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GOD AND MAN AT GEORGETOWN PREPHow I Became a Catholic Despite 20 Years of Catholic Schooling by Mark Gauvreau Judge


How I Became a Catholic Despite 20 Years of Catholic Schooling

by Mark Gauvreau Judge

Crossroad Publishing, 2005

192 pages, $13.27

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Through the recounting of his Catholic education in God and Man at Georgetown Prep, Mark Gauvreau Judge details how it contributed to his falling away from the faith and what eventually drew him back.

His story cuts to the core of the problem that has plagued Catholic education in America since Vatican II. Judge claims that he didn’t receive an orthodox understanding of Catholicism because there was no connection between the facts he learned and God. Which meant, to him, that he never had an authentic, meaningful spirituality. Which meant he had no need for the Church.

Judge begins by contrasting what he received in school to the example of his father — a man grounded in Catholic orthodoxy, in love with the ancient faith, yet not stuck in the past, but in tune with the struggles of the world. His father believed that through Catholicism one sees the world and humanity for what they truly are, and comes to know that the purpose of everything is to see God — God who in Jesus Christ became like us to point to something beyond us.

As Judge maintains, only in Catholicism is this fully realized, that God touches us and we touch him through created things, and through signs and symbols that actually reveal him: sacraments. God does not remove himself from fallen creation, but chooses to enter it and sanctify it.

This understanding was something that Judge found to be lacking in his Catholic schooling in the 1970s and ’80s.

“My Catholic schooling simply did not educate me that joy, friendship and the powerful attraction to the opposite sex were natural and healthy reactions to the manifestations of the Creator,” he writes. “These things were the best things in life, and Christ had been minimized to the point where I could not see him in the world. When this happens the things that God created offer diminishing returns. When there is no longer a hierarchy of loves with God at the top, those lesser loves become gods who cannot satisfy.”

Judge shows that straying from orthodoxy in Catholic education causes everything to lack a sense of coherency. Kids grow up searching for something to satisfy them, not knowing that their faith already offers full satisfaction in the love of Christ, and grounded in that, the ability to truly find satisfaction in his magnificent creation.

Likewise, Catholicism is no longer able to impact us, or our culture, in a meaningful way.

Many will be shocked in reading Judge’s journey as he exposes the depths to which Catholic schooling has sunk, reveals the grave errors of the dissenting mindset that has developed since Vatican II and points out the resulting confusion.

But Judge provides a ray of hope. God’s grace is still available — in people like his father, great books, beautiful music and architecture, the occasional faithful teacher — all of which eventually led him back to the Church. You could conclude that because of the prayers and labors of a faithful few, a new orthodoxy is dawning, and a generation of young people is emerging who are tired of the lies and desire freeing truth.

Judge writes from the heart, and the book is refreshing. While sometimes crammed with details and trying to say too much at once, it is entertaining, funny, and thought-provoking. With its penetrating insight into American Catholic life and education, it is a wakeup call and should encourage tireless work for the renewal of the Church.

Bob Horning writes from

Ann Arbor, Michigan.