Faith schools under siege

Abortion, homosexual marriage, assisted suicide – the secular society encroaches every day. But I keep my focus on faith schools because this battle is not yet lost. While politicians for the most part support the existing arrangements, the campaign to eradicate religious schools from the public education system in the UK is so well managed and so vocal that we may soon discover that that it has become a vote-winning issue.

The National Secular Society, the British Humanist Association and the Accord Coalition (distinguished by its figurehead being a rabbi) are extremely active. Announcements and news stories are frequently well publicised, and there is no shortage of newspapers only too pleased to cry scandal. The term “faith schools” is easily extended to include all denominational schools, and then judged by the most extreme examples.

The arguments are powerful. The major claim is their insistence that there is no reason why religious schools should be funded by the general taxpayer. If we want to have specialist schools we should be prepared to fund them ourselves. Next, they address the issue of selective entry. Why should a child be unable to attend their local school which happens to be Catholic, but be obliged to travel afar for education? Thirdly, they argue that the segregation of groups by religion damages the cohesion of society. This is aggravated by social selection since, by the measurement of free schools meals, Catholic schools attract more prosperous children. It is easy to understand why the unwary reader is likely to accept that the case is made.

A trifle more wariness might suggest that Catholics pay for education through taxation like everyone else and, if Catholic parents are prosperous, they will in fact be paying higher taxes. Add to that the ten per cent of capital costs charged to voluntary aided schools and one might conclude that we subsidise public education rather than the other way around. In fact, in Catholic schools, the percentage of children qualifying for free meals is only fractionally lower than the average, while the proportion of pupils from ethnic minorities and deprived areas is higher. The larger catchment areas of Catholic schools are a positive contribution to the cohesion of society.

The issue of selective entry will always be a tricky one while the public believe that Catholic schools provide a better education than secular schools. Any filter chosen to distinguish genuine Catholic households from the pretenders, can be represented as bias in one direction or another. But an absence of filters would be an invitation to all the free riders who know a good thing when they see it. We need to choose our filters carefully so that they can be recognised as fair.

Catholic social teaching on the duties of parents and education is detailed, explicit and well worth reading. Notwithstanding their primary responsibility, parents must work in concert with the civil agents of education. In practice this means that parents should ensure that children receive satisfactory religious and moral education within the national curriculum required by the civil state. Thus the interests of both the parents and society are addressed. Normally the two are complementary, but the trends in civil society today suggest that we should be watchful.

It is inevitable that those who seek to engineer society to accord with their own agenda will recognise that the control of education is an important weapon. Karl Marx knew that when he proposed that the young should be taught from the earliest age how to be conforming units in a collective society. So we must accept that the secularists will lose no opportunity to imitate his approach. Under the banner of human rights we already see attacks on Catholic moral and social teaching. A useful word is “indoctrinate”. It applies to any teaching which is deplored by the secularist, but not to teaching which the secularist wishes to inculcate.

Another useful target is the facility of voluntary aided faith schools to discriminate between staff on religious grounds, although it seems reasonable that the qualification of teachers responsible directly, or indirectly, for moral and religious education should be a factor in their selection. The National Secular Society claims that “With the long term decline in Christian observance in the UK forecast to continue, the special privileges granted to religious organisations in selecting teachers on religious grounds become more unreasonable and unsustainable.” We have been warned.

So it is important that the Catholic community as a whole — and not just those connected directly with education – should be aware that Catholic education is under sustained siege by those who would like to eradicate religious faith from our society. The prospect of the elimination of faith schools may, as yet, seem remote. But recent history has shown us how quickly the remote can become proximate, and the proximate become fact – and enshrined in statute.

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About Quentin

Science Editor, Catholic Herald. Portrait © Jacqueline Alma
This entry was posted in Catholic Herald columns, Church and Society and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

91 Responses to Faith schools under siege

  1. Hock says:

    It is hard not to generalise when the picture of Catholic education may differ greatly in different areas but my experience in a number of towns and one city is that Catholic Schools are in disarray and just need a shove to make the step from almost secular to fully secular.
    The number of children that attend any particular Catholic School can be in the hundreds, and whilst these figures do contain perhaps a majority of non-catholic children the sad fact is that barely a handful from all those hundreds can be seen at Sunday Mass.
    The vast majority of parents too show no loyalty to the Catholic Church whilst at the same time valuing the ethos of catholic moral teaching , and the fact that generally exam results are usually higher ‘pound for pound’ in catholic schools.
    There are many disturbing reports of how catholic teaching on such things as abortion are often jettisoned by the very institutions (secondary schools,) that should be firm in their teaching and set an example.
    Teachers too , are rarely practising Catholics or even Christians of any description..
    On top of all that the Church continues to support several public schools for the privileged and selective few who can afford to pay. Any Catholicity being optional. It is the money that is the deciding factor.
    Home and Church are the places to teach the faith and not pass that obligation to the schools so we can walk away from it.

    • Horace says:

      I am very sad to hear your comments on Catholic public schools.
      My father, an Anglo-Irish Protestant, sent me to a Jesuit school in spite of the fact that he always said that he did not feel bound by the promise he made when he married my mother because it was ‘made under duress’.
      He sent me to the school because he admired the Jesuit promise “Give us the child and you can have the man”!
      He also used to quote Kipling “Two thousand pounds of education falls to a 10-rupee jezail!” and reckoned that was about what he spent on my education.
      I am pleased to say that I married a good Catholic girl and we are still married more than 60 years later. We go to Sunday Mass regularly (as well as other services). We have 2 children; both went to Catholic schools. Our daughter is a good practising Catholic (although she never married), our son married a good Catholic girl and they both remain practising Catholics.
      Deo Gratias.

      • milliganp says:

        Horace, Hocks comments are set in the present, your’s 60 years ago so, unless you honestly believe nothing has changed in that time, you can both be right.

  2. Brendan says:

    The public face of professional politics today has largely degenerated into and become but a tool for the erstwhile ‘ academic theorist. ‘ Putting cogent arguments aside it appears to the general public , particularly those of a ‘ faith/ moral ‘ mindset , that frankly … anything goes and we’ll just try it ! It’s a vote winner, it will enhance my career no end ! The pathology is fascinating to watch when applied to ‘ Faith Schools ‘ , particularly Catholic.
    From St. John Paul II down to the present ..” We have been warned ” …because of the lack of the cohesion that a ‘ Faith ‘ gives to a community ( whether it is genuine or merely cultural ) ; ‘ relativism ‘ ( conscious or unconscious as a ‘zeitgist’ ) has become the lynch-pin by which the political class test their policies to engineer a secular classless society. Marx is a good example – but Left or Right it remains a resilient tool in the politicians ( particularly the rising fortunes of the up and coming budding politicians being churned out from tertiary education ) ‘ toolbox ‘. I believe the Catholic Conservative Ruth Kelly was a victim at the altar of ‘ relativism ‘. And before our sainted Pope , the Catholic apologist G. K. Chesterton , like a prophetic foreboding must have seen this coming. Who among us then can gainsay the present situation ?
    It all looks very dystopian for the future ; but our Catholic faith has , throughout history, an uncanny rather mysterious way of turning disaster into triumph We still hold the moral high-ground as Quentin says , in the mind of the public; we daily reinforce that by our example and perseverance ( particularly in standing alone in works underpinned by prayerful testimony ). Even if we are the last boat , it will be the one everyone will see the need to make for … that is the genius of The Catholic Church – so we should not be hamstrung by a paralysing fear for the future of educating our children. Catholic ‘ free schools ‘ sounds like a good way forward out of

  3. Fr. David Ssenkaayi says:

    Dear Quentin,
    Please, thank you so much for your thoughtful and educative articles in the Catholic Herald. They are really worth reading. I found this very meaningful: It’s time to champion marriage, David. Keep it up.
    God bless,
    Fr. David Ssenkaayi

  4. Geordie says:

    Hock, I agree with almost every thing you say about Catholic Schools. But I disagree with this; “Home and Church are the places to teach the faith and not pass that obligation to the schools so we can walk away from it.”
    Catholic schools were originally founded to pass on the faith in a comprehensive manner, which the majority of parents were unable to do and are still unable to do. The churches do not teach the faith in a formal way because at Mass there are adults and children at different stages of their progress in their knowledge and understanding of the faith. All the churches do, is pass on liturgical practice.
    When did you last hear a sermon on the seven deadly sins? One sin, which is never mentioned, is gluttony and we can see the consequences of this all around us. Obesity is reaching crisis point.
    The decline in Catholic schools began in the sixties and continues to this day, but I don’t know of any working bishop who accepts the decline, in spite of hundreds of protestations over the years.
    If the secularists win in their efforts to abolish faith schools perhaps it is not such a bad thing. It will force the bishops to do something about Catholic education. They’ve neglected their duty for far to long.

    • milliganp says:

      Geordie I agree with many of your comments but question that schools can or have ever “passed on the faith”, schools educate – which includes the knowledge of faith; schools discipline – which includes the discipline of faith; schools inculcate values. Each of these assist in the formation of the person but none constitute faith itself -the belief in Christ and His Church.
      I no longer believe the rather trivial and trite coverage of history I received at school; back in the 1950’s there was no concept of reasoned or rational knowledge in much of education, it was largely a form of social and cultural indoctrination. I clearly remember a teacher bellowing at another boy in the class “you’re not here to think, boy!” Failure to ‘think’ the way you were supposed might just as easily get you disciplined as having a fight in the playground.
      There is supposed to be a Mafia joke “you can achieve more with a kind word and a gun than with just a kind word”. Despite having the faith beaten into me I do not wish the same for others.

  5. John Thomas says:

    As I’ve said before on this site ALL schools are faith schools, it’s just that the vast majority of them brainwash the children into the secular materialist religion – and just why do Christian/Jewish/Muslim/etc. taxpayers have to fund that? Has anyone asked the so-called Humanists that question? Have they been confronted with reality? I doubt it, and when taxpayers have to fund the promotion of homosexuality to junior school children as well, then we have reached the nadir …

    • milliganp says:

      It is our secular culture which is brainwashing our children and schools play a passive role, perhaps, by not teaching children to question the prevailing culture; however schools (other than faith schools prior to 1960) have never been in the business of countering culture but supporting it.
      My point about faith schools prior to ~1960 was that originally faith schools were set up to promote an alternative culture because the UK culture was de-facto Anglican Protestantism. Since the prevelant mderm British culture is agnostic as are the cultures of almost all former Catholic countries the dynamic of faith education is radically different.

  6. Hock says:

    It is in my opinion it is necessary to remove the rose tinted spectacles in relation to Catholic schools and accept that a new reality of what Catholic education means today in the UK. That reality is , at best, a watered down faith and even then it is one rarely practised.
    Take for example first communion. The week following all the joyous celebration the numbers of first communicants at Mass have halved. Parents of these children apparently encouraging absentness. The week following the numbers have halved again. The original nos are now, at best , a quarter of what they were just two weeks previously and the children who have stayed away are still only half way through their primary education.
    How I wish it was different and we can probably say that there is a moral vacuum being filled which is perhaps all that can really be hoped for and indeed might be enough. But this is not Catholic education.
    The bitter irony too is that where the secular society say that if you want a Catholic education then pay for it ; why we do already do we not? The snag being that you have to afford it and it not open to Catholic children whose parents have not the means to pay for it. Non catholic children , whose parents have the funding that runs to thousands of pounds per year, are very welcome.

    • Vincent says:

      What you say is interesting. Is there a case to be made for axing Catholic state schools across the board? Dioceses would need to provide out of hours religious education — and this will be taken up and supported by genuinely devout parents. The nominal Catholics won’t bother. Of course the children will be exposed to moral and secular views which are unacceptable — but they will hear such views anyway. And the extramural Catholic classes would be an opportunity to understand these in light of the Church’s teaching. It might result in a higher number of Catholics entering adult life as practising Catholics.

      • Martha says:

        I think that there is definitely a case to be made, and that this suggestion should be seriously considered, which I have said previously on the blog.
        It would need very dedicated and well qualified teachers, who would have to be paid from diocesan and parish funds, as they would probably have to leave their current schools where they are often already overworked, to devote themselves to this calling.

      • milliganp says:

        I believe having Catholic schools allows our Bishops to ‘tick the box’ on Catholic education. The sad reality is that you don’t have to be a practicing Catholic to teach RE in a primary school and, although some sort of practice is required for Secondary RE teachers, living in contradiction to the Gospel is not a barring factor. In my own Archdiocese the need to be a Catholic in good standing has effectively been dropped for Headteachers and Deputy Heads. In the education marketplace SATS and Ofsted trump quality of RE.

  7. St.Joseph says:

    Maybe retired deacons would be perfect for teaching students in secondary school with expeopaid off expenses.
    My grandson goes to Catholic High School in September from a Class of 11 to 249 ,there is a Chapel there. He serves in his Primary schools and. would like to continue.

    • St.Joseph says:

      Ps my Kindle is playing..up should read expenses paid.

    • milliganp says:

      Lets not confuse education, catechesis and evangelisation. Teaching is a profession like medicine or law; would you be happy to have a non-medically trained Deacon do your heart bypass? If we choose to train Deacons, or lay catechists to teach in schools, fine but don’t just presume that a Deacon, or even a Priest is the right person to teach RE in school.

      • St.Joseph says:

        Well actually my two children went to two s.esperate Grammer schools where a priest a St Fr ‘de Sales parish taught Catholics once a week and I can assure you were given excellent knowledge.which encoureged my daughter to become a RE teacher
        With all the modernist thinking in Catholic schools in the seventies an eighties Catholic teachers were not fashionional. She is now a business manager and Bursur in a large secondary school non catholic. My son is a foundation Governor in Catholic school..so Milligan both are strong Catholics and know theology and the Catholic faith all through sound knowledge from a ‘catholic’ priest.
        Deacons are given sound knowledge so who better could go into schools to teach.
        You do make sweeping statements without much thought!

      • milliganp says:

        St Joseph, you can always pass on knowledge to someone who has a desire to acquire it. However schools are in the business of teaching mixed ability and mixed attitudes and in this environment teaching requires formal qualifications in teaching skills, subject knowledge and curriculum. The fact you have two children who know their faith cannot be extrapolated to all children and, given you age, I presume they were educated 30+ years ago and we are discussing the state of Catholic education TODAY. I have actually given a significant amount of thought to faith education having been a governor of 3 Catholic schools. It is one of the hardest tasks know to man to try a convince a headteacher and board of governors that faith is even remotely as important as academic achievement. You seem to think your vocation in life is to dream up jobs for deacons to do.

      • St.Joseph says:

        milliganp
        No my vocation in life is not to dream up jobs for deacons.
        This blog is for suggestions which we speak our mind.
        You obviously dont understand that.
        You much prefer to belittle people
        I ask why you took offence to my post, is it below your vocation to instruct students?.
        You dont have to be a teacher,especially as you have 5children I think you said, so you will be quite experienced as a parent.!

      • St.Joseph says:

        millganp.
        Well formal qualification and teaching skills hasn’t helpet much.
        Good catholics were not needed in school curriculm since the misinterpred VAT2
        I can remember that.I am not that old.

  8. Iona says:

    Just by way of a quick aside: – the battle against assisted suicide is not yet lost. The proposal will be debated in the House of Commons on 11th September. We can all put pressure on our respective MPs to attend the debate, and to vote against.

    • jimbeam says:

      Iona, I question the productivity of doing what you suggest… our job is to live and communicate the Gospel, but you seem to propose vying with the interests of secualrism. is there room enough here for envying the worldly political sphere?
      I can understand you want to voice your beliefs/concerns to MP, but I think we are called to give wisdom and warning but suspend judgement, and to offer mercy to all, and to trust in and wait on God before choosing to get more than a suggestive hint political (and political I mean merely in mindset); before passing sweeping judgement in the face of fiddly complexities and uncertainties of natural law / God’s law in practice, which apply to particular circumstances, and conscience, God knows, in different individual’s real lives?
      Other than pointing out the value of life above and beyond mans rationally/emotionally confused handle upon it, what good news is being proclaimed by the Church in respect of the existing realities of assisted (..?..)?

  9. Brendan says:

    Wales is not a barometer of Catholic observance in the U.K. ; but just recently our Bishop confirmed twenty-two young people , all of them ethnically Indian or Filipino . A group of twelve or so have just been commissioned from the parish , on their way as volunteer helpers with the Welsh pilgrimage to Lourdes – I see one Caucasian face among’st the group !
    I am tempted to compare my complete lack of Catholic catechesis from the age of twelve ( while attending a secular grammar school , metamorphosing into a state comprehensive ) to the general depth of ‘ Catholic ‘ ethos of some Catholic schools today …. shallow at best !
    How did I survive the 60’s right though to the 70’s , the critical period ? Before then ; good solid ‘ Catholic ‘ instruction in The Faith from my parents , in partnership with the Parish … backed up by our Bishop(s). Getting down to street level where Gods Kingdom ferments …….. its sound Catholic Catechesis , stupid !
    Church Leaders appear from ‘ street level ‘ in such disarray on this that the proverbial ‘ ostrich ‘ and ‘ King Canute ‘ springs to mind……….. while a large over-pretentious elephant sonorously trumpets away to be noticed !

    • milliganp says:

      Brendan, did your school fail to teach you sentence structure, correct use of punctuation and how to present a cogent argument. I find it impossible to either agree with or argue against your viewpoint as I can’t work out what point you are actually trying to make. I understand you’re in Wales but could you try Enlish please.

      • Brendan says:

        Quite right Milliganp – no book- prizes for me today ! I’m sorry I did not make my piece clearer . I treat the ‘ blog ‘ not just to place an opinion/point of view ; but also to propose personal insights for others to play off , if they wish.
        The gist of my piece was simply to invite opinions concerning the lamentable lack of coherence in teaching our children The Faith.

  10. Nektarios says:

    Is it possible to conceive that God is not pleased with Catholic or Anglican or other Christian faith schools? As I agree with much of Quentin’s opening remarks, which devout parent could object.
    Much of the failure is rightly due to agressive humanism and secularism, but not all, as so many of you have pointed out. There are failures within the Catholic school system that needs addressing too perhaps?
    I always go back to the Holy Scriptures to find God’s answers to my questions, queries and anxities. In Acts the Apostle Peter was feeling very nervous about the situation in that upper room
    when, on that day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came down as was promised, filled the house like a mighty wind and filled them too.
    Next you see a Peter going out of the house among the people, and preaching. Gone was his fear of the Jews, and he communicated to them in arguments, logically historically, to tell them this same Jesus, whom God had raised from the dead was both Lord and Christ that was promised, whom they crucified.
    The people were pricked in the hearts, and came under conviction and came asking the Apostles, and among themselves, `What shall we do?

    What has all that got to go with this topic on Catholic/religious school education? Well everything.

    What Peter said next, was Repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall receive the Holy Spirit.
    This is the divine order of things. Over 3000 people that day were added to the Church and in subsequent days more and more were added. What would account for that change in the people where only some days earlier, these same people were baying for the death of Christ, `Away with him, Crucify Him.’ The only explanation was not the oratory of the Apostle Peter, or clever intellectual arguments, but the activity of God the Holy Spirit.

    Is this problem too big to handle, or gone too far to be remedied by Catholics or by religious arguments? Are the Catholic arguments falling on deaf ears by those in power? Feeling somewhat anxious about it; at a loss to know what to do exactly? Then you will understand the Apostle Peter very well.
    Prior to all this, Peter was with the others in that upper room, fearful of the Jews and waiting for something they did not understand totally or much at all really, till He came as promised.

    So, I put it to you and myself, faced with the present situation what is one to do? Follow that Peter says. Seek and wait on the Holy Spirit to deal with it, to change hearts and minds.
    He has the answer for all our needs. He knows the situation, He cares about your children and how to turn the present situation around. Wait on Him and Watch.

  11. Iona says:

    Brendan, I too am in Wales, and was interested to notice (at a gathering of the priests of the “deanery”, a couple of years ago) that they were all either old and white, or young and black. This seems to be the way the Church is going.
    BTW, I didn’t have MilliganP’s difficulties with your post, but I would like to know the identity of the “over-pretentious elephant trumpeting away to be noticed”. Clearly this is not an “elephant in the room” type of elephant. Or is it?

    • Brendan says:

      Iona – I can only speak about these matters generally at diocesan level. I hope you can respect that stance. I am in touch with my roots in the Archdiocese of Cardiff where most of my family live. The situation seems particularly difficult in City Parishes where one priest may be in charge of several parishes helped by a number of permanent deacons and religious sisters. In the Valley parishes the situation appears not much better . The Benedictines , Rosminians have given up their parishes slowly after something like 150 years of distinguished service to South Wales Catholics . Like almost everywhere else, the last fifty years has reeked havoc with vocations. Where were the vocations to come from when most parishes had lost their very life-blood ?
      Priests are getting older and there appear to be a few black priests acquired through Archbishop George Stack’s tenure. My sister has a Ghanaian ( Archdiocese of Accra ) priest covering three parishes . Believe me , he is doing sterling work there but young people have stopped practicing the Faith in droves in these valley parishes. But even I can see when visiting her parish that the green shoots of evangelisation ARE being laid in her parish at least. But it needs time to reverse the decline over half a century. I believe vocations to the priesthood dried mainly because we stopped praying for them ; begging the question , did we take the sacerdotal priesthood and our Faith seriously enough ?
      Menevia Diocese from afar appears more healthier and is fairly well provided for with seminarians in the pipeline. Young priest are self-evident with a few from the Phillipines, Nigeria and India.The work of Bishop Burns and the parishes have secured this healthy situation over time by hard work and constant appeal to the Lord in many forms of prayer and action. I know nothing about the position of Wrexham Diocese ( Mid and North Wales ) headed by Bishop Brignall. Of course Iona, in these trying times for us all , there is always room for improvement in reversing the decline.
      The ‘ elephant in the room ‘ obvious to everyone who is busy side-steeping its path , is the bad catechesis that has accelerated the decline in Catholic observance that we are at best poo-pooing and at worst ignoring. The ‘ over pretentious noisy elephant ‘ is the worldly effects of this bad chatechesis which is drowning out true Church Teaching while enticing more victims off the true path.

  12. G.D. says:

    Is there a difference between ‘The Faith’ as doctinal & historical knowledge (academic) and ‘Faith’ as in the heartfelt knowledge (personal) of God?
    I think the two are often confused, blinding one another, and cause dissention in the ranks.
    As in parts of this discussion.

    Obviously there is a cross over and both aspects of ‘knowledge’ (head & heart) can be realised, by the student, from both; but the two are not identicel, and can not be given to others in the same way. Specific approaches and skills are needed for both. (And indeed responses to them).

    Young children would appreciate more of the ‘heart’ than ‘head’ i presume. Which would give a firm(er) foundation for later intellectual input? Then be more equipped to combine the two (and transend both!) easier as they grow into ’rounded’ adults.

    The people with both sets of skills, presenting the spiritual depth & the intellectual learning, always seem to have a fuller (more complete?) picture, and carrismatic presentation, of ‘Faith’ and ‘Religion’.

    There has always been a ‘two camps’ appraoch to passing on ‘beleif’. Many people excelling in one and discounting the other.
    Although I don’t see the early church in the gospels, or Jesus, taking that either/or approach.
    Both are needed within the classroom, and outside of the classroom.

    And i am not knocking either as lesser than the other. Would that we could do away with both! And really pass on God’s Presence.

    In my Adult formation classes (RCIA) i have always been blessed with someone who is more ‘head’ oriented than i, and appreciated the needed balance.

    Maybe that’s why Jesus sent them out in pairs!

    • Martha says:

      G. D. Thank you so much. The way you have analysed the different aspects of teaching the Faith clarifies it for me at once, a real Eureka moment!

  13. St.Joseph says:

    Martha.
    I agree with G.D.
    One thing it brings to mind and that is cradle catholics learnt about Jesus etc on our mothers and grandmothers knee.
    When our children were baptised, we took them up to the Blessed Sacrament, We began by teaching them the sign of the Cross before they could crawl. Grounding them for the future with the simplicity of our faith,
    When I was a child I thought as a child
    , Now I am a Man the saying goes’ I put away childish things’ but Jesus said ‘Unless you become like little children you can not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven
    I think that even if all our young people loved Holy Mass so much and understood the the deep meaning of what Jesus did for us, they would not miss going on a Sunday ,out of love and not to offend Him I believe that would be enough to please Him and Our Blessed Mother
    So they gave up going to Mass with the excuse it was boring. Then Mass was turned into something that would please the young, folk Masses etc. in my opinion made things worse
    It was mentioned here that Mass in Ireland was 20 minuets-well I say that would not be a bad idea without all the distractions.
    I attended Mass some time ago where the parish priest at the entry procession walked up to the Altar with a sweeping brush over his shoulders., That did not impress many..

    I remember a priest giving a talk about religion and mentioned the Sacrifice of the Mass-and a Nun stood up and said loudly ‘What has that got to do with it Father..
    That is perhaps what is lost to the young, and not concentrating on the real issue
    .

  14. Nektarios says:

    G.D.
    You say, `Is there a difference between ‘The Faith’ as doctinal & historical knowledge (academic) and ‘Faith’ as in the heartfelt knowledge (personal) of God?
    I think the two are often confused, blinding one another, and cause dissention in the ranks’.

    You raise a very interesting point here G. D., one that needs looking into very carefully, I would go so far as to say it is vital.
    One can pass on the Faith by way of teaching, example, doctrinal and historical, not to forget theological.
    Then there is the Faith, a gift given by God. The Gospel, the teachings of Christ and the Apostles
    is not of this world but heavenly in origin. One hears the Gospel, and it is mixed in a mysterious way with this gift of God called Faith. This is the action of the Holy Spirit applying to us all the merits of Christ’s death, and resurrection.
    In so doing, God changes one, to become a child of God. with all that that means, giving them all the promises and privileges of a child of God and He does not stop there. By Adoption He confers upon us the legal title of a son. There is much more, He gives us his family name, and all the unsearchable riches of Christ.

    Now G. D. I want you to notice something very important here and the rest of our readers on the SS blog. God does not approach your heart directly, we could not bear it. He approaches us with propostional truths, and facts concerning Christ historical who and what He is. In otherwords God approaches our minds first.

    Sadly there are differences all over the place between Faith and faith we hold in our hearts.
    That is a topic by itself. Why?
    Simply it is because of man’s pride has got in the way.
    When it comes to education in our faith schools, some of it is alright, and some is utterly wrong.
    If one is using education to weild a denominational axe, brow-beating people into conformity, then it is wrong, very wrong. It has nothing to do with real Christianity.
    The Apostle Paul was very academic, and according to the Law blameless, yet he did not use his academic talents, but counted it all loss that he may win Christ.
    Do you look to academics to give you answers? That was not St. Peter’s way or any of the Apostles way of communicating the Gospel. It has to be a movement and action of the Holy Spirit
    or it is nothing. It will not truly change a sinner to a saint or a child of God.
    I will have to stop there….

    • St.Joseph says:

      About catholic schools, neither of my children went to one as the nearest was 3 miles away and my son,was very poorly with asthma, not any more thank God) When they were 6 and 7 the parish priest called to my house and told me’ I should send them on the bus,because they will lose their faith if I dont’.I got very annoyed with him and said I take them to Mass on a Thursday evening since they were 3 and 4,in a church 200 yards from where I lived and on a Sunday, and he would do better to tell the parents of those children in the catholic school to do the same as they were never there.They had instructions every Saturday morning for their First Holy Communion. Which he organised especially by a Sister.

    • jimbeam says:

      “God does not approach your heart directly, we could not bear it. He approaches us with propostional truths, and facts concerning Christ historical who and what He is. In otherwords God approaches our minds first.”

      And how Nektarios does God get Himself into the heart and make a believer of a person who has not heard about Jesus, been misinformed, or been negatively conditioned; or is such an occurrence impossible?

      • Nektarios says:

        Jimbeam
        God does not try to get into an unrepentant heart, but not only gives us a new heart and nature. Now go and read Acts 2:32-39 in particular.
        How does God do this? It is an action of the Holy Spirit.
        Want to know more? Prayerfully read Ephesians 1: 1-14. Here you have an insight into our Salvation by the Father – 1-6; by the Son 7-12 and by the Holy Spirit 13-14. As we must all die, what more important question is there than our Salvation and how it is accomplished?

  15. John L says:

    I live in an area where access to a Catholic school is nigh impossible for transport reasons. When my children were small I tried to find a solution (the Church was still bleating “you should send your children to a Catholic school”) but, fat chance!, not a shred of support was forthcoming.in any quarter; other Catholic parents deafened me with their silence. To spell out the history of my kids’ growing up in a Comprehensive (non-denominational) school would far exceed my blogger’s word allowance. The Parish tried out-of-hours tuition by a retired teacher, but this caused more resentment among the young than the imposition of surrendering their Sunday lie-in to attend Mass. Their attendance was compulsory, but hardly productive. As I am not a qualified teacher, I was firmly kept out of the loop, barely able to pass on a knowledge of Altar serving to willing youngsters. When I found the precious tuition hour was devoted to hymn-singing, I gave up the fight.
    Contrast my own experience, Dominican Primary School, Irish Christian Brothers’ Grammar School with effectively daily competent religious instruction as part of the curriculum. Teaching, these days, avoids rote-learning, so the Catechism has gone the way of the multiplication tables as a basis upon which to build. I can’t say my teachers made me a good Catholic, but to expect parents to provide the basis of knowledge that the school did is just plain naïve. The teachers merely built upon a foundation of values instilled by parents and grandparents.
    The loss of this factual teaching was just the thin end of the wedge. One deprived generation cannot but help being unable to avoid the deprivation of the next.
    My kids are all adult now. My daughter, praised be God, still practises the Faith, but not so my two sons, One time when I remonstrated with my second son he remarked, “Look, I haven’t time for all that church stuff – you and Mum taught me the difference between right and wrong, and I live by that”. Very flattering, and all very well, but I can weep that my grandchildren probably don’t even know who Christ is.
    Am I accountable for this? My confessor tells me that I must place them in God’s hands – he feels it is the way of today’s world.
    Foundations once destroyed, what can the just do?
    we can discuss this topic for ever, but there is no conceivable “one size fits all” solution, and multiple solutions won’t come out way until we can all agree to face in the same direction. This doesn’t just mean resolve the need for Catholic teachers but also to put some meat on the bones of what is taught.

    • St.Joseph says:

      John L
      Thank you for what you said.
      I find that if we speak to our grandchildren they will listen.My two grandaughters show me all their work they do at their catholic school, although the eldest one has left hers now, and I believe she misses Mass occasionally, when she stays with her school friend also a catholic It doesn’t seem to bother her!! I believe conversation about the Lord and the church in general etc; is better than dictating about what she ‘should do’ when it come to going to Mass.,We just have to pray for them. She is a good person who has no vocation to the religious life.One day she will understand. and hopefully remember her upbringing .

    • Martha says:

      “Am I accountable for this? My confessor tells me that I must place them in God’s hands – he feels it is the way of today’s world.”

      John L, I think many of us feel like this, and wonder what we could have done differently, which is always much clearer with hindsight, and with knowledge and experience gained later. We pray that God will magnify whatever good we may have done, and undo the harm we can see that we did in some ways, and that He will forgive us and our children. Dying in extreme agony on the Cross, He could say even for His enemies, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”

      Which of course does not really help very much in a discussion about what systems we should be using in current circumstances.

    • John L says:

      Thank you both for your helpful comments.
      Perhaps I had drifted away from Quentin’s original subject, but, then, that is a common feature of his blog. Another feature is that it tends to be a discussion between well-informed people and can drift into the esoteric.
      The tragedy is that there is a huge “Catholic” population out there which is anything but well-informed, through no fault of its own. Part of the generation difference I sought to underline was the type of religious instruction on offer. Milliganp remarks elsewhere, quite rightly, that “faith is caught, not taught”. I thus claim no particular virtue as to my education, but I cannot claim any excuse for factual ignorance. Modern forms of instruction perhaps intend to lean towards the “catch” rather than the “teach”, but it does seem to me that the teaching aspect can be sadly lacking. A trivial example – when helping a group of youngsters as potential Mass-servers (a sneaky way of giving them an involvement in their presence on Sunday) I happen to remark that it is customary that wherever one is on the sanctuary, one turns and faces the priest when he is reading the Gospel. Blank expressions – “What’s the Gospel?” I rest my case.
      Those of us who are fortunate enough to have access to decent Catholic school should count our blessings, but if we look no further than academic results only, we deserve all we get.
      For what it is worth, for anyone deprived of access to good R.I. I would recommend Mgr Alfred Gilbey’s book “We believe”, which is an analysis of the “old” penny catechism based on talks for undergraduates.. It is fashionable in some quarters to mock Gilbey, but as an educational source it takes some beating.

      • milliganp says:

        Re your comment on servers not knowing what point in the Mass is the Gospel; without being dismissive or negatively critical it could be said that one should never underestimate the ignorance of the average Catholic. When I was a child the Mass was in Latin and so we had picture prayer books showing the pose of the priest at various times in the Mass; the Epistle read to the right of the altar and the Gospel to the left. One followed the canon (now the Eucharistic Prayer) by hand positions, bows, genuflections and blessings (and the all-important bells). When the Mass was unintelligible, we learned what it meant – we now understand the words but not the meaning – and certainly not the sentiment.
        There are a number of groups within the church (the Faith Movement and Youth 2000 come to mind) which try to offer a more developed faith experience for those Catholic young people open to it; the trouble is that they are not universally accepted and are seen by some as elitist or divisive. Similarly groups like the Neocatechumenal Way which try to form adults into a far deeper and committed faith are also a source of disagreement.
        In comprehensive schools subjects like maths and English are often taught in ability streams, perhaps we need RE streaming, not based on academic ability but on depth of faith practice.

      • John L says:

        Thank you, Paul. I endorse the aims of such groups as you describe. I only wish that in scattered communities such as mine they were accessible.
        Years back I attended the National Pastoral Congress as a Deanery delegate. In prior discussions we had had the usual thrash about the loss of the young, and despaired over our inability to find any sort of solution. When I arrived in Liverpool I found the young Church very much alive, well and active. During the formal exit procession of the bishops after the closing Mass, one youngster was heard to call out in encouragement to Archbishop Worlock, “Nice one, Derek!”. I came away somewhat reassured.
        Perhaps my confessor was right. Some things we have to leave in the hands of the Lord.

  16. milliganp says:

    It might be worth discussing the ‘mantra’ which has driven Catholic education for many years that of the “school-home-parish” triangle or tripod. Because Catholicism is a religion with a highly defined place for faith practice in the Parish Church the link with Parishes should be key. However, while most Catholic primary schools are strongly tied to one or two parishes, in the case of secondary schools it is not uncommon for a school to have children from 8+ parishes and the most desireable often count 20+; this makes school-parish links difficult. The priciple sacrament of secondary school children is Confirmation and it’s generally agreed that preparation for this sacrament is very challenging. Finally few parents actively engage in the faith formation of their children and even Catholics with strong practice presume the school is handling the task. Not everybody is cynical about religious education but the phrase “faith is caught, not taught” challenges us to ask if the whole approach to the Catholic part of “Catholic Education” is really understood and the challenge recognised?

    • St.Joseph says:

      There seems to be a large number of catholics home schooling their children who have been unhappy with the RI in schools.over the last 50 years. Since the opening of the ‘windows’ and letting the Holy Spirit come out as the saying goes.
      I know many young priests who were educated in Summer Schools in Oxford and a local Field House.They received good solid sound orthodox knowledge of the Catholic faith and were not confused with all the controversial modern issues that were around
      the New Evangelisation.
      Faith is lived.Vocations are a calling.
      Our young catholics may not be too religious, but we can thank God they are not drug addicts , running around in gangs etc,but perhaps living decent lives.Educated and earning a living and paying their taxes.
      I am not a great believer in leaving it to schools , parents are their childrens first duty and responsibility,to find out what they are being taught in catholic schools (as if we did not try). I am not saying anything new and this is not a recent concern’.It is not so much as how we teach’, but also what we teach!. Many good catholic teachers in the past have been neglected and pushed aside because of ‘modern moving on theology..
      In my thinking It has brought to mind the’ thyme’ mass if it is the right name, where the disco flashing lights etc for the young thank God that did not get very far!!
      However what did was the Destruction of the Churches, Destruction of the Mass and the Destruction of the Faith..
      We may have lost one or two generations of Religious.I dont think the whole answer is in catholic schools, there was a chance when Bishop O’Donogue (maybe spelt wrong) wrote his 3 articles for Holy mother Church however was not needed!! Perhaps they would have made a big difference .

  17. Hock says:

    I have heard of confirmation being described as the ‘Sacrament of Leaving.’ A sad but truthful description although it is perhaps a variable.

    • St.Joseph says:

      Hock,
      That may be right ‘Sacrament of Leaving’
      My two grandsons were going to be Confirmed along with my husband ,as it happened my husband was so ill he was confirmed, at home. 3 days before he died.
      So then they waited and when they were given 5 pounds to bring back 10 and work on a Sunday and Monday evening visiting people they felt it was not all about that when they were studying for exams,they both know their faith having had a good priest in their first 7 years and, the Catholic High school they both attended due to a good headmaster and parents, they will eventually in God’s own time and theirs.!.

  18. G.D. says:

    NECTARIOS – It’s not one or the other it’s both that is needed. Intellect and ‘heart knowledge’ both. As for God not approaching the heart directly, i have to disagree.
    God is All in all and appraoches us as we are ‘whole’. Heart mind and soul. We are ‘in’ God and God in us.

    It is our (sin) response that doesn’t let us ‘see’ ‘accept’ that fulness in us. It’s there unconditionally, as the fullness of God. Yes it would be too much for us to open up to (bear) directly, but that doesn’t mean it’s not given.

    All the faculties we are given – head & heart – are to be used intigrated and … transcended (let go of) that we may approach the burning bush with our feet uncovered in humility and openness to God’s Presence in us and all of creation.

    Through academic study (adverse to it as I am myself) & heart felt experience we can discover that Presence. It’s BOTH mind & heart …. and that ‘knowledge’ that is beyond our understanding (both heart & head understandings) can be ‘seen’ with the ‘eyes’ of the spirit/soul.

    • Nektarios says:

      G.D.
      I think it better if we go through your posting paragraph by paragraph.

      `NECTARIOS – It’s not one or the other it’s both that is needed. Intellect and ‘heart knowledge’ both. As for God not approaching the heart directly, i have to disagree.
      God is All in all and approaches us as we are ‘whole’. Heart mind and soul. We are ‘in’ God and God in us.’

      I was not advocating one or the other, either mind or heart. God has always approached us through the mind/ our thinking first, as I said that is why God speaks through the words of the Prophets, Christ, and His Apostles by way of propositions. Can you give an instance from Holy Scripture where God approaches one through the heart first?
      It would be good if we truly understood what we both mean by mind and heart?

      `It is our (sin) response that doesn’t let us ‘see’ ‘accept’ that fulness in us. It’s there unconditionally, as the fullness of God. Yes it would be too much for us to open up to (bear) directly, but that doesn’t mean it’s not given.’

      You seem to be agreeing with me on the one hand and disgreeing on the other hand?
      The natural man is a rebel against God, he does not want to even think about or accept anything of God as He truly is. He is a sinner cut off until the Holy Spirit regenerates him/her. The natural man cannot receive or discern the spiritual things of God because they are spiritually discerned.
      It would help if I knew what exactly you mean by, ` as the fulness of God?’

      `All the faculties we are given – head & heart – are to be used intigrated and … transcended (let go of) that we may approach the burning bush with our feet uncovered in humility and openness to God’s Presence in us and all of creation.’

      Is this an ideal you are presenting here? Please re-read the account in Genisis of Abraham and the burning bush. The burning bush drew Abraham’s attention, he was curious to find out how it burned and was not consumed. When God spoke from the burning bush declaring who He was, God Almighty, he wrapped his cloak around himself and hid his face. There is a lot here that needs delineating, but put simply here and for the sake of space: Salvation is not a matter of man’s choice nor his natural faculties ; Man is incapable on making such a choice without the operation of the Holy Spirit. God has not only to tell him who He is but how to proport himself before him. And God calls Abraham to walk before Him.

      `Through academic study (adverse to it as I am myself) & heart felt experience we can discover that Presence. It’s BOTH mind & heart …. and that ‘knowledge’ that is beyond our understanding (both heart & head understandings) can be ‘seen’ with the ‘eyes’ of the spirit/soul.’

      I wonder G.D. if you really understand the mechanics of the head/intellect and the heart and how it works and the perception of the whole by ones spirit and soul?
      To what end did the Lord create us tri-partied beings?
      Lastly, what has all this to do with education religious or otherwise we are discussing?

      • G.D. says:

        The prophets speak – people recieve the utterances it via heart (feelings and inner experience) as well as an intellectual evaluation (inetellectual rational judgements) depending on whichever ‘funtion’ they prefer to use. Or both id tthey have intigrated them enough.
        I will pray you have an experience of God that is not through the mind first, then you will understand me.

        Man is an unnatural sinner, his natural state is one of union with God – that’s how God created man. And there is God within/without man continually calling relating et to man, and man relates, and knows of God, purely and simply because without that response – no mattter how hidden it is from man’s self and other’s – man would not exist.
        It’s mankind’s unnatural response that rejects God.
        It’s the WHOLE person that can spiritually recognise fully God’s presence and action. Partially via various aspects of their person’s unnatural disunity.

        God is has and always will call mankind individualy & collectrively to (re)union with God, that is the unconditional love God has. That is the fullness of God. That is the action (grace) of God the Trinity ever present WITH mankind. That is the action of God that enables mankind to respond to God.
        Yes, it is an ideal – the fullness of the ressurection of man in Christ.

        I don’t pretend to understand mechanics of any sort – don’t beleive man operates via mechanical means. No idea what the end that will manifest. Merely know it will be union with God.
        Perception of the whole is not subjective and therefore I cannot say what it is, merely state (in the inadequate subjective symbolic language we use to relate) my experiences of God, given me in my seeking of God. A journey that is far from finished and far from perfect.
        I do not assert : merely conjecture.

        The way we percieve and express God has everything to do with religious education.

        I seek to find via mind heart and soul to come closer to God. Not to prove my subjective view. In that way i open my heart mind and soul to an ever wider vision.
        Viewing all subjective viewpoints as symbolic representations of a mystery that none will fully embrace untill the final perusia.
        Untill then I will be as blind as I always have been.

        I find in that attitude I am less judgemental. And with no need to be blinkered by my own prejudices. Without giving up my beleifs, of course. Paradoxical as it is, it works for me.

        It’s a bit like trying to live life as one of Jesus’ parables. Containing truth(s) but open to development.
        That is open to learning more as I portray, as much as and sincerly as i can, the God who gives me reason for being.

      • Nektarios says:

        G.D.
        You say, `I will pray you have an experience of God that is not through the mind first, then you will understand me.’

        Thank you for your concern and prayers. I can faithfully and truthfully tell you I have God operating in my mind and heart.

        The authority of the Church is totally from the Holy Scriptures, if not it is not a Christian Church or even a dead orthodoxy/ We have the Bible placed before us to read, to think about. If one is a Christian and depending where they are spiritually it will lead him/her into deeper relationship with God. It is not cleverness or guesswork
        Alas many have departed from the truth, do not read the Word of God, and so wandering around seemingly spiritually aimless. They discover little and suffer much.

      • overload says:

        Nektarios, to add to your discussion with G.D:

        “The authority of the Church is totally from the Holy Scriptures”
        No not totally, but foundationally?

        “Can you give an instance from Holy Scripture where God approaches one through the heart first?”
        When Abraham was given the gift of bread and wine, I wonder what in his mind he really understood about the giver and the nature/meaning of the gift. Yet by the grace of God he could receive this gift.
        I can also speculate about the prompting and his understanding of this prompting which led Abraham to the attempted sacrifice of Isaac.

        When we partake in the Eucharist, is this not the special and primary example of God speaking to our hearts through our bodies, and only suplimentarily through Scripture and mind?
        I speculate: if the faith of the communicants (a church) with which an individual shares Holy Communion is well grounded and in tune with Scripture (with The Church), then that individual, with faith, will be receiving the Gospel into their heart even in the absence of ever having heard the Gospel.
        Another speculation: if the available Eucharist (ie. The Memorial, in any form, mental/physical/emotional) is to any significant degree out of tune with true reading of Scripture, and/or not being made available to those who should/would receive it in good faith, then one may find that individuals who have not heard the Gospel, or have been conditioned by this world to disbelieve it (not hear it properly), may instead receive the Gospel into their hearts through experience of living in this world… I am suggesting that (or asking whether) the cross of Christ can be known and loved by someone who is at the same time mentally ignorant of Christ or has a mental aversion to His name (including someone who thinks themself to be an atheist).?

      • overload says:

        Nektarios, further to my last reply…
        It may be we always need to hear the Gospel and understand in our mind to receive Him, the Word of God, into our hearts—to believe. But not necessarily ‘hear’ with our ears, not necessarily understand with our conscious minds? I refer to Romans 10 which has much (and paradoxical) to say about this…

        “‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’
        How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?”

        “faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ. Did they not hear? Of course they did: ‘Their voice has gone out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.'”
        (Now consider the previous verse of Psalm 19 which has just been quoted by Paul:
        “They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard.
        Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world.”)

        “I was found by those who did not seek me; I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me.”

      • overload says:

        Sorry, to extend that first quotation, “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?”
        Should be followed with…
        “And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?”

  19. G.D. says:

    MARTHA – Glad it helped you.

  20. G.D. says:

    MILLIGAN P – Is not confirmation seen as so challenging because we are still about ‘putting information into’ the young adults, rather than the real meaning of ‘educare’ and asking them what it’s all about for them? Drawing out thier own experiences of God and how that relates to thhier lives. AS WELL AS the gospel & doctrinal teachings of course.
    THis is the approach that I have taken with confirmation groups over thity years and it seems to bear results.
    Not in all the confirmandes admittedly. But seeing the hardened cases link the ‘teachings’ with the experiences they themselves, and thier peers, have had is a great joy. And often they ‘teach’ me by the witness they give.

    Challenging yes, but is that not the way ‘teenage angst’ is meant to be presented, as a challenge to the established order?
    When SEEN a beligerance it’s a negative; with ‘acceptance’ & ‘resistance’ of it’s expression it often turns into a positive amalgamation of the ‘two sides’, produces a third way of seeing the ‘problem’, going beyond into growth of all concerned, and finding more challenges to master as fellow travelers into ……. is not this the teaching & developement we need in the church in general?
    To see a ‘threat’ from another way of expressing, experoienceing

  21. G.D. says:

    MILLIGANP – Sorry posted with out finishing ……….. To see a threat from anothers content or way of expressing – as long as it’s not outright violent et of course – and experience of life greates more of a divide does it not?

    Attempting to form that ‘third’ way goes some way to allowing the spirit (within religious teachings) towards growth in God i think.
    Challenging because we need, at times to step outside OUR way of KNOWING and look for the positive in the other’s way of seeing. But well worth attempting, i feel.

    ‘Judge not’ is a teaching that contains a lot more depth than just ‘don’t condemn’.

    • overload says:

      I had various issues about getting confirmed in the RCC, one of them that some of my beliefs are ‘not allowed’.

      G.D, As your discussion with Nektarios reminds me, I still think/feel frustrated, fraught, confused, when considering—in respect of living and proclaiming my Christian faith and trying to communicate to RCatholics and Christians—that I do not believe that Jesus Christ is the only man who has ever loved perfectly and unconditionally. (And it was from this position, without ever letting go of this position, that I came to believe in Jesus as my God and my Saviour.)

      Then there is what has been made clear in Scripture, that we must believe in the name of Jesus: “no way to the father but through me”; “either with me or against me”. So what does this really mean and not mean in reality?—it seems to be both a red-hot (fraught, testing) and a cool (calm, peaceful) issue at the same time… so I don’t know if I know whether I’m in a hot or calm environment?

      Further to this G.D’s suggestion that we can transcend heart/mind knowledge of God…
      “God” I understand as ‘the One who is invoked’, so this is always about personal relationship with One (a person) who is greater and relied upon and called, not quite the same as ‘self-knowledge’ when meaning the transcending ‘self’, which is what G.D seems to be talking about (re. previous meditation discussion)?. So I think that to transcend knowledge of God is to have no God (aka have no need of God); and Peace & Eternal Life are not God, but transcend God?

      • G.D. says:

        No, not transcend God, but trancscend our ‘ideal’ ‘knowledge’ of God – the reality is God only! All
        has to be transcended – including self. And God only remains. Relating to that(!) is the transcending of all ……… and coming home to All. (Subjective Objective blurring but …… hey, it’s a mystery)

      • overload says:

        G.D., thanks for your reply. You give me here an example where I cannot decide whether what you say is a calm expression of truth or a subtle and fraught diversion from the truth. My thoughts and concerns expressed…

        You propose a transcending of ‘ideals’, yet you seem in turn to give an ideal?

        I heard a talk by Fr. John Main yesterday at a WCCM day retreat. He seemed to suggest that there is an ideal (ie. the Way of formal meditation practice) and that this ideal is to be understood as abstract and pure: a transcending of or disposing of language—something which is ‘always self-referential’—in the ‘radical simplicity of silence’ (the last phrase came from Fr. Laurence Freeman).
        Yet without language how do we invoke and seek Jesus and have a personal relationship with Him, and of what relevance is the word ‘God’ —I think necessarily implying person; ie. self, will and freedom—?

        Is the abstraction of “Ma-ra-na-tha” (the WCCM meditation mantra) a way to invoke and call upon the Name of Jesus (ie. true ‘prayer of the heart’), operating deeper than the conscious mind; and/or is it a way to elevate abstraction and transcendence as ideals: over and above the person(s), language, symbols and knowledge which we have been given to understand and relate to God?

        I think I see three kinds of spiritual meditation available to us now:
        1) Christian meditation/prayer which is an ongoing active/responsive way of relating to the Trinity and self which has at it’s core the focus of the cross (resurrection-crucifixion and vice versa, inseparably married), which is an embracing of and victory over our suffering and fallen human self and ego (so NOT a transcending of self as such).
        2) Buddhist influenced formal meditation which seeks to (temporarily) suspend/transcend self, God and all things. A taste of the knowledge of the true nature of all things and a foretaste of the cessation of all things. I wonder if this has, for us today, a valid place within and subordinate to (1)?
        3) Some kind of marriage, for better or for worse, between (1) and (2).

        I am trying to express something of a fraught personal struggle/confusion which seems also to have some universal relevance.

  22. milliganp says:

    We seem to be mainly discussing RE as the primary purpose of Catholic education. The reality is that education is a good in its own right which is why many missionary schools teach those with no faith and why so many religious teaching orders saw their vocation to use education to lift people out of poverty. Perhaps our Catholic schools fare better when we understand how a Catholic ethos aids academic achievement.

    • St.Joseph says:

      milliganp.
      I may be misunderstanding you,perhaps you will enlighten me.
      But do you mean that those studying to be doctors or police constables etc would benefit to be educated in theology!There are so many different ‘type’s of ‘theology’ even in the catholic church
      I think you made a comment about the’ CCC’ a while back
      In my opinion it would have to be strictly by Church’s teaching No controversies.
      I am sure you will make your self clear.!..

      • milliganp says:

        I think I was making the exact opposite point; Catholic schools can be doing God’s work when they teach mathematics to an agnostic. RE should not be the only subject on which we judge our schools. We don’t expect Catholic nuns running a hospital to preach Christ to every patient, their loving commitment speaks for their faith. We often awaken faith in others by simply showing we care.
        On your extended point there is an appropriate level of faith knowledge for each individual; my father loved the Mass and his Rosary; I think no less of him because he might not be able to explain the hypostatic union.

    • Horace says:

      I remember an episode in school when we were about to sit our Higher School Certificate Examination.
      One of our “Goodie Goodies” put up his hand “Please, are you going to tell us about our Examination next week?”
      The stern reply was “You are here to be educated – not to pass examinations!”
      ( btw. The date was some time in 1945)
      (incidentally I did pass the examination – reasonably well if not brilliantly).

  23. Iona says:

    Brendan – Menevia is my diocese. I live in the largest county making up that diocese, and in this very large county there is just one Catholic school, a primary school. There were two until a couple of years ago, but one was closed because of falling rolls. I don’t know how much home-schooling by Catholic parents goes on, but there certainly is some.
    John L – similar experience with my own children as they were growing up. “Out of hours tuition” was somewhat resented, and Mass on Sunday when it interfered with football was greatly resented: often I ended up on Saturday evening taking the boys an 8-mile drive to a church which had a Saturday evening Mass, to leave them free for football on Sunday. All my children have lapsed, and my two little grandchildren, like yours, certainly “don’t know who Christ is”; however, the older one is beginning to look a little curious and interested as to where it is Grandma goes off to on Sunday mornings (when I’m staying with them).
    MilliganP – streaming for RE – I like that idea!

    • St.Joseph says:

      Iona
      I have Our Lady of Mount Carmal Plaque on the wall beside my front door. A St Francis statue and Our Lady and Child Jesus beside the front step/
      A Crucifix and Our Lady;s small Holy Water fount in the porch
      The Pope in the inner porch. In my Lounge I have Our Lady of Fatima.The Sacred Heart Statue, the Holy Family and St Michael on the TV. Big Statue pf St Pio my husband brought back from Padua, all very descreetly placed. Icons which my grandson brings me home when he goes on holdays 4 at the moment,he is 21. I wont go any more around my house!!!. Perhaps a few pictures would helpThey are good for talking about especially with all my wonderful neighbours. No one is offended and they have learned a lot about the saints..BTW I do tell them that we dont worship statues,or the furniture or the TV!!! They have their uses.

  24. St.Joseph says:

    milliganp
    You say RE should not be the only subject we judge our schools.
    You are right, however they ‘should be judged on the RE’ they teach.!
    The same as Catholic nuns running a hospital should be judged on their health care! With their commitment to the teaching of the Catholic Church.on faith and morals.
    I am sure your father got greater satisfaction by loving the Mass and his Rosary, than explaining the hypostatic union. Thats what makes us whole.
    Unless we are a RE teacher, but even if not one can always look it up we dont need a teacher if one is that interested. However a RE teachers job is to make students interested

    • milliganp says:

      St Jospeph, I think yours is an excellent summary; I would merely add that the nursing nuns should also be judged by their charity as should our Catholic school teachers, our clergy and all who represent the faith in some way. Good teachers always make their subjects interesting whether Maths, History or RE. Mother Teresa proclaimed the Gospel by caring for those who nobody else cared for, it was only when people asked “why are you doing this” that she spoke of her faith.

  25. St.Joseph says:

    Milliganp.
    Thank you.
    Yes Mother Teresa was a wonderful person.
    One does not need to be a christian to take aborted babies out of dustbins and teach NFP.
    on the pavements..If you have not read her life story,it is worth a read.
    .

  26. Geordie says:

    A friend of mine was an RE teacher in a Catholic comp. in the 1970s. He objected to the changes in the syllabus and continued with the old methods of teaching. He insisted that if they grew up to be lapsed Catholics, at least his pupils would know what they had lapsed from. Eventually he was over-ruled and had the choice of teaching the new way or of leaving. He left and went to teach in a state school, where he was able to teach whatever he liked, because nobody took religion seriously.

    • Martha says:

      We found it easier to explain matters of faith and practise to the son who went to a non Catholic school than to those at the Catholic school, because he did not have the same example of fellow, supposedly Catholics ignoring our way of life.

  27. RAHNER says:

    No doubt there are many reasons as to why people lapse but one reason must be that they find the pious platitudes that are often used to express an understanding of the traditional Christian narrative laughably implausible. And this blog seems to provide an endless supply of these pious platitudes…..

    • Nektarios says:

      Rahner
      You say, `No doubt there are many reasons as to why people lapse but one reason must be that they find the pious platitudes that are often used to express an understanding of the traditional Christian narrative laughably implausible. And this blog seems to provide an endless supply of these pious platitudes…..’

      Of course Rahner, you have the true authenitc narrative, being the true Christian narrative? Well, let’s read it on this blog.Otherwise, your opinion is valueless and not without a hint of spiritually deadly pride. So, lets read your authenitc Christian narrative.

  28. St.Joseph says:

    Rahner.
    ‘What every Catholic Catholic Child should know about the Faith’
    A short booklet written by two teachers Daphne Mcleod and Frederick Taylor (1994)
    experienced in teaching the faith, compiled this booklet as a guide for those instructing children from five to eleven years. Following the directive given in the Papal Document ‘Catechesi Tradendae (1979)
    Religion is not like any other lesson. It is not just a question of acquiring knowledge, but of letting this knowledge.lead to a real love of God which will be demonstrated in how we behave towards Him and towards others.(Rahner take note)
    That time when their were so many books on the market and with one with a nihil obstat and Impramatur,from the Archbishop of Birmingham based on lectures given by Catholic Chaplain at the University of Oxford published in 1986 then a 1995 GCSE textbook ‘Roman Catholic Christianity 1996 by the head of RE at Notra Dame, Norfolk.

    What every Catholic Child should know about the Faith ,this little booklet is a summary of what every Catholic Primary school children should know by the end of each school year of their education.
    My late husband (not a catholic then) and I (Rahner some more platituded) became a distributor of catholics books all over the Uk and abroad, even though running a business and runing an SPUC branch and looking after pregnant girls then teaching NFP( we needed to work to finance this) although they were all paid for,except NFP that was no charge, this little booklet was a big relief to parents at the time and we went into a second edition..
    So Rahner perhaps you will write some suggestion as to how your work for the Church and faith (without platitudes) can be of some benefit to us all in the future? Whilst I am resting with my late husband and God I hope (more platitude for you to think about!!)

    • RAHNER says:

      McLeod provides us all with a good example of crackpot Catholic fundamentalism.

      • Nektarios says:

        Rahner
        You are not telling us anything yet. If you have the true Christian narrative let’s have it.
        Your replies suggest you are backing off and just want to snipe from the sidelines…. of course you could prove me wrong.

      • Quentin says:

        In this instance you are quite wrong. Daphne McLeod is a loyal Catholic who has devoted much of her life to promoting the teaching of the Church. She is indeed of the traditional school – which will undoubtedly by criticised liberals. But unless ‘crackpot’ means ‘someone I disagree with’ she is no crackpot. On this blog we may call ideas crackpot, and say why, but we do not demean people.

      • RAHNER says:

        I apologise if any offence was caused. No doubt I was suffering from spiritually deadly pride…….

      • milliganp says:

        Quentin, with respect to the principle of not having ad-hominem attacks I concur with your statement about Daphne McLeod who does not directly contribute to this blog. However the publication “The Flock” published by “Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice (sic)” of which she is president contains frequent ad-hominem attacks on our Bishops and many lay people active in the life of the church. She has a very defective ecclesiology as she deliberately seeks to undermine the authority of Bishops appointed by and in communion with Rome.
        Recent examples have included her describing Julian Filochowski and Martin Pendergast as “two high profile members of the ‘Catholic’ wing of the militant homofascists collective”. She also ran an article about Marie Cooke of Maryvale accusing her of advocating women’s ordination merely because Marie had based some work on a report commissioned by the Australian bishops’ conference on the role of women which noted that some women favoured women’s ordination.
        Daphne McLeod also describes ACTA as a heretical organisation when its sole stated aim is to facilitate dialog between lay people and our Bishops; she doesn’t seem to be able to see that PEEP is also an organisation of exactly the same nature.

      • Quentin says:

        Yes, if we wish to criticise, this is the way to do it — with specific examples. I make no comment of course, on your judgment, (I am pretty sure, without checking that she is retired now)

    • St.Joseph says:

      milliganp.
      I dont know how old you are, but seemingly you have a very short memory of the liberal times 45 or so years ago,
      Some of our last generation are still practicing due the sweat of the brow of those like Daphne McLeod, the recently late RIP Ruth and Michael Real ,my family as teenagers and well known writers helping in the early days putting it together reading and helping voluntarily for the Flock and meetings. etc 1000 s more in the Uk and as far back as Australia.who have benefited from Pro Ecclesia et Pontificate,meetinngs in the Westminster Hall
      I dont really think you ought to comment on something you know nothing about,
      Of course you may speak your mind if that has been confused like so many who now have offspring who have turned their back on the Church.Thank God for those who have kept the faith and stayed.
      By their fruits you will know them.!
      .

      • milliganp says:

        St. Joseph, yet again you are quick to attribute malice and ignorance to someone who has said something with which you disagree and your response lacks the mutual charity we are supposed to exhibit to fellow contributors to this blog.
        We are discussing Catholic Schools today and my comments on The Flock refer to its most recent issues, so, in the context of my post, the events of 45 years ago are essentially meaningless.
        I have read some of Daphne McLeod’s writings from the 70’s and they clearly make some important points, however time has not improved her clarity of thought. A number of years ago the Pope banned a Cardinal from attending one of her events because it was clear that she was trying to undermine the authority of the Archbishop of the diocese in which she was holding her meeting. Very few people are right all the time and Daphne McLeod is not exempt from this human limitation. In the old penny catechism we were told to respect the authority of our Priests and Bishops, a command Daphne McLeod does not feel obliged to follow.

      • St.Joseph says:

        milliganp
        Daphne is no longer the Editor of the Flock, She has retired and that shows your ignorance not mine, .
        Perhaps you will tell me the Pope that banned one of his Bishops to attend one of her meetings?
        Also where is the malice in my comments?.
        If you make an accusation you have to explain it or apologise. PLEASE!

        .

      • St.Joseph says:

        PS. Cardinal not Bishop..as I wrote.

      • RAHNER says:

        Careful Milliganp! You may be suffering from spiritually deadly pride…….

      • St.Joseph says:

        Milliganp.
        In case you dont know, catholics are only supposed to respect the authority of our priests and heirarcy when they are speaking the Truth as proclaimed Ex Cathedra..
        by the Holy Father.

  29. Brendan says:

    Daphne MacLeod aside , for me there is still the curious case of Emeritus Bishop Patrick O’ Donoughue of Lancaster . His educational document ” Fit for Mission ” was positively accepted by Pope Benedict and Cardinal Levada ( Prefect of The Cong. Doc. Faith ) in 2007. But from his
    fellow Bishops in England and Wales…. silence. This silence [ which spoke volumes ] and failure to support him appeared to have him ” baffled “. Maybe it was because the Bishop wanted a return to the ” catechism ” being taught in Catholic Schools – with ” crucifixes in every classroom ” – no doubt reflecting the New Catechism earlier given to us by Pope St. John Paul ii.
    God forbid Catholics should be so brazen in this area ! This has irked me to this day, and quite honestly, while I always see myself as supportive to my Bishop I do not have complete confidence in the judgement of the collective hierarchy of Bishops of England and wales. If I feel like this ; I ask myself what are Catholic School Teachers feelings in this area when our Bishops are not supportive of each other ; or comment either way on the vital issue of catechetics proposed by a fellow Bishop ?

  30. milliganp says:

    I finally got to watch “Are our kids tough enough? Chinese School”. It raises questions about the teaching of maths that would echo some of our comments on teaching RE. The reason maths is an interesting subject is that it’s intrinsically about truth; you can’t have an opinion about the symmetry of an isosceles triangle. What was also interesting was that a few of the girls who understood the trigonometry lesson also said it had taught them something their previous teaching had not.

  31. St.Joseph says:

    milliganp.
    To clear up any ‘lies and misconception’ I am posting a full explanation on the events of the Pro’ecclesia et Pontiface meeting that was held on June 11th 2011.
    (which was discussed on this blog)
    This can be read on’ Robert Williams and proecclesiaetpontiface’.
    Vol,15 No 3.pdf.
    Perhaps you will read the truth and get your facts right instead of listening to error.and the printing them publically!

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