First things first. The goal of a Christian is to come to know and believe in Jesus Christ and to live with God forever. Catholic education remains vital because it anchors itself in that foundational truth. [. . .] Catholic schools are also indispensable because they help students understand the transcendent purpose of their thousands of hours of cramming and test-taking. As one of my colleagues put it, Catholic education responds to the question, “What now?” “Now that we know about the Civil War and World War II, now that we can factor and divide and build and dissect, what do we do with this knowledge? Where should it take me? Whom should I serve, myself or others?”
It is not that secular schools don’t address those questions; it’s that they do so incompletely, so absolutist are they in their quest to cut God from being taken seriously. Historian Brad Gregory of the University of Notre Dame has written about this gap between secular and religious schools in the spring 2007 issue of Notre Dame Magazine. Comparing his time as a professor at Stanford with his more recent experience at Notre Dame, Gregory wrote:
[I]rreligious and atheistic ideas are discussed at Notre Dame—for if Catholicism is what it claims to be, it should fear no intellectual challenge (can one imagine Aquinas refusing to read Aristotle?). As a result, a wider range of ideas, religious views, and moral and political perspectives can be aired in academic settings without denigration or intimidation at Notre Dame than at leading secular universities.
A high school, of course, lacks the rigor and scope of a university, but a Catholic high school, at its best (and in my experience where I teach) illustrates Gregory’s point. A Catholic high school engages young men and women about the full range of human concerns, concerns that cannot fail to invoke the question of God.
Matt Emerson’s beautifully defense of Catholic Education. Read it all. Send it around.