Our liberal arts curriculum is strenuous, rigorous and deeply wonderful. And as George Weigel wrote in First Things in October: “The numbers make it clear: The best of Catholic liberal arts education prepares students for any intellectual or professional endeavor — and does so in a far healthier environment.”
We can speak endlessly about the merits of our institution and its ability to cultivate intellectual, moral, spiritual and even professional virtues.
Coming into the home stretch of my formation in this environment, I have been reflecting quite a bit on what has shifted and changed about myself these past four years and what UD has stirred up in my soul.
In particular, a verse from Luke 12 has caught my attention: “Every one to whom much is given, of him will much be required; and of him to whom men commit much they will demand the more.”
Aristotle has a similar notion concerning the ethical life. For the author of the “Ethics,” the incontinent man is he who knows the good by way of his reason, but because of his appetite rejects his higher element. The vicious man, by contrast, does not have rightly ordered reason and follows his fallible leanings.
In many ways, while vice is certainly the state least befitting of human beings, at least it is honest. The incontinent man commits grievous error, for in knowing the good he chooses against it.
The Philosopher and the apostle Luke unite on this point: Those who possess what is true, good, and beautiful receive both a treasure and a high call. A person who has been shaped by the great wisdom of Western civilization, and more importantly, the gospel, cannot live a mediocre life. To do so would be more dangerous than being a heathen, untouched by the message at all.
The parable in Luke makes clear that the punishment for the unfaithful servant, who knew his master’s will but squandered his time and resources, will be severe.
This call to fulfilling one’s life in a way that befits the gifts one has been given ought to penetrate our consciences. Often we are satisfied to observe that perhaps our lives are more intentional, faithful and glorifying to God than what we consider to be the “average” person in contemporary society.
Yet, what I believe is eudaimonic and befitting of human nature often fails to guide my decisions or steer my appetites toward the good. Complacency in excellence is all too easy.
The UD education and the Catholic faith are pearls of great price, pointing us to Christ. How do we measure up to their call?
I believe that with the preparation we receive here, each of us are capable of great things. Whether this manifests as doing “small things with great love” or being called to seismic acts, none of us ought to be satisfied with normalcy.
This idea is daunting, but to live in accordance with the call we have received is freeing, rather than binding. That’s why we study the liberal arts, which have a tendency to open our minds to the best human life, unfettered and fulfilled.
As Pope John Paul II reminds us in a World Youth Day address: “This is no time to be ashamed of the Gospel. It is the time to preach it … Do not be afraid to break out of comfortable and routine modes of living in order to take up the challenge of making Christ known in the modern metropolis.”
As you continue this semester, this year, and to my fellow seniors, our lives post-college, how will you live out your UD education? Quo vadis?