Catholic Education: an excursion into the supernatural
By Dr Gerard Gaskin, Executive Director of Catholic Education Tasmania
Faithful to the Great Commission of Jesus Christ (Matt 28:18-20) the Tasmanian Catholic Educational community strives to bring Christ to our staff and students, to lead our staff and students to Christ, so that they may grow in knowledge, holiness and virtue and so take Christ to the world.
You might be surprised to hear that the work of the Catholic school is primarily spiritual work: that everything we do – be it higher mathematics, languages, literature, the creative and performing arts, physical education, science and technology – all has a supernatural purpose.
These days the word supernatural has an interesting and particular meaning for most of our students. It may perhaps conjure up images of the comic-magazine Superman and Wonder Woman, or the heroes, human and animal, of the Marvel movies, or of the Star Wars Jedi who possessed the force.
Four centuries before Christ, the Ancient Greeks, keen students of metaphysics – that realm of reality that lies beyond human sense – believed with all their hearts in supernature: the universal or supernatural truths that are the real business of human existence.
In Catholic understanding, the idea of supernature describes that part of God’s Creation that lies beyond physical nature, beyond our senses, beyond anything that we can see, feel and hear. It describes the present state of Mary and the angels and saints, of Jesus Himself – all of whom are utterly real. It describes such places as Heaven and Hell, none of which we can see with our earthly eyes. The Bible, New and Old Testaments, and constant Church teaching over the centuries remind us that there is a very real – very awesome – supernatural realm, designed, created and sustained by God. Moreover, it is a realm that is completely beyond our present human experience.
For believers, the idea of supernature conveys a potent sense of promise – the promise of eternal happiness – the promise of the supernatural and everlasting paradise that awaits all people who accept and live the liberating message of the Gospel. It is the reason for Jesus’ Incarnation, passion, death and Resurrection.
Supernature is at the heart of Catholic education because it aims for a paradise in this life and the next: The Kingdom of God. Catholic schools are here to bring the supernatural into the lives of all our students and families – to bring faith, hope and charity into every life – and into the world. This indeed, is education with the end in mind.