Of Singular Benefit: The Story of Catholic Education in the United States

Of Singular Benefit: The Story of Catholic Education in the United States

Of Singular Benefit: The Story of Catholic Education in the United States

Of Singular Benefit: The Story of Catholic Education in the United States

Excerpt

The "story" of our title refers to history, which a humorist has defined as "a story of events that never happened by people who weren't there." Hopefully, one can do better than that. Etymologically from the Greek historia, meaning an inquiry or narrative, history is, according to Webster, different from annals and chronicles, and is "a systematic written account comprising a chronological record of events ... and usually including a philosophical explanation of the cause and origin of such events." It is, in the words of the Harvard Guide to American History, "a ... particular way of studying the record of human experience." Henri-Irénée Marrou asserts that the historian is delegated "by men, his brethren, to conquer truth." Pope Leo XIII gave its underlying principle when, citing Cicero, he said on August 18, 1883, in making the Vatican Archives available to historians: "The first law of history is neither to say anything false, nor to keep silent about the truth."

The "United States" will, of course, vary in space and in time. With regard to space, this book will refer to this country in its present boundaries. With regard to time, because history is a continuum and not a mere succession of events like acts on a stage with a rising and falling curtain separating one part from another, historical divisions are somewhat false and arbitrary. They are nevertheless necessary, and there are reasons for the chronological divisions in this work. The first section, "Colonial Period of Transplantation," extends to 1783, with the Treaty of Paris a logical breaking point. It looks eastward, to the countries from which the Spanish, French, and English settlers transplanted their educational ideas. The next period, "Formative Foundations," beginning in 1784 and ending in 1828, looks more within these shores; witnesses the beginnings of organization of Catholic life in this country and of the . . .

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