Saturday, August 29, 2009

Catholic Education: A Light of Truth

By Dennis Murphy,, 154 pages.

Msgr. Dennis Murphy takes on one of the most timely, contentious matters today – the place of religious values and tradition in education, especially in some form of publicly-funded education. He offers a succinct though not overly-intellectual analysis of secular and postmodern ways of thinking, and how these have affected Canada's education system.

“Secular and postmodern” refers to the tendency nowadays to reject any truth as ultimate, and to believe that the highest truths and satisfactions, spiritual or otherwise, come from within each person. People holding such beliefs reject tradition, especially Catholic tradition, and claim that the latest fad is as good as anything coming out of Rome or the local church.

Importantly, Murphy observes that while it is bad enough when secular people hold such skeptical, cynical, selfish beliefs, it becomes a whole new type of problem when many Catholics also hold these beliefs. Though he only touches on some of the issues arising from suct capricious or cruel or amoral like the Greek gods. The Trinity says that the mystery of God is the relationship ofia concerning their own spiritual and religious heritage.

They also do not understand the fundamentals of the faith, such as the importance and meaning of the Eucharist. Many such Catholics do not know how to behave in Church. Most worrying, these people, though good-hearted and ambitious, often become teachers in the Catholic school system of Ontario.

Murphy claims that we have no one to blame but ourselves if we and all of society misunderstand Catholicism. Msgr. Murphy spends no time pointing his fingers at government officials; he refuses to play the blame game or see Catholics as victims of a vast secular conspiracy. Instead, he simply describes what he sees in secularism, and how a decent Catholic education can be the antidote.

Catholic Education does not get rolled up in educational theory, but spends some time on each of the significant issues. He adopts Ron Rolheiser's thoughts in reminding us that the biggest issue of all – one so frequently forgotten – is the nature of Jesus Christ and the true meaning of basic Catholic belief:

“The Trinity tells us that God is not solitary like the gods of mythology or of many pagan religions. He is not capricious or cruel or amoral like the Greek gods. The Trinity says that the mystery of God is the relationship of persons – Father, Son and Spirit – and the basis of that relationship is love. We are made in that image. That is why we are most happy, most fulfilled, and most godly if you will when we too are in loving relationships. When in some way we are Trinity.”

Building a faith-based community that educates children to be more than financial managers or technocrats overshadows education technique or politics. Murphy gives us a good sense that the Catholic school system should educate the whole person in the freedom offered by the gospel.

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