January 16 BOD Meeting
Being on the Board of Directors for OLWSA is one of the most interesting and yet most exhausting part of my committment to the School. By exhausting I mean mentally and emotionally, and, yes, even sometimes physically: we have actually had an eight hour meeting before, believe it or not.
What a learning experience, being on this board! What a fine group of people these directors! For those who are unaware, the Board is voluntary, and it is the legal owner of OLSWA. The members contribute so much of their time and energy to making this school work.
I always come away from these meeting (usually about 5 or 6 a year) just so reved-up, and excited about the possibilities for our school. Sometimes I come away depressed, but never without a sense of hope. Every meeting reconfirms me in my desire to make this dream a reality nomatter what. It's just that important.
I was looking over the school's website this morning, and clicked by accident upon the 'Vision and Values' page. Examining it gave me the idea that I can carry out my meditation on Catholic education by means of a study and commentary on this statement. I'll work through it one section at a time, as the Good Spirit moves me. Here goes.
Under the mantle of Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom, we will provide a vibrant Catholic liberal arts education that integrates faith and reason in all of its disciplines, embraces Divine Revelation, and is rooted in the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.
Our students will be nourished in a thriving Catholic culture that, with the grace of the Holy Spirit, will lead them to answer God’s call to transform the world through their witness to the saving power of the Truth Who sets us free, Jesus Christ.
The first clause is not incidental or uninformative piety: "Under the mantle of our Lady." Our Lady has always represented to our founders and benefactors all the essential elements to be found within Christian discipleship in general and, indeed, all the virtues required for the liberal arts. Our Lady was essentially a student of divine things, which is what Luke conveys with his well-known, "she treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart." Luke makes a comment like this twice in regard to Our Lady in the Infancy Narrative. It is her essential characterization. Her attitude contrasts unmistakably with that of Zacharia, Herod and others; only St. Joseph comes close to this kind of praise, but it is very much one-sided through the prompting of God. Mary has already attained the kind of listening attitude that Joseph is being drawn to by the special interventions of the angel and by the dreams he receives. So Our Lady is a listener, and not in a manner than is open to suggestion from any source. She has ears only for God, it is clear.
"Mary as a student" has an interesting ring to it. Obviously, she fit into the category of people Augustine spoke of as no longer requiring the written text of Scripture, since it had already been written on her heart. But, she didn't know everything that God was to do, because, as St. Thomas tell us, there is a difference between what God could do and what He actually choses to do. Mary could and would never deviate from a true conception of the things appropriate to God, but only God could know all the things He would actually do. But imagine Our Lady at her own Academy! Such a thought implies no absurdity per se. I have seen so many good results come about through the academic efforts of holy students. But holy does not imply high I.Q.; it does, however, imply the best effort and results with that given mind. Holiness does imply that you will be the best student you can be. In my 'Thomistic Thought' class we are discussing prudence right now. It is interesting to consider how the allied virtues of docility to instruction, etc. fit in to both the 'prudent' person and, of course, the holy person. These virtues would have been Mary's.
"Under her mantle" implies the protection and repeated donations of grace without which good works cannot be done, nor epsecially fructify. She has watched over OLSWA, and has repeatedly kept her afloat. Despite good planning, money and the right personelle, things can get away from us. No one can control circumstances. Any enterprise needs to base its certainty of success on her favour.
Next time, "Seat of Wisdom, we will provide a vibrant Catholic liberal arts education, etc."