A Meditation on the Lumen Christi Vision Jason T. Adams, Headmaster
Copyright 2013 Lumen Christi
Jason Adams [Date]
Introduction â€œIn Him we live and move and have our being.â€? ~ Acts 17:28
Lumen Christi is founded on a vision--a vision that is alive in its families, teachers, students, and friends. While it exists as a common commitment, it is wise to keep it deliberately at the forefront of everything we do. It is important at the onset to make clear that these thoughts are not intended as a formal vision statement. They are not intended as policy statements or policy precursors. These are simply my opinions, based on nearly two decades of teaching experience in Catholic schools. What I offer here are reflections of what I see in this extraordinary school, of both the tangible and intangible qualities that have drawn me so irresistibly to Lumen Christi. You may think that some aspects of this meditation are applicable only to the teachers, but this is not true. What is said here about classroom instruction is meant for everyone, so that the whole community is used to thinking about what works in the classroom. The ideals that I profess on classroom teaching have been lived by our teachers for years. They are not so much the subject of my comments as they are the inspiration. We are deeply blessed to have such a caring and capable faculty. Their work is hard, and their sacrifices many, but they model joy in their teaching, which radiates out to the students. Some of my thoughts anticipate questions that may be just over the horizon for our school. I want to reiterate that my opinions are provided as general fodder for philosophical discussion. I am putting them forward so you will know who I am as a teacher and administrator and, based on what I know of Lumen Christi, what I think is most consistent with the Lumen Christi ethos. My opinions are one voice in the community's leadership. You are the greater voiceâ€”the parents, teachers, coordinators, and friends of Lumen 1
Christiâ€”contributing your views, ideas, and expertise in the dialogue that determines our course Members of our community may differ a bit on some of the particulars presented here, which is to be expected in even the healthiest and most unified of organizations. Families never agree on everything, even in some significant matters, but strong families respect each other, listen to each other, and cooperate in the family's fulfillment. We can and will sweat over some of the details, but God's will is our ultimate goal for Lumen Christi. All of us united in God will work together in His name to make our school whatever He wants it to be. This was the vision of our founding families and remains the vision today, of this I am absolutely sure. Lumen Christi is a work of God, sustained by grace and our cooperation therein. We are one in vision and in action to the extent that Oneness Himself, our Lord, abides in us.
Our roots But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. ~ Matthew 6:33 When my wife and I first visited Lumen Christi, we were homeschooling a 6 year old and a 5 year old. We had entertained the possibility of putting our children in Catholic schools, but there were waiting lists at schools we considered, at the time, truly Catholic and academically sound. We were mostly set on continuing the homeschooling, but we had heard an ad on Catholic radio for the Lumen Christi open house. We had heard very little about Lumen Christi but we had made then Headmaster, Edie Fitzgerald's acquaintance and trusted that the school was solid. We decided we had nothing to lose by visiting the open house, but the chances of driving an hour each way and paying tuition for Catholic school were pretty slim. There was an instant connection when we arrived at the open house. The approach was down-to-earth, simple, and unquestionably Catholic. We had always puzzled over why Catholic schools chose not to use the great homeschooling materials that we had come to love, but found that Lumen Christi was actually using the same texts we had used in our home. We were so impressed and excited that within a matter of days we had decided to enroll our kids. We have been hooked ever since.
I wish I could say that we had been able to remain at Lumen Christi, but the cost of transportation (with gas at four dollars per gallon) and tuition, our budget just could not bear it. We tried a more conventional diocesan Catholic school for about a year, but found it did not meet our expectations. We returned to homeschooling, but never lost sight of a possible return to Lumen Christi. The reason for relaying our first experiences with Lumen Christi is that our account is similar to that of so many parents who have discovered Lumen Christi over the years. The school was started by homeschooling families that wanted a faithful Catholic school to combine their efforts and provide a thoroughly Catholic education for their kids. In 2002, Edie responded to the call, pledging that if there were around ten students she would lead the school. They did not quite reach ten students that first year, but the seeds were planted. Edie attended the NAPCIS conference to pick up some quick pointers on running a small independent school and the rest was providence. God's grace combined with the trust and perseverance of the families kept the school afloat. In the beginning school was held in the basement of Saint Mary's parish, Indianapolis. Each day involved setting up and taking down all the materials for the school. It was not the ideal setting, but the familiesâ€”sparse as they wereâ€”appreciated the space in which to teach. There is a lesson to remember about those days. It was not facilities, policies and procedures, extra-curricular activities, or image that sustained the school. It was all about the fundamentals: solid materials, eye-to-eye interaction with students, and lots of faith integration. God soon provided a new location, the CYO building, in which the school is currently housed. Thanks to the cooperation of Monsignor Schaedel and Father Magiera, a relationship was formed early on with Holy Rosary parish, which allowed for daily Latin Mass. Just five years after its start, Edie was interviewed by the Indianapolis Star, to talk about how the school had grown from such a modest beginning to, then, 52 students. An excerpt from that 2007 interview illustrates the early vision of the school:
Q: What do you feel is the mission of Lumen Christi? Edie: Our mission is that we teach faith with reason, so that our students will know the truth and be able to act in virtue. We attend daily Mass... The faculty is required to understand what concepts of faith they are communicating to students in lessons. Q: How do you connect faith with teaching academic subjects? Edie: As an example, when I start the math unit on fractions, I will talk about the body of Christ and that we are all members. I am relating that math is not a disconnect from God but that it reveals God to us. Then we will do the math lesson on fractions. There is no separation, because God is truth. Knowledge is from Him. Q: What is the main difference between your school and a diocesan school? Edie: We are accredited by the National Association of Private Catholic Independent Schools, but we have the freedom to choose our own textbooks, books that best support our mission. We drew a lot from our home-schooling experience. We look for more traditional textbooks; for example, science books by Christian authors. Q: How do you think your students respond to Lumen Christi? Edie: I think children hunger for truth and that the heart of the child is really prepared to live the Beatitudes. The kids are a model to me of the childlike faith we are called to. When I am giving them a lesson, any subject, they are so excited to understand the concepts. They are
just hungering for this truth. To watch that excitement confirmed to me that I am called to have the same level of enthusiasm. Q: So you have daily Mass in Latin? How is that going? Edie: The children stay very quiet, and if they can still their hearts and know that God is present in the Mass, their response is beautiful. We had some people who thought it was a bad idea. But I tell them to come and see the kids and how they respond.... In the Latin Mass, there is a presence of peace and grace they respond to, and it is beautiful to see. From the beginning, Lumen Christi has been a grass roots effort in which families and faculty share the same priorities: the integration of faith and reason for the sake of wisdom, scholarship, and virtue. These values have been preserved by putting down-to-earth classroom instruction and the virtue of religion first. Never was there a desire to imitate the bureaucracy and experimentalism of the larger educational world. A spirit of humble independence has pervaded this school since its inception, with the shared purpose of being simple and intimate enough to be responsive to students' needs. Lumen Christi has always been filled with families gratified that they have found an oasis of traditional Catholicism; a school with a clear, uncluttered vision for sanctified scholarship. Historically, families have not come here for what some refer to as â€œthe experienceâ€? of the modern super-school, with its extravagant worldly preoccupations. It may sound flippant to put the matter this way, but Lumen Christi is a school, not a resort. Unlike the complex multimillion dollar operations that so many public and parochial schools have become, Lumen Christi has upheld a noble simplicity, undiluted by the frenzy with which so many modern schools get carried away. 6
Beware of sentiments like, “Lumen Christi is starting to look like a 'real' school.” Lumen Christi has always been a real school; more real than the standardized, educational factory line that the last century has produced; more real than the “edutainment” of the modern school, which hyper-stimulates and over-accommodates students to the point that their attention spans are nonexistent and their hearts and minds unable to be stilled. Thanks be to God, we are different.
Private, Independent, Classical Education in a Modern World See to it that no one captivate you with an empty, seductive philosophy according to human tradition, according to the elemental powers of the world and not according to Christ. ~Colossians 2:8 The modern educational landscape is increasingly characterized by public regulation, informed by secular-minded educational theorists and political bureaucracies. More than ever, schools are governed by external standards and oversights. Curriculum is standardized, textbooks are formulaic, and lessons are scripted. By and large, today's schools are oversized, over-funded, overly complex, and overly compartmentalized. In the absence of real instructional intimacy, the modern school devises program after program to systematically meet every conceivable need--an approach that has spread schools too thinly to be effective. Families, also, are spread too thinly by today's schools. The modern preoccupation with transcript-building has caused families to commit inordinate time and energy to extra-curricular activities and sports. Simply put, schools have adopted the unsustainable practice of offering every conceivable activity for every conceivable interest. More and more time is spent in school activities; less and less time in faith and family activities. Meanwhile the pure and simple mission of scholarship and character recedes into the background. These factors are felt in the curriculum as well. The dual pressure of standardized testing and vocational competency has gradually led to the disintegration of curriculum. Whereas truth was the prevailing value of education in previous eras, todayâ€™s educational ethic is utility. That is to say, usefulness consisting in testable facts and demonstrable job skills, has become the main focus of curriculum. That facts and skills are legitimate parts of curriculum is indisputable, but the current tendency to reduce curriculum to their acquisition is seriously misguided. Without a clear transcendent purpose, facts and skills are disparate, shallow, and mostly lifeless. There is no progress in 8
learning under these circumstances, the supposed utilities, themselves, are undermined. In contrast, classical education seeks the fullest integration of self, world, and God. It treats every aspect of the curriculum as an inroad to the divine law in which God is revealed and in which God reveals man to himself. In the light of this revelation the learner receives facts (no matter the subject) as pieces of a divine family story and skills as the means of serving that family. By virtue of integral learning, the student arrives at a deeper understanding of fact itself, and of its application to the good of the student and the world in which the student lives. Over the centuries, we have labeled this integration "wisdom" and have taken it as the key to success, happiness, and fulfillment in this world and the next. Sadly, today's schools--both public and parochial--have lost sight of wisdom and have replaced it with numbers. Conforming to the culture of empiricism, education has succumbed to the tendency to quantify everything, to conceive of every educational goal in measurable, linear terms. Now more than ever, educational outcomes are reduced to percentiles on standardized tests. Content is standardized so that everyone is teaching the same thing according to the same benchmarks. Teaching methods, too, are standardized as academia pronounces so-called "research-based best practices," which schools adopt without reflection. Textbooks are standardized so that they present content in conformity with state standards and testing guidelines. Today's textbooks are filled with learning aids: bold print terms, glossaries, review questions, vivid pictures and graphics, but they fail to tell the story of man and his walk with God and so they fail to capture the minds and imaginations of our youth. Nearly a century in the making, this formula has failed to inspire our youth and restore our declining culture. After all, how inspiring is standardization? Would it inspire patriotism in a citizen to know that he or she belongs to a "standard" country? Would it inspire love in a couple to know that each is pledged to the "standard" spouse? How about an art museum with "standard" paintings, or a restaurant with "standard fare"? Not exactly the stuff of inspiration.
We cannot approach the uniqueness of private, independent, Catholic schools without honestly and openly addressing the extent to which many Catholic schools have formed themselves in the mold of secular, public education. We are called to assert our differences without a hint of triumphalism, but we are different from most Catholic schools. It is no secret that most Catholic schools are governed by the same secular accreditation standards as public schools, and that in being so governed, they are answerable for secular and state regulations in their curriculum, in their staffing, and in testing. Under the same influences as their public school counterparts, many Catholic schools have made secular regulatory compliance their de facto mission. Very often, the result is a public school in Catholic school garb, wherein the religious and academic missions are at odds, and faith and reason are divided. Classical Catholic education seeks to inspire by persistently turning the minds of students, teachers, parents, and the whole affected community, to the greatness of God. The grandeur and wonder of God in creation and in the human person made in God's image, is the source of inspiration that breathes life into every subject and every teaching method. To invite the living God into every classroom and every function of the school is the defining mark of Catholic classical education. Our standard is the God who moved martyrs to offer themselves as living sacrifices; the God who inspired the birth of western civilization; and the God who prompted saints and missionaries to build our churches, shrines, schools, hospitals, and charities.
Classical Education: A Timeless Pedagogy “...acquire wisdom, acquire understanding, never forget her.... Do not
desert her, she will keep you safe; love her, she will watch over you.” ~Proverbs 4:5-6 Classical Education is based on the Trivium, the enduring principle that learning progresses in three phases: grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric. These are based on the correspondence between natural stages of intellectual development in children, and the natural hierarchy of reason. Simply put, the grammar stage concerns the acquisition of the truths of the natural and supernatural world; the dialectic stage concerns the use of logic to explain and connect these truths; and the rhetoric stage concerns the development of philosophy. This latter stage is characterized by original insights, the development of systematic independent inquiry, the ability to apply truth to new situations, and the art of honest persuasion. Progression from one stage to another does not imply a strictly linear relationship in which stages are mutually exclusive. Rather, the progression is cumulative so that all the content and skill mastered in one domain is carried into the next, and is more fully utilized in its new state. Truths garnered in the grammar stage, and the logical skills honed in the dialectic stage become second nature as students advance in the rhetoric stage. All that is mastered in each stage becomes virtue–a stable disposition for ongoing formation in truth. In this light, the first and most crucial test of knowledge is interior, in the conscience, which “bears witness to the authority of truth in reference to the supreme Good to which the human person is drawn” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1777).
Grammar: The Younger Years We most identify grammar with language, and rightly so. In the Trivium, however, it is not to be reduced to the mechanics of language. Language is a means of understanding, of discerning, naming, and explaining reality. This deeper sense of language is the real meaning 11
behind the grammar stage. It is a process of seeing, naming, understanding, and explaining the human person and its relation to the world and the Creator. Grammar students are called to do more than acquire and remember information. They are called to interiorize truth–to integrate it into their being and be formed by it. The truth, because it is a reflection of the living God, is a living entity. When the truth is genuinely known, it is enlightening and enlivening. It brings light and life to the person who receives it. Children approach the world with wonder because they see the transformative power of newly grasped truth. They are humble enough to see the truth in its purity and let it shine through, free of the preoccupation of pragmatism. The truth, to a child, is not merely a means to an end, but something to be appreciated and cherished for its own sake. What perfect conditions for grammatical learning! Children, in their receptivity and innocence, are poised to take in as much truth as the world has to offer, and so their education is aimed at discovery. Hence the focus on factual learning in the grammar stage, and the premium placed on memorizing fact. Memorization has been portrayed of late as an antiquated, if not abusive, learning method. This nonsensical notion is based on a misunderstanding of memory. Memory is not simply the intellectual retention of information; it is assimilation of truth. When the mind and heart are fully open to truth, as they are in children, learned facts become part of the person. For ages we referred to this kind of remembering as “learning by heart.” This is a much deeper and more permanent reception of fact. We raise memory to this level in order to keep truth alive in us as a real thing rather than as so many theorems. The Church likes to refer to this type of remembering as anemnesis, the presentation of a remembered truth in actuality. This implies the need to provide only the most edifying of truths to our children–those truths which have uplifted humanity, and which have tended to promote man as the image of God. Culture is nothing more than the handing on of truth so that man can be perfected in truth. This is the only path to Godliness and human fulfillment. Grammar education is a cultural initiation. It takes in the 12
rudiments of understanding and orders them to the fulfillment of the student’s perfective end. Hence, classical education is especially attentive to the preservation of true culture, which involves the positive inculcation of truth and the vigilant repudiation of destructive influences. This is accomplished not by a siege mentality or by self-righteousness, but in the single-minded focus on the three transcendentals: truth, goodness, and beauty.
Dialectic: The Middle Years From the Greek dialektos, dialectic refers to dialogue or discourse. In the context of the trivium, it refers mostly to logical discourse. The middle years, what we might think of as middle school or junior high, mark the onset of questioning. Questioning in the pre-teens and early teens, is not supposed to be a rebellious or cynical kind of questioning, but a constructive inquiry that seeks explanations for what one knows. To question the rationale for what one knows is not equivalent to questioning one’s knowledge or challenging what is known simply for the sake of challenging (skepticism). At this point in a student’s normal cognitive development, the brain is naturally more suited to more complex questions of cause and effect, and to abstract questions that are given to logical discourse. Factual information is still an integral part of studies at this point, but the facts are, as one would expect, more advanced. Moreover, factual information receives greater treatment as to its interconnectedness. That is, connections between facts are explored more deliberately and the unity to which interconnection tends becomes the basis of metaphysical reasoning. Logical discourse in this phase serves the dual role of deduction and induction, that of parsing facts and resynthesizing for deeper meaning. The more we see the reasons why things are as they are, as well as the ways in which things are 13
connected to one another, the more we see the infallible hand of divine providence. Logic, itself, is not reducible to syllogism. It is a deprived notion that portrays logic as formulaic. Note that this stage in a studentâ€™s education takes its name not from logic but from discourse. Discourse, namely Socratic dialogue, is key to full formation. Dialectical education does not consist entirely of the rules of formal and informal logic. These are indispensable tools for logical discourse, but they work alongside their intellectual companions, creativity and imagination, which persist from early childhood (and will hopefully never be lost). Intellect is in no way limited to the physical brain. It exists as a spiritual faculty that serves us now and in the hereafter. The emphasis on logical reasoning at this point in a childâ€™s education assumes the integration of scientific and artistic reasoning. Since the whole person is engaged in the pursuit of logical reasoning, all that enriches a person factors into the educational approach. The integrated approach of which classical education boasts is premised on the principle that all the academic disciplines work together to discover and expound truth. The moment we erect an epistemological wall between the sciences and the arts or between science and faith, is the moment we depart from the classical tradition. All truth is of God. As all truths, themselves, tend toward unity, so are the sciences and the arts united in the apprehension of truth. For this reason, no student at any level of primary or secondary education should, so to speak, choose a major. Classical schools, of all schools, ought to avoid academic specialization. Counter to the direction of conventional modern schools, classical schools are not to be thought of as vocational training centers. They exist to form the whole person in the whole truth. This takes in just about every fundamental subject and skill a person might need for later career success, but the point of K-12 education in the classical mode is to form scholar-saints, who by integrating faith, reason, and virtue, are enriched in all aspects of life. Graduates of classical education have mastered the art and science of integration, and in turn, order their knowledge, their work, and every facet of their lives to fulfilling their nature as children in the image of God. 14
Rhetoric: The high school years Despite the modern misconception of the word, rhetoric is not to be confused with sophistry (using clever language to deceive). â€œRhetoricâ€? has become a pejorative term used to describe the clever but disingenuous arguments of political ideologues. This is not the context in which classical education understands rhetoric. The term is used to indicate the heightened and effective synthesis of language and reason (the two previous stages). The Rhetoric stage of classical education is devoted to elevating scholarship. Students at this level are equipped for a fuller integration of knowledge, in which wisdom is comprised. This involves more sophisticated analysisâ€“ refining the ability to comprehend, explain, and originate complex arguments. While philosophical reasoning is introduced in the dialectic stage, it is augmented in rhetoric. Students who properly apply themselves at this point in their education become accustomed to detecting and applying logical nuances such as those modeled by the philosophers and theologians they read at this level: Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, John Cardinal Newman, and G.K. Chesterton, to name a few. Handling logical nuances prepares students divine nuances. It follows that growth in the rhetorical stage sets the conditions for meditation and contemplation, in which students learn to take delight in pondering the finer points of God. The Sacred Scriptures, the spiritual and theological treatises of the saints, and the ecclesiastical works of the Magisterium, are all more interesting and accessible to the rhetorically trained student. The resulting intellectual and spiritual character, prepares and motivates students to play meaningful roles in sharing the mysteries of faith with the world. Though it is not primarily designed for college and career preparation, rhetoric is advantageous for both. In short, it supplies graduates with the critical thinking and creative problem solving skills necessary for the complex work environment of the 21st century. Rhetoric trains minds to approach puzzling questions with confidence and, ingenuity. Students who pass through the rhetoric level have acquired an expansive core of knowledge, but beyond this they have developed the habit of thinking deeply, and of examining realities from multiple 15
angles. Better yet, because of the character formation that inheres in all that they read, discuss, and produce, they approach their tasks with firm moral integrity. In most schools, regardless of affiliation, these standards are only spoken. Classical Catholic schools actually implement them by structuring their curriculum around the great books rather than textbooks. Instead of reading a bland description or brief excerpt of the ancient Greek philosophers (Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, etc.), classical education students read whole works and discuss them in detailed seminars that demand active participation. In the typical classical school, classes are kept small so that effective seminars can be conducted. Small groups of students gather around a table or in a circle, books in hand, and together sustain Socratic-style dialogue over the greatest ideas of the greatest thinkers the world has ever known. It is far more than small group internet research; far more than copying down outlines, and far more than checking off a list of state standards. These discussions stretch the thinking of students over inspiring and intriguing questionsâ€“questions that improve the mechanics of thought while inspiring the will to virtue.
Inspiring Virtue: The Transcendentals “...whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” ~ Philippians 4:8 “Garbage in, garbage out.” It is a phrase so common that it has been shortened to an acronym (GIGO). Yes, it is a trite phrase, but it has some truth to it. Virtue is not inspired by today’s growing nihilistic philosophies. Modern education increasingly consists in sources laden with despair, licentiousness, and narcissism. These vices are sometimes directly present in literature, mass media, and popular philosophies, but they are also present by default when subjects are presented as devoid of any larger purpose–with no unifying human or divine ethic. They serve to bind and debase students, turning them inward to selfish pursuits rather than beyond themselves to transcendent principles. Classical Catholic education is intentionally directed to the transcendent principles of truth, goodness, and beauty. The method of classical education requires intellectual enlightenment and moral rectitude as it is built on the notion that teachers and students have mutual responsibility for the realization of the school’s academic and religious missions. The content, too, is designed to convey only what is truly edifying: themes that reflect God’s attributes in man. The truth is presented as objective, not relative; as belief and behavior that accords with the divine and natural law. Goodness is never presented as a quaint and outmoded sentiment, as it is among a growing chorus of cynics in our times. Goodness is understood as the natural product of man living according to his true nature. Beauty may be appreciated 17
in different ways, but it is the outward mark of goodness, and thus attracts us to the goodness it signifies. Truth, goodness, and beauty are continuous threads running through every subject in the integrated curriculum of the classical Catholic school. They provide the larger context for all subjects and a gateway to the attributes of God Himself. In accord with the parable of the soil, persistent focus on the transcendentals uplifts the minds and hearts of students so they are disposed to the Gospel: â€œAnd some seed fell on good soil, and when it grew, it produced fruit a hundredfold...as for the seed that fell on rich soil, they are the ones who, when they have heard the word, embrace it with a generous and good heartâ€? (Luke 8:8,15). We are the children of God living in a world that, in all its grandeur, is infused with the marks of our Father in heaven. What a joy it is to receive the gift of natural life (itself a glorious manifestation of our Creator), and to elevate this natural life through the grace of rebirth! We have cause for great joy. Indeed, joy ought to be the defining characteristic of Christian life. We are redeemed and taken into Godâ€™s very life. What a tremendous dignity we bear! The content of our study ought to reflect this dignity, and build up students, teachers, and parents. The measure of our content, therefore, is threefold: (1) it must accord with divine revelation, (2) it must conform to Magisterial teaching, and (3) it must reflect truth, goodness, and beauty.
Our Logo: A symbol of our commitment to scholarship and sanctity “...conduct yourselves with reverence during the time of your sojourning,
realizing that you were ransomed from your futile conduct, handed on by your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold but with the precious blood of Christ as of a spotless unblemished lamb.” ~1 Peter 1:18-19 The Lumen Christi logo says a lot about our school: the Lamb of God in front of the Cross with the words faith, truth, reason, and virtue circling the image. Below the image is the phrase, “per Crucem ad lucem” (through the Cross to the light).
The Lamb of God and the Cross John the Baptist heralded Jesus as the Lamb of God: “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29). John the Evangelist, later refers to this image in the book of Revelation, in which he depicts a vision of the heavenly host worshiping Jesus in the form of the Paschal Lamb. The lamb had been slain but was alive and standing in the midst of the gathering, which sang out, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches, wisdom and strength, honor and glory and blessing” (Revelation 5:12). Jesus, the Paschal Lamb, is a fitting symbol for Lumen Christi in that the ultimate purpose of our school is to witness Christ’s call to love one another as He has loved us; that through full self-offering, each of our lives would participate wholly in the eternal offering of Christ. It is true that Jesus sacrificed himself, as a lamb led to slaughter, in order 19
to forgive our sins, but His sacrifice was more than expiation alone. Every word and deed in Jesus’ life is atoning. The mystery of the incarnation unites divinity and humanity, so that humanity is drawn into the redemptive work of Christ. Having taken on human nature, the Son made God’s merits ours. This means that everything we do in a state of grace is united to the work of Christ. We celebrate this mystery in the Holy Eucharist, in which we bring to the altar every good that we have done in God’s name: every prayer, every job well done, every service of charity, every penitential act, and every trial born for the good of the kingdom. Having joined all our works, joys, and sufferings to the Eucharistic offering, we receive the sign of this communion–the very body, blood, soul, and divinity of our Lord. Empowered by the Lord’s real presence in us, we become living tabernacles who literally carry Christ out the doors of the parish and into the world, to further consecrate our worldly activity so that it can be joined again to the perpetual Eucharistic offering. Lumen Christi has always kept the Holy Eucharist at the center of the school’s life because the Eucharist is the center of our earthly lives–a foretaste of eternal beatitude to which we are all called. If the Eucharist is, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, “the source and summit of the Christian life,” it must also be the source and summit of the life of our school. This was the unwavering commitment of the founding families of Lumen Christi and it will remain so. The life of the school depends on it. Our students carry Eucharistic grace into their study, prayer, and charitable works. Our teachers carry it into their formation of students. Our families nourish their homes with it.
Faith and Reason: A Mutual Relationship Faith and reason are not opposed but rather work together to reveal God and his plan for mankind. Faith is a gift of God that takes root in the intellect and will. It is, therefore, dependent on understanding and proper exercise of the moral faculty. Lumen Christi is called to connect and co-develop both faculties to produce a unity of truth and practice, body and soul, disciple and God.
Connecting faith and reason is achieved in five ways: Formation in grace, brought about by daily Mass, works of love, obedience, and regular prayer. Spiritual growth is, first and foremost, a miracle in which God communicates His nature to us. God’s presence, manifested in the souls of each teacher and student, is the measure of this school’s Catholicity. We entrust everything we do to the providence of God. Vigorous focus on the content of faith and its reasonableness, that is, what the Church teaches and why. A Lumen Christi education should prepare students to live and explain the Catholic faith in its fullness. Effective religious instruction incorporates multiple disciplines and teaching methods in order to connect faith to all aspects of life. Imbued with the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, Catholicism unites all truth, goodness, and beauty. Faith, therefore, finds expression in great works of art, literature, history, and philosophy. Schools that integrate faith and reason immerse students in all such worthy human aspirations, all the while cultivating the students’ original insights so that they become God’s artists, writers, historians, and philosophers. Preservation of dynamic orthodoxy—complete loyalty among faculty, parents, and students to Magisterial teaching, lived out in joy and evangelistic zeal. We preserve the full revelation of Christ, for the most part, by practicing and proclaiming it. Right belief and practice inspires an apostolic spirit, not a fortress mentality. Joy is the hallmark of our faith. Our dignity as members of the Body of Christ obligates us to take an oath of loyalty to the Magisterium as a sign of our commitment to lead our students and the entire school community to the Truth. By virtue of the universal call to holiness, we are all (administration, faculty, staff, students, parents, and benefactors) called to the obedience of faith. Communicating the reality that all truths point to God who is Truth itself. The truths of secular subjects tend toward God, and so learning about the sciences and humanities reveals the wisdom of our Creator. Because they incline to the unity of God, the natural connection among academic disciplines will be discovered as well—a goal that will be deliberately pursued in the curriculum. While we strive to see God’s design in all of the disciplines we study, we understand that faith integration informs the academic subjects without displacing their content or methodology. 21
Interconnection among the various disciplines. Within the liberal arts and sciences, each subject has a unique character that in its own right inspires wonder. The distinct gifts of each subject become more fruitful when the various subjects work together. Students learn history better when they read compelling historical fiction or the great works of literature that convey the human drama of historical events. Likewise, literature takes on more meaning when students see it in its original historical context. Math students appreciate a Geometry proof more fully when they learn how a philosopher discovered it just by looking at everyday phenomena, or when—against the backdrop of an era of skepticism—they learn how Math expresses immutable and infallible truths that need no material proof. The student who thinks his love for poetry and the visual arts means he is not rightbrained enough for science, might open his mind to the artistry of science when he studies the world’s greatest architectural works in World History class. The Theology student who thinks doctrine is dry, might find her heart moved by the original accounts of martyrs like Polycarp or Perpetua and Felicity, who offered their lives for faith. She might find motivation in the heroism of crusaders and the courage of missionaries who risked everything for truth. Connections like these are not achieved by accident or lip service. They happen when two conditions are present: (1) faculty and administration form a community of scholars (regardless of grade level) who love the things they ask the students to love; and (2) the curriculum (including texts) is flexible enough to adjust to reflective teaching and the new ideas it tends to produce. Such an approach requires strategies that differ significantly from those of most modern schools, whether public or parochial: Teaching methods that promote intelligent dialogue and coach the virtues of philosophy at all levels, starting simply at younger ages and deepening over time. Classrooms that form students in time-honored habits of concentration, quietude, reflectiveness, and self-control. Lessons that engage students with interesting stories, intriguing questions, lively exchanges, challenging problems, and high standards, rather than process-driven lessons (trendy at the 22
moment) that engage superficially with hyperactive tasks that entertain but produce little skill or knowledge. A greater number and wider variety of texts that capture the imagination—novels, primary documents, classic literature, modern Catholic fiction, and books on faith and morals written for a popular audience. A phasing out (where possible) of giant, busy, expensive, overly comprehensive textbooks that read like annotated outlines and leave nothing to the students’ imaginations. Preference for live person to person interaction as opposed to interaction mediated by computer technology. Computers are tools that can be very useful on a limited basis, but the average student today is drowning in digital media. Technology does not drive education, thinking and virtue do. Students who are overly dependent on computers, having grown accustomed to hyper-stimulation, lose the patience and/or ability to analyze information in depth. The 21st century student benefits from access to oceans of information and many new productivities by means of digital technology, but technology—no matter how many bells and whistles—exists to serve man, not the other way around.
Truth For decades, Christians have battled a growing tide of relativism, the contradictory assertion that is true that there is no truth (or that we know the truth that we cannot know the truth). Many in today's society have adopted this erroneous philosophy, despite its logical discrepancies, out of a misguided sense that holding to truth is closedminded and intolerant. We can debate with relativists (if there are any true relativists) ad infinitem, and there is some value in staying on message in our renunciation of relativism, but at root relativism may be more about taming a rebellious will than proving the logic of objective truth. For the one who desires complete moral license or a morally permissive culture, relativism is a convenient worldview. Jesus taught that those who deny truth might have ulterior motives: "For 23
everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed. But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God" (John 3:20-21). This is not to say that all relativists (or those who tend toward relativism) are immoral. The charge of ulterior motives is based on the fact that relativism does not pass the logic test and that the failure to see such clear logical flaws is conspicuous. If modern secular society had but one commandment, it might be, "Thou shalt be tolerant." Today's society abhors nothing more than narrow-mindedness, a label often hurled at committed Christians for believing what Jesus taught: "I am the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6). Christians have been browbeaten into believing that it is insensitive and judgmental to believe that Christ is Lord. Lumen Christi, on the other hand, encourages the full proclamation of Jesus' divinity and kingship, and of Holy Mother Church as the "universal sacrament of salvation" (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium, 48). There is positive peer pressure here to believe the Gospels and to put them into action even if doing so means being countercultural. After all, St. Paul taught, "Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect" (Romans 12:2).While much of the world debates whether there is truth or whether the truth can be known, we join in Christ's prayer, "Consecrate them in truth. Your word is truth." We stake our lives on God's promise that the true path to freedom is in God's word: "If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:31-32). 24
Virtue Virtue, in its simplest conception, is a good habit. We have acquired a virtue when upholding a good becomes second nature to us. There is something of a hierarchy to virtue, in which the Theological Virtues of faith, hope, and love—which are infused by grace—are the prerequisites that dispose us to the formation of acquired virtues that depend more on our deliberate cooperation. The implication is that grace is the foundation of virtue. The Church has always held that every good work is inspired and conducted by grace. If we want to be people of virtue, we must be people of grace. Sacraments, prayer and devotion, and service to God and neighbor, are the seedbed of all virtue. Virtue is, thus, not programmatic. That is, there is no fail-safe system for manufacturing virtue. It begins as pure divine gift, and is developed by a relationship with God. For this reason, the Church holds that life in Christ is not fulfilled by mere adherence to precepts and philosophies. It is fulfilled by adherence to a person, Christ Jesus, whose indwelling makes us truly Christian. This is a mystery that unfolds in our lives as we walk with our Lord. Knowledge and orthodoxy in faith are absolutely essential, but our whole being must be united miraculously to God by the free gift of His life within us. We need to know and accept all the truths of the faith as part of a loving bond with Jesus, nourished by devotion. In his book, Introduction to the Devout Life, St. Francis De Sales referred to the transforming power of grace as devotion, the virtue by which we are made “prompt, active, and diligent in the observation of all the commandments of God.” Devotion, says Francis, “provokes us to do promptly and with delight as many good works as we can, not only those which are commanded, but also those which are only of counsel or inspiration.” Devotion brings to light the fullest realization of our nature and calling, and so provides a context for the inculcation of virtue. The goal of educational formation in virtue is to promote a lively union with God in which virtue is not the rote imposition of will, but the ardent desire to please our beloved God and to grow in His likeness.
Academic Scholarship: High Standards, Sensible Methods, Compassionate Interaction â€œApply your heart to instruction, and your ears to words of knowledge.â€? ~ Proverbs 23:12 Being a student is a calling from God that is fulfilled by applying oneself to learning. Learning is not something imposed by teachers on students, but is a cooperation in which students embrace their responsibility in the learning process. Lumen Christi teachers uphold academic standards that expand and challenge students. They cooperate with students in the learning processâ€”coaching, practicing, encouraging, monitoring, and assessing to insure learning. With the cooperation of parents, teachers hold students accountable for their progress by reinforcing personal initiative and responsibility. Above all, they are motivated by charity and treat each child with the dignity befitting a member of the Body of Christ. Lumen Christi operates by the simple principle that learning is a human endeavor, not reducible to standardized tests or state prescribed standards. Teachers monitor progress on a constant basis through relationship. Class sizes are small to facilitate interaction between teachers and students, and teachers are trained to use reflective teaching practices and pay close attention to classroom performance. Students are regularly evaluated by each teacher and systematic feedback is provided to parents. School administration and faculty are accessible and communicative. With the input of those who work closest to the students, we have developed a curriculum that emphasizes fundamentals. Our materials are highly structured to keep teachers and students on track toward ambitious goals, without sacrificing the creativity and lightheartedness that make up young personalities. Because we establish our own curriculum, we offer a truly localized program that best suits the needs of our school. 26
Discipline: Proactive, Charitable, Constructive Discipline, as the name suggests, is an exercise in discipleship. It is a form of leadership built on a few simple preventative principles: Keep students productively engaged in the classroom. The best way to avoid discipline problems is to work to provide interesting lessons that call on students to interact with the teacher and each other, and which provide meaningful (not gimmicky) variety. Create a positive rapport in the classroom, a warm environment in which the teacher knows the students and the students know they are liked and accepted. This is constructive order—order that is based on clear but humane expectations. Students who think they are disliked for normal childhood behavior or who feel they cannot redeem themselves for prior infractions will pose perpetual problems. Constantly monitor student behavior in classrooms and common areas. Teachers cannot “catch” everything that might happen in a classroom or assembly. However, teachers can become accustomed to noticing feedback cues from their students during lessons and correcting/adjusting where needed. Reward good behavior in the classroom. Maintain an age-grouped progressive discipline plan with consultation and regular feedback from teachers. The plan should include prescribed elements but allow teachers some freedom in using their own ideas when appropriate. There is no one-size-fitsall discipline plan any more than there is one kind of student or teacher. Encourage teachers to handle day-to-day discipline issues as much as possible. Honor the strengths of the teacher. Teachers can reinforce student expectations in various ways. For example, it generally does not help a teacher with a softer disposition to pretend to be a drill sergeant. Teachers thrive when they are encouraged to work within their personality to maintain constructive order so long as the teacher maintains such order. The key is having a proactive plan and sticking to it. Communicate student expectations clearly, positively, and repeatedly to students, teachers, and parents. A few simple standards understood fully and remembered easily work better than an exhaustive compendium. 27
Treat punishments as teaching opportunities. Look for ways to turn something bad into something good, that is, focus on correction not retribution. Work with teachers to put together classroom discipline plans (i.e. If students commit this type of infraction, I will respond with…) to remove guess-work. Promote/structure collaboration among teachers to generate ideas. Include parents in more serious disciplinary issues and chronic lower-level discipline issues.
Academic Integrity “[Show] yourself as a model of good deeds in every respect, with integrity in your teaching, dignity, and sound speech...” ~ Titus 2:7 Unfortunately the idea of academic integrity has been reduced to a series of programs aimed at reducing student cheating on tests and assignments. This is unfortunate because, while cheating is clearly immoral and destructive, it is only one piece of a bigger problem. The bigger problem is in the misunderstanding of the “integrity.” Integrity means wholeness, not just moral uprightness. This is important to understand because academic wholeness is not the same as academic uprightness. Academic wholeness takes in the whole school: administration, teachers, students, parents, and curriculum. To put the issue bluntly, the spirit of academic integrity is violated by schools that emphasize grades and transcripts above all else. When the grade becomes all-important, and the qualitative values of education are marginalized, cheating will naturally follow. Cheating is simply a means-justifies-the-ends phenomenon that is driven by over-emphasizing the “end” of a good grade. Good grades and strong transcripts are desirable things. They can, however, become so consuming that intrinsic learning is no longer a 28
priority. This is the shared responsibility of the adult leadership in a school, including the parents. If teachers place inordinate emphasis on percentages and grades—mostly by weighting their classes almost entirely by quizzes and tests—they may be sacrificing intrinsic learning (learning motivated by true interest in the subject/skill). There are many other ways to assess knowledge than by tests and quizzes alone (i.e. internal or external standardized tests), some of which are plainly better measures of knowledge. Students who are encouraged to test and apply their knowledge in a variety of ways would seem more likely to make the content/skill their own—to see it in relation to their goodness. Variety in assessment can help a lot to avert the ugliness of cheating because it promotes more personal investment in the product. Writing, speaking, projects, and unit portfolios are all means of assessment that involve a personal style and a personal freedom to take on more individual responsibility for learning. The goal of this is personal investment by the student in the actual learning outcome—the outcome inside the person. If all that matters to the adults around a student is a number, then students are more likely to see cheating as a trivial matter. This, by no means justifies cheating, but educators and parents are called to lead students in good habits and promote environments that leverage honesty and responsibility. We need to address the demand side of this as well, namely the demand from parents for good grades. Parents, just like everyone else associated with the school, are busy. They do not have a lot of time to talk about what, exactly, is being taught and learned by students, and even if they had the time, students might not be forthcoming. As a result, parents often revert to a bottom-line mentality, the minimum measure—the grade. When the grade is good, all is well. When the grade is bad, someone is in trouble: either the student or the teacher, or both. These are the conditions for grade inflation. On this we must be honest. If, in the pursuit of the highest letter grade and most impressive transcript, parents pressure students and teachers, cheating is incentivized for both parties. Once again, this is not a justification for cheating, but a pressure that makes it more likely. 29
Teachers, just like students, do not want trouble. Good teachers are generally willing to stand their ground to protect the integrity of the grading system, but when they are continually on the hook for a student's grade it can be a miserable situation. We do not want to create an environment in which it is just easier to give the higher grade to avoid the fallout. We want to maintain a culture in which parents truly want the grade to match student effort and performance. There are strategies that teachers can employ to aid a struggling student (or one that is close to making the grade but just barely missing it), but those strategies cannot obviate a stubborn refusal in the student to do the work it takes to make the grade. In the long run, our mutual commitment to earned grades will lead to more learning. One last consideration for academic integrity: homework. Chances are, we all did homework growing up. We are used to homework being a normal part of school. For the most part, homework is helpful for solidifying classroom concepts through practice and by extending the lesson. Too much homework is a problem. Overloading students creates an impossible situation for them; one which might lead to desperate measures in the student body, like cheating. It is worth mentioning one more time that cheating is not justifiable, even if homework stress is high. Cheating is objectively wrong. Nevertheless, students depend on us to set the conditions for successâ€”to lead the way. Humane teaching, the kind that develops students, inside and out, for goodness, depends on measuring the value of homework against the whole student experience. It seems advisable to assign homework to the extent that it provides necessary practice and lesson extension. With homework, it is not a more-isbetter situation. The type of homework and the time it takes to complete are important factors in our approach to homework. We all have to do things we would rather not do, and homework can definitely be such a thing. However, it is best if homework can be assigned in proper balance to the demands of other classes, as well as the daily need for prayer, recreation, and family time. It is also best when effort is given to making homework assignments interesting (within reason), and 30
meaningful. When homework provides little return on the time investment and are little more than what most people would consider “busy work,” it would be better to either change the nature of the homework or eliminate it. We should have no desire to create a nightly gauntlet for students just to test their limits. This is something that the Lumen Christi community understands, but which we would need to remain mindful of as the “accountability movement” gains full-steam. When students are using their homework time to research, write, read great books in preparation for discussion, and practice difficult concepts, the homework would seem to be a reasonable demand.
Teachers: Vision, Just Wage, Reasonable Workload, Flexible Training, Collaboration Hiring teachers that are committed to the vision of the school and willing to play an active part in maintaining it is essential to realizing the mission of Lumen Christi. This requires a conscientious search and interview process. But it also requires an attractive working environment anchored in these principles: Teacher pay has to be a priority in development initiatives because it has a direct impact on the quality of education Lumen Christi offers. A just wage (and/or in-kind benefits) attracts teachers that invest themselves more fully and more permanently in the life of the school. A revolving door disrupts continuity—distressing parents, overburdening administration, and depleting the pool of faculty experienced enough to support a smooth operation. Having an established faculty gives students a sense of security, and creates a strong core of experience and expertise. If the community wants to realize these goals, it must be involved in stewardship, and in helping to involve new supporters. Teachers teach best when they have a manageable workload. Limiting the number of subjects teachers have to prepare, and keeping class sizes at optimal levels, enables teachers to devote more time to their lesson planning and grading. They can be more creative, offer more feedback on written work, communicate more often and more meaningfully with parents, and offer more one-onone support to students. Naturally, there must be trade-offs when resources are limited, but our goal should be to avoid, to the greatest extent possible, spreading our teachers too thin. If it is necessary for teachers to manage a lot of subjects, then we should be sure to limit their out-of-class and after-school responsibilities by sustaining a wide volunteer roster. Trained teachers are an asset to the school, but teaching degrees do not guarantee effective teaching. Lumen Christi has reaped dividends from the transferable talents and skills that non-certified teachers have gained in other career fields, home schooling, parish work, and family life. Lumen Christi teachers consistently produce 32
students whose knowledge, character, and skills rival and exceed that of students from schools that employ only licensed teachers. Solid, user-friendly instructional materials provide a framework for our teachers to plan and implement their curricula. Some (maybe many) of our materials come from home-schooling curricula, and rightly so, because they are effective from multiple standpoints: (1) they drill on fundamentals, (2) they integrate faith across disciplines, (3) they maintain a challenging pace, and (4) they provide plenty of guidance for the teacher, with a built in scope and sequence that is carefully scheduled. Nevertheless, we should support ongoing training for our teachers, in and off campus, on school time. NAPCIS certification should be considered, but not necessarily normative, in our training efforts. Offerings should include content area training and teaching methods workshops on such topics as practical Theology, classroom management, teaching for conversion, parent-teacher communication, engaging teaching practices, child-development, and motivational strategies. There is an ample corps of experts in the greater Indianapolis area who happen to be Catholic that could offer an hour or two to share their knowledge, and there is a lot we can do to draw on existing talent in the building. ď‚ˇ Teachers are remarkably resourceful and creative people, but they too seldom get a chance to talk to each other about game plans. It is often the case that faculty meetings are reduced to exercises in hoop jumping with a dizzying array of administrative odds and ends. This may be a necessary evil to a very limited extent, but organizational details donâ€™t have to crowd out dialogue on teaching practices. Faculty meetings are opportune times to get ideas, feedback, and questions from faculty. They should solicit collaboration on school culture, teaching strategies, and success storiesâ€”nothing forced or contrived, not a support group model, but a chance to put our heads together on issues that impact teaching and learning. Weighing the possibility that this approach risks idealism, sound planning might allow both aspects, managerial and philosophical, to be treated in faculty meetings. To achieve this balance, miscellaneous announcements will be minimized, prioritized, and printed (or posted/sent online). Meetings will be structured to frame constructive conversation. There will 33
always be a need to handle minor business items, but teachers’ time is precious and we need to be efficient. Ideally, discussions would allow us to work on things that most affect teaching and learning:
“How are students doing with discipline?” “What is your input on ‘engaged learning’? How is it achieved?” “What kind of parent communication is most valuable to you and how can we make it happen?” “What works to motivate students?” “What specific virtues are especially in need of development in our students? What sort of plan do we have to meet the need?” “What can we do to prevent students from being shut out socially?” “What strategies can we use to provide meaningful writing assessments without overloading ourselves with grading?” “What are our students’ greatest academic shortcomings and what can we do in the classroom and school-wide to work them out?” “What works best for responding to common discipline problems in the classroom?” “Provide some input on how a course syllabus should look. What would you want to see as a parent?” “What are the most convenient and effective means (from teacher and parent perspectives) of updating parents on student progress? Are we doing all we can and should?” “What do we need to do to prevent/overcome religious indifference? Apathy and sloth in study?” “How can we use liturgical seasons to reinforce our school-wide learning and behavior objectives?” “How should we answer students when they ask why they need to learn the material or when they are going to use it?”
Athletics “Train yourself for devotion, for, while physical training is of limited
value, devotion is valuable in every respect, since it holds a promise of life both for the present and for the future.” ~ 1 Timothy 4:8 We live in a sports crazed society. In many ways, sports has been elevated to the level of religion in modern culture. For much of the world, sports is the one thing that arouses passion, camaraderie, and self-sacrifice. Would that faith, family, and the apostolate could motivate such fervor. Sports are great. We should enjoy sports. They bring to light some great virtues: teamwork, preparation, civic pride, good health, recreation, creativity, talent, to name a few. Sports should not, though, be the obsession that it has become—it is disproportionate. The obsession with sports has trickled (more like flooded) down to our schools. Many parents today can testify that they spend most of their evenings trucking children from one athletic event to another— sometimes traveling hours for events—attending multiple practices and games each week. Students start multiple weekly practices in multiple sports from as early as 2nd or 3rd grade. Schools divert massive resources to building and maintaining sports facilities (most of which they cannot afford). Sports becomes the prime focus of the school community in many districts, and student athletes are subjected to pressures and accolades that are not appropriate for their age.
Lumen Christi has not fallen prey to this...yet. God willing, it never will. Will Lumen Christi ever offer athletics? This is not for one administrator to decide. Should our students enjoy sports? Absolutely. Like all activities that occur at Lumen Christi, sports should be oriented to our vision. That is to say, how do sports support the formation of students as faithful Catholics who are developing all their faculties for the fullest exercise of human dominion in the world? Sports are one piece of a fully developed person. We need to be healthy in mind and body in order to have the energy and well-being to do God's will. For most people these ends are achievable by taking up a life-long sport such as weight training, running, swimming, biking, and golf (there are others). These are the kinds of sports that can be done on one's ownâ€”that do not require multiple teammates. They are also the kind of sports that do not place unreasonable demands on a school's staff, volunteers, and finances. It may be that intramural sports become part of the life of Lumen Christi in the future, but even this should be a matter of discussion as to its merits in fulfilling the mission. It is wise to be cautious about the introduction of sports because, in schools, even intramural programs can spark an incremental desire for something bigger and more competitive. This happened at Franciscan University of Steubenville, which has managed the program well, but which has also created a whole new need for fundraising and a whole new category of student life to manage. This has and will continue to create facility and staffing demands that were not there before. For now, it might be best to plug Lumen Christi students into CYO, encourage personal exercise, and look for informal opportunities for students to engage in sports together (open gym, road races, etc.).
Service “You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.” ~ Matthew 5:14-16 Apostolic works, service to God and one another, start in one's immediate environment. God regularly brings into our lives opportunities to serve one another, but we might miss them if we are not looking for them. There is a place for service in a school. Lumen Christi has been involved in multiple forms of charitable service over the years, and is always looking for ways to expand service opportunities for students (teachers and families too). There is a balance however, between what a Catholic school asks of students in service, and what the students are called to do in their parishes and families. Catholic schools should be mindful that while Catholic school is an important source of formation, the parish and family are primary. Parishes work hard to involve young people in active service ministry, but often fail to win their interest and participation. Catholic schools occupy students roughly 40 hours per week, and perhaps another 10-15 hours per week in homework. This still leaves some room for extra service Student fulfill the corporal work of mercy, activities, pilgrimages, “Visit the imprisoned,” by bringing cookies and field trips, which to prisoners. are all enriching to the 37
school and its students. Beyond this, the parish and family ought to benefit from the service initiatives of our young people. While in school, students are reminded that, as everyone is called according one's state in life, being a good student, minding the needs of classmates, and contributing to the life of one's parish and family are sources of abundant service opportunities.
Development: Rooted in Evangelization The first task of development is to promote our vision in the community—to publicize our mission, our distinctiveness, and our accomplishments. Resource support will be generated by convincing our friends in the community that we are worth the investment. There are undoubtedly motivated prospective patrons who are looking for ways to support authentic Catholic education, specifically a school that will devote resources efficiently to the bottom line— faithful Catholic scholarship. The world is in great need of scholarsaints to restore the proper intellectual and moral foundations for freedom to prosper, and this is a mission in which all concerned citizens have a stake. In order to connect our mission with supporters, we have to seize opportunities to broadcast what makes us unique: Vibrant orthodoxy Daily Mass Superior academic standards integrated with content-driven religious instruction Small class sizes in an intimate and personalized environment Devoted teachers who sign an oath of loyalty to the Magisterium Parents who fully support the religious mission of the school and its integration across all school activities. No-nonsense curriculum based on fundamentals In this way, our campaign to garner support for our school’s needs, becomes a mission of evangelization universally applicable to Catholic life. Lumen Christi represents fidelity to the teachings of the Church, integrity of spiritual and corporeal life, and a commitment to simplicity, all hallmarks of sound Catholicity. There are many opportunities to publicize and seek support for our mission: Cultivating existing relationships. Our benefactors often supply 39
us with resources to advance the work of the school, but they also offer us their friendship and their prayers. Once they are connected with us, they become members of our family. Speaking and staffing vendor tables at local/regional conferences of apostolates related to our mission Seeking out radio/television interviews to highlight the school and school-related events Press releases to Catholic publications Publishing by our board members, administration, teachers, and parents Networking with pastors and lay leaders at parishes Sponsoring and conducting catechetical initiatives (Catholic speakers, parent workshops, discussion groups, etc.) Conventional advertising on Catholic radio, internet, and print media Improving the web site to increase views and public interaction Brainstorming new creative, low-cost, fundraisers in addition to those we currently operate (auctions, Scrip, shopping cards, etc.) Endowment fund capital campaigns (utilizing our new promotional video and board contacts) Direct giving opportunities on the website
We will exercise care in funding and organizational integrity. Trust in God’s providence demands that we avoid money-motivated compromises in our mission. Our supporters understand the calling of this school. They have given selflessly, beyond our expectations, and they have always respected the integrity of the school's decisionmaking process. We want to continue that tradition. Love for the Church and our students, parents, and teachers wins influence at Lumen Christi. God will provide for our needs so long as we stay true to his calling.
Independent Accreditation Independent Accreditation through NAPCIS is not a renegade or isolationist position. Rather it is a way to maximize our mission effectiveness. Lumen Christi serves parents who want traditional-minded Catholic education in an intimate setting that focuses on doing a few things really well: Theological instruction, sacramental life, and down-to-earth academic fundamentals in a thoroughly Catholic framework. Parents appreciate the pure and simple approach that Lumen Christi takes, which contrasts significantly with the often complex and over programmed environments that weigh down many other Catholic schools. Independence allows Lumen Christi the flexibility to pursue our goals without bureaucratization and micromanagement from multiple nonCatholic oversight agencies, and/or diocesan agencies/personnel unaccustomed to the culture of the school. Lumen Christi maintains that simpler and smaller works better to preserve our shared vision. Diocesan Catholic schools, while led and staffed by well-intentioned and qualified personnel, submit to a high level of state curriculum regulation and non-Catholic accrediting standards. Granting such influence to state and secular agencies tends to steer them away from interdisciplinary Catholic curricula, simple and responsive leadership structures, and localized priority-setting. Self-governance allows Lumen Christi to put mission firstâ€”that is, to 41
base decisions on the shared vision of the board, administration, parents, and students. Parents are more assured that their students’ classmates come from families with similar priorities as their own. Lumen Christi’s autonomy, in other words, has situated it as a magnet school for families with some or all of these distinctive needs: a curriculum that incorporates Catholic connections in all subjects a schedule built around daily Mass attendance for all students a faculty unanimously loyal to the Church’s Magisterium a culture welcoming to home-schooling backgrounds and sensibilities an emphasis on traditional devotions a back-to-basics setting that models simplicity a family base that prioritizes faith and whose prime motivation for choosing Catholic education is their children’s growth in holiness
The Role of Headmaster: Mission Specialist, Teacher Advisor, Parent Link, Facilitator A recent survey of school Principals by Education World ranked “has a stated vision for the school and a plan to achieve that vision” as the number one trait in a school administrator. The preeminent task of a school administrator is to insure the vision of the school, and nowhere is this more important than at Lumen Christi, because mission is why parents choose us. The mission, as variously stated above, can be distilled to this: Lumen Christi Catholic School is an independent Catholic School that imparts Catholic faith and scholarship in four ways:
The grace of the sacraments A commitment by the whole Lumen Christi community to Catholic belief and practice in accordance with the Church’s Magisterial teachings Challenging curriculum based on lively discussions and engaging texts A commitment to the virtue of simplicity
The plan for achieving this mission: Daily all-school Mass. Lumen Christi was founded on this principle and blessed with the ability to carry it out. This should continue permanently. Communicate the mission to parents, teachers, and students proactively (stated in all our literature, school tours, open houses, admission interviews and application materials, advertisements, public speaking events, mission statements, contracts, evaluations, school discipline plan, and most importantly, by our lived witness). Form the curriculum around the mission by choosing materials of high Catholic and academic value across the curriculum, and review the curriculum for effectiveness regularly. Mentor and reinforce classroom instruction that arouses true faith and practices sound principles of scholarship, by sharing ideas, 43
conducting regular teacher observations and follow-ups, and providing ample opportunities for teacher training. Hire promising teachers that demonstrate commitment to the school’s mission. Promote the value of simplicity by focusing on the two pillars of our academic program (faith and scholarship) and minimizing non-essential activities. The Headmaster is a link to parents as a two-way communicator, informing families of school vision, policies, events, changes, and needs. He also listens to parent input and creates structures for utilizing parent insights and talents. It is essential that part of the Headmaster's day is devoted to communication by phone, computer, or personal appointments. There are protocols that need to be established ahead of time in the Headmaster-parent interchange in which two minimum standards are set. First, charity must be the rule of all conversation. Incivility and belligerence are irreconcilable with Christian decency. Second, while parent input is not only welcomed but deliberately sought, the administration/board cannot be expected to yield to every opinion. All ideas are taken seriously, but not all will become school policy. Finally, the ideal form of leadership in a Headmaster is reflective and facilitative. While it is necessary, at times, to make swift command decisions, this is an exception not a rule. The best broad-based decisions come about as a result of weighing options carefully, seeking input, and making an informed judgment driven by the school’s vision. Consultative authority can take time, but in the long run it helps prevent trial and error mismanagement. No leadership model, save that established by Christ, is infallible, so mistakes will be made and corrected, but this is how positive growth occurs so long as we remain patient, flexible, and imaginative. “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” John 8:12
Published on Dec 1, 2013
Jason T. Adams's meditation on Lumen Christi Catholic School's vision and mission is a reflection on the past, present and future of this sm...