[continued from yesterday]
...Much too often do we hear people talk as if piety and intellectual proficiency were incompatible accomplishments. Ability in the arts and sciences is supposed to be an occasion of intellectual pride. So it is. The piety, however, which affects to despise these gifts of God is the occasion of a worse sin, the sin of spiritual pride. The natural as well as the supernatural is the creation of Almighty God. And if the Catholic school is to fulfill its mission it must aim at proficiency in the natural as well as the supernatural, in the natural for the sake of the supernatural.
The high aim and nature of Catholic education postulates some important principles in its administration. We come now to consider, then, the relationships between the school and the family, the school and the Church, the school and the State. The schoolmaster, the parent, the bishop, and the statesman, all have something to say in the matter of the conduct of the Catholic school. The question is complicated, admits of different opinions as to details, and, therefore, cannot be solved off-hand or dogmatically. There are, however, certain leading principles about which the Catholic can have no doubt, and which he must keep clearly before his mind in his efforts to adjust the various claims.
The first and most important principle is that the children belong to the parent under God. They do not belong to the State. Certain States, or rather certain statesmen, claim this right of possession.
The Catholic can never admit it. The parents are the authors of the child's body and the parents' wills are the occasion of the creation of the child's soul. The parents, therefore, have confided to their care the nourishment and the education of their children. The mother is fitted by nature for the bearing, the nursing, and the education of children in their earliest years. The father is fitted by nature for providing for the maintenance of all during these years, and providing for the continuance of the education in after years. The State has nothing whatever to do with the possession of the children.
The State exists for the welfare of the temporal interests of the nation. If, therefore, the temporal interests of the nation demand a certain standard of education in the youth of the nation, the State has the right to require such an education from the parents. And in default of the parents fulfilling this obligation, the State has a right to administer such education itself. In doing so, however, it must respect the higher interests of religion.
The children belong to the parents under God. The parents, therefore, have the right to dictate to the State as to the religion in which the children are to be brought up. The parents, moreover, if they are Catholics, have the duty of submitting amount of freedom. It is the head teacher of the school who gives the tone to the school. It is well, then, that he should keep before his mind the ideal at which he ought to aim in so far as is consistent with the terms of his engagement. It is well that Catholics who have a vote in his appointment should have this ideal before their minds. And it is well that non-Catholics should have the Catholic ideal set before them....
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.