A Sacramental Worldview
The Most Rev. Steven J. Lopes is Bishop of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter (POCSP), a non-geographic Catholic diocese, within which Saint Margaret of Scotland Catholic Church is a member.1 At the very center of Saint Alcuin Classical Academy’s educational mission is what the Most Rev. Lopes identifies as a Sacramental Worldview. In his reflection on Catholic Education in the Ordinariate, the Most Rev. Lopes notes:
The Church’s mission of Catholic education is refined in the Ordinariate according to its vocation to preserve and promote the Patrimony of English Christianity for new generations for the enrichment of Christ’s Church. This demands an understanding of the Patrimony that is deeper than a collection of sacred history of things, words, or even actions. The rich Patrimony of English Christianity is the sacred history of the Church’s own faith and its interaction with a particular people and a particular culture. Over the course of centuries, English culture made its own the Faith once delivered to the Saints, interiorized it and expressed it in an imagery, language, and a logic all its own. All the while, the Gospel penetrated that culture, transformed it from within, and used it as a privileged canvas on which to portray love’s redeeming work. At its best, English Christianity encompassed a sacramental worldview: a view of God, Man, and the right ordering of things so that the world itself and all its wonders is understood as the burning bush of God’s revelation.
Catholic education for the Ordinariate aims to recapture this sacramental worldview, equipping and empowering young people to see beyond the ephemeral to the deeper truth of God in Christ. It is less education and more formation in the beauty of Truth, in the rhythm of prayer, in the cultivation of virtue, and in the vibrancy of a creative imagination. The particular contribution of the Ordinariate in this is to ensure that this type of Christian formation as it developed in the English context never becomes a museum piece, but rather is lived by well-formed, intentional Catholics, and so contributes to the conversation of faith for generations to come.2
The Four Pillars
Within a Sacramental Worldview of Catholic Education in the Ordinariate, there are Four Pillars that the Most Rev. Lopes outlines as essential for our identity and mission:3
Sacred Worship: Primacy is given to the daily celebration of the liturgical life of the Church since the first education of the soul is conducted not by programs but by the Word of God and sacramental grace. This is accomplished through the daily celebration of Holy Mass, the source and summit of the life of the Church, and in the daily offering of the Divine Office.
The day at Saint Alcuin Classical Academy will be sanctified by the recitation of Morning Prayer and/or Mass in the church to begin the day and the Angelus at Noon. Our Academy and Enrichment days will both be shaped by our sacramental liturgy in the POCSP.
Sacred Wisdom: Academic rigor in the Liberal Arts is essential to the formation of rational, free, and virtuous persons. Ordinariate education ensures a firm grounding in literature, grammar, mathematics, science, and other core subjects.
All study at Saint Alcuin Classical Academy will be infused with the rich Catholic intellectual tradition. Our Faith holds to a union of faith and reason. What is true in the Faith is just as true as what is true in the world. Understanding the Faith and the ideas that shaped Western civilization will deepen a student’s appreciation for the traditions being handed down to them for them to pass onto the next generation. Additionally, Saint Alcuin will utilize the Disciple of Christ Education in Virtue program developed by the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist. Through this program Saint Alcuin will integrate virtue education in all aspects of a student’s life, as well as provide a structure for student evaluation across their studies. Parents who are interested in the Sisters’ articulations of the virtues and their adaptations appropriate to different age levels may choose to purchase copies of the Virtue Charts and Educator’s Guides for their at-home use (see the Reading Lists, pg. 28).
Saint Alcuin Classical Academy holds Theology to be the end goal of Catholic education, as well as an integrated part of the process of learning and gaining Wisdom. The Catechism begins with the purpose of mankind to know, love, and serve God in this world and to enjoy happiness with Him in heaven. The theology school is pivotal in the integration of classical education with the Catholic Faith. The compartmentalization of modern education, where theology is an add-on to the curriculum instead of the center from which learning pivots, needs to be re-integrated. Saint Alcuin will strive to cultivate the ancient integration of faith and reason once again to rebuild Catholic culture. Our Patron Saint Alcuin will be a guiding light in this endeavor. In order for any student of schola theologica to achieve the end of Wisdom, students must learn the tools of the Trivium, Quadrivium, and Philosophy. The goal of the schola theologica is to equip students in both virtue and knowledge so that they can be witnesses to the world for the Lord Jesus Christ.
Sacred Music: Music is an integral part of the Patrimony of English Christianity, and singing has been an essential expression of faith and worship for centuries. Music education is therefore central to the curriculum in the Ordinariate and provides a point of integration for the other core subjects.
Saint Alcuin Classical Academy holds as integral to its daily community life one of the oldest traditions in Catholic education: the singing school (schola cantorum). The tradition of the schola cantorum originates with St. Pope Gregory the Great, and it took deep root in the English isles. Saint Alcuin will strive to cultivate this ancient tradition alongside the Patrimony of the angelic Anglican choral tradition. Worshiping the Triune God in proper order requires that choristers of the schola cantorum learn vocal techniques, sight singing, and music theory and history. Saint Alcuin will utilize the Royal School of Church Music (RSCM) curriculum (https://www.rscmamerica.org).
Sacred Art: Also a strength of the Patrimony, Sacred Art is taught in the Ordinariate not just from the standpoint of appreciation, but in the creation of it. Students will explore the fine, applied, and performing arts as an integral part of learning and not just as an “extracurricular” activity.
Art education at Saint Alcuin in the Michaelmas and Candlemas Terms will consist of art history and appreciation, as well as drawing. The history and appreciation lessons will selectively follow the liturgical calendar and will draw from the beautiful artistic traditions of the Church. Historical context is important because it helps students see where styles of art fit into the long life of the Church. Appreciation enhances the merely historic understanding of art by exploring how the Triune God’s transcendent Beauty and Truth can shine forth in the created world. Students will practice foundational drawing skills using graphite and charcoal. Students will explore line, shape, value, form, and light through observation. There will be a dual emphasis on observing reality and practicing articulating that reality through art.
1 For more information on this unique diocese setup by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009, visit www.ordinariate.net.
2 Bishop Lopes, “The Mission of Catholic Education in the Ordinariate,” http://alcuinacademy.org/the-mission-of-catholic-education-in-the-ordinariate/
3 Bishop Lopes, “The Mission of Catholic Education in the Ordinariate,” http://alcuinacademy.org/the-mission-of-catholic-education-in-the-ordinariate/