Monday, September 20, 2010

Montalvan on John Henry Newman

Antonio J. Montalvan II writes an informative article in his Inquirer column on Blessed John Henry Newman.

The beatification of
John Henry Newman coincides with the momentous UK visit of Pope Benedict XVI. In his article, Montalvan focuses on Newman's pronouncements on education, citing the volume of lectures on “The Idea of a University” that Newman wrote as rector of the then newly established Catholic University of Ireland. Here are some excerpts from that column.
His philosophy of education, which educators of today can take heed of, is mainly this: that education is founded on truths in the natural order, “when we use what we have by nature to the utmost, at the same time that we look out for what is beyond nature in the confidence of faith and hope.”...

In the typically classic Victorian prose of his day, Newman may not be easy reading for ordinary mortals like us. But his ideas remain as fresh in their relevance. Consider this: education must teach self-respect as “the motive principle of the soul.” “It is directed into the channel of industry, frugality, honesty, and obedience; and it becomes the very staple of the religion and morality held in honor in a day like our own. It becomes the safeguard of chastity, the guarantee of veracity, in high and low; it is the very household god of society, inspiring neatness and decency, propriety of carriage and refined manners, uprightness, manliness, and generosity.” Precisely because they sound alien in today’s educational standards, the more Newman’s ethics continue to ring painfully true...

Of late, we read in the news what was probably the best pronouncement ever by Archbishop Soc Villegas at the installation of the new president of De La Salle University. Bishop Villegas said it very simply but not without a shocking value. The aim of the Catholic university (and I would propose even for non-sectarian universities, for faith and praxis must be solidly in harmony) is to produce saints. Every student, he said, is a soul. It is amazing news in an era when many of our educators have long discarded that duty in exchange for “mercenarianism.” Those lines reflect Newman: “he cared for standards, but never forgot the person.”

I have learned in a past CFC formation talk that prophecy is not only that which is concerned with future events, but also that of which is divinely inspired to illuminate that which is currently elusive by natural reasoning. Cardinal Neuman's treatise on education is prophetic in both senses, and it is quite insightful (and to a certain extent, prophetic) for Montalvan and Bishop Soc to zero-in on Neuman's legacy on education in at this time. I am of a firm stand that the way this country manages education is the key in bringing this country forward. Enough of "mercenarianism".

We can start by having Catholic Theology professors teach real theology.

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