Catholic Schools Week begins with this Sunday Mass, with these words from the opening prayer of the Mass: “Grant us, Lord our God, that we may honor you with all our mind, and love everyone in truth of heart.” We honor God by using our minds; God is glorified when we educate the human intellect that He gave us.
Indeed, “a mind is a terrible thing to waste,” but much of what passes for education today cannot be considered independent and critical thinking. Many schools and most universities today, if I may be excused for saying so, simply generate groupthink and propaganda.
It is simply irrational not to posit a First Cause to empirical phenomena, and a rightly-ordered society, a peaceful and just human community, begins by honoring this “First Cause” with our minds—being “mindful” of the First Principle and Final End of all reality.
By using the minds God gave us, as the opening prayer continues, we attain the capacity to “love everyone in truth of heart.” One cannot love what one does not know, so education in the truth must precede love, and even basic respect, for others. Love comes through an understanding of Truth — the truth about God, the truth about man, the truth about all of the natural world.
Authentic educators lead students to see the whole of reality, from the first principles of philosophy to an empirical knowledge of astronomy to molecular biology and subatomic physics, to geometric theorems and every kind of mathematics, to the science of history and languages and music and art. Every subject brings us to God’s truth, and every subject is integral to “Catholic” (meaning universal) education. Learning how to love by learning how the human person and the natural world works is the genius of Catholic education.
In 1894 God gave this part of San Francisco a precious gift: a new parish, which the Irish horse farmers out here asked to be called “Our Lady, Star of the Sea.” In 1909 God gave the Richmond District another treasure: a Catholic school taught by the sisters of St. Joseph.
Five years ago the Archdiocesan superintendent of Schools asked me to make Star of the Sea School a Catholic Classical Academy, reclaiming the integrated classical method of teaching, the full patrimony of Catholic education. “Seek the Lord, you humble of the earth” the prophet Zephaniah tells us in the first reading. “Seek justice, seek humility.” The Catholic approach to education requires an intellectual humility that discovers knowledge rather than inventing it. The Catholic approach receives truths from God rather than fabricating our own “truths.”
Parents of our school tell me that their children are so much more peaceful at Stella Maris, and I think that this is because they are learning where they have come from and where they are going. Parents tell me that their children want to go to school now because each day reveals new wonders to them. Parents tell me that the anger and sadness with which they used to come home from school have been replaced by a joyful humility.
Teaching our children the truth, goodness, and beauty of the natural order is how we “honor God with our minds.” Be mindful of heaven, and your mind will flourish on earth. Be mindful of the truths of God, and your mind will see the truths of man. A Catholic education does not teach children to “make” their own reality, or to control their environment, but to seek understanding and wisdom and beauty in the world as it is given to us.
This intellectual humility and realism is what distinguishes a Catholic education. It is our patrimony, and the Archbishop has asked our parish school to reclaim what is rightfully ours as heirs of the Kingdom, for the glory of God and the good of the world.
From Father Illo’s Blog
Great!!! But, in practical terms, what makes this school different? What makes its curriculum, for fifth grade for example, different from other Catholic or public schools? What different teaching processes are used? What is distinct in this school beyond the philosophy described in the article? I think there is a real story here, that if told more fully could change how other schools operate, how they approach learning, how they foster learning itself. Teach us more!
Classical education is so different from how I was educated.
Many schools and most universities today, if I may be excused for saying so, simply generate groupthink and propaganda.
Nope. You are not excused for saying this. It should not have been said.
It is a habit of narcissism to demean and negate the other.
This is an empirical fact that could be proved or disproved and you give no evidence.
Sorry. Father Illo, but you cannot talk about intellectual humility while committing detraction and calumny.
Especially after starting with a prayer asking to love everyone in truth.
I was too aggressive here.
I like to be corrected but I would not appreciate it if someone did it like this.
He’s not writing a research paper. As a recently retired teacher, I know exactly what he’s referring to, and it’s disgusting.
I recall, long, long ago, learning in school, all about the “First Cause” (God) proposed by Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas. Years ago, Catholic school children were taught to honor God first, in everything. They were taught to write mottos such as “JMJ” (Jesus, Mary, and Joseph) or else, “AMDG” (“Ad majorem Dei Gloriam”– “For the greater Glory of God”– a Jesuit motto) at the top of the page, on all schoolwork, to offer it to God. Fr. Illo’s educational philosophy is very similar to the original Catholic educational philosophy of Jesuits and many other traditional, outstanding Catholic religious teaching orders, with excellent, classical Catholic schools, of long, long ago. Most of the educational philosophy and practices of today, are a horror, and a danger to kids of all ages– and should be eradicated and outlawed– both in public schools, and in many private and religious schools– including bad Catholic schools. Classical Catholic schools are starting up all over the country, which may make a huge difference, for the future of our Nation and our Church.
I read a news story that made me very sad. Recently, a group of 12 young students from Our Lady of the Rosary School in Greenville, South Carolina, and their chaperones, attended the big March for Life in Washington, D.C. They all proudly wore identical, warm, blue stocking caps, with the words “Rosary Pro Life” nicely printed on them. Most people wear hats, or woolen caps, to keep their heads warm, during the cold winters, on the East Coast. After the March for Life, the kids wanted to visit the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. When they were inside the Museum, staff members began to insult the kids, call them dirty names, and ordered them to either take off their lovely blue school caps, or leave the Museum. Almost all of the other visitors were likewise wearing different kinds of hats or caps, to keep their heads warm– but none of them were singled out and abused, bullied, and called filthy epithets, by Museum staff. So, the students and their chaperones politely left. Now the evil, filthy Museum staff are being sued for their horrific, unprofessional behavior, towards the innocent young kids! Shame on them all! They should all be fired, ASAP– and publicly punished!
Regarding the comnment I just submitted– the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, a Federal entity– apologized for the horrible, abusive staff members’ mistreatment of the young Catholic students from South Carolina– and noted that their horrific behavior was very wrong, and against the policy of the Museum. They stated that they made big staff changes, and that this terrible incident would never happen again.
Many of the students at Holy Rosary School in Greenville, SC, may be Black, as well as Hispanic, Asian, and other minorities. May Our Lady of the Rosary bless and protect them all, from all future dangers and evils!
Ahhhh …….. Diversity !!!
The Iron & Clay vision of Daniel.
I guess we’re stuck with this “marvelous”
diversity to the BITTER End.
Narrow is the path and FEW there are. that find it.
I believe that EVERY single family that does NOT like
what Star of the Sea School is serving up; is TOTALLY
free to NOT send their kid there. It’s called freedom.