Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Catholic vision of education

Archbishop José H. Gómez
By Archbishop José H. Gómez 

I hope you all have been having a refreshing summer. I love the summer months because they are a time of renewal and a time of family and a little slower pace.

I had the privilege to start this school year by blessing a new Catholic school — St. Pius X/St. Matthias Academy in Downey.

This new academy brings together Catholic academic traditions that date back more than 60 years. It reminds us of the proud history of Catholic education in Los Angeles, and it is also a sign of hope for our church and for all the children of Los Angeles.

Catholic education is the church’s future. It’s also the key to our society’s future. As our Holy Father Pope Francis said this summer at World Youth Day: “Young people are the window through which the future enters the world.”

Our Catholic schools are shaping this future. Forming our future leaders in the Church — and also the future leaders in our society and culture.

Our Catholic vision always calls us to see deeper — and to give more of ourselves in love. Our Catholic vision always calls us to see with the loving eyes of Jesus; with the eyes of God.

“The love of Christ impels us,” as St. Paul used to say.

So we are working hard, at great sacrifice, to make sure that our schools are open to every family and every child in our city. No matter who they are. No matter where they come from, or how they got here. No matter how much money they have.

The church is committed to providing an education that goes far beyond facts and figures and information. Those things are important. But just as important are the virtues and values that make life “real” and truly worth living. The virtues and values that help our children grow up with a “transcendent” perspective. That help them to see with the eyes of Jesus.

In our culture in this time, this is perhaps the most valuable thing that Catholic education has to offer — the “Catholic vision” of life.

We are struggling in our culture to find the true meaning of life. What is happiness and what is success? What should we value? How do we define these things and how do we achieve them? There are so many false promises and crooked paths that are being offered to our young people.

So many of the problems in our homes and in our society can be traced back to the fact that we no longer have a clear idea of what it means to be a human person. The question from the Psalms is the question of our times: “What is man?”

The Catholic vision gives us the right answer and shows us the right path for our lives. Jesus showed us that we are creatures of great dignity, made in the image of God, redeemed by Jesus Christ, born for greater things — for beauty and goodness, for love and truth.

This is the foundation of Catholic education — to help our young people grow in the awareness of what St. Paul called “the glorious liberty of the children of God.” We are made for the glory of God.

That’s what a good Catholic education prepares for — a life of love and service to God and others. This is the life we pray about at the end of every Eucharist: “Go in peace ... glorifying the Lord by your life.”

As this new year begins, let’s keep praying for one another. Let’s pray in a special way this week for all our young people and our Catholic schools. Let’s pray that our schools will be places where the love of God can be felt. Where our children grow to become the men and women God created them to be.

And let’s ask our patroness, Our Lady of the Angels, to accompany our children and all our families in this coming school year.

Archbishop José H. Gómez is archbishop of Los Angeles. His weekly column is provided by and appears in The Tidings, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Reach Archbishop Gomez at (213) 637-7000, or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/archbishopgomez.

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