As Monsignor Ronald Knox said: “We are here to colonize heaven not make things better on earth.” Our beloved Catholic schools seem to have blurred the line between first and second things. Pope Benedict elucidates the first things that concern Catholic schools. First things are permanent things: charity, Christ, Church doctrine, principles of truth, and the virtues. Second things are temporary: material goods, contributing to society, and committing to action.
The reason that a Catholic education must not focus on improving conditions in society is best explained by C.S. Lewis, who said, “When you put first things first, second things are not suppressed, but increase.” Improving material conditions in society is a second thing that follows the first thing of a well-ordered character, especially a character conformed to Christ. C.S. Lewis further explained that “when you put second things first, you lose both first and second.” A proper philosophy of Catholic education is concerned solely with the first things as is demonstrated by Pope Benedict’s clear statement; the second things, like societal welfare, will take care of themselves.
Editor’s note: This is almost diametrically opposed to the teachings of our current pope.