Thursday, March 27, 2008

Charlotte Mason: For Whose Sake?

It seems there is a flurry of interest in my last blog entry in regard to Catholic homeschool catalogs. The main question: Which Catholic homeschooling catalogs promote Charlotte Mason ("CM") - and why? Don't they realize Mason, a Protestant teacher, many times proved herself to stand against sound Church doctrine? All one has to do, they say, is read her books. (True enough...but one needs the "Catholic conscience of history" to spot Mason's many errors.)

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'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)

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