Education – getting it straight
No one appreciates being patronized or deceived. No matter the situation, we expect truth the first time around. Anything else wastes our trust.
An authentic education —pursuit of truth in a given subject area — is no exception.
Media frequently run features on best-college values, but they use cost as the key variable. Catholic families must tease out where unmitigated truth is found, and where real threats to kids’ faith and well-being lie. Which schools will prepare the student well for his profession, and synergize it with full Catholic witness?
The Catholic Church teaches the purpose of man’s existence is to know, love, and serve God here, to be happy with Him eternally. Since God’s plan for marriage is procreation and education of children, kids must be taught what is essential to get to heaven. It’s the most important thing they can learn.
Yet, the typical parent sees a kid’s release into college as his official consummation with the world — complete with all its electrifying points of departure. In washing their hands of what they see as inevitable ‘falls from grace,’ parents commonly surrender with “What are ya gonna do?” But that cannot be Catholic parents’ collapse — to resign themselves to kids’ regrettable choices, many of which prove irreversible and destructive. God expects parents to be reliable guides in steering kids away from vices and serial mortal sin, toward the things of God. College can be a profligate abyss, or a magnificent enlightenment in Catholic truth, logic, and appreciation for God, regardless of chosen study.
As many kids (and parents) learn belatedly, boundless liberty isn’t the happiness they’d envisioned. Rather, life in Christ actually is.
Statistics bear it out. Studies over the past 20 years show those who practice their Christian faith and pray regularly are less stressed, healthier, happier, more financially stable, more compassionate, and more optimistic than those who don’t. And these findings aren’t from Catholic think-tanks, but from Pew Research and others.
So how should Catholic kids be educated?
St. Alphonsus Liguori, 17th-century doctor of the Church, says Catholic education begins at home, since kids absorb what parents embody. “Vices are not born to children,” he says, “but are communicated and exemplified.”
“To educate a child is to develop his intelligence, direct his reason, inspire him with love for good and horror for evil, form his character, correct him in what is reprehensible … and form him in knowledge, love and imitation of Jesus Christ,” the Christian Brothers say.
God says directly, “Listen to me, my son, and acquire knowledge, and pay close attention to my words. I will impart instruction by weight, and declare knowledge accurately.” (Sir 16: 24-25).
Ultimate and complete truth comes from God, and His teachings ground all fields of study.
Christ’s question thus remains: “What does it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul” (Matt 16:26)?
CHRISTINE VALENTINE-OWSIK is Legatus magazine’s Editor.