Cardijn - The Teacher


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

assembly-line schools.

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

the other.

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

leads nowhere.

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

day life.

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

and creation.


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."

R. Maione.

(This talk was given in the celebrations of Cardijn centenary in

Melbourne, Australia, November 1982. It was edited as to grammar in

December 1993.)