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Sunday, June 13, 2010


Magister Christianus I cannot tell you how many times I have said the same thing. I teach Latin and Theory of Knowledge, a required course for the International Baccalaureate diploma, at a large public high school. I regularly have the pleasure of deep and engaging conversation with teenagers both in and out of class. We read and discuss the military strategies and leadership principles of Caesar's Gallic War commentaries, the political complexities of Cicero's Catilinarian orations and the moral issues in his essays on friendship and old age, and the richness of both the form and content of Vergil's, Catullus', Horace's, and Ovid's poetry...all in Latin. When reading selections from Plato's _Theaetetus_ in translation we discuss aspects of quantum theory. WHY THE GOOFBALL, SILLY, NINTENDO-STYLE STUFF AT CHURCH? Sorry for shouting. I was not part of a youth group as when I was a teen, and I could not imagine being a part of one now. I was a serious young man back then. Yes, I had fun with friends, but the ridiculous pablum of Sunday School and youth programs at church? It is no wonder people do not take religion seriously. We are so afraid that if we do not entertain children and their parents the way the world does, that they will not come to church. We assume that everyone is illiterate and unthinking, and so offer this watered-down stuff. Go back and read some of those sermons by St. Augustine. Was his audience all that literate? Many were, but many were not, yet he preached the truth in an elevated style, and people got it. It never ceases to amaze me that many frontier children in this country learned to read from the King James version of the Bible. That was published in 1611, the same year as Shakespeare's _The Tempest_. Can you imagine teaching a child to read using Shakespeare today? Children are smart and capable. We, parents and the church, need to operate at a much higher level with them.


I didn't get the big deal of having Hamlet and Virgil, but the religion book was kinda stupid.

I, for one, however, would recommend having Hamlet and Virgil. I would recommend every good literature, religious or non religious. Luigi Giussani saw the greatness of Christianity through Leopardi, for example. I also don't think that giving out Summa Contra Gentiles would necessarily help a person. The problem with education is this, and this is what Fr. Barron did not say on that clip (he may have said it elsewhere): we need to propose the relevance of Christ to humanity. To learn humanity is to read the lives of the saints and literature. But this can really only happen within a community. To pass on a story is to pass on the story of a community. Christ doesn't exist without the Church, without the community (of course Christ is greater than both and the Eucharist tells us that). But if we look at the reforms of the Church, it was always within a community. The Benedictines passed on western tradition, for example. We need to do what the Benedictines did in a new and beautiful way, a new form that Christ alone can make. all these things about catechesis and being humble and kind, and reading great literature are all of secondary importance. The primary importance is belonging to Christ, belonging to the Church. Then miracles happen (we become humble, we have great catecheses, etc)


I am still trying to get my head around a high-school student reading the Aeneid...

But Father is correct, of course. "Comic Book" religion is as cheap and disposable as, well, comic books.

I've just added a couple of books to my must-read list!

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