Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Freedom, Autonomy and Responsibility in Catholic Education

On Freedom, Autonomy and Responsibility in Catholic Education at Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Chapel, ACU North Sydney

The Homily linked above should be of interest to anyone working in Catholic education, especially these closing three paragraphs  . . .

We don’t just learn for learning’s sake, worthy as that is. We don’t just learn for our own uses, necessary as that is also. No, we learn that we might teach, accumulate so as to share, study in order to transmit, add to what humanity knows and put it to service. Through Eastertide we read of early Church heroes passing on the faith like sparks spreading through the dry Australian scrub. Today Paul and Barnabas argue for a bigger enrolment, as it were (Acts 15:1-6). And their way of resolving matters was to become fundamental for a Catholic college: we gather together to contemplate and converse, that together we might discover what is true and good and beautiful. We share our little wisdom, and listen to others. We beg the assistance of divine wisdom also. We sharpen our opinions on each other’s. We maintain an atmosphere of curiosity and docility, civil debate and scholastic endeavour. And then we hit the road again, sharing what we’ve gained with the world.

Our conference focuses on the freedom and responsibility in Catholic education. The flowering cross reminds us what our students, academics and institutions should be free for and responsible to: free for Veritas, for discovering truth, not just preference or opinion; responsible to Veritas, for reverencing truth, for building up and passing truth on, not just storing greedily or sifting ideologically. And we discover that Truth with a capital-T is a Man who also God, who came as witness to the truth and called on the Father to consecrate us to the truth (Jn 18:37; 17:17).

If you go to Rome, after visiting St Peter’s and, of course, the Rome campus of the Australian Catholic University, a third highlight worthy of your attention is the Dominican church of St. Clemente, one of the true wonders of ancient, patristic, mediaeval and renaissance Rome. In the dome above the altar is an incredibly rich 12th-century mosaic of the Tree of the Cross become the Tree of Life, with luxurious shoots sprung from the tree in all directions, supporting abundant growth in Church and society, with branches for every kind of animal and vegetable life, and for all human activity, active and contemplative. There are several scholars amongst the foliage, each at his writing desk. A cruel and deadly cross that once stood on a hill in a backwater of the Roman Empire, now stands gloriously in the middle of Rome for all to see, a tree of new life for every young mind – and every older heart also.


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