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Philosophy of Catholic Education


Parents are the primary educators of their children. The following quotations confirm this statement:
  • "And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your houses, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise." Dt. 6: 6-7
  • "...since parents have conferred like on their children, they have a most solemn obligation to educate their offspring. Hence parents must be acknowledged as the first and foremost educators of their children. Their role as educators is so decisive that scarcely anything can compensate for their failure in it." Familiaris Consortio #36
  • "...parents have been appointed by God Himself as the first and principal educators of their children and that right is completely inalienable..." Familiaris Consortio #40
  • "The fecundity of conjugal love cannot be reduced solely to the procreation of children, but must extend to their moral education and their spiritual formation... The right and duty of parents to educate their children are primordial and inalienable." Catechism of the Catholic Church #2221
  • "The right and duty of parents to give education is essential, since it is connected with the transmission of human life; it is original and primary with regard to the educational role of others, on account of the uniqueness of the loving relationship between parents and children; it is irreplaceable and inalienable, therefore incapable of being entirely delegated to others or usurped by others." Familiaris Consortio #36
  • "As those first responsible for the education of their children, parents have the right to choose a school for them which corresponds to their own convictions. This right is fundamental. As far as possible parents have the duty of choosing schools that will best help them in their task as Christian educators." Catechism of the Catholic Church #2229


The goal of Catholic home education is to guide the student in a life of holiness so that he may achieve the ultimate reward of heaven. This process is threefold:
  • the education of the intellect and the development of a right conscience,
  • the training of the will and the practice of virtues,
  • the formation of a prayer life (for example: formal prayers, meditation, Mass, Confession, reading of the Bible, recitation of the Rosary).
Because of the unique situation of the family as a school life, the home environment is especially conducive to the implementation of this process. Home schooling allows parents to integrate these concepts into the instruction of each subject and into the events of everyday life. The following quotes confirm this:
  • "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well." Mt. 6:33
  • "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." 1 Co. 10:31
  • "And since in God's plan it has been established as an 'intimate community of life and love', the family has the mission to become more and more what it is, that is to say, a community of life and love, in an effort that will find fulfillment, as will everything created and redeemed, in the Kingdom of God." Familiaris Consortio #17
  • "The Second Vatican Council describes the content of a Christian education as follows: 'Such an education does not merely strive to foster maturity... in the human person. Rather, its principal aims are these: that as baptized persons are gradually introduced into a knowledge of the mystery of salvation, they may daily grow more conscious of the gift of faith which they have received, that they may learn to adore God the Father in spirit and in truth (cf. John 4:23), especially through liturgical worship; that they may be trained to conduct their personal life in true righteousness and holiness, according to their new nature (cf Eph. 4:13), and devote themselves to the up building of the Mystical Body.'" Familiaris Consortio #39
  • "Even amid the difficulties of the work of education difficulties which are often greater today, parents must trustingly and courageously train their children in the essential values of human life. Children must grow up with a correct attitude of freedom with regard to material goods, by adopting a simple and austere life style and being fully convinced that 'man is more precious for what he is than for what he has.'" Familiaris Consortio #37
  • "In a society shaken and split by tensions and conflicts caused by the violent clash of various kinds of individualism and selfishness, children must be enriched not only with a sense of true justice which alone leads to respect for the personal dignity of each individual, but also and more powerfully by a sense of true love, understood as sincere solicitude and disinterested service with regard to others, especially the poorest and those in most need. The family is the first fundamental school of social living: as a community of love, it finds in self-giving the law that guides it and makes it grow. The self-giving that inspires the love of husband and wife for each other is the model and norm for the self-giving that must be practiced in the relationships between brothers and sisters and the different generations living together in the family. And the communion and sharing that are part of everyday life in the home at times of joy and at times of difficulty are the most concrete and effective pedagogy for the active, responsible and fruitful inclusion of the children in the wider horizon of society." Familiaris Consortio #37
  • "The moral virtues grow through education, deliberate acts, and perseverance in struggle." Catechism of the Catholic Church
  • "Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children. They bear witness to this responsibility first by creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity and disinterested service are the rule. The home is well suited for education in virtues. This requires an apprenticeship in self-denial, sound judgment and self-mastery - the preconditions of all true freedom. Parents should teach their children to subordinate the 'material and instinctual dimensions to interior and spiritual ones.' Parents have a grave responsibility to give good example to their children." Catechism of the Catholic Church #2223
  • "Through the grace of the sacrament of marriage, parents receive the responsibility and privilege of evangelizing their children at an early age into the mysteries of the faith of which they are the 'first heralds' for their children. They should associate them from their tenderest years with the life of the Church. A wholesome family life can foster interior dispositions that are a genuine preparation for a living faith and remain a support for it throughout one's life." Catechism of the Catholic Church #2225
  • "The home is the natural environment for initiating a human being into solidarity and communal responsibilities. Parents should teach children to avoid the compromising and degrading influences which threaten human societies." Catechism of the Catholic Church #2224
  • "By virtue of their ministry of educating, parents are, through the witness of their lives, the first heralds of the Gospel for their children. Furthermore, by praying with their children, by reading the word of God with them and by introducing them deeply through Christian initiation into the Body of Christ - both the Eucharist and the ecclesial Body - they become fully parents, in that they are begetters not only of the bodily life but also of the life that through the Spirit's renewal flows from the Cross and Resurrection of Christ." Familiaris Consortio #39
  • "Parents have the mission of teaching their children to pray and to discover their vocation as children of God." Catechism of the Catholic Church #2226
  • "By reason of their dignity and mission, Christian parents have the specific responsibility of educating their children in prayer, introducing them to gradual discovery of the mystery of God and to personal dialogue with Him: 'It is particularly in the Christian family, enriched by grace and the office of the sacrament of Matrimony, that from the earliest years children should be taught, according to the faith received in Baptism, to have a knowledge of God, to worship Him and to love their religion.'" Familiaris Consortio
  • "The concrete example and living witness of parents is fundamental and irreplaceable in educating their children to pray. Only by praying together with their children can a father and mother - exercising their royal priesthood - penetrate the innermost depths of their children's hearts and leave an impression that the future events in their lives will not be able to efface. Let us again listen to the appeal made by Paul VI to parents: 'Mothers, do you teach your children the Christian prayers? Do you encourage them when they are sick to think of Christ suffering, to invoke the aid of the Blessed Virgin and the saints? Do you say the family rosary together? An you, fathers, do you pray with your children, with the whole domestic community, at least sometimes? Your example of honesty in thought and action, joined to some common prayer, is a lesson for life, an act of worship of singular value. In this way you bring peace to your homes. Pax huic Domui. Remember, it is thus that you build up the church.'" Familiaris Consortio #60
  • "The directives of the Council (Second Vatican) opened up a new possibility for the Christian family when it listed the family among those groups to whom it recommends the recitation of the Divine Office in common. Likewise, the Christian family will strive to celebrate at home, and in a way suited to the members, the times and feasts of the liturgical year." Familiaris Consortio #61
  • "There is no doubt that... the rosary should be considered as one of the best and most efficacious prayers in common that the Christian family is invited to recite. We like to think, and sincerely hope, that when the family gathering becomes a time of prayer the rosary is a frequent and favored manner of praying." Familiaris Consortio #61


Catholic home schooling rests on two basic conditions: parental love is the cornerstone of all teaching and the education process itself is a search for the Truth. Catholic home education is truly a ministry of the Church. Several quotations from Familiaris Consortio support this argument:
  • "When they become parents, spouses receive from God the gift of a new responsibility. Their parental love is called to become for the children the visible sign of the very love of God, 'from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named. (Ephesians 3:15)'" Familiaris Consortio #14
  • "...it cannot be forgotten that the most basic element, so basic that is qualifies the educational role of parents, is parental love, which finds fulfillment in the task of education as it completes and perfects its service of life: as well as being a source, the parents' love is also the animating principle and therefore the norm inspiring and guiding all concrete educational activity, enriching it with the value of kindness, constancy, goodness, service, disinterestedness and self-sacrifice that are the most precious fruit of love." Familiaris Consortio #36
  • "For Christian parents the mission to educate, a mission rooted, as we have said, in their participation in God's creating activity, has a new specific source in the sacrament of marriage, which consecrates them for the strictly Christian education of their children that is to say, it calls upon them to share in the very authority and love of God the Father and Christ the Shepherd, and in the motherly love of the Church, and it enriches them with wisdom, counsel, fortitude and all the other gifts of the Holy Spirit in order to help the children in their growth as human beings and as Christians." Familiaris Consortio #38
  • "The sacrament of marriage gives to the educational role the dignity and vocation of being really and truly a 'ministry' of the church at the service of the building up of her members. So great and splendid is the educational ministry of Christian parents that Saint Thomas has no hesitation in comparing it with the ministry of priests: 'Some only propagate and guard spiritual life by a spiritual ministry: this is the role of the sacrament of Orders; others do this for both corporal and spiritual life, and this is brought about by the sacrament of marriage, by which a man and a woman join in order to beget offspring and bring them up to worship God.'" Familiaris Consortio #38
  • "A vivid and attentive awareness of the mission they have received with the sacrament of marriage will help Christian parents to place themselves at the service of their children's education with great serenity and trustfulness, and also with a sense of responsibility before God, who calls them and gives them the mission of building up the Church in their children. Thus in the case of baptized people, the family, called together by word and sacrament as the Church of the home, is both teacher and mother, the same as the worldwide Church." Familiaris Consortio #38
  • "The mission to educate demands that Christian parents should present to their children all the topics that are necessary for the gradual maturing of their personality from a Christian and ecclesial point of view. They will therefore follow the educational lines mentioned above, taking care to show their children the depths of significance to which the faith and love of Jesus Christ can lead. Furthermore, their awareness that the Lord is entrusting to them the growth of a child of God, a brother or sister of Christ, a temple of the Holy Spirit, a member of the Church, will support Christian parents in their task of strengthening the gift of divine grace in their children's souls." Familiaris Consortio #39
  • "The Synod too, taking up and developing the indications of the council, presented the educational mission of the Christian family as a true ministry through which the Gospel is transmitted and radiated, so that family life itself becomes an itinerary of faith and in some way a Christian initiation and a school of following Christ. Within a family that is aware of this gift, as Paul VI wrote, 'all members evangelize and are evangelized.'" Familiaris Consortio #39
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