The most common kind of pitfall in rational discourse is fallacious reasoning resulting from the ambiguity of terms, sometimes called “equivocation”. As Aristotle wrote,
Words are often used imprecisely and in many different senses without those senses being clearly distinguished, which leads to false conclusions. This ambiguity was elevated to a profession by those the Greeks called “sophists,” for whom it was more important to appear to reason properly than to actually do so. But even besides those who intentionally make use of ambiguity for their own gain, there are those who through ignorance make use of an fall prey to this fallacious reasoning. Unfortunately, this is the case with many of those in the public eye who have a platform to speak, yet have no no training in dialectical reasoning. With the near total abandonment of the rigorous dialectical methods of the Scholastics, equivocal argumentation is all the more common in our era.
As we have seen, men charged with representing Holy Mother Church are not at all immune to this kind of error, which is especially dangerous because it has the potential of distorting faith. A prime example of this was on display after the October Synod of last year in a statement made by Fr. Thomas Rosica, who was chosen to be the English-language spokesman for both last year’s Synod and the one which is now underway. Here are his words:
Consider Fr. Rosica’s use of the word “irregular” here. In the context of Church law, which is the relevant context when discussing the moral status of sexual relationships, “irregular” means unlawful. That is to say, if a certain person is willfully persisting in an irregular relationship, then that person is in open defiance against the laws of the Church. Willful persistence in an “irregular” relationship in this sense is therefore sinful.
But surely Fr. Rosica would not assert the same sense of the word when applied to the marital status of the Blessed Virgin and her most chaste spouse, Saint Joseph. In the context of Fr. Rosica’s statement, “irregular” is most charitably understood as “abnormal” or “uncommon.” This is, of course, true. The relationship of the Holy Family is certainly uncommon. But if this is all that Rosica means in using the word “irregular,” then his comment is simply irrelevant to the discussion of Church teaching regarding canonically irregular relationships. Though it may be true that canonically irregular situations are also uncommon situations, the sense of irregular cannot be reduced to ‘uncommon,’ since even if everyone in the world was in an irregular situation, it would remain irregular even though it was common. To equivocate here is to reduce canonical irregularity to mere uncommonness, and thereby reduce canon law to a statement of what is common. This is dangerously close to acquiescing to all who say that Church teaching is merely the expression of an outmoded norm which is of no practical use in the modern world. If irregularity is identical with uncommonness, then once a situation became common, it would follow that it should also become regular; that is, lawful. This is the very definition of moral relativism, and is at the heart of heresy of Modernism that has been condemned by the Church.
It must be said that Fr. Rosica, for all I know, may be invincibly ignorant in his equivocation. He may simply be a sloppy thinker who speaks without fully understanding the implications of what he is saying. Twitter certainly lends itself to this kind of haphazard and irresponsible expression. There is not necessarily any very grave sin in that. But as a spokesman of this Synod, it is at least incumbent upon him to correct such foolish phrases and pursue clarity over paper-thin phrases that only add to the noise which has crippled true dialogue.
 Aristotle, On Sophistical Refutation, 1.1
 ibid, Aristotle very interestingly compares the sophist, who seeks only to appear wise with his ambiguous argumentation, to the person who is not beautiful, but only appears so on account of outward embellishments: “That some reasonings are genuine, while others seem to be so but are not, is evident. This happens with arguments, as also elsewhere, through a certain likeness between the genuine and the sham. For physically some people are in a vigorous condition, while others merely seem to be so by blowing and rigging themselves out as the tribesmen do their victims for sacrifice; and some people are beautiful thanks to their beauty, while others seem to be so, by dint of embellishing themselves. … In the same way both reasoning and refutation are sometimes genuine, sometimes not, though inexperience may make them appear so: for inexperienced people obtain only, as it were, a distant view of these things. … Now for some people it is better worth while to seem to be wise, than to be wise without seeming to be (for the art of the sophist is the semblance of wisdom without the reality, and the sophist is one who makes money from an apparent but unreal wisdom); for them, then, it is clearly essential also to seem to accomplish the task of a wise man rather than to accomplish it without seeming to do so.”
In the lead up to the Extraordinary Synod on the Family (which is now underway), some Cardinals and Bishops have been advocating for a change in the “pastoral” approach of the Church toward “irregular” unions. Examples of such unions include not only those civilly divorced and remarried without requesting a decree of nullity, but also same-sex unions. The typical line is that, while the Church cannot change her doctrine with regard to marriage, she should find a way to embrace the positive aspects of these “irregular” situations. Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, Archbishop of Vienna and President of the Austrian Bishops’ Conference, provides us with a good example of this line of thinking in an interview with the Jesuit Italian journal La Civilta Cattolica:
We can and we must respect the decision to form a union with a person of the same sex, to seek means under civil law to protect their living together with laws to ensure such protection. But if we are asked, if it is demanded of the Church to say that this is a marriage, well we have to say: non possumus [we cannot]. It is not a discrimination of persons: to distinguish does not mean to discriminate. This absolutely does not prevent having great respect, friendship, or collaboration with couples living in this kind of union, and above all we mustn't look down on them. No one is obliged to accept this doctrine, but one can't pretend that the Church does not teach it.
Note carefully how Schönborn seeks to obligate us to “respect” that which is directly contrary to Church teaching. He then drives a wedge between Church teaching and what one is “obliged to accept.” It follows that the moral teaching of the Church, for Schönborn, is not objectively true; for only on that conditions would we not be obliged to accept it, and only then can we be obliged on the contrary to “respect” direct opposition to it. He goes on to give a concrete example of what he means:
[F]or example, I know a homosexual person who has lived a series of experiences for years, not with a particular person or cohabiting, but frequent experiences with different people. Now he has found a stable relationship. It is an improvement, if nothing else then on a human level, this not jumping from one relationship to another, but being in a stable relationship that is not based only on sexuality. One shares one's life, one shares the joys and sufferings, one helps one another. We must recognize that this person has made an important step for his own good and for the good of others, even though, of course, this is not a situation that the Church can consider regular. The judgment on homosexual acts as such is necessary, but the Church mustn't look first in the bedroom, but in the dining room instead! We must accompany.
Here, Schönborn essentially repeats the cries of all those who reject the moral teaching of the Church: “Stay out of my bedroom!” But if the Church’s moral teachings about sexuality are true, can we truly say someone living in a perpetual (“stable,” as Schönborn prefers) state of willful disobedience to God has “made an important step for his own good”? Another prelate, Belgian Bishop Joann Bonny, recently hand-picked by Pope Francis to be a participant in the upcoming Synod, gives another example of this view :
There should be recognition of a diversity of forms. … We have to look inside the church for a formal recognition of the kind of interpersonal relationship that is also present in many gay couples. Just as there are a variety of legal frameworks for partners in civil society, one must arrive at a diversity of forms in the church. … The intrinsic values are more important to me than the institutional question. The Christian ethic is based on lasting relationships where exclusivity, loyalty, and care are central to each other.
Cardinal Danneels, another hand-picked by Pope Francis for the Synod, has stated in an interview that he believes legalization of homosexual unions is a “positive development”, and that the Church in the modern world has a more “nuanced” position on these issues, no longer being “fixated on moral principles.” 
There are other examples of prelates arguing along the same lines. What I want to point out is that all of these positions seem to assume that the fundamental tenet of Christian morality is for human beings to act with “good will” toward one another. Further, “good will” in this context seems to mean the same thing as good intentions, leaving aside the question of whether the intentions in question are properly formed by moral virtue and commanded by true prudence.
I think we can boil this all down to two assumptions:
“The heart is perverse above all things, and unsearchable: who can know it? I am the Lord who searches the heart, and proves the reins: who gives to everyone according to his way, and according to the fruit of his devices.” (Jeremiah 17:9-10)
In this sense, to encourage as positive the actions and states of life which facilitate those actions of people obeying ill-formed consciences is especially dangerous and sinful, particularly for prelates of the Church who are charged with pastoring souls to Heaven, not unto earthly contentment. This is the very opposite of pastoral concern, and might even be more akin to the exaggerated feeling of importance of the pastors, seeing their own “journeying” with the sinner to be God’s gift to the world, the salve to heal all wounds. But Christ is God’s gift, and his shepherding the model; He leaves the 99, not simply to “journey” with one lost sheep, but to bear him upon his shoulders, even kicking and screaming out of fear and ignorance, back to the safety of the flock. The pastor is to imitate Christ, first and foremost as the priest who offers His Body and Blood on behalf of us sinners, and secondarily as the shepherd who leads the wayward sheep back into the fold. The salve with which wounds are bound is the salve of the love of Christ, which is never content to leave the sinner in his sin, but calls out mercifully for the repentance of that sinner. It is the Lord who scrutinizes, and His ways are not man’s. The Church is duty bound to manifest in Her pastoral ministry on earth the commands of Almighty God whether or not they make sense to our age. History is filled with the tattered ruins of ages who “inclined not their ear” to the commands of the Lord, even ages of the chosen people of God. For He chastises those whom He loves.
Before moving to address the second claim, I think it is necessary to address a common objection. Many will say that it is simply unrealistic to demand the sinner to change his ways over night, and that we are therefore duty bound to accompany him to gradual steps away from his sin. This is why we should encourage the positive aspects of the lifestyle of the sinner, as a way of steering him toward the ideal of the Church.
I would respond with a distinction. It is true that the disposition of the sinner may not be changed overnight, and the vices which he has developed may not be eliminated for years. It is the pastoral duty of the whole Church to accompany the sinner on this journey, encouraging him at every step to gradually remove from himself his disordered attachments, and rejoicing in small victories along the way. But it is absolutely necessary, if such a process of gradual improvement is to ever begin, to require that the sinner cease acting in accord with his sinful disposition. “Go, and sin no more,” as Christ commands. There can be no tolerance for sinful action by the Church, even if there must be toleration for the distortions left like a shadow of vice which linger on the penitent’s soul. These things will be blotted out by the light of Christ in time, but only if the soul has first concretely turned from sinful action.
The second claim is unfortunately one of which traces can be detected in official documents promulgated by the Church in the last 50 years. I’m thinking particularly of the Second Vatican Council’s Pastoral Constitution on the Church and the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes). Ultimately, this error consists in a slightly skewed reference to a passage of the Gospel. “Love of God and neighbor is the first and greatest commandment.” (GS, 24) This is a reference to Christ’s words in Matthew 22:36-40:
“ Master, which is the greatest commandment in the law?  Jesus said to him: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment.  And the second is like to this: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  On these two commandments dependeth the whole law and the prophets.
Here, Christ gives us a crucial distinction which is conspicuously absent from Gaudium et Spes. The love of neighbor is subordinate to the love of God. The latter is the “first and greatest commandment,” while the former is “second” and “like to this;” that is, the love of neighbor must be a participation in the love of God. Though, of course, these two commandments do form a unity so that the one cannot be without the other, we must carefully guard against the error which would falsify the words of Christ. The error is placing the love neighbor on equal footing with love of God, or that which is even more dangerous: making the love of God nothing more than the love of neighbor.
This error has far-reaching consequences. For one thing, it necessarily downplays the importance of worship and the virtues of religion and piety. It at least weakens our focus on seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, of rendering unto God what is owed, namely, our total submission in union with the Body and Blood of our High Priest and Victim upon the altar in the Sacrifice of the Mass. Instead, the focal point and orientation (quite literally, as it turns out) of our worship will become the people, and the sacrifice will give way to the meal. For it is the union of people with one another that is the essence of the Church according to this error, and union with God is thought of as nothing other than this “ecumenical” unity. It forgets the eschatological purpose of the unity among the people, which is so that we might be found together among the wise virgins of Christ’s parable, prepared with lamps lit for the coming of the Divine Bridegroom. We are to be united as in one Body so that we might enjoy through this that unity which is our ultimate end, union with God. The former is the Divinely instituted means for the latter.
Downplaying our primary moral obligation to God, our moral obligation to one another will take center stage and so-called “social justice” will occupy the entire ethical life of the Church. And while social justice is certainly demanded by the Gospel, its exaggeration will begin to cast a shadow upon any moral law which does not seem directed in and of itself to the mutual joy and togetherness of the people. Thus, if a moral law arises which seems to divide--the condemnation of divorce or homosexual unions, for example-- it must necessarily come into question. Since, as it is argued, Christ came to bring people together in a joyful and peaceful communion, how can the Church continue to promulgate old fashioned laws which are hurtful to people and cause them to leave the flock? To this, it must be asked what our Lord could possibly have meant when he said “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple,” (Luke 14:26) or again:
 Do not think that I came to send peace upon earth: I came not to send peace, but the sword.  For I came to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.  And a man's enemies shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me.  And he that taketh not up his cross, and followeth me, is not worthy of me.  He that findeth his life, shall lose it: and he that shall lose his life for me, shall find it. (Matthew 10:34-39)
If it is once made clear that the love of neighbor must be ordered and secondary to the love of God, then it becomes clear that nothing in our neighbor which is opposed to God can be embraced. Rather, because what we love in our neighbors ought to be whatever there is in them of God (since that is who they truly are in the very core of their being), we entreat them to give up wickedness, and offer them whatever sacrificial love can offer to help them respond to the grace of God. This is to imitate the Good Shepherd. The stain of sin in the souls of our neighbors, like the same stain in ourselves, can never be passively accepted, even if that stain is near and dear to us, even if it gives us joy and comfort, even if it makes us feel at home. For we are in exile, in this valley of tears, and the mirages we encounter are many. And who makes his house in a mirage will soon find himself withered and scorched by the sun.
These cardinals and bishops are faced with a choice. On the one hand, they can continue to trust that the teachings of the Church are objectively true, and therefore maintain that any who live in direct opposition to any one of these teachings is in grave danger of eternal separation from Love Himself. They must frankly admit that any happiness attained by means of such a lifestyle must be a dangerous illusion to be dispelled as quickly as possible. If they choose this, then they must give up as utter folly any “pastoral practice” which would embrace and encourage so-called “positive aspects” of sinful living. On the other hand, they are faced with the option of frankly admitting that the Church teaches things which are directly contrary to the ultimate happiness of man, and that she is therefore lacking in authority on all moral matters. If that is the case, then the Church is not divine, and neither is her Head. It would be a singular travesty in human history for such an institution to have existed so long, and justice would demand it be destroyed at once. To try and toe the line between these two options is self-serving, despicable, totally lacking in integrity, and it is unbecoming of any man, much less those shepherds entrusted with so precious a task.
Let us pray for the faith of our clergy, especially those gathered at the Synod, that it may not fail in the tumultuous winds of our hedonistic age. May they desire to please only the Bridegroom, and never seek the accolades and admiration of the world. May the successor of Saint Peter do his Divinely sanctioned duty in admonishing and strengthening his brethren in strict accordance with Tradition, with what has been handed down from the Holy Apostles and wisely guarded by his predecessors throughout the ages. And may the allure of worldly novelty be revealed as a snare of Satan, who desires nothing more than for this world, of which he is the usurping prince, to devour the Church. Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us, especially the shepherds of Holy Mother Church.
 Love not the world, nor the things which are in the world. If any man love the world, the charity of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, is the concupiscence of the flesh, and the concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life, which is not of the Father, but is of the world.  And the world passeth away, and the concupiscence thereof: but he that doth the will of God, abideth for ever. (1 John 2:15-17)
 Saint Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, Ia-IIae, Q. 19, Art. 5 & 6. Saint Thomas defines conscience as the act of applying practical reason to concrete circumstances in order to come to a conclusion about what course of action is best. In these two articles, he asks whether it is sinful to act contrary to one's conscience even if it's application of reason errs. He argues that it is, indeed, always sinful to act contrary to what one judges to be best even in the case of erroneous judgement, since it is in intention an act contrary to reason. On the other hand, he makes it clear that does not mean that every act in accord with one's own judgment is necessarily good. If the error is due either to voluntary ignorance or negligence (for example, if his ignorance is due to his own sloth), then the evil of his action is culpable even if it is in accord with his personal judgement.
With Part One and Part Two completed, we can focus our attention on the true meaning of education as the natural end of the family. Once the essential characteristics of a genuinely human education have been explored, we will be in a good position to evaluate the current educational trends and the use of educational institutions in our society.
III. THE MEANING OF EDUCATION
At this stage in the discussion, education is now placed firmly in the context of the family. As was pointed out previously, it is the education of the children which provides the basis in nature for the existence of matrimony. Education is the right and responsibility of the parents of the child, and it is the goal toward which all common work and resources among the spouses ought to be directed. We must now turn to the question of the specific nature of this education in order to understand more fully the crowning goal of matrimony.
A. Distinctively Human Education
First, the kind of education which is the primary end of matrimony must be a truly human education. That is, it must be aimed at the possession of all that human maturity and perfection implies. Hence, education can only be rightly carried out if it is inspired by a deep understanding of the nature of man and his highest end. The perfection at which education is most properly aimed must be the perfection most benefiting man precisely as man. Education must not take as its primary goal to equip a child with tools he needs to attain the kinds of goods he shares with other, lower creatures. These include the things toward which other living creatures are directed as much as man is, namely, bodily survival and the goods necessary for that end, finding a mate, and the pleasure that attends all sensual goods. Although all of these things are real goods for man, they are not the kinds of goods which are distinctly and specifically human goods. This is because man is not distinctly and specifically a mere animal. He is a rational animal. Thus the perfections most proper to man must also be rational perfections. The goods of the mind and the heart, the intellectual and moral virtues, are the kinds of perfection aimed at by a distinctively human education.
What this means is that vocational training, while good in its own way and even necessary, is not the essence of education as the primary good of matrimony. Surely, it has its place, since man is not simply “other” than the animals. He is rather animal and more, containing all the potency of animal life raised and enlightened in the spiritual powers of intellect and will. But the place occupied by vocational training must be subordinate to the kind of education with which we are here concerned. That is to say, the trades and arts learned must always themselves be ordered by and to the virtues, both intellectual and moral. Not only will this end up producing people with the kind of general practical competency so much lacking in today’s youth, so that the pupil will be prepared to succeed in whatever path seems best, but it will more importantly equip him to actually discern which path is truly best. More importantly, what is best not only for his material success, but for the perfection of his soul.
What follows is that the role of parents is to form their children not just to the point where they can make it on their own in the world by material success, but even to the much loftier goal of the eventual perfection of their children in virtue. This, as was stated in Part Two, is the basis for the life-long bond between the spouses. For such a goal seems practically impossible to finally attain, and it is especially not attained by the time a child reaches bodily maturity. The maturity of the spiritual soul, as all reflective people know well, is something which continues even long after bodily maturity has been attained. The soul continues to mature even as the body fails in old-age. Yet, as the true goal of education, it remains even then the ultimate duty of the parents to continue to direct and guide their children in the way of virtue. Further, it is fundamental to the formation of the children in virtue that the parents themselves always model the virtues for as long as their children are alive. Practically speaking, it is at least extremely rare that divorce is not preceded (and then succeeded again) by other acts contrary to virtue. Thus it appears that divorce is a sin against the primary good of matrimony, that is, the education of the children. A truly human education, therefore, is one which is aimed at the mastery of mind and heart and that is carried out principally and through natural right by the parents themselves, bound together in a lifelong communion for the sake of this goal.
B. The Aim of Modern Education
It should not take much in the way of argument to discern that typically modern education fundamentally contradicts both of these general characteristics of education. How the modern method of education contradicts the second of these characteristics, the natural right of the parents to educate, will be made clear below in the context of the part schools might play in education. Here, let us address the first characteristic, which is the focus upon the mastery of mind and heart. What is aimed at in modern education instead is a basic possession of facts and understanding considered necessary to “make it in the world.” The order of goods has been exactly reversed--the goods of material success now order the goods of the mind and heart. The attainment of truth, goodness, and beauty, are now themselves subordinate to the attainment of the all important “good job.”
It must be made clear to prevent misunderstanding that a good job is a very good and necessary thing to have. But when a good job replaces virtue as the highest good of education, it cannot be denied that what we have done is replaced a distinctively human education with one which could only be called “animalistic,” which consists primarily in the attainment of material survival and pleasure. This disorder cannot fail to end in the general withering of the spirit in a society, and the vitiating of the distinctively human perfection found in the civilizations of our ancestors. This has, as we now well know, not only moral consequences, but even intellectual consequences. The state of modern universities is deplorable, riddled as they are with the intellectual faddism that follows upon the publishing rat race. The situation is such that even at the university level, the pursuits of philosophy, history, literature, and physical science are aimed more and more at material gains, rather than at wisdom.
Saint Thomas Aquinas’ discussion about the virtue of studiositas and its contrary vice of curiositas helps us to put a finer point upon how disordered is the modern educational situation. Studiositas, according to Saint Thomas, is the part of temperance which moderates the desire to know, while the vice of curiositas consists in a lack of that moderation. But what does “moderation” mean here? How can we desire to know things immoderately? In his Summa Theologiae, Saint Thomas gives two general ways this can happen with regard to intellectual knowledge: First, by seeking to know for the sake of pride or in order to to commit some other evil by that knowledge; Second, by seeking to learn truth in a way that is inordinate. This latter kind of curiositas is divided again four ways: First, when one is withdrawn from his proper study by desire for a less profitable study; Secondly, when one seeks to learn from “whom it is unlawful to be taught” (the example given by Saint Thomas is seeking to learn the future by divination); Thirdly, when one desires to learn about the created world alone without in any way desiring to refer that to the higher knowledge of the Creator; Fourthly, when one desires to know under his own power those things which are clearly above that power to grasp, such as the unsearchable contents of Divine Providence. In addition to these ways, man might inordinately seek sensitive knowledge by going beyond the two-fold use of that kind of knowledge, namely, its utility for man’s bodily survival and its ultimate ordination to deliver to the intellect more material to mine for wisdom. Thus, by seeking too much trivialities or entertainment, or else by seeking to take in those things which are positively harmful (as staring at a woman to inflame lust), our sensitive powers tend neither to our own bodily good, nor to the good of the intellect. In fact, this leads inevitably to a dullness of both body and of mind. (Who has not felt this ‘dullness’ after, for example, a day full of television?)
If we consider these distinctions carefully, a common thread emerges. Each of these acts of curiositas have to do with a lack of discipline, where the desire, even the natural desire for knowledge, is drawn to things in a way that is not moderated and mastered by reason. Our powers of knowing become withdrawn from their primary ends of wisdom and understanding, and instead gravitate almost solely to the knowledge of creaturely things. But, as Saint Thomas says, knowledge of sensible things ought to be directed ultimately to intellectual knowledge, which is itself only perfected by the virtues which allow it to attain to the Truth Himself, God. Without this order, disorder results. The mind becomes obsessed with curiosities for their own sake, and ends up in the mere desire of new experience, what Saint Augustine calls the “lust of making trial.” As soon as one experience is “known” and falls away, not being meaningfully incorporated by wisdom, a new experience is sought. Boredom becomes the only fear, always looming, and progress and change the only refuges from the terror of the emptiness of silence for the soul without the discipline of a well-formed mind. It is not enough, therefore, to simply appease the child’s natural desire of knowledge by feeding him facts. Further, it is straightforwardly detrimental to the maturity of a child to direct that desire, as modern education tends to do, toward earthly things alone and for merely utilitarian ends. To do so by way of entertainment, another method typical in the modern classroom, further exacerbates the problem. All of this only encourages a lack of virtue, a lack of docility and self-mastery which are the hallmarks of maturity. Modern education thus tends to instill in students, not the virtue of studiositas, but rather the vice of curiositas. And let one sober look across the current generation suffice as confirmatory evidence.
This inversion of the goods of education, much like the inversion of the marital goods themselves, inevitably reeks havoc on the very foundations of society. A cycle is perpetuated of malformed parents and educators who malform their children and pupils, and what is produced in just a few generations is a society of men whose minds are controlled by everyone and everything but themselves, fed by a constant diet of propaganda which demands the praise of progress and the repudiation of tradition. There can be no dialogue because there is no dialectic. What remains is a hollow “acceptance,” which, if it means anything at all, means the abandonment of human excellence in favor of mediocrity. Everything must be reduced to the lowest common denominator--a modern dogma which is perhaps nowhere more clearly observed than in the modern classroom. No culture can grow up in such a tangle of smothering weeds, yet a culture is just what is needed. Sometimes, however, to cultivate means first to burn the field. Let us therefore start again at the beginning, the family, which is the source of culture through its primary vocation of education.
C. Culture and Education
At this point, it can be seen how vital education is for the thriving of culture. For culture consists in human beings doing with excellence those things which are distinctively human. Culture is a manifestation on a societal scale of a particular excellence in the whole spectrum of rational behavior of mankind developed over multiple generations and informed by a common tradition. Without an education which focuses on distinctively human perfection rather than the mere animalistic ends of material wealth and pleasure, a generation will be left culturally orphaned, at best superficially incorporated into the culture of their parents, which will shortly become hardly more than the corpse of a culture. What is more probable, and what I think we have begun to experience over the last century, is the breakdown of common culture into a parody of culture that lasts just as long as one generation remains in its prime, if even that long. This is the age of the fad, the praise of novelty, the restless pursuit of change and progress for the sake of progress.
If culture is ever to be recovered, then, it will not be accomplished by any Pontifical Council or governmental movement. Rather, this is a work that will be, as it has always been, a work of education, and as such, a work that takes place most fundamentally in the home. In the rigorous and patient formation of children to master those powers which are distinctively human, and to do so by filling them with the greatest products of a venerable tradition, we find the real seed of all cultural development. It is the family that is the only fertile ground of culture, and the man and woman united in matrimony are the gardeners, tasked with the tilling of the soil, the sowing of the seed, and the tender care unto mature fruition. If the gardeners forget what they are about, thinking of themselves only, the harvest will be exposed to the pestilence of faddism, of animalistic sensuality, and with the eventual withering of the spirit. And this not only for their own children, but for society at large. For since matrimony is aimed at the most basic common good of society, namely, its very preservation, any violation of the goods of matrimony is a detriment not merely to the spouses or the children, but even to the whole community. Indeed, it is for this very reason that the state has the right to make laws regarding the sexual union.
D. The Role of Schools in Education
The last thing to consider in this reflection on the relationship between education and matrimony is what light has been shown on the issue of the schools. Seeing that education is primarily the responsibility of the parents, what role ought schools play in the education of the young?
The first and most obvious point to make is that the schools can never replace the parents as educators of their children. They must always exercise only the role of the instrument in the hands of the parents, serving in what remains primarily the latter’s responsibility. Thus, the more detached a school is from the family, the more detached it is from the right to educate. From this law, we can see that a number of conclusions regarding the institutional make-up of schools follow. Schools ought to be small enough to be based upon individual families. Class sizes must be small enough to allow a teacher to have genuine relationships with all the parents of his students. Only then could the parents justly bestow a share of their own natural office of educator upon the teacher of their children. Bureaucracy within the school, which tends to place more and more “middle-men” between parents and teachers should be eliminated as much as possible. Extra-curricular activities ought to be of the kind which fosters primarily the community of the family, rather than those which tend to erect a kind of “sub-community,” in which parents often have no part to play at all. (Even worse, some such activities in modern schools seem to foster a sub-community of only the children themselves, the social and moral formation of the children being carried out by their peers than by any adult, much less the parents.) This lends a great deal of weight to arguments for the older models of education, even to the classical tutor being brought into the home and treated almost as a member of the household. On the other hand, it is very difficult to see how the typical modern school with hundreds or even thousands of students, sometimes 30 to a class, could effectively meet this requirement of true education.
A second point that follows from what has been said regards the curriculum of schools. Since a true education of the children must be a distinctively human education, the curriculum of schools must be geared not primarily to vocational training, but rather to the possession of virtues of the mind and heart which dispose the child well for all distinctively human actions--most fundamentally, to think well, to interpret and express thought well, and to have a taste for that which is best in all fields. Children must be given the tools of the mind before they are given the tools of the hand, since how they use the latter and to what end is wholly dependent upon their mastery of the former. The goal of the school ought not to be turning out good politicians, businessmen, athletes, scientists, or doctors. Rather, it must be to help parents bring their children to a point of real and fundamental human maturity, which consists precisely in the mastery of mind and heart. In this way alone can the education of schools be ordered to the true nature of education as a good of matrimony. Teachers themselves must have, first and foremost, a deep understanding of the human person and his development, and have a mastery over the tools of the mind such that he can exercise them on any number of subjects. Thus, the neat separation of teachers and their curricula into departments often having little to no interaction, all vying for the attention of the student, ought to be abandoned as much as possible.
Here again it will be noticed that a more classical curriculum is naturally more favorable than modern programs. The classical Trivium, which places emphasis on the “tools of learning,” as Dorothy Sayers called them, rather than on more or less detached and intimidatingly numerous “subjects,” more closely approaches a natural and organic education than the current model. This seems more analogous to a factory assembly line where “educated people” are mass produced, where graduation is dependent not upon the mastery of the powers of the mind itself, but merely the ability to repeat back to the teacher a certain number (a ‘C’ will do!) of given facts.
This Third Part of the series on the goods of matrimony concludes then with a very brief, if somewhat superficial sketch of what an educational institution might look like if it were to be based upon the right understanding of education as the primary good of matrimony. It will be a small, family based institution, with little to no bureaucratic elements, not broken up into distinct and highly specialized departments, with teachers who form deep relationships with the families of their pupils. The curriculum, like the classical Trivium, will focus on the mastery of the tools of the mind, aimed at virtue. Parents themselves will be encouraged to enter as much as possible into the life of the institution, since the latter only exists as a servant of the former. Extra-curricular activities will take the form of communal activities, since they will be ordered to the building up of the individual families and also their relationship to other families. In short, the truly classical school, and even better the classical homeschool in conjunction with tutors as needed by the parents, is most naturally fitted to the true education of human beings.
We have seen, therefore, how far reaching is the error of displacing the goods of matrimony. From the failure to place these goods in their proper order, society itself is threatened at its very foundation. On the other hand, if and only if we preserve the order of these goods, society may be refreshed, re-cultivated, and defended against the destructive tide of modernism.
In the next and final part of this series, we will conclude our discussion by reflecting upon matrimony as a Sacrament in relation to all that has been said.
Written by Peter Youngblood, DRE and Choir Director at Saint Leo IV Roman Catholic Church in Roberts Cove, La, and Co-founder & Tutor of Saint John of the Cross Academy.
Here it becomes obvious that one’s view of matrimony and, consequently, one’s view of education, actually implies an entire anthropology and morality. For if education as a good of matrimony does not primarily mean the development of virtue, man is reduced to a mere animal whose ultimate end does not consist in communion with the perfect object of his rational powers, being the Truth, Goodness, and Beauty Himself. Thus “morals” would exist, at best, to help man in his natural society to attain material success and to ensure the mere material survival of his species.
IIa-IIae, Q. 167, art. 1
ibid, art. 2
Confessions, Bk. X, xxxv: “To this is added another form of temptation more manifoldly dangerous. For besides that concupiscence of the flesh which consisteth in the delight of all senses and pleasures, wherein its slaves, who go far from Thee, waste and perish, the soul hath, through the same senses of the body, a certain vain and curious desire, veiled under the title of knowledge and learning, not of delighting in the flesh, but of making experiments through the flesh. The seat whereof being in the appetite of knowledge, and sight being the sense chiefly used for attaining knowledge, it is in Divine language called the lust of the eyes. For, to see, belongeth properly to the eyes; yet we use this word of the other senses also, when we employ them in seeking knowledge. [...] But by this may more evidently be discerned, wherein pleasure and wherein curiosity is the object of the senses; for pleasure seeketh objects beautiful, melodious, fragrant, savoury, soft; but curiosity, for trial's sake, the contrary as well, not for the sake of suffering annoyance, but out of the lust of making trial and knowing them. For what pleasure hath it, to see in a mangled carcase what will make you shudder? and yet if it be lying near, they flock thither, to be made sad, and to turn pale. Even in sleep they are afraid to see it. As if when awake, any one forced them to see it, or any report of its beauty drew them thither! Thus also in the other senses, which it were long to go through. From this disease of curiosity are all those strange sights exhibited in the theatre. Hence men go on to search out the hidden powers of nature (which is besides our end), which to know profits not, and wherein men desire nothing but to know. Hence also, if with that same end of perverted knowledge magical arts be enquired by. Hence also in religion itself, is God tempted, when signs and wonders are demanded of Him, not desired for any good end, but merely to make trial of.”
[5 ]It is very important to note that “well-formed” is not the same as “talented,” “sharp,” or “intelligent.” As any parent or teacher knows, a child can be naturally gifted in intellectual things, yet still suffer the dulling effects of curiositas. What is needed, then, is not talent, but discipline.
 It would be worth studying the extent to which this corresponds to the modern notion that the child’s natural desires need only be supported and facilitated, but never disciplined. Many modern examples can be found of this notion, such as this disturbing NPR story on the “gender transition” of a 3-year old little boy (http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2015/07/04/419498242/at-age-3-transitioning-from-jack-to-jackie)
Since the Second Vatican Council, much has been made of the need for aggriornamento, a modernization of the Faith. It is generally supposed that this is necessary to evangelize modern people with any success. We must "speak their language," it is thought, if we expect them to hear. Where our liturgical worship is concerned, this has been taken quite literally. In fact, the attempt to modernize the Faith is perhaps seen nowhere as clearly as in the reforms of the Sacred Liturgy carried out by the Consilium, the group which was given the charge to implement the call to reform of the Council Fathers. Their work produced the Novus Ordo Missae, a new rite of the Mass which has now become the "ordinary form," promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1969.
Let us take the words "from the horse's mouth." Fr. Antoine Dumas, O.S.B was the relator of the study group (Coetus 18bis) tasked with the reform of all the orations of the Mass. In a 1971 essay explaining the principles which motivated the revisions produced by his group, Fr. Dumas tells us that the authors of the "renewal" were very intent "that the texts and rites might be perfectly—or at the least much better—accommodated to the modern mentality to which it must give expression." "Other texts," he says, "having become shocking for the man of today, have been frankly corrected." Again, Fr. Dumas tells us that some revisions were made in order to "change the direction" of certain phrases "from a negative to a more dynamic position." For an example of such a revision, Fr. Dumas offers the prayer after communion for the fourth Sunday of Paschaltide, where "diabolica non sinas incursione lacerari [may you not allow (us) to be wounded by diabolical attack]" now reads "in aeternis pascuis collocare digneris [may you vouchsafe to place (us) in eternal pastures]". A second example is also offered from the prayer over the offerings, formerly for the eleventh Sunday after Pentecost, now for tenth Sunday per annum: "nostrae fragilitatis subsidium (a help to our frailty)" is changed to read "nostrae caritatis augmentum (an increase of our charity)."
This talk of "accommodation to the modern mentality," removing that which is "shocking for the man of today," or too "negative"--which, given Fr. Dumas' examples, simply means the recognition of human frailty and the threat of demonic attacks--shows quite clearly an underlying presupposition of modern attempts at evangelization and ecumenism. It is assumed that the Faith must be rid of that which makes it hateful to modern ears, and the result will be that men will see the Faith for "what it really is," and then be more likely to submit themselves to it.
Unfortunately, what has actually happened is altogether different. Modern man, having been shown a Faith that is perfectly "accommodated" to them, has thus found it to be completely irrelevant. The irony will not be lost on thoughtful readers. While much can be written about this, at the moment I only want to point readers to a substantial passage from Christopher Derrick, writing in his book Trimming the Ark around the same time Fr. Dumas was doing his work. He expresses clearly that a Church which makes modernization and relevancy its primary goals only succeeds in proving finally that it is antiquated and irrelevant:
Written by Peter Youngblood, DRE and Choir Director at Saint Leo IV Roman Catholic Church in Roberts Cove, La, and Co-founder & Tutor of Saint John of the Cross Academy.
 Lauren Pristas, "The Orations of the Vatican II Missal: Policies for Revision", Communio 30 (Winter 2003), p. 627
 ibid, p. 633. The essay is reproduced in its entirety in the article from Dr. Pristas cited above.
 ibid, p. 635. See especially the example cited by Fr. Dumas: "For example, the former secret for Saturday of the second week of Lent, which has become the prayer over the offerings for the third Sunday of Lent, changes the expression: non gravemur externis [may we not be weighed down (by the sins) of those outside], difficult to understand, to: fraterna dimittere studeamus [may we strive/be eager to forgive (the sins) of our brothers], decidedly more evangelical."
 ibid., p. 635-6. Translations are those of Lauren Pristas.
 Christopher Derrick, Trimming the Ark: Catholic Attitudes and the Cult of Change, Hutchinson & CO, 1967, pp. 142-144
The authors of this blog are the tutors of Saint John of the Cross Academy: