Monday, April 30, 2012

ἡ ὁδὸς καὶ ἡ ἀλήθεια καὶ ἡ ζωή

Our Lord Jesus Christ is "the way and the truth and the life" (John 14:6). As Christians, that is disciples of Christ, we are called to learn from the Master and to conform ourselves to Him in every aspect of our lives. We come to know God by faith and reason, through God's revelation of Himself in His Church and in the beauty, order, and variety of his creatures. A school in the Catholic tradition provides an admirable analogy, a microcosm as it were, of the workings of God through His Church and her members by means of secondary causes. We can use Our Lord's threefold naming of himself to explore further the meaning of Christian learning, particularly in the context of an academic environment dedicated to the principles of faith and reason in the service of the Church.

Jesus is the Way. The Christian life is a journey with Christ as its path, its destination, and its provisions. A Catholic school should emphasize this fact: namely, that its purpose is not merely to put information into students' minds, but to lead them on an adventure towards the ultimate beauty, truth and goodness, that is, towards God. Moreover, each individual is not alone on this journey. An essential component of the Christian life is that it takes place in the context of a community, God's "pilgrim Church on earth" (Eucharistic Prayer III). The teacher is a guide, not a general, and thus forms an integral part of the community of learners, who journey together to greater wisdom and love through, with, and in Christ, by the light of the Holy Spirit, who will "guide [us] to all truth" (John 16:13).

Our Lord is that Truth. He is the Logos, the Word of God and the eternal Reason of the universe. Our journey leads to Him, and the Catholic school keeps this goal always in mind. Contemplation of the truth proceeds from learning and forms an important part of it, and to hand on what we have contemplated to others is a natural fruit of the Spirit of Truth Himself, who gives us the words to speak in our particular moments of witness to Christ (Luke 12:12). In the Sacred Heart of Jesus are hidden "all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Colossians 2:3; Litany of the Sacred Heart), Therefore, Catholic education is not only a conforming of our mind to the Lord's, so that we have "the mind of Christ" (1 Corinthians 2:16), but also a transformation of our hearts so that we may be one with Him in eternal life. For indeed to us, as to Saint Paul, "to live is Christ" (Philippians 1:21).

Christ, then, is Life. As the Word of God, he is "living and effective" (Hebrews 4:12), Our lives must be a reflection of His, and in a school community, teachers must lead the way not only in pursuing knowledge, but also in striving to conform themselves to Christ through growth in virtue, Thus they may also more truly serve as grace-filled models of faith, hope, and charity to their students. Nevertheless, no one, teacher or student, can grow individually. The school must be a living community, united and integrated in study, work, and prayer. In this context Catholic educators and students can learn a good deal from St. Benedict, who intended by means of his Rule to set up his monastery as "a school for the Lord's service" (Rule of St. Benedict, Prologue 45). Our service to the Lord is inspired by the joy and wonder of learning.

I want to teach at a school that knows this true meaning of joy as expressed through the Catholic Church. I want to be part of a community where each member shares in the same calling, and strives to fulfil that calling through striving for sanctity on our pilgrim way. I want to live, pray, work, and grow with people who are bound together by more than their location, indeed by ties of mutual charity and a shared love of truth and desire for God. Through my teaching I want to share with my students a foretaste of the Beatific Vision, which is the goal and final cause of the Christian life. These ideals can best be realized at a school whose Way and Truth and Life is the Word of God, Our Lord Jesus Christ.

No comments:

Post a Comment