This edition of "From the Principal's Desk" comes on the feast of the Assumption, written by Fr. Jonathan Loop, Principal of Immaculate Conception Academy.
In Jerusalem, just outside of the Old City, there is a sanctuary dedicated to the Dormition of Our Lady. According to one ancient tradition, her Assumption occurred in the same city from which her Son ascended to heaven in triumph. In the crypt of this sanctuary, there is a statue of her in repose above which is a mosaic of Our Lord awaiting her in heaven. It is as if the architect wished to create the impression that as soon as Our Lady awoke, she would see her Son preparing to take her to share with Him in His glory.
This scene captures beautifully the sentiment expressed by the Church in the Collect of the Mass of Our Lady’s Assumption. We pray for the grace always to be intent on heavenly things so as to merit to share in the glory of Our Lady. In a sense, this is the goal of the Christian life: to become more and more dominated by the desire for heaven and the vision of God.
God gives children to parents with the expectation that the parents will return the children to Him. As a result, His principle concern is that the parents cooperate with Him to awaken within their children this desire. In light of this fact, all education is fundamentally religious. Everything we communicate to a child is meant, whether directly or indirectly, to awaken within him an interest in God and all that pertains to Him. This includes even the noble efforts which you as parents make to remain faithful to the many small and demanding aspects of your duty of state, which often inspire me with admiration.
With these thoughts in mind, the goal of these parent letters for this coming academic year will be to strive to develop a more deep understanding of religious education properly speaking: the training of a young mind and will to grasp the Faith (and to see the world in light of the Faith) and to live it. This will entail discussing such facets of religious education as catechism, training a child in the liturgical life of the Church, and even habituating them to certain acts of mercy.
However, it is important to understand that the heart of this education is best expressed in the collect for the 6th Sunday after Pentecost:
O God of Hosts to whom belongs all that is best, implant in our hearts a love of Your name and grant unto us an increase of religion; so that You may nourish what is good and guard through the zeal of piety, that which has been nourished.
Ultimately, parents are meant to help God in arousing within their children a love of the name of God and a religious spirit, which is one of a deep recognition of their dependence on God. Furthermore, they are called upon to nourish what is good in their children – that is to say, good and noble habits worthy of children of God – and to cultivate within them an attachment to the good which will permit them to defend it when it is attacked, as it will inevitably be.
Throughout these letters, we will look at how best to accomplish this mission in various concrete ways. The more profoundly we understand the importance of this work and what is necessary to do it well, the more fruitful the work of Immaculate Conception Academy will be.
We entrust these letters to the protection and inspiration of the Blessed Virgin Mary, that they may help all of us in our work of training the young men in our care to be truly intent on heavenly things.
In Christo Sacerdote et Maria,
Fr. Jonathan Loop