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What is Catholic Education?

The world of ideas, the intellectual world, that world wherein values are shaped, is highly competitive. It’s filled with the voices of those who seek to shape our thinking and our values, the so-called leadership classes made up of media stars, newspaper columnists and editorialists, business leaders, politicians, and academics.
    Many of those voices seek to silence the voice of Catholicism using ridicule, scorn, outright bigotry, and claims that God, religion, and the church are irrelevant. To be heard and to effectively compete we need to be educated, well educated and articulate Catholics.
    If Jesus Christ is the son of God, if he became one of us, suffered, died and rose from the dead – then what he had to say is of immense importance. Presenting what he had to say and presenting his values, values that enrich our common good as human beings,  requires that we be more than simply “nice people.” We need to have the intelligence and skills to deal with present day realities and effectively compete in the world of ideas.
    The Catholic Church knows that human nature is the same everywhere. Geography plays no role in changing what is in the human heart. Nor does time. Today’s politicians employ the same political machinations that were employed in ancient Imperial Rome, among the Greeks before them, in the time of the Egyptian Pharaohs, and in the earliest time in human recorded history. Times and places change – human nature does not.
   Catholics, with their faith and beliefs, have richly contributed to the American Experiment. We need to know and understand why and how. We need the ability to apply the best that we have to our present-day problems. To be silent, to be mute and dumb, not only demeans what Christ has given us but it deprives our fellow citizens of our treasures; it deprives them of the richness that is found in the two-thousand years of our church’s existence.
    What do you consider to be a Catholic education? Completing eighth-grade catechism lessons? Completing preparation for confirmation? There’s more, much more. To be an educated Catholic, one must have at least a minimal knowledge of the history of ideas and what Catholicism has to offer in that history. There will never come a time when there is not more to learn about God – Catholic education is never finished.

You are the light of the world, Jesus said. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lamp stan where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father. (Matthew 5:14-16)

Father Charles Irvin

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