The core of the social studies curriculum at MRA is the study of our own nation's founding, and the positive values that instigated the revolution of the colonists against the British. Enduring ideas such as respect for human dignity, freedom for the good, religious tolerance, and the natural law inspired the colonists to act. In the French Revolution, rebels were inspired by a different set of core values - values associated with the philosophy of the Enlightenment - which ultimately led to immoral and poor actions on behalf of those leading the revolution.
We challenge students to discover the relationship between ideas and actions when detecting causes or reasons behind historical events, largely because ideas are so powerful.
Below is a creative writing assignment from an anonymous student in the Junior High which illustrates the use of the skill quite nicely. Students were challenged to write a first person account of a priest who experienced the dangerous and revolutionary policies instituted by the French in the 18th century. This student wonderfully integrated the historical situation into an authentic and deeply personal recounting of the events that shocked all of Europe.
August 24th, 1790
Oh-my-goodness, the country's so-called wonderful National Assembly tricked King Louis into doing something unintelligent again! That is right, our weak king signed the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, which basically states that the Pope has absolutely no authority in the French church. Our catholic king as signed this? And now, him and the whole assembly expect all of us religious to sign an oath of loyalty to this terrible document. I think our government has gone a little crazy!
August 29th, 1790
Dear God, there are times that I am more than a little upset and confused, times when I wonder if you really love me as much as you do. For instance, today when Mr. Talleyrand called me a "chicken" in front of all my fellow priests because I refused to sign the Civil Constitution of the Clergy. Please Lord, help me!
September 3rd, 1790
My life just got a lot harder. I just got moved to the parish down the hill because their priest is in jail for refusing to sign the Civil Constitution. It is extremely hard to remain faithful to the Church and parish if we keep getting moved from one parish to another.
September 5th, 1790
The French authorities are at my door, and I don't think they want to invite me to a dinner party. I could be wrong, but I think I am about to be arrested, and perhaps killed for high treason. You see, I was present at an Assembly meeting and I publicly announced that I would not sign the Civil Constitution. Oh gosh, the authorities just broke down my front door! Is my life coming to an end? Well, this is France! I will remain faithful to God and His Church!
We are especially thankful for all the brave martyrs of the French Revolution who refused to renounce their faith in fear.