The following are excerpts from a speech given by the late Father John Hardon at a home schooling conference.
Home education means the teaching by the parents at home, by both parents. A father’s contribution to the home education of his children is indispensable.
Though the education of children does not exclude all other forms of education, nevertheless, the home is primary, so that education by both parents is secondary to nothing…. Every other means of training or educating the child is dependent on the home.
Both the body and the soul need to be educated … therefore, home education constantly educates the one while being fully conscious that the other is also being educated.
I am not saying that home education is necessary merely in the modern world … as though the necessity did not exist in the 18th or 19th centuries. It is not just because the modern world has become so widely and deeply secularized that home education has become a necessity. No. In fact, one of the main factors contributing to the secularization of once strongly Christian cultures has been the neglect of sound, orthodox, authentic, courageous, magisterial, historic Catholic teaching in faith and morals by parents.
Education from Infancy
It is the history of two thousand years of Christianity: unless this Catholic education is provided by parents from infancy, then the inevitable happens: the society in which that parental education is neglected secularizes the society.
Either Catholic parents provide their offspring with the education children need to obtain Heaven, or the inevitable consequence follows, as is happening in the world today.
Why are parents so necessary for the proper education of their children and for the corresponding survival of the Catholic family? The answer is a cluster of reasons, derived from what is a matter of human nature and in the mystery of divine grace. The reason is that we are what we receive. We might call it the mysterious law of interdependence. It applies first to our physical nature.
Only human beings can reproduce human beings. This reproduction, however, is not only bodily, it is also mental and volitional. What do we know that someone else has not taught us? And what do we love, except what others have helped us to choose and appreciate?
Reproducing Minds and Wills
There are two kinds of reproduction: in body and in spirit. Under God, the primary importance for parents is to reproduce themselves with their minds and their wills. Parents are to recognize that the children they have brought into this world are not meant for this world. They are meant for eternity.
The second reason parents are necessary for educating children is that parents are the primary source of grace. No one reaches Heaven without divine grace. No one receives this grace except through another human being, and parents are the primary channels of grace for their children. There is no Heaven without grace, no grace without people being channels of grace; and on Earth, the principal channels of grace for children are their parents.
This primacy of parents as channels of grace for the children comes through the Sacrament of Matrimony. The Sacrament of Matrimony confers two graces. First is the grace for husband and wife to love one another faithfully. Second is the corresponding grace as parents to be channels of grace for their children.
The purpose of marriage is to rear families indeed here on Earth, but also to rear families for Heaven. Nothing less.
One of the great blessings of modern home education is that it is finally waking up some parents to God’s plan for them. He wants to wake up parents, and not just in our own country.
The Fall of Organized Education
The widespread secularization of organized education in so many parts of the Western world has, I believe, been the lightning and thunder that some have needed to wake them up to their primary duty as fathers and mothers.
St. Paul teaches that we are united with God by loving Him, and we love Him if we keep His commandments. If we love Him, He will use us to accomplish His divine plans. This is one condition parents must meet: that they are united with God in loving Him.
In other words, with faith in our union in God’s Will, there is no limit at all to what God will accomplish through us. Miracles are nothing to God. Expect miracles in your lives. Hear me: expect miracles.
Be united with God, and in measure of your union with His Will, He will use you. Be clear about this: it is not merely giving others, our children, a good example. We simply are unable to give to others what we do not have ourselves.
In the measure that we love God, He will use us to achieve the design that He wants to achieve, and this means especially in the lives of others. For parents, of course, there are no other lives that should be more important than those of their children.
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