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CATHOLIC SCHOOLS





THE Catholic school system all over this land has been erected and
stands dedicated to the principle that no child can be properly,
thoroughly and profitably--for itself--educated, whose soul is not fed
with religion and morality while its intelligence is being stocked with
learning and knowledge. It is intended, and made, to avoid the two
defects under which our public school system labors--the one
accidental, the other fundamental--namely, extravagance and
godlessness. The child is taught the things that are necessary for it
to know; catechism and religion take the place of fads and costly
frills.

The Catholic school does not lay claim to superiority over another on
purely secular lines, although in many cases its superiority is a very
patent fact; it repudiates and denies charges to the effect that it is
inferior, although this may be found in some cases to be true. It
contends that it is equal to, as good as, any other; and there is no
evidence why this should not be so. But it does pretend to give a more
thorough education in the true sense of the word, if education really
means a bringing out of that which is best in our nature.

Neither do we hold that such a training as our schools provide will
assure the faith and salvation of the children confided to our care.
Neither church, nor religion, nor prayer, nor grace, nor God Himself
will do this alone. The child's fidelity to God and its ultimate reward
depends on that child's efforts and will, which nothing can supply. But
what we do guarantee is that the child will be furnished with what is
necessary to keep the faith and save its soul, that there will be no
one to blame but itself if it fails, and that such security it will not
find outside the Catholic school. It is for just such work that the
school is equipped, that is the only reason for its existence, and we
are not by any means prepared to confess that our system is a failure
in that feature which is its essential one.

That every Catholic child has an inherent right to such a training, it
is not for one moment permitted to doubt; there is nothing outside the
very bread that keeps its body and soul together to which it has a
better right. Intellectual training is a very secondary matter when the
immortal soul is concerned. And if the child has this right, there is a
corresponding duty in the parent to provide it with such; and since
that right is inalienable, that duty is of the gravest. Hence it
follows that parents who neglect the opportunity they enjoy of
providing their offspring with a sound religious and moral training in
youth, and expose them, unprepared, to the attacks, covert and open, of
modern indifferentism, while pursuing secular studies, display a woeful
ignorance of their obligations and responsibilities.

This natural right of the child to a religious education, and the
authority of the Church which speaks in no uncertain accents on the
subject go to make a general law that imposes a moral obligation upon
parents to send their children to Catholic schools. Parents who fail in
this simply do wrong, and in many cases cannot be excused from mortal
offending. And it requires, according to the general opinion, a very
serious reason to justify non-compliance with this law.

Exaggeration, of course, never serves any purpose; but when we consider
the personal rights of children to have their spiritual life well
nurtured, and the general evils against which this system of education
has been judged necessary to make the Church secure, it will be easily
seen that there is little fear of over-estimating the importance of the
question and the gravity of the obligations under which parents are
placed.

Moreover, disregard for this general law on the part of parents
involves contempt of authority, which contempt, by reason of its being
public, cannot escape the malice of scandal. Even when the early
religious education of the child is safeguarded by excellent home
training and example and no evil effects of purely secular education
are to be feared, the fact of open resistance to the direction of
Church authority is an evil in itself; and may be the cause of leading
others in the same path of revolt--others who have not like
circumstances in their favor.

About the only person I know who might be justified in not sending his
children to Catholic schools is the "crank," that creature of mulish
propensities, who balks and kicks and will not be persuaded to move by
any method of reasoning so far discovered. He usually knows all that is
to be learned on the school question--which is a lie; and having
compared the parochial and the public school systems in an intelligent
and disinterested manner--which is another--he finds that the Catholic
school is not the place for his children. If his children are like
himself, his conclusion is wisely formed, albeit drawn from false
premises. In him, three things are on a par; his conceit, his ignorance
and his determination. From these three ingredients results a high
quality of asininity which in moral theology is called invincible
ignorance and is said to render one immune in matters of sin. May his
tribe decrease!





Next: SOME WEAK POINTS IN THE CATHOLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM

Previous: GODLESS EDUCATION



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