The Truly Sacred Heart: Teaching Through Love

This weekend I had the pleasure of hearing a wise man speak.

Bro. Eldon is a 90 year old member of the Brothers of Sacred Heart and the longtime mentor of a good friend of mine. When I first heard he was invited to share his life philosophy at our coaching group meeting, I immediately created a story in my head about what a Catholic Brother was going to be like. I grew up as a non-Catholic in Catholic South Louisiana, and most of what I ‘know’ about Catholic clergy came from high school stories from my friends about terrifying nuns, so at first, I pictured a church sermon and myself being bored.

Then, I remembered that I am often wrong 🙂 And that I knew my friend wouldn’t offer if it wasn’t something meaningful.

I fell in love. Bro. Eldon was the type of person that you just couldn’t help liking. At 90 he was physically and mentally spry, and had the timing of a standup comedian along with the playfulness of the Dalai Lama. Our group was enthralled as he told story after story of the years he spent teaching in the Louisiana Catholic school system. As I listened I found myself wishing that he had been my teacher while I was growing up.

One story in particular stuck with me. Bro. Eldon told us that one day, while giving his students a test, he noticed one boy stealing glances at the palm of his hand, where he had written the answers to the test.

“I walked over to his desk, picked up his hand, turned it over to look at it, and then put his hand back down. When I graded the tests, I just gave his a big “zero” at the top and neither one of us ever said another word,” Bro. Eldon said. Many years later, the student, now grown, ran into Bro. Eldon. “Do you remember me?” he said? “I sure do,” replied Bro. Eldon. The former student went on to tell him how much he appreciated him not embarrassing him in front of the class, and that had such an impact on him that he never cheated again.

“What a lovely, effective way to handle that,” I thought upon hearing the story. How graceful! So often, there is a desire to punish someone who has made a mistake and it just feels awful to be on the receiving end of it. Righteousness of that sort is simply an indication that the person doing it is indulging themselves and not thinking of the impact their words can have on someone. For Bro. Eldon to have publicly ridiculed the student would have robbed him of the lesson, because he would then be focused on the resulting shame or anger instead of reflecting on how cheating could affect his life in the long run. Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, and I thought Bro. Eldon’s handling of that situation was quite sensitive and masterful.

Bro. Eldon then showed us a card that he used to give out when he was teaching in New Orleans. It had his own personal guidelines for living on it and I thought it would be good to share with you. I was touched by the many loving actions Bro. Eldon must have done within his life. Sharing what he has learned in his life through this card and by speaking to us is another great example of Love Applied.

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Comments

  1. Malcolm Brignac says:

    Thanks Melinda for writing such an awesome story of my buddy. I was able to relive the experience through your writing.

  2. I”m glad you enjoyed it, Malcolm. He is a truly special man!

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