3 Pillars of Catholic Education Pt. I
Abbreviated from remarks given at “Theology on Tap” for NWA Catholic Young Professionals- August 28, 2017. The focus of the remarks are toward young professionals (young parents or future parents) and need for Catholic Education, particularly in the 21st century.
“Seek education from the cradle to the grave.”- Arabic Proverb
"Education is integral to the mission of the Church to proclaim the Good News. First and foremost every Catholic educational institution is a place to encounter the living God who in Jesus Christ reveals his transforming love and truth (cf. Spe Salvi, 4)."
-Pope Benedict XVI
Daughter Margaret to Thomas More
“My own good Father.
...Father, what do you think has been our comfort since your departing from us? Surely the experience we have had of your past life and godly conversation and wholesome counsel and virtuous example and a surety not only of the continuance of the same, but also a great increase by the goodness of Our Lord .... Margaret”
I would like to present these three words as action verbs. Why? They are actions that are primary pillars, holders, anchors for Catholic education in the 21st Century.
Two of the most vibrant orders of the religious sisters in the United States, perhaps in the world, are the Dominican Sisters of Saint Cecilia in Nashville, TN and the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist in Ann Arbor, MI. Sisters that I know in both orders contribute vocation seeds as planted by their parents and religious influencers that they came in contact with they were young. They also say it was at school, particularly high school that their vocation seed was fertilized, watered, and ultimately nourished…so the full blooming of their call was seen while in college.
The role of the laity is to have family, and while raising and forming our children we are to plant the seeds for their vocation. The schools we send our children to will make a difference. For example, will the school support how we raise our children in the eyes of Our Lord and with the help of godparents, friends and our parish? Catholic schools have that call, and with living out the faith, they will foster each and every child’s vocation.
"Just as a consecrated person is called to testify his or her specific vocation to a life of communion in love so as to be in the scholastic community a sign, a memorial and a prophecy of the values of the Gospel, so too a lay educator is required to exercise «a specific mission within the Church by living, in faith, a secular vocation in the communitarian structure of the school” (Congregation on Catholic Education- “Educating Together in Catholic Schools”).
What is unique about Catholic education is its ultimate goal toward each and every person’s happiness. Happiness is not to be attained on earth as St. Augustine reminds us but rather, "as our hearts are restless until they rest in you, Lord.” Together, side-by-side with those living a consecrated life, a religious life, and a call to the laity…our children will truly sense and feel a community built on Christ. Formation is the action of raising our children in a Christian framework that fits within the larger secular world. We are to live in the world, not outside.
One might ponder how in our “little platoons” we are to create these opportunities of formation? They are developed through the culture in which we live through a spirituality of communion.
"A spirituality of communion indicates above all the heart's contemplation of the mystery of the Trinity dwelling in us, and whose light we must also be able to see shining on the face of the brothers and sisters around us.”- John Paul II, Novo Millennio Ineunte, No. 43
Formation brings to reality a way of life that is not only outward focused but transcendent driven in building and living a community of spirituality.
*We are grateful to UV Images for allowing our use of two photos in this post.