“Then you shall keep the festival … contributing a freewill offering in proportion to
the blessings that you have received from
the Lord your God.”
— Deut. 16:10
Lent is a time of increased devotion here at Thomas Aquinas College. While our weekday Masses are well-attended throughout the year, Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel is even more filled throughout this holy season. It is humbling to be a part of a community so animated by a love for Christ and His Church.
During Lent, the Church asks Her faithful to enter into the passion of Christ by zealously doing penance and engaging in works of mercy. The Church also exhorts us to acts of self-denial, chief among them almsgiving. By giving of our substance, we practice the Christian virtue of detachment modeled for us by the saints.
Almsgiving is usually associated with giving to the sick, the poor, and the hungry, whose needs are manifest and immediate. These are among the corporal works of mercy by which we care for the body. Closely related to them are the spiritual works of mercy by which we care for the soul. While perhaps more hidden, the need for these spiritual works of mercy is nonetheless urgent.
To gauge the need in our present culture, one need only look at how deeply our country suffers, for example, from a widespread loss of virtue, integrity, and knowledge of the natural law. Were these to be restored, a whole host of societal ills could be remedied: self-control would surely curb violence and rampant immorality; discipline and moderation would do much to help cure our economic woes; and reverence for life would begin to overcome our culture of death.
Such changes depend, of course, on a well-formed citizenry. Without men and women who prize and have been instructed in the great intellectual and moral traditions of Western civilization, I fear we are doomed to continue down the path before us.
This is why Thomas Aquinas College is important. Here all our efforts are focused on the practice of one of the spiritual works of mercy – the instruction of the ignorant. Under the guidance of the teaching Church, we provide young people with a good beginning in the life of wisdom, and give them the tools by which they can best come to an understanding of reality, avoid error, and devote their lives to all that is true and good and beautiful.
Although the majority of our alumni are still relatively young, they are already having a profound influence for good in their families, professions, and vocations. Consider these examples:
- Dr. Jeremy Holmes is a graduate of our class of 1999, and now serves as the Academic Dean of Wyoming Catholic College, directly helping to shape this new and faithful institution.
- Mrs. Katie Short, a graduate of our Class of 1980 and of the University of California’s Boalt Hall Law School, is a homeschooling mother of 12 and a co-founder of Life Legal Defense Fund where she now serves as Legal Director, providing a defense of human life at all its stages.
- Rev. John Berg entered the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter after graduating from the College in 1993 and is now serving his second term of office as the worldwide superior of this order of priests devoted to the extraordinary form of the Mass and the sacraments.
- Mrs. Laura Berquist, a graduate of the College’s first class, is the author of Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum and the founder and director of Mother of Divine Grace Distance Learning School, which enrolls thousands of students across the country.
There are many more examples I could give you — examples of faithful Catholics, well-formed in mind and soul, who are sharing the fruits of their education with others, be it the children in their home, their colleagues in the workplace, or the faithful in their parishes. I am convinced that it will be the influence of citizens like these that helps bring about a renewal of our culture.
So I write to ask that in your Lenten almsgiving you include Thomas Aquinas College. Of the 370 students enrolled this year, over 80 percent are in need of financial aid, amounting to more than $4 million. If these young men and women are to continue to benefit from of our program of Catholic liberal education, they must have help. I ask, therefore, that you prayerfully consider making a sacrificial gift to the College during this holy season. Not only will you be a blessing in the lives of these students, you will be taking part in the restoration of our culture.
Your gift of $1,000, $500, $250, $100, $50, or whatever you can afford will be deeply appreciated. Please be as generous as you can, as our financial aid need has never been greater. Our country’s need for well-formed citizens has likewise never been greater — young people who drink deeply from the wellsprings of the Church’s teachings and from the wisdom of our founding fathers.
You and your intentions are remembered daily at the Masses offered in Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel. May God grant you and yours a most holy Lent and a blessed Easter.
Michael F. McLean, Ph.D.
PS: In gratitude for your gift of $75, we will be happy to send you Triumph over the Grave, a CD collection of Lenten and Paschal hymns sung by our student choir, Chrysostomos. For a gift of $150 we will send you that CD.
PPS: Congress recently reinstated the popular IRA Charitable Rollover throughout 2013. E-mail or call Tom Susanka (805-421-5928) for information about this excellent way of helping the College through a tax-free IRA distribution.
“In our classroom discussions, we are not only given free rein to speak, but free rein to think. No question is off the table. Anything that can bring a more full understanding of the truth is welcomed and encouraged.”
– Christopher Sebastian (’13)
“What you do here at this college is important not only for the individual salvation of your soul, but really as a witness to all of society.”
– Most Rev. Robert Francis Vasa
Bishop of Santa Rosa