Let us “go out into the deep.”
Pope Saint John Paul II called young people to seek greatness, a greatness that informs every aspect of life and that aims at the highest forms of human flourishing in this life and the next.
We were made for this excellence and if we allow God’s grace to perfect our own works of nature, we can begin this journey beyond the mediocrity of our times and progress toward the transcendent high calling each of us has been given.
This is “education of the whole person,” what the ancients called “paideia.” Our founding president, Dr. Peter Sampo, described the classical understanding of paideia in this way:
Werner Jaeger, in his magisterial work Paideia: The Ideals of Greek Culture, has given us a context by which we can interpret both a larger society such as the Greek polis and a small society such as a college. By paideia is meant a culture that permeates the society and elevates the activities of its members. Consciousness is heightened because the member sees himself as part of something higher than himself and of great significance, and the intellect is deepened, the imagination is vivified. The culture arouses in its participants the desire to articulate and live in the truth, to do the good, to live surrounded by the good, and to live one’s daily life inspired by beautiful objects, in short, to make visible the invisible realities of the true, the good, and the beautiful, which task is nonetheless the demand of human nature. Obviously, this culture fully recognizes these transcendent realities. It also fully recognizes the accomplishments of the past. It situates man under the presence of God and between past and future. The common pursuit forms lasting friendships which result in joyful harmony in the person and in the society. To be part of such a society should bring joy to its members. To cultivate the mind in seeking the truth that rules the universe, to seek the good of others and of one’s own being and to take delight in beautiful objects, what could be more humanly satisfying than that?
For Jaeger, the good polis was the arena where paideia was lived out. With the modern loss of transcendent reality and the loss of the memory of the past, we cannot expect these ideals to be carried out by modern political society. If paideia is to be accomplished it falls to the lot of the colleges to carry out the ideals of paideia and to serve as a beacon for civilization. If not the colleges, who else?
At Magdalen College we call our students to embrace an education that will transform them intellectually, spiritually, and morally.
Don’t settle for less. We were made for more. Let us go out into the deep together.
For more information, contact 603-456-2656