Engendering wisdom beyond knowledge
If education’s purpose is to teach us how to think, a Catholic education is necessary for thinking in alignment with God – about one’s unique identity and purpose in this life, proper use of his talents, and the manner of his life-journey toward his ultimate meeting with God. That meeting is life’s most important one, called at a time we least expect.
Today’s secular educational institutions have abandoned any sense of immutable Truth and reality – even in the natural realm, and replaced them with soft ideologies and ephemeral identity-politics. Reality of God is relegated to mythology. The kids don’t get authentic education, but indoctrination – which doesn’t teach them how to think or even how to learn. Indoctrination pushes thoughtless, baseless conformity for feel-good, popcult rewards. Such group-think is rampant at the most prized secular schools, and with the steepest of price tags.
But a proper education, a good Catholic one, trains the whole person (his intellect and his will), not just his mind alone. And it affords three incredible benefits.
First, it acquaints a student with real, unchanging Truth – about everything from science, to literature, to the study of mankind and of God. A student should realize why he is here on earth, where he is headed, and what the whole of his life means in that regard. Those who keep these in mind throughout life have stronger resolve, and don’t as easily fall prey to anxiety, fear, distraction, and despair.
“When we put truths into our minds, we … live out those truths in our lives. But if we put falsehood and vice into our minds, they [eventually] work themselves out into our lives,” said the late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen.
Second, there’s a correlation of studies in the student’s curriculum, among all branches of knowledge to which he’s exposed. Some courses are more overarching and substantive than others – and the truths of these serve to illuminate the teachings of the lower courses. But everything fits and synergizes.
Third – and of critical import – is the depth, the deepening knowledge a student realizes from his education. This is when he is able to construct a philosophy of life garnered from his learning. His philosophy of life will serve him for life – in times of abundance and hardship, emotional highs and duress, triumph and rejection, camaraderie and loneliness, busy-ness and languish, health and hospice, and ultimately to his last moment.
This is wisdom, which cannot be bought or faked.
Most secularized colleges stress freedom – from tradition, from social mores and morals, from parents, from laws, from anything. But freedom doesn’t comprise truth. Real freedom actually derives from Truth.
“For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice and preserving the way of his saints” (Prov 2: 6-8).
Isn’t this the education we want for ourselves and our children?
CHRISTINE VALENTINE-OWSIK is Legatus magazine’s editor.