Classical Education Can Purge a Multitude of Sins

Abbey-library

I was in Oklahoma City last fall, sitting in a restaurant with my host, Father Nathan Carr, an Anglican priest and the principal of The Academy of Classical Christian Studies. That is a new and most heartening educational initiative—a school now comprising three campuses in and near the city. The Academy is the result of a merger of two schools founded in 2004 by Christian parents who wanted their children to be immersed in the cultural heritage of the west. They knew that the state’s schools would not serve.

From those fragile beginnings the schools grew quickly. The Academy has an enrollment of 465 children, most of them attending five days a week, others taking advantage of a “blended” schedule for parents who want to teach their children at home for two or three days in the week, and send them to school for special courses on the other days.

They are indeed classical, as I witnessed in that restaurant. By chance one of the school’s families was there, so Father Carr asked their daughter if she’d recite to me some poetry she had committed to memory—that faculty which wise educators have always known how to foster, but which is now neglected or despised. All of the Academy’s students learn poetry by heart. That’s the finest way to learn it, as any lover of poetry or music will tell you. So she obliged. She recited, flawlessly, sixty lines of the second canto of Dante’s Inferno. Her selection was the moving conversation between Beatrice and Virgil. “I was among the souls in Limbo,” she began. She was eight years old.

I cannot praise highly enough what I observed in that school, especially the clear vision of the principal, the teachers, and the parents, setting out to recover what has been abandoned. They had the cheerfulness of people who have taken on a difficult and wonderful task, and who knew they were in the right. They had integrated their intellectual and spiritual lives. It was invigorating to be in their company.

Thence I derive a lesson for Catholics (well represented in the Academy, by the way), and some recommendations.

Most of the time in this tangled life, we must weigh one good thing against another, because we cannot pursue both with the same devotion. Sometimes we must give up one of them altogether. I cannot spend all my time teaching college students the grammar they were never taught in school, because that would leave no time for the splendid literature of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. I must be content with a modest effort in the former, while pursuing the latter directly.

But sometimes life offers you a chance to pursue many important ends simultaneously by a single means. Such opportunities are precious.

Consider these problems facing the Church:

•  We need to triple our vocations to the priesthood.

•  We need ten times as many vocations to the religious life. Many orders of religious women have “modernized” themselves into oblivion. The sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary taught me and my siblings in our grade school in Pennsylvania. My class ranged in numbers from 45 to 51. That parish school no longer exists; the parish could not afford to pay full salaries to the lay teachers who replaced the sisters.

•  Vocations come disproportionately from Catholic schools. We need to be building schools, and preserving from decline those that have survived.

•  If the heart of the parish is the Mass and the sacraments, its young arms and legs are to be found in the parish school. There, families encounter one another as families, building up memories that span the generations. We need those memories more than ever, as in most places community life is a shadow of what it was, and the next door neighbor may as well have dropped from another planet.

•  Little of what merits the name of “education” goes on in our schools. Some subjects have been discarded: grammar, for instance, as a coherent and systematic whole. Our approach to education springs from a truncated view of man. It is dully utilitarian in its aims, which it nevertheless fails to meet. It fixes a low ceiling over the mind and heart and soul. It begins by denying God, by whom and for whom we are made, and proceeds to deny the objective existence of beauty and goodness, until at last all that’s left are the shreds of learning, political expediency, and the fads of the day.

•  Our schools are Petri dishes of vice: impiety, lust, spiritual sloth, ambition, and avarice. It is not clear to me what more desperately needs the Catholic school less: the Church, or the nation.

Now consider the mission of the Academy of Classical Christian Studies:

  • Our trivium education has a moral and spiritual end rooted in the logos—Christ.
  • We will not arrive there without courage.
  • It will require careful work with the most precious of human artifacts—books—because of what they contain.
  • These books alone will not change lives—they are closer to mirrors; they will need to be accompanied by the “allegory of the Gospel” lived out in our own lives. They will need to be matched with prayer.
  • Our curriculum (and those who teach it) must prepare our young scholars for the argument, and cultivate a love for the very one with whom they will inevitably argue.

“We can only produce life in others by the wear and tear of our own being.” As Paul says, “I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.” Or as Spurgeon wrote, “If by excessive labor, we die before reaching the average age of man, worn out in the Master’s service, then glory be to God, we shall have so much less of earth and so much more of Heaven! It is our duty and our privilege to exhaust our lives for Jesus. We are not to be living specimens of men in fine preservation, but living sacrifices, whose lot is to be consumed.”

We cannot be better served in cultivating this intellectually robust moral vision than with the language arts of grammar, logic, and rhetoric.

Now that the institutions, governments, and committees of this world have turned a blind eye to virtue, our students will change the world with their words and their pens and their lives in courageous sacrificial love.

A classical curriculum does not propose that a student merely “shake hands” and develop a passing acquaintance with the greatest thinkers, the greatest artists, saints, and prophets, but rather that he becomes so wholly habituated to their thoughts and words, their prayers and psalms, their masterpieces of art and music, that he himself becomes like those great people.

Space forbids me to praise all that is fine and wise in that mission. If your Catholic school does not have a mission statement that resembles it, may I ask why not?

There’s no reason why parents should send their children to schools that sprinkle holy water upon the mind-deadening and soul-denying education provided in the public schools. If your child is going to be separated from faith and reason, you might as well purchase the ruin on the cheap.

But they might well send their children to schools that are wholly different from the public schools. That single descriptor, “classical,” will attract their notice. If our Catholic schools are not classical, it’s high time they considered becoming so, and advertising themselves as such while they embark upon the reforms.

Teach grammar as the logic of language, not a grab-bag of arbitrary usages. Read Homer and Virgil. Learn poetry—the most sublime of human arts, now almost vanished from the public schools. Reject Common Core and its useless utilitarianism, root and branch. Return geography to its rightful place in the elementary grades, as a separate subject from history. Return to world history, taught as an intricate whole; not ancient Egypt here and the Civil War there. Return to Latin. Return to reading important works in foreign languages: teach Spanish so that students can read Don Quixote, not just so that they can order tacos in Tijuana. Return to the titans of British and American literature.

Make the practice and the truths of the faith permeate all subjects; let it be the air the students breathe. This cannot be, if they use the same dreadful textbooks the public students use. Establish a fund whereby a Catholic family can pledge to buy textbooks for one student in a classical Catholic school every year.

If you do not have the teachers who can teach a classical curriculum, begin to find them. I know of plenty. But by all means begin. No more closings.

Editor’s note: Pictured above is the Strahov Monastery library located in the Czech Republic. 

Anthony Esolen

By

Professor Esolen teaches Renaissance English Literature and the Development of Western Civilization at Providence College. He is a regular contributor to Crisis Magazine and the author of many books, including The Politically Incorrect Guide to Western Civilization (Regnery Press, 2008); Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child (ISI Books, 2010) and Reflections on the Christian Life (Sophia Institute Press, 2013). His most recent books are Reclaiming Catholic Social Teaching (Sophia Institute Press, 2014); Defending Marriage (Tan Books, 2014); Life Under Compulsion (ISI Books, 2015); and Out of the Ashes (Regnery, 2017).

  • kentgeordie

    Heartfelt thanks for this latest inspiration which comes not from any hierarchy.
    I am a governor of a Catholic primary school in England. We do not closely resemble the vision outlined above, but we are working on it.
    I wonder how far we can ever hope to get while we accept state money. We need independence, and we need impetus. Maybe most of all we need energetic, brave and faithful bishops.

  • Bob

    Great, great ideas. As a parent of a soon-graduating student who is the product of my diocese’s school system (and an extremely disappointed one at that) all I can say is, “Good luck with that.” Those ideas would be laughed at and derided I am sorry to say. i love your phrase about sprinkling holy water on a public school education. Priceless.

  • samnigromd

    Ideas Mean: You
    Are What You Think

    (And Ideas Spiritualize and
    Divinize the World)

    By Samuel A. Nigro, M.D.

    2517 Guilford Road/Cleveland
    Heights, Ohio 44118

    December,
    2007

    Ideas
    and their significance cannot be denied.
    Ideas exist only in man thus proving supernature i.e., escape
    from and control of biology at one extreme and angels trying to return to God
    at the other. Taken for granted because
    everybody has them, ideas get little respect. But this must change because ideas
    confer spirit and give direct evidence for God. Thomas Crean, O.P., in his outstanding book,
    God Is No Delusion, says it best:

    An idea, whatever it is, is
    clearly something simple. It has no
    size, shape or mass. It has no
    constituent parts standing in spatial relation to its other parts. It can serve as a design for something
    complex, but in its own nature it is free of the complexities that it
    represents. How this is so is rather
    mysterious to us. But no one can deny
    that it is so (page 15).

    Ideas are materially based
    in and an accompaniment of the brain which not only has consciousness but
    consciousness-of-consciousness (C2) not present in subhumans. C2 is the body-brain’s
    contribution to the body-soul composite.
    C2 enables the “I” of you and me to be aware of our
    personhood with intellect and will, transcendental capacity and ideas,
    all of which enable our souls to know, love and serve God and His creatures (or
    do otherwise as the case may be). Without
    C2 and its rational capacity for ideas, there is no above- or
    meta- nature and, therefore, nature-only can and must be followed as is the
    case for all subhuman creatures. In
    contrast, by ideas because of C2, humans have a rational
    intellect and free will to be metaphysically above nature, and there is no comparable
    evidence for such in subhumans. By C2,
    ideas reverberate in the human mind with their being of
    spirit. To reflect deeply on ideas
    is to muddle around and conclude that ideas are bewilderingly pure
    spirit with a life of their own by words.
    Again, there is no evidence of C2 being found in subhumans.

    The
    reality of an idea forces the recognition of an incorporeal existence
    neither physical nor measurable by mathematics.
    Ideas prove a different dimension of existence. In fact, ideas make you what you
    are. That is: You are what you think! Such is the spirit of life; and, logically
    consistent with spirit, in the long run you will get what you think and do! That is, in the spirit world, that which one
    allows by rational intellect and free will in one’s mind is that which one is
    and will become (…and, self-determinately, will get!—which is another reason
    to live the transcendental life).

    Ideas
    are God-like images within you. In my
    book Happy Ending, I propose that words are angels, i.e., spirit
    conveying messengers ranging from elementary objects of matter to the
    transcendentals. And, like angels, words
    just pop up into existence in different places without traveling through space;
    the same for ideas too (This happens with some elementary particles in
    physics, and thusly theologians preempted contemporary physicists by at least seven
    centuries!). By angelic words, ideas
    are made real as God-like linkages in the spirit world. Thus the spirit world spreads from the most
    simplistic inanimate object to the mental world and the Divine … from simple
    numbers to angels to The Word.
    Supernatural spiritual transition especially occurs with the appearance
    of word created ideas such as “love,” “person,” the
    transcendentals, the virtues as well as other lesser ideas all of which
    individually and collectively prove a metaphysical different level of existence
    and a metanatural different level of the universe. Ideas mean that there is a spirit
    existence.

    One’s being (total existence including
    spirit) is composed of one’s transcendental actuality—the seven components of
    all created being in Addendum I.
    The transcendentals are one’s actual primary being—all the rest
    is secondary. One’s, and everyone’s, identified
    matter flows on a transcendental conduit of truth, oneness, good, and beauty,
    to and through eternity, perhaps “like music” is a good simile. This eternal permanence of one’s existence is
    the promise of one’s immortal soul whose transcendental permanence is confluent
    with one’s transcendental activity. This
    is one’s spirit life and it has its own genealogy mediated by whatever the
    brain has seen or heard as words, either demonic or angelic (This is why it is
    important to protect at all times all brains from evil—“Garbage in, garbage
    out!”). One’s brain is especially lit up
    and one’s spirit is enhanced by anything which is transcendentally sound, i.e.
    ideas regardless of content as long as true, one, good and beautiful. The transcendentals spiritualize ideas and
    souls, but evil ideas destroy the brain and spirit. One’s soul (like a transcendental sponge) is
    created immortal, but it can be annihilated by anti-transcendental acts, just
    as it can be sustained and enhanced by the images of God within: truth, oneness, good and beauty. And it all happens by ideas and words. Furthermore, the transcendentals are the
    basis for and essence of human subjectivity by which concepts (ideas)
    are warmed with the Image of God, refired with Big Bang warmth most often by
    the Word (Jesus) enabling all spirit computations between you and the Universe.

    To deny spirit is to deny ideas; is to deny
    that words exist; is to deny the impact of words in the world of ideas;
    and is to deny a spirit world wherein anti-being demons (un- or
    anti-transcendental words) try to run amuck while angels (transcendentally
    intact words) promote being. The more
    evil (pursuit of non-being) one does, the more one’s being is
    annihilated. This is because evil is a supernature
    negation of metastability, and evil exists in time for man only. For man, evil is a self-negating entropy
    promoting vacuum. Therefore, the evil
    one does converts one’s self into that black hole of self-annihilating negative
    nothingness caused by oneself and relived by oneself over and over, most
    commonly called hell. Oppositely, one’s
    transcendental acts forge forever in eternity, carrying one’s own being
    with these acts. As beautiful concert
    music, reverberating forever throughout the space of the universe, one’s
    transcendental acts will timelessly carry one to and throughout all eternity
    (This is why we like music!). This is to
    understand finally that “nothing unclean shall enter heaven” because nothing
    evil or sinful will last in eternity.
    This reminds of the ancient dictum of Socrates: “No evil can come to a good man
    either in life or in afterdeath, and God does not neglect him” (I would extend this
    to “No evil can come to a transcendental man (male or female)” and “By
    their words, you shall know them.”).

    The
    significance of ideas cannot be underestimated: You are your ideas — which can
    be non-being especially if one believes television, movies, internet,
    newspapers and celebrities or non-persons (To understand “celebrities” and
    “non-persons,” see Addendum III), and, needless to remind, the promotion of
    non-being is evil (And Original Sin is “suggestibility”—see Addendum IV—promoted
    epidemically by the metastasis of Patronizm—see Addendum V). The simplest understanding is that you are
    promoting your own non-being when you break The Ten Commandments or act
    contrary to Natural Law. But the
    opposite is also true: Your ideas
    can make you the best being filled with truth, oneness, good and beauty in a
    confluence of transcendental existence into the level of spirit. Your ideas make you what you are—and
    you can control them. And, furthermore,
    to repeat and remind: what goes around,
    comes around. Your intellect and free
    will make it that way, and the ideas you put into action will determine
    your eternal spirit existence — In other words, you will get what you do over
    and over in Heaven, Purgatory or hell. In
    your spirit life, what you have been and done will come back to you in a pop-up
    spirit caricature of your ideas and action life with justice mirroring it all giving
    it back to you as well deserved, blessing or punishment! (Dante has it right! And so does Plato with,
    “Virtue is (and will be) its own reward” (and I add: “Evil will be its own punishment—just you wait!”)
    and St. Thomas has it right when he says, “Do good and avoid evil” (or my
    elaboration: “Do transcendentals and
    avoid non-being.”).

    Ideas
    are Fire Forms (Read my poem “Fire Forms”) from the Big Bang mediated by words
    (angels), transcendentalized (refired) by The Word (Jesus) which overcomes
    matter to return being to God. No
    matter how exciting or stimulating or suggested by celebrities, if your ideas
    are not transcendental (true, one, good and beautiful), to hell with them
    because that is where they will take you and you will not like reliving the
    evil you have done turned back on yourself (As Jesus said, “Go and sin no more”…and
    with good reason.).

    Ideas are not merely confined
    to you as an individual but must be socialized because man is by nature a
    community creature optimally relating by dignity, unity, integrity, identity
    and spirituality—five more angelic ideas defined in Addendum II. Without these angels, the transcendentals
    remain selfishly individual.

    In
    closing, not to understand ideas is likely to fail the major personal
    and only “evolution” that matters:
    one’s personal spirit transcendental transition by the ideas one has
    and acts upon. The reader is
    encouraged to study http://www.theogeocalculus.com
    (which I believe is the first ever linkage of elementary physics to the
    transcendentals, to the variables of psychotherapy and mental succor, to the
    sacraments, to the community universals, and to the virtues). The most effective way of transcendentally
    processing ideas and feelings are in Addendum VI—Everyone is on the Cross in
    one way or another at some time or another.

    Any idea, regardless of
    origin, which cannot be interpreted consistent with all the following addenda is
    highly likely to be satanic. Keep true
    to full being and strive to interpret and understand all in the way of ideas.

    ADDENDUM
    I: The Seven Transcendentals: (Full elaboration was first printed in my
    pamphlet, “Male/Female Differences in Natural Law” of 1993 at the First Annual
    Conference of Catholic Social Scientists.)

    1.
    Ens (Latin)—what has existence.

    2.
    Res (Latin)—which is the corporeal body, i.e. the
    confluence of the being with matter completing it. It is the most visible dimension for those in
    the material world. In nature, nature
    rules, neurochemistry and all, on how the being manifests itself in nature. Bodies are needed to relate. They are our physical being by which men
    interact with all. MATTER (male).

    3.
    Aliquid (Latin)—which is the identity or form of
    the being, i.e. the confluence of the being with its essence—for humans,
    not ethnicity, not color, nor anything but humanbeingness—the total embracing
    of humanity for us—in a word “catholic”—all
    for and with all. IDENTITY (female).

    4.
    Verum (Latin)—which is the truth of the being, i.e.
    the confluence of the being with reality and not fantasy—or for us humans, the
    confluence with real life and not television shows, movies, magazines,
    newspapers or figments of imagination from oneself or others. TRUTH (male).

    5.
    Unum (Latin)—which is the oneness of the being, i.e.
    the confluence of the being with itself and all desirability related to it: its
    integrated, whole entirety. ONENESS
    (female).

    6.
    Bonum (Latin)—which is the good of the being, i.e.
    the confluence of the being with proper function in nature, or for mental
    beings, with proper choice in Natural Law (or Rational Environmentalism). GOOD (male).

    7.
    Bella (Italian…preferred by the author to the Latin
    “pulchritude” for multicultural reasons and the economy of two syllables)—which
    is the beauty of the being, i.e. its confluence with ascendancy or the
    “bringing out the best of itself and all around it. “ BEAUTY (female).

    Transcendental
    maleness (tm or “transcendentals”) is an activating centrifugal outer-space
    seeking, sacrifice style of: res (a
    matter organizing, procreative seeking, fathering, corporeal principle); verum
    (a truth enhancing, social orienting, reality principle); and bonum (a
    good promoting, work succeeding, choice principle).

    Transcendental
    femaleness (tf or “immanentals”) is life-giving, centripetal inner-space
    seeking, elevating style of: aliquid (an
    identity-essence forming, unitive, mothering, activating principle); unum (a
    oneness enhancing, desirability unifying, family orienting, relational
    principle); and bella (a beautifying, elevating, total humanity
    enhancing, ascendant principle).

    ADDENDUM
    II: The Five Community Universals (of
    Donald DeMarco):

    1.
    DIGNITY: Man should always be respected as an
    inviolable end and never used as a

    means.

    2.
    UNITY: Man should be honored as a totum and whole
    entity; and none of his parts should be treated in isolation of that whole
    entity.

    3.
    INTEGRITY: Man’s moral good should be upheld and his
    morality should never be divorced from his nature.

    4.
    IDENTITY: Man has identity both as a member of the
    human race and as a unique individual and person; these identities should be
    valued and allowed to develop and no attempt made to deform or radically alter
    them.

    5.
    SPIRITUALITY: Man’s spiritual qualities should be affirmed,
    and no attempt should be made to reduce man to his material components or to
    limit man to what is merely natural.

    Without the benefits that man stands to
    gain through the application of these moral principles, there exists the imminent
    danger of his falling victim to five forms of dissolution: (1) exploitation; (2) fragmentation; (3)
    disintegration-demoralization; (4) dehumanization; and (5) despiritualization.

    ADDENDUM
    III: Celebrities and Non-Persons:

    Celebrities are attention seeking
    unhumble individuals who inflate themselves (This definition excludes those who
    are celebrated because of their productive and/or self-sacrificing
    accomplishments. In contrast celebrities
    who selfishly seek and artificially promote themselves are basically fakes. It is their show-biz glitzy self-promotion fakery
    which pleases or excites us preying on our suggestibility making us fools when
    we believe them. They usually take hours
    to be able to look the way they appear. Their
    own extravagant relationships routinely fail proving they cannot stand each
    other once they really get to know each other.
    Their touted as spectacular actions, failing time after time, prove what
    frauds they are. Celebrities can startle
    us by their excitement frenzy, but they cannot even be happy with
    themselves. That tells us
    something: That what celebrities show us
    is fakery, pure and simple, with rare exceptions. So do not spend your money or time believing
    celebrities—who glorify each other as being great people and great couples, but
    they usually are only great actors (which is non-being) and that is
    usually all that they are! It is a waste
    of time and energy (pollution!) to bother with them except for entertainment.

    Non-persons are those unwilling to
    protect all members of the human species from natural beginning to natural end
    in the context of Natural Law. The most
    common non-persons around are abortionists, those who misuse words, and those
    who wear little to no clothes.
    Basically, non-persons are those who reject Addenda I and II above. They have no dignity, unity, integrity,
    identity or spirituality; they have no truth, no good, no oneness, and no
    beauty. They talk dirty; tell lies; run
    around without clothes; hurt others unnecessarily; degrade themselves; and
    descend their beings to subhumaness. They deserve the respect they give
    themselves…which is why “critical talk” is needed for those participating in deformed
    subhuman sexuality.

    ADDENDUM
    IV: Original Sin is suggestibility. Brains are suggestible…they play and replay
    what is seen and heard…like advertising, music, actions, words and ideas. Basically, if you see it or hear it, you will
    likely do it (I was told that by Adam and Eve).
    Thus, there should be Suggestibility Education Programs in every grade
    which teach all that is in this article as well as other factual information to
    discern the transcendental from the dross.
    The specific messages about suggestibility are:

    1.
    Do not be so impressionable.

    2.
    Do not be so
    gullible.

    3.
    Do not be a
    “monkey see, monkey do copycat”—you are not a monkey.

    4.
    Celebrities are
    fakes. It takes them hours to look like
    that and they get paid to carry on like that.

    5.
    Believe nothing
    on television, in movies, on the internet, in the newspapers without two
    independent confirmations otherwise you will be buying junk stuff, junk food
    and junk ideas.

    6.
    Do not believe or
    do anything except what is true, one, good, and beautiful, not what otherwise
    is usually done or believed by others.

    7.
    The spirit life
    means that you are what you think…so think matter, identity, truth, oneness,
    good, and beauty, and all will be well.

    8.
    In the long run,
    you will get, for eternity in Heaven, Purgatory or hell, whatever you have
    thought and done…so think and do what is true, one, good and beautiful.

    9.
    Boycott all
    anti-spiritual dehumanizing degrading anti-nature glitzy nonsense from the
    uncivilizing unreliable untrustworthy press and media.

    10. Do not be suggestible.
    You are not missing a thing.

    Suggestibility
    Education Programs will protect brains so the ideas therein are real being and
    not unreal fantasies, lies, manipulations, propaganda and other patronizm based
    non-being.

    ADDENDUM
    V: Patronizm—Contemporary Journalism
    (From my article “The Results of

    and Psychological Causes of Contraception,”
    Social Justice Review December 1993, 209-213

    http://www.catholicculture.org/library/view.cfm?recnum=721
    ):

    Today, the practice (“charade” really) of
    journalism is the patronizing of one group or another and the censoring of the
    rest—thus “patronizm.” The most accurate
    description of today’s press and media is:
    Patronizm, not journalism.
    Patronpaper, not newspaper.
    Patron press, not free press.
    Patronizer, neither journalist nor reporter. For those described, the First Amendment does
    nothing but give them immunity to truth, justice, the common good and
    trustworthiness. Most of today’s
    “journalists” are self-promoting perverters of the First Amendment. Do not trust what you see or hear in the
    press and media.

    Ideas as promulgated by today’s
    press and media are usually of the non-being kind and mainly provide only
    vicarious living.

    ADDENDUM
    VI: Natural Law Processing of Ideas and
    Feelings:

    1.
    by being baptized
    as a dignified event and giving faith—“Woman behold thy son.”

    2.
    by being confessed
    into a unified energy spectrum giving hope—“Father, forgive them for they know
    not what they do.”

    3.
    by being holy
    communioned into an integrated field giving charity—“Oh my God, why has
    thou forsaken me?”

    4.
    by being confirmed
    as an identifiable quantum giving prudence—“Into thine hands, I commend my
    spirit.”

    5.
    by being extremely
    unctioned as a spiritual singularity giving justice—“It is finished.”

    6.
    by being holy
    ordered into dimensions giving courage—“This day thou shalt be with me in
    paradise.”

    7.
    by being matrimonized
    into the liberty of uncertainty giving temperance—“I thirst.”

    8.
    by being in transcendental
    pursuit into the force of holiness giving grace—the earthquake.

    Sacramentalized
    ideas and feelings give the full use of one’s soul. All actions can be spiritualized by these
    eight processes and the metaphors available from the Last Eight Words of Christ,
    because all will be on the Cross at one time or another.

    • Enough with the shilling already.

  • s;vbkr0boc,klos;

    As many noble persons in history attested, having memorized great poetry will be a blessing in prison.

  • justanotherlittlesoul

    Professor Esolen, are there programs for teacher training in classical education? If so, where? Also, could you please compile a reference list to any organizations, publishers and other resources that would be helpful to those in education who want to connect into the classical education network. Thank you!

    • Veritas

      Good question. I will sign up.

    • amyzkids

      There is a fabulous organization whose mission is to help and encourage anyone who is interested starting, promoting or learning about Catholic Classical Education – The Institute for Catholic Liberal Education (ICLE)
      http://www.catholicclassicalschools.org
      They offer training and conferences yearly. I attended one last summer and it was the best week I have ever had! Just to meet and learn from so many wonderful people who are educating with the Classical method was such an invigorationg experience. There were many Catholic Schools there, but also individuals, like me who are longing to classically educate their children. As a long-time homeschooler, I have always been attracted to Classical Education. Some of my fellow homeschooling parents and I started a 2 day a week Catholic Classical Tutorial. The ICLE has been extremely helpful to us as we pursue this goal.

      The school who sponsored the Conference was St. Jerome Academy in Hyattsville MD. Their Educational Plan is a work of art and free to read on their website. This school is an excellent example of what our dying parochial schools can do to come back to life by reviving Classical Education. Read their story (they have been on EWTN).

      And by all means, once you find a school who wants to follow this path, SUPPORT THEM, either with time or money or PRAYER!

      • Veritas

        Now, we need a good Catholic legal team to find a way to get public dollars to follow students to attend these schools.

        • amyzkids

          Dont hold your breath – but why would we want public dollars with all the strings attached? Rather fight for a tax break, so I can use my own money to educate my children the way I see fit! But we cant wait for that either – the Lord will provide.

          • Veritas

            What about vouchers? Any strings attached there? I might be mistaken, but the voucher allows a family to choose a school, even a Catholic school. That is the whole purpose of vouchers–to escape the public school monopoly and allow parents a free choice. I don’t think Milton Friedman would support “free choice with strings attached.” Correct me if I am wrong about this.

            • amyzkids

              I guess you would have to see what way the law is written. I am wary of having to go throught he government as a middleman – some Catholic schools get money from the government now – in the way of textbooks or bussing – but there are requirements they have to meet to get those and government oversight. I’m really not sure if vouchers could be used at ANY school – there would still probably be a list of “approved” schools.
              Maybe someone else can address these questions?

            • There’s always “strings”, even if it’s in the form of program specifications on the expenditure of public funds.
              Read the average RFP for some government program and see how many “strings” are attached. They are often hundreds of pages long.

        • No.
          We need an entrepreneurial tean to find a way not to need public dollars-which always come with strings. He who dispenses the gold, makes the rules.

          • Veritas

            I knew an entrepreneur. He made $4.5 million getting college students to enter a for-profit university system. Most flunked out or didn’t land a job after finishing at the for-profit institution. The U.S. government gave the loans, which the students are obligated to pay. These entrepreneurs worked the loan system good. About five of them made in the millions, in just a single year.

            I agree with the concept, but like the “strings” you object to, we will always find people profiting without delivering the goods. That just goes along with the free market. Don’t read into this as opposition to the free market. Scams happen.

            • “agree with the concept, but like the “strings” you object to, we will always find people profiting without delivering the goods.”

              I’m not disputing that a big pot of government money is a honey pot in the sun that attracts flies. Specific requirements are necessary to ensure the minimization of frauds, but then again, the government had no problem giving Solyndra $500m after it had a “going concern” (aka you business is doomed note) exception from its auditor.

              On the other hand, there’s plenty of kids going the traditional tax-exempt route, and while they might get jobs, sitting through a “womyns studies” class where the highlight is reading “The Va**ina Monologues” isn’t learning, either.

        • GaudeteMan

          Good thing there are almost as many lawyers as there are dollars.

      • justanotherlittlesoul

        Thank you, Amy, for the great resource!

      • Beth

        Thanks, Amyzkids! We homeschool using a Classical Curriculum–happy to have more resources! I thank God for this opportunity to educate our children. It is a most beautiful blessing in more ways than I can name.

      • Expat Housewife

        Thank you for this! I have decide to home educate and use a classical curriculum. I would love to get a list of Prof Esolen’s personal recommendations for curricula and sources. I simply don’t know where to start, and where I currently live there are no resources. I completely rely on the internet and the information I get from other home educating parents.

        • amyzkids

          for Classical Homeschooling a great place to start is “Designing your Own Classical Curriculum” by Laura Berquist. She also has a HOmeschool program called Mother of Divine Grace which is a great Classical Curriculum already put together. Also check out Connecting with History, and this blog:

          http://amongstlovelythings.com/blog/

          There are so many resources and websites out there! Those are my top favorites.

          • Expat Housewife

            Thank you, this is brilliant. I have heard of the above book and will surely get it, as well as check out the other references.

            • amyzkids

              God Bless you! And you will love it – I will let you in on a secret: The real reason I homeschool is because I want to go back to school and get that Classical education I never had!

              • Expat Housewife

                That is a good reason to do it. My husband says the same thing and is very excited about it (although I will do most of the work, but he plans to be as closely involved as possible.) I was lucky that I was educated in a country whose philosophy of education is still rooted in the classical method. I learned history in depth and chronologically and read real literature. I was lucky, appreciate what I got and want to give that to my children.

    • Lisa Hurley

      Take a look at Memoria Press. They publish a quarterly magazine for free, called ‘The Classical Teacher’. However, their curricula is very pricey.

  • Thomas J. Hennigan

    I have lived in -Spanish speaking countries for many years and I have yet to find any student who has read Don Quijote. They have read somthing resembling Cliff notes. I teach in a seminary and most of them are not able to write correctly in their own language. I spend hours correcting the grammar and syntax of their efforts at writing papers and theses. If it is properly written, it was probably plagiarized. My native language is English, but I could teach them Spanish language and literature. What is called education these days in a scam. Oh, I also teach Latin and Biblical Greek. The seminary doesn’t assign enough time for them to get the basics of it and the students have no clue of basic grammar.

  • hombre111

    Tony, I appreciate your anguish and concern over the present state of affairs. It is painful to see our country turn a cultural corner. With the abandonment of the Bible as something you could easily study as literature, most of literature up to the 1900’s is simply inaccessible to the average student.

    I agree, we need to triple vocations. But the rut is getting deeper and deeper. With smaller families, we have an impossibly small vocation pool. With smaller families, most parents are reluctant to encourage a vocation, because they want grandchildren. Over the years, I have prayed and worked with many Protestant ministers, most of whom discerned their vocations in the early to middle thirties. They are really good, prayerful, hard-working men. There really is no good reason to insist on celibate vocations alone, except for stubborn tradition.

    I am not sure about the multiplications of vocations to religious life. The vocations of the fifties were an aberration. We assume that people with religious vocations should join religious orders. They do, in great numbers, as members of some kind of Third Order. Your lament about the loss of teachers in parochial schools is off key. They were cheap labor, and now in their old age, they have no investments or savings to fall back on. 45-51 kids in each class? Are you kidding? This is an abomination. No teacher can do an adequate job with that many children. She/he would have to be either the tyrant with a ruler, or an overworked mental case. The neediest kids would be left out. Parochial schools had, and have, a wonderful way of shifting such kids to public school.

    Parents do form a wonderful community in their parochial school. Problem is, the really excellent parochial school in my parish shelters one child out of ten or fifteen. Most parents simply cannot afford it, and we could not possibly build a larger school. It is possible to divide a parish in such a way that small faith communities are formed. Some parishes do this well, dividing up on a neighborhood basis. Since this parish of 3,000 has only two priests and an old guy, it would be a great idea, but it is outside the vision of the current overworked pastor.

    You say that schools are petri dishes of vice. Yes, and no. The public grade schools here are full of dedicated teachers who try to form great kids. The kids who come to school from good families do pretty well. But there are also indifferent parents, broken families, families with one mom and multiple fathers, families broken by poverty, drugs, and alcoholism, kids from gang areas, and on and on. It is this larger milieu that creates the vice you complain about. The challenge is to face the deeper issues and support good families in the midst of an ongoing growth in their faith. Our huge parish does not know how to do this. It takes more than the pastor. In the parish, things have to happen at a deeper and wider level.

    • Kate

      My mother was born in 1941. Her first grade class at a catholic school in Evanston, Illinois, had 60 children in it. Mom often remarked how that one nun managed to teach everyone to read, even though most of the children got measles, mumps and chicken pox all in 1st grade.
      Discipline and respect were key elements in schools for hundreds of years. Big are becoming extinct in public schools today. I write my comments from a public high school in central Illinois after just enduring a “resource study hall” class period where students refuse to take out anything to work on, argue that “this is America and you can’t tell me what to do”, and told me I have no authority over them. I marched one 16 year old down to the assistant principle where she will probably receive a detention she’ll find a way NOT to serve. And tomorrow she will be right back in that study hall doing it all again. I’m subbing and grateful I won’t have to be in there with her.

      • Veritas

        Let’s have a cup of coffee together. I know of what you speak.

        The public alternative has made weak minds and has empowered these youngsters with an option not to work. The punishment for choosing this option? It is social promotion and the continued reinforcement of knowing nothing, knowing no virtue of hard work and discipline while at the same time earning advancement.

        Now, they have a “right” to enter college.

        What has been eroded? Discipline, hard work, respect for authority. This is the crime of adults; the children are the victims.

        If you want to know if this is deliberate or just an accident of history, read The Diane Ravitch Blog. There, you will find the source of this heresy. If not the source, then its certain mouthpiece. Take time to read the commenters. I’ve read their comments against discipline and authority in the schools. I’ve read their full and complete devotion to Deweyian constructivism, and their Rousseauian naiveté about children and how they should be taught.

        Heresy in the form of a governmental monopoly.

      • hombre111

        I taught highschool for years. When the classes were in the twenties, things could get done. But when the numbers reached into the thirties, my whole personality had to change, and so did the attitudes of the kids, who felt more anonymous and distant from me.

        SIXTY students was a crime against any teacher, even God. My sister is a Holy Cross nun who taught for years. When she became a principle, the bane of her life was the pastor, who wanted to jam yet one more kid into the classes, and the parents, who were nagging the pastor. The payoff today are all those stories about tyrant nuns who beat up on kids. At least one nun had a nervous breakdown right in front of our eyes, a woman in her twenties who began teaching without a college education and was earning a degree during the summers. The nuns were valiant women, badly abused, and many of them were teaching who had no call or vocation to do so.

        • Maureen O’Brien

          Thank God you brought this situation up! There are too many people claiming the “wonderful” “education” they received in a Catholic school. There were 60 students in my grade school. The nuns who were in charge of our classes were old and tired. They should not have been there and we should not have been there either.

          • Old and tired would describe many of the comments in your comment history. No surprise that you and Judas Priest find agreement.

            • Maureen O’Brien

              Possibly the result of having 60 students in my grade school class. At least I post comments under my own name, DE-173!

              • ForChristAlone

                Maureen O’Brien meet John Doe

      • Elwin Ryan Ransom

        I am right there with you Kate. If my students would follow basic rules of respect and civility, I could teach them so much more.

    • amyzkids

      “Smaller families”are the root of not only the vocations crisis, but the school crisis in general. Here in my homeschooling network there is no dearth of large families – I know many with 6 or more kids. And I know of many vocations from these families. We homeschool for many reasons – one being that the Catholic schools are not adequately catechizing and are losing their Catholic identity. Large families cannot afford to support these schools and why should they if the parents can do better? I will add that we are ALL strong supporters of our parishes – look at who is participating the most in the parish – faith formation, altar servers, sacristans, Mass attendance- and you will most often find the homeschoolers in the majority.

      Hopefully we are a light to our fellow parishioners that you can still have a large family in today’s world – and raise joyful, loving, generous children who love the Lord and the Church.

      • hombre111

        I appreciate the large families who come to church, and have a special blessing for their children. I cannot say we have noticed a surge of vocations from these families, unless the seminaries and orders they join do not inform the pastor.

        • Perhaps there’s other things they find dissuasive.

    • M

      hombre111, I was going to make a similar comment in defense of public schools. We’ve done a mixture of home, parochial, and public schooling over the years, and experienced good and bad with each. You are right that public schools have to accommodate kids with all sorts of issues. Apart from kids with family problems, they have kids suffering from depression, eating disorders, suicidal ideation, academic challenges, antisocial tendencies, etc. The public schools HAVE to accept troubled kids. On the whole, they do a good job under very difficult circumstances. They also have their share of very ethical and talented kids. We have one kid at a Catholic high school because it has a great swim program and another recently graduated from public high school. We sent him there because the school offers post-calculus math and he was able to take linear algebra and differential equations. The Catholic school didn’t have a strong academic program. My public school kid had a more rigorous education through high school than my Catholic school kid is getting, but then he took all AP’s and honors classes. This particular Catholic school doesn’t do much for gifted kids except for the athletically gifted. There is virtue and vice at both schools. Both have a bit of a drug subculture, unfortunately, but then both do some very pro-social community work. The distinction between public and parochial is not black and white. I think the family has a stronger influence on the kid than whether the school is public or parochial.

      • hombre111

        Thank you. An article that does not recognize all this is not honest.

        • Oh, do tell us about dishonesty.

      • Jo Joyce

        So many Catholic HS are concentrating on sports because they get more money, and for the non-Catholic, they are happy to tone down religion class. Who know an atheist who graduated from one of thes? I know 3. And then you get famous rappers who send thei sons, like Bishop Gorman High in Vegas…

        • “So many Catholic HS are concentrating on sports ”

          Yep. Our local Catholic High School had an alum in the Superbowl and in the NCAA championship. Don’t know if either one is Catholic, though.

        • M

          A lot of private schools recruit athletes, unfortunately. They’re not supposed to, but they do it anyway. Our kid’s Catholic school has a number of star athletes there on full scholarships — these kids were not awarded for “scholarship.”

      • Tony

        Dear M, and everyone else here:

        1. Given that Catholic schools are shutting down, their teachers and administrators have a personal interest in trying the “classical” approach. It will be a powerful magnet. By “classical,” these days, all we might mean at first would be a return to a real liberal arts education such as anybody before the great dumb-down would have defined it. They might SAVE THEIR JOBS, if nothing else.

        2. There is a consortium of “classical” charter schools, called Great Hearts Academies. They are the only public schools that I know of where you can get that real liberal arts education. Kindly remember that I’ve got 30 years of experience of observing, very closely, what graduating seniors from various schools know or don’t know. They arrive in my classes as freshmen — and particularly in my freshman Development of Western Civilization class, thousands of them over the years. I am now regularly meeting college freshmen who do not even know the NAMES of the great English poets, because, as I said in the article, poetry has virtually disappeared from high school curricula. I mean that they have never even heard of Milton, Tennyson, Wordsworth, and so on.

        3. I daresay that if I actually were allowed to sit in on public school classes in English, and to examine the textbooks, I’d find things much worse than I’d supposed; and the same goes for those Catholic schools that haven’t recovered their bearings. I’m on the e-mail list for an outfit that is a vast clearinghouse of schoolbooks, and what I find there ranges from banally inoffensive to garishly dumb to evil. Do you REALLY think that I’d have a better opinion of what goes on in our schools if I were allowed to inspect them?

        • amyzkids

          Your first point is exactly right!! See St. Jerome Academy and read their story. The Catholic schools will continue closing because the model they are using (and have been for at least my lifetime) does not work. A Classical approach which embraces our Western Christian heritage would breathe new life into the dying system.

          Catholic homeschooling gets more popular every year because people are looking for a way to teach the faith and truly educate their children. Classical education embraces all that is true, good and beautiful about our world and integrates all of what we learn into our faith. It really is a beautiful thing. Our Classical tutorial (started by homeschooling familes) has tripled in size since its inception 4 years ago and we will reach full capacity within 2 years (we cap our classes at 12 students).

          However, if there was an affordable 5 day school in our area that was offering a Classical curriculum, I would most likely send my kids there. Of course, it is not all about the curriculum, it is more a mindset and lifestyle.

    • “But with smaller families, we have an impossibly small vocation pool. With smaller families, most parents are reluctant to encourage a vocation, because they want grandchildren.”

      Interesting observation from the guy who advocates contraception based on the judgment that his own family was too large. Make up your mind.

      • hombre111

        The in-house solution is to either try to convince a small family to ignore their longing for grandchildren and honor a vocation, or convince parents to have larger families. Simple observation says that, while some parents are truly noble and faith filled and able to honor a vocation, most are not. The out of house solution is to start to ordain married men, who would come into the parish with a whole lot more maturity than young guys who are 26 going on 18 can ever have.

        • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

          And what kind of vocations would be fostered by contraceptive parents? I think we know the answer to that. No thanks.

          • hombre111

            Actually, several of the young J2P2 priests in my diocese are from small families, and seem to be pretty good priests.

            • A complete refutation of your normal lamentations about JP2 priests.

            • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

              … as you no doubt consider yourself to be, when you take a break from berating your parishioners as “rednecks,” dissenting from Church teaching, preaching your envy-laden socialism, etc. etc.

              • hombre111

                Socialism is not built on envy, but on the realization that, on the only planet we have, with its limited resources, cooperation and a sense of the common good is much closer to the heart of God than is capitalism, driven by powerful extroverted type A personalities who, not satisfied with their millions or even their billions, seem bent on owning everything that is.

        • ForChristAlone

          What’s to say you won’t get contracepting married priests? After all, if there were a married priesthood, you might have been one yourself since you advocate for contraception. So, we’re really back to square one – adhere to Church teaching about the meaning of the body within marriage. Whether it be laypersons or clergy, all are called to proclaim the truth of the body.

          • hombre111

            Never thought to ask this question before. How many children do you have?

            • ForChristAlone

              Its not a numbers game as those of your ilk are wont to make it. It IS a question of being open to life when a husband (man) and wife (woman) come together to express their love. Your parents were open to life and God blessed them for it – something you held against them and the Church.

              • hombre111

                Ahh, you are embarrassed to let the truth out. Pompous blatherings from a man with less than the mandatory six kids? I will ask you regularly why you are unable to tell the truth, contraceptor.

                • ForChristAlone

                  This is definitely sinful matter. I have not lied and to accuse me of such is detraction.

                  • hombre111

                    So, how many kids? 4? 3? 2? 1? 0?

        • “The in-house solution is to either try to convince a small family to ignore their longing for grandchildren and honor a vocation, or convince parents to have larger families.”

          Oh no, you aren’t getting to pose as interesting bystander in this little kerfuffle.

          Your commentary here has been unabashedly and vehemently in favor of contraception and long time readers will remember that you inflicted upon us a lengthy description of your own family of origin as one that would have better with FEWER children (you never did answer the question as to which of your siblings was superfluous and unnecessary) with absolute certitude. You put Humanae Vitae in your crosshairs here as well.
          Given this I see you as never having burdened contraceptive users with question of morality in your homilies or in the confessional. I can almost here it-“Bess me father, for I have sinned”. My spouse and I are contracepting
          gine somebody entering the confessional and having you dispense any dissuasion over contraceptive use.

          In short, you are one of the architects of this demographic problem.

          • hombre111

            On those more than rare times when someone confesses the “sin” of contraception, I make a judgment. If they are behind the screen and kneeling, there is no time for much of a discussion. I remember the instruction of Humanae Vitae and tell them to pray to understand what the Church is trying to say, and tell them to keep on going to confession and communion. Since their “sin,” if they committed one, can be no more than veniel, I tell them to say two Hail Marys.

            If they are seated before me, I gently ask them if they want to explain their situation. I then give them the teaching that came from the national group of Canadian bishops after Humanae Vitae appeared: In every life, we have to accept the cross, or we can’t be followers of Jesus. A fruitful marriage includes children. But it is up to them and not me, to decide what happens next. I ask them to remember that they are living a sacrament, discuss their situation, pray to the Holy Spirit, face God in all honesty, and follow their conscience. I tell them that, once they have made up their minds, it is not necessary for them to confess again. I do this because they might confess to a John Paul priest, who, not having read the second half of Humanae Vitae, would tell them they are in the state of mortal sin and turn their lives into torture. As for me, I do not bind up huge bundles for other people to carry.

            • Are you under the misunderstanding that I think you are sincere?

            • ForChristAlone

              “and follow their conscience. I tell them that, once they have made up their minds, it is not necessary for them to confess again.”

              Better you should tell them to allow the Church to inform their consciences and act accordingly. The problem is that everyone is following his own conscience and we have confusion, mayhem and disorder. The Church is magister, as well as mater. You do know that, yes?

              • hombre111

                And she should know how to treat adults like adults. A middle-aged couple came to me after she had confessed to a Jp2 priest. For whatever reason, she told him she had married a 45 year-old man who had had a vasectomy. He assured her she was living in sin and could not go to Communion. I told her he was full of crap. As I said, if you read the second part of Humanae Vitae, you will discover that contraception is at worst, a veniel sin, because the Pope urges contracepting couples to pray, keep going to confession, and to go to Communion.

            • LH

              ?!?!? You are a priest? Are you Anglican? Do Anglicans even have confession?

              • hombre111

                We travel in different circles. I am on the other side of the screen, and try to deal with people in their anguish. Read Humanae Vitae again, and this time, pay attention to the advice the Pope gives couples and the priests who hear their confessions.

                • LH

                  I don’t care what circle you travel in. I don’t care about Humanae Vitae. I don’t care about the Pope’s advice. My first question was: are you a priest? My second question was: Are you Anglican? My third question was: Do Anglicans have confession?

                  • hombre111

                    By the grace of God I was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in 1964 and have remained faithful to my Church and my vows. I could never be an Anglican, because I couldl not belong to a church started by a serial killer. And I have no idea whether or not Anglicans have confession.

    • ForChristAlone

      You missed the point of his article entirely and, instead, dissected parts of it as an opportunity to launch into your hackneyed politicized version of the Catholic Church. My friend, you are tired and spent. You have some learning to do at the feet of the good Doctor (here I am referring to Esolen).

    • Ruth Rocker

      I don’t understand how you can put “impossibly small vocation pool” in the same breath of talking about being called by God. That certainly seems like setting limits on the One who can do all things. Have faith – He will prevail.

      • hombre111

        Don’t blame God for the shackles we put on ourselves. We keep praying for vocations, but only single men willing to ignore Genesis and keep a vow of celibacy need apply. This is a Church “discipline” that was enforced on diocesan priests to protect Church property, during a time when there was no such thing as a money economy. The practical reasons for celibacy are long gone, but ghosts are forever, I guess.

        • amyzkids

          There are many practical reasons for celibate priests!! How can a man be devoted to his family and parish at the same time? Personally, I cant imagine having my pastor tell me he can’t hear confessions because he has to go to his som’s soccer game. Marriage is a vocation as time-consuming as the priesthood – why do you want to to put even MORE pressure on our already over-burdened priests?
          I know a priest (former Anglican) who is married with 7 kids – I dont know how his WIFE does it, let alone HIM.
          Also, MONEY!! How can a priest raise a family on what you guys earn? As my parish priest said not too long ago, “You guys dont pay us anything!”
          I honestly do not see how married priests would ever solve the vocations crisis – however, Deacons may be one way to move forward.

          • kentgeordie

            Isn’t the main reason for priestly celibacy the fact that Christ was celibate?

            • amyzkids

              That is what I thought, too. I actually also thought it had to do with Christ being “married ” to HIs Bride, the Church (which would also have a lot to say about marriage!!) However, my parish priest said this was not the reason. Still unsure about that. Although he did call married men to be his apostles – they could have been celibate after their calling, though.

          • hombre111

            Two good points. However, the married priests of the various uniate Eastern churches seem to have it figured out, along with the Protestants. I prayed every week with several Protestant ministers and could not say I did better work, or was holier, than they were.

            As for money? Yep. Catholics, who give less to their churches than Protestants, seem to have that one figure out, as well. Give very little, ask for a lot. I say that with a smile. But truthfully, several of the Protestant ministers I prayed with in my small town earned little more than I did, and I had a lot better insurance and retirement plan. Their wives worked to help support the family.

  • learning

    Please check out Regina Caeli Academy. They are a Catholic hybrid homeschool resource center that utilizes classical curriculum as well. A tremendous gift to our community!!!

    • Lorelei

      My daughters attend Regina Caeli and it is wonderful. They love memorizing poetry and learning Latin. The classical curriculum is great.

  • Bravo, Anthony. I am both saddened by the current state of our culture and elated by the possibility of a return to a classically educated society. I was blessed as a young person to have had a classical education much as you described. By definition what is classic endures and carries forward the best achievements of noble humanity. I, too, yearn for a return to yesteryear with a new face for today.

  • ForChristAlone

    Anthony, you are uniquely qualified to begin a Catholic academy in classical studies such as you describe. If this were to be your unique Christian vocation there would be no shortage of those who would join you in this effort – as benefactors, consumers, as well as providers of this kind of valuable education. A fertile ground for such an undertaking would be the diocese of Arlington which already has a critical mass of like-minded people.

    I also took note of the school your describe reaching out to parents of homeschooled children to participate in the curriculum in a manner that met their unique needs – an idea I have long advocated as perhaps the salvation of many of our moribund Catholic schools.

    • Lisa Hurley

      And every other State too….

  • jacobum

    Great article and inspiring. However, one step up is a Classical Catholic Education. Doubt if you could do any better than send your kids to: http://thelyceum.org/. Outstanding reputation and a steal for the money not to mention formation of souls

    • amyzkids

      I agree – only problem is you have to live in Cleveland! They are hosting the ICLE Conference I mentioned above this year.

  • Pete

    Hi, What a wonderful article and it is good to see that other Catholic schools are striving for a better education and foundation for our children. For any of you interested in learning more about this educational model. I would encourage you to contact St. Augustine Academy in Ventura. http://www.saintaugustineacademy.com The headmaster there is more than willing to help.

  • RaymondNicholas

    I was taught by the SSJ sisters, Christian Brothers, and Jesuits. Now at least, all partially heretical to put it kindly. My home parish and school abandoned and ready to be torn down. It took 250 years to build my church and school, and 50 years to destroy them from within. The solutions are clear, but the (real) devil is in the details. Nothing will be as it was until all of the present generations pass. Wasn’t it so for the wanderers in the desert?

  • Keith Cameron

    When I ask my daughter what are the favorite parts of the average School day (She attends our Parish High School) she always responds “The Catholic parts”. Even the young are hungry for a return to the ‘word’ what better way to give them that gift then through a revitalized Catholic Educational system.

  • kentgeordie

    May I be cheeky and ask you Catholic educators for help?Some of the children I prepared for First Holy Communion last year have asked if it would be possible to continue the classes. I would be delighted to hear from any of you who have done this.
    My thoughts run along these lines: OT/NT bible stories; lives of the saints; the penny catechism; religious art; drama; good music – Gregorian?
    I’m not saying traditionalist, but you get my drift.

    • amyzkids

      Google “Catholic homeschooling” and you will find all you need. This is what we do! It is really very easy. But it is best if the parents are the ones teaching their own children about the faith. Better to Catechize the adults first. If it doesn’t start witht he family, it will break down eventually.

  • M .J. A.

    Good to see the focus again on educating the young and helping the families .
    Unsure that the sense of community in Catholic schools is all that it could be ; one fairly easy way to resolve same could be , linking up a few families ( may be by lot and with option to rotate ) , thus to include the whole community as well as teachers ( if they want separate group , that to be o k too ) and to have programs geared to seeking The Kingdom first ;
    now a days with ease of Skype etc; , even sitting at home, families can thus do bible studies together , even the Rosary prayers may be once or twice in the week , make sure that games do not conflict with things such as attendance at Sat . morning Holy Mass ( what a message it sends – parents and children taking all the trouble to be at the games in Catholic schools , while Holy Mass is going on in the church, that gets ignored ! ) ; that concept of group loyalty getting transferred to things of The Kingdom should not be that difficult ; have seen at least one 4 y.o . from not wealthy background, reciting whole long psalms ; if done in a group format , in the above setting , children and parents most likely would be more receptive and done as a school wide project creates its own momentum , which can be also be done at the parish level !
    Learning the word and reciting same even as a spiritual warfare mode , with all the importance thus given to same , that same could even be the difference between life and death , might be a necessity of our times !
    Having large , almost life size images of the Vilnius image of Divine Mercy , in every classroom and church is another doable ( and expected by The Lord ) thing to do , in our age , to hopefully insulate children and families from all that come across , in the form of bad images and loss of faith ; if same helps to instill the hope and trust , to often say – I cast my cares upon You My Lord, for You care about me ‘ , children and families helped to say same , on behalf of others too , who need help , may be to stop being bullies , depressed , in discord .

    Readings such as ‘Secrets of Interior Life ‘ by Arch Bishop Martinez and other such good books ( unsure about the last part of the above book on’ spiritual espousal’ of the soul ,may be because of my own ignorance of same , still wonder, if in our times, we need to focus more on the Father relationship, with The Trinity ) might also give families and children a good counter to the TBN crowd , that with a certain formula , God can be manipulated and used for earthly wealth and pleasures ( wonder if The Lord foresaw same , hence the harsh warning to some of whom He healed , not to proclaim same !) and making persons forget how God uses trials and even experience of spiritual desolations , to free us from all undue attachments to even ourselves , in order to prepare us to be powerful for The Kingdom , to be blessed with the strength and trust of more closeness to Him – we see same in Old Testament , where in The Lord takes responsibility for all events , thus to spare us from undue focus and related animosity that can come when persons are seen as the cause !
    True, may be those experiences of desolations can also be used as occasions of repentance and deliverance prayers as well !
    Using Hebrew , Spanish and Latin , may be to connect with persons in other places , in prayer , evangelization, for reading good books – yes, again , may be easier done in a group format and possibly not that difficult to do !
    Meanwhile, having the Gregorian Chant playing through the school system , at least during mealtimes etc ; also not hard to do and God alone to know what the beneficial effects might be !
    May The Good Lord and St Seton inspire many good hearts to help our families to be powerful , in The Lord !

  • Captain America

    The liberal arts should be taught at the high school level, with some allowed in college. Given our society’s labor market demands, I never recommend to young people to pursue any kind of liberal arts degree unless they’re planning on technical or professional school following this (disastrous) course. No one needs liberal artists.

  • GaudeteMan

    I work at a Catholic Academy which excels in above mentioned subjects. Nevertheless, we lose 35% of our students after junior high to other Catholic high schools because, among other things, our athletics program is ‘wanting.’

    • amyzkids

      I would think you wouldn’t want those students there anyway, if they put athletics above an authentic education. The priorities of today’s families are topsy-turvey, to say the least.

  • Aileen Sawabi Coccia

    Here in NJ, we are founding a classical Catholic school — Sedes Sapientiae School, http://www.sedessapientiaeschool.org. I found the article very encouraging and shared it with our prospective students, parents, and teachers. We hope to open this fall 2015.

  • Ruth Rocker

    I completely agree. I was lucky enough to attend an elementary school (public) growing up that still taught a lot of these subjects. To this day, I can recite most of “The Ride of Paul Revere” and large sections of many Shakespeare plays. I learned to read because a love of reading was really taught as the norm, not the exception. I learned grammar wasn’t just the lady married to grandpa, which is what a lot of kids think today. Our science classes included trips out into the school yard and surrounding neighborhood. We observed leaves unfurling in the spring and changing color to fall from the trees in the fall. We watch the ice crystals form on the windows and were given explanations for all of this.

    When I finally went to college, I started out learning computer programming at the associate level. When it was time to continue my bachelor’s degree, that particular discipline fell under the College of Engineering and required 3 years of differential calculus. There is a reason they call it calculus – it’s the Latin word for hard . So I changed my major to Letters. This was at the University of Oklahoma in Norman. I chose it for the courses it offered, not because it would immediately lead to a job like an accounting degree would. I graduated with distinction with a minor in Classical Culture. What it gave me was a broader, deeper understanding of the world that came before us. Without that, it is impossible to understand the now or have a reasonable guess as to what the future might become.

    My daughter lives in Colorado Springs and her little girl is now attending a similar Classical Academy there. She loves it and is blossoming wonderfully. We shortchange our students when we lower the standards and requirements. If they are allowed to excel then generally will. If you expect great things of them, they tend to aim for them. Of course, there are always exceptions to this, but when we “dumb” down the whole class for those who can’t or won’t learn, it cheats the students and the society at large because of the potential that is being snuffed out.

  • Patricia

    What poems would you begin with for a 6 year old?

    • LH

      I, also, would like to know the answer to this question.

    • amyzkids

      Just in case Professor Esolen does not get a chance to respond (although I would be honored if he would!) I can give you a good starting place: “The Harp and Laurel Wreath” by Laura Berquist has selections for memorization for children age Pre-K through High School, broken down by stage of learning (classically, of course, Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric)
      Most poems at the Grammar stage are from Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Garden of Verses”.
      AS the article states above, though, children can really learn ANYTHING at this stage – even if it is beyond their comprehension. Think of “Jabberwocky” – no one really knows what it means, but we can memorize it pretty easily!
      I would say pick what appeals to you and your child (any good Poetry Anthology will do) and go for it!

      • Beth

        We use The Harp and the Laurel Wreath; it is a great place to start. Once we began memorizing poetry, we have found how naturally we are attracted to the rhymes and rhythms. It is truly soothing. Our poems are recited often–especially when we deliver meals-on-wheels to the shut-ins, we call it ‘lunch and a show’.

  • John Albertson

    All credit and congratulations due to the Anglican clergyman Carr. But with all his information of history and classical logic, how can he remain an Anglican? A few decades ago there may have been a few straws of excuses – mostly ethnic and sentimental – to hang on to, but there is absolutely not even a half-plausible justification any more. What does that say about the practical results of classical formation? Newman, that superior classicist, said that to be steeped in history is to cease to be Protestant. Such a well-intentioned teacher of the classical curriculum does not seem to have been steeped enough.

  • Kathleene

    My children are blessed to attend a private Catholic school in Scottsdale Az,(villedemarieacademy.org). Schools devoted to the classical model exist all around the country but are often outside of diocesan control and are therefore completely self-funded. Catholics across America who cherish this type of education and want it to be available to as many young people as possible might consider becoming benefactors of these schools.

  • Kim Donohoe

    Please pray for our independent, fast-growing, Catholic classical grade 6-12 school in Madison, WI! Come see: http://www.ambroseacademy.org

  • James Parliament

    Mr. Esolen, I was directed to this article by a friend, and found myself teary before you even got to your point. I thought how well-written it was, and that it “sounds like Esolen.”

    How satisfying to find that it doesn’t only sound like him! Please keep up the good work.

  • Alison Higgins

    Can you please share your source of Classically trained teachers?

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