Vision Statement: Part Four
Faith Seeking Understanding
An education that came to an end with philosophy, however, could never properly be called a Catholic education. Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Divine Word of God, came to earth as a man to teach us the Truth, so that the Truth might make us free. The Truth which He taught was a Truth beyond the power of the unaided human mind to discover, but instead was revealed to the Apostles, handed down to us in Holy Scripture and Tradition, and preserved and proclaimed by the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. No Catholic would believe that he received a true liberal education, an education which makes him truly free, unless he were educated in the redeeming Truth of Christ.
Theology, then, becomes the principal part and crown of a Catholic liberal education. Perhaps the best way to describe theology is in the words of St. Anselm of Canterbury: Theology is "faith seeking understanding" (fides quaerens intellectum). Even in the present life, the highest perfection of our minds consists in an understanding of God as He is revealed to us through faith. Thus, the ultimate goal of a Catholic liberal education is the acquisition of theological wisdom, and that wisdom has an illuminating effect on all parts of liberal education. The Catholic studies the liberal arts and uses those tools in the service of theology. He studies ethics and politics, but adds to that study a knowledge of Catholic moral principles.
Finally, he studies philosophy, not just for the sake of a knowledge of reality, but also because philosophy serves to increase his understanding of the Creator of all things. He studies each of these disciplines for its own sake, but also uses them in the service of something higher. The Catholic tradition, then, does not destroy or diminish liberal education, but rather perfects it. The Catholic free man studies all of the disciplines both for their own sake and in the service of Theology, the "Queen of the Sciences."
The essence of liberal education may be eternal, but its concrete manifestations are not; they vary according to the times and circumstances. At Christendom College, liberal education has taken shape according to the needs of the modern world. First, the College testifies to the importance of a complete education by its commitment to a strong core curriculum that includes a full three years of both philosophy and theology. That core also includes the liberal arts necessary for the study of higher things, and courses in politics which introduce the student to the Catholic social order. At the same time, the College testifies to the intrinsic worth of the lower disciplines by a variety of major programs in the liberal arts and political science, as well as philosophy and theology. It harmonizes and orders the disciplines, bringing them all to the service of Christ and His Church.