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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 49

Secularists are in Great Glee

Secularists are in Great Glee

over their progress. They look forward to speedy and complete success. Their victory in common schools carries them triumphantly along to State secular Universities. Indeed, they might begin their song of triumph, if not for complete accomplishment, then for rapid advancement. Only one foe stands undismayed before them. It is the Catholic parent who permits no one to come between him and his child. The father is a Christian, page 36 prizing his faith more than his purse or the world's esteem; resolute to transmit to his offspring the precious boon of religion in its purity and brightness, undimmed by the jeers and scoffs and calumnies of unbelievers; he will not permit his children to breathe an atmosphere of infidelity. Others may think and say that he is wrong: he knows that he is right. He meddles not with others. He listens to much counsel from well-meaning friends. They tell him it is a glorious privilege for his boy to be the equal and companion of a rich man's son. It may happen—it often happens—that he cares no more for the rich man's son than for the rich man himself. They point to the palatial schoolhouse, grand and gorgeous in all its appointments; to the teachers, learned and accomplished. They tell him all these shall his son enjoy, without price or pay, if he will but intrust his boy's education to the State, which loves to play foster-father to its children. The poor man's poverty gnaws into the bone under the proffered bribe; his mind dwells on the temporal advantages so enticingly offered; he loves his child, and he believes in an overruling Providence, a God, Creator, Supreme Master of the universe; he believes in a world to come, and cherishes the hope that, after this life, he and his boy shall be reunited with the blessed in heaven. Under the coarse coat and rough exterior of many a day-laborer there beats a heart of honest manliness that would scorn to be the beneficiary of any man's aid. He pays for his child's education; he hates to pay for a superior education for his richer neighbor's son. There is a laudable pride in this spirit of independence and self-reliance, the very virtues upon which the Republic depends for its existence.

He can conceive of no true happiness except as his life conforms to the teachings and will of his God. His thoughts of happiness for himself are bound up with page 37 those of his child. His child's happiness for this world and the next interests and determines his actions at home, in its play, in school, and in church. He is concerned about its lessons, but still more about every influence bearing on the direction and formation of mind and character. Like Herbert Spencer, he knows that mere intellectual education will not form character; and, like President White, he holds that the preliminary education which many receive "only sharpens claws and tusks, and makes beasts of prey." To guard against such dangers, this father, whose religion is real and living, made up of doctrines to be known and believed, and of observances and practices to be faithfully followed, dares not before God and his conscience neglect to train his son in these observances, make him familiar with their use, and fill his mind and soul with love and reverence toward them. How will it be with his boy, if the school fail to come to his aid, or, what is worse, operate disastrously, by positive or negative teaching, upon his soul? What will be the future of that boy if the atmosphere he breathes at school be filled with doubt, sneers, negation? There is not in this audience one father, who, if he believed in a life to come, of happiness or misery eternal, would take any unnecessary chances with regard to his child's education and school life. If you judge the rest of the world only from your standpoint of belief, the brave struggle of a Catholic poor man to obtain a Christian education for his child will continue to be an enigma, and lead to acts of injustice.