Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

*

great Christian poem.

The whole of Christianity is there, all the mysteries, all the Divine actions, all Gospel teaching

and all this grouped around the Sacrifice, the center and soul of all Catholic worship.” Indeed, the more fully our students are led to understand the sacred liturgy of the Church, so much the more will the knowledge as well as the practice of our holy religion be for them a joy.

Here allow me the remark, as bearing upon this topic, that this resuit can be attained only when the liturgy of the Church is conscientiously followed out in the church or chapel connected with the college. Our educational institutions ought to be nurseries of piety and religious practices; and we are making a seriUlis mistake if, for some flimsy excuse, we underestimate this most attractive and powerful factor. What a grand opportunity we have, especially in colleges with resident students, of following Cut the insiructions of our Holy Father in regard to the beautiful liturgical chant, congregational singing, and the like. We sometimes are pained to hear some people with a certain disdain and haughtiness assail the ceremonial of the Church inspired by the Spirit of God and consecrated by the ages, as if it were mere form and mere "pomp and circumstance.” Indeed, we may well apply to them the words of the Apostle: “They blaspheme what they do not understand.” What a great opportunity for us to acquaint our boys with the prayers, the hymns and psalnıs, so full of fervor and unction, that have been the spiritual food of all the saints and great penitents. We should, then, not belittle the educational as well as the spiritualizing force of the Catholic liturgy. For, by its splendor, pregnant with sacred truth, it will add fcrvor to the soul, awaken the holiest emotions of the heart and engage all the powers of the whole man in the worship of the lost High.

I refrain from following up this matter any further, only because of the limits set to a paper of this kind. To meet the possible objection that all I have said is commonplace and a matter of course, I answer that I am fully aware of this—my only purpose is to empha-ize the points mentioned because they are fundamental. I should like to suggest, too, that they cover the academic course, or the first years at college--that they

form separate subjects when presented--that, in my opinion, the best way of presenting them would be, not in the form of dry questions and answers merely, but that they be given in the form of an entertaining as well as an instructive treatise in order that these subjects, now so devoid of life, may be made to appeal to the feelings and emotions as well as to the understanding of our students, and so engage their will to revere, to love, and to practice their holy religion with greater love and fervor.

The subjects which I have mentioned thus far-(1) review of the catechism; (2) the life of Christ; (3) the conditions of the early Church with its models of Christian heroism; (4) the life of the Church as reflected in the biographies of her greatest and typical saints throughout the centuries; (5) the constitution and organization of the Catholic Church and its internal history; (6) the liturgy of the Church, its history, meaning and observances,-should, to my mind, make up the course of direct religious instruction imparted during the academic or high school period. No other topics should appeal more to the imagination and the affections of the youth and none are more necessary. For we ought not to lose sight of the fact that, unfortunately, our young Americans are entirely out of touch with the Catholic past, with its traditions, its monuments, its Christian spirit, and have not the least notion of association of religious ideas, which to some of us is perfectly natural. Consequently, the only way to reach their hearts and arouse their religious enthusiasm is to make them see and feel, by as many and as vivid illustrations as possible, the life and soul of Christ and His Church.

Now, as to the question who should give this religious instruction, I venture to say, that a careful choice ought to be made. The teacher ought to be a man full of his subject and deep religious fervor. He ought to present the matter to be taught with the enthusiasm of the artist and with the ardent and holy fire of the missionary, the preacher of God's word, summoning to his assistance all the literary and oratorical aids at his command. To my mind, it ought to be given by the director or president, or, at least, by one of the most prominent men of the college, in order that, by reason of the prestige of his position and authority, the word of God may penetrate the more and produce a deeper conviction in the hearts of our youth, and also because to him more than to others this work of the college ought to be an object of greatest concern.

Finally, how much time should be devoted to the religious instruction, and what weight ought this branch to carry in comparison with other studies? In answer to this, I should say in a general way, that, both as to the amount of time devoted to it and as to the weight it should carry, it can hardly be given too much prominence. The greater the importance the college authorities attach to it officially, the greater importance will it carry in the minds of our students and, let us not forget it, vice versa.

It must be perfectly clear to all the members of this conference that in this paper I have only touched upon one of the phases of Catholic instruction imparted in our colleges, namely, the giving of religious instruction in the restricted sense according to the direct method, and that only as applying to the academic course. Not a word has been said of the indirect method, namely, of the presentation of Catholic truth and Catholic principles in connection with the study of other branches, such as history, the sciences, philosophy, etc.; nor have I discussed what should be the subjects of direct religious teaching in the higher classes of the college curriculum, nor of the moral training, which is the complement of all teaching; but, realizing that the matter is too vast and too complex to be disposed of in the brief space of time allotted to me, I conclude with the expression of the wish that in future meetings this matter be taken up again. For it will lead us to a fuller realization of the import of our glorious calling and make us more efficient in the "ars artium, cura animarum."

DISCUSSION.

Very Rev. D. M, GORMAN, LL. D.: I am sure that I voice the sentiments of all when I say that we appreciate the splendid paper read by Father Van Heertum. The many excellent suggestions that he has made will, no doubt, help every teacher who is here to-day in doing more efficient work along the improved lines that he has indicated. I have little to say in

[ocr errors]

regard to the discussion of the paper. First of all, we like to begin with an excuse, and I have a very valid one, since the writer of the paper will bear me out in this—that I made a strenuous effort to secure his paper in time to make a deep study of it. However, it was pigeonholed through no fault of his and I did not receive it until 10 o'clock last evening.

I am interested in the subject matter of this paper. I have been privileged to teach this branch for some twelve years. I wish to make two suggestions that may be helpful and which occurred to me while listening to the paper. This I shall do briefly, because there is a scholarly man to discuss the paper after me, and it is about time for the section meetings.

I would like to emphasize the thought given by the writer, and plead for the Testament study in the course for academies and colleges. Our young men and young women, as I know by experience and observation, need development, need instruction and Christian training in Biblical study, because in the environment under which they live to-day they must meet these difficulties, and when they do not know how to meet them they will suffer, and the Church will suffer. Therefore I wish to say most emphatically, that I agree with all the Father has said, and I would like to say that it seems to me that as I look over the most of our curricula of college and academic courses, a little more specific space and time could be given to purely Biblical study. You can answer me, saying, “We give a great deal of time to Bible history.” That is all right, but the boy will tell you and the girl will tell you in the grade schools, “I know all that, I have studied it for several years.” We need something more. Take the New Testament, for example, or some portion of it, and give them that as a part of their study. You may come to me again and say, “We have too much work now crowded into our order of exercises; we have too much class time," and yet I repeat my second suggestion, to give still more space to this vital study, and that other suggestion made by the Father, namely, the place which Church history often occupies with our young men and young

You will find in the majority of cases where they come now from the schools round about that are not permeated with parochial influence or by Christian training, that a great deal of importance is given to general history. It is given the prominent place, and Church history is eliminated, and these young men and these young women will go forth without any knowledge whatever of that splendid history of mother Church, the martyr heroes of the Church of Christ. Well did the Father state that this branch should have a prominent place in history courses.

These two things, then, I urge and ask the teachers, directors and prefects of study to so shape their course of study as to give Church history its proper place, and, I may add, it is my observation that if you do not give this important branch to our boys and girls in the academic course, many, very many, will not have the opportunity of the college course. Then they go out into the world and take up their varied avocations without this needed instruction and information. Make sure of it while they are

women,

in the high school or academic department. A great many institutions, I am glad to say, bring it in early in the course in the first, second or third year high school, and thus they get some knowledge of Church history in connection with the department of Biblical study. I will conclude with this suggestion: In order neither to neglect this vital study nor burden the student, have the teacher make use of the society work for this purpose. For instance, suitable subjects may be selected for discussion in the literary societies. Do not give all to war and warriors. One may well require the pupils to choose some Christian heroes as fit subjects for debate, essays and composition. Church history may serve as a background for the study of noted men and women having a wide range of influence. The same may be said of our Biblical heroes, the life of our Blessed Lord and the chief facts of history associated with it. These are my suggestions.

VERY REV. J. P. O'MAHONEY, C. S. V.: I am sure that a paper, such as the one Father Van Heertum has read, deserves a very serious discussion, and I think my discussion of it will be almost complete by saying "amen” to all that Dr. Gorman has said.

Father Van Heertum has given you the full scope of instruction which should be given in the academies. I think that he has not extended the course into the college department. I think that he has restricted himself purposely to the high school department. He has outlined there a review of the catechism, a study of the life of our Lord, the history of the Church, the saints and the liturgy. This surely is complete. I think, however, it is not too complete for high school work. We should emphasize in the study of our religion as well as of other branches, the difference that exists between a high school and a grammar school, and we should make the same distinction in regard to the collegiate department. I think it is unfortunate with us that we do not make that distinction in regard to religious instruction. We may just as well be frank and admit that we pursue a policy which seems to say, anything is good enough for God. If I have any issue to take with the writer of this paper it is with the excuse which he has made for our apathy in regard to religious instruction. There are things to be corrected in high schools and colleges which will never be corrected until we have the strength of character to stand up and say, "These are our defects," and one of our defects is that religion has to knock at the doors of our higher education and say, “Please let me in." We have made particular arrangements and readjustments for the modern demands, but take up our catalogues and study them with frankness and candor and you will find that religious instruction is relegated to two halfhours a week, or at most to four half-hours. That is the only issue I have to take with this able paper-the making of any excuse for such a flagrant negligence in that cause to which we have devoted our very lives. We have banded ourselves together as religious or as priests to advance first the

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »