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Spring 2008



Stephen Chartier

Dr. William M. Schmitt

“An autumn evening at Trivium School” was Peter Leithhart, in the most recent edition of the theme of the wonderfully successful aucThe Intercollegiate Review, has written about tion held in the Arts & the classical schooling Athletic Center at the movement. There he School in November. prominently menDecorated by Susan tions Trivium School: Walsh, Brendan “On a twelve-acre esEnwright and Rosalie tate forty miles west Berquist, the gymnaof Boston, students at sium was transformed the Trivium School into an atmosphere in meet in a turn-of-the keeping with J.W. century mansion Riley’s “When the known as CrownFrost is on the Punkin’ ledge. Founded in and the Fodder’s in the 1979, the Trivium Shock.” Many families School teaches Cathoand all classes were lic doctrine but also represented by way of focuses on liberal and a talent or contribufine arts to inculcate tions. A cherry bookthe ‘intellectual skills case, hand-stitched and habits that prequilt, and vintage Cappare the student for tain Mattias Chest life-long learning.’” were among the many Senior Eileen Gallagher responds to questions His article is a review handmade donations. of the revival of classiabout her thesis. A “down under” cal education. He emwine-tasting, as well as full-course dinners— phasizes the influence of Dorothy Sayers’ Chinese, French and “fresh from the farm”— essay “The Lost Tools of Learning” and rounded off the list of items. seeks to convince the reader that this moveThe entire evening was a pleasant expement is “more radical than reactionary— rience. Indeed, the manner in which Catherine radical, that is, in its original sense, describChaisson and Diane Kaulbach orchestrated ing something that goes to the roots.” By the event took the focus off of buying and this he means that classical education is onto easy conversation, goodwill and good more concerned with the foundations of cheer. Nancy McGarry’s hot hors d’oeuvres, our civilization and giving rebirth to our the good humor of emcee Ted Turner, and culture than with fighting a war against the background entertainment by Rosemary secularization and atheism. Reynolds, Tess and Sara Smillie, Clarence Leithhart’s article is thoughtful and balChaisson, and Michael Enwright all added to anced, but he fails to see the issue with the near-to-perfect fundraiser. Bottom line: depth. Classical education seeks to under$36,365—a delightful “autumn evening at Trivium School.” (Continued on next page.)

“. . . to inculcate the intellectual skills and habits that prepare the student for life-long learning. . .”

Philippe Ortiz (’11)

Junior Theses Whether Sports are Necessary for a Full Life Timothy Beer Whether Musicians Who Do Not Write Their Own Music Are Artists Teresa Bloemer Whether Christians Should Fear Death Lauren Brouillette Whether When a Catholic University Fails to Recognize That Reason is Built Upon Faith It Becomes AntiCatholic Thomas Cheffers Whether Developmentally Disabled People Have a Spiritual Advantage John DeMasi Whether a Civilization Requires the Simple Life Paul DeMasi Whether Stoicism and Christianity Are Compatible Peter Hannon

John Schmitt (’10) and Joseph Meier (’11) work on Latin II exams.


stand the nature of things: the nature of God, man, and the universe. By “classical” is meant Greek and Roman antiquity. The ancient Hebrews are not classical; all other cultures outside of the Western tradition are also not classical. What is distinct about the Western tradition that finds its roots in Greece and Rome? These cultures made a bold and universal claim that man is a reasonable animal who can know the truth, the truth not just for his own culture, but for all people. Indeed, this is what they identified with culture and they called all other peoples barbarians. And yet . . . with all of this, they wrestled with what Jacques Maritain called “pagan melancholy” because the truth was not fully attainable. What nature aspired to, it could not even imagine. To understand this predicament is the goal of classical education. It is the nature of man. Classical education is not limited to the humanities. In the area of science, it also

brings clarity about the nature of things. When Aristotle developed the idea of causality, he was not proposing a new theory; he put down what every ancient sought in his understanding. This is built on several ideas: the world is not merely material, and things that exist are not their own cause nor do they determine their ultimate purpose. No one has disputed these ideas until modern times. Let me put that more simply: ancient science never made the mistake of reducing all nature (in the ancient sense) to science (in the modern sense). Although the ancients were impoverished when it comes to a material and mathematical understanding of the universe, they never fell into our modern hubris of claiming that science and material causality can explain everything. Christians know this predicament and have heard the Good News of Christ, who lifts man out of this darkness

into the light of faith. In our sinful state, we can only grasp something of grace and its significance in relationship to man’s fallen nature. The alternative has led to many more difficulties. The modern world has distorted Christianity. Buoyed by our vast material wealth, Christianity is mistakenly presented as one of many possible ways to obtain fulfillment. In this way, man overestimates the capacity of his nature. And here is the fatal step: the gifts of grace are attributed to our own efforts. This classical vision is the a central theme for seniors in Intellectual History. It is more than a survey of past history, an overview of Western Civilization based on original sources. It presumes a basic knowledge of the facts of our culture; the students seek to form some general conclusions about the significance of the events that make us who we are. I have taught this class several times and we seek to understand in a unified vision, how Western man understands himself. In terms of content, the most interesting thing is to show the students three stages of our history: the Ancients discovered great beauty and the power of reason, but came up against a wall when they asked the ultimate meaning of things; Christianity provides an answer with the coming of our Savior who brings redemption; modern man, like the Titans of old, seeks to storm heaven and attribute to himself all the good that man can accomplish. This three-fold distinction is very different from the usual history of progress that secular historians preach. The students, although they have been introduced to European History and have read some of the literature of the Ancients, have difficulty in accepting this Christian worldview because it is contrary to what the world tells them. It sounds pessimistic. They tend to be critical of modernity only insofar as it has lost its moral compass. At the beginning of the year we read about Plato’s cave and even acted out the drama. We closed the window curtains, and I made clever shadows on the board of birds and dogs. They tried to guess what the animals were. Then I showed them how to form images in front of the lamp. Next, I invited

9th grade students listen and ask questions..

Whether Parables Are Superior to Rational Arguments Lauren Lagasse Whether Fame Is Essential to an Actor Margaret Murphy Whether the Incarnation Was Caused by Man’s Sin Andrew Newcombe

them outside into the sun. It was a bright autumn day, and they enjoyed the sunshine and what they thought was a silly diversion. Maybe they will remember at the end of the year how I finished by saying that I will try all year long to get them to look beyond the shadows and step out into the light. Normally I ridicule this sort of exercise, but this time I wanted to catch their imaginations and fortify their memories. The modern world is not simply a rejection of faith: it is a confusing attempt to build a world without reference to God. The ancient Greeks and Romans knew better than we what man’s nature is. The other crowning element of Intellectual History is its seminar format. Early on, the students read some Plato and see firsthand how Socrates teaches. They spend the rest of the year trying to imitate these dialogues. In this drama I often play the role of Socrates and seek, by means of dialectics, to question and probe their presuppositions and prejudices, so that they can come to a more certain truth. The students have a taste for this method from many other classes: in Latin, the teacher asks students to translate. When they make a mistake, they are questioned. Building upon what they know, the (Continued on next page.)

Whether a Robin Hood Is Unjust in Stealing Adam Reiley Whether Admissions Should Be Blind to Gender and Race Thomas Schmitt Whether it Is a Greater Good To Resist Temptation or To Fall and Repent Julie Schroeder Whether Mary Had Perfect Faith Theresa Smillie Whether it Is the United States’ Duty To Be the World Police Robert Walsh


teacher tries to lead them to remember what they had apparently forgotten. Euclid class is an even clearer example. Socratic semiSenior Theses nars are not simply an opportunity for the students to interact, share points of view, Whether Enjoyment of and learn how to articulate their opinions. Fantasy Is a Suitable Leisure They are an exercise in reasoning. In fact, Activity they are the way in which the tutor leads Mary Bisbee the student out of the cave of his ignorance Whether We Should Pray to and into the light of truth. the Saints The most characteristic aspect of SoEileen Gallagher crates’ method is his irony. Students recognize it early on when they see him point out Whether Predestination Can the contradictions of his opponent. At the Be Reconciled with Man’s same time that he seems to be asking naive Free Will questions in order to get the other to think, Thomas Janik they see suddenly that, like a good chess Whether Modesty is Objective player, his questioning is directed towards showing that the other has contradicted himSarah Kearney self. This is what infuriated his opponents. Whether Methodical Doubt is But Socrates, with his irony, is not trying to show his quick thinking. He gently and humthe Best Approach to Truth Maura McCluskey bly is trying to lead the other outside the cave of ignorance and opinion. Whether Man Has Rights in Romano Guardini describes the ironic Relation to God method of Socrates in this way: Eileen Meier Whether Speculation Is Contrary to the Common Good Isaiah Prever Whether Nature Is Ordered Toward the Good Joseph Swope

Mass in the Extraordinary Rite is about to begin in the Trivium library.


What does a man do when he treats another with irony? He makes him ridiculous. But he could do that without irony. He could say something straight out which would put the object of his attack in a comic light; but that would not look well. It would show up the attacker as unimaginative and coarse. There is one other drawback too: to attack directly shows one to be entangled in the situation, while the wielder of irony stands above it. He makes appreciative remarks, but in such a way that an unfavourable meaning appears through them. His assent only underlines the contradiction more plainly. He assumes an inoffensive air, only to wound the more surely. The ironic

attack shows the aggressor in blithe security. All this could be said of irony in general; but Socratic irony is more than this. In the last resort its object is not to expose, to wound, to despatch, but to help. It has a positive aim: to stimulate movement and to liberate. It aims at serving truth. . . Socrates’s concern is, above all things, for an inward mobility, a living relation to being and truth, which can only with difficulty be elicited by direct speech. . . He must not be one who lectures others in the consciousness of his own secure possession, but one who is himself a seeker. Learning is a slow and personal journey towards the truth that can hardly be summed up in a few paragraphs. What goes on in every class, if we allow grace to guide us, is of inestimable value. Some men come to a realization of their limitations and the glory of God that surrounds us by reading Ancient tragedies. They expand their experience and judgment vicariously by wide reading. Others suffer tragedy themselves. The person who is classically schooled, when he approaches the truths of our faith, sees them shine forth like a treasure found in a field. The great thinkers of our past have this to teach us, and the students at Trivium are most fortunate to have a taste of these realities, for they will have a lifetime to ponder them.


O Salutaris Hostia!

Ingrid Mitchell From Thursday to Saturday, just before Holy Week, the School held its first Forty Hours devotion. For forty continuous hours at least two adorers -- and usually many more -- prayed before the holy Eucharist. Mass was celebrated each day during the devotion, which concluded with Benediction on Saturday morning. The purpose of the Forty Hours was to pray for the needs of the School, its students, faculty, and benefactors, in reparation for our sins and for the Poor Souls in Purgatory. It was also a way in which our community could be a part of the preparation that the whole Church is making for the Eucharistic Congress in Quebec City this June. The Forty Hours devotion originated in the 1530s in Milan. The Archbishop of Milan requested an indulgence for the practice of forty hours continuous adoration in all the churches in his diocese. The area faced the invading Turks who sought to destroy the Christian faith. Sixty years later Pope Clement VII established in his letter Graves et Diuturnae, the practice of the Forty Hours devotion in all of the Churches in Rome at appointed days and times so that “at every hour of the day and night, the whole year round the incense of prayer shall ascend without intermission before the face of the Lord.” The practice continued and spread in this country, promoted by St. John Neumann, the fourth Bishop of Philadelphia. Throughout the centuries the saints have pointed to this devotion as a way to strengthen communities by renewing an understanding of Christian unity through the gift of the Eucharist. Both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have exhorted the faithful to renew Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and to renew the practice of the Forty Hours devotion. In the words of our Holy Father, “I heartily recommend…the practice of Eucharistic adoration, both individually and in community…The personal relationship which the individual believer establishes with Jesus present in the Holy Eucharist constantly points beyond itself to the whole communion of the Church, and nourishes a

fuller sense of membership in the Body of Christ” (Sacramentum Caritatis, 67, 68). During the devotion we adore Christ as he gives himself to his Church again and again, without reservation, in the Blessed Sacrament. At Trivium the Forty Hours began on Thursday night with Mass celebrated by Father David Cavanaugh. The choir was directed by Jerry Phillips. Immediately following the Mass, the Sacrament was exposed and the library doors were shut, transforming the classroom into a chapel. Many guests, students, and tutors visited throughout the night. One junior, who came in at 3:00 a.m., was amazed to see six classmates praying before the Blessed Sacrament. During the next day on Friday, many students found their way to the chapel in the time between their classes or during study hall. On Friday afternoon Father Mark Withoos gave a talk to the students about the recent Motu Propio Summorum Pontificum, in effect since September of 2007. The Motu Propio allowed for the use of the 1962 edition of the Roman Missal by any priest. The Mass, said according to the older Roman Missal typically called the “Tridentine Mass,” is now called the Extraordinary Form of the Roman (Continued on next page.)


Father Michael Lavallee at the closing Mass.

Students helped out during the Senior Theses Night Dinner. Cecilia Dillon (’11), Madeline Schmitt (’11), Laura Reiley (’11), and Sara Smillie (’11).

Rite. Fr. Withoos explained that because of the controversy about the old Latin Mass, this action of the Holy Father appeared to many people to increase the rift between those devoted exclusively to either the ordinary or extraordinary form of the Mass. On the contrary, Fr. Withoos quoted the Holy Father: “It is a matter of coming to an interior reconciliation in the heart of the Church…There is no contradiction between the two editions of the Roman Missal. In the history of the liturgy there is growth and progress, but no rupture. What earlier generation held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too.” The Forty Hours devotion was a beautiful occasion to cherish the heritage of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, again recognizing the unity brought about by the celebration of the Eucharist. It happened that, according to the calendar of the earlier missal, March 7 is the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas. Furthermore, because the Mass was said at a school, it was a solemn feast day. Fr. Withoos remarked, “I

think St. Thomas worked that one out for us, because I don’t think anyone else planned for it.” Mass was said in the library which was overflowing with students, and guests. Filled with incense, candlelight, and stillness, it was beautiful to hear the same words and see the ancient form of the Mass that St. Thomas Aquinas offered, especially on his feast day! On Saturday morning, the devotion concluded with a Mass and Benediction celebrated by Fr. Michael Lavallee, Associate Pastor of St. John’s in Clinton. Father Lavallee focused in his homily on the necessity of the prayer for the whole Church, as well as for our School. He invited us to remember in prayer those who have lost or are losing the faith in our Church and community. Through our prayers for each other, we allow Christ to come into our hearts and heal wounds caused by our sin. Although the dangers to the faith are not as obvious as invading Turkish armies, trials within and without our community do exist, and the Forty Hours devotion centered for us the Source of truth and charity. One tutor remarked, “I forgot how much I really need those graces and consolations from the Eucharist. It was such a necessary thing to do.” Hopefully this devotion will continue annually at the School. Thank you to all those who planned and organized, as well as those who participated.

NEWS & NOTES This year Trivium School was recognized as one of the top 25 Catholic high schools in the country for its academic program and received an Honorable Mention Award in Academic Excellence. The Catholic High School Honor Roll, a project of the Acton Institute, lists the best Catholic high schools in three categories: academic excellence, Catholic identity, and civic education. Trivium School, with its core liberal arts program, does not offer civics classes. As a result, the School could not show distinction in all three categories.

! The junior class will be staging William Shakespeare’s MacBeth May 15 at 7:00 P.M. It is a gruesome play, not for all of the younger family members. Although the students are working with an abridged version, its many characters make it an especially challenging play to stage. The special effects will also take imagination, but Ingrid Mitchell, the director, believes that the juniors are up to it. The students, after reading the script, were particularly fascinated by how to portray MacBeth and Lady MacBeth as real human beings, tragically overwhelmed by evil. The night before graduation, May 30, the seniors will be performing Moliere’s The Learned Ladies. Moliere is known not only for his comedy and wit, but also for his unmasking of hypocrisy. This play is a gentle comedy about a bluestocking woman who reduces life to learning and the trials she imposes on her husband and daughters.

! Trivium students did exceptionally well on the National Latin Exam. Forty-five students in Latin I-IV took the exam. 84% received awards and 21 students won gold

medals. Adam Reiley (’09) and John Pastrone (’10) received perfect scores. In Mr. Muir’s and Mr. Schmitt’s Latin classes, all of the students received awards! Congratulations!

! Mary Bisbee (’08) was recognized as a National Merit Scholar. Three other seniors, Maura McCluskey, Isaiah Prever, and Joseph Swope, were Commended Students in the 2008 National Merit Program. Congratulations!

Mary Bisbee (’08) delivers her senior thesis.

! Trivium’s Commencement will be on Saturday, May 31. The Most Reverend Robert McManus, Bishop of Worcester, will be the celebrant of the Commencement Mass. Francesco Cesareo, President of Assumption College, will be the Commencement Speaker. Bishop McManus was ordained to the priesthood in 1978. Following ordination, he served in a number of parishes and as the director of the diocesan Office of Ministerial Formation. He was named rector of Our Lady of Providence Seminary in 1998. Pope John Paul II named Bishop McManus as the Fifth Bishop of Worcester and he was installed on May 14, 2004. Dr. Cesareo is the newly appointed President at Assumption. He graduated from Cathedral College of the Immaculate Conception in Douglaston, NY, and earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in Late Medieval/Early Modern European history from Fordham University. He and his wife, Filomena, are the parents of three young children.


April 25

Spring Dance

May 1, Thursday

School Holiday: Feast of the Ascension

May 15

Junior Play, 7:00 P.M. MacBeth

May 26, Monday

Memorial Day

May 27- 29

Final Examinations

May 28, Wednesday Senior/Tutor Dinner May 30, Friday

Senior Play, 7:00 P.M. Moliere’s The Learned Ladies at Nashoba Regional H.S.

May 31, Saturday

TRIVIUM SCHOOL P.O. Box 597 S. Lancaster, MA 01561


Scripta Spring 2008  

Trivium Scripta Newletter from Spring 2008

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