This piece I wrote was originally written on August 11, 2016 and posted over at the Next Right Step. Though parts of it I had actually written to my own local school on March 17, 2016. I wrote the article because of my own personal journey and in response to the Vatican Sex Education Program, which I understand is now being revised due to concerns. The Next Right Step site is closing down this Sunday, so I am re-posting it here so I have record of it.
It’s funny, looking back now, to know parts were written on the Feast of Saint Patrick and I finished it for the Next Right Step on the Feast Day of my two Namesakes, which I didn’t know back then. It was only this year that I realized Saint Susana and Saint Claire had the same Feast Day of August 11, and I was actually led to that revelation by Saint Philomena who kept popping up in prayer (and my friends prayers), and who also shares that Feast Day. I was also at the time in the middle of my own battle about sex education locally. It was the biggest test of my faith I have ever undergone, having to fight the powers that be in my own community, and having anxiety going to Mass because of all the judgment. But in the end, knowing my Savior in the Eucharist and His love for me at every Mass overwhelmed the anxiety I felt in being judged by others. And I believe this is also because the Communion of Saints, Patrick, Susana, Claire, and Philomena were walking with me and my family, interceding and praying for us, even though I didn’t know it at the time. Though the situation did not turn out as I had would have wanted, recent developments in the media have let me know God is watching, and the exploitation of females needs to stop, which was my main concern with the battle we fought. Trying to teach my son to respect the dignity of women and not exploit it, for his own soul and the soul of any woman he comes across.And I know God is good all the time. And it is in forgiveness that my family is healed.
Here is my post from back then;
Purity and the Domestic Church
By Susan Skinner
Charlie asked me to write up a piece on the Vatican Sex Education program. He told me that I had some genuine expertise in this area. I do not feel that I do. In fact I feel wholly inept, except in one area and that one area is Motherhood. As the Mother of three young children my husband and I are daily battling a culture that brings lust, sex, and “hook ups” into the world of my children every day. My 14 year old can’t go to the Mall without seeing a half-naked Victoria’s Secret model, or a man in his underwear at Abercrombie and Fitch. Let’s not even get into the social media where I struggle every day to maintain parental control. I have to talk to my kids every day about these images we see all around us. I have also seen friend’s marriages ruined by the readily available pornography. It sometimes feels the wolf is at the door but through prayer and catechesis with my family, we are keeping the wolf at bay.
The respite in my life has always been my church. The church has always been clear on matters of sexuality and morality. The rights of the parents, in the eyes of the church, has always been inalienable.
“At the same time I feel it important to reiterate that the overall education of children is a “most serious duty” and at the same time a “primary right” of parents. This is not just a task or a burden, but an essential and inalienable right that parents are called to defend and of which no one may claim to deprive them.” Paragraph 84, Pope Francis – Amoris Laetitia
I was so thankful to have this guiding light for my family through these tumultuous times we live in. The church’s rules are not to suck the fun out of life, but are a guide that can lead to great and joyful living. When we love God with our whole heart, our response is to keep His commandments.
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” John 14:15
My husband and I chose Catholic Schools for our children in an effort to help catechize them. We sacrifice and pay large tuition in order to be able to do so. We did this because we felt safe, and we trusted that what is being taught aligns with our Catholic values at home. While some experiences with the Catholic school system have been great, I have unfortunately also personally found out not every school is aligned with our values. And it is a heart ache to have to battle the Catholic Institutions when they should be a refuge from the world. Still I keep my eyes on Christ.
Further disheartening was seeing the sex education curriculum that came out of the Pontifical Council on the Family. If I had time to, I could dissect each part of this curriculum. I could tell you why it’s inappropriate to show a woman’s chest with XXX on top of it, or why bringing a biology teacher into a mixed class to teach anatomy (see link above), is inappropriate, but it begs the question, whose right is it to teach our children on matters of sexuality regardless of the content? If the church really wanted to help teach the children about sex education why wouldn’t the curriculum be formulated for the parents to teach their own children with the school in a secondary supportive role? We are being asked it seems, by our own church members, to abdicate our rights. The family is the domestic church. This is where we should start if we want to help people.
I was heartsick when I first saw this sexual education curriculum. What have we done? Long gone are the days when a parent could expect that their child would discover the beauty of sexual union on their wedding night. The culture bombards them with sex and pornography. Sex is portrayed everywhere divorced from its Sacramental purpose, and devoid of truth and beauty. Children don’t even know what a mortal sin is, and this new curriculum doesn’t appear to want to mention it. Instead of responding with truth and beauty this curriculum embraces the culture and provides graphic photos that I already have to address every day and they bring it in under the guise of providing “information.”
My Spiritual Director once told me the litmus test for anything we do… anything we teach, read, watch, is – if the Blessed Mother were standing in the room with you, could you show her what you were doing without feeling shame? I believe it would be hard to look at the Blessed Mother and tell her as a church, we have infringed on parental rights, and we are showing pictures of teenagers grind dancing because we know it’s in the culture.
Why are we caving into the culture? The message of the Gospel should not be watered down. If there is anything at all in this curriculum (which I believe there is), that could lead even one child into mortal sin, then the church has failed in Catholic Education. The salvation of souls is our goal, and our educators are at risk of their own souls if they lead a child to sin.
“If anyone causes one of these little ones–those who believe in me–to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” Matthew 18:6
We have invited the culture into the classroom. A culture which teaches depravity and mediocrity. I am here to tell you that the only way to change the culture is to aim for the ideal. No one would ever said that when St. Francis set out to reform the church that he was realistic in his goal. He sought God’s ideal. The same goes for Mother Teresa. We have lost our sense of the wondrous works that God can provide if we only aim for them. We have also lost our sense of modesty, a tragedy to me since we have Saints like Agnes and Maria Goretti who went to their deaths defending it.
Our children are dying. They are literally dying due to a culture that feeds them death, and they are spiritually dying because their souls are not being fed truth. We need to feed them truth and beauty. We need to show them that our church offers a better way of living that leads to peace and joy in our souls. Many of our children have all the material wealth they could possibly want, and yet, they still feel alone, they get addicted, they see the sin offering of the culture and more and more often, they choose that path.
We have the answer, and yet the best we can do as a church, is seemingly put out a curriculum that invites the culture in, and takes away the role of the parent. God help us all, and we wonder why our world is in the state it’s in.
So to all the parents out there, I urge you, do not abdicate your rights. Do not let the school system take what is yours. If you do, you will likely not get those rights back anytime soon. Do not be afraid. Teach your children truth and beauty. And to the educators out there, partner with the parents, don’t dictate to them, otherwise you are no better than the mandate to the Little Sisters of the Poor.
Lastly, pray the Rosary every day. The Blessed Mother can cover us and our children over with her Mantle. We can change the culture, but we must live the Gospel. We have nothing to fear because the gates of hell shall not prevail, and our God is a God of great love.
If any of parents out there have come across a Catholic Institution that is violating Doctrine and you need assistance in getting it corrected, please contact the St. Joseph Foundation Canon Law. They are an invaluable resource. They are funded by donations, so please also consider making a donation to this invaluable organization.