It is in faithful Catholic education that young people learn not to separate their life and knowledge from Christ, who enters into every study and every activity.
As the U.S. bishops prepare to launch a three year revival on devotion and belief in the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, I reflected on how faithful Catholic education is key to the success of this revival. It is the principal means of evangelization of the Church.
Consider Christendom College at Front Royal, Virginia, where the truth that the Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life” is taught and lived. While many Catholic colleges devote time and resources to extravagant athletic or artistic facilities but neglect the training and soul of their students, Christendom nurtures intelligent, virtuous and capable Christians and has focused its latest campaign of funding for the construction of a magnificent new chapel of Christ-Roi. to glorify God.
Many Christendom students attend Mass every day, and they don’t have to worry about “fitting in,” because classes and activities are never scheduled during Mass times. There is a refreshing emphasis on beautiful and reverent liturgy in ordinary and extraordinary forms. Students have frequent opportunities to adore the Blessed Sacrament and go to confession. The holy hour on the first Friday is popular, as well as the Eucharistic procession on the Solemnity of Christ the King.
This is Eucharistic education. It places Christ at the center, with Mass at the center of campus life, and students learn to live as bearers of Christ within them.
Sarah Davis, a homeschooled student in Pennsylvania who will be heading to Christendom College this fall, was drawn to study at a college that “keeps Our Eucharistic Lord at the center of campus life,” according to her award-winning essay submitted to The Cardinal Newman Society. She won a $5,000 scholarship as part of the Society Essay grant competitionin which high school students were asked how attending a Catholic college strongly dedicated to the Eucharist would have a unique impact on their religious, moral, intellectual, and social formation.
Such “devotion to the Eucharist, nurtured during my college days, will be my strong foundation as I continue to become the woman God created me to be,” Davis predicted.
“Before the Blessed Sacrament, she wrote, I will find the strength to conscientiously fulfill my duties as a student, to treat others with true charity and to continue to strive for holiness. If our Eucharistic Lord reigns over the college I attend, I will be challenged to let him reign over my heart and my life.
While Sarah will find strong support for her faith at Christendom College – one of the many colleges recommended in the Newman Guide and Register Guide to a Truly Catholic Education – the reality is that many of her student peers go on to college and lose faith. After graduation from university, almost 75% Catholics do not believe in the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist.
While this may seem like a crisis of dissent, it is more of a crisis of education and a failure of the Church. In that same study, about two-thirds (64%) of young adults who denied the Real Presence admitted to being unsure or unaware of the Church’s teaching on the Eucharist. And 62% actually believed that the Church teaches that the Eucharist is only a symbol of Christ.
We greatly need a renewal of Eucharistic education. It is in faithful Catholic education that young people learn not to separate their life and knowledge from Christ, who enters into every study and every activity. We need it in our Catholic parochial schools, our secular independent schools, our home schools, our hybrid programs and our colleges.
Christendom College is a shining example of the Eucharistic education that every Catholic child needs and deserves. It is a great feeling to help Sarah Davis obtain this type of education, but the Church should be committed to guaranteeing it to every baptized child and young adult.