Catholic Scouting – but why? We have secular scouting, why do we need anything separate? I will endeavour to answer these questions in this post.
Baden-Powell had great insight, he suspected something would work, he had the courage to try it, and thus he discovered that it did work. Boy Scouts worked.
Baden-Powell discovered that people who have a common goal, are more likely to achieve it. Basically unity brings about victory. If there is a common purpose, the effort of the whole, working as a single body, is more effective than just an individual.
What he discovered at Mafeking, was that young people are very dedicated when they have a common purpose. Now, Mafeking is not something a follower of Christ can sing about, because the boys were essentially employed in warfare as messengers etc. But Baden-Powell did learn some important lessons from it.
What Baden-Powell then went on to develop was Boy Scouting. Which was more of a ethical work. Boy Scouting was about developing a virtuous person. Why did Baden Powell want Boy Scouting to be about developing a virtuous person? Baden Powell perceived that a virtuous person was of greater service and credit to a nation than an unvirtuous person. An easy example is: the honest person is of greater service and credit to a nation than a dishonest person.
Baden-Powell lived in a time where the cultural perception of the populace was: that to be virtuous was a good and self-promoting thing. While the social ladder was sadly not absolutely governed by virtue, it certainly aided being a virtuous soul. This is not so much the case today.
Baden-Powell correctly identified that if one gathered a group of people with that same basic understanding -for instance, that virtue is good for the country – then that group would grow in virtue more efficiently than an isolated individual. Why, does a group tend achieve it’s goal more efficiently than an individual? A group tends to be more efficient because of psychological and fraternal factors, such as (but not limited to), fear of letting others down, peer-pressure/encouragement and the desired identity/association in the group.
Now Baden-Powell did not perceive the effects of World War II, of the rampant secularisation and the development of anti-nationalistic scepticism that has grown since then. For the Christian, nations mean nothing. The nation state is not the object of salvation, human beings are. Nations are geographical human constructs, they pass. The Lord taught and the Church has dutifully passed on “Render unto Caesar what is Caesars”. But it is very important that the Christian remembers that nations are not our primary identification.
The truth is that Baden-Powell did not perceive the destination of the Philosophy that had been festering and growing for a long time; relativism Relativism has stripped the modern equivalent of the Scouts of it’s former primary purpose: to develop virtuous people for the benefit of the country.
Thankfully, this woeful situation does not have to affect Catholic Scouting. The purpose of Catholic Scouting should be to develop virtuous people (holy or saintly people) for the benefit of the Church. The Church should occupy the first place of nationalistic pride in our hearts, not our geographical human constructs, which by the very nature of their work of human hands, are fallen and temporal. I will write a post on the evils of national patriotism another time.
The final question of this post is: Why would a body of Catholic Scouts the most efficient means of promoting virtue in it’s members? A body of Catholic Scouts would be an efficient means of promoting virtue in it’s members because it benefits from the observations of Lord Baden-Powell, namely that youth become very dedicated to a common cause (especially one that also have practical active application and an aspect of adventure involved) and that a collective is more efficient than an individual.
I think it would be presumptuous to say that it would be the most efficient, but a body of Catholic Scouts separate from the secular scouting organisation, has distinctive advantages. The mix of adventure and practical skills is more attractive and has a greater holding power than a purely spiritual guild/association.
Let me know your thoughts, leave a comment.