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  • Returning to religious education

    Reverend fathers, honourable teachers, beloved in Christ brothers and sisters!

    On the 27th-28ty of June 2013 we agreed to organize the Second Methodological Seminar “The school and the Church: partnership for education” with special focus on “1700th anniversary of Milano Edict as model of tolerance and collaboration between the State and the Church”. The seminar intends to inform and exchange experience for the purpose of developing collaboration relations at institutional level between the Church, school, parents’ community, local authority), to promote positive national and international practices on solutions of problems of the pupils’ spiritual development.

    In the school year 2012-2013, we faced a variety of problems in the implementation of religion, determined mainly by spiritual poverty, superficial knowledge, or lack of knowledge of the truths of the faith, and by poverty itself. The educational activity of the Church was chartered by Christ Saviour Himself, so that the people know His will and perform it.

    By her educational activity within classes of Religion, the Church comes to support the wider society, promoting love, friendship, peace, good understanding, reciprocal help and cooperation between peers, as all these are fundamentals of Christian faith. Among the new religious realities is the introduction of Religion in laic schools, religious education being one of substantial problems of the general society and, at the same time, of educational policy. Today Religion has gained a position in the educational system. Within the curriculum compartment of Man and Society, Religion presents a hierarchy and structure of educational contents, from the perspective of Christian values and morale.

    And because people have a pragmatic approach to the reality, through will, action, but also – at the spiritual level – through faith, attitude, the educational system cannot reach its full potential in the conditions when it marginalizes or omits one of its fundamental components. Thus, integral education presupposes the religious component, along with the intellectual, moral, aesthetic, and technological ones.

    The relation between them, and the way each of these components contribute to the achievement of the ideal, of educational goals and objectives in a social system is specified in the normative framework, according to their specifics and directions of development that the society identifies for a given historical period.

    Religious education is not only a religious, social, and cultural aspiration, it is also a way to build new correct and solid representations of the national and universal culture, to stimulate inter-cultural dialogue from the perspective of freedom and equality. These are the values most highly affirmed by Christian religion, education in the spirit of fundamental human rights and liberties, dignity, tolerance, the cultivation of sensitivity regarding human problems, moral and civic values, arts, responsible attitude to the nature and the environment that are, in fact, ultimate outcomes of the Law of Education and are found in various formulations in projects within the educational law, discussed by the society in the recent years.

    Religious education is defined as a dimension of education though which the predisposition to religiosity develops. This inclination is in-born and specific to the human being, and its development is based on certain didactical principles, implemented with the help of specific methods and techniques. The well-known expression of Blessed Augustine placed in the beginning of his Confessions – “Thou made us for Thyself and restless is our soul until it rests in Thou” – presents to us the integrating nature of Religion: Religion is the residence of transcendent truth in its essence, it is the single principle of all things, recognized by modern pedagogy – that, in fact, founded its educational system of Biblical background – and by certain contemporary pedagogues, but that is hardly accepted by laic, secularized society.

    The results of the implemented researches point out to the need of a complex approach to the situation that should contribute to the improvement of both the teaching activity, and the profile of the discipline of Religion among teachers of other specialties and among the civil society, according to the educational potential of this school subject. The activity directions foresee the involvement of a number of decision-makers both at the level of the School and of the Church. Saint Gregory of Nissa said that “the perfect will of God is that one imprints in his soul the image of pious life” – an aspiration that can be made real only within a set of educative-religious actions implemented during whole life that presuppose permanent assessment of own acts, comparing them to the will of God, to our attitude to our neighbour and to ourselves.

    We congratulate all participants of this Session of the Methodological Seminar that is organized with our blessing and with the effort of the Metropolitan Department of Education. We wish to everybody that the Saints be our teachers and intercessors in all our theological, pedagogical, and missionary activity!

    With love and archpastoral blessing

    † VLADIMIR, METROPOLITAN OF CHISINAU AND ALL MOLDOVA