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Thomas More College Of Liberal Arts: Academically Strong, Fully Faithful

By F. K. Bartels
September 5th, 2010
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Many Catholics are intent on receiving a fruitful education centered on Christ and the Magisterium of the Catholic Church he founded, that they may live productive lives as friends of God, and shape society according to the divine plan of our Redeemer. Simply, they see the purpose of their life as one of love for Truth and fidelity to God and his Church.Thomas More College has the power to change the world.

MERRIMACK, NH (Catholic Online) - It was Abraham Lincoln who said, "Without the assistance of the Divine Being . . . I cannot succeed. With that assistance, I cannot fail." At present, however, many of our leaders show little or no concern for obtaining the assistance of God, for fidelity to God and his truth is often undermined by a relativistic, autonomous view of life, in which truth and reality are thought to be merely pliable, subjective concepts easily bent here and there for one's own purposes. How often, in a culture which idolizes fiscal and consumerist issues, success is defined not by one's friendship with God, not by living a quiet, ascetic life of love and gospel values, but rather by a frenzied labor of peril which daily raises a structure, built upon what is false and doomed to collapse upon itself.

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, during his address at the first session of the 15th symposium for the Canon Law Association of Slovakia, observed that many in the U.S. are indifferent to a process taking place within our country which "social scientists like to call "secularization" - but which, in practice, involves repudiating the Christian roots and soul of our civilization."

Yet not all are indifferent to what is a malignant desire to empty the soul of our nation, stripping her of her Christian foundation in order to construct an impoverished city which is opposed to God. There are many Catholics and other Christians who realize the precious, invaluable worth of truth, and who understand the real treasure contained in the human intellect created in God's image and likeness, an intellect that draws its nourishment and builds its knowledge on the Foundation of Wisdom, Jesus Christ, who is the Source of intellectual light, and who is the Life-Blood of the Catholic Church.

Those Catholics who understand that the supreme purpose of the human intellect is to seek out and learn the truth about God, are well aware of the priceless value of a proper education which is grounded in the fullness of truth as the Catholic Church alone transmits to the nations. Intellectual knowledge which is devoid of God's revelation as it is carefully passed on to the faithful by the Church is an impairment, a hindrance to true human freedom, and often sets one on a path toward disorder, increasing an individual's susceptibility to the various errors of our age. As an effective antidote to these errors, many Catholics are intent on receiving a fruitful education centered on Christ and the Magisterium of the Catholic Church he founded, that they may live productive lives as friends of God, and shape society according to the divine plan of our Redeemer. Simply, they see the purpose of their life as one of love for Truth and fidelity to God and his Church. In diligently living out such a sacred purpose, they are led to Catholic educational institutions such as the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts.

Unapologetic Fidelity To The Magisterium

Wise Catholics understand that fidelity to the living Magisterium (teaching office of the Church) is a crucial aspect of their faith, for it is contrary to the tenets of logic to claim love for Christ yet live in willful dissent against the authoritative teaching of his Bride. At Thomas More College, students find a true, unwavering and dedicated love for the Church. The Thomas More College website openly attests that "Thomas More College is dedicated to forming students within the Catholic intellectual tradition and with unapologetic fidelity to the Magisterium."

Those who choose Thomas More College of Liberal Arts for their educational goals often share what may be described as a countercultural view of society and the world. That is, in a vision of profound clarity, they see the Church as God's plan for the world. This plan is the plan; not, rather, merely a secondary or alternative plan. In fact, the Church is the divine plan for all people, in all places, in every state of life. When we understand that the Church was born from the blood and water which flowed from Christ's side, a life-giving sacrifice on the cross for his Church, the light begins to flood in, revealing the tremendous importance of the Church as a sacrament of salvation which transforms nations and people, building up the Body of Christ. It is precisely the realization of such a truth that leads students to Thomas More college.

In embracing the truth of the Church, "the Trustees, Administrators, Faculty, and Staff of the College all pledge unreserved fidelity to the Catholic Faith and undivided loyalty to the local ordinary, the Bishop of Manchester, and to the Vicar of Christ, our Holy Father the Pope." As a result, "the College joyfully finds its identity in the task of communicating the whole truth about man and God and, therefore, most especially in the confession of the saving mission of the Incarnate Son of God, Jesus Christ, continued and mediated by the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church."

Thomas More College is precisely the type of educational institution that has the power, through and in and with Christ, to change the world.

The Life of Worship: An Integral and Indispensable Aspect of The Catholic College

Pope Benedict XVI taught that "First and foremost every Catholic educational institution is a place to encounter the living God who in Jesus Christ reveals his transforming love and truth." In answer to such a guiding principle, Thomas More College "joyfully affirms[s] the Holy Father's proclamation" and seeks to "create an academic community in which students, faculty, and staff can enjoy the fruits of the spiritual life.  In the first place, our classes, taught from the perspective of faith seeking understanding, themselves form a kind of first foundation of the spiritual life, of the pursuit of God."

In keeping with the commitment to nourish the spiritual life of students, Holy Mass is celebrated daily in the chapel, and the sacrament of Confession -- so necessary for living the gospel life -- is also available daily. Catholic devotions are popular: students and faculty alike often recite the Rosary in the chapel or at the outdoor Marian shrine. Also, the new college custom of chanting the Liturgy of the Hours in the morning (lauds) and evening (vespers) is popular. "In sum, opportunities for worship, prayer, and reflection abound at the College, providing an appropriate setting for those moments of inspiration and vocation that are such a decisively important part of collegiate life."

Ex Corde Ecclesiae: A Guiding Principle For Catholic Educational Institutions

In the opening paragraph of the Apostolic Constitution Ex Corde Ecclesiae, the Venerable Pope John Paul II wrote, "Born from the heart of the Church, a Catholic University is located in that course of tradition which may be traced back to the very origin of the University as an institution. It has always been recognized as an incomparable centre of creativity and dissemination of knowledge for the good of humanity."

The Catholic educational institution is an "incomparable centre" of knowledge by virtue of its fidelity to Christ and the fullness of truth found in his Church. This is so because knowledge is built on the structure of human history; and the supreme knowledge -- a deposit of incomparable value known as the deposit of faith -- is that knowledge of God which he himself revealed to humankind in history, a knowledge which culminated in the Person of Jesus Christ. It is the Church founded by Christ who was entrusted with this sacred deposit, a treasure whose beauty easily surpasses that of the cosmos, and transmits it in its fullness to the nations, to people of all cultures and societies. It is through the lens of the Church in which God's revelation is illumined with clarity. Therefore we might say that knowledge is mature, whole and complete only when it is in accordance with the living Magisterium of the Church.

Further, this concept of wholeness of knowledge -- what might be called intellectual health -- is revealed in the selfless gift of Christ on the cross. Through Christ's uncompromising act of love, man is able to learn what it means to be fully human, thus joining his intellect and will with reality as it is, throwing open a sublime doorway in which he sees with clarity the meaning of his existence, what he must focus on, learn and know. The pursuit of knowledge which is ungrounded in Christ's ultimate sacrificial gift of love results in an intellect that is less than healthy. It is not unlike living indoors, in isolation one's whole life, without ever having witnessed the explosion of fiery color in a sunrise.

In Ex Corde Ecclesiae, John Paul II lays out several key guiding principles for the Catholic College:

The College publicly professes an institutional commitment to the Catholic Faith;

II. The College promotes reflection upon the "growing treasury of human knowledge" in light of the Catholic Faith;

III. The College promises fidelity to the Gospel as taught by the living Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church; and,

IV. The College seeks to instill in its students the desire to serve the common good through works of justice and charity, to answer the Church's universal call to holiness, and to serve the Church's mission of the evangelization of the world.

Thomas More College takes the guiding principles of Ex Corde Ecclesiae seriously: "Consonant with its mission and as an expression of its institutional fidelity to the Catholic Faith, Thomas More College fully accepts the Apostolic Constitution Ex Corde Ecclesiae (1990) and, as the Constitution itself dictates (General Norms, Article 1, 3) recognizes the Constitution as one of its governing documents."

"It is the honour and responsibility of a Catholic University to consecrate itself without reserve to the cause of truth. This is its way of serving at one and the same time both the dignity of man and the good of the Church, which has an intimate conviction that truth is (its) real ally ... and that knowledge and reason are sure ministers to faith. Without in any way neglecting the acquisition of useful knowledge, a Catholic University is distinguished by its free search for the whole truth about nature, man and God. The present age is in urgent need of this kind of disinterested service, namely of proclaiming the meaning of truth, that fundamental value without which freedom, justice and human dignity are extinguished. By means of a kind of universal humanism a Catholic University is completely dedicated to the research of all aspects of truth in their essential connection with the supreme Truth, who is God" -- Pope John Paul II

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F. K. Bartels is a Catholic writer who knows his Catholic faith is one of the greatest gifts a man could ever have. He is managing editor of catholicpathways.com, and a contributing writer for Catholic Online.

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