Gut Check: The Place of Passions in Education was the talk topic of Father Scalia at the recent IHM Catholic Homeschool Conference in Virginia.
This was my 2nd time hearing Father. Last year I thought he was one of the best and again this year he really captivated. I'll make it a point never to miss him and I'll probably frequently google him to "get a fix." :)
Perhaps I am not alone in this high praise? Right before he spoke an escort brought to the front row of chairs a tiny woman, but a giant among thinkers, the beautiful mind of Dr. Alice von Hildebrand! This icon wanted to hear Father Scalia. I don't recall her at other talks. Of course, she had her own talk. Like last year, Dr. Hildenbrand's talk was electric! In the presence of greatness, I was unable to take notes. I was too riveted to the privilege of being in her presence and hanging on her every eloquent word to put pen to paper. Get any CD you can on her!
Excuse me, back to Father Scalia. :) Father walked in to applause and went directly to Dr. Hildenbrand, grasped both her hands and smiling with his enormous dimples whispered to her with genuine affection, "hello dear." I was sitting right behind her and was melted by that sweet moment.
Father is a cerebral speaker and I won't do his talk justice, get the CD. I can provide a few quotes I noted and my remembrances and list them for you to ponder. Please don't take my disjointed relay of quips as any mirror to what was a logically progressing argument.
Father mentioned these as must-read books. Abolition of Man by C. S. Lewis and Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton.
Some Fr. Scalia quotes on disordered passions....
" ...the knowing we should love certain parts of the faith but not feeling, showing, surrrendering to that love."
" Without training our emotions, we cripple the intellect."
"We are peaceful and serene when we are ordered."
For those away from the Church, he said it is not always from intellectual hinderences but also sentimental error. If they spent any time truly in an intellectual pursuit of what the Church teaches and believes, intellectually they would come to agree and convert as intellectual giants from all times have....no, what really prevents that eventuality is something sentimental, like a negative erroneous thought they brought from youth against the church or more likely, sexuality. Most times the lack of discipline to *change* prevents conversion. They desire what they should not and the Church stands in their way. Unruly passions cloud thinking. What a history we have of men who were brilliant but their passions were disordered, he related.
What must we do to make ordered passions understood by our children? Father Scalia says we must train our own emotions!
Specific recommended reading... the chapter on Wonder, Ethics in Elfland, by Chesterton.
Father Scalia felt there was a strong need for education in the fine arts, classic literature, great paintings, classical music, poetry and sculpture. "We can not remain unmoved by Shakespeare and the forementioned," he said. We must keep our children from bad music because music is an expression of the soul.
"The Handels, Bachs and Mozarts are not found in the Muslim culture," he said with the connection that Christianity has produced beauty that has elevated the world. "We should be repulsed by lowliness. Our Lord leads us to himself with cords of compassion, bands of love."
Truth is beauty and Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. I loved the challenge to train my emotions and re-envigoration to teach Christ in the beautiful. Our God is a God of order.
Thank you Father Scalia for your illumination and dear reader, for your patience. I hope you find nuggets here.