Here is what I was able to pray with 350 children this morning:
“Set our hearts aflame, O Lord,
with the Spirit of your charity, we pray,
that we may always think thoughts
worthy and pleasing to your majesty
and love you sincerely in our brothers and sisters.”
IMHO those three seconds alone are what makes Catholic education invaluable to our nation. That is not to say that public and secular schools cannot instill character (the public school down the street claims to do just that) but it is a lot more difficult if you don’t have a community agreed upon (and legal) moral system that you can teach.
Our public schools are not atheistic (nor are they in some sort of neutral state - that is impossible) but I think about the atheistic mindset and atheistic apostles. An atheist can state what I said above about living charity and finding dignity and worth in his fellow man but in the end, it will only be a “good” because the speaker says so and that he was the power to enforce it. (The school board and the Supreme Court says that I can say this!)
WARNING: This is coming out of the mind of a committed Catholic so there is a biased slant here. But I think about what, if atheists got together every Sunday for an hour (or Friday, or Wednesday) what would they talk about as a replacement for worship of God? If there is no God, which, by definition means there is no purpose or meaning for us or the universe, if everything is just chance and once we die there is no more life, no reward, no punishment, then every word that comes out of my mouth is completely useless unless it brings me comfort. (Even helping someone else in the end is because it benefits or pleases me.) If you are going to challenge this, please give the basis for your universal moral system that is employed other than in a might makes right scenario. I would greatly appreciate it!
The only grounding for any moral system would only be the will of the majority or the powerful who have the backing to enforce the moral right. Anyone who would get up in the “pulpit” would have one of two jobs: reminding all their duty to follow the will of the powerful or to convince everybody to change to their idea of the good to what they want. But in the end, none of it will matter except to please the speaker. The great consolation will be, in the last second of life as you realize that you are heading off into oblivion for all of eternity, that at least you were right in believing life is meaningless.