The Master Teacher

“He was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said, “Lord teach us to pray…” (Lk 11:1) “He said to them, ‘When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come…” (Lk 11:2)

St. Teresa of Jesus is well known for her commentary on the ‘Our Father’ that takes up the latter part of her work The Way of Perfection. In speaking of the ‘Lord’s Prayer’, St. Teresa stresses the importance of this prayer being an act of love and to have the understanding of who this Father of ours is and “who the Master is who taught us this prayer”. (Way of Perfection ch 24)

Let’s consider how Jesus taught others. “You already know that His Majesty teaches that it be recited in solitude. This is what he always did when he prayed, and not out of any need of his own but for our instruction.” (Way of Perfection ch 24)

Our Lord taught His disciples by His words and more importantly by His example. Consider, for example, how He taught others about mercy in the story of the woman caught in adultery and how He never used the word “mercy”. He merely demonstrated the virtue in who He was and what He did. (John, chapter 8) When reading and meditating on Sacred Scripture it is good to always keep in mind that the Lord is teaching us something through His speech, actions, inaction or His silence.

St. Therese of Lisieux, in her Story of a Soul, desired a director or teacher such as St. Teresa of Jesus would recommend, that is, a director that has knowledge and virtue. One day a good priest told her, “My child, may Our Lord always be your Superior and your Novice Master”. Who other than Jesus could be said to have knowledge and virtue? The saint quickly took Jesus to be her Director and saidit was He who taught me that science hidden from the wise and prudent and revealed to little ones”. (Story of a Soul, chapter 7)

Of course we should not forget those who teach us and have the duty to do so; both saints had recourse to this thought. “There is a large difference in teachers; but it is even a greater misfortune if we forget those who teach us her below. Especially, if they are saints and spiritual masters and we are good disciples.” (Way of Perfection ch 24) St. Therese was quick to say: “I don’t mean by this that I close my soul to my Superiors; far from it, for I tried always to be an open book to them. However, our Mother Prioress, frequently ill, had little time to spend with me.” (Story of a Soul, ch 7)

It is wise to seek out and find wise and prudent spiritual people to help us in our spiritual life. But always keep in mind that Jesus is the Master Teacher.


One can only teach what one practices. In many respects this means we are all teachers. Our principles and moral views will influence our reasoning and our conduct.

To teach does not mean to merely give what we have but rather what we are. What we are should be Christ. Christ should be in our thoughts and actions.

Of course to speak of teaching we must consider what is meant by the term education. Edith Stein (St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross) defined education as the formation of the human person and notes that “the first fundamental formation happens within the soul”.

The purpose of education is to bring what is already there in seed form to its full potential. Edith Stein describes the process of education as taking place on three levels. She writes that the development of the human person is based on the person’s humanity, gender, and individuality.

Teachers, therefore, will pay special attention to the uniqueness of their pupil, taking into consideration their natural qualities, and abilities, as well as, their limitations. This is something parents will need to do as they educate their children. In fact, we will all need to take these into consideration when working and collaborating with others.

In order to have any influence on someone there must be love. “Love and trust are necessary rudiments for every educational influence. The teacher must love consistently thereby winning this love and trust.”

“Truly supernatural forces are needed to offer such equal, mothering love to all, even to the unlovable, the difficult, the intolerable…especially to them because, indeed, they are in the most need of it.”

(The Collected Works of Edith Stein vol. 2, Eassys on Woman)

Teachers shape mankind.