I am always happy when I hear a principal say during orientation ‘you have a chosen a Catholic school, and as such, we hold certain values and expect that you will follow those guidelines.’ I have seen first-hand what happens when Catholicism gets, shall we say, “watered down”.
As parents my wife and I want what’s best for our children. We strive to give them the kinds of opportunities that will serve them well as they grow into adulthood. We want success for them and we also want them to have a better life. So naturally we send them to the best schools.
But more important than success in this life is what we give them for their after-life. What if instead of giving them things, we invested in their faith? What if we focused on giving them a better faith foundation instead of just a good education? As parents shouldn’t we be providing our children with the necessary tools for a better after-life? Shouldn’t we be mainly concerned with their spiritual success?
A Catholic Education
This year my wife and I made an important decision about our son’s education. We decided to move him from the local parochial school, to a Classical Catholic school.
We were familiar with The Regina Academies, but there wasn’t one close by. The distance we would had to travel to have our son go to one of them would have made it too difficult for him to attend. But as luck would have it, one of the schools recently moved to a nearby facility, and we were able to pursue enrolling our son.
We visited the school during an open house and we all felt that this was the right decision. If you are one who believes that we are chosen, you might say this school chose us. At a time, where political correctness, seems to guide so much of our life’s decisions, I am happy to see that this is a school fundamentally committed to maintaining their Catholic identity, and fostering our son’s faith. The school also has the added bonus of being governed by the Magisterium, which means that its educational roots are complicit with those of the Catholic Church. The curriculum is also rooted in the classical tradition.
What’s at stake
We live in an ever-changing world, and it is changing rapidly. Many people are moving away from our faith. There are those who bill Catholics as bigoted or intolerant because of our views, all while being intolerant in their views. We must constantly remind our children and loved ones what is at stake, namely our faith, and ultimately, our souls. We must make our children steadfast in their faith, and teach them to be tolerant of the views of others, in essence “loving the sinner, but not the sin.”
Many are quick to remind us Catholics that Jesus dined with sinners. And while that is true, it was the sinners who needed Him. In the end He ministered to them about changing. That is the forgotten part of that observation.\
Recently, I read an article by Patrick Reilly regarding the Land O’ Lakes Conference. For those unfamiliar with it, the conference was held in Land O’ Lakes Wisconsin in 1967. Several Catholic college presidents, most notably Theodore Hesburgh of Notre Dame, got together and discussed what I will call, “Religious Emancipation” for Catholic colleges. The outcome of the conference was a general agreement that the colleges would function as purely secular entities. They would be devoid of any theological governance. This enabled them to remain competitive with their “Non-Catholic” peers and obtain federal funding as well. But in the article Reilly discussed some of the devastating effects of this decision. Perhaps the greatest effect was that of losing their Catholic identities.
This action also had a ripple effect. Catholic students who attended these schools began to be taught by liberal-minded clerics. The importance of our faith became “watered down.” Morality was all but ignored. Salvation became a theme heard on Sunday that no longer had place in many Catholic colleges.
Let me put this another way. Consider the case of a Catholic college like Georgetown, and one of its recent students – Sandra Fluke. We all remember her desire to have Georgetown provide contraceptives as part of its healthcare for students. Her reason was that tuition is expensive enough without this added expense. However Georgetown has a long history of, shall we say, promoting a “morally casual” atmosphere. They have also in the past invited controversial speakers, namely Cecile Richards, CEO of Planned Parenthood to speak, under the guise of promoting a free and healthy discussion among students. Normally I wouldn’t tread down a road of controversy, but in an effort to emphasize the point I am trying to make, I will make the exception. The problem is that the message sent is that contraceptives must be okay because Georgetown, a Catholic college, seems to be okay with them.
Catholic colleges all over the world now enjoy their status as being both Catholic, and “cutting edge,” but how is a Catholic college cutting-edge? Perhaps a school like University of Mary, or Ave Marie, which not only are Catholic colleges, but extoll the virtues associated with being one. Colleges that are Catholic in name only really have no place teaching religion if they are not going to be completely honest when it comes to what’s at stake for students that aren’t properly educated. This morally permissive attitude cannot be allowed to flourish when so much is expected of us as Children of God.
Parenting for Success
Getting back to this Land O’ Lakes Conference, much of our Catholic education was eroded, as a result of this. As parents, we must be vigilant in ensuring that our children are educated properly and correctly. Nowhere is this more important then when it comes to our faith. The outside influences that easily confuse and manipulate their understanding, musty be dealt with. It has been said, that when one is led astray, it is done with finesse, and beguilingly.
I recently read another article, this one by my brother Todd, who also happens to write for CS, entitled, “When It Comes to Our Youth, Silence is not Golden.” In the article Todd discusses the pitfalls of technology, namely cell phones and social media, and how easy it is for our children to be led astray, especially when we aren’t there to guide them. As parents’ we must ensure that the foundations for their faith remain solid. Whenever possible we need to incorporate the Bible and prayer into their daily lives.
I happen to enjoy country music, and there’s a great song by Aaron Tippin. The song is “You’ve got to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything”. It’s a great song, and the message is clear.