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Sep 21, 2023
What Does It Mean for a School to Have a ‘Catholic Identity’?
[W]hat is “Catholic identity”? Here we have to go back a bit in history. In 1990, Pope St. John Paul II published his apostolic constitution on higher education, Ex Corde Ecclesiae (From the Heart of the Church), in which he laid out essential elements for the renewal of Catholic identity for universities. The core vision of the document: “Catholic teaching and discipline are to influence all university activities, while the freedom of conscience of each person is to be fully respected. Any official action or commitment of the university is to be in accord with its Catholic identity.”
"What Does It Mean for a School to Have a ‘Catholic Identity’?" by The Editors at National Catholic Register
Sep 14, 2023
A Tyrannical Assault on Parental Rights
The California legislature has passed a bill requiring judges in cases of contested child custody to consider whether a parent has affirmed a child’s “gender identity” or “gender expression.” Parents who do not support their child’s self-declared transgender identity may lose their parental rights and custody. This bill… is about to be the law of the most populous state in the nation. If a father does not want his teen daughter to shoot herself up with testosterone, or to have her breasts amputated, then California considers him an unfit parent. If a mother does not want her son to be chemically and then surgically castrated, California views that as the equivalent of child abuse.
"A Tyrannical Assault on Parental Rights" by Nathaniel Blake at World.
Sep 7, 2023
Social Media and Harm to Children
We have a severe public health crisis on our hands: America’s children and teenagers are literally dying from social media. They are more depressed and anxious than ever before. New data from the CDC shows that nearly 3 in 5 teen girls felt persistent sadness in 2021 . . . and 1 in 3 girls seriously considered attempting suicide. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that for the first time in 15 years the mortality rate for 0–19-year-olds actually increased two years in a row…. A recent study by Sapien Labs found that adults who acquired their first smartphone at younger ages are now worse off in measures of mental well-being than those who acquired smartphones at a later age.
"Social Media and Harm to Children" by Clare Morell at Ethics and Public Policy Center
Aug 31, 2023
Christ at the Center
We must pray that the closing of parishes or schools, as difficult as this is for the entire community, can mysteriously transform into good if Christ, rather than financial or legal considerations, is at the center. My brother bishops and I can only lead if we place ourselves before Christ every day in prayer and receive the prayers of the faithful. If the Church is not praying, then the Holy Spirit is not invited to act. Nature does not permit a vacuum; when we remove Christ the space is filled with something or someone else—always something that is not as good for us, and too often something that is evil.
"Christ at the Center" by Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila at What We Need Now
Aug 24, 2023
Reinvigorating US Catholic Schools
Catholic education starts with the recognition that Jesus Christ is Logos and that the entire creation is an ordered whole in him and through him. So all knowledge coheres in him. In other words, there isn’t a separation or division between my study of science or math and my pursuit of Jesus Christ himself. Although we understand theology to enjoy that status as “queen of the sciences,” what we have come to realize is that when you recognize Christ as Logos, then other things flow from that, too, like the proper understanding of the human person. You will not arrive at a proper Christian anthropology following what secular curricula or textbooks present because they’re not based properly in that.
"Veteran Educator Outlines Her Vision for Reinvigorating US Catholic Schools: Interview of Mary Pat Donoghue" by Zoe Romanowsky at National Catholic Register
Aug 10, 2023
Why It’s Important to Welcome Kids with Disabilities at Catholic Schools
Before coming to the USCCB, [Mary Pat] Donoghue served as principal of St. Jerome Academy in Hyattsville, Maryland. The school almost closed, but that changed after it adopted a curriculum—including special education resources—based in the Church’s tradition. “We had no money when we started,” she said. “So I was able to see that, first of all, it’s making it a priority in the same way that you say to yourself, ‘We have to have a P.E. teacher.'” “The second thing is, you work—in the beginning, at least—with what you have,” she added.
Why It’s Important to Welcome Kids with Disabilities at Catholic Schools by Katie Yonder at Our Sunday Visitor
Aug 3, 2023
This Treasure We Have
It’s long been part of our understanding of moral questions… that, as Augustine put it, evil is the absence of some good, either something that should be there and isn’t, or it is but to too great or too little a degree. In other words, since God is the Creator of all that exists, and everything He has created is good, what we call evil is a departure in some way from the full order of our universe. The Church is “catholic” precisely because it’s “universal,” Greek kata-holos, “according to the whole.” …. One of the hard tasks assigned to Christians in the present generation is to resist partial truths, to name disordered virtues, to remind the whole world of the order of being and truth that centuries of careful and generous thought have brought to light. And to withstand slurs about bias and hate, by affirming the fullness of truth—and love. No small or easy task. But the one to which Divine Providence has decreed we are called.
"This Treasure We Have: The Catholic Intellectual Tradition" by Robert Royal at What We Need Now
Jul 27, 2023
Catholic Education is Taking Off
Last week the Institute for Catholic Liberal Education (ICLE) held its annual conference at Duquesne University…. There were tales of failing schools transformed into successful and happy sites, of new schools opened by a passionate few who found that once their doors opened they could not keep up with the demand, of administrators who proclaimed their Catholic commitment without a whisper of compromise or doubt…. ICLE attendees smile because they…. are loved. Here is what Elisabeth Sullivan, executive director of ICLE, told me over lunch. In 2017, the organization claimed only four schools. In summer 2023, it has 225 schools and 60 dioceses. In Pittsburgh, 412 people showed up to attend the talks, while another 1,000 attended through the livestream. The numbers speak for themselves.
"Catholic Education is Taking Off" by Mark Bauerlein at First Things.
Jul 20, 2023
How Catholic Are the Catholic Schools?
While flagrant apostasies easily grab our attention—such as Catholic schools sporting rainbow flags and hiring heterodox catechists—we must remember that the devils we don’t see pose a greater threat than the ones in plain sight. In an effort to compete with public schools, our beloved Catholic schools are flirting with apostasy by far more subtle means: by adopting modern education methods, which are intrinsically materialistic and disordered.
"How Catholic Are the Catholic Schools?" by Joshua Long at Crisis Magazine
Jul 13, 2023
Forming Future Followers
Campus culture has become disturbingly predictable. Of course they’re terrified of climate change and white supremacy and Republicans; everyone at The New York Times and NPR is. And of course they’re for “trans rights” and of course they sponsor drag shows, they’re all the rage. It’s “the thing.” …. The contemporary college and university campus does not educate students to critically analyze each of these “pop-up” movements in its turn, sorting through what is legitimate and valuable while distinguishing that from what is mere emotional manipulation; instead, campus culture encourages students to follow the flow wherever it happens to be going. If you wanted to educate leaders, you would have students read Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero…. You want them to study logic so that they begin to recognize good arguments from sophistry. And you would have them read Aquinas because, besides being a brilliant thinker, he is as good an example as you will find of someone utterly fair to his interlocutors. He puts the objections first, and never merely dismisses them. If there is truth to be found in them, he will find it and show it.
"Forming Future Followers" by Randall Smith at The Catholic Thing
Jul 6, 2023
The War for the Soul of the World
One simple message that I saw emerge this year for the first time in my memory is the wider promotion of June as the month of the Sacred Heart, complete with flags. Because Pride is both so sacrosanct and so ubiquitous, suggesting the celebration of anything else during this month will appear counter-cultural. And we must appear counter-cultural now. The USCCB’s invitation to pray an act of reparation on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart—something which emerged from the scandal at Dodger Stadium—ought to become normal for Catholics as one activity that resists the flow of progress…. [It] should go without saying that we must keep up the fight to remove inappropriate books from school libraries, maintain parental rights over the whims of confused children, and generally foster the traditional family.
"The War for the Soul of the World" by Andrew Petiprin at Catholic World Report
Jun 29, 2023
Beauty Makes a Comeback
While fans of clichés will insist beauty is in the eye of the beholder, numerous surveys say otherwise. The public despises brutalist designs by an overwhelming 3-to-1 margin. Traditional styles, by contrast, draw one’s attention because they are attractive. One day, as he was driving in the mountains north of Los Angeles, actor Anthony Hopkins noticed an ornate tower rising high above the tree line and, intrigued, decided to stop and investigate. He found himself on the campus of Thomas Aquinas College. “I’ve never seen such a beautiful place in my life,” he explained during an impromptu question and answer session with students. “It’s amazing.”
"Beauty Makes a Comeback" by Jeremy Tate at First Things
Jun 22, 2023
Trusting the Experts Is a Sign of Spiritual Decline
Plato noted in his dialogue with Euthyphro that the very seed of hatred, the key to making enemies, is when two or more people disagree on what is just and what is unjust. It is no wonder why traditional Christians appear to be the greatest enemy of our present culture. We fundamentally disagree with the most sacred judgments that our expert class has pronounced. And so, Christianity is not despised because our present world is areligious but, rather, because it is far too zealous. People do not believe in medically transitioning a nine-year-old girl into a boy because it makes logical sense. They believe it in adherence to their religious creed. Remember that those damned to destruction in Revelation are not damned for lack of devotion and worship but rather for devotion and worship to the wrong thing, that beast which deceives.
"Trusting the Experts Is a Sign of Spiritual Decline" by Aaron Ames at Crisis Magazine
Jun 15, 2023
Taking Advantage of Summer
Culture is largely transferred through story and tradition. Fostering a love of these things is an important element of our roles as parents given that the family is the basis of culture. Aside from the importance of building the family’s moral imagination and sense of togetherness, having traditions adds to the excitement of summer. These traditions can be large or small: for example, the Thursday before our annual August beach pilgrimage when I was growing up, we would head to the library to load up on books on tape, a handful of novels per child, and all of the Herge, Bill Peet, Barbara Cooney, Robert McCloskey (to name a few) books that were available. We would stumble out carrying the largest L.L. Bean canvas tote bags, bursting at the seams, and commence a picnic lunch. This expedition lasted a mere several hours once a summer, but we looked forward to it all year and reveled in it in the moment.
"Taking Advantage of Summer" by Elias Naegele at Heights Forum
Jun 8, 2023
Rebuilding a Faithful Society
[Princeton professor] Robert George… launched “Fidelity Month” June 1 in response to public concern about America’s social fragmentation. The Wall Street Journal recently reported a poll whose results point to precipitous declines in American belief in values like “patriotism,” “religion,” “family” and “community” — values that once upon a time held Americans together despite all their other differences. The observance seeks to “encourage fidelity to God, our spouses and families, our country and communities.”
"Rebuilding a Faithful Society" by John Grondelski at National Catholic Register
May 31, 2023
The Improper Catechesis of Catholic Schools
"Lex orandi, lex credendi—the law of prayer is the law of belief. If we demonstrate for our students that we have control over sacred things, we are driving them away from Christ not closer to Him. We are exposing them to something which is only Catholic in outward appearance but lacks all of the substance of the true Church. A weak faith is better than a strong heresy. The point is this: we must stop replacing Christ’s words with our own. It is not “more educational.” It does not facilitate education but impedes it. The price of this is twofold: not only does the instruction not stick, but it leads to a liturgy which is irreverent, man-centered, and spiritually dangerous."
"The Improper Catechesis of Catholic Schools" by Joshua Long at Crisis Magazine
May 25, 2023
Can Catholicism Be Passed On Without Catholic Culture?
Is there any soil to cultivate today so at least some Catholic seeds may survive and bear fruit? I believe that a triangular-shaped garden fertilized with three nutrients—the family, the parish, and the Catholic school—can offer enough fertile soil for a counterculture to develop. All three, with their unique emphases, can provide the cultural elements necessary to support faith growing within parents and their children.
"Can Catholicism Be Passed On Without Catholic Culture?" By David G. Bonagura, Jr. at Catholic World Report
May 18, 2023
Parent Involvement Matters for Student Success
For 20 years or more, too many parents felt like they were treated as adversaries or nuisances. Amid COVID-19, parents in learning pods reported this type of resistance from school systems, with researchers documenting a spate of “aggressive emails” and “vengeful” responses from school officials. And parental frustrations aren’t unreasonable, especially given that half of teachers report spending less than an hour a week engaging with parents, guardians, and the community. It shouldn’t need to be said, but it apparently does: Parent involvement matters a lot for student success…. As one influential survey of the research concluded, “No matter their income or background, students with involved parents are more likely to have higher grades and test scores, attend school regularly, [and] have better social skills.”
"Parent Involvement Matters for Student Success" by Frederick M. Hess at Washington Examiner
May 11, 2023
Every Catholic Child in a Catholic School
John J. Hughes, the first Archbishop of New York, protecting his flock under siege from a vicious anti-Catholicism, causing him to declare, without fear of contradiction: “The days have come. . . in which the school is more necessary than the church.” John Lancaster Spaulding, Bishop of Peoria from 1876 until 1908, likewise contended: “Without parish schools, there is no hope that the Church will be able to maintain itself in America.” The bishops of our nation understood this very well when, in their 1884 plenary council, they mandated the establishment of a Catholic school in every parish, with the goal of having every Catholic child in a Catholic school. We never achieved that goal completely, but we did come close—until we lost our nerve and sense of direction.
No Hyenas for Us, Only Saints by Rev. Peter M.J. Stravinskas at The Catholic Thing
May 4, 2023
The Heart of a Classical Curriculum is God
A goal will be to incorporate a strong classical liberal arts curriculum, matching what the popular public classical schools are offering—and then some. Biava said that during a visit, Sister Thomas [Aquinas] shared that “the heart of a classical curriculum is God,” noting, “You can’t say that at a public charter school. You can brush around it—beauty, truth and goodness—but in the end that’s all God, and [the other schools] are missing the most fundamental element: God himself.”
"Dominican Sisters Choose Nation’s Poorest Diocese to Enliven Struggling Catholic School" by Roxane Salonen at National Catholic Register