Micaela at California to Korea is hosting a link-up called “3 Reasons I love Catholicism.” You can submit your link all month. There are lots of good submissions, so check them out and join up. My reasons (in this post, anyway) are the triumvirate of truth, goodness, and beauty. I will show you how truth, goodness, and beauty are essential to the Contemplative Homeschool and to seeking God.
Fr. Benedict Groeschel, in Spiritual Passages: The Psychology of Spiritual Development “for those who seek”, uses the categories of truth, beauty, goodness, and oneness in a similar way to learning styles or temperaments. They signify to him four ways of relating to God. We can use these categories to help ourselves and our students/children grow spiritually.
Truth satisfies the intellect
The Catholic Church speaks the truth, no matter how few listen. She does not shy away from controversy. Countless Catholics have been martyrs for the truth. Unlike our relativistic culture, and some other religions and philosophies, Catholics believe the truth is objective and knowable. Humans have minds that desire satisfaction. By upholding objective truth, the Church upholds man’s dignity.
Teach your children this verse: “Ask, and it shall be given to you. Seek, and you shall find. Knock, and the door shall be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7). Knowing there is truth gives your children an anchor. They will not be “blown about by every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14). They will feel steady and secure. Children love to know there are limits. My son J (age 2) urges me to put him in bed when he is naughty, because he finds comfort in knowing the limits I put on his behavior.
Teach your children humility. Even as parents we don’t have all the answers. In the Church herself, doctrine can develop (but not into something contradictory), and customs can change. But the truth is firm. Jesus is the truth.
Leave lots of time for your children to think, discuss, and ask questions. Bring the questions “What is man?” and “What is my purpose in Life?” to every subject. Teach them how to reason, how to spot poor arguments, and how to articulate the truth. Make them into little philosophers–lovers of truth. Teach them the Catechism, along with math and science. Teach them the facts of history, including Church history.
Goodness satisfies the will
Moral relativists claim there is no good or evil. When pressed, most do not really believe this. They have their own taboos, for whatever reason–even if they won’t publicly criticize others who break them.
The Church promotes goodness. She proposes a moral code. She gives us the tools we need to become saints, and canonizes those who do. She recognizes that humans have free will. We don’t just want to know. We want to love. We want to choose what is good.
The Greek philosophers taught that music is related to goodness. I don’t fully understand this. Catholic Philosopher Josef Pieper says music “makes a listening silence possible” (Only the Lover Sings). We must know how to listen in silence, if we want deep communion with God.
Make great music part of your homeschool. Shield your children from harmful forms of music, and from all noise and sensory stimulation that can make it difficult to still one’s soul before God.
Beauty satisfies the imagination
Man is not just an intellect and a will. He also has an imagination. Through use of the imagination, he can respond to God. The Church has long been a patron of the arts. The liturgy, when done right, is beautiful. It not only appeals to our senses, but stirs our souls. In the liturgy, we listen to God and respond to Him.
Your children should both appreciate great artwork and create art themselves. Creating art involves the body in education. For some people, no amount of argument or logic will draw them to Christ the way Gregorian chant will. Fill your children’s imaginations with great things. Limit their time spent with mindless TV or video games. Keep them off the internet as much as possible. Choose books with the finest illustrations. Go on nature walks. Let them hold newborn babies. Appeal to their natural sense of awe and wonder.
Great books draw them all together
Some people relate to God in His oneness, rather than truth, goodness, or beauty. This is particularly true of troubled and broken souls, according to Fr. Groeschel.
Our culture has broken the connection between things. Schools teach subjects in isolation. We communicate through electronic devices, instead of face to face. We don’t consider the natural consequences of our actions. We have forgotten that marriage is about children, and that science should be ethical.
Our Contemplative Homeschool uses a unit study format to highlight the connections between all subjects, and especially each subject’s connection with the faith. Another way you can draw truth, goodness, and beauty together is through great books. The Bible contains stories of virtuous (or sometimes, not-so-virtuous) men and women that teach us about goodness. The stories also appeal to the imagination. Using a Bible with great illustrations (such as The Golden Children’s Bible) also appeals to the imagination. And of course, the Bible is full of truth.
Other great books can do the same thing. Help your children choose the books they get at the library. Use literature, rather than textbooks, as the foundation of your homeschool. An integrated education makes an integrated person.
Truth, goodness, and beauty are our heritage as Catholics. Relish that heritage and pass it on to your children.
Share with us: Do you relate to God primarily as Truth, Goodness, Beauty, or Oneness? How do you teach your children to be open to truth, goodness, and beauty?