Charter of the Veil of Innocence
My little children, of whom I am in labor again,
until Christ be formed in you. (Gal. 4:19)
The proper and immediate end of Christian Education is to cooperate with Divine Grace in forming the true and perfect Christian, that is, to form Christ, Himself, in those regenerated by Baptism according to the emphatic expression of the Apostle: 'My little children, of whom I am in labor again, until Christ be formed in you.'
(Gal. 4:19) (Pope Pius XI, Christian Education of Youth, 1929, para. 95)
Today's parents recognize that they are raising their children in a cultural environment hostile to Gospel values. They appropriately look to the Catholic school to be a community that fosters education and maturation in The Catholic Faith for their children. In 1931, a Decree of The Holy Office exhorted, "the first place is to be given to the full sound and continuous instruction in religion of both sexes. Esteem, desire, and love of the angelic virtue must be instilled into their minds and hearts."
The angelic virtue is that of purity, and parents expect their schools to reflect the same reverence for this virtue as is manifested at home. For the schools to omit education in the delicate matter of purity of morals would be a serious neglect, especially in our present culture of death milieu.
Children could easily perceive silence in the area of sexual morality as indicating something of unimportance - for the students to figure out by themselves - what's right, what's wrong, and what it all means.
Moreover, those who propose the culture of death are only too present and too willing to teach our children the wrong meanings. One has only to read a newspaper, turn on a TV, or attend a National Education Association meeting to see that this is so.
In the classroom setting, if we are to think in harmony with the mind of the Church, the virtue of chastity must be recognized as that fragile virtue which keeps the sexual secret hidden as a dominion whose disposition lies in the hand of God.
(Dietrich von Hildebrand, Purity - the Mystery of Christian Sexuality, 1970)
In fostering a love for purity, any classroom discussion of sexual morality must reflect that God's gift of sexuality is a person's private secret, his innocence, which should be safeguarded by brevity, delicacy, and reverence - a respect for the mystery of sacrament and grace.
Never must such a discussion neglect the traditional cautions of modesty, such as custody of the eyes, avoidance of indecent conversations and other occasions of sin, inclusive of improper dress.
They (pupils) must be made fully alive to the necessity of constant prayer, and assiduous frequenting of the sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist; they must be directed to foster a filial devotion to the Blessed Virgin as Mother of holy purity, to whose protection they must entirely commit themselves.
Decree of the Holy Office, 1931)
Purity is a frail and delicate virtue that cannot be preserved unless it be protected by other virtues, requiring patience, temperance, devotion to duties of state, humility, and a love for God which fills our hearts.
(The Spiritual Life: A Treatise on Ascetical and
Mystical Theology, Fr. A. Tanquerey, 1930)
It requires a modesty which protects the mystery of persons and their love
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, October, 1992, page 2,522)
St. Augustine advises, Be thou subject to God, and thy flesh subject to thee. Do thou serve Him who made thee, so that which was made for thee, may serve thee.
(Enarrat. in Ps. 143, as appears in Casti Cannubii, Pope Pius XI)
The Catechism of the Council of Trent instructs pastors on the proper matter and method of public instruction in sexual morality. In the explanation of the sixth commandment,
...the pastor has need of great caution and prudence, and should treat with great delicacy a subject which requires brevity rather than copiousness of exposition. For it is to be feared that if he explained in too great a detail or at length the ways in which this commandment is violated, he might intentionally speak of subjects which instead of extinguishing, usually serve to inflame corrupt passion. ..
(Catechism of the Council of Trent by order of
Pope St. Pius V, Tan Books, Edition, 1982)
When parents seek the assistance of the Catholic school in the education and formation of their children, it is, by definition, a collaborative effort based on the principle of subsidiarity.
Parents can choose to seek the help of good teachers, who possess the intellectual and moral qualifications required by their office; who cherish a pure and holy love for the youths confided to them, because they love Jesus Christ and His Church...
(Pope Pius XI, Christian Education of Youth, 1929, par. 89)
Good teachers need to learn from parents the particular needs and personalities of their individual students. They always teach first by being role models, and by personal conversation and only secondly by formal instruction.
Only in the environment described above, can the true meaning of human sexuality be addressed in the Catholic classroom setting. No course or program can be limited to the subject of chastity alone. That would be an imbalanced focus on one virtue, which can only be understood in the context of all the virtues, and the dogmas of Faith. In the full context of faith and doctrine, sexual ethics should be handled briefly and delicately.
The classroom curriculum relating to these matters is only the intellectual dimension of a much broader formation process. For children religious formation is fulfilled in the mission of the home, the school of humanity permeated by love and that of the sacramental and liturgical life of the Church.
The above reflections are submitted to offer a structural framework for parents when, and if, they choose to seek proper assistance from the Church through the Catholic school. In the correct environment, the Church and the Catholic school function as wonderful assistants to parents in the education and formation of children regarding sexual morality. Their common goal is to encourage children to respond to the gift of grace by making themselves a gift to others and to God.
His Holiness, John Paul II
That the Catholic school is,
...first and foremost, a place and a special community for the education and maturation of faith.
... A Catholic school ... would no longer deserve this title if, no matter how much it shone for its high level of teaching in non-religious matters, there were justification for reproaching it for negligence or deviation in strictly religious education.
Let it not be said that such education will always be given implicitly and indirectly. The special character of the Catholic school, the underlying reason for it, the reason why Catholic parents should prefer it, is precisely the quality of the religious instruction integrated into the education of the pupils.
(Catechesi Tradendae, 69)
...And this religious teaching must be entire in its content, because every disciple of Christ has the right to receive the word of faith in a form that is not mutilated, not distorted, not reduced, but complete and whole, in all its rigor and vigor. (The Whole Truth About Man - Pope John Paul II, 1981, pp. 109-110)
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