The following text was transcribed, digitally, from the above talk. If you would like to volunteer to help with editing, please contact us.
Today is Monday, August 28. And this is William Michael of the classical liberal arts academy. This morning, I was having a discussion with my wife, who’s my partner in running the classical liberal arts academy. And we deal with we deal with some frustrating relationships with Catholic families. Normally, we were working with homeschooling families, they’re Catholics, and they’re usually political conservatives who have the whole conservative ideology in place. And they’re trying to homeschool to pass this conservative American ideology on to their children. Even though this, this ideology is not in harmony with Catholic teaching, and is actively discouraged by the Pope. In fact, today I saw an article, it was it was in the Associated Press, reporting about Pope Francis criticizing American Catholics are arguing that they’re substituting their political ideology for the Catholic faith. And what’s bizarre to me is that American Catholics will dismiss the Pope, as if he’s just clueless and cling to this political worldview. As if it’s infallible, and eternal, it’s very bizarre to me. But I was talking to my wife this morning, because we have to deal with families who, who often cause trouble within the academy, because of this ideological stress that they carry around with them, and I wanted to illustrate the problem for my wife. And I drew two illustrations, two circles, and one circle, had arrows pointing outward from the circumference of the circle. And the other circle had arrows drawn from the circumference pointing inward. to different illustrations that I explained to my wife represent two different kinds of Christians. The first kind of Christian thinks of taking his Christianity out into the world. And this, I would argue, is true Christianity. True Christianity seeks to fulfill Christ’s Great Commission which was go into the world and make disciples go into the world. And that’s why I drew the circle with the arrows pointing outward from the circumference. But it’s very easy to see that most most Catholics that I communicate with and, and and you could make the argument that my, my interaction with Catholics is is limited to some Catholics, but realize I’m talking about 1000s of students in the academy. Normally, the the interaction, the feedback that I get, follows the other illustration, which is that Catholic families are trying to isolate themselves and build something of a, an ideological wall, around their family, with all of the arrows pointing inward. And I told my wife that there’s, there’s really no way to help a family that has that mindset. In classical Catholic studies, because classical studies are not intended for people who think that way. Classical Studies are secular studies. The source for most of our studies in the classical liberal arts academy are not Catholic authors. They’re often secular philosophers. We study Aristotle, we study Cicero. And then we also study Sacred Scripture and St. Thomas Aquinas. And there’s no there’s no contradiction between the sources. Or if there is it’s, it’s simply a matter of historical development. Obviously, Aristotle is not as perfect as St. Thomas, but St. Thomas is perfecting Aristotle. He’s not contradicting Aristotle, he’s not criticizing or rejecting Aristotle, he’s simply enlightening and perfecting Aristotle. But it’s, it’s primarily secular studies. Because human philosophy is a matter of human reasoning and observation and experience. It’s not based on divine revelation, it’s based on reason, not faith. And so to be a student of the classical liberal arts and classical philosophy, one has to be comfortable in a secular intellectual environment where ideas are examined, put to the test. And either retained or rejected based on whether or not they’re true in and of themselves. And you can tell the difference between a person who is examining ideas and a person who is promoting ideology, by the fact that the people promoting ideology, are not interested in examining ideas. They simply want to accept or reject persons. They want to know what label a certain person identifies with, they want to know what group they belong to, and so on. They don’t examine the ideas. They simply react to labels or groups. And they usually communicate by means of repeated mantras or memorized sound bites that get passed around. And this is like the, this is the mindset of the ideological person. Here, the same phrases the same, the same criticisms of groups and labels and categories, rather than discussion of specific ideas. Rather than talk about evidence and reasons. We talk about people’s names. We use representatives to, to identify groups, and then we dismiss entire groups. by dismissing a representative. We’re not talking about the ideas. We’re just arguing about people. And you can see that this is all political. It’s all just political arguing party politics. It’s not. It’s not Christian thinking. It’s not philosophical. It’s not moral. It’s political. That’s why it always identifies with groups and labels and individual representatives. And this, this kind of thinking, what’s called a party spirit just constantly narrows the community that it communicates with and isolates itself more and more and more. And it turns to conspiracy theories, it turns to all kinds of political fads and movements and controversies. It’s just not a healthy intellectual climate to live in. And most of the Catholics that I communicate with are ideological. They’re more concerned with political desires that they have, then with actually studying the Catholic faith with actually studying Christian philosophy and so on. They’re not concerned with evangelization. They’re not concerned with leading unbelievers to the Catholic faith or closer to the cat like faith, they’re interested in fighting with and defeating their political opponents, and trying to keep their children on their political team, as it were. And really that spirit, that ideological political spirit has nothing to do with classical education. And this is why they struggle in the classical liberal arts academy, they just can’t embrace the challenges of real studies. They’re not interested in the challenges of real studies, they really aren’t interested in learning. They’re interested in imposing their political opinions and preferences upon their children and seeing their children join them. In the political contest. And this is the kind of thing that Pope Francis is warning Americans about because it it takes the Catholic faith, which is profound and timeless and universal, which deals with real controversial, complicated human problems, and turns it into a silly caricature of religion. That’s simply a servant of political movements and parties. And it’s really hard for Catholic parents who are ideological, to understand or appreciate and pursue Classical Studies. They want to pretend they’re open minded, they want to pretend that they’re reasonable and open to discussion, open to debate, and so on, they want to pretend that they’re persuaded that their ideas are actually better than the ideas of others. But they really don’t like the idea of putting those ideas to the test. They don’t like the idea of presenting their evidence for the things they claim to believe. And so that’s why they they’re represented by the circle, with arrows pointing inward. The the boundary, as it were, of their religious community is sort of the boundary of their life and mission field. And their attention is inward, they’re isolated, they’re turned inwards. This is why they look for all of their activity, they look at the parish or at the church, as if it’s supposed to be the source of all of their life and activity. They’re constantly talking about church activities, constantly talking about what the clergy is doing, what’s going on, at Mass, what event or activity is taking place, at church and so on constantly, constantly inward, inward, inward. Their their conversation and activity doesn’t agree with the Great Commission go into the world and make disciples. They’re turned inward, as if it as if they were trapped inside a Christian circle in the classical liberal arts academy and classical studies, that’s not the disposition of a Christian person. We’re starting with the Great Commission. And we’re asking ourselves, first of all, how can I study to learn and understand true Catholic thinking? True Catholic faith, true Catholic morals? How can I learn them as perfectly as possible? And then secondly, how can I bring this knowledge into the world to try and influence non Catholics and lead them closer and closer to the truth? And this is the mission of the Catholic laity. The Catholic laity is supposed to go into the world. Go in among the unbelievers and engage in temporal affairs that is engaged in worldly affairs and direct them work to direct them according to the will of God that is to go out into the world and direct things towards the way of salvation towards God himself. But what we see among so many Catholics is, is something very different, we see them not going into the world, not having any interest in engaging with unbelievers. Not interested in helping unbelievers not just arguing with people, but actually helping people, teaching people, counseling people, and so on. Not seeking to help their neighbors come closer to the truth, but building walls around their little Catholic world as it were, and trying to keep anyone from entering in so that they’re not disturbed by any trouble. It’s a very different mindset. And so what happens by this turning inward is that there becomes just an endless pursuit of a perfectionist, Catholic life, not a perfect Christian life that Jesus calls us to, which is based on charity, and is rooted in the Great Commission and apostolic activity going out into the world. It’s, it’s not that idea of Christian perfection, it’s a perfection ism, of Christian activity itself. It’s nitpicking what the priest does at Mass nit picking and criticizing the way the church is decorated, or how it’s built, or how it’s organized, or how the activities go, or what the music consists of. And so on this, this constant, inward, critical perfectionistic, complaining about the Christian experience, rather than an outward looking interest in how to bring the truth to the world and how to bring the world to the truth. And so, I represent these two different kinds of Christians with two circles, as I said, the first with arrows pointing outward, they’re studying and thinking about their neighbors, they’re thinking about their co workers, they’re thinking about their students and classmates. They’re thinking about the people that they interact with in the world, people who they can act interact with. And as they’re reading the scriptures, they’re, they’re thinking of how these things can, can help their neighbors as they’re studying. They’re thinking of how their studies can help their neighbors thinking about how to bring the truth to their neighbors, so that they can, as I said, bring their neighbors to the truth. Not looking for zingers to go in, throw out their neighbors, like kids throwing rocks or snowballs and then running back into the fort tied. It’s not a hit and run mission. We’re not snipers. But it’s a mission of evangelization and teaching. And this is what Pope Francis is always trying to encourage Catholics to understand. And they and they refuse to when he says it’s not proselytization. It’s not going out and demanding conversion and then leaving the person if they choose not to convert, it’s not proselytization. It’s going into the world and developing genuine relationships with our neighbors and seeking to do good and help and lead them by modeling. That generous Christian life modeling a superior way of life a more excellent way that challenges them and attracts them to Christianity. And most Catholics don’t want to do that. And this is why we find so many Catholics criticizing the pope because they don’t like the things he tells them. They don’t like the things he does. They don’t like the idea of being friends with their neighbors. They don’t like the idea of having conversations with people who don’t As already hold their views. And this is why there’s so much criticism of the Pope because the Pope is a man who is free and comfortable dealing with unbelievers representing the Catholic Church, being patient to develop relationships being patient, to prove himself sincere and generous. The method that the Pope employs in Evangelization is offensive to this inward perfectionistic Catholic crowd. And that’s why he’s so, so disliked by the so called traditional Catholics, who I would rather call the inward looking Catholics. Pope Francis is outward looking. And that’s why his methods and his disposition is so different. I’m very comfortable with Pope Francis and his teaching because I came to Catholicism. As one who was educated in the liberal university context, I loved the liberal University climate, I loved the diversity. I loved the studies, I loved the challenging questions and discussions. I loved getting to know different people, different groups of people. I loved learning about other religions, from people who practiced those other religions. I loved hearing arguments against Christianity from professors who really knew their subjects, and were experts and could really get into the discussions of history or science, philosophy and so on. I learned so much from those discussions. And it made my Christian faith very strong, very settled. Because I had dealt with the best arguments. I hadn’t met the best representatives. I learned to respect different views because of those representatives. But I learned the ideas themselves by entering into the discussions and really allowing those discussions to take us through all different kinds of issues and topics that reveal to me the crucial differences, the crucial differences between the Catholic faith and the beliefs of other people. For example, I once had a long drawn out discussion with a Jewish rabbi. And we talked about Christianity. And we talked about, you know, the common superficial issues that are brought up between Christians and Jews. And I quickly saw that those really aren’t the issues. And it allows, it allowed me to see what the crucial issue really was. And the crucial issue between the Catholic and the Jew is not is not so much that Jesus is the Christ there is not the Christ. The crucial issue between Catholics and Jews is the Trinity. Jews believe that the idea that God is three persons is idolatry. They believe it’s literally worshipping multiple gods and though Catholics can make clarifications and explain, the Jews still cannot accept that. He just reads in his Jewish Scriptures that Moses says again and again and again. The Lord is One is one is one. And therefore the idea of the Trinity is just repugnant to Jews. And they consider Christians to be idolaters because they worship three gods and they, they argue that the explanation of the Trinity is just sort of a clever way to justify being an idolatry. That’s the crucial issue. That’s the crucial issue. And those, those revelations of the crucial issues really only come through lengthy in depth dialogue with representatives of other groups And I loved those dialogues, I loved those relationships, I love those discussions. And when I enter into them, I really don’t think of myself as one who is sent to try and force a conversion. I go into those discussions trying to learn to understand the beliefs, the convictions, the arguments, the evidence, the experiences of those other people. So I can really identify the crucial issues. And know where the know where the disagreements really consist. And what I found is that, through those discussions and relationships, I was able to gain the respect of those other people because they see how sincere and how painstaking I am in seeking to understand things truly, I’m not ideological, I’m not selfish, I’m not intolerant. I’m not just trying to force my opinions on others. I’m willing to go as far as I need to go to understand what the issue really is what they really believe, and to be able to explain it to them accurately, and prove that I understand it. And it’s that kind of relationship that I think Pope Francis is urging Catholics to seek with their neighbors. We’ve we’ve got to learn what other people believe we’ve got to learn what they think, and why they think the way that they do because if you just assume everyone who disagrees with you is just a lying crazy person who’s inspired by the devil. You’re going to find by experience that these people you disagree with aren’t really bad people. In fact, they’re better than many of the people in the Catholic Church. And they have serious, thoughtful reasons for why they don’t believe in what the Catholic Church teaches. It’s not stupid. It’s not crazy. It’s not ideological. Often, it’s based on evidence based on reasons based on traditions, based on experiences, and so on. And they can’t simply deny their own experiences, they can’t deny what appears to them evidence that contradicts Catholicism. And we’ve got to be willing to learn those things. Because if we don’t learn those things, they listen to us. And they realize that we don’t understand what they actually believe. They realize that we don’t understand what they think we don’t understand what they teach. And when they see that we’re not really concerned with understanding them first. Then they know that we’re not sincere, and that makes it very easy for them to dismiss us. And this is the relationship that exists between most unbelievers and Catholics. They know that the Catholics they they have spoken with, don’t understand the life that they live, don’t understand their thoughts don’t understand their experiences, don’t understand their beliefs don’t understand their teachings have never taken the time to learn them, have never proven that they understand them, but simply judge them without looking at the evidence without actually hearing the case. And that’s not faithfulness. That’s injustice. That’s prejudice. And they know that because they’ve experienced it. They’ve spoken to Catholics and watched as the Catholic, made no effort to learn what they actually think or to hear their actual testimony or learn of their experience. The Catholic made no effort to actually learn, but simply assumed he already knew what they thought, regardless of what they told him. And as soon as they see Catholics do that, they know that this person is not sincere. This person isn’t serious. This person isn’t honest or just This person is simply trying to force his opinion on me. And if I don’t yield to it, he’s just going to start calling me names. And that’s the experience of many people in dealing with Catholics. I, myself, as a Catholic, I deal with Catholics who act like that. They can disagree with me on a topic or an issue, I’ll present evidence for what I’m saying, or I’ll explain the reason for why I’m saying what I’m saying. And they’ll simply ignore it, they can present an argument that I can, I can solve and destroy their argument. And they’ll simply bounce on to another topic as if they missed what I said. And when you see people do that, you can see that they’re not serious. You can see that even if their arguments and even if their assertions are proven false, they really don’t care. If they’re proven false. They’re here to force a message to force an idle ideology. And if you don’t accept it, they’re simply going to scoff at you, and walk away. And imagine that they’re the faithful one. And so what happens is that their circle of influence just gets smaller and smaller, and smaller, over time, because they’re constantly retreating further and further. From the human race, They’re retreating further and further into narrower and narrower and narrower circles. And as they, as they, they gather together in these narrowing circles, they look around and pretend with the other members of their narrow circle, that they’re the faithful ones. They’re the only ones that understand. And you get this bizarre remnant mentality among these people. And then they begin quoting passages of Scripture like, narrow is the way straight is the gate, and few there are who find it. And they interpret themselves and their narrow mindedness and their narrow circle, as the fulfillment of what Jesus is talking about when Jesus is suggesting nothing that resembles their exclusive circles. Jesus said those things about the way being narrow, and the gate being straight in the first century, when he spoke to the Jews who were standing there at the end of 1000s, of years of Jewish tradition and religion, and he was calling them to something new, something that was a fulfillment of that religion. And he was telling them that there would be few at that time, who would receive it. And he was encouraging those who were following him, his disciples, he was encouraging them to listen and follow their convictions, to take up their cross, and follow Him knowing that there would be few at that moment, who are going to be able to do so. But he followed up on that teaching with the parable of the mustard seed. And he said, The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed, which, in its beginning is one of the smallest of seeds. And yet it grows into one of the largest of plants, even becoming a tree, where the birds of the air nest and its branches. And so the image of the Church that Jesus taught, was not an increasingly narrowing circle of exclusive members, but one that was humble and small in its beginning, but would grow and fill the whole world and if we look at the religion of Pope Francis, we see the fulfillment of the parable of the mustard seed. If we look at the narrowing circles, of these exclusive retreating, arrogant Christians, we find that the communities that they belong to are the opposite of what Jesus taught would develop over time. The birds of the air do not nest in the branches of the small, narrow communities. these communities do not fulfill the image of the Church that Jesus taught the church of Pope Francis however it does so. And this is the clearest of proof that that this mentality this narrow, isolating, retreating, increasingly narrow circle is not true Christianity. And as I said, Having started as a teenager, in a liberal, diverse university, where I lived on campus with Muslims, and Buddhists, and Hindus and atheists, I lived with those people, they were my neighbors, we were friendly with each other. Many of them were married and having children while my wife and I were married and having children we were living together and University Housing helping each other as fellow students, and we got to know each other’s lives, and each other’s beliefs and practices and religions, cultures, and so on. And we were able to discuss our different beliefs and ideas and the different ways that we do things in a friendly way. And so when I hear Catholics talking about people who belong to other religions, I know that they really have no experience with these people, because the things that they say, imagining that they’re promoting Catholicism, the things that they say, are only revealing their ignorance, their arrogance, their prejudice. And anyone from those communities who would hear them saying these things, would immediately know that they’re not honest people, they don’t know what they’re talking about. And so I came into Catholicism from a liberal university culture. And so when I listened to Pope Francis speaking, I can very comfortably say Amen, that’s the truth. That is how things work. That is how other people think that is how relationships develop. That is how evangelization works, and so on. And I can listen to other people talking and ask, Have you ever even spent time with a person who believes the things that you talk about? Because I don’t think you have, I think you’re talking about people you actually have no knowledge of or experience with. And what’s also bizarre about these people is that they imagine that other people are far worse than they are. When they talk about the world, for example, they, they immediately like to project all of these extreme cases, they find, you know, images from some, some gay parade, where where men are dressed in like sex outfits, acting in perverted ways, and they, they’ll take that image and just broadcasts that onto all of liberal society. And what happens is, they begin to think that their neighbors are much, much worse than they actually are. And if you actually look at things, you’ll find that these Catholics spend more time thinking about and talking about perverted things, then unbelievers do. Most of the immoral images that come across my feed on social media are things that are being posted by Catholic people who imagine who seem to imagine that sharing immoral pictures that they see on other people’s feeds, somehow shows them to be moral people, where they don’t realize that they are actually the source of this immoral content being spread around social media. Most people wouldn’t even see it. If the Catholics weren’t the ones actually passing it around saying, Hey, everybody, look how gross This is. Well, I wouldn’t have to look and see how gross this is, if you weren’t sharing it on social media, and I begin to think that the Catholics who do this kind of thing are actually the perverts. They’re the ones actually following these accounts, sharing these images and videos that most people would never even come across on their feeds and social media. And I think that there’s I think that there’s sort of a pry A perversion that makes them so fascinated with the most extreme cases of immorality in our society and a desire to try to pretend that they’re common and normal among people when they’re not. I think that these, these Christians have a distorted view about the immorality of modern society. For example, this upcoming September really next week, I’m I’m beginning studies at Harvard, I’m going to continue my studies after taking 20 years to work in classical Catholic education, I’m going to devote my older years to continued studies in history and liberal arts at Harvard. When I go on the Harvard website, for example, you can you can turn on the Harvard radio station, The Harvard University radio station, and you’ll find them playing classical music playing sacred music last night, I turned it on, and they were playing Thomas Tallis. And as I’m listening to the music on the Harvard radio station, I’m thinking to myself, what I hear among Catholics is that these Ivy League schools and these famous universities are all just filthy, immoral, gay and lesbian, perverted communist communities that promote all of this liberal political ideology and so on. And yet here, I am actually engaged with the community, and I see the opposite. At Harvard University, for example, 22% of members of the Harvard community are Catholics. It’s the largest religious group in the Harvard community. So what we find is that the reality doesn’t match what these ideological Catholics say. They’re talking about things they really have no knowledge of, and they, they create a worldview. They create a worldview that seems to justify isolating yourself and hiding. And this, I think, is their goal, that they, they have to make other people and other institutions appear worse and worse and worse. So that their isolation, and timidity and cowardice appears to be necessary and justified. And that’s why they do it. And if you look at the facts, you can see and demonstrate that what they say the picture that they paint of the world is not even true. They’re they’re literally creating a fantasy world as some kind of boogeyman on the outside. And pretending that the wisest thing to do is barricade yourself in and hide from it. And this is how you prove that you’re one of the elect. Whoever hides the best, and retreats, the furthest into the narrowest circles, is the most faithful and that’s that’s the worldview that they live with. So for me, considering the circle with the arrows pointing outward, I find engagement with a liberal university environment to be very helpful for myself as a Catholic. I like to talk with people directly I like to hear their ideas and beliefs from their own mouths. I like to see what they practice I like to see how they live I like to learn from them. I like to ask them questions, sincerely desiring to understand what they think, why they do, what they do and so on. Because it reveals to me the real crucial issues allows me to really understand what it means to be Catholic what what the crucial differences are, because it helps me to see that those are the things that I need to commit to more fully because they are really the core issues. And again, when I look at the the retreating isolated Catholics Their life is a constant pursuit of the micromanagement of their children the restriction of access to information for their children. The restriction of the people that they’re allowed to talk to the restriction of the resources, they’re allowed to use restriction, restriction restriction. How is that worldview? This narrow, restricted, isolated, enclosed worldview? How can that possibly be called? Catholic? How can that possibly be called? Catholic? It’s really the opposite of Catholic. It’s really the opposite of a Catholic worldview. The Christian Church is intended to be a church that fills the whole world. There can be Christians in England and Christians in America and in Mexico and in South America and in Africa, and India, and China and Russia and Japan. And they can all have different cultural distinctives different ways of life live in different climates with different lifestyles, and yet all share in the Catholic faith. This leads us to ask, what could that Catholic faith be? If it’s possible for it to be held by people of every nation and tribe and tongue? What What could that faith possibly be? Obviously, it can’t consist of a certain way of dressing. It can consist of a certain language, it can consist of a certain style of music. It’s got to be broader than that. And what we find is the Catholic faith is united in the creed, and in the sacraments, and in the moral teaching of the Church. And in the prayer of the church, the four divisions of the Catechism. That’s the true Catholic faith. The Creed can be brought into any society into any climate into any culture, and be relevant and enlightening and freeing. The sacraments can go anywhere, the sacraments can be celebrated and received in any culture anywhere. The moral teachings of the Church address the crucial issues as we move from one society to another. And prayer is received by God from people of every different background, every different place, without any respect of persons, without respect to social class or ethnicity. Jesus taught us to pray a Catholic prayer. Think about it. When he was asked how should we pray, he said, when when you pray, say, Our Father, who art in heaven, not Our Father who art in Rome, or Our Father who art in Jerusalem or Our Father who art in Washington, DC, but Our Father who art in heaven. Our Father who art in heaven, that transcends all geographical locations, it transcends all cultural differences, transcends all races, all languages, we worship the God of heaven, as Jesus said, My kingdom is not of this world. And true Christians understand that the true religion is an other worldly religion that transcends this life transcends this world. And that’s what actually allows it to be Catholic. And so when we try to impose upon the Catholic faith, some kind of cultural preferences, like we want the church to look like a medieval European church, or we want the church to use only the Latin language or on the other hand, when we say the church is going to speak in Spanish, because there’s lots of Hispanic. When we do that, when we impose these cultural restrictions on the Catholic faith, we destroy it. We exclude people, we isolate people we isolate ourselves. And the reason why we’re tempted to do that is because leaving Gospel, open and free, requires patience. The requires self sacrifice requires humility requires us to bear with the preferences of others and not just try to have everything our way. It takes a sacrificial spirit, it takes humility and generosity. It takes mercy and patience. To realize this, this is not my church. It’s not to be organized as if it were my living room. This is Christ’s Church. And Christ wasn’t concerned with having a church composed of one group of people. This is Christ’s church, not my church, Christ died and shed his blood for this church. And he intended for it to receive all people. How in the world can I think, to impose my personal preferences on a church that I did not die for or established that I myself do not empower, and keep in existence. You’ve got to lose your mind. To think that the church is something for you to try and control and restrict, so that everywhere you go, everything is done the way you like it. I think that’s a denial of the authority of Christ Himself. It’s his church. It’s his house. Everything should be done the way that he wants it, not the way that any of us want it. And if he says that he wants it a certain way, that’s how we should want it because it’s his church. And this is why the fact that Christ is present in the Holy Eucharist in every different culture in all different rites and liturgies. ends this discussion. It’s his church. And him being pleased is all that matters. It doesn’t matter if things are the way I like it. And I learned to be content with that way of thinking, because I grew up on a liberal University campus where a diversity was respected, where we’re free to discuss things and disagree. We’re free to also practice our own religion. As I said, if you look at the Harvard campus, there’s a Catholic center right smack in the middle of Harvard Square. You’re free to be a Catholic at Harvard. The same was true at Rutgers, even though I wasn’t a Catholic at the time, there was a Catholic Church. Nearby Ruckers. I as a student at Rutgers when I was in graduate school, I had a student teaching assignment where I was sent to a Catholic school in New Brunswick, St. Peters. I went and did my secular, Rutgers Graduate School of Education, observation work in a Catholic school, there was no, there was no oppression of any religion. This idea that these liberal universities are exclusive and oppress. It’s simply false. People who say these things, talk about environments that they’ve never been in. I can say this from experience that I’ve been. I’ve been persecuted. And I’ve been judged, unjustly discriminated against, spoken of, falsely, on and on more as a Catholic, by Catholics than I ever was on a liberal University campus. And this idea that the Catholics are all the good guys and the people outside are all just a bunch of crazy wild perverts trying to kill cat. It’s just, it’s childish, and false. And when I’m given a chance to choose where I’d like to study or who I’d like to talk to, I would rather be in a liberal, secular environment. Then in a restricted Catholic environment, I would never want to go to a Catholic college I would never want had to go to a Catholic school, maybe for younger children. I would never want as an adult to go to a Catholic College, where all of the people were Catholic. And if we talk about non Catholic ideas we do so by talking about them as, as a third person who’s not present, I would never want to do that. And that’s the whole purpose of the liberal university is to bring people together from all different backgrounds and let them learn to talk to each other, have them, have them face each other, have them if you’re going to stand up and say something about a Muslim, have 10 Muslims sitting there in the classroom, that you’re accountable to if you’re going to say something about a Catholic in the classroom, have a Catholic who is able to raise his hand and raise an objection. That’s the benefit of a diverse community and, and that diverse community is not found on a private college, a Catholic college campus. It’s found at a secular university. And if Catholics are not comfortable in a diverse environment, where freedom of speech and freedom of religion and open dialogue are welcome. But they pretend that if Catholicism is not enforced on everyone that the institution is unfaithful, you can see the problem is that the Catholic, for all his talk, is not comfortable with his Catholic faith. In fact, if if it’s not promoted by the institution, if it’s not enforced by the community, if he’s not rewarded for his Catholic faith, he struggles to maintain it. But if you have a solid grasp and sincere convictions, for your faith, you don’t need others to embrace it, you don’t need others to reward it, or to enforce it, or to impose it on the entire community. You can be a Catholic standing on your own two feet, you can speak for yourself. You can resist arguments from others, you can hear their cases, hear their best arguments, see their best evidence, and then evaluate it and find the fault with it. Sincerely and honestly. And it’s often painstaking to do that work. But if you’re if you’re truly founded on the Catholic faith, strengthened by the Holy Spirit, and united to Christ in love, you won’t be shaken by these things. And if you are shaken by these things, it’s good to learn that before trials of life come upon you. It’s good to learn your weaknesses. And a diverse environment that respects free speech, freedom of religion, and so on is the place to test yourself. And that’s why I don’t support I don’t support the common Catholic mindset of enclosing our family as if we’re locking ourselves inside the city walls, because Because Hannibal and the Carthaginians are outside the gate, that mentality is so cowardly, and self destructive and simply, contrary to fact. Jesus told his disciples who were gathered together in the upper room in a safe place, he told them, that they were not to stay in the safe place. They were not to stay in the upper room, but they were to go out into the world and make disciples and they did. Are there martyrs are their stories of persecution? Yes, of course. But But can’t you read the history of the church and see all of the successes. What about all of the conversions? What about the conversion of the entire Roman Empire? Why would you characterize the history of, of the church such as just persecution and death and suffering rather than conquest. Can’t you see that the parable of the church as a mustard seed growing into a large tree teaches us to be optimistic in the work of evangelization, it teaches us to be hopeful and positive, to be confident, not to be timid. Not to believe that every every new thing that comes along is the mark of the beast, and is is going to deceive us and, and cause us to lose our salvation. That mentality is not taught or modeled by Christ or the apostles, or any of the saints. And we’ve got to get out of it. Because as Catholic laity, we’re supposed to be engaging in temporal affairs, we’re not supposed to be hanging out a church 24 hours a day, complaining about the curtains trying to find stuff to do, constantly fussing that the priest isn’t doing enough, because he’s not providing us with 24 hour a day, Catholic entertainment. We’re supposed to be in the world, engaged in temporal affairs, engaged in worldly activities, and working to direct them, according to God’s will, working with real human beings who have free will and reason. You’re not going to force those people. You’re going to have to cultivate credibility. I talked about this in a talk yesterday, titled, The Art of rhetoric in the Christian life. You’ve got to be able to influence people. And that doesn’t come by by calling them names and then running away and locking yourself in the house. That’s what the dorky kids in school used to do. They had to run home after school because half the school wanted to beat their brains in not because they were good, and everybody was bad, but because they were obnoxious. They had to run home as fast as they couldn’t hide in the house, because they were obnoxious. Many Catholics are just obnoxious people. They’re not persecuted for the sake of righteousness. They’re beaten up for the sake of obnoxious SNESs. And when you listen to Pope Francis and he, he preaches a message of optimism, of hope, of freedom, of joyfulness, that’s the truth. That’s the true nature of life in this world. And I just don’t think Catholics are open to that reality. I think they love this idea of being persecuted. They love this idea of being one of the remnant, they love this idea of being a member of this exclusive group of the few who shall be saved. They love that and they use that to justify neglecting the Great Commission, which doesn’t describe the Catholic Church as people hiding, constantly complaining about their own little parish or community or liturgy. Its people who go out into the world. And even though there there may be suffering, even though there, there will be martyrs, and there are real times of persecution they overcome. Jesus said, The gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Gates keep people out. The gates of hell will not prevail against the church. The church will be successful. The church is like the mustard seed planted, that grows into the greatest tree. The birds of the air nest and its branches. It’s spreading, it’s growing. It overshadows the earth and fills the world. If that’s not the church that you’re thinking of when you talk about the Catholic faith, then you’re not talking about the true Church. The world outside the church where the laymen are supposed to be engaged is not what the conservative political, ideological community wants to cause it to appear to be. To try to scare era attended people into joining them in their exclusive little political party. That’s not what the world is like. And if you can’t engage with that world, if you can’t engage in dialogue that’s reasonable and respectful with people who don’t share your ideas. It’s not because you’re a faithful Catholic who loves the truth, it’s because you yourself, don’t understand the challenge of the Great Commission. That’s one of the reason why families are going to struggle with the classical liberal arts academy is that we’re free. And we’re comfortable in dialogue. We don’t have a negative, fearful outlook on the world. We see the world as a mission field that we’re supposed to engage with. Participate in, share with and lead to salvation. Jesus said go into the world and make disciples He didn’t say retreat from the world and hide with those who are already disciples. And the classical liberal arts academy is going to be a place that looks much more like a Catholicism that Pope Francis preaches, preachers and models and much less like any kind of retreating, timid cowardly Catholicism that is that is common in the circles, anyway, I’m outside on a walk in. Looks like a thunderstorms coming. I’m going to head in. I hope that’s helpful. God bless This transcript was generated by https://otter.ai
Mr. William C. Michael, O.P. is the founding headmaster of the Classical Liberal Arts Academy. Mr. Michael is a Lay Dominican in the Catholic Church and is a homeschooling father to ten children, all of whom have studied in the Academy. He graduated from Rutgers University with an honors degree in Classics & Ancient History, is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and is currently studying at Harvard University. Mr. Michael has worked in private education as a Classics teacher and administrator for over 20 years. Mr. Michael is known for his talks on the Academy YouTube channel and his sponsorship of Classical Catholic Radio.