By MGR. HENRY VALTORTA
by the Grace of God and favour of the Holy See Bishop of Leros and Vicar Apostolic of Hong Kong to the Clergy and Faithful of the Vicariate Health and Blessing.
(The following Pastoral by H. E. MGR. HENRY VALTORTA, Vicar Apostolic of Hong Kong to the Clergy and Faithful of his Vicariate, stresses again the importance and need of a regular Catholic Education in these wistable days of perverse doctrines.
Dearest Children in Jesus Christ, One of the most serious tasks that the Church of Christ has had to perform during Her glorious career has always been and still is the Education of Youth. It is a task of vital importance for the very being of the Church and one intimately and necessarily connected with the end for which She was instituted, the guiding of souls to Heaven. Our Holy Father, Pope Pius XI, says:
" Since Education essentially consists in preparing man for what he must be and for what he must do here below in order to attain the sublime end for which he was created, it is clear that there can be no true education which is not wholly directed to man's last end and that in the present Order of Providence, since God has revealed Himself to us in the Person of His Only Begotten Son, who alone is 'the way, the truth and the life, there can be no ideally perfect education which is not Christian Education."
From this we see the supreme importance of Christian Education, not merely for the individual, but for the family and the whole of Human Society, the perfection of which comes from the perfection of the elements that compose it. From these same principles the excellence of the work of Christian Education becomes manifest and clear, for, before all else, it aims at securing the Supreme Good, that is, God for the souls of those who are being educated, and the maximum of well-being here below for human society. With good reason, therefore, did St. John Chrysostom say: “What greater work is there than training: the mind and forming the habits of the young?"
The vital importance of these truths and the absence, in these our times, of clear, sound principles with regard to even the most fundamental problems, move me to turn more directly to this subject in order to stress and throw light on three points which stand in need of being seriously considered and meditated on by all Catholic:
1. Parents have a strict duty towards their children.
2. Catholic Education cannot be imparted except in Catholic Schools
3. Catholic Organisations for Youth complete the moral and religious education given at school.
1. Parents have a strict duty towards their children.
The family holds directly from the Creator Himself the mission, and hence the right and duty to educate the offspring. This is one of the gravest responsibilities of parents, a tremendous responsibility of which they shall have to render a strict account at the Tribunal of God.
Catholic parents must not think that they have done enough for their children when they merely send them to a Catholic School. School completes the educational work of the parents, but is in no way a substitute for them. The fresh Pagination of a child is particularly susceptible to surroundings and to force of example. Hence, as the Holy Father says: "In order to obtain perfect education, it is of the utmost importance to see that all those conditions which surround the child during the period of his formation correspond exactly to the end proposed. The first natural and necessary element is the family, and this precisely because so ordained by the Creator Himself. Accordingly that education, as a rule, will be the more effective and lasting which is received in a well-ordered and well-disciplined Catholic Family; and more efficacious in proportion to the clear and constant good example set, first by the Parents, and then by the other members of the household." I wish then to call your attention in a special manner to the duty that parents have preparing themselves for the education of their children. The offices and Professions of an earthly and transitory life, which are certainly of far less importance, are prepared for by long and capful study; whereas for the fundamental duty and obligation of educating their children many parents immersed as they are in temporal cares, make little or no preparation. This is a very serious mistake full of serious consequences for both the temporal and eternal life of the offspring. It is impossible for me even to touch upon the principal points of domestic education, because the subject is too vast. It is, however, not necessary, as there are many special treatises on this subject by authors, both ancient and modern well known for their sound Catholic doctrine.
I will confine myself to recalling to parents the advice given by St. Paul in his Epistle to the Ephesians: "And you fathers provoke not your children to anger" (Eph. iv. 4), quoting for you the comment made upon these words by Our Holy Father: "This fault is the result not so much of excessive severity, as of impatience and of ignorance of means best calculated to effect a desired correction. It is also due to the all too common relaxation of Parental discipline which fails to check the growth of evil passions in the hearts of the younger generations. Parents, therefore, and all those who take their place in the work of education, should be careful to make right use of the authority given them by God, Whose vicars in a true sense they are. This authority is not given for their own advantage, but for the proper upbringing of their children in a holy and filial 'fear of God, the beginning of wisdom,' on which foundation, alone all respect for authority can rest securely."
2. Catholic Education Cannot be Imparted Except in a Catholic School.
It is to the family then, before all others, that the duty of the education of the children belongs. Since, however, the younger generation must be trained in the knowledge and sciences which are necessary for the building up of their careers and for the prosperity of civil society, and since the family is unable of itself to cope with this task, it has been necessary to create a social institution, the School.
But it must be borne in mind that the school is merely intended to complete the educational work of the family, and consequently it must not be in opposition to, but in positive accord with it and with the Church. If a Catholic surrounding is necessary for the child at home, it is no less necessary at school and, of course, this catholic surrounding: cannot be found except in a Catholic School.
For a School to be Catholic it is necessary in the words of the Pope: "that all the teaching and the whole organisation of the school, its teachers, syllabus and text-books in every branch be regulated by the Christian Spirit, under the direction and maternal supervision of the Church, so that Religion may be in very truth the foundation and crown of youth's entire training." To use the words of Leo XIII: "It is necessary not only that religious instruction be given to the young at certain fixed times, but also that every other subject taught be permeated with Christian piety. If this is wanting, if this sacred atmosphere does not pervade and warm the hearts of masters and scholars alike, little good can be expected from any kind of learning, and considerable harm will often be the consequence." From this it follows that for Catholic children to frequent non-Catholic schools is absolutely contrary to the fundamental principles of education, and to the positive law of the Church as well.
The law of the Church regarding this point is clearly expressed in the Code of Canon Law. "CATHOLIC CHILDREN ARE NOT TO GO TO NONCATHOLIC SCHOOLS. It belongs to the Bishop alone to decide, according to instructions of the Holy See, whether in special circumstances going to a non- Catholic school may be tolerated." (Can. 1374).
Recently His Holiness, Pope Pius XI, in his beautiful Encyclical Letter on the CHRISTIAN EDUCATION OF YOUTH has stressed once again the importance of this attitude of the Church: "We renew and confirm the declarations of Our Predecessors, as well as the Sacred Canons in which the frequenting of non- Catholic schools is forbidden for Catholic children, and can be at most tolerated on the approval of the 'Ordinary alone, under determined circumstances of place and time, and with special precautions." (Cone, de Shanghai, Lib. iv., cap. iii., art. 772).
I must call for the observance of this law. It is greatly to be deplored that sometimes Catholic Parents, even in this Colony of ours .think of disregarding the law of the Church on this point by sending their children to non-Catholic schools.
I beg then to state that such a wilful transgression of this-very important law of the Church must generally be considered as a grievous mortal sin. The reasons are quite evident.
It is first of all a sin of disobedience to the Church in a law which is directly and intimately connected with the pursuit of the last end of souls entrusted to her care, because a non-Catholic education endangers very seriously one's , eternal salvation.
It is secondly a sin that parents commit against their parental duties towards their children, whom they are bound in conscience to train in the best way to the love and service of God; it is for this reason alone that they have received children from the Almighty Creator.
(To be continued)