Christendom College

Alumnus Praises Carroll’s Work as “Model for the Catholic Study of History”

October 20, 2017

Education is one of the most noble, and challenging, fields to enter. It takes hard work, commitment, and a desire to help improve the lives of others. Dr. Warren Carroll, the founder of Christendom College, was filled with those traits in the 1970s when he founded the college, inspiring later alumni to follow his example and join the education field. For alumnus and Bishop O’Connell High School religion department head Matthew Rose, Carroll’s work directly influenced his decision to major in history and strengthened his resolve to become a teacher, resulting in a new paper from Rose that lays out how Carroll’s historiography is the ideal model for the Catholic study of history.

Rose, who double-majored in history and English language and literature before earning his masters in systematic theology from Christendom, has been involved with teaching since before graduation. Christendom’s Teacher Practicum program allowed him the opportunity to gain essential in-classroom experience, and the fact that his mentor teacher was Anne Carroll, wife of Dr. Carroll, at Seton School in Manassas, Virginia, provided Rose with a rare opportunity: the chance to teach history courses in front of Dr. Carroll.

Rose, a 2008 Christendom graduate, is now chair of the religion department at Bishop O’Connell High School.

After stints at St. Mary’s School of Piscataway in Clinton, MD and St. Veronica Catholic School in Chantilly, Virginia, Rose joined Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington, Virginia, in 2014 as a history and religion teacher before becoming chair of the religion department this year.

When he isn’t teaching, Rose writes for such notable publications as Catholic ExchangeCrisis Magazine, and Homiletic and Pastoral Review, or for his own blog, Quidquid Est, Est!. He also gives scholarly and popular lectures, which led him to respond to the Society of Catholic Social Scientists’ call for papers for their 25th anniversary Conference. For the Society, Rose decided to write a paper on Carroll and his Catholic historiography, an undertaking that only deepened Rose’s appreciation for Carroll’s thought and for his education at Christendom.

“As a teacher, I can honestly say that there has not been a single day of my professional career where I have not drawn from my Christendom education,” says Rose. “In particular, I find myself returning to topics and themes addressed in Dr. Carroll’s writings. When I teach history courses, I begin the course by looking at how a Catholic views history, with God as a key player and the Incarnation in the center. Not surprisingly, those lessons involve discussing Dr. Carroll’s thought, particularly in his essay ‘Banning the Supernatural.’ Likewise, in my religion courses I emphasize that Truth exists, and how we must have that principle down before we can do any sort of rational study.”

Dr. Warren Carroll, the founder of Christendom College, was a noted historian his entire life, particularly for his Catholic model of history.

The impact of Dr. Carroll’s vision, and that of his successors, on Rose cannot be overstated, in his opinion. Such an impact directly led to him writing a paper on Carroll and his historiography years later.

“Before coming to Christendom, the nearest I came to encountering the Catholic vision of history was the inclusion of Catholic figures in history classes in Catholic primary and secondary schools. Freshman year, then, was a sort of intellectual bombshell. I had never made the connection between history and Christ. I got a taste of this vision in the classroom, but I found the banquet in reading Carroll’s literary corpus. The more I read, the more I became convinced that the wider Catholic educational world needed Carroll’s Catholic historiography,” says Rose.

In his paper, Rose explores how Carroll reoriented Catholic historical studies in the late-twentieth century, after it had fallen by the wayside due to Catholic historiography, much like Catholic universities, becoming indistinguishable from other secular works. Carroll’s work, Rose argues, presents the best model for the Catholic study of history, making it essential reading not just for historians but for all faithful Catholics looking to restore the culture.

“Catholic scholars largely ignore Carroll’s writing; there are almost no scholarly treatments of his thought. That is a shame, because Carroll, through his balance of Catholic tradition and rigorous historical scholarship, provides a model for how to approach historical study. He echoes the teaching of writers like St. Paul, St. Augustine, and G. K. Chesterton that the Incarnation is the central point of history, around which all other history turns. He also emphasizes the importance of solid historical research and referencing sources, leading him to criticize even noteworthy historians like Hilarie Belloc. Thus Carroll provides the historical views of the Church’s tradition according to the structure of a modern historical scholar,” says Rose.

The works of Carroll, particularly his “Christendom” series, changed Rose’s life, and the lives of many others.

Forty years after Carroll founded Christendom, his thought and his vision continues to expand out into the world, thanks to the work of the alumni from the college. Rose is bringing that educational prowess and desire to restore all things in Christ to his high school students in his teaching role, and to countless others through his writing as well.

“Truth exists. The Incarnation happened,” are Carroll’s famous watchwords of the college. Those words have changed Rose’s life, and continue to change other lives through Rose’s hard work, commitment, and desire to help improve the lives of others.

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