Saturday, June 13, 2009

Preparing for School, Dedication--Comenius

In his book, the School of Infancy, Comenius, the 17th century leading Reformed pedagogue, included dedication and prayer as proper preparation for young six-year-olds before they began formal schooling:

Chapter XII

"6...the present matter necessarily requires, that parents should in devout prayer again commend their children to God, begging Him to grant His blessing on their scholastic instruction, and to make out of them vessels of grace, nay, if it please His benignity, the instruments of His glory. So Hannah with prayer delivered her Samuel to Eli; so David delivered Solomon to the prophet Nathan; so the mother of John Huss, the Bohemian martyr, as she was taking him to school, occasionally during the journey, falling on her knees with him, poured out her prayers. And how God heard and blessed these prayers, all Christians know. For how can God thrust away from him what is dedicated to him with a full and warm heart, with prayers and tears ; first, in the womb, afterwards in faithful dedication, and now a third time ? It is impossible for Him not to receive so holy an offering."

"7. Therefore, the father or mother may use the following prayer: "Creator, Father, and most merciful Lord God, with profound humility, that Thou mayest be my God and the God of my offspring for ever. O the vast benignity and mercy conferred upon us who believe, that we, having been ransomed from mankind, have been made first-fruits to God and the Lamb! Do Thou therefore ratify and confirm this blessing in this the fruit of my womb, O most merciful God, that the child may be in the number of Thine elect, and receive a portion with Thy sanctified ones. And since I now deliver it, to obtain richer knowledge, to the director of youth, I pray Thee, add Thy blessing, that being instructed by the internal Leader, Thy Holy Spirit, it may learn more and more what pleaseth Thee, and walk in Thy commandments. Fear of Thee, O Lord, is the beginning of wisdom, therefore fill its heart with Thy fear, 0 holy God, and enlighten it with the light of knowledge according to Thy will; so that its advanced age, if Thou shouldst deem fit, may be glorious to Thee, useful to its neighbours, and salutary to itself. Hear me, most beloved Father, and fulfil the prayer of Thy servant, (or thine handmaid) for the sake of the intercession of our mediator Jesus Christ, who received little children when brought to Him, embraced them in His arms, imparting to them a kiss and benediction."

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