Monday, February 01, 2016

Catholic Schools Week

During the past month of January the Church celebrated a number of Saints who were officially declared "Doctors" of the Church. That is, their teaching is not only to be admired but held up as worthy to treasure and study. As the year began two friends from the area once known as Cappadocia were honored: Basil the Great, and Gregory Nazianzen. Their homeland is in the middle of what is now known as Turkey. Basil and Gregory were friends who loved to pray and to study. They became hermits for awhile until each was named a Bishop. St. Basil is considered the founder of monasticism in the East. Gregory for a time was bishop of Constantinople. Then he returned to his hometown of Nazianzen. Both Saints died between 370 and 390 AD. Each defended the Faith from the Arian heresy which denied the divinity of Jesus. Saint Hilary became the Bishop of Poitier in France around the year 350 where he too had to defend his flock from Arian influence.
Mother Seton and St. John Neumann are two American citizen Saints who were great educators. St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Mother Seton, was a convert from the Episcopalian faith. Even as a devout Protestant she helped the poor. She began a Catholic school in Emmitsburg, Maryland around 1810. In Philadelphia, the saintly Bishop John Neumann, himself an immigrant, organized the Catholic Parochial School System. He died on January 5, 1860. On January 28, one of the greatest theologians ever, is celebrated as a Saint and the patron of Catholic students and Catholic schools: St. Thomas Aquinas. Born around 1225, Thomas' family was determined to get him married off to a suitable bride. He would hear none of it, despite family members various efforts to dissuade him. Thomas wanted to devote his life to God in the Dominican Order. He had already studied at Monte Casino. After joining the Order of Preachers (known as the Dominicans), Thomas was sent to study in Paris and Cologne. He even studied under St. Albert the Great. Thomas soon became a professor and a prolific writer. His books are still published and sought after today. He was not afraid to incorporate the best parts of the philosophy of the Greek Aristotle with theology. Thomas also learned from the Jewish philosopher Maimonides. Thomas would introduce a tenet of faith, or a question about a religious topic then he would say: This particular matter is true, however to the contrary, this is also true. In Latin it is named "sed contra"--but on the other hand....
While Thomas worked mainly in the halls of great centers of learning, the last Saint honored in January was St. John Bosco. Hailing from Northern Italy, John was concerned about the many young people caught up into and victimized by the Industrial Revolution. John realized that without guidance, knowledge of the Faith, and solid training for life skills, many of the boys on the streets would end up not only in poverty but in a life of crime. Don Bosco as he was called, employed a cheerful, balanced and prayerful method of teaching. He also wrote and published books to instruct the wider public who were ignorant of their faith. St. John Bosco started the Salesian order of priests and the Sisters of Our Lady Help of Christians, Salesian Sisters to carry on his work of education. His religious orders spread throughout the world prepare thousands of young people academically, spiritually and practically to contribute to building a civilization of love.
Fittingly the week which we now experience is Catholic Schools Week. Support your local Catholic Schools. If you are able why not donate some Pauline editions for the school library. Of course, it is a wise thought to ask the principals and librarians which books or audio/visuals they may need. You might even suggest that the school host a "JClub" Catholic book fair in the school. Just let me know in your comment line if you need more information. Pray for Catholic school personnel, teachers and principals as well as the young boys and girls who attend. Let us pray for young people so they may grow as Jesus did in wisdom, age and grace!

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