Monday, March 31, 2008
FYI, this message contains the entry on Catholic Action from A Catholic Home Encyclopedia (included in the Holy Bible - Family Rosary Edition, 1954, 1953, 1952, 1950) stating that the "articles dealing with general Catholic information are, with few exceptions, from 'A Catholic Dictionary,' edited by Donald Attwater (Copyright 1931, 1949, by the Macmillan Company and are here used by permission of the copyright owner." (Please Note: Italics below were in the original entry.)
CATHOLIC ACTION. [Defined as] The participation of the laity in the apostolate of the hierarchy. Since the beginning of Christianity the laity have had a real obligation to aid in the work of the Church. Now, as much as at any time in history, there is a pressing need for the organized initiative of the laity if the world is to be Christian; and the recent popes, especially Pius XI and Pius XII, have urgently called the laity to participate in apostolic work with the hierarchy.
Catholic Action, as used by recent popes, designates certain organized groups doing apostolic work. It is applied in the strict sense only to an organized group of the laity that is: (1) approved by and dependent upon the hierarchy; (2) apostolic in purpose; (3) mandated or commissioned by the pope or the local bishop: (4) mandated as a real collaborator with the hierarchy in the apostolate of the Church. Therefore, only those groups (and their activities) specifically designated as such by the pope or local bishop can rightfully be called Catholic Action. For example, in one diocese a bishop may commission the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine to be the Catholic Action; in another any apostolic organization of laymen. But the bishop's mandate is essential for Catholic Action.
In English speaking countries, the term has been used by many in a much wider and less strict sense than its technical meaning in papal documents. For any apostolic group or its activity, whether commissioned by the hierarchy or not, is sometimes spoken of as Catholic Action. However, it should be noted that among organized apostolic groups and activities only those have a genuine right to the name Catholic Action which have been constituted as such by a mandate from the hierarchy.
Recent popes have stressed the importance of Catholic Action for the Church today. Pius XI, in a letter written to the Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon in 1934, said that "of all forms of the apostolate, Catholic Action is the most suited to the need of our epoch"; and to the Argentine hierarchy in 1931, he wrote that 'Catholic Action is the form of the apostolate that corresponds best to the needs of the times.'
The various forms of organization that might be mandated by a bishop as Catholic Action can be divided into general and specialized forms. General Catholic Action includes all the Catholics of a given parish, diocese, etc. Specialized Catholic Action, in a wide sense, includes the laity grouped according to age and sex. In the strict sense, specialized Catholic Action includes the laity grouped according to class or environment, e.g., industrial workers, seamen, professional men, nurses, students, etc.
Pope Pius XI gave strong impetus to the movement toward specialized Catholic Action by his directives in the Encyclical Quadragesimo Anno (which see): "Undoubtedly the first and immediate apostles of the workingmen must themselves be workingmen, while the apostles of the industrial and commercial world should themselves be employers and merchants." And the same pope, on April 6, 1934, congratulated a specialized group on their program which, he said, presented "the closest analogy with the method that we indicate for missionaries: native priests for the native people. Each situation will then have its corresponding apostle: the apostles of the workers will be workers, the apostles of the farmers will be farmers, the apostles of the seamen will be seamen, the apostles of the students will be students."
The best known example of specialized Catholic Action is the "Young Christian Workers" (also called the "Jocists" or the J.O.C. from their French name, Jeunesse Ouvriere Chretienne), founded in Belgium by Canon Cardijn and now active throughout the world. One of the specific features of the Young Christian Workers is the inquiry technique which they employ. Using this method ("see, judge, act") at each meeting, the Jocist observes the workers' environment, judges it according to Christian standards, and plans some action to correct it. The same technique has been used with success also by other specialized groups: teachers, lawyers, students, farmers, etc.
[KIC INTERJECTORY NOTE: The notation above, positively marking the method of "see, judge, act" highlights where the original Catholic Action apostolate went astray. Due to the pervasive modernist infilitration, the imperative Catholic principal of "Pray, Study, Act" was erroneously changed to depend solely on human reason. By abandoning the practice of "Pray, Study, Act" - in that exact order - the true Catholic Action apostolate floundered.)
The purpose of Catholic Action coincides with the purpose of the Church itself, which is to bring about the reign of Christ in individuals, in families, and in society. Its aim, therefore, is spiritual and religious, not temporal or political. The form that the organization takes in various places and the specific tasks that it undertakes will depend upon the decisions of the ecclesiastical hierarchy.
Love of God and of one's neighbor is one foundation on which is based the obligation of all, the laity included, to engage in the apostolate. It is founded also on the membership of all in the organic structure of the Mystical Body of Christ (the Church). For the laity, by reason of the sacramental characters of Baptism and Confirmation, participate in their own way in the priesthood of Christ and are called to the apostolate of prayer, sacrifice, example, and works. Moreover, in the sacramental characters lies (sic) the possibility that the laity may be called upon to give immediate assistance in the ecclesiastical apostolate to which the hierarchy alone is directly called. When a commission or mandate is given to the organized laity to do apostolic work, that possibility becomes actual. That group and its work is then known as Catholic Action. [End of Entry]
Catholic Action, as an organization with humble fealty to the Church and a filial love for the Holy Father, no longer exists. However, since the Church also teaches that Catholics may join together in free association, KIC imitates the original Catholic Action apostolate, stressing prayer, sacrifice, example and good works. Just as the purpose of Catholic Action once coincided "with the purpose of the Church itself, which is to bring about the reign of Christ in individuals, in families, and in society" and just as its "aim is spiritual and religious, not temporal or political," such is the Keeping It Catholic's purpose.
Above all, the center of KIC's mission is the whole, entire message of Fatima, which underscored all of the Church's key doctrines - from the existence of angels, heaven, purgatory, hell, and the absolute necessity of faith and good works (which means prayer and sacrifice to make reparation to God for sin; to ask for heaven's graces which assist the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, in his high office as the Vicar of Christ; for the conversion of sinners, the prayers of the daily Rosary; the wearing the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and living chastely according to our state in life; the devotion of the Five First Saturdays), and the role of the Virgin Mary as Mediatrix of All Graces - our dear Mother who still awaits the collegial consecration of Russia to Her Immaculate Heart.
To further understand Catholic Action as it was, what it can still be, and what the virtuous habits of "Pray, Study, Act" mean to our personal interior lives (the life of grace in our souls), you might also wish to read "Light a Single Candle: The Secret of the Catholic City."
Friday, March 28, 2008
With "The Age of Mary" Catholic Internet-based Study Guides...
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WHAT is an electronic Guide? You'll get a good idea as you scroll this page and view screenshots of the first Age of Mary Catholic Internet-based Study Guide, "Our Lady of Paris and the Medal of the Immaculate Conception."
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Light a Single Candle!
The screenshot above features the opening paragraphs to Light a Single Candle, a combination of historical study and syllabus.
Proceeding through the Guide: Above, you can view another section of Light a Single Candle, as well as Historical Figures to Know (with more screened links to online resources for further study and research!) and our History Vocabulary List.
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NEXT: Lesson Ideas (The Central Syllabus)
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*Via study of the Marian apparitions declared "worthy of belief" by the Church, your students will better understand the historical events that both preceded and followed them.
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As you can see from these examples, The Age of Mary Catholic Internet-based Study Guides mean serious study, yet offered in an innovative way which strongly appeals to youth.
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- No books or extras are needed for The Age of Mary. In each Catholic Study Guide, there is included a suggested supplemental list of living books or other items (which you may wish to purchase elsewhere). However, they are *not* strictly necessary.
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In the love of Christ and His Virgin Mother,
We're "Keeping It Catholic" on the Net!
Thursday, March 27, 2008
-St. Louis de Montfort, Treatise on True Devotion, n. 120
It is always a joy to share sound spiritual sources which allow us to learn and practice Our Lord’s dictum, “Be thou therefore perfect, as also thy Heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5: 48). For the Messiah also taught, “The disciple is not above his master: but every one shall be perfect, if he be as his master.” (Luke 6: 40)
How are we to become perfect if we wish to be as Our Master, Jesus Christ? The only answer is repeated many times in both Tradition and Scripture – e.g., the two, inseparable sources in which Divine Revelation is given to us. Throughout the ages, Divine Revelation is expounded by many trusted Christian (which means Catholic) sources - including but not limited to St. Alfonsus di Liguori, St. Dominic, Blessed Alan de la Roche, St. Louis Marie de Montfort, the great Carmelite reformers St. Terese of Avila and St. John of the Cross, St. Therese of Lisieux (the “Little Flower”), Blessed Columba Marmion, and Fr. Garrigou-LaGrange.
The works of St. Louis Marie include “The Secret of Mary,” “The Secret of the Rosary” and “True Devotion to Mary.” As we will see, a number of popes blessed this particular devotion, and they also spoke or wrote of “True Devotion to Mary.”
---Pope Pius XI declared that St. Louis’ teaching on devotion to Mary was the best and most acceptable form of devotion to Our Lady.
---Pope Leo XIII granted a plenary indulgence to those who make the Act of Consecration to Mary (which is truly an Act of Consecration TO Jesus through Mary). It was this same pope who, on his deathbed, renewed the Act of Consecration and asked for the intercession of the (then) Blessed Louis de Montfort, whom the pope had beautified in 1888.
---Pope St. Pius X: “I heartily recommend ‘True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin,’ so admirably written by Blessed De Montfort, and to all who read it [I] grant the Apostolic Benediction.”
---Pope Benedict XV: “A book of high authority and unction.”
---Pope Pius XI: “I have practiced this devotion ever since my youth.”
---Pope Pius XIII: “The greatest force behind all his (St. Louis de Montfort’s) apostolic ministry and his great secret for attracting and winning souls for Jesus was his devotion to Mary. (From the Canonization Address of July 20, 1947)
---Pope John Paul II: “…this Saint's Mariological thought ‘is rooted in the mystery of the Trinity and in the truth of the Incarnation of the Word of God.’ ”
The whole of St. Louis de Montfort’s teaching is that the “shorter way” to spiritual perfection is through the hands of the Virgin Mother. He taught that when we do everything by, through, and with Our Lady, we are the more quickly brought to a deeper spiritual union with God. This way – to Jesus through Mary – perfectly coincides with what the Lord manifested as His Divine Will to Sr. Lucia of Fatima, which is that the Immaculate Heart must be loved and honoured next to His Sacred Heart.
Now we shall examine the spiritual direction of the Blessed Columbia Marmion who, as we shall see, offered his humble opinion that the “Act of Consecration” to the Virgin (which is truly an act TO Jesus THROUGH Mary) is especially for souls chosen by the Holy Ghost to more speedily rise to perfect spiritual union with God.
To provide a spotlight biography of the Blessed Columbia Marmion: He had been a priest in Dublin, Ireland before finding a vocation to the monastery, where he eventually become Abbot in Maredsous Abbey, Belgium. One of the foremost spiritual masters of the 20th century, his books are acclaimed by popes and cardinals, including the well-known Cardinal Mercier, Pope Benedict XV, Pope Pius XII, and Pope John Paul II.
A recently republished book, “Union with God: Letters of Spiritual Direction” (http://www.zaccheuspress.com/) is a collection of letters first published 10 years after Blessed Columba Marmion’s death. These letters were written “to the many people who wrote to him with their spiritual problems – questions about prayer, faith, temptation, trails, and suffering. Blessed Columba’s advice is always simple and uncomplicated, yet deep and profound.” (From the back cover of “Union with God: Letters of Spiritual Direction by Blessed Columba Marmion”)
What is “spiritually confirming” about this book (which I would recommend to any adult from high school age and up), is that the Blessed Columba Marmion urged sound interior practices (or even what might be called “interior non-action”), which are expounded in both the great works of the Carmelite reformers, St. Terese of Avila and St. John of the Cross, and also in the Little Way of St. Therese of Lisieux (of whom the Blessed Marmion became aware during the cause of her canonization). Blessed Marmion did not indulge in novelties, but with firm charity taught the Faith in all its integrity, whole and intact. In a word, he constantly urged that souls give themselves entirely to Our Lord, Jesus Christ – holding back nothing.
Blessed Marmion's spiritual advice conforms itself to “True Devotion to Mary” taught by St. Louis Marie de Montfort, in which the Christian souls gives themselves “To Jesus through Mary.” For that reason, most surprising was Blessed Marmion’s admission that he first found “The Secret of Mary” to be "distracting." Initially, such an admission is alarming to other Christian souls, since St. Louis Marie de Montfort and many other saints explain that a Christian’s honest attitude and devotion (or lack thereof) to the Mother of God, especially in regard to the Most Holy Rosary, reveals the true state of his soul.
However, further reading reveals that Blessed Marmion’s spiritual direction in regard to "True Devotion" was as follows: “For certain souls, drawn to [True Devotion] by grace, this devotion is doubtless fruitful and sanctifying. But for that it needs to be attracted to it by the grace of the Holy Spirit.” Yet he also claimed that for souls attracted to “The Secret of Mary,” he encouraged them, “for this devotion was propagated by a Saint, and [if] it seems to us exaggerated” it is because “perhaps…we are not yet at the diapason of holiness.”
This humble and holy observation should not cause pride in those who find themselves strongly drawn to "True Devotion" and "The Secret of Mary;" instead, it should stir a deeper love and gratitude to God for His great Mercy in calling us to give all to Jesus through the loving hands of His Virgin Mother.
In regard to “The Secret of Mary” – the "shorter" path of higher spiritual union with God via True Devotion to Jesus through Mary – various saints explain that Our Lord Himself wants all of us to give themselves to the Virgin, just as He did. Our Lord, Whose entire Life was an example for us to follow, submitted Himself in loving obedience to the Virgin Mother and his chaste foster-father, St. Joseph. Is Jesus not the Word who gave us the Commandments, including "Honor thy father and they mother"? Our Lord gave more glory to God in his first 30 years of filial submission to His Mother than if He had preached during his youth and early adult life.
We Christians know that Our Lord Jesus Christ, Second Person of the Holy Trinity and Who is both God and Man, allowed Himself to be nurtured, taught and instructed by the Virgin who was always, from the first moment of her Immaculate Conception, “full of grace.” The faithful Christian should do the same as did Our Lord throughout His Holy Life, striving to follow His example in regard to Our Lady, who was God’s “Mater et Magistra” (Mother and Teacher), the Spouse of the Holy Ghost, and Who is the perfect model for the Church.
These Marian doctrines are great mysteries, but we know they are true because God (Who can neither deceive nor be deceived) entrusted to the Church His Divine Revelation (Tradition and Scripture). Both Tradition and Scripture provide certain lights in regard to the Virgin Mary (Spouse of the Holy Ghost) and the Church (the Bride of Christ).
In embracing “True Devotion” to Jesus through Mary, we will find the Immaculate Virgin lovingly declares, as she did at Fatima, “My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the path that leads you to God.”
Each day, let us each remember that Our Lady invites us to come to her for all the graces we need, for she is indeed the Mediatrix of All Graces and She herself will intercede for us before Her Divine Son! Offer everything - every thought, word and action of the day - to Jesus through Mary, as sacrifices to God in reparation for sins and to ask for the conversion of sinners. O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary,
that never was it known
that any one
who fled to thy protection,
implored thy help,
or sought thy intercession,
was left unaided.
Inspired with this confidence,
I fly unto thee,
O Virgin of virgins, my Mother!
To thee I come,
before thee I stand,
sinful and sorrowful.
O Mother of the Word Incarnate!
Despise not my petitions,
but in thy mercy, hear and answer me. Amen.
(The Memorare of St. Bernard. Indulgence, 300 days, each time. Plenary, once a month, on the usual conditions: Confession, Holy Communion, and prayers for the intention of the Holy Father)
I was recently made aware of the St. Gabriel Catholic Academy and wondered if anyone at "Keeping it Catholic" had any info on it. They claim to be an online catholic homeschooling curriculum, but I have serious doubts about their "Catholic" faith. Coming from an evangelical background, I can easily recognize similar language on this website. It would be interesting to know who is behind this curriculum and what their motivation is.
Any help you could give would be greatly appreciated. I fear that some Catholic homeschooling parents may not search this out thoroughly and purchase this curriculum not knowing that it could be dangerous to their faith.
Thank you and God bless,
(Name withheld by KIC)
Keeping It Catholic's Response:
Thank you so much for contacting me. Keeping It Catholic was not aware of St. Gabriel Catholic Academy. That fact alone is surprising, since their website states "Copyright 1999-2008" (which implies that the service was founded in 1999), but KIC is familiar with "services" and "home study programs" which are (or claim to be) Catholic. You have now brought a questionable one to our attention, for which I must thank you.
After looking at the website, it would seem there exists a number of "Red Flags," of which I will mention only five:
First, the service claims it is Catholic yet only reiterates that it is biblically-based. What is conspicious by its absence is any mention of Tradition. (There is, however, one web page in which excerpts from various papal encyclicals are displayed. This page might mislead a parent to think that since magisterial documents are referenced, Tradition will also hold its rightful place within the courses of study. That assumption is apparently negated by the website's repeated stance that the program is biblically based.)
Second, it appears that some license was taken with the Apostle's Creed, with the result that parts of their "statement of faith" conflicts with the true Apostle's Creed (not to mention the Nicene Creed). If this academy is Catholic, why not use the Apostle's Creed as the Church has given it to us?
Third, there are no names provided - not even for the director, much less any board, trustees, teachers or counselors. Such an omission strongly suggests that the individuals behind St. Gabriel's Catholic Academy are carefully concealing their real identities - but for what reason? One should not be ashamed to use one's good name for the cause of Christ.
Fourth, this academy is located in Pennsylvania, which (based on the state's laws) is one of the more challenging in which to homeschool. My personal inquiry made to the statewide Catholic Homeschoolers of PA network - which was founded years before the academy - revealed that St. Gabriel's Academy is not at all known to them.
Fifth, the academy's accreditation status appears to be questionable, since no real authority (church or state) holds responsibility for it. In fact, their FAQ page features the question, "Is the St. Gabriel Catholic Academy a licensed or accredited school?" The answer-that-is-not-a-clear-answer claims that St. Gabriel Catholic Academy is "accredited" by NAPCIS (National Association of Private Catholic Indepent Schools) - an entity which, contrary to popular belief, holds absolutely no authority within either the Church or the state to "accredit" any school of any kind. (FYI: The issue of "accreditation" and accrediting agencies has been covered on the Keeping It Catholic email list.)
Interestingly, St. Gabriel Catholic Academy doesn't answer the question about any "license."
Instead, their response continues: "Catholic homeschool parents who enroll in St. Gabriel Academy are encouraged to look into their local homeschooling laws for oversight." [Emphasis added]
Translation for those who have not yet learned how to read-between-the-lines: "Our NAPCIS accreditation only means that a self-appointed entity, with no real authority within the Church or the state, has approved our curriculum to be in line with its self-appointed standards. Our NAPCIS accreditation means that and only that."
With those five points alone, I would have to agree with your assessment that extreme caution must be employed when considering this allegedly Catholic academy.
Again, thank you so much for bringing St. Gabriel Catholic Academy to our attention.
In the love of Christ and His Virgin Mother,
We're "Keeping It Catholic" on the Net at http://www.keepingitcatholic.org/
As to which Catholic catalogs are helping promote Mason while making a bit of money on her, too, for now I ask that you simply peruse the catalogs yourself...it's good practice in cultivating your Red Flag Instinct! In the meantime, here's another question: How did a good part of the Catholic homeschooling world enter a dangerous alliance with the heretical Charlotte Mason?
Answer: By reading and buying Protestant materials from Protestant homeschool catalogs - a practice which I publicly warned against, first in 1996 and again in 1998. Mason (and all for which she stands) is the perfect example of the dangers in which we Catholics place ourselves when we flirt with and flip through Protestant homeschool catalogs, which are (naturally) stocked with Protestant authors and a Protestant world-view (which, by the way, is very contagious).
But now we don't even need to flip through a Protestant catalog. The "Catholic" catalogs are picking up Mason, too!
These catalogs do us no favors; in fact, to use Olde English parlance, they "do us a discourtesy." They lead us into temptation, with the result that, today, too many Catholics fling aside bits and pieces of the Church's doctrines on faith, marriage and education and replace the Church's sound doctrine with those of heretics'.
Catholic education-at-home is slowly but surely being replaced with the sweet poison of the heretical Charlotte Mason, the Victorian poster girl for the likes of Rousseau, Darwin, Locke, Huxley, Herbart, and many more anti-Catholic philosophers. The next thing we know, we'll be spouting Teilhard de Chardin with glee.
Charlotte Mason cunningly lures and beckons with what we imagine to be the beauty of the Victorian Era. A time named after Queen Victoria of England, a queen who was head of a heretical "church," the Victorian Era was one of Protestant prudery, hidden under the guise of modesty. In a time in which the people were culturally forced into covering the body from (literally) chin-to-toe, lulling the populace into thinking they were exhibiting the virtues, the human mind was under attack with the age's evolving novelties. One need only read the Church's Syllabus of Errors, in which the Church formally listed condemned errors to grasp the concept.
Charlotte Mason, an Englishwoman of the Victorian Age, designed her "child-raising" model specifically to attract mothers. In this, she was fairly successful. (And let's not forget - England has not been a Catholic nation for centuries.) Let's also not forget that the mothers Mason wished to attract were those of the Anglican upper-class (and, therefore, they were her own path to a self-supporting lifestyle), those who could afford nannies for their children, not to mention affording servants to clean their homes, wash their clothes, shop, and prepare their meals, those who did not engage in "real" one-on-one mothering but were more inclined toward social gatherings and tea parties and "charities."
No, Charlotte Mason's "model" was never meant to be a model for real Catholic mothers - who understand and accept the Church's doctrines on the Christian education of youth, who take care of their own children and homes - much less a "homeschooling" model of any kind.
As daughters of Eve, we can be kind, compassionate, and open to others. On the other side of that same coin, our openness to others, combined with Mother Eve's self-assuredness, curiosity, and pride - which she passed down to us - leads us into very dangerous spots if we don't ignore our willful inclinations.
Let's not show ourselves to be so filially devoted in the latter regard, for that is what we will do if we harken to the voice of Charlotte Mason, just as our first mother entered into "dialog the devil," when she herself was still innocent ...and her husband, watching with casual disinterest, went along with the game. We all know what happened afterward.
The ancient story of Adam and Eve is a lesson to us in regard to many things. When it comes to Catholic education, rather than "adopt" Charlotte Mason in your Catholic home - thus taking the first steps to a Protestant worldview - follow in the footstops of "the new Eve," the Virgin Mother Mary. Listen to and obey the voice of God, which is entrusted to the Church via Divine Revelation, and "keep it Catholic" in all things.
Yes, dear friends, only the Catholic Church is the faithful guardian and interpreter of Divine Revelation. Of its many doctrines, the Church also possesses a doctrine on the Christian (meaning Catholic!) education of youth. How many Catholic families honestly and conscientiously cling to even this one doctrine? For if we cling to one, then we cling to all.
Divine Revelation is meant for all ages. God wants all of His children to attain Salvation. Only God gives us the means for a Catholic education that confirms itself to His Will - not that of Charlotte Mason's.
Today, we live in an era permeated with modernism. When speaking of this particular heresy, I often quote Boromir from the movie version of The Lord of the Rings, when he spoke of Mordor: "The very air you breathe is a poisonous fume." Whether we like it or not, modernism is the poisonous fume that we breathe; therefore, it affects each one of us, because we have been born and raised in The Modernist Era.
The Church, however, possesses timeless antidotes, which are summed up as follows: "Pray - Study - Act" - especially by partaking of the Sacraments, praying the Holy Rosary, wearing the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, and clinging to the Church's doctrines and dogmas.
Still, there has always been and always will be Catholics who refuse to adhere to various Church doctrines and wrongly think themselves free to do so. It could be Mass attendance, it could be contraception, it could be anything - including not obeying the Church's docrine on Catholic education, especially as it is provided in the encyclical, Divini Illius Magistri (On Christian Education of Youth, 1929).
They will not endure the Truth in a matter they (wrongly) consider inconsequential, or "out-dated." They will not endure the Church's doctrine on the Catholic education of youth, but they will pretend theirs is merely a "disagreement" (conveniently, and usually with coy guile) with those who try to help them by sharing the Church's doctrines. Willing victims of modernism, they act as though a matter of Church doctrine comes down to, "We'll just have agree to disagree."
What can be done about those dedicated to this most tragic, unfortunate progressivism within the Catholic homeschooling world? Pity them and pray for Catholics with that viewpoint, but do not listen to them.
For truly, we see - even within Catholic homeschooling circles - Our Lord's words come to fruition once more: "For there shall be a time, when they will not endure sound doctrine; but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears: And will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables. But be thou vigilant, labour in all things, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill thy ministry. Be sober." (2 Timothy 4: 3-5)
(First posted July 1, 2006 to the original blog, Keeping It Catholic - with Marianna Bartold)
I’m more than a bit concerned, however, when I read through the (still) relatively few Catholic homeschool catalogs available today and see a variety of Red Flags in at least one of them that shall not (yet) be named. One worrisome example is Charlotte Mason, “affectionately” known by her “followers” as “CM.” For those who don’t know, the long deceased Charlotte Mason’s philosophy was anti-Catholic. One might say that “CM” aspired to be the "New and Improved" (albeit female and Victorian) version of Rousseau, one of her favorite philosophical “mentors.” (She had quite a few - Pestalozzi, Froebel, Huxley...and the list goes on.)
Yes, dear readers, that's real history with what Hillaire Belloc called “the Catholic conscience.” As he explained so well, a true Catholic sees and understands history “from within” and not with a “perspective” or an “aspect.” I realize that many Catholic homeschooling parents, themselves cheated of a Catholic education in which religion (and the Catholic conscience of history) permeated all the subjects, never heard of the French Revolution. Not knowing much, if anything, of the French Revolution, it cannot be expected such parents know of Rousseau, much less expect that they have they read his infamous novel, Emile or understand its significance in this discussion. (Let it suffice to say that the theme of Emile was simply this: Children should be raised for the State, not for God).
But Mason knew all that Rousseau advocated in that regard - and she thought it a grand idea. Can there really exist a Catholic parent who does not find that fact alarming?
Since there are well-meaning Catholic homeschooling parents who do not yet know these characters or about these important facts of history, I explain to them, with a detailed "overview" in my books and speeches, why “Rousseau” is a huge, billowing Red Flag. I do so to further explain why Charlotte Mason's educational ideas or methods were not of a kind which we Catholics should respect or emulate.
The truth is that Rousseau was a degenerate and Charlotte Mason knew it; still, she admired him, calling him a "prophet" and a "genius." Since she admired Rousseau, an enemy of the Catholic Church, and since she promoted errors condemned by the Church, what did all of that make her?
Right reason, combined with even a superficial knowledge of Catholic history and a budding Catholic conscience of history, makes a world of difference in understanding what is wrong with Charlotte Mason. Once one studies the French Revolution (and its lingering effects) with a fully formed Catholic conscience of history, no further explanation is necessary.
That's why so many parents who intrinsically understand what it means to “Keep It Catholic” don’t allow the Charlotte Mason "Method" (or anything "CM") in their homes. So what is the faithful Catholic to do when flipping through at least one Catholic homeschooling catalog, as I did this past week, only to find a few books about CM, like “The Charlotte Mason Companion,” proudly displayed and sold? That very fact alone brings forth questions about the company itself.
If that is true, can we really trust their history recommendations for our Catholic homeschools, much less their recommendations in other study areas? Or is that they can blithely and completely disregard Charlotte Mason's admiration for Rousseau, the man who fathered and then abandoned his illegitimate children, and set in motion the ideals that led to the French Revolution? One might as well admire the person who admires Karl Marx, Lenin and Stalin - and be done with it.
Continuing with this serious reflection, does or does not this Catholic-owned business accept the Church’s condemnation of the very same errors embraced and promoted by Charlotte Mason? If they accept it, they will abandon carrying anything to do with CM.
And then there is the “Great Books” philosophy, which is also being touted in the same catalog. (It falls within the realm of what people today think is "classical education.") As I humorously ask my audiences, “Who decided what’s so great about the Great Books, anyway?”
In fact, in my book, Home Education Guide, Volume I, I explain the worldly thinking that is the "Great Books" philosophy. We cannot pretend we don’t “get it,” we cannot “gloss over” these very real and very important issues, and we cannot pretend that we can somehow “catholicize” Charlotte Mason.
We can’t do that because we cannot “catholicize” heresy. So keep cultivating both your Catholic Conscience of History and your Red Flag Instinct. And when you see Red Flags like Charlotte Mason or “Great Books” in a Catholic homeschooling catalog, please --- do yourself (not to mention countless other homeschooling families, as well as the company) a huge favor:
Give them a phone call or drop them an email and let them know how important it is that their customers can trust them to be Catholics of integrity, and not just a company out to make a quick and easy dollar. Ask them to drop anything that promotes or supports Charlotte Mason or the Great Books, and replace those products with more items that help you and yours “Keep It Catholic.”
Dear Readers, I hope you don't mind my sharing with you that I possess a unique perspective on these catechetical programs, since I have written "copy" for various publishers, including those who are striving to "update" their catechetical programs. Unfortunately, nothing has changed in the "politically correct department" of these publishing houses, and it is that department that hold the reins.
My original viewpoint as a catechetical contributor was one of hope. However, catechetical writers who are actually practicing, knowledgable Catholics are practically forced to express the truths of the Catholic faith in certain terms; if that does not happen, our phrasing is edited (i.e., it is diluted). Furthermore, and most distressing of all, not all catechetical writers (much less the editors) are even Catholic! Yet, in the end product, there is just enough of the truth featured, providing a nice Catholic facade for those who tend to just "glance over" these programs. (As for me, it was a good learning opportunity, and it greatly assisted me as an educator and a reviewer to experience first-hand the "inside development" of such programs.)
First of all, Silver Burdett Ginn is now a part of Scott Foresman, a secular educational company. (This fact lends further proof to my own observations and experiences that those who control the reigns to catechetical programs are secularists, if not outright progressives, liberals or modernists. )
The focus of "Blessed are We" may be summed up as follows: community, service and social justice. The program aims to "respect diversity, working for social justice on a global scale and teaching effective skills of dialogue, negotiation and non-violent ways to bring about change."
The following is an overview of the first six levels, revealing some of the program's Red Flags:
Baptism is a "celebration of becoming a member of the Christian community." (Notice that baptism is no longer about washing away Original Sin and thus becoming a child of God; instead, the focus is on "the community.")
"Recognize God's image in each person" (rather than clearly explaining that we are made in God's Image and explaining what that means, the change in terms is misleading and can easily lead to a belief in pantheism.)
The Church is defined as a " a world community of all kinds of people." (Compare this definition to that found in the Baltimore Catechism!)
The Apostle's Creed is "a set of beliefs" (i.e., not necessarily defined TRUTHS.)
Confession is termed only as "reconciliation," and little or nothing is said about repentance and penance. Instead, through reconciliation, "we can celebrate God's forgiveness and re-establish our relationship with others, God and the church community. (Notice we "celebrate" - not attain - God's forgiveness for our sins through Confession and absolution. The focus is first on others, then God - a "twist" of the first Commandment as well as the Great Commandment.)
"Blessed Are We" also teaches, "Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick are sacraments of healing which are meant to be celebrated primarily in community." (Since when are these sacraments primarily celebrated 'in community?" Thus, Confession is no longer a "private matter" between God, one's confessor and one's self. Extreme Unction is also a "community" event, but one would like to know "how" if one is sick and ailing, whether at home or in a hospital.) Unlike the Baltimore Catechism or Our Holy Faith, the sacraments are not described as sacraments of the living or the "spiritually" dead, since we can no longer acknowledge that venial sin wounds the grace in our souls or that mortal sin kills the life of grace within our souls.
Mass is introduced as "special meal that celebrates God's love for us." (It is no longer a Sacrifice, but a meal!) Later, there is an acknowledgement that Jesus is "truly present" at the Mass, but it is not made clear "how."
"Blessed Are We" acknowledges that Jesus leads us to God, but it is not made very clear that Jesus IS God. He is mentioned as "messiah" (small m), but His role is played down more to a level of another prophet. At other times, his (sic) "salvific mission" is mentioned. Most disturbing, especially once one gets to the lessons on ISLAM.
"Blessed are We" does not correctly teach the difference between respecting a person of a different religion, because that person is also made in God's image (not to mention that person's soul needs salvation through the Catholic Church) and his belief system; instead it teaches we must also "respect" a person's non-Catholic religion, with a special emphasis on respecting Islam. Furthermore, "Blessed Are We" does nothing positive for the student by presenting these "belief systems" since it does not correct them with true Catholic doctrine. Instead, it indoctrinates the student with the false viewpoint that other beliefs are acceptable, thus promoting the sin of religious indifferentism (i.e., the false belief that all religions are perceived as good and equal.)
Please allow me to provide a specific example (with all emphasis below mine), a very revealing excerpt from the "Blessed Are We" website, which states:
We are one with our Muslim brothers and sisters. Let us take it upon ourselves to become more knowledgeable and respectful of Muslims and Islam.
The content below was developed by Maureen Gallagher, Ph.D. Archdiocesan Delegate to Parishes in the Milwaukee Archdiocese. Adapt and integrate the content for use in the home, school, or parish.
Some Frequently Asked Questions about Islam, Muslims, and Related Issues
This overview, by the nature of the format, is very cursory. You are encouraged to study the issues in much more depth and explore the resources named at the end of the questions.
1. What is Islam?
Islam is one of the great world religions. It was articulated by the prophet Muhammad in the seventh century. The word `Islam' means submission--submission to the will of God--and is derived from a word meaning peace. The name given to God in Islam is Allah, which is the Arabic name for God.
2. Who are Muslims?
Muslims are people who practice the Islamic faith. Muslims are the second largest group of religious people in the world, next to Christians. Muslim people come from many races, nationalities and cultures. Many parts of the Asian and African world are Muslim. About 18% of Muslims live in the Middle Eastern Arab part of the world. However, it should be noted that all Arabs are not Muslims. Some are Christians and others practice other religions. Many African- Americans are Muslims as their original religion in Africa was Islam. Muslims do not see themselves as a "new religion," but rather the last stage of God's revelation that began with Abraham continued to Moses, Jesus and ultimately Muhammad. Many people of American and European descent have embraced Islam.
3. What do Muslims believe?
Muslims believe in One God. They often use the words, One, Unique, Incomparable God. They believe in angels and in the prophets through whom God's revelations were made known. Muslims believe in life after death and in accountability for one's actions.
4. Do Muslims believe in Jesus Christ
Muslims believe Jesus Christ was a great prophet. They do not believe that Jesus Christ is the second person of the Trinity, the son of God.
5. Is there any connection between Muslims and Christianity?
Muslims trace their origins back to Abraham as do Jews and Christians. They believe that Muhammad, their great prophet, was descended from Abraham's son Ishmael and that Moses and Jesus were descendents of Isaac. Muslims believe in many of the prophets of the Old or First Testament as well as in the prophetic mission of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ.
6. Who was Muhammad?
Muhammad was born in 570 and orphaned as a young child. As he grew up people noticed that he was a truthful, generous and sincere person. He was deeply religious and contemplative. He was known as a fair arbitrator. According to Islamic belief when Muhammad was forty years old he received his first revelation from God through the Angel Gabriel. His revelations continued for 23 years. The revelations were written down and formed the Islamic holy book or Qur'an (Koran). The Qur'an has passages very similar to the Hebrew and Christian scriptures, plus unique revelations that Muhammad received.
7. Do Christians believe in Muhammad?
Christians recognize Muhammad as a great religious leader. The Catholic Church has a high regard for Muslims.
8. How do Muslims practice their religion?
There are five pillars in Islam:
One: The Creed The creed is very simple. Basically, it is as follows: There is no god except God. Muhammad is the messenger of God.
Two: Prayer Prayer is central to Muslim religious practice. Muslims pray five times a day: dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset and nightfall. Muslims pray in mosques or wherever they are. The prayers are based on the Qur'an and said in Arabic, although personal petitions are said in the vernacular.
Three: Fasting During the month of Ramadan Muslims fast from dawn until sundown as a means of purification and as a way of identifying with the hungry of the world. The Muslim calendar is based on a lunar year. This year Ramadan begins toward the end of November.
Four: Purifying Tax (Zakat) Muslims believe that all things belong to God and that possessions are a trust given to people. The "Purifying Tax" is a way of exercising detachment from things as well as a way of providing for the poor. It is similar to the concept of stewardship or tithing in the Judeo-Christian tradition.
Five: Pilgrimage The journey to Mecca is required once in a life time, if it is possible. Mecca is in Saudi Arabia.
9. What are some other things unique to Muslims?
Muslims are restricted from eating pork or drinking alcoholic drinks. Their weekly holy day is Friday. They worship in mosques. Three mosques are particularly important: Mosque of Kaaba in Mecca, Mosque of the Prophet Muhammad in Medina and Masjid Aqsa, next to the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.
10. What have Muslims contributed to the quality of life in the world?
Since the early centuries of Islam, Muslims have made significant contributions to society in the fields of medicine, chemistry, mathematics, arts, poetry, spirituality and physics. Two well known landmarks in Chicago, the Sears Tower and the John Hancock building were designed by a Muslim architect.
11. Why is it that some people associate terrorism with Islam and Muslims?
There are small groups of Muslims who have distorted the practice of Islam and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad by choosing terror and violence as a means of fighting perceived injustice. They are extremists. This does not mean that all Muslims are violent killers. The vast majority of Muslims oppose these violent acts. Just because some Catholics and Protestants act violently in Northern Ireland does not mean all Catholics and Protestants are violent. Most Christians and Muslims live throughout the world in peace and harmony with their neighbors. There are approximately 7,000,000 Muslims living as good neighbors in the United States today.
12. What is the Taliban that we hear so much about these days?
The Taliban currently rules most of Afghanistan. The country has been torn by civil war for the last thirty years. The rise of the Taliban and the United States' role in this is complicated. The word, `Taliban' in Arabic means "seekers of truth." The Taliban is an extremist Islamic group that controls ninety percent of Afghanistan. Their interpretation of Islam is not shared by the majority of Islamic people. Under their interpretation of the "truth," television, dance, film, playing cards, chessboards, fashion catalogues, neckties, photography, kite-flying, non-religious music have been banned. Women cannot attend school or work and generally receive little or no medical care. Famous statues of the giant Buddhas have been destroyed. The majority of Islamic scholars call the Taliban interpretation of Islam a gross distortion.
13. What are the causes of terrorism?
There is no easy answer to this question. Many acts of terrorism are rooted in the experience of oppression and social injustice. Terrorists choose to use violence to eradicate injustice rather than political processes or non-violent approaches as Ghandi or Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. did.
14. How can terrorism be eliminated?
Terrorism can be eliminated by helping all people respect diversity, working for social justice on a global scale and teaching effective skills of dialogue, negotiation and non-violent ways to bring about change. We must also continue to promote the sanctity and basic dignity of all human beings in such a way that we grow in a global respect and promotion of human dignity.
15. As Catholics what should our attitude and our relationship to Muslims be?
Nowhere is this better stated than in the teachings of the Second Vatican Council:
"The Church has ... a high regard for Muslims. They worship God, who is one, living and subsistent, merciful and almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth, who has spoken to men. They strive to submit themselves without reserve to the hidden decrees of God, just as Abraham submitted himself to God's plan, to whose faith Muslims eagerly link their own.
Although not acknowledging him as God, they venerate Jesus as a prophet. They honor his virgin Mother and even at times devoutly invoke her. They highly esteem an upright life and worship God especially by way of prayer, almsgiving and fasting. Over the centuries many quarrels and dissensions have arisen between Christians and Muslims. The sacred Council now pleads with all to forget the past, and urges that a sincere effort be made to achieve mutual understanding; for the benefit of all, let them together preserve and promote peace, liberty, social justice and moral values." (Nostra Aetate 3)
The info above comes from Blessed Are We. Since my original 2003 Red Flag alert, the site has removed its preview pages of the program. The information was on The Resource page, which featured a paragraph about links, including the one about Islam (now a dead link).
(First posted Oct. 8, 2003 to the original blog, Keeping It Catholic - with Marianna Bartold)
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
First of all, please don't be nervous! If someone with a need to know (like a prospective employer) should ask a recent high school, homeschooled graduate seeking employment , "Do you have a high school diploma?" any homeschooled young adult can simply and honestly answer "Yes." There is no need to add, "But it's a homeschool type." While I realize that individuals or some organizations might disagree, it comes down to the Christian truth that a HOME school diploma is authentic, especially when we know that we have every right and duty to educate our own children.
In addition, when was the last time any of us recall pulling out our high school diploma to offer proof of our high school education? I can't recall doing that even once. The usual question really has to do with high school graduation, and a homeschooled student can forthrightly state, "Yes, I graduated" (again, without necessarily sharing details to a prospective employer).
To prepare a high school transcript that reflects grades 9-12 (completed) and which will be submitted to a college, I recommend simply going over each subject which your student has studied and break each subject down into either a "1 semester class" or a "whole year" class. A one semester class is usually listed as a half credit (.5), while a whole year class is one credit (1.0) If you haven't done so already, please be sure to:
---Find out what are your state’s current graduation requirements (e.g. - how many credits needed for math, science, social studies - eg. history and geography - and Language Arts - eg. English, Composition, Poetry, Literature inclusive).
---Thoroughly research the college admission requirements at the campus in which your student is interested. I say this because there are always exceptions to the general outline which I am here providing. If you call and ask verbal questions, be absolutely sure to ask for the college counselor's name and direct extension number - and file any that info inside a special folder on your computer. (A word to the wise: Verbal discussions mean little. A counselor can easily say at a later time that you misunderstood them. So ask for a letter of confirmation, clearly spelling out what high school graduation requirements or any special considerations they need for home educated high school grads.) If you don't find explicit information on homeschool requirements in the college catalog, be sure to ask - and be sure to get the answer in writing.
---Look at everything your student did that qualifies for each subject, in addition to written work. (e.g. - special reading interests, 4-H, Science Fairs.)
---Do the same by listing extracurricular courses - anything from Latin (or any foreign language) to "sports" to any special interest clubs. The reason for doing this is to clearly but briefly display that your student possesses a range of outside interests.
---Then type out the draft of your master transcript to start totaling and comparing that your student fits the requirements. Keep the transcript size to fit ONE typed 8" x 11" page. When it is completed, double and triple-check for typing errors, alignment errors, etc. Send only clean, wrinkle-free copies.
---Start out with your student's name, Social Security (required these days), class standing (1of 1), and graduation date (month/date/year). Then start with 12th grade and move backward. It's easier to make a 4 box chart on the page (one box for each grade) and then type out class names and grades in each box: 12th grade in the first box with school year (Ex: Grade 12, 2007-2008), 11th grade in the 2nd box (Ex: Grade 11, 2006-2007), etc.
If your student has enrolled in any home study programs or other outside classes,and received a grade, record such subjects on your master transcript. (In most cases, it is a good idea to attach the outside source’s transcript as proof. Also be sure to ask the outside source to send a copy of that same transcript to the college. Ask for the person's name who is taking your request and mark your calendar with the date your made the request. This may seem like a waste of time, but most colleges will require this extra step - and if the transcript doesn't show up, you will know who to contact and provide that person with the specific date on which you made the request. It's better to be safe than sorry!)
For example, you could list on your master transcript a Catholic home study program's class like this:
At the very bottom of the transcript page, include the following note:
*Name of the Catholic home study provider (e.g., Our Lady of Victory Catholic School or Seton Home Study, etc.) To your own transcript, staple the outside Catholic curriculum provider's transcript.
-Make a small grade chart, placed either on the top right or bottom right of the transcript (for example, an "A" = 4.0000, a "B+" =3.5555, a "B" = 3.3333, etc.). Also include the total number of credits per year, plus showing the grand total by graduation. (Again, a general rule of thumb is to compare to your state's graduation guidelines.)
--For your own self-designed classes, provide them with any name you desire. For example, one could use the term "Theology" for Religion, since most colleges (except Catholic ones) will not accept any Religion class credits. (If you have to be extraordinarily creative, it might be called "Universal World Religion" - that is, singular, not plural - since, ridiculous as it is, studying world religions with a secular viewpoint seems to be slightly in vogue). As long as your student really did the work, they should be able to claim the high school credit, even if the name of the subject must be somewhat changed. Another example: Label a Catholic Literature class "Western Literature," while another lit class might be "American and British Literature."
--On the bottom of the transcript, you should include a few notes about any extra-curricular activities (choir, volunteer work, part-time job, etc.). Keep it simple with the description. Examples:
---Boy Scouts, attained Eagle Scout Rank
---2 years of volunteer work (or part-time work) at ****.
---1 yr. Community Choir
---3 yrs. (vocal, instrument, or dance) lessons at ***.
Most high school transcripts don't include any "church" volunteer work simply because most colleges (except Catholic ones) will not seriously consider anything to do with the church (choir, soup kitchen, Legion of Mary, altar boy, etc.). Therefore, it's up to you if you wish to include church-related activities, despite the prevailing attitude against local parish volunteerism. (You might consider stating such volunteer work as "Volunteer at Annual Thanksgiving Soup Kitchen" and simply name the city and state location, or if helping out in teaching others about religion, briefly phrase this worthy work as "part-time tutor.")
Finally, total all of the completed credits in each grade box (grades 9-12) and then record the student's GPA (over the span of 4 high school years) in a separate, small area on your master transcript.Best wishes to all of our upcoming Catholic homeschooled graduates!
In the love of Christ and His Virgin Mother,
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