My Writings. My Thoughts.
We are assured in Luke 6: 46 that the person who ‘listens to Our Lord’s words and acts upon them’, lays his foundation on rock. By contrast, it is proposed by powerful organizations such as the United Nations, the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, that a “globalist vision” is the necessary way toward world peace, sustainability and economic stability.
Who are we to believe?
Surely, the globalist ideals are laudable, but can they be achieved? What we know about foundations and Our Lord suggest otherwise. Yet, this is being proposed through radical educational reform such as the Common Core. In this scheme, traditional values will be embraced only to the extent they can be adapted to a multi-cultural, world view. Otherwise they will be jettisoned for the “harmony” of the “world community”.
Nevertheless, as during the Middle Ages, the Church can come to our aid. It can share not only the philosophical truths that bring right reason to bear, but also the good that comes through Christ’s Church founded upon Peter. Peter and those Popes following him were not the first instruments of God to propose a more solid foundation. Centuries earlier we hear Moses say:
“Now, Israel, hear the statutes and decrees which I am teaching you to observe, that you may live, and may enter in and take possession of the land which the Lord, the God of your fathers is giving you… Observe them carefully, for thus will you give evidence of your wisdom and intelligence to the nations…” – Deuteronomy 4: 1, 6-8.
David did not have an easy life. He was not born into great wealth or high social stature. His greatest inheritance was his faith in God. Throughout his trials, including serious threats to his life, he trusts in God to deliver him. Later, after he becomes king, he continues trusting God. David regularly asks God what he thinks he ought to do. Today, through the Church, we can draw close to God and so also enjoy a closeness with God as David did. We have the sacraments and prayers and the saints to strengthen us.
With mounting concern over the Common Core State Standards, what are parents and teachers to do? Consider God’s providence. God founded his Church on Peter (Mt 16: 18) to aid our journey through life to heaven. In the 12th Century, the Church was instrumental in fostering education, and through its essential support, the university system was developed from what began as “Cathedral schools” (1). Paris and Bologna were the first two. Today, there are great alternatives to Common Core. These include a classical curriculum and a [non-Common Core] Christian education. What comprises a classical curriculum? How is this curriculum in harmony with Christian formation? These questions are discussed and draw from “What is a Classical Education”, by Peter Kreeft, and published in “The Classical Teacher” magazine, Spring 2009. For the complete article, see: www.memoriapress.com.
(1) “How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization”, Thomas E. Wood, Jr., Chptr 4.
In the wake of the 2008 recession, States were offered $53 billion in “Stimulus” money if they would commit to “Four Assurances”. One of these included adopting what is now called Common Core (CCSI), a privately developed standard. According to sources noted, it comes to us without input from teachers and parents, and distances children from the good, the true and the beautiful. Missouri, one of the states using CCSI since 2009, already shows a decline in math and English language arts readiness (http://missourieducationwatchdog.com/). Daunting? Yes! But what can we do? First, consider examples in Sacred Scripture. We have seen how our plans unravel when God is not included. Second, consider the encouragements coming from Our Lady. Mary invites us to Pray. To receive the Eucharist. To go to confession. To read Scripture and to Fast. How beautiful!
1. St. Joseph Radio Presents, “Common Core Panel”, Catholic Home School Conference, 04/11/14. saintjosephradio.net.
2. Univ of Notre Dame’s Law Professor, plus 132 scholars’ letter to Catholic Bishops.
3. EWTN’s Barbara McGuigon & guest Mary Jo Anderson, Mar 29, ’14. www.ewtn.com.
4. Documentary on the Common Core: “Building the Machine”. commoncoremovie.com.
5. Summary of 10 major concerns. maryjoanderson.net.
The Common Core State Standard that is coming to our nation deserves close attention. Its aim is to raise the level of education across the United States, a goal some believe is necessary to better compete globally. However, by many assessments, Common Core is a low standard. Even its major proponent admit it will not be sufficient for students who desire selective colleges or majors in science, technology, engineering and math. There is a greater challenge, however. Common Core pursues a gravely deficient philosophy. It does not embrace forming children in the good, the true and the beautiful.
What is the impact of this philosophy? C.S. Lewis explains that the consequence is to suffer the loss of strength, of will, of creativity. For additional information, please see these links at: “Curious about Common Core?”, and also “Subtle Common Core Philosophy”.
Jesus, and many others in Sacred Scripture suggest that our greater good, joy and happiness comes from being obedient to the Father. When we are in harmony with the person God created us to be, and when we draw closer to our Creator, we closely connect with our greatest source of happiness. Able’s brother Cain was not happy at God’s disregard for his half-hearted offering. Jacob’s son Joseph was happy obeying, even when it was not easy for him. Samson, under pressure, separated himself from God. After significant suffering, he later repents and God’s strength returns to him. Jesus prays for strength and chooses His Father’s will over his own in the Garden of Gethsemane, then saves all the world. We are invited to unite our crosses to Our Lord’s and to pray for the strength to return to him in ways great and small.
During his pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI offered the term “technological prometheanism”. By it, he warns that as the mythical Greek Prometheus gravely suffered after seeking a good for mankind, though without regard for moral or ethical truths, so could many suffer from certain ideologies present today. This includes ideas such as “gender freedom” where men and women supposedly are free to “choose” their gender. There is also risk of a reductionism whereby being a person is reducible only to matter, that a person is not both soul and matter. This means, for example, that our mind, as subtle and marvelous as it can be, is merely a brain with cells and firing synapses! God’s image and likeness is not present.
Pope Benedict is concerned that with a materialistic view of man, together with the great development of technology, that man becomes “deprived of his soul” and his personal relationship with the Creator is lost. Then, “what is technically possible becomes licit, each experiment is acceptable, any population policy permitted, any manipulation legitimized.”
When Pilot asks Jesus “What is truth?”, Pilot reveals an emptiness unfilled by not holding to objective values. Today, adrift in a sea of digitally-altered imagery and popular opinions pushed as “new truths”, it is difficult to know what is really solid, valuable or true. There is a “widespread lack of confidence in the truth” we are told in Fides et Ratio (#5). However, into this confusion steps BL. Pope John Paul II and his encyclical “The Splendor of Truth”. He makes two remarkable promises that fill us with hope and bring us joy. This great work may also be a source for the solutions sought to overcome the many extraordinary and complex challenges our world faces today.
The Church has honored Our Lady of Sorrows since the 13th century. What may we learn from this devotion? In short, not only may we come to understand that the Mother of God suffered during her life, but that our own suffering can have great merit. We become more like Christ and draw closer to his embrace when we “deny ourselves and take up our crosses” (Luke 9: 23). My guest, Deacon Dominic Peloso from the Archdiocese of San Francisco, shares the origin of this devotion, insights into Our Lady’s life, and the opportunities suffering can bring each of us. He also makes a connection with Our Lady’s apparitions in Kibeho, Rwanda in the 1980s. There, as in Fatima, Our Lady encourages us to pray the holy Rosary for the graces we need during our trials.