Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 9, 2006
Catholic education embraces the divine
Faith-filled teaching imparts the holy word to the students
My Glass is Half Full
By MARK PICKUP
On Sept. 14, the Catholic residents of my community voted to establish a Catholic school. The school in Beaumont will be a part of the St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School Division that has the following mission statement: "We are a Christ-centred Catholic community committed to providing the highest quality education for our students.
"Through service, caring and love we strive to create an environment of respect and understanding in which everyone can grow."
Providing the highest quality education to children in a Christ-centred environment is what every Christian parent or grandparent should want for the children in their life.
Placing Christ - and a Christian perspective - at the centre of learning is the proper purpose of Catholic education. It sets the stage for Christ to permeate the entire lives of students.
Catholic education that merely includes a "religion class" as one part of the school day is not really Catholic education. Catholic education defined by a "religion class" falsely teaches young people to compartmentalize Christianity as something separate to the rest of their lives. It erroneously presents the possibility that a Catholic can assume a religious mood as they enter church for Mass, but adopt secular attitudes for the rest of the week.
Compartmentalized Christianity plagues our age and threatens the integrity of Catholicism. Christians who are serious about their Christianity incorporate their faith into every facet of life. They let the reality of the risen and living Christ imbue their entire being.
We are told by Jesus himself to love the Lord God, our God, with all our heart, soul and mind. Real Christianity engages the entire person. Christianity is more than obeying the commands set out in the Word of God. The Word of God is alive in the person of Jesus Christ.
St. John tells us that the Word was God. The Word still is God and it's possible to experience his truth and grace even today. The apostle also tells us that in the very beginning the preexistent Christ Jesus was with God as the earth was created. "All things came to be through him and without him nothing came to be."
If this is true, then all learning must be approached from a Christian perspective and viewed through a Christian lens. The book of Genesis says God spoke the entire cosmos into being with his Word.
The entire structure of the universe reflects the mind of God. This is where secular and Christian education differ: Christian education interprets all creation in light of its relationship to the Creator. Christian education understands that God's character is reflected in everything.
It is important that Catholic education teach students, entrusted to their care, to listen and search for the voice of God in all things - even though his voice is not audible in the usual sense.
Blind to the divine
This is where secular education falls short. It is blind to the divine. Nancy Randolph Pearcey is senior fellow of the Discovery Institute and scholar at The World Journalism Institute. In her book Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from its Cultural Captivity (Crossway Books, 2004), she explained that no system of thought is entirely the product of reason.
All reason begins with a premise. To the pantheist, the ultimate reality is a spiritual force. The Darwinist believes biology is the ultimate reality. The materialist believes "the ultimate reality is matter, and everything is reduced to material constituents."
Pearcey goes on to state with piercing clarity: "Even nonbelievers hold to some ultimate ground of existence, which functions as an idol or false god. Faith is a universal human function and if it is not directed to God it will be directed toward something else."
Education begins with a question: What premise will be the starting point?
Stake God's claim
The role of Catholic education is to stake its claim for God and direct humanity toward him. It is a role entrusted to Christian educators by Christian parents to help pass timeless Christian truth and understanding to the next generation.
In a recent speech to bishops of Ontario, Pope Benedict warned against the tide of relativism so prevalent in Canada. The pope reminded the bishops that Catholic education must uphold eternal truth in the face of relativism (WCR, Sept. 18).
Catholic education is an indispensable tool for serious Catholic parents to impart the faith and holy teachings of the Church to their children. Catholic education helps parents to fulfill this awesome responsibility God has bestowed upon them by couching all learning against a backdrop of eternal truth.
Letter to the Editor - 10/30/06
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