Pete over at the Et Cum Spiritu Tuo blog yesterday linked to an article by Dennis Prager of the National Review Online, who writes about young people who stray away from their father's values when they enter the liberal environment of so many colleges and universities. It is an interesting article, and I wholeheartedly agree with Pete when he says in his post that "we must prepare our children for this hostile world."
I believe the
problem begins long before the child gets to the
hostile-to-conservative-Catholic-values environment of
college/university. IMHO, a properly formed Catholic young adult would not be so
easily swayed away from his father's values. But there is the rub: in our
day there is next to no proper traditional Catholic formation in the early
years for our children.
We are considering high school options for
our boys, but the options are so few! Where is the high school that
will help to form strong, Catholic young men?!
The principal of
the grade school they now attend recently sent home a quarter-end letter
to parents reiterating the values upheld and instilled in the students
at our little Catholic academy, at the root of which is saving each
child's soul. Yes, this. Where is the high school whose goals are so
In looking at high school programs I was
perusing a well-known Catholic home school high school curriculum. In
their magazine they had an article about "Why...?" (...choose their HS
program). Except for a brief statement about their curriculum being
Catholic, the answers were mostly academic: Our graduates score high on
the SAT! Our graduates are accepted at all the major universities! Our
graduates achieve "success" out in the real world! Really? Is that all?
Yes I want academic excellence, and of course I want to see achievement
and success in our sons' pursuits beyond high school. But where is it
said that the graduates will have been nurtured and formed solidly in
their Catholic faith? Obviously such homeschool curriculum programs by their very nature cannot provide the hands-on opportunity to ensure such formation. And I
realize, too, that no program or school can guarantee an individual will
not go astray from his formation, but my goodness, let it be a stated goal, a
purpose for their existence alongside the academics! How many vocations
are coming out of the school/program? Shouldn't this be a measurable
statistic for most Catholic institutions?! I think it would have been in
some decades past.
Well, our boys weren't born in decades past,
but I still want that solid Catholic formation for them! I don't want to
bring my sons back to the basement homeschool classroom for their high school years where I would have
the nearly-entire responsibility to form them in this way. If I must (if
there is no alternative) then I will do it, and to the best of my ability. But it
is not, in my opinion, the ideal. No, ideally our sons would be taught, trained and formed
by priests in cassocks who have never ceased in their mission to pass on
the Catholic Faith as it has always been to the next generation of
young Catholics. Priests just like those who are caring for, teaching
and forming the children at our grade school academy, Queen of the Holy Rosary, where academics are given their place within the Catholic
faith but do not supersede it.
Certainly the institutions I describe
and desire seem few, but they do exist. One such school is Notre Dame de LaSalette Boys Academy. Yes, it is a distance from home. Yes, it would
mean boarding at the school. Yes, that would be most difficult in many
ways. But as a dear lady I know who, with her husband, has sent several
of her boys to LaSalette Academy says, "Sometimes you have to send them
away in order to keep them." Indeed. She has it on experience that when
her boys enter higher education they have not "left (their) father's
values" because of the solid Catholic formation that preceded it.
As any Catholic parent, I do not want my boys to be
among the statistics from which Mr. Prager draws his article. Even in
this hostile-to-Catholic-faith world we live in, there are a few oases
of solid formation out there for our children. Of course this would
involve great sacrifice, but with an eternal perspective, the value is
O God,come to my assistance; O Lord, make haste to help me! .... as we discern Our Lord's direction.
God bless you!