Wednesday, June 2, 2010

No Greater Work: Education in the Modernist Era

What greater work is there than training the mind and forming the habits of the young?”[1]

St. John Chrysostom’s beautiful observation serves as a reminder that, like all doctrines, those on marriage and education were given by God and received by the Church for the instruction, sanctification, and salvation of the faithful. Yet we who live in the “modernist era” have great challenges set before us.

As Catholics, we have duties and obligations and, with them, exist their corresponding rights. To speak of “duties,” “obligations,” and “rights” is not to infer, as some do, matters of cold duty, grim-faced compulsion, or capricious, self-seeking demands. Rather, these duties, obligations and rights are expressions, so to speak, of supernatural charity. This is the virtue summed up by Christ Himself when He spoke of the two Great Commandments: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. And the second is like to this: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments dependeth the whole law and the prophets.” [2]

With this charity to God and to their families, the primary obligation of Catholic parents is raising their children to be good Christians. (On an important, related note, “Church tradition makes clear that the words Christian and Catholic are synonymous.” [3] It is through the family that a child should first learn to “know, love and serve God in this world” [4] in order to be happy with Him in the next.

The Catholic formation and education of children is a parental obligation first to God, because it is He Who blesses a husband and wife with children, either through natural generation or through generous adoption. After all, it is to God Whom the couple promised, when exchanging their sacramental marriage vows, to receive children joyfully and to raise and educate them in the Catholic Faith, so that they may gain eternal life. Secondly, since charity is also directed to our neighbors, and since our closest neighbors are our own spouses and children, one can see why “Charity begins at home.” [5]

All the good which Catholic parents do on behalf of their children should issue from this supernatural charity, simultaneously recalling that with obligations and duties are their corresponding rights. The Church recognizes that these are matters of both natural and divine law, as the few examples below will show:

Pope Leo XIII: “By nature, parents have a right to the training of their children, but with this added duty: that the education and instruction of the child be in accord with the end for which by God's blessing it was begotten. Therefore it is the duty of parents to make every effort to prevent any invasion of their rights in this matter, and to make absolutely sure that the education of their children remain under their own control in keeping with their Christian duty, and above all to refuse to send them to those schools in which there is danger of imbibing the deadly poison of impiety.” [6]

Pope Pius XI: “The family therefore holds directly from the Creator the mission and hence the right to educate the offspring, a right inalienable because inseparably joined to the strict obligation, a right anterior to any right whatever of civil society and of the State, and therefore inviolable on the part of any power on earth.” [7]

Pope Pius XII: “Parents who are earnest and conscious of their educative duties, have a primary right to the education of the children God has given them in the spirit of their Faith, and according to its prescriptions.” [8]

The latter pope also wrote, “The charge laid by God on parents, to provide for the material and spiritual well-being of their offspring and to procure for them a suitable training, imbued with the true spirit of religion, cannot be wrested from them without grave violation of their rights.” [9]

The Times in Which We Live
As the Church goes, so goes the world, as an old maxim states, meaning that what affects the Church affects all societies. The Church and, with her, the family is under particular attack.

Without the Church established by Christ, Our Lord has not His kingdom on earth. Without Christian families (from which spring more families, priests, and religious), there would be no citizens in the kingdom of Christ on earth. This is exactly the situation for which the Church’s enemies strive: to dismantle to its very foundations the eternal Catholic City and destroy its citizens - especially the little ones - in whatever way possible.

Near the end of the 19th century, Pope Leo XIII observed, “The very times in which we live are warning us to seek remedies there where alone they are to be found - namely, by re-establishing in the family circle and throughout the whole range of society the doctrines and practices of the Christian religion.” [10] The truth of this magisterial statement (and others which later shall be addressed) is even more evident in our day.

Successive acts of the traditional Magisterium (both Ordinary and Extraordinary) remind those living within the Catholic City of the Christian principles by which they must live. Simultaneously, the same magisterial acts warn of the rising heresies, their origins, and the various means to resist them.[11] The Catholic City’s repeated “call-to-arms” were made by its stewards, who understood that the obligations and rights of the papal office charged them with its safe-guarding and protection.

The whole Church is in dissolution,” St. Basil the Great mourned in the 2nd century. [12]It is a great tragedy that the elect of this age can make the same lament. Still, faithful Catholics familiar with salvation history know that ours is not the first era in which heresy has afflicted the human element of the Church - for we can and must make the distinction between the Church herself and individuals within the Church.

While it is true that heresies have always distressed the Church Militant, those living in this age are the most grievously afflicted. Why? The plethora of condemned heresies is now coalesced into what the Church deems as modernism, “the synthesis of all heresies.” [13] 

The very air you breathe is a poisonous fume,” says Boromir in the movie-version of The Fellowship of the Ring, as he spoke of the evil land of Mordor. A most appropriate observation for those of us who live in the Modern Age, Boromir’s remark reminds us that the very culture in which we live is permeated with the poison of modernism. As popes from Clement XII to Pius XII have declared (and as history proves), the “modern errors” are poisoning souls and societies. The symptoms of this insidious, deadly spiritual disease are everywhere manifest.

One may wonder why, in an essay on Catholic education, the subject of modernism arises. Simply stated, parents and other educators need to know against what they are battling and how to combat it, in order to protect and educate the children. Without even being asked for the exchange, the greater part of recent generations have been denied their birthright and handed a mess of pottage. [14]

Perhaps what is most chilling about the modernist heresy is this: it may be the warning sign of the coming person known as Anti-Christ. Consider that modernism is “the synthesis” of all the previous and lesser heresies, just as the Anti-Christ will be “the synthesis” of all previous and lesser anti-christs in history.

Decades ago, an intriguing observation about “dialog” (as it is called today) and “education without religion” was made by Rev. R. Gerald Culleton, author of The Prophets and Our Times. Fr. Culleton was a Catholic priest who had carefully studied prophecies from Divine Revelation (Tradition and Scripture, both Old Testament and New), prophecies from Fathers of the Church (the Didache and Apostolic Constitutions, 90-100 A.D.), private prophecies from Apocryphal Scriptures of Jewish tradition and other ancient oracles, and prophecies from the Middle Ages and those spanning between the 16th and 20th centuries, with a good number of them uttered by canonized saints, beati, and venerables.

There will be those who will indulge in fruitless discussions of so-called learned things,” wrote Fr. Culleton, “and by so doing will miss the real truth and the real faith because the things which engage their attention are based on false knowledge instead of the truth. The reason for this, primarily, is the education without religion which will exist in those days, for this education will not really educate but will have as its basis vain works and false ideals. This so-called education will be one of the most effective means used by Satan to prepare the world for Anti-Christ.” [15]

Our Savior, Jesus Christ, calls the Anti-Christ “the son of perdition.” [16] This, “the man of sin, according to both St. John and St. Paul, [i]s a person destined to gather all the evil forces in the world and unite and coordinate them under his dominion for the last desperate attack on the Church of Jesus Christ.” [17]

In foreseeing the Anti-Christ, St. John “outlines the preparation of his [the anti-Christ’s] empire in the first nine chapters [of the Apocalypse] and thereafter its growth to maturity under the personal direction of Anti-Christ and then its destruction. Emperor-worship, idolatry, magic, Judaism, heresy, schism, agnosticism, infidelity, liberalism, atheism, compromise with error or unbelief, persecution of the Church, hypocrisy and other vices are the roots out of which the enormities of Anti-Christ’s reign will grow until they overshadow the world.” [18]

Should we not consider, then, that every one of the ten aforementioned signs is already apparent in these days? Too, St. Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, foretells that the day of the Lord is not to come until the man of sin be revealed: “Let no man deceive you by any means, for unless there come a revolt first, and the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition.” [19]

The revolt of which St. Paul speaks is the great falling away, otherwise known as the great apostasy. Pope St. Pius X alluded to both apostasy and the Anti-Christ in his inaugural encyclical, E Supremi (On the Restoration of All Things in Christ):

For who can fail to see that society is at the present time, more than in any past age, suffering from a terrible and deep-rooted malady which, developing every day and eating into its inmost being, is dragging it to destruction? You understand, Venerable Brethren, what this disease is - apostasy from God.” [20]

“When all this is considered there is good reason to fear lest this great perversity may be as it were a foretaste, and perhaps the beginning of those evils which are reserved for the last days; and that there may be already in the world the ‘Son of Perdition’ of whom the Apostle speaks (2 Thess. 2: 3).” [21]


What to Do?
Pope St. Pius X – a holy pope, a canonized saint whose body is incorruptible - not only assessed the disease, but he gave the antidote: the “‘restoring of all things in Christ’ (Eph. 1:10), so that ‘Christ may be all and in all’ (Col. 2:2).” [22]

But if our desire to obtain this is to be fulfilled, we must use every means and exert all our energy to bring about the utter disappearance of the enormous and detestable wickedness, so characteristic of our time - the substitution of man for God; this done, it remains to restore to their ancient place of honor the most holy laws and counsels of the gospel; to proclaim aloud the truths taught by the Church, and her teachings on the sanctity of marriage, on the education and discipline of youth, on the possession and use of property, the duties that men owe to those who rule the State; and lastly to restore equilibrium between the different classes of society according to Christian precept and custom.” [23]

Although the sainted pope clearly laid out for the princes of the Church “the means to be employed in attaining this great end,” [24] the restoring of all things in Christ is still not accomplished. Granted, some advances were made, only to be soon followed by a greater number of retreats and capitulations.

For many reasons, the war against modernism is not yet won but, as St. Paul said to the Romans, “Even so…at this present time also, there is a remnant saved according to the election of grace.” [25] Thanks only to the merciful Virgin Mary’s intercession before the throne of God, the Catholic City still stands.

Not long after Pope St. Pius X was called to his eternal reward, Our Lady came to Fatima. There She affirmed the central doctrines of the Catholic Faith, stressing the daily Rosary and sacrifice for the conversion of sinners, and forewarning in “the Great Secret” of future and terrible world events if Her requests were not heeded.

But Our Lady also promised, “In the end, My Immaculate Heart will triumph” and with it, “an era of peace will be granted to the world.”

What, then, is expected of all Catholics, and is there anything “special” that Catholic parents can do? The same answer to both questions is simpler than one might expect. It will foster the continuing Catholic formation and education of children, teens, and adults, and it infallibly guarantees the salvation of many souls:

• “Therefore, brethren, stand fast; and hold the traditions which you have learned, whether by word, or by our epistle,” as St. Paul taught. [26] Therein is found the definition and the “secret” of Divine Revelation; it is to Tradition and Scripture that we must hold.

• Do everything which the Virgin of Fatima requested. The Fatima apparitions were declared worthy of belief, so it is no small matter to disregard the Queen of the Catholic City. That for which the Virgin asked finds precedent in either Tradition or Scripture: Prayer and sacrifice (specifically, in the form of the daily Rosary), Sacramental Confession and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass offered in reparation for sins (the foundational necessity for the Five First Saturday devotions), meditation on the mysteries of Christ’s life, the wearing of the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, fidelity to daily duty as Catholics and in our states in life, and - finally - consecration (of a nation, but also of individuals).

 • With the children, ask in the daily Rosary intentions that the Holy Father will accept the graces God sends him to fulfill the Virgin’s request that Russia is collegially consecrated to Her Immaculate Heart. Our Lord Himself said to Sr. Lucia, “Pray much for the Holy Father. He will do it, but it will be late.”

 • Consecrate ourselves to the Virgin Mary, according to the method given by St. Louis de Montfort.[27] Do not hesitate to use one’s parental right to place one’s children, regardless of age, under Our Lady’s mantle.

As we keep hope in the promises of Christ, with constant recourse to Him and His Virgin Mother, may we always recall the words of St. Augustine: “The crown of victory is promised only to those who engage in the struggle.” [28]

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Secrets of the Catholic City is the name of Mrs. Bartold's column, published in Catholic Family News (CFN). "No Greater Work: The Education of the Young in the Modernist Era" was published in CFN's April 2010 issue. All Rights Reserved World-wide by the author.

Marianna Bartold, founder of Keeping It Catholic, is the author of “The Age of Mary” Study Guides, a series of “digitally delivered” Catholic unit studies for homeschooled teens - as well as adults or anyone who wishes to grow closer “to Jesus through Mary.” Her other works include the upcoming digital Return of the King (The Lord of the Rings) Catholic Study Guide. She is the author of the Keeping It Catholic Home Education Guide books (Volumes I and II). Mrs. Bartold was the original homeschool editor of Sursum Corda and the founding publisher of The Catholic Family’s Magnificat! Magazine.
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Notes
[1] St. John Chrysostom, Hom. 60, in c. 18 Matt.: Ouid maius quam animis moderari, quam adolescentulorum fingere mores? Cited by Pope Pius XI in Divinis Illius Magistri (On Christian Education of Youth, 1929): para. 8.
[2] Mt. 22: 36-40. [Douay-Rheims Bible]
[3] Marianna Bartold, “Christ in the Family: The Christian Education of Youth,” Catholic Family News, Aug. 2009.
[4] Baltimore Catechism and Mass, No. 3, The New Confraternity Edition Revised [Washington, D.C.: Catholic Book Publishing Co., 1949]: p. 6.
[5] Quote attributed to Terence (full name, Publius Terentius Afer) in Andria; Roman comic dramatist (185 B.C. - 159 B.C.); Quotations by Author at “The Quotations Page” website [http://www.quotationspage.com/quotes/Terence/]
[6] Pope Leo XIII, cited by Pope Pius XI in Divini Illius Magistri (On the Christian Education of Youth, December 29, 1929): para. 35. [Emphasis added]
[7] Pope Pius XI, Divini Illius Magistri (On the Christian Education of Youth, December 29, 1929): para. 32. [Emphasis added]
[8] Pope Pius XII, Mit Brennender Sorge (On the Church and the German Reich, March 14, 1937): para. 31. [Emphasis added]
[9] Pope Pius XII, Summi Pontificatus (On the Unity of Society, October 20, 1939): para. 66. [Emphasis added]
[10] Pope Leo XIII, Sapientiae Christianae (On Christians as Citizens, January 10, 1890): para. 3.
[11] See the papal bull of Pope Clement XII, In Eminenti (On Freemasonry, April 28, 1738); also Pope Gregory XVI, Mirari Vos (On Liberalism, August 15, 1832); Pope Pius IX, Quanta Cura (On Current Errors, December 8, 1864) and the Syllabus of Errors (December 8, 1864); Pope Leo XIII, Humanum Genus (On Freemasonry and Naturalism, April 20, 1884); Pope Pius X, E Supremi (On the Restoration of All Things in Christ, October 4, 1904); Lamentabili Sane (Syllabus Condemning the Errors of the Modernists, July 3, 1907), Pascendi Dominici Gregis (On the Doctrines of the Modernists, September 8, 1907) and Our Apostolic Mandate (On the “Sillion,” August 25, 1910); Pope Pius XI, Quas Primas (On the Feast of Christ the King, December 11, 1925), Mortalium Animos (On Fostering True Religious Unity, January 6, 1928); Divini Redemptoris (On Atheistic Communism, March 19, 1937); and Pope Pius XII, Humani Generis (On Certain False Opinions Which Threaten to Undermine Christian Doctrine, August 12, 1950).
[12] St. Basil the Great (ca.330 A.D-ca.379 A.D.), Epistulae, to St. Athanasius (in 371-372 A.D.).
[13] Pope Pius X, Pascendi Dominici Gregis (On the Doctrines of the Modernists, September 8, 1907): para. 39.
[14] Gen. 25: 31-34.
[15] Rev. R. Gerald Culleton, The Prophets and Our Times [Republished in Rockford, IL: TAN Books and Publishers, 1974. Originally published by the author in 1941 and 1943, with Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, November 1941]: p. 25. [Emphasis added]
[16] Jn. 17:12. [Emphasis added]
[17] Rev. Herman Bernard Kramer, The Book of Destiny [Rockford, IL: TAN Books and Publishers, reprinted 1975 from the original 1955 edition, with Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, January 1956): p. 18. [Emphasis added]
[18] Rev. Kramer, Ibid., p. 21. [Emphasis added]
[19] 2 Thess. 2:3. [Emphasis added]
[20] Pope St. Pius X, E Supremi (On the Restoration of All Things in Christ, October 4, 1903): para. 3. [Emphasis added]
[21] Ibid., para. 5. [Emphasis added]
[22] Ibid., para. 4.
[23] Ibid., para. 9. [Emphasis added]
[24] Ibid., para. 10.
[25] Rom. 11:5.
[26] 2 Thess. 2:14. [Emphasis added]
[27] St. Louis de Montfort, True Devotion to Mary, republished in Rockford, IL: TAN Books and Publishers.
[28] St. Augustine (354-430 A.D.), De Agone Christiano, 1:1.



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