Thursday, August 12, 2010

OLSWA's Image

I haven't posted anything about my beloved OLSWA, Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Academy, in a while. A theme has presented itself over the span of a few separate discussions recently, so I decided to take it on here.

It is the question of OLSWA's reputation abroad. By 'abroad' I specifically mean in Pembroke, with the chancery, etc.

Sometimes when you are in the forest, you don't think about how it might look to other people; you just see a bunch of trees. But what would I think of it were I, say, an employee of the chancery, a priest of the diocese who had never been there, etc.?


I'd probably think that the fact that it mandates Latin in its core curriculum was not necessary on account of a reasoned commitment to solid pedagogical principles, but an attempt to turn the clock back on the liturgy. Frankly, for some at the Academy, it might be about the latter rather than the former. For some it might be a little bit of both. For me it has next to nothing to do with the liturgy, but with both a) pedagogical principles and b) connecting with the sources of the Faith (esp. with Sts. Augustine and Thomas). There is nothing wrong with a solid commitment to the liturgical tradition of the West - which is Latin, by the way - but there is something very wrong with a rejection of Vatican II. And that is something I would never have anything to do with!!

I learned nearly everything I know about grammar (groan, says theologyofdad reader!) from studying Greek and Latin. I wish we offered Greek with as great a regularity as we do Latin. We also offer Hebrew from time to time.

St. Hedwig's

Our parish is not the School. Sure, nearly all the faculty and staff are parishioners of St. Hedwig's, but Fr. Shalla runs it, not us. Fr. Shalla has done some really neat things with the liturgy, I must say. I love mass ad orientum, but it is in English according to the Rite of Paul VI. Fr. Shalla has encouraged the singing of Latin hymns, etc., but he only celebrates the mass in English. He is as committed to his Polish heritage as he is to his Latin heritage. In this he is being consistent, isn't he? The Catholic Church is bigger than the CBWII.

Cwazy Fashions Thare!

Yes, we have a dress code - so should everywhere! It's not, "Cover-up them ankles, there, ladies!" Nor is it "Put on those doilies, too!" - meaning those things that some women wear on their heads to mass. Some wear skirts to the ankle and some wear those head doilies too - so what! Why won't you come to the defense of those who err on the side of modesty with as equal vehemence as you would for those who err on the other side? But no one has ever been told to wear a doily (after all, their PhD. in Theology doesn't even remember what they're called). A minority of the girls wear them - say, one-in-ten. So what!

Homeschooling Haven

Yes, the school was founded by some homeschooling families, and these families continue to occupy a high percentage of our student body. But as one our profs says: with homeschooling you get the best and the worst. That's been my experience at OLSWA. I highly recommend homeschooling, even from the mere academic perspective. It is the superior way to learn - well, I don't know, perhaps some elite private schools somewhere come up with better results. Our home-schoolies are both our best and worst students (usually on the better side - but our students are well above average anyway), and they are also the most well adjusted and most poorly adjusted young people at the School. It is interesting to note that only one of our faculty was homeschooled - and that was just for high school, I believe. I would have killed to have been home schooled. My parents would have been awesome at it. I would have learned so much.

One Rotten Apple, A Few Maybe?

It's always unfair to judge a whole group by a single instance. Sure, every once in a while one of our students or staff or faculty members do something stupidly-over-the-top-self-righteously-Catholic. But generally all of these people are very good Catholics and human beings. Sure, I could sit here and cast aspersions on diocesan chanceries just because most of my experiences with them have boarded on the ridiculous, but why would I do that? No group is perfect, and each group is made up of fallible individuals. But I would say that you'd be hard pressed to find a more generous, self-sacrificing, positive, friendly, caring, and faithful group of people anywhere than one would find at OLSWA!

So in conclusion, I would say that the School is more characterized by the desire for renewal typical of the 'JP II Generation' than by anything smacking of reactionary 'tridentinism.' The place is fresh with the energy and enthusiasm of youth.


  1. I wonder whether you realize how very many words in modern English are based on Latin.

    Just to show you I looked at the last three lines of your text, beginning with "So in conclusion". I counted 13 words of Latin origin including one prefix, but without counting the suffixes. And there are 3 which I believe are of Greek origin (but I have never studied Greek).

    Since there are about 40 words, the proportion is 13/40, that is about 33%. Would you have guessed that there are so many? !

  2. I believe the doily is called a mantilla (Spanish for small covering). Good defense - maybe you should get it published in Ecclesia.

  3. That was really awesome, Cantueso. I love Latin, make no mistake about it. The problem is, some people who are into the Latin mass don't have any interest at all in actually learning Latin - I find that bizarre.

    Thanks, Elena. But I'll never remember 'mantilla.' Good idea about the Ecclesia thing. Who would I talk to about this? I'd have to substantially rewrite it.

  4. I should have added that in the language spoken at home the proportion of words of Latin descent is smaller.

    However, due to the influence of the media and the technicalities of most people's work, the language spoken by most adults is accumulating more and more Latin terms.

    The problem with giving up Latin as the main Church language is that the basic text of the Bible is also in Latin!

  5. Cantueso, you mean the New Vulgate as the textus receptus?

  6. Colin, No progress here on the baby front but thank you so much to both of you for the swimming services this morning.
    Re. Ecclesia, talk to Andrew Baklinski - he has had several articles published in that production and can probably tell you what way to go. I really do think that you should get it in there in order to dispel so many of the misunderstandings about OLSWA in the diocese.

  7. Latin as part of the curriculum actually pre-dates everyone presently involved in the Academy and is a hold-over from the early (as opposed to the later) study centre days. Given the sketch of the proposed four-year study centre curriculum (which included mandatory Greek and intensive patristic studies), I would say that the original motive was probably grounded in a desire to ground people firmly in the sources. There are a number of good reasons for keeping latin in the curriculum, so when the present three-year curriculum was designed in the fourth year, the decision seemed obvious, and no single reason was advanced as "the reason."

    My own favourite reasons (though not necessarily the strongest) have to do with following the papal dictates of Bl. John XXIII and Sacrosanctum Concilium 36. 1 which states that "Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites." Dumping Latin is so pre-Vatican II. Scott (Erin's husband)

  8. Wonderful. Thank-you 'Erin's husband', whoever you are. But... WE NEED TO GET GREEK BACK!!!!