The Fortified School

The Fortified School

Chris Hilder

Some advice from St Teresa of Avila to the problem presented by Br Luke Saker and Bishop Geoffrey Jarrett (February AD2000) on the dismal performance of our Catholic schools in instilling love of the Catholic faith in its students could be:

"[W]hat is necessary is the approach of a lord when, in times of war, his land is overrun with enemies and he finds himself restricted on all sides. He withdraws to a city that he has fortified well and from where, sometimes, he was able to strike at his foe.

"[W]hat we must ask God is that, in this little castle, where there are already good Christians, not one of us will go over to the enemy, and that God will make the captains of this castle, or city [the preachers and the theologians], very advanced in the way of the Lord - that they advance very far in the perfection of the religious life and their vocation." (The Way of Perfection, 3, 1-2).

The strategy that I garner from the above advice is to regroup and refocus. In Saint Teresa's time the enemy was the Reformation, in our times it is a lack of faith. For my purposes the "captains of this castle" are the religious educators.

To be effective teachers of the faith they must be holy. They must live lives of constant prayer. The days of our schools having access to an abundant supply of religious teachers has passed, but I suggest that all religious orders give consideration to having present in schools for religious education those of their order who are very advanced in the way of the Lord.

Parish priests and bishops must also be resolute in ensuring the holiness of their schools' religious educators, both religious and lay. Ultimately, only holy witness to truth, mystery, transcendence, awe and prayer supported by knowledge will instil faith.

CHRIS HILDER
Queanbeyan, NSW

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