Catholic Schools and the Law: A Teachers Guide (Second Edition)

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This is why all public schools, and even public classical schools which explicitly seek to expose students to the true, good and beautiful, are insufficient. Leaving kids in the shadow of truth risks leaving them exposed to error, pride or skepticism. We were not made to stand in the vestibule of truth; we were made to embrace truth and proclaim it once found. Additionally, a natural human response to the wonder of truth, beauty and goodness when it is discovered is awe and praise, contemplation and worship, humility and thanksgiving.

Because Catholic school teachers and students can engage in these natural responses as a group, openly and honestly, the likelihood of their occurrence is increased, and the power of their impact is magnified.

Catholic Schools and the Law - Sr Mary Angela Shaughnessy : PaulistPress

To overcome the ennui and jadedness of the modern age, we need in all ways possible to activate the power and glory of authentic discovery, which is vivified and amplified by the divine. There is additional value in training our students how to include things beyond the material when training them in the process of inquiry.

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Not all truths are easily subjected to standardized tests. Not everything that can be known can be physically measured and weighed.

Why teach in a Catholic School?

Indeed the most weighty things are without weight: justice, freedom, meaning, human dignity and reason are but a few immeasurable realities that benefit from divine perspective and guidance. John Paul II puts it more poetically and positively when he says:. Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth—in a word, to know himself—so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves.

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If leaving Christ out of secular academic instruction is problematic, it is even more dangerous to leave Him out of character formation and morality. A laudable but limited practice at some public and private schools is to offer a secular version of Catholic faith-based character formation programs. By design, these schools are limited to using human will and man-made standards to attempt to inspire students.

Typically, a self-selected list of virtues is introduced and then highlighted in literature, lived example and morning character development sessions. Such communal gatherings and focus may be helpful, but they lack the power and potentiality of instilling human excellences modeled on the most excellent human, Christ, and calling on the direct, real and real-time assistance of His grace through prayer and sacrament. Perfect men cannot be raised without the model and grace of THE perfect man. No one should be ready to believe that instruction and piety can be separated with impunity.

In effect, if it is true that We cannot exempt ourselves from the duty of religion at any period of life, in private or public affairs, so much the less should this duty be omitted at any age which is thoughtless, in which the spirit is ardent and exposed to so many inducements to evil.

To organize teaching in such a way as to remove it from all contact with religion is therefore to corrupt the very seeds of beauty and honor in the soul. It is to prepare, not defenders of the nation, but a plague and a scourge for the human race. Once God is suppressed, what can keep young people dutiful or recall them when they have strayed from the path of virtue and fall into the abyss of vice? The hole which keeps man from being whole can only filled by the God who made him.

Our children need to encounter the all-fulfilling God in all things. The surest way to develop human excellence is when it is modeled at the point of delivery in the school and explicitly lived out by adult witnesses free to draw upon a wealth of unfiltered resources and direct personal and communal faith. The most effective teachers are those who demonstrate a passion for what they are teaching and effectively model the skills and dispositions they seek to instill in their students.

The teacher must present the material or concepts to the students, modeling and at times proposing value and meaning relevant to the subject at hand from a Catholic worldview. Teachers are not neutral in this process, in that their role is to model and invite. By contrast, public school and secular private school teachers are not allowed to provide this level of spiritual witness.

They cannot bring to consummation the fullness of their insights about the beauty and meaning of the world around them before their students. These are not small losses in the teacher-student relationship. These are real losses in maximizing the power of the educational experience and complete formation in a time of incredible danger from a culture of crassness and despair. The strategy of simply reading great books to combat this crisis is also insufficient.

There have been plenty of people, good and evil, who have read the same great texts through the years with differing results. Reading them does not of itself confer virtue or wisdom. Under the guidance of a master Catholic educator, they can indeed be instruments to raise questions and concerns about ultimate nature and meaning of things. The issue is: What answers will be given to these questions? Who will provide those answers convincingly?

In a government-run charters where teachers are unable to share their faith-based convictions, input devolves to the random gathering of students present in the class and their grasp of a text they may or may not have read. Crowd sourcing religious truths to students is not an efficient or sure means to the truth of things. A related concern is that children often tend to follow the culture of their peers and the common culture more than the culture of their parents. A Catholic culture modeled only at home is especially subject to these powerful forces.

A deliberate and thoughtful series of relationships must also be encouraged and guided by other caring Catholic adults who complement the home values. This can provide and model a complete approach to Christian human flourishing in a broader, more forceful context. A strong and unified community is necessary to sufficiently arm and prepare the current generation to meet the potentially overwhelming challenges facing it.

The good news that is that Catholic education, if faithful to its mission, is in a unique and powerful position to serve our youth and lead them to fulfilling lives of joy and meaning. Secular schools will always fall short.


The Church understands the challenges facing modern man better than any other entity, and it has both the keys and access to the necessary graces to meet those challenges head-on. Its homes and schools can provide for the integration of culture, faith and life and best equip students to attain and practice heroic virtue in a troubled world. Catholic education which faithfully fulfills this function is a cause worthy of the Church.

It is a choice worthy of Catholic parents. And if the choice is a real option, it is a duty we owe our children. If you value the news and views Catholic World Report provides, please consider donating to support our efforts. Your contribution will help us continue to make CWR available to all readers worldwide for free, without a subscription.

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The Catholic debate about the value of political and economic liberalism ebbs and flows. In the past few years in the U. The explosive development of automation, robotics, and AI requires a dedicated focus on the role of conscience—our spiritual life—to help us respond to the challenges […].

There are Catholic schools available where I live. They are prohibitively expensive, and having taught at one of them myself, I see little evidence that they are anything more than Catholic in name only. I think Catholic parents are well aware of their obligations. It is the Church that has forgotten its mission, in education as elsewhere. The faith is secondary there. Knowing many children that attend them, and their ignorance of the Catholic Faith, is all I need to see to believe that they are more damaging than good.

The secular charter classical school in our area is staffed by a majority of Thomas Aquinas college graduates.

A better choice. I also agree with Timothy. Two of my children each attended one year at our local Catholic schools.