Fulton Sheen and Catholic Schools

“If you want your children to fight for their faith, send them to public school. If you want them to lose their faith, send them to Catholic school.” Attributed to Ven. Fulton Sheen, but almost certainly not said by him.

It’s a variant of something that might have been said by him: “I recommend that my relatives send their college-bound children to secular colleges where they will have to fight for their faith, rather than to Catholic colleges where it will be stolen from them.” This form of the saying is attributed to him by Msgr. George Kelly in a 1987 Crisis article. (Thanks to David Smith for finding this.)

As always, if you want to prove me wrong, provide a documented primary source, please.

C. S. Lewis, children and work

“Children are not a distraction from more important work. They are the most important work.” Attributed to C.S. Lewis

It doesn’t sound like him. None of the hits on the Internet return a primary source. It’s not on Wikiquote. It doesn’t come up with anything on Google books.

I’m calling it fake. I think it gets attributed to him because of the Narnia books.

Update for 8/23/2015

Since I first published this post, I’ve gotten several comments on it. One set of comments is associated with Dr. John Trainer, who claims to be the originator of the quotation.

Another set of comments claims that it is CSL, “from a speech he made in 1952 at the Library Association, titled ‘On Three Ways of Writing for Children.’ The speech was later adapted into an essay in Lewis’ ‘Of Other Worlds: Essays and Stories.’”

I don’t own that book, but I have a bibliophile friend who does, and he says that the quotation is not in the essay in the book. I couldn’t find it searching the text of the book on Google Books either. The essay also appears in Lewis’s On Stories, but I can’t find the quotation there either. I don’t have access to the speech so I can’t check there.

Absent a specific page number of a specific edition of a specific book, I remain skeptical that Lewis actually wrote this and will give the nod to Dr. Trainer unless someone can come up with a solid earlier citation.

Newman and the Engine Room

“Those who love the barque of Peter ought to stay out of the engine room.” — Attributed to Blessed John Henry Newman by Fr. Barron in an Oct. 14, 2014 column and by George Weigel in an Apr. 3, 2013 column.

I suspect that both of these men got the attribution to Newman from a common third source, which I haven’t bothered to track down because Newman definitely didn’t write or say it. A search for it on the invaluable Newman Reader site turned up nothing, and a search for just the word “barque” on that site turned up only unrelated hits.

Moreover, there’s an actual definite source that’s not Blessed Cardinal Newman. It’s Ronald Knox, according to Wikiquote, which gives the correct quotation as: “He who travels in the Barque of Peter had better not look too closely into the engine room,” and gives as the source The Knox Brothers, by Penelope Fitzgerald, where it’s said he said that as a reply when asked why he did not want to visit Rome.

St. Francis and the single candle

“All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light from a single candle.” Attributed to St. Francis of Assisi.

  1. It doesn’t sound like him to me.
  2. It’s not listed at all on Wikiquote.
  3. An Internet search for it turns up a citation on Goodreads claiming that it’s from the Little Flowers, but I checked two different editions of the Little Flowers (EWTN and CCEL), and it’s not there.
  4. Google Books finds it in:
    • The Compassionate Life: Walking the Path of Kindness, where it’s an epitaph on a headstone, not attributed to St. Francis at all
    • A Dangerous Dozen, where it’s attributed to The Little Flowers without anything more precise (my guess is that this is where Goodreads got it)
    • Introduction to Computational Cultural Psychology (I am not making this up) where it’s called an “Hassidic proverb” and where this is added to it: “yet one candle can illuminate all the darkness.”
    • a bunch of other places that don’t look helpful.
  5. A search of CCEL for Francis single candle turned up 18 hits, none of them matching this quotation.

I’m calling this one fake unless someone in the comments can find an actual primary source.