Educators in Catholic schools approach curriculum differently. The analogy of the Sun and its rays portray the fact that each discipline comes from God, Who is the truth. (figure 1). In handing on this knowledge, which illumines our understanding of all creation, Catholic schools teach the truth about God and human identity.
The sun model consists of concentric circles that embody at its core, God the creator and source of all knowledge and wisdom. God is the source of objective truth and the natural law, which stand independent of Man, but can be understood by him. Christ established the Catholic Church in order to reveal and safeguard this truth. Therefore, Catholic schools and ministers (teachers) have a duty to remain faithful to the teachings of the Church, which are guarded and protected by the Magisterium of the Church. In addition to divine revelation, truth is also discovered through man’s intellectual capacity to reason. These dual components form the foundation for all academic disciplines and form “the foundation to live morally and uprightly in our complex modern world” (USCCB, Renewing our Commitment, 2005).
The model of the sun holds special meaning not only visually, but conceptually as well. Just as the core of the sun provides its immense energy and fuels its rays, the light of faith and reason springs forth to illuminate all around. But we know that the sun, while sending light out from its core, also pulls all things in the solar system toward it. This gravitational pull holds all things close to it and in their proper place. So too, the curriculum of a Catholic school must help pull teachers and students back to the center of Creation, our God and Father. This dynamic of enlightenment and truth was addressed eloquently by Pope John Paul II in his encyclical On Faith and Reason.
We believe that God has placed within the human heart a desire to know and love him and to learn and discover truth. When structured properly, the school’s educational program helps us to know the mind and heart of God. The arts and literature help us express the depth of the human soul, the social sciences help reveal the natural law, history helps us see God’s plan of salvation unfold, while science and mathematics help us see the beauty of creation and the natural order in the world.
“Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth—in a word, to know himself—so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves.” (Fides et Ratio, preface, 1998)
“Though faith is above reason, there can never be any real discrepancy between faith and reason. Since the same God who reveals mysteries and infuses faith has bestowed the light of reason on the human mind, God cannot deny himself, nor can truth ever contradict truth. Consequently, methodical research in all branches of knowledge, provided it is carried out in a truly scientific manner and does not override moral laws, can never conflict with the faith, because the things of the world and the things of faith derive from the same God. The humble and persevering investigator of the secrets of nature is being led, as it were, by the hand of God in spite of himself, for it is God, the conserver of all things, who made them what they are.” (CCC 159)