SummaryMary Kay Clark uses teachings of the Catholic Church to illustrate how the sacrament of marriage fits in God’s plan to educate and raise saintly children.
Many years ago, when Seton came into existence, Father John Hardon, currently being considered for sainthood, spoke frequently at Seton Home Schooling Conferences.
He constantly encouraged parents to teach their children at home, and he gave spiritual guidance to parents. Many of Father Hardon’s statements are included in my book Catholic Home Schooling, especially in Chapter 3 on Church Teachings on Marriage and Education.
What should be obvious is that Jesus gave us the sacrament of Marriage for the purpose of raising saintly children. While the married life in itself can be grace-filled, the first book of the Bible reveals that God’s plan is for children to be brought into the world through marriage.
The Church Speaks
The official teachings of the Church on marriage and raising children are found in the Holy Spirit-inspired writings of the Church, the Church encyclicals. As we begin the new school year, it seems appropriate for parents, grandparents, relatives, and older children to reflect on these official teachings of the Church.
1897 – Pope Leo XIII in the encyclical Militantis Ecclesiae teaches that the whole educational program for children is to be permeated with “the sense of Christian piety” as well as a sense of devotion and reverence toward God and the doctrines taught by Jesus. Pope Leo went so far as to say that “religion must permeate and direct every branch of knowledge.”
1929 – In his famous encyclical, Christian Education of Youth, Pope Pius XI issues “…the supreme importance of Christian education, is not merely for each individual, but for families and for the whole of human society.” He continues, “The family holds, therefore, directly from the Creator the mission, and hence the right, to educate the young.”
1930 – From his encyclical Casti Connubii, Pope Pius XI, inspired by the Holy Spirit, we learn “…the faithful can…open up for themselves a treasury of sacramental grace from which they draw supernatural power for the fulfilling of their rights and duties faithfully, holily, perseveringly, even unto death. Hence this sacrament [of Matrimony] not only increases sanctifying grace…but also adds particular gifts, dispositions, seeds of grace, by elevating and perfecting the natural powers.”
These words are not simply for reflection but for inner strength and whatever graces we need to accomplish the Will of God in teaching our children how to practice our Catholic Faith in a non-Christian society. The fact is that the long-term, day by day, minute by minute obligation of parents, is educating our children.
1965 – The Second Vatican Council in the Declaration on Christian Education declared “Since parents have given life to their children, they are bound by a grave obligation to educate their offspring, and so must be regarded as their primary and principal educators.” This is repeated in the Code of Canon Law, 226.2
1968 – In the encyclical Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI declared that marriage and conjugal love are by their nature ordained toward the “begetting and education of children.”
1981 – Pope John Paul II repeated these words in the encyclical Familiaris Consortio, which continued to declare the teachings of the Church: “The Right and Duty of parents to give education to their children is essential… it is original and primary… it is irreplaceable and inalienable.”
1983 – Pope John Paul II publishes Charter of the Rights of the Family, an amazing document filled with strong arguments for the rights of parents.
1995 – The Pontifical Council for the Family issued The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality. In that document, the Pontifical Council wrote “This right [to give moral instruction] also implies an educational duty. …[Parents] would be guilty were they to tolerate immoral or inadequate formation being given to their children outside the home. …Therefore, through this document, the Church holds that it is her duty to give parents back confidence in their own capabilities and help them to carry out this task.”
Years ago, when I met with Cardinal Édouard Gagnon in Rome, he told me that he believed that home schooling is vital for evangelizing from one generation to the next. We must take his message to heart. Each Catholic home schooling family must be a source of grace for our children and for a society struggling for survival.
All the saints in Heaven, help Catholic home schooling parents to teach their children the moral truths of Jesus Christ as well as their academic studies.