Even though the second quarter has only just started for us here at Notre Dame, we have to start thinking about what courses we're taking for next semester. We have to figure out which classes reflect best our understanding of how a Catholic University should teach different subjects. Being at Notre Dame, you can't guarantee that every professor will teach their subject from a standpoint sympathetic to the Catholic outlook. We can either take two approaches: Take classes with professors with which we disagree and be willing to challenge him, or take classes that you can trust to teach a Catholic understanding of the subject. On the one hand, the second is easier but perhaps we shouldn't always look for the easy way. Of course, if we are not prepared to argue a professor's view, we should choose the second choice. The main thing to remember is that we are searching for Truth and so whatever classes we take, it must be chosen for this reason.
Friday, October 30, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
We're following in a long tradition that started with Jesus Christ himself, namely the Church. It has been the mission of the Church to get people thinking about things, to put hard teachings before the world to challenge it to holiness. That's what we're trying to do. Challenge the Catholic University to holiness.
Think back throughout history. The University was invented for the purpose of seeking truth through the knowledge of different disciplines. If we look back on the oldest Universities in existence, Oxford and Cambridge come to mind, their origins are so deeply rooted in a Christian tradition. The Church always seeks Truth "faith toward understanding". This task is inseparable from the mission of the University. Specifically, the original universities were run by clergy and religious showing that there is no dichotomy between the Church's teaching and faith and the Sciences taught at a University.
That is the general tradition from which we work. More specifically, we look to major figures in the history of the Church that can be seen as champions of higher learning. St. Augustine, St Thomas Aquinas, other Fathers and Doctors of the Church and our specific patron, almost Blessed John Henry Newman, a member of the Anglican Oxford Movement who later converted to Catholicism and wrote extensively on the University.
We are not primarily trying to promote devotions, religious practices, and specific moral behavior at the University, although that certainly comes with the territory. We are instead trying to promote an educational and intellectual atmosphere permeated with the Truth of the Gospel and the highest regard for the teachings of the Church. As Newman says, because God is the origin of all things, to know about all things we must first try to know God. The Church, in its Tradition, Scripture and Magisterium, is the primary source of our knowledge of God. Thus, these three things should inspire our study of our universe since to know God is to know his creation.
As a Catholic University, we should not forget that we have a source of Truth from which to start. It's not like we're starting from the middle and deciding which way to go, but there are things we unabashedly believe to be beyond dispute and that has to form every decision we make. We must already be on the path that we know to lead to the Truth and never leave it.