“The ‘door of faith’ (Acts 14:27) is always open for us, ushering us into the life of communion with God and offering entry into his Church. It is possible to cross that threshold when the Word of God is proclaimed and the heart allows itself to be shaped by transforming grace. To enter through that door is to set out on a journey that lasts a lifetime.”
— Porta Fidei
Apostolic Letter of Pope Benedict XVI
Dear Friend of Thomas Aquinas College,
As we begin our preparations for the great feast of Christmas, I am mindful that this year Advent occurs within the Year of Faith, inaugurated by our Holy Father just weeks ago.
In many ways, the lives of our students here at the College — lives devoted to the pursuit of Catholic liberal education — perfectly respond to the Church’s call that this be a time, in Pope Benedict’s words, “of particular reflection and rediscovery of the faith.”
In announcing the Year of Faith, Pope Benedict stressed that “knowledge of the content of faith is essential … for adhering fully with intellect and will to what the Church proposes. Knowledge of faith opens a door into the fullness of the saving mystery revealed by God.” In emphasizing the importance of attaining knowledge of the faith, Pope Benedict is acknowledging the intimate connection between the work of the College and the Year of Faith.
In particular, Pope Benedict strongly encourages the study of the Catechism of the Catholic Church during the Year of Faith, describing it as “a precious and indispensable tool [for arriving] at a systematic knowledge of the content of the faith.” “In the Catechism,” he explains, “we see the wealth of teaching that the Church has received, safeguarded, and proposed in her two thousand years of history…[teaching] from Sacred Scripture to the Fathers of the Church, from theological masters to saints across the centuries….”
While we do not include the Catechism as a formal part of our curriculum, our students read and discuss many of the very works on which its teachings depend, works by Doctors of the Church such as St. Augustine (The Confessions and The City of God), St. Thomas Aquinas (the Summa Theologiae), St. Anselm, St. Athanasius, and St. John Damascene, among others.
Moreover, the teaching of St. Thomas on the relationship between faith and reason permeates the Catechism and is among Pope Benedict’s greatest concerns. In announcing the Year of Faith, the Holy Father said, “Faith is now being subjected to a series of questions arising from a changed mentality which limits the field of rational certainties to that of scientific and technological discoveries. Nevertheless, the Church has never been afraid of demonstrating that there cannot be any conflict between faith and genuine science, because both, albeit via different routes, tend towards the truth.”
Inspired by this teaching, our students, unlike those at other colleges, undertake a rigorous study of natural science alongside their study of Catholic philosophy and theology. They learn about the order and beauty of God’s creation and become more confident in their faith. In so doing, they are doing the work of the Church and living well the Year of Faith.
To do this, our students need the assistance of friends of the College who selflessly and generously make it possible for them to pursue our program of Catholic liberal education. Simply put, the work of the College cannot go on without the generous donations of our friends.
I write, therefore, to ask you to consider making a sacrificial gift to our financial aid fund during this holy season. This year nearly 80 percent of our students need financial assistance. And with the economy still struggling to recover, many of them need this help more than ever.
Your gift of $1,000, $500, $250, $100, $50 — or whatever amount you can afford — will immediately benefit our students. Your generosity will help ensure that they can continue their studies at the College and thereby fulfill Pope Benedict’s desire for this Year of Faith — that they assent more and more completely “with intellect and will to what the Church proposes.”
So prepared, these young men and women will graduate from the College and take up vocations and professions that will make them powerful influences for good on countless others — their parishioners, students, seminarians, co-workers, neighbors, friends, and families. Your gift, therefore, will ultimately be instrumental in their efforts to uplift our culture and strengthen the Church.
No work is more important. Our public institutions alone cannot restore and uphold the principles on which our nation was built and on which the vibrancy of the Church depends. This work falls instead to those who are intellectually well formed and deeply committed to advancing the culture of life that the Church proclaims.
Such are our students. And they are eager to do their part. I ask you, therefore, to be as generous as you can so that they can complete their education and go forth from our campus as beacons of the Christ Child’s light to a world in darkness.
With deep gratitude, we remember you and your intentions in our daily prayers and at all of the Masses offered in Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel. May God grant you a blessed Advent and a joyous Christmas.
Michael F. McLean, Ph.D.
PS: As you consider your gift to the financial aid fund at Thomas Aquinas College, please keep in mind that we accept gifts of stock. Because of the uncertainty about the tax code in the coming year, you may find it beneficial before the end of this year to make your gift to the College in the form of stock. If you would like to make such a gift or would like more information about how to do so, please e-mail our Vice President for Development, Mr. Paul O’Reilly, or call him at 805-421-5974. He will be happy to help you.
PPS: Please keep in mind, too, that many companies provide matching funds that can double or even triple the charitable gifts made by their employees, retired employees, and the spouses of employees. To find out if your company provides matching funds, please visit our website at matching-gift employer search engine.