Education For Virtue
We have too many clever rogues and too few wise gentlemen and ladies. My grandfathers did business their whole lives with handshakes, their word, and contracts no longer than one page. There were cads then as well, but a man knew a cad because he did not keep his word.
No law can be complex enough to stop a rogue and no law is necessary except as a reminder to the honest man. “Keep your word,” the law says, and the honest man will do so. The cad will look for a loophole and the longer the contract, the easier they are to find. A virtuous person, a lady or gentleman, will do the right thing regardless of the cost, because she or he wishes to do so.
Home is the first school and the teacher can only deal with the child she is given. The professor faces an almost hopeless task if the mother and father have not done the job God gave to them. However, if the spark of the Spirit has been nurtured, if God has come to live within His image and there is more than an empty shell, then there is hope. The good teacher fans the spark of the Spirit within the child and the child emerges into Christian adulthood: liberated by virtue.
The virtuous man can be chained up, but never be made a slave, because he will be free inside himself. He can be made to kneel, but stands upright in his soul. The ability to say no or yes to our own desires liberates us from the deepest slavery. This is the work of education, but it can only go so far. Divine power is needed. As for the work of grace, the work of the Holy Spirit that transforms the entire being of a man, only God in His omnipotence can do that greatest work and so the teacher and professor pray and stay out of the way.
God help the student who goes to a school where nobody prays. Only the penitent man who kneels before God can be trusted with the power of knowledge.
A good education teaches modesty in the face of all there is to know and how little we do know. Education points to the past as a source of wisdom, because most errors have been tried. A good education does not ignore revelation, for human reason unaided by God cannot hope to see enough to escape the immediate demands of pleasure or pain.
The educated person is in command of the passions and can say no or yes as is appropriate. The educated man is the moral man. Morality cannot be taught so much as discovered. There exists a Divine Way, a pathway, partly accessible through human reason and fully available through Divine action.
The good school cannot force a student to see—it can only place a light in the room and beg that the student opens her eyes. The light will dazzle at first and so the temptation is to close our mental eyes again and never look anymore. We are safer in our darkness, but we are blind; and in our blindness, we lurch about causing moral pain to those around us.
A good education teaches a man to pray, because it is in closing his eyes before God that he can open the eyes of his spirit. This the work of this school: The Saint Constantine School. Lord teach us to pray, that we may be virtuous in your eyes.