I often tell the story of how God's grace brought me to Catholic education. I can assure you it was not my plan. I vividly recall feeling a lack of fervor when selecting Saint Thomas Aquinas to be my patron saint at Confirmation. I merely attended a high school named after the angelic doctor, and it wasn't until I encountered his writings at Providence College that I became infatuated with his powerful yet humble intellect.
Little did I know that even when I wasn't acting intentionally, God was.
Saint Thomas' captivating use of natural reason is what ultimately turned my faith on fire. Dominican priests and lay professors guided me through the Summa Theologica, the masterful synergy of faith and reason that elevated Saint Thomas to his patron status in Catholic education. I will never forget what Dr. Gondreau, Dr. Dillon, Dr. Culpepper, Fr. McCreesh, Fr. Pivarnik, Fr. White, and Dr. Esolen did for me; what I remember the most is attending daily Mass and encountering my unassuming professors in the pews.
I was recently reading a commentary on the thought of Aquinas (fittingly called, On Aquinas), and since it was a text from college, it was unbeknownst to me that I would come across what Aquinas thought about education. Here are some samples (summaries written by others who knew Aquinas' thinking well):
- "Education is learning how to be the kind of person who acts well by a kind of second nature."
- "You can be grown-up and decisive in vice as you can in virtue. A decision does not mean a good decision, but one that is fully yours."
- "[The temperate and intemperate] person, has a pattern of behavior, and their behavior is more or less predictable, not because they are automatic and unfree but because they have each become people in charge of their own behavior, with a clear and characteristic purpose, not to be swayed by chance circumstances."
All of which caused me to think about where I came from and how I myself am evidence of the transformational power of Catholic education.
I am thankful for learning that true freedom is consistently and courageously choosing the good, so that our lives are patterned reflections of the absolute goodness of God.
Most Sincerely in Christ,