I recently received an email that contained a letter written by a retiring priest and principal of a Catholic high school in my area. This letter was of some interest to me, as I had been a teacher at this particular school for fifteen years. I read the letter, about four or five pages in length, that was basically a list of all the wonderful accomplishments of the school since the time of its inception. Many of these accomplishments had to do with athletics, and sending students off to colleges and other institutions with name recognition. There were also other things listed, such as contriubtions to chariable causes and basically just being a shining beacon of light and model of goodness.
While it all sounded very nice, there was just one problem: it was all a bunch of bunk. I can say that because I was on the inside of the instituion for fifteen years. Sure, the institution did a mediocre public relations job of giving the appearance of a Catholic veneer, but within the walls was quite a different reality. What I witnessed was an administration that decried the evils of bullying, yet were themselves the worst possible culprits of bullying tactics against faculty, students, even parents who didn't toe the party line. And the party line had little to do with the authentic faith.
What I did witness during my years at this particular institution was the promotion of heterodoxy and, yes, often heresy. In terms of curriculum, there was rarely anything substantive to be distinguished from that of any secular school. Even theology classes were a free for all, where students would be encouraged to pray for, among other things, the ordination of women. I could write a book about the things I observed first hand at the school, and perhaps one day I will. But what pains me the most is how many young souls were lost in that place.
The worst part of this tale, I fear, is that it's a common one. As many readers are already painfully aware, so many of our so-called Catholic instituions, rather than being guided by the authentic faith, fall in line with the whimsical ebbs and flows of the pagan world. Whatever brings in the dollars. Lately, I've been hearing many in the Catholic world, whether it's parish priests, school administrators, or even bishops, offering up self praise and congratulations. And while genuine praise has an appropriate place, much of what I hear these days is little more than flattery and hubris. In the realm of spiritual warfare, we need battle reports that are realistic. None of this criticism is meant to belittle the good works being done by faithful Catholics in the trenches every day. But when you hear those in authority gushing over "progress," even while we observe a sad state of spiritual affairs, be mindful. They are essentially of the same ilk as politicians who try to assure us of a robust economy even as we struggle to make ends meet.