Church Documents

Is Classical Education Catholic?
Every society has its own heritage of accumulated wisdom. Many people find inspiration in these philosophical and religious concepts which have endured for millennia. The systematic genius of classical Greek and European thought has, over the centuries... given us a set of truths which we can recognize as a part of our permanent philosophical heritage.”
The Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education, RDE, 1988

The Catholic Church has articulated a beautiful vision for authentic education through a wide variety of magisterial documents. We believe that the Catholic Classical mission we strive toward at Our Lady of Lourdes most thoroughly fulfills the Church’s vision within these documents. In 2006, Archbishop Michael Miller, as Secretary of the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education, summarized The Holy See’s Teaching on Catholic Schools. This summary is broken into “Five Essential Marks of a Catholic School”. Utilizing this framework below, we list a sampling of excerpts that have provided a basis for our Mission Statement, Core Pillars, curriculum, methodology, teacher and parent continuing ed. program, financial aid, etc. (All bold within the excerpts has been added.)

1. Inspired by a Supernatural Vision

“Unfortunately, far too many in government, business, the media, and even the educational establishment perceive education to be merely an instrument for the acquisition of information that will improve the chances of worldly success and a more comfortable standard of living. Such an impoverished vision of education is not Catholic.” (HSTCS, P. 21)

2. Founded on a Christian Anthropology

“All too many Catholic schools fall into the trap of a secular academic success culture, putting their Christological focus and its accompanying understanding of the human person in second place. Christ is ‘fitted in’ rather than being the school’s vital principle… Christ is not an afterthought or an add-on to Catholic educational philosophy; he is the center and fulcrum of the entire enterprise…” (HSTCS, P. 24, 26)

“It must never be forgotten that the purpose of instruction at school is education, that is, the development of man from within, freeing him from that conditioning which would prevent him from becoming a fully integrated human being.” (CS, 29)

3. Animated by Communion and Community

“While the Bishop’s authority is to watch over the orthodoxy of religious instruction and the observance of Christian morals in the Catholic schools, it is the task of the whole educative community to ensure that a distinctive Christian educational environment is maintained in practice. This responsibility applies chiefly to Christian parents who confide their children to the school. Having chosen it does not relieve them of a personal duty to give their children a Christian upbringing. They are bound to cooperate actively with the school – which means supporting the educational efforts of the school and utilizing the structures offered for parental involvement, in order to make certain that the school remains faithful to Christian principles of education.” (CS, 73)

“It is the responsibility of the entire Catholic community – bishops, priests, deacons, religious, and laity – to continue to strive towards the goal of making our Catholic elementary and secondary schools available, accessible, and affordable to all Catholic parents and their children…” (RCCS, Intro)

4. Imbued with a Catholic Worldview Throughout Its Curriculum

“…it must be emphasized that, while [teaching religion] is not merely confined to ‘religious classes’ within the school curriculum, it must, nevertheless, also be imparted explicitly and in a systematic manner to prevent a distortion in the child’s mind between general and religious culture. The fundamental difference between religious and other forms of education is that its aim is not simply intellectual assent to religious truths but also a total commitment of one’s whole being to the Person of Christ.” (CS, 50)

“[The school] is Catholic because it provides an education in the intellectual and moral virtues. It is Catholic because it prepares for a fully human life at the service of others and for the life of the world to come. All instruction, therefore, must be authentically Catholic in content and methodology across the entire program of studies.” (HSTCS, P. 44)

“If a Catholic school is to deliver on its promise to provide students with an integral education, it must foster love for wisdom and truth, and must integrate faith, culture, and life… habituating each student to desire learning so much that he or she will delight in becoming a self-learner.” (HSTCS, P. 45-46)

“In a number of countries, renewal in school programming has given increased attention to science and technology. Those teaching these subject areas must not ignore the religious dimension. They should help their students to understand that positive science, and the technology allied to it, is a part of the universe created by God… all bear the imprint of the Creator’s wisdom and power. The wonder that past ages felt when contemplating this universe, recorded by the Biblical authors, is still valid for the students of today… There can be no conflict between faith and true scientific knowledge; both find their source in God. The student who is able to discover the harmony between faith and science will, in future professional life, be better able to put science and technology to the service of men and women, and to the service of God.” (RDE, 54)

5. Sustained by Gospel Witness [of Teachers]

“Recruit teachers who are practicing Catholics, who can understand and accept the teachings of the Catholic Church and the moral demands of the gospel, and who can contribute to the achievement of the school’s Catholic identity and apostolic goals.” (NDC, 231)

“…if teachers fail to model fidelity to the truth and virtuous behavior, then even the best of curricula cannot successfully embody a Catholic school’s distinctive ethos… The same can be said about a failure to give clear witness to the Church’s teaching on the sanctity of marriage and the inviolability of human life.” (HSTCS, P. 58-59)

Test scores for Classical Education