The members go out and invite young workers to
attend the meeting.
After the meeting, the meeting itself is reviewed. The friendship
card is also reviewed. What is interesting to note is that few of
the names on the cards were at the meeting. Why? The reason was that
they were not invited. Why? Because it hurts more when a friend
turns you down than a person who is not a friend. The stranger has
less power to hurt. Unless this fact is known, education moves one
away from one's friends. If this is allowed to continue, we renege a
great theological truth: "That Divine love redeems human love". If
the YCW or any other church group pulls away their members away from
their natural peep groups towards a more perfect love, they actually
develop an ersatz love based on broken friendships. They might well
become leaders but they have lost contact with their roots, their
friends. Divine love lives in the depths of wounded love which is
human love. Cardijn insisted that the elite must be within the
masses of young workers. Perfect love does not destroy friendship
rather it builds on it.
The basic truth of the YCW education is that no one can replace the
young workers themselves in the task of bringing an end to the
disastrous contradictions in lives of young workers.. Its victims
must become its conquerors. How better to end this talk than by
quoting the founder of the YCW on YCW education.
" A practical school, a school of training, in which they learn to
see, to judge and to achieve the apostolic value of their whole
life, in all its aspects, its details, the most humble and daily
ones, at home, in their district, in their street, in the factory,
in the office, on the way to work, at meal-times and breaks, in
their leisure, always and everywhere, in their courtship, their
engagement, their marriage; not a theoretical school, or a purely
doctrinal school, but a school in which they exercise themselves and
work out and perfect their own training; an essentially active and
acting school, with its inquiries and activities imparting a social
sense, a social spirit, a social conduct, in a much more gripping
way than any lessons and lectures which leave the listeners passive
and inactive; A school which reveals to them the beauty and the
grandeur of their humble lives as young workers, which exalts them
and creates in them and in the whole of their life that
indispensable unity which gives them the strength of conviction and
character, pride in their Christian, apostolic and radiating life; a
school which transforms their life of young workers into a lay
priesthood and a lay apostolate, whose fruitfulness astonishes and
delights those who witness it."
(This talk was given in the celebrations of Cardijn centenary in
Melbourne, Australia, November 1982. It was edited as to grammar in