Rorate Caeli

The State of Schools Today and the Sound Principles of Education to prepare Children for Heaven - by Don Pietro Leone


‘Suffer the little children to come unto me’

by Fritz von Uhde (1885)

+ In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.


Procreation along with the education of children are the primary ends of marriage. Therefore parents have the grave duty of providing their children with a sound education which either they or others must provide.  

We note, however, that the modern mentality, exemplified in the contemporary laws of states, in school educational programs, and now widespread among the people, is violently opposed to the sound principles of education. 

Let us proceed by first presenting the current state of education in the schools to-day, and then the Catholic principles that must define it. Our brief exposition will show that the only way to instruct children in Italy to-day (and in many other countries) - which is compatible with the Faith and with the duties of parents - is that of 'Homeschooling'.

 Education in schools to-day


Now there are clearly two fields in which education operates: the scholastic and the moral, fields which have become battle-grounds invaded by the spirit of the World, even in schools that still are pleased to style themselves Catholic.

As regards scholastic education, there are in particular two subjects being  targeted by the spirit of the World: Philosophy and History.  In Philosophy we see a tendency towards Atheism, Relativism, Humanism, Hedonism and Communism, with the exaltation of figures like Charles Darwin, Emmanuel Kant, David Hume and Karl Marx; in History, on the other hand, we see hostility against God, the Church, and Monarchy with the exaltation of figures like Martin Luther and events like the French Revolution. 

As regards moral education, a hedonism as shallow as it is illogical is taught in  schools to-day. Such hedonism is manifest particularly in a perverted form of ‘sex education’, presented under the euphemistic title of “The Body and Affectivity” or under the pseudo-intellectual title of 'Gender'; it is manifest likewise in the official acceptance of libertinage on the part of teachers and in the sensuality or pornography sown here and there in scholastic material, even in Latin grammar books for example. We also note the presence of demonological imagery representing devils, witches, and sorcery, for example in school agendas or in mathematics. Irrationality, wickedness, and foolishness vie for ascendancy in this danse macabre between life and death in the schools.

II   The Principles of Catholic Education

It would befit parents, young people who are thinking about getting married and more generally every-one, being, as we are, all members of a society infested by evil, to meditate seriously on the principles of Catholic education. This section of the article will, then, consist primarily of a synthesis of a sermon by St. Alphonsus (for the VII Sunday after Pentecost) addressing the word of the Lord: '…A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can an evil tree bring forth good fruit' (Mathew 7, 18).

St. John Chrysothosom  writes: ‘We have a great legacy: children;  let us take great care of it’, and points out that normally we take much more care of our donkeys and horses than we do of our  children.  St. Alphonsus notes:  ‘Children are not a gift conferred to parents, which they can do with as they like; but a deposit, for which,  if lost - due to their negligence -  they will have to  answer  to God’. Origen says that fathers will have to give account on the day of their judgment for all the sins of their children. St. Paul writes: ‘But if any man have not care of his own, and especially of those of his house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.’ (I. Tim. 5.8).

The following are the essential elements of education:

1)    Discipline;

2)    The teaching of the Faith, prayers and Christian maxims;

3)    Example. 

1.  Discipline


'Bring them up in the discipline and correction of the Lord’ St. Paul writes (Ephesians 6. 4): and King Solomon teaches: ‘He that spareth his rod, hateth his son’(Proverbs 13.24). ‘If you love your child, St. Alphonsus comments: ‘admonish him and punish him also with the whip if necessary, even when he is no longer little.’ He cautions the father not to beat his son when he is in a rage, as it is then easy to overdo it, and the son will think the punishment is not given that he might amend his ways, but just a result of anger. The ideal is to punish him by sending him to his room and making him miss a meal, or depriving him of some article of clothing.  

The father must be alert to occasions of sin for his children: by inquiring into their habits, finding out where they go when they leave the house; by forbidding them to keep bad company; by not keeping young girl-servamts in the home; by forbidding dangerous games, bad and obscene literature and scandalous pictures; by forbidding their daughters to speak to men in the absence of others.

St.Theresa of Avila adds (Life c. 2): ‘… I would like strongly to inculcate into parents to be very careful about the people involved with their children, even at a very tender age, since they could be in grave danger, given that our nature is more inclined to evil than good.’

A great evil is indulgence on the part of parents, when seeing their children  dragged into bad company, in brawling and revelry, instead of disciplining and punishing them, say: ‘What can we do?  ‘They are young, they have to find their own way’ Another evil is simply keeping silent about it in order not to offend their children. However, parents will have to give account on the Day of Judgment for such conduct.

‘From their earliest childhood bring them up in good habits …’ says St. Alphonsus, ‘so that they will practice them more easily when they are adult… It is as easy for children to learn when they are small, as it is hard for them to amend their ways when they are adult, if they have learned evil ways.’ ‘A young man according to his way, even when he is old will not depart from it.’ (Proverbs 22,6).

2. Teaching 

It is written in Holy Scripture (Eccl 7, 25) ‘Instruct them, and bow down their neck from their childhood.’  The first duty of parents is that of educating their children in the rudiments of the Faith. These are found in the Apostle’s Creed:  namely, the existence of God, Creator and Lord of all things; the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity; the mystery of the Incarnation of the Divine Word, Who the Son of God is - at the same time - true God and true Man, made Man in the womb of Our Lady; Who suffered and died for our salvation; Who will judge us, and in the end will send us to Heaven or Hell for Eternity. With this teaching parents will instill in their children not only the Faith, but also the fear of God which will  restrain them from sin: ‘And from his infancy he taught him to fear God, and to abstain from all sin” (Tobias 1, 10). If parents do not know these doctrines they must send their children to catechism.  

In addition, they must teach them how to pray the Credo, the Pater Noster and the Ave Maria, things that every Christian is required to know under pain of mortal sin; to recite the Rosary; to say morning prayers: thanking God for another day, offering Him all the good actions of the day and the sufferings they will have to endure, praying to Our Lord and Our Lady to keep them from all sin;  to say evening prayers: examining their conscience and making an act of contrition; furthermore, to visit the Blessed Sacrament, making acts of Faith, Hope and Charity. Some fathers of families set aside a half-hour for meditation in the family, St. Alphonsus  adds. Parents are likewise required to have them go to confession when they have reached the age of 7, to receive Holy Communion by the time they are 10 years old, and be confirmed when they reach the age of reason.                                                                                                                                                                     

Good maxims are also of great help in bringing up children. Queen Blanche, St. Louis of France’s mother, used to say to him: ‘My son, I would rather see you dead in my arms than be in a state of sin.’  St. Alphonsus adds the following maxims: ‘Everything comes to an end, but eternity never ends’, ‘If you lose God you lose everything’;  and then there are the words of the Gospel: ‘For what doth it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his own soul?’ (Mt. 16, 26).  He says that if even one of these maxims is impressed in the mind of a child, it will always keep him in the grace of God.

3.  Example


‘Frequent the Sacraments’ exhorts the same Saint, ‘listen to sermons, recite the Rosary every day, do not speak immodestly, do not complain, flee squabbling  and you will see that your child will go to confession frequently, will listen to sermons, will recite the Rosary, will speak modestly, will not complain, and will not get into squabbles.’

On the other hand, if parents do not give a good example, their words of correction will have but little effect on their children: men are convinced more by what they see than by what they hear. St. Thomas says that fathers who give a bad example to their children force them in a certain way to live a wicked life, and St. Bernard describes them not as fathers, but as murderers of children.  Indeed, children are not born bad, but become so by the bad example of their parents.  

St. Theresa of Avila writes (Life, Chap. 2): ‘I often think what grave faults those parents commit when they do not provide in all ways, examples of virtue for their children. Indeed - as I said, although my mother was very virtuous, when I reached the age of reason I had learned very little or almost nothing from her virtue; instead I learned much evil from an imperfection of hers.’


As we have noted above, the primary end of marriage is the procreation and education of children. Attaining Heaven being the final aim of man, we may deduce that an additional and indeed the ultimate goal of education is precisely this: to prepare children for Heaven: a duty on the part of the parents as grave as it is noble.

How can we therefore justify parents who have their children educated in a contorted vision of reality, and in a perverted vision of morality?   Is there any school left anywhere that can be trusted?  What other responsible choice is left for parents but to educate their children at home, or in the sphere of homeschooling?  One must choose sub specie Aeternitatis: at stake here, in fact, is the eternal life of both children and parents. With regard to parents, we will conclude with the words of St. Alphonsus: ‘… in the next life those who bring up their children badly will be punished severely, and those who bring them up well will be greatly rewarded.’


 + In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti. Amen



Translation: Contributor  Francesca Romana