Catholic truth in history

I HAD almost written that history is the most important department of all education. To put this without modification would be, of course, to put it wrongly. The most important part is the teaching of dogma; next, and inextricably connected with it, the teaching of morals; next, the securing (and this is also connected with the teaching of dogma and morals) of continuous Catholic daily custom. History comes, of course, after all these. Any Catholic parent would much rather that his children grow up ignorant of history than ignorant of the Faith or of sound morals, or of Catholic custom and habit. Nevertheless, there is an aspect in which history may be called the most important of all subjects taught. And that aspect is precisely the purely scholastic aspect. . . .

History is the memory of the State and at the same time the object-lesson of politics. It is by true history that men know what they really are. False history must make them think themselves different from what they really are. By history is the continuity of the State preserved and its character determined. Now history being of this supreme importance to philosophy, to one’s whole outlook on life, and yet at the same time universally treated as a secular subject, you have meeting in it two issues, the conflict between which forms the great peril Catholics have to run in this country (England). History must have a philosophy. It must tend to praise or to blame. It must judge. There is no such thing as mere external history, for all history is the history of the human mind. Therefore, in anti-Catholic society history will be anti-Catholic. It will be anti-Catholic in the textbooks. It will be anti-Catholic in the examinations which Catholic youth has to pass. We are confronted in this country with the crucial difficulty of having to present the most important of human subjects, the one which, of temporal subjects, most affects the soul, with a machinery designed for the production of an anti-Catholic effect. . . .