|There are some topics that are meant to startle the audience to
attention. Like clever ads in the newspapers or magazines you say
something bizarre to catch the readers' notice; but the title of the ad
does not really mean what the words are saying. This is not the case
here. The full title of my talk to you would read, "Home Education
is Necessary for the Survival of the Catholic Family."
My plan for this conference is to cover the three most important
questions we can ask:
1. What is home education?
2. Why is home education necessary for the survival of the Catholic
3. How is home education to be provided not only for the survival but
progress of the Catholic family as we enter the
WHAT IS HOME EDUCATION?
Home education is the development by the parents of the whole
personality of a child from infancy to adulthood. It is education
because it draws out, from the Latin word educere, the natural and
supernatural potentialities of a person. Some of these potentialities
are latent in a child from conception and birth; others are present from
the time of Baptism. The parents' primary duty is to cooperate with God
as Author of nature and grace to draw out the latent powers in the child
whom they brought into the world.
It is home education twice over. It is first of all home education
because it is done by the parents, without whom there would be no home.
It is secondly done at home, within the ambit of what we commonly
identify as our domicile. Notice, I prefer to speak of home education
rather than home schooling. This is to emphasize the domestic personal
character of the education, rather than its institutional structure.
When I speak of home education by both parents, I mean both parents
and not only by the mother. It may be that time-wise: the mother devotes
more time to the training of her children than the father. No matter.
What is important is that both mother and father are involved; there is
a contribution to the children's up-bringing that, having a miracle,
only the father can provide. His share in the education of the children
Moreover, home education does not absolutely exclude all other forms
or sources of teaching the children. But in every case, and I mean every
case, the home is the primary source. All other, or any other
educational agents or agencies are
•secondary to the home,
•auxiliary to the home
•dependent on the home
•subordinate to the home
•chosen by the parents and meant to be helpful, never competitive with
What is the span of home education? It is the whole personal and
social life of the child; it is the bodily and spiritual well-being of
the child; it is the physical, emotional, mental and volitional life of
WHY HOME EDUCATION?
In stating my thesis, I might have said many things, like
•Home education is helpful for the family, or
•Home education is a valuable asset for family life, or
•Home education is a powerful aid for the Catholic family, or
•Home education is all but necessary for the Catholic family.
Each of these titles would have been true, but inadequate. Instead, I
chose to speak on "Home Education is Necessary for the Survival of
the Catholic Family." Why this title? Because it is literally true.
Let me be clear. I am not merely saying that home education is
necessary in the modern world. This is not a conditional necessity. It
is not just because the modern world has become so widely and deeply
secularized that home education has become a necessity. No! I make bold
to say that one of the main factors contributing to the secularization
of once strongly Christian cultures has been the neglect of:
Catholic teaching in faith and morals by parents in the home, from the
dawn of the infancy of their children.
The issue we are addressing is perennial. Either Catholic parents
provide their offspring with the education the children need, or the
inevitable happens, as it has happened.
Our main focus here is on "Why?" Why are parents so
necessary for the proper education of their children, and the
corresponding survival of the Catholic family. The reason is really a
cluster of reasons, all derived from what we know about human nature and
1. We Are What We Have Received. The first reason is the
mysterious law of interdependence. We depend on others for whatever we
• This applies first of all to our physical nature. Only human beings
reproduce other human beings.
• This reproduction is not only bodily but also mental or volitional.
we know that someone else has not taught us; and what do we love
others have helped us to choose and appreciate.
Under God, the primary, most important person in our lives, to
enlighten and inspire us are our parents. Parents, in turn, are to
recognize that the children they brought into this world are not meant
for this world. The children's destiny is eternal. It is the parents,
more than anyone in the world, who are to prepare their children in
time, indeed for eternity.
2. Parents Are Primary Sources of Grace. No one reaches heaven
without divine grace. No one receives this grace, except through another
human being who is the channel of this grace. Parents are the primary
channel of this grace for their children.
We are here saying much more than meets the ear. We are saying that,
in God's ordinary providence, the parents are the main
• instruments of supernatural light for their children's minds,
• channels of spiritual strength for the children's wills,
• In a word, the parents are the principal conduit by which God
communicates the graces
that children need to reach heaven and save their souls.
This primacy as channels of grace for their children comes from the
sacrament of matrimony which Catholic parents have received. Matrimony
assures them of a lifetime of God's grace to love each other in faithful
charity and chastity until death. Matrimony also assures them of a
lifetime of God's grace for the upbringing of their children in loving
obedience to God, as a pre-condition for reaching a heavenly destiny.
The purpose of marriage is to raise families for heaven, nothing
less; and there can be nothing more.
One of the great blessings of modern home education is that it is
waking up so many parents to their God-given responsibility.
In the providence of God, He allows no evil or suffering without
intending to draw a greater good, precisely as occasioned by the evil or
The widespread secularization of organized education in so many parts
of the Western world has served as lightening and thunder to arouse
complacent parents from their complacency. They are beginning to ask
themselves, "What is our duty, as parents?" What should we do
to join forces with other dedicated fathers and mothers who are making
such great sacrifices for the home education of their children?
3. How to Provide Home Education? As we enter the third part
of our conference, I wish to make one thing clear. What I am sharing
with you is no mere human pedagogy. It is not the science of psychology
or of educational methodology.
It is nothing less than a mystery of faith. If I were to offer one
passage from the New Testament that summarizes the whole doctrine it
occurs in St. Paul's letter to the Romans, where the Apostle tells us,
"For those who love God, everything works together unto good"
What is St. Paul saying? He is telling us that, if we are united with
God in our love, He will use us to accomplish His divine plans. Or, put
in other words, depending on our union with God's will by our practice
of virtue, He will use us as channels of His graces.
Let me be clear. This is not merely giving others a good example,
which we should. It is not merely that no one give what he does not
have, which is obvious. It is much deeper. It means that in the measure
of our wills being conformed with the will of God--and the measure that
we love God--He will infallibly use us to achieve the designs that He
wants to achieve, especially in the lives of others.
What does this mean for home education? Everything! In the degree
that parents love God, God will use them to teach and train their
• If the parents have a strong faith, God will use them to teach and
train their children.
• If the parents have a strong faith, God will use them to strengthen
the faith of their
• If the parents are humble, they will effectively teach humility to
• If parents are truthful and hopeful and patient and chaste and
charitable and prayerful
God will use them as His chosen means of teaching and training
their offspring in trust and hope and patience and chastity and
"Mary, Mother of God and Mother of the Holy Family, obtain from
your divine Son the graces which home teaching Catholic parents so
desperately need in our day, the grace to see their great privilege as
channels of grace for the children, and the grace to serve as channels
of grace, even at the cost of living martyr's lives in our day.