09 December 2009

An Eighth-Grader on St Athanasius

I just today discovered the (to my knowledge) first issue of Remarkable Providences: The Official Newsletter of Providence Hall Classical Christian School, from the school my daughter attends, and I was struck by a piece on the back page. The students are organized into ‘houses’ (à la Harry Potter), each named after a different Father of the Church. The piece on the back is the first of a planned series about these houses. This one is on St Athanasius the Great, the prefect of whose house is Lauren Hill, an eighth-grader of thirteen years’ age! I offer it with only a slight omission, represented by the ellipsis: Lauren’s explanation of the symbolism of the Athanasius House crest.

Born in ca. AD 296, St Athanasius served to bolster the integrity of a church continuously barraged by heretics and schisms. During his tenure as Bishop of Alexandria, Athanasius studied the divinity of Christ and contributed a great deal to the early church’s catechetical instruction. Around AD 330, he was driven into exile by the Bishop of Nicomedia for insisting that there could be no fellowship between the church and one who denied the divinity of Christ. Athanasius remained in exile for the rest of his life, preaching to those who would listen and writing extensively about the church’s teaching on Christology. In ca. AD 373, the ‘Greatest Champion of Catholic Belief’ died surrounded by many other bishops, all mourning the death of such a steadfast, patient, and faithful man.

Providence Hall, being a classical Christian school, thrives not only on the examples of the ancients in their education, but draws upon the examples of the saints as well. St Athanasius, through his perseverance in exile and diligence in preaching the truth, is for students a paramount illustration of how to approach their daily work. Rather than merely ‘getting it over with’, we should diligently complete our work, and, when faced with difficult tests, essays, or presentations, desire to go above and beyond the requirements.

. . .

While it is quite satisfying to see and hear the vigorous support of the students of the House of Athanasius, it is essential that we remember the reason Athanasius has been chosen to shepherd us, albeit indirectly. Just as he called the church to God’s standards, so should we, as students, pursue excellence.

Perhaps Lauren will start her own occasionally hagiographical blog one day! In the meantime, the reverence for the Saints and remarkable prose of Lauren’s piece make it an excellent illustration of why we’ve decided to send our kids to Providence Hall.


redshield3 said...

A great piece indeed! It is nice to know that young people are being educated in such a way and that it is so central to their educational experience. Much better than stumbling into them later in life (As I did).

It was good to meet you this afternoon. Would love to learn your schedule at Half Price Books so I can sneak in there before you get all the good stuff.

aaronandbrighid said...

Good to meet you too, Chris, and good to hear from you finally. Why didn't you ever comment before now?

Unfortunately for you, I don't have a schedule for my HPB visits. I rely on a psychic ability, a sort of hyper-sensitive bibliophilic radar, to know when the most desireable books have been shelved, and then, owl-like, I descend through the night and snatch them in my talons, like little mice who don't even hear the beat of my super-silent wings.

I hope that doesn't weird you out!