[continued from yesterday]
...It is an education adapted to the life of the spirit both here and hereafter.
From the foregoing fact certain principles follow which have an important bearing on presentday educational questions. If man is destined to an eternal life, then he cannot be satisfied with a merely secular education. If grace is ever playing around nature and spiritualizing it, then, under such circumstances, nature will not be satisfied with merely natural occupations and interests.
Being spiritualized by a supernatural gift, it must seek a supernatural end and live a supernatural life. A father, then, who leaves a child to choose its own religion, and make its first efforts in spirituality, only in after years does the child a grievous wrong. What should we say of a father who only taught his child to walk and did not teach it to use its hands, on the assumption that it would learn that better in its age of discretion? Yet that, and something worse, is what the father does when he leaves the child to choose its own religion. He leaves Its spiritual limbs undeveloped, rudimentary, useless.
And, since to the Catholic the Catholic religion is the divinely appointed means by which the spiritual life is developed, the Catholic father does his child a grievous wrong if he does not provide it with the best Catholic education possible.
Again, if, on the one hand, secular education ought to be spiritualized by the Catholic faith, on the other hand Catholic education should avail itself of the advantages of secular subjects. The Catholic religion being the revelation of Truth itself must appeal to the faculty which has truth for its object. Being a reasonable religion it must appeal to the reason. The more the reason is cultivated, therefore, the better is it able to apprehend the divine revelation. If, as some educationists hold, Euclid and Latin composition are the best means of making a boy think, then proficiency in Euclid and Latin composition must be a help in giving the boy a grasp of his religion.
Again, the Catholic religion is the religion of the highest morality. It is the religion which is marked out above all others by its fruitfulness in moral goodness, its production of saints. It must, therefore, appeal to that faculty which has goodness for its object. It must appeal to the will as affording it the widest arena for its exercise and satisfaction, nothing less than the striving for the perfect imitation of Jesus Christ. It must appeal to the will also, as affording it the strength to arrive at moral perfection, the strength which comes through the grace of the seven Sacraments.
The stronger, then, a man's will is, the more perfectly it is exercised in the natural virtues, so much the more fitted is it to avail itself of the helps to supernatural action. Once more, the Catholic religion is a beautiful religion. It must, therefore, appeal to the faculty which has beauty for its object, the esthetic sense. All sound training in the fine arts, therefore, whether in music, painting, or literature, may be used for the development of the finest and most difficult of all arts, the art of saintliness, the art which absorbs at once all the power of intellect, will, and feeling, the art which expresses the greatest inspirations of truth, goodness, and beauty...
From Marriage and Parenthood, The Catholic Ideal
By the Rev. Thomas J. Gerrard
Author of "Cords of Adam," "The Wayfarer's Vision," ETC.
Copyright, 1911, by Joseph F. Wagner, New York.