In this encyclical Pius XI warns us that in order to have a correct understanding of education it is imperative to have a correct understanding of man’s final end. Man’s final end is to get to Heaven, his eternal salvation, the Beatific Vision. This is the supreme end for which man was created. Therefore “there can be no true education which is not wholly directed to man’s last end”.
If a student is extremely well educated yet he loses his soul, that student’s education has been an utter failure. For the Catholic, education is not just about imparting facts. It is about instilling the seeds of virtue and a love in God in the child, always keeping in mind the child’s last end - which is to save his soul. St. Alphonsus often contemplated the nature of true education and true wisdom:
Blessed is he who has received from God the science of the saints. The science of the saints is to know the love of God. How many in the world are well in literature, in mathematics, in foreign and ancient languages! But what will all this profit them, if they know not the love of God? Blessed is he, said St. Augustine, who knows God, even if he knows nothing else. He that knows God is more learned than the learned who no not how to love God.
Many involved in Catholic education pay lip-service to the idea of promoting “gospel values” - one of those suitably amorphous buzz-phrases that can mean practically anything. Would it not be better to teach the Science of the Saints as specifically formulated by St. Alphonsus? The fact that an alarming number of pupils lose the faith within a year or two of leaving school (if they ever had it in the first place) indicates that the promotion of “tolerance” and “diversity” under the umbrella of “gospel values” is failing to capture the heart and minds of our youth. Idealistic students are bored by the politically correct, eco-friendly, harmless Jesus concocted in the utopian imaginations of the well-paid, post-conciliar catechetical “experts” who advise Catholic schools today.
A crucial problem is that contemporary Catholic education increasingly accommodates the two insidious heresies which infect modern Christian minds. These heresies are:
1. the denial of original sin;
Pius XI warns us that “every method of education founded wholly on the denial or forgetfulness of original sin and of grace and relying on the sole powers of human nature is unsound.”
He also notes how “today we see educators and philosophers who spend their lives in searching for a universal moral code of education as if there existed no Decalogue, no gospel, no law of nature stamped by God on the heart of man.”
Pius XI is unequivocal in his criticism of those progressive educational ideologues:
One such progressive ideologue is Gary Simson, Professor of Law at Cornell University. According to Professor Simson, school programmes that teach continence until marriage are unconstitutional because they violate the Establishment clause of the First Amendment. Simson says “teaching sexual abstinence to teenagers is wrong because it teaches that this one belief is the only proper one.” Professor Simson is one of these ubiquitous ivory tower gurus who guide and shape contemporary educational policy and practice in the United States.
Catholic education cannot be viewed in isolation from the prevailing state of contemporary education in general. Problems of discipline and behaviour have become staggering in the state sector.
Leo XIII pointed out that “if young people are not accustomed to respect God they will be unable to bear the restraint of a virtuous life, and never having learned to deny themselves anything they will be incited to disturb the public order.”
He wrote these words in 1884 and any cursory tour of our inner city streets - parts of which have become no-go areas, will show how correct he was.
The fact that a significant percentage of the youth of Britain and America are out of control is one consequence of our contemporary educational system - a system which is ideologically opposed to the whole concept of punishment.
Catholicism is based on the notion of hierarchy and authority. This is anathema to the modern, bleeding-heart liberal for whom “authority” is synonymous with “fascism.” Consequently, for the last forty years the educational system has increasingly been run along the lines of anti-authoritarian principles which simply do not work in the real world.
In the good old days, a policeman could clip a misbehaving youth around the ear. Now that same policeman would end up being sued in the courts for infringing the child’s “human rights.” The result? Old people living in inner cities now feel the need to be indoors by sundown or face the consequences. Groups of marauding youths make parts of our inner cities no-go areas. Such are the practical results of our anaemic culture of “tolerance.”
When the education system loses the vision of God, it loses its authority over the young and it betrays the young. For in a materialistic world obsessed with instant gratification the child’s soul is left to die. All that is left is violence, mayhem and blood on the streets. Today’s educational system deliberately treats God as if he is of no importance. This helps to lead our children, sheep-like and ill-informed, into the Brave New World the Globalists are preparing for us.