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NEW ARTICLES AND POSTS WILL STILL APPEAR HERE EVERY WEEK.
--By Br. Thomas Aquinas Pickett, O.P.
Despite the incredible connections available to us through roads, language, and the internet, we live in times of great confusion. Modern men and women tend to divide their lives into disparate compartments. Thus it is not uncommon to hear people speak of their work life, family life, public life, private life, social life, and spiritual life. But how many lives do we actually live?
Instead of having a single goal, or telos, to which all our actions are ordered, we have become shattered and imbalanced. This division prevents us from growing as a whole person, from living a whole and unified life. We have lost sight of the virtue and gift of wisdom.
But when we pursue wisdom, it is then that we are able to answer correctly the question: “What should I live for?”
Within the Order of Preachers we have one of the best guides in our pursuit of wisdom (sapientia) -- St. Thomas Aquinas, O.P.
St. Thomas notes that it is the task of the wise man to order things well. Order not only involves putting things in their proper place (like putting socks in a sock drawer), but also seeing and judging the intrinsic value of things in relation to another. Hence a soldier is “out of order” if he were to speak impertinently to a general. Order also involves directing things to act appropriately, which is why we say that something is “out of order” when it doesn’t work.
St. Thomas guides us in wisdom because he clearly shows us the order of reality, and the order by which we must live and act in accord with that reality. One of the great fruits of wisdom that we find in St. Thomas is that the order of reality and order of action coincide -- actio sequitur esse (action follows from being). Reality has something to say about our lives, and our lives must reflect the reality in which we live.
Imperial Rome was built on stone roads connecting once far-off metropolises and agricultural markets. In the present, the internet and satellites allow us to connect to people and ideas with near instantaneous speed. As we see throughout history, the more connected we are, the greater our abilities, the more opportunities we have to perfect ourselves and our communities.
And yet the 20th century is still marked by wars and turmoil.
The great existential despondency of the modern age flows from a rejected view of reality. St. Thomas, however, faithfully serving the Christian revelation of Scripture and holding true to right reason, guides us to seek our happiness by becoming what we truly are: men and women made in the image and likeness of God. This simple truth, this window into reality, was what drew me to the study of St. Thomas Aquinas.
From the tranquil profundity of the Summa Theologiae, to the exalted wonder of the Commentary on John, St. Thomas Aquinas has given me a connection to reality, a connection to Christ, which informs and nourishes every aspect of my life. This connection is what the world needs most. By following St. Thomas’ wisdom, rooted in Scripture and the Sacraments, I am following a wisdom that is ordered to God, that is ordered by God.
G.K. Chesterton wrote that “Homo Sapiens can only be considered in relation to sapientia and only a book like that of St. Thomas is really devoted to the intrinsic idea of sapientia.” My prayer is that the study of St. Thomas Aquinas may continue to flourish in these days, that men and women may regain their connection to God with minds alight with learning and hearts aflame with charity.
 Wisdom in the Face of Modernity: A Study in Thomistic Natural Theology by Thomas Joseph White, O.P.
 St. Thomas Aquinas by G.K. Chesterton
--By Fr. Peter Rogers, O.P.
(Pastor at St. Dominic Parish and School in Eagle Rock, Los Angeles)
I stand on the sidewalk in front of St. Dominic Parish School in Eagle Rock to greet the happy children popping out of cars as their parents drop them off. They have big smiles on their faces as they greet me, the principal, and their friends on the way to their classrooms for a new day of learning and fun. Parents wave to me from their cars as they drive away, also with big smiles on their faces. Our students, parents, and teachers are part of a big, happy Catholic family.
This new day will be another step in the academic growth that makes Catholic schools achieve significantly higher standardized test scores than the average public schools. Most of our 8th graders score at the level of high school juniors and seniors in many areas. Our 8th graders at St. Dominic’s finish Algebra I, then take an intensive summer course in Geometry. This allows them to advance much further in mathematics and in the sciences during high school.
Just as important as academic achievement, if not more so, is the Catholic faith that is infused into the daily program at our Catholic school. We open the school day with a school-wide prayer, and we pray for vocations to the priesthood and religious life. Our students attend Mass each week during the school day and have opportunities for going to confession during the school year.
Each grade level learns about the teachings of Catholic Church, the common prayers of the Church, about the saints, spirituality, and God. Each class adopts a patron saint. Catholic morals are taught and reinforced throughout the day. The religious atmosphere of the school promotes good behavior among our students, being kind and attentive to each other, and showing great reverence to Jesus. This is all an important part of the human and spiritual development of our students.
Our students fill out their development in many after school activities, especially in sports. Our students have the opportunity to play on different teams throughout the school year and compete against other Catholic schools in our area.
While public schools generally cannot have any aspect of Christmas or religious symbols in their schools, at St. Dominic’s Christmas and Easter take on a spiritual meaning beyond their secular materialization in our society. We openly teach what each holy day is all about. Our teachers provide retreat days, when students go from classroom to classroom for a different spiritual activity and prayer event during Advent and Lent. In October, our students all participate in a living Rosary to promote the devotion of praying the Rosary. On Good Friday, our 8th graders perform the Stations of the Cross, which brought tears to my eyes and to the eyes of many adults in the church – both women and men!
The students at our school form true friendships and a close bond that last far beyond graduation. Every year we have reunions for graduating classes from the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s. Last summer our graduates from 2010 came together for a reunion party to be able to re-connect before going off to college. They had a wonderful time reminiscing about their happy times together as a class at St. Dominic’s while their parents sat at other tables re-connecting, and enjoying the opportunity to share their experiences of helping out at the school in many areas of volunteering.
Parents naturally want the best for their children, and to give them the tools for success in all of life’s challenges. That is why a Catholic school is the right choice. Catholic schools provide a complete program of academic, physical, and spiritual development so that our students understand their relationship with God, and will have confidence in themselves, and in their relationships with others.
I love St. Dominic Parish School in Eagle Rock. I love greeting happy faces in the morning, and I love our happy, Catholic school family. If your children are not in a Catholic school, visit your parish school. See if what I have described is true. Talk to the principal about tuition assistance if needed. Give your children the best faith-based educational experience that you can.
Learn more about St. Dominic Parish School at www.stdominicla.us
Br. Chris Brannan, O.P., recently returned from a conference in the Holy Land, where he joined with other Dominicans from around the world to discuss the the state of Scripture studies, and the work of the Order of Preachers. Check out photos and his summary of the trip on the student blog -- To God, About God.
The diffinitors of the Provincial Chapter have announced the following directors for the next four years:
Director of Ongoing Formation -- Fr. Michael Carey, O.P.
Director of the Planning Commission -- Fr. Chris Renz, O.P.
Director of Western Dominican Preaching -- Fr. Jude Eli, O.P.
Director of the St. Jude Shrine -- Fr. James Moore, O.P. (effective January 1, 2016)
Director of the Dominican Mission Foundation -- Fr. Martin Walsh, O.P.
Director of the Rosary Center -- Fr. Reginald Martin, O.P.
Director of St. Dominic's Cemetery in Benicia -- Fr. LaSalle Hallissey, O.P.
Director of Casa Santa Rosa -- Fr. Anthony Rosevear, O.P.
Director of the Province Website -- Br. Michael James Rivera, O.P.
Three Sisters as seen from St. Benedict Lodge, McKenzie Bridge, Oregon