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Catholic Schools and Education

Brownson’s Quarterly Review for January, 1862

The importance of education in general needs in no sense to be dwelt on in our country, for no people are or can be more alive to its utility and even necessity than are the American people, especially in the non-slaveholding states; and no people have, upon the whole, made more liberal provisions for its general diffusion. There would seem to be just as little need of dwelling on the importance and necessity of Catholic schools and Catholic education for our Catholic population. All Catholics feel, or should feel, that education, either under the point of view of religion or of civilization, is useful and desirable no further than it is Catholic. Catholic truth is universal truth, is all truth, and no education not in accordance with it is or can be a true or a useful education, for error is never useful, but always more or less hurtful. Every Catholic, then, indeed every man who loves truth and wishes to conform to it, must be in favor of Catholic schools and Catholic education, if they are Catholic in reality as well as in name.

So believing, our bishops and clergy, supported by various religious communities, have lost no time in making the imposing effort to provide under their own direction schools, academies, colleges, and universities for all our Catholic children and youth. They have felt the necessity of giving our children a Catholic education, as the best and surest way of securing their temporal and spiritual welfare, of promoting Catholic interests, and of converting this whole country to the Catholic faith. Yet, strangely enough, they are very far from receiving the hearty and undivided support of our whole Catholic community. Great dissatisfaction has been expressed, and in quarters entitled to respect, with our colleges and female academies, and not a few whose love of Catholicity and devotion to the church cannot be questioned, refuse to join in the movements for parochial schools, or the establishment of separate schools for our children under the care of our clergy. Whence comes this division of sentiment? Whence comes it that our colleges and conventual schools do not meet the unanimous approbation of Catholic parents and guardians? Whence comes it that so many amongst us prefer the public schools of the country to schools conducted by Catholics? What is the explanation of these facts? How are they to be accounted for? If these schools, whether for the higher or the lower branches of education, are really Catholic, and educate throughout in accordance with Catholic truth, how should it be possible that honest and intelligent Catholics should differ among themselves as to the policy of establishing them, or that any should hesitate to give them their cordial support? These are questions which need and must receive an answer.

There are a great many people, honest people, but not over and above stocked with practical wisdom, who imagine that whatever is done or approved by Catholics in any age or country, in any particular time or locality, must needs be Catholic, and that opposition to it is necessarily opposition to Catholicity itself. These people never doubt that schools and colleges, under the patronage and direction of the bishops, religious orders and congregations, and the regular and secular clergy, must necessarily be truly Catholic in character and tendency, and hence they conclude that dissatisfaction with them or opposition to them must indicate a heterodox tendency, or the absence of a thoroughly Catholic disposition. They transfer to the bishops and clergy as individuals the veneration and respect due only to the priesthood and the prelacy, and to the individual members of the church the infallibility that can be predicated only of the church as the living body of Christ. But we are permitted neither by Catholic faith nor by Catholic duty to make this transfer, and all experience proves that there is neither wisdom nor justice in making it. It does not necessarily follow that schools and colleges are Catholic because founded and directed by religious orders and congregations approved by the church, or by bishops and parish priests; and therefore it does not follow that dissatisfaction with the schools and colleges, or even opposition to them, is any indication of a heterodox tendency, or of any want of true Catholic faith and devotion. Such schools may themselves fail to educate in a truly Catholic spirit, or to give a truly Catholic character to their pupils, and thus leave it possible that the dissatisfaction or the opposition should arise not from the fact that they are Catholic, or that, in spite of their name and profession, they are really sectarian and heterodox. The dissatisfaction, in such case, instead of being a reproach to those who feel and express it, would be no mean proof of their Catholic discernment, their strong desire for really Catholic education, and earnest devotion to Catholic interests.

There need be no question as to the purity of motive and honesty of intention on the part of those engaged in founding or supporting schools and colleges for imparting a Catholic education, or even of those who tolerate the expression of no opinion adverse to the system of schools adopted, or to the quality of the education imparted. The bishops and secular clergy, the religious orders and congregations of both sexes engaged in the work of education, are animated, we doubt not, by the most sincere desire to do good, and are doing what they in their best judgment believe the most likely of any thing in their power to promote the interests of our holy religion, and to provide a truly Catholic education for our children. Any hostile criticism which would in any sense impeach their motives or intentions would be manifestly unjust, and should not be tolerated. But the subject of Catholic education itself cannot be prudently withdrawn from discussion, either private or public; nor can its discussion be confined to the prelates and clergy alone. The laity have, to say the least, as deep an interest in it as have ecclesiastics or the religious, and they have in regard to it the common right of all men to judge for themselves. Parents have certain duties growing out of their relation as parents which they cannot throw upon others, and they must themselves discharge them according to the best of their ability. They are bound by the law of God to give their children, as far as in their power, a truly Catholic education, and they are free to criticize and to refuse to support schools, though professing to be Catholic, in which such education is not and cannot be expected to be given. They are not obliged to patronize schools, because founded or directed by Catholics, any more than they are to support a tailoring or a hatting establishment, because owned by a Catholic who employs Catholic workmen, or because recommended by bishops and parish priests. We protest against the assumption that so-called Catholic schools, collegiate or conventual, parochial or private, because under the control of Catholics, participate in the immunities of the church, of the priesthood, or of the prelacy, and are sacred from public investigation and public criticism; or that we are necessarily bound by our Catholic faith and Catholic piety to patronize or defend them any further than we find them Catholic institutions in fact as well as in name.

The first question, then, for us Catholics to settle relates to the catholicity of the education imparted on our so-called Catholic schools. Catholicity, as we have elsewhere shown, is the idea in its plentitude, and therefore the catechism tells us that the church is catholic, because "she subsists in all ages, teaches all nations, and teaches all truth." She, then, is catholic (potentially) in space and time, and (actually) in idea – as she must be, since her life is the life of the Word made flesh, of him who was at once "perfect God and perfect man" – and therefore the whole truth living and individuated in both the divine and human orders in their dialectic union. It is for this reason that the catechism says she "maintains all truth;" and it is because she maintains all truth, and all truth in its unity and integrity, that she is called the Catholic Church; and it is because she is catholic in idea, that is, embracing in her ideal all truth, human and divine, that she is actually or potentially catholic in space and time.

Catholic would say universal, and when predicated of truth means universal truth, all truth, and all truth in and for all ages and nations. They whose views are not universally true, are not applicable to all times and places, and to all subjects, may have truth under some of its aspects, but they are not Catholics. They are heterodox, sectarian, or national. Men cease to be Catholics, in the full sense of the term, by denying the universality of the idea or life the church is living, the principle she is evolving and actualizing in the life of humanity, and alike whether they deny this universality in relation to space or in relation to time, in relation to the natural, or in relation to the supernatural. They deny Catholicity who deny that it embraces the whole truth in the human order, as they do who deny that it embraces the whole truth in the divine order. To deny it in relation to the natural order is as much to deny Catholicity, as it is to deny it in relation to the supernatural; and we depart as widely from it in denying its catholicity in time, as we do in denying its catholicity in space. The rule of St. Vincent of Lerins says quod semper, as well as quod ubique. Catholic truth is simply truth, all truth in the intelligible order and in the super-intelligible, in religion and civilization, in time and eternity, in God and in his creative act.

Catholic education must recognize the catholicity of truth under all its aspects, and tend to actualize it in all the relations of life, in religion and civilization. Its tendency is to aid the church in the fulfillment of her mission, which is the continuous evolution and actualization of the idea, or the life of the Word made flesh, in the life of humanity, or completion in mankind of the incarnation completed in the individual man assumed by the Word. The completion of this work is the complete union of men, through Christ, with God, the finite with the infinite – the true term of human progress, or final cause of the divine creative act. All education, to be Catholic, must tend to this end, the union, with absorption of either, or intermixture or confusion of the two natures, of the human and the divine, and therefore of civilization and religion. It must be dialectic, and tend to harmonize all opposites, the creature with the creator, the natural with the supernatural, the individual with the race, social duties with religious duties, order with liberty, authority with freedom, the immutability of the dogma, that is, of the mysteries, with the progress of intelligence, conservatism with reform; for such is the aim of the church herself, and such the mission given her by the Word made flesh, whose spouse she is. Fully and completely up to this idea we expect not education in any age or in any nation to come, but this is the type it should aim to realize, and be constantly and, as far as human frailty admits, actually realizing. Such is the character and tendency of what we term Catholic education.

It is with this ideal standard of Catholic education that we have the right to compare our Catholic schools, and we must judge them as they are, by the instruction they give, and the influence they exert, tend or do not tend to its realization. We hazard little in saying that our so-called Catholic schools, in their actual effect, tend rather to depart from this standard rather than to approach it. They practically fail to recognize human progress, and thus fail to recognize the continuous and successive evolution of the idea in the life of humanity. They practically question the universality of the idea by failing to recognize as Catholic the great principles or ideas natural society is evolving and actualizing in its career through the ages. They do not educate their pupils to be at home and at their ease in their own age and country, or train them to be living, thinking, and energetic men, prepared for the work which actually awaits them in their church or state. As far as we are able to trace the effect of the most approved Catholic education of our days, whether at home or abroad, it tends to repress rather than quicken the life of the pupil, to unfit rather than prepare him for the active and zealous discharge either of his religious or his social duties. They who are educated in our schools seem misplaced and mistimed in the world, as if born and educated for a world that has ceased to exist. They come out ignorant of contemporary ideas, contemporary habits of mind, contemporary intelligence and tendencies, and large numbers of them sink into obscurity, and do nothing for their religion or their country; or, what is worse, abandon their religion, turn their backs on the church, and waste all their energies in seeking pleasure, or in accumulating worldly wealth. Of the young men educated in our colleges, a certain number have become priests and religious, and fill the ranks of the clergy, and continue the religious orders. Of these we have nothing to say. But of others, we would ask: Do we find them up to the level of contemporary civilization, and foremost in all those movements fitted to advance intelligence, morality, and the general well-being of society? Do we find them showing by their superior intelligence, their superior morals, and their loftier aspirations the superiority of their religion and the salutary influence it is fitted to exert in civilization? With very few exceptions, we fear we must answer: This is not the case. Comparatively few of them take their stand as scholars or as men on a level with the graduates of non-Catholic colleges, and those who do take that stand, do it by throwing aside nearly all they learned from their alma mater, and adopting the ideas and principles, the modes of thought and action they find in the general civilization of the country in which they live.

Whence comes it that such, in general terms, has been thus far in our country the effect of what we proudly call Catholic education? We cannot ascribe it to any innate incompatibility between Catholic truth and the civilization of the country; for that would be to deny the catholicity of the idea; nor to any repugnance between it and modern society, because that would be to deny its Catholicity in time. The cause cannot be in Catholicity itself, nor can it be in our American order of civilization, for Catholicity, if Catholic, is adapted to all times and all nations, - as the catechism tells us, when it says, she "subsists in all ages, and teaches all nations." If we educated in conformity with Catholic truth, those we educate would be fitted for their precise duties in their own time and country, and they would be the active, the living, and the foremost men among their contemporaries and fellow-citizens. When such is not the case, we may be sure that our education fails, in some respects, to be Catholic, and is directed to the restoration of a past severed from the present, and therefore an education that breaks the continuity of life either of the church or of humanity; and therefore is essentially a schismatic and heterodox education. It repeats substantially the error of the reformers in the sixteenth century. These reformers may have had honest and even praiseworthy intentions, for there was then in the church, or rather amongst Catholics, as there always is, need enough of reform – deep, thorough, and wide-reaching reform, but they erred fatally in breaking the continuity of the divine-human life, and in aiming either at reproducing an order of things which had passed away, which they called "primitive Christianity," or in leaping to a future which could have no connection with the past, and be no development of what it contained in germ,- the law of all true reform, as of all real progress. The cause of the failure of what we term Catholic education is, in our judgment, in the fact that we educate not for the present or the future, but for a past which can never be restored, and therefore in our education are guilty of a gross anachronism.

We do not mean, and must not be understood to say that the dogmas, that is, the mysteries, in the infallible speech of the church, are not scrupulously taught in all our schools and colleges or that the words of the catechism are not faithfully preserved and duly insisted upon. We concede this, and that this gives to our so-called Catholic schools a merit which no others have or can have. Without the external ward, the life of the internal expires, and when it is lost or corrupted, there are no means, except by a new supernatural intervention of Almighty God, of renewing the interior Christian life. This fact is of the first importance, and must never be lost sight of or underrated. The man who has not lost his faith, although his faith is inoperative, or, as theologians say, a "dead faith," is always to be preferred to him who has no faith at all; because he has in him a recuperative principle, and it is more easy to quicken it into activity, than it is to beget faith in one who has it not. The education given in our schools, however defective it may be, must always be preferred to that given in schools in which the dogma is rejected or mutilated, and can never be justly censured, save when compared with its own ideal, or with what it should be and would be, were it truly and thoroughly Catholic.

The fault we find with modern Catholic education is not that it does not faithfully preserve the symbol, that it does not retain all the dogmas or mysteries, so far as sound words go, but that it treats them as isolated or dead facts, not as living principles, and overlooks the fact that the life of the church consists in their continuous evolution and progressive development and actualization in the life of society and of individuals. They themselves, since they are principles and pertain to the ideal the church is evolving and actualizing, must be immutable, and the same for all times, places, and men. They are the principles of progress, but not themselves progress, for the truth was completely expressed and individuated in the Incarnation. The progress is not in them, but in their explanation and actualization in the life of humanity. The truth contained in them is always the same, can neither be enlarged nor diminished; but our understanding of them may be more or less adequate, and their explication and application to our own life and to the life of society may be more or less complete. Their evolution is successive, progressive, and continuous. This fact, which lies at the bottom of Dr. Newman’s theory of development, though not always presented by him in an orthodox sense, is what our Catholic education seems to us to overlook, and practically to deny. It seems to us to proceed as if the work of evolution were finished, and there remained nothing for the Christian to do, but to repeat the past. It aims not at the continuous evolution and realization of the Catholic ideal; but to restore a past age, an order of things which the world has left behind, and which it is neither possible nor desirable to restore, for it could be restored, if at all, only as a second childhood. It is now "behind the times," and unfits rather than prepares the student for taking an active part in the work of his own day and generation. It either gives its subjects no work to do, or a work in which humanity takes no interest and will not work with them, - a work which all the living and onward tendencies of the age obstinately resist, and which, if there is any truth in what we have said, is adverse alike to the present interests of both religion and civilization.

There can be no question that what generally passes for Catholic education, whether in this or any other country, has its ideal of perfection in the past, and that it resists as un-Catholic, irreligious, and opposed to God, the tendencies of modern civilization. The work that it gives its subjects, or prepares them to perform, is not the work of directing and carrying it forward, or of bringing it into dialectic harmony with religion; but that of resisting it, driving it back, anathematizing it as at war with the Gospel, and either of neglecting civilization altogether, and taking refuge in the cloister, in an exclusive or exaggerated asceticism, always bordering on immorality, or of restoring a former order of civilization, no longer a living order, and which humanity has evidently left behind, and is resolved shall never be restored.

This, in our judgment, is its great mistake, a mistake that denies the truth of humanity, and virtually condemns or places in abeyance, the human element of Christianity. It virtually denies the human, because it denies that the human evolves in its life Catholic truth, and pronounces its developments false, its tendencies irreligious, and its irrepressible instincts satanic. We mean that its tendency is in this direction, and hence the manifest and undeniable schism today between the church and humanity, between religion and modern civilization, which, if we understand it, implies a schism between God and man. It runs to one extreme, as rationalistic education runs to another and an opposite extreme. Extremes meet. Rationalists condemn the church, because, they say, she is opposed to civilization, and to humanity itself; and many Catholics condemn the civilization humanity in her progress evolves and effects, because, they say, it is opposed to the church, incompatible with religion and the rightful supremacy of God. Both agree as to the fact and the character of the antagonism, and neither seems disposed to inquire whether a medium of reconciliation, of dialectic union, be or be not possible, so that the church, which presupposes humanity, and humanity, which cannot attain to its end, or realize its destiny without the church, may move on in harmony, without any contrariety of will, as there was no contrariety of will between the human and the divine Christ, the God-man. If there is any truth in Catholicity, or unless our understanding of it be totally false, there is no necessity for this schism either in the nature of the church or in the nature of humanity, and it does and must result only from a defective theology on the one hand, and a false philosophy on the other.

These remarks apply to Catholic education not in our own country only, but throughout no small part of Christendom. In scarcely any part of the Christian world can we find Catholics,- we mean men who are earnest Catholics, firm in their faith, and unfaltering in their devotion to the church,- among the active and influential men of the age. In all, or nearly all countries the Catholic population is the weaker, and the less efficient portion of the population in all that relates to the war of ideas, and the struggle of opinions. Those Catholics who see this and have the courage to place themselves in harmony with the times, are looked upon as, at least, of doubtful orthodoxy, and not infrequently are held up to clerical denunciation. Even when they are not cried down as heterodox, they are pushed aside as imprudent or unsafe men. It is very widely and, we fear, very generally believed, that true Catholic duty requires us to take our stand for a past civilization, a past order of ideas, and to resist with all our might the undeniable tendencies and instincts of the human race in our day. We are required by the present dominant sentiment of Catholics, to resist progress in every sense and direction, except in the purely ascetic life of individuals, and to content ourselves with the explication and application of the dogmas of the church, the great and immutable principles of Catholic life, given in past times, and embalmed in the opinions of the theologians of other ages, and the dry, technical, and well-nigh unintelligible formulas of the schools. Hence Catholic education, or rather the education adopted and generally approved by Catholics in our age, especially in our country, fails to produce living men, active, thinking men, great men, men of commanding genius, of generous aims, and high and noble aspirations; and hence it also fails to enable the church to take possession of humanity, and to inspire and direct its movements.

But the objection we urge has a peculiar force and application to Catholic education in our country. Our Catholic population, to a great extent, is practically a foreign body and brings with it a civilization foreign from the American, and in some respects inferior to it. The great majority of our congregations are of foreign birth, or the children of foreign-born parents, and the greater part of our bishops and clergy, and of our professors and teachers, have been born, or at least educated, abroad, and they all naturally seek to perpetuate the civilization in which they have been brought up. Those even of our clergy and of our professors and teachers who have been born and educated in the country, have been educated in schools founded on a foreign model, and conducted by foreigners, and are, in regard to civilization, more foreign than native. We state the fact as it is. We are not condemning it; we may regret it, but we can hardly expect it to be otherwise. The original settlers of the country were, for the most part, non-Catholic, and but comparatively few of their descendants have been or are Catholics. The very large Catholic population now in the country has not been the growth of the country, but has been chiefly supplied by a foreign and a very recent migration. This is the fact, - a fact which is no fault of the Catholic population, but a fact that must be taken into the account in forming a judgment of the Catholic education in our own country. Catholics form the Old World necessarily bring with them their own civilization, which, whether we speak of France or Italy, Ireland or Germany, is, to say the least, different from ours, and, in some respects, even hostile to it.

But this is not all. The civilization they actually bring with them, and which without intending it they seek to continue, is, we being judges, of a lower order than ours. It may be our national prejudice and our ignorance of other nations, but it is nevertheless our firm conviction, from which we cannot easily be driven, that, regarded in relation to its type, the American civilization is the most advanced civilization the world has yet seen, and comes nearer to the realization of the Catholic ideal than any which has been heretofore developed and actualized. We speak of civilization not in the sense of simple civility, polish of manners, and personal accomplishments, in which we may not compare always favorably with the upper classes of other nations; but of the type or idea we are realizing, our social and political constitution, our arrangements to secure freedom and scope for the development and progress of true manhood. In these respects American civilization is, we say not the term of human progress, but, in our judgment, the furthest point in advance as yet reached by any age or nation. Those who come here from abroad necessarily bring with them, therefore, a civilization more or less inferior to it, and which, in relation to it, is a civilization of the past. If they educate, according to their own civilization, as they must do, they necessarily educate for a civilization behind the times and below that of the country.

The fact of this inferiority is conceded, or virtually conceded, by our bishops and clergy themselves, in the reason they assign for establishing separate schools for Catholic children. They tell us, and, we must presume, tell us truly, that, if the children of Catholics are educated in the common schools of the country, they will lose their religion and grow up Protestants, or at least non-Catholics. But why so, if the Catholic population represents a civilization not inferior to that represented by the non-Catholic? If Catholic children and Protestant attend the same school, why are the Catholic likely to become Protestant, any more than the Protestant are to become Catholic? The danger alleged could not exist if the Protestant or non-Catholic children did not represent the stronger, and, therefore, the superior civilization. If the Catholic children represented the advancing civilization, the civilization more in accordance with the instincts and tendencies of humanity, and therefore the civilization that has the promise of the future, they would, though inferior in numbers, be the stronger party, and, instead of being themselves perverted, would convert the non-Catholic children, and the opposition to mixed schools would come from non-Catholic, not from Catholic parents and guardians. Why is it that so many of our children, as they grow up and go out into the world, abandon their religion, lose nearly all memory of the church of their fathers, live, act, and die as Protestants or as infidels? You say, and say truly, that it is owing to the influence of the country; but does this show that the civilization of the country is stronger, more energetic, and more living than that which you combine, and, to a great extent, insist on combining with the Catholic dogma?

Will you deny our inference, or seek to escape it by attributing the fact to the perversity of human nature, to the seductions of the flesh, and to the temptations and machinations of the devil? To some extent you may do so; but you must take care lest you forget or deny that humanity, in the natural order, even though suffering from the fall, is living the life of the creative Word. The ideal of humanity which she is realizing in her progress, is true, an element itself of Catholic truth, and, though distinguishable, yet inseparable from the ideal the church is herself realizing in her divine-human life. It will not do, then, to attribute solely to human perversity, to the influence of the flesh, or to the machinations of the devil, the loss of so many of our children as they grow up; and, therefore, we must maintain that it is in great measure doe to the fact that the civilization which Catholics bring with them, and with which they associate their Catholic faith, is inferior, and therefore weaker than the civilization which has been attained to by humanity in our country, and which, unhappily, instead of being associated with orthodoxy, is associated with heterodoxy. The civilization of the country does not owe its superiority to the heterodoxy with which it is associated, and more than the civilization which Catholics bring with them owes its inferiority to the orthodoxy with which it is accidentally associated. The civilization of the country owes its superiority to the truth which it accepts and evolves, and is weakened and prevented from attaining to its full development by its association with heterodoxy, as orthodoxy itself is weakened and prevented from gaining the successes it is entitled to, by being associated with an inferior civilization.

The inferiority of the civilization in our country with orthodoxy might be inferred a priori from the fact that the mass of our Catholic population are from the more uncultivated classes of the Old World, with whom it would be ridiculous to pretend that civilization has reached its highest point of development. Whatever respect we may have for the peasantry of Ireland or Germany, how much soever we may honor them for the firmness with which, under the severest trials and temptations, they have held fast to the orthodox faith, we can by no means take them in respect of civilization as the advance-guard of humanity. But the facts themselves, facts which nobody can question, sufficiently prove, as least as to our English speaking Catholics, that their civilization is of an inferior order. Their sympathies are far closer with the slaveholding South than with the free North, and we need to add that the civilization of the free North is far superior to that represented by the slaveholding South. The civilization of the South is based on slavery as its corner-stone, and slavery is the very essence of barbarism. The distinction between barbarism and civilization is precisely the distinction between slavery and liberty. The true American civilization has its type and seat in the Free states, and is best represented by the Puritans and their descendants, who were in fact its chief founders as they are its chief, or, at least, most earnest supporters. Yet, except with a certain number of converts of New England birth and descent, we rarely find a Catholic who does not look upon Puritan New England as the most anti-Catholic portion of the Union, and consider that his best way of promoting Catholic interests is to fight against her.

The great body of our Catholics, no doubt, wish to Americanize, and conform to the civilization of the country, but they have hitherto Americanized, so far as they have Americanized at all, in a southern rather than in a northern sense. The type of the Americanism they aim to adopt is in Maryland, not in Massachusetts; Baltimore, not Boston; and nothing can exceed the hostility of the Maryland type, which, properly speaking, is the Virginia type, to the Boston, or New England type. Indeed, it is these two orders of civilization that meet in mortal combat in the civil war which now threatens the integrity of the American nation. The war is a struggle for life and death, a struggle between a civilization based on slavery, represented by the South, and a civilization based on constitutional liberty and the rights of men, represented by the Free states. And, in this struggle, if, as is the fact, the interests and loyalty of Catholics lead them in large numbers to take sides with the North, their sympathies are very generally with the South; and we cannot doubt, if the South were the loyal party, they would much more readily fight with the South than they now fight with the North. Even, then, where our Catholics aim to be American, it is not American in the sense of the highest, truest, and most advanced Americanism; but in the sense of the lowest, the least advanced, that which is least remote from barbarism, and the furthest removed from that which the church as well as humanity demands, and never ceases to struggle to obtain.

We are also borne out in our views by the political history of the country. Politically, the southern leaders have for a long time formed their association with the least intelligent, the least advanced classes in the free states, and these southern leaders are those our Catholic population have followed with the most alacrity. This fact proves, on the one hand, that the South represents the lowest order of civilization in the country, and that Catholics are more easily engaged in supporting it than in supporting the superior civilization represented by the northern states. It is not too much to say that the great influx of the Catholic peasantry of different European states into the country, and the conferring on them, almost on their arrival, of political franchises, have done not a little to corrupt our politics, and to lower the standard of our civilization. Their orthodoxy, as yet, has done less to advance, than their inferior civilization has done to corrupt and lower, our civilization and morals. However humiliating this fact may be to us as Catholics, there is no use in attempting to deny it, or to disguise it. It is a fact which all intelligent Americans see and know, and it is one which we ourselves should dare look in the face. The opposition to us represented by "Native-American," or "Know-Nothing" parties or movements, is not opposition to us as orthodox Catholics, nor, in itself considered, to us as foreigners, but simply as representatives of a civilization different from the American, and, in many respects, inferior and opposed to it. We have practically, if not theoretically, insisted that our orthodoxy and our foreign and inferior civilization are inseparable; and the heterodox American people have in this agreed with us, and hence their opposition to us, and ours to them. Heterodoxy, with the heterodox of our country, is no longer a living principle, and is retained only because associated, accidentally associated, with a superior and more advanced civilization. Orthodoxy is opposed not because there is any opposition to it on its own account, but because it is believed to be inseparably wedded to that inferior and less advanced civilization that has come hither with it from the Old World, and which many honest Catholics think, if they ever think at all on the subject, is identical with it.

Now, the objection to Catholic schools, especially those for the people at large, is that they tend, and for a time at least must tend, to perpetuate the association of orthodoxy with this inferior civilization, and thus injure alike the country and the church. These schools must be taught chiefly by foreigners, or, if not by foreigners, at least by those whose sympathies and connections, tastes and habits are un-American; because what is wanted by their founders and supporters is not simply the preservation of orthodoxy, but the perpetuation of the foreignism hitherto associated with it. Schools which should associate real Americanism with orthodoxy would be hardly less offensive or more acceptable to them than the public schools themselves. They must, therefore, be conducted and taught by men who will keep up the old association, and prevent the association of real Americanism with orthodoxy. Yet it is precisely this latter association which is desirable both for civilization and for religion, and it is only by breaking the old associations, and forming the new in good faith, as we are in fact required to do by orthodoxy itself, that Catholics can cease to be in this country an isolated foreign colony, or a band of immigrants encamped for the night, and ready to strike their tents, and take up their line of march on the morrow for some other place.

These are some of the reasons which have led many of our most intelligent, most earnest, and devout Catholics to form their unfavorable judgment of Catholic schools and Catholic education, as they now are, and for some time are likely to be, in the United States. They are solid reasons as far as they go, and fully justify the dissatisfaction with them we began by recognizing. They prove that here and elsewhere, but especially here, Catholic education, or the education given by Catholics, is below the wants of the age and country, and prove that, from the seminary down to the primary school, it stands in need, whether we consult the interest of orthodoxy or that of civilization, of a wide, deep, and thorough reform. Yet, after long reflection and much hesitation, some would say opposition, we must say that we do not regard them as sufficient reasons for abandoning the movement for Catholic schools and education supported by our bishops and clergy. It may be that the movement was premature, and that it would have been better to have used for a longer time the schools of the country, as the early Christians did those of the empire, before attempting to establish schools of our own, save for the education of the clergy. But it is too late to discuss that question now. The movement has, wisely or unwisely, been set on foot, and gone too far to be arrested, even if it were desirable to arrest it. Our bishops and clergy have decided that the movement shall go on, and the Catholic cause can never be promoted by any anti-hierarchical action. Much good may be done that is not done by or under the direction of the hierarchy; but no good end can ever be obtained in opposition to it. This consideration is of itself sufficient to deter us from opposing the movement, and of inducing us to accept it at least as un fait accompli, and to make the best we can of it.

That we are to have schools and colleges of our own, under the control of Catholics, we take it as a "fixed fact." Whether the movement for them is premature or not, it is idle, if nothing worse, to war against it. Let us say, then, to those who regard the education actually given by Catholics as we do, and who have not seen their way clear to the support of primary schools under the control of Catholics as a substitute, in the case of Catholic children, for the common schools of the country, that we regard it as our duty now to accept the movement, and labor not to arrest it, or to embarrass it, but to reform and render truly Catholic the whole system of Catholic education, from the highest grade to the lowest. Let it be our work not to destroy Catholic education, but to reform and advance it. The first care of all Catholics should be the preservation of orthodoxy, and, in the actual state of our Catholic population, it may be that orthodoxy will be better preserved by schools under Catholic direction than it can be by sending our children to the public schools. The objections we have set forth are, after all, only temporary and accidental. They grow out of the present and past state of our Catholic population, and must disappear under the slow but effectual operation of time and causes already in operation amongst us. We might gain something under the point of view of civilization by adopting the schools of the country; but, as our prelates are strongly opposed to them, and have done much to bring them into disrepute with Catholics, we should probably lose, under the point of view of orthodoxy, more than would thus be gained. Schools under the control of Catholics will, at least, teach the catechism, and though they may in fact teach it as a dead letter, rather than as a quickening spirit, it is better that it should be taught as a dead letter than not be taught at all. It is only by preserving the dogma intact that we do or can preserve the Christian ideal, or have the slightest chance of securing our final destiny. The hopes of the world for time and eternity are dependent on the preservation of the orthodox faith.

The reform in our schools and in education will go on just in proportion as it goes on in our Catholic community itself, and perhaps even much faster. The dissatisfaction we hear expressed with our collegiate education for boys, and with that of our conventual schools for girls, is an encouraging symptom; it proves that there is, after all, a growing Americanization of our Catholic population, and that the need of an education less European and more truly American is daily becoming more widely and more deeply felt. It will be more widely and more deeply felt still as time goes on, and as Catholics become more generally naturalized in habit, feeling, and association, as well as in law. It indicates also the revival of Catholic life in our population, that Catholics are becoming more earnest and living men, and unwilling that their orthodoxy should be wrapped up in a clean napkin and buried in the earth. In proportion as their Catholic life revives and grows more active, they will demand an education more in accordance with Catholic truth in all its branches, than is that now given. The demand will create a supply. And when the present civil strife is over, the integrity of the nation reestablished, and American civilization has proved itself capable of subduing the barbarism of the South, and of marching onward and upward with humanity, in her career of progress to union with the infinite, we trust Catholics will find and feel themselves real Americans, differing from other Americans only in the respect that orthodoxy differs from heterodoxy, truth from error, life from death. Then our schools will assume their true character and position, and exert a truly Catholic influence. They will preserve orthodoxy not as a dead letter, not as isolated and inoperative dogma, but as a quickening spirit, as living and operative truth. Then, under the point of view of civilization, instead of tending to recall a dead past, they will accept the living present, and associate the living civilization of the day with the orthodox faith, - reunite in a living and productive whole the scattered members of the torn and bleeding body of truth, and aid both the church and the nation in carrying forward our civilization to the last term of its progress. Then our schools will send out living men, live with the love of God and of man, - men of large minds, of liberal studies, and generous aims, - men inspired by faith and genius, who will take the command of their age, breathe their whole souls into it, inform it with their own love of truth, and raise it to the level of their own high and noble aspirations. Let us console ourselves for what Catholic education now is with what it may become, and with what we may by well-directed effort aid it in becoming. This is the conclusion to which we ourselves have come, and if we are not satisfied with Catholic schools and education as they are, we are satisfied with their capabilities, and shall henceforth content ourselves with doing what in us lies to bring them under the great law of progress, which we have insisted on, and which is the law of all life, even of the divine life, - as is proved in the eternal generation of the Word, and the procession of the Holy Ghost, or in the assertion of theologians that "God is most pure act," actus purissimus.