Wednesdays with Words – May 14, 2014

I’m attempting to keep up with Cindy at Ordo Amoris as she reads Beauty in the Word: Rethinking the Foundations of Education by Stratford Caldecott.  Life has been too busy to do much more than read and think about it for a few minutes each day but there were several wonderful thoughts that I wanted to share:

“Ideas have consequences.1 They shape our society, our economy, our very lives. The gravest threat our civilization faces is in fact not ecological but philosophical. It is the widespread belief that there is no objective truth and no ‘true’ way of considering the world and its history, only a plurality of subjective points of view, each point of view being of equal value and deserving equal respect.”

 

“In love we see the beauty that moves the sun and stars, the beauty that draws together all the sciences and arts of man into a whole vision of reality. This is the beauty of Wisdom, ‘more moving than any motion,’ the ‘brightness of the everlasting light.’”

 

“The arts were intended to prepare the ground for the attainment of wisdom and truth in philosophy and theology. The full range of subjects studied would include practical skills associated with the arts and crafts (techne) through to the highest reaches of wisdom (sophia).”

 

“The ability to think critically and for oneself is a part of this tradition, but not in separation from the moral virtues. Conceptual and dialectical thought is not the highest activity of man, but gives way before contemplation and the development of the spirit through love.”

 

“Revelation subtly alters the way every subject is taught as well as the relationships between them. What is revealed connects them severally and together to our own destiny, to the desire of our hearts for union with infinite truth. At that point, everything becomes interesting.”

 

“In discovering the Father we become thinkers, we awaken thought in ourselves, which is the following of the light of truth, walking with the Son, the Logos incarnate, leading to the face-to-face knowledge of the Father that only the Son possesses, and those with whom he shares it. The sharing is done through the Spirit, the Ruah or breath of the Father that carries the Word. The breath is the atmosphere, the conversation, the kiss by which the two are united in giving and receiving.”

 

“In every society or civilization, a process takes place that can be called a ‘handing over’ of the stories, the knowledge, the accumulated wisdom of one generation to the next. It is the process that makes each new generation into a source of wisdom for the one that follows—and it takes place generally within the family. What is handed over is a ‘gift.’ It is not simply a bundle of property whose title deed is being transferred to the next generation. Rather, it carries within it something of the giver. Its transmission is an act of love. Thus the gift of tradition involves and transforms the interiority of both the giver and the recipient.”

 

“The ‘spirit of tradition’ is an essential element of education. It is the spirit in which the transmission of culture takes place. (It can be introduced to the child through folk songs, local history, and family history, for example.) This allows the initiation of succeeding generations into the truth that binds them together. The receptivity proper to love makes possible the transmission of tradition from one generation to the next. And when that spirit is present, tradition is never felt like a dead weight on the present. Only a tradition that has lost this spirit can become a deadening force.”

 

“Our first educational challenge is to counter the corrosive effect of technology on the traditions that nourish our humanity by anamnesis. If the spirit of tradition is to be preserved and revived, liturgy is going to be the key, for this is the school of memory, the place where we recollect ourselves, where we learn how to relate to each other in God. This is where we learn to accept the past and existence itself as a gift calling for a response of gratitude. Prayer and worship are therefore not extraneous but should be a central element in the life of the school or family. As we pray, so shall we be.”

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