Michael De Salvo
Theology and Philosophy Teacher, Chesterton Academy of Orlando; Ph.D. Candidate (Theology)
Thomas Aquinas writes: “[Christ] carried his cross as a teacher his candelabrum” (Super Ioan. 19, lec. 3). His point? That the greatest teacher is Christ crucified. As a result, the best teachers are themselves students of Christ; the light of Christ, especially the paradox of the cross, enlightens all they do, regardless of their discipline. This is the way the liberal arts are approached at Wyoming Catholic College. And this is the example I follow in my own teaching at the Chesterton Academy of Orlando.
When I arrived at Wyoming Catholic as a freshman in 2010, all I knew was that I needed a liberal education. To quote Plato’s Apology, “the unexamined life is not worth living” (38a)! What I did not know was that “the more you know, the more you know you don’t know.” As then-Karol Wojtyła’s dissertation director puts it, the mysteries of nature and grace are each like a chiaroscuro painting. The clearer the mystery becomes, the more clearly one sees what is dark or obscure about it as well (Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange, The Sense of Mystery, c. 4). For example, the more one understands the mystery of the Incarnation, the more one also understands how little one understands it. This lesson, which I learned so clearly at Wyoming Catholic College, is one of the defining aspects of what makes a man truly free. It is one of the defining lessons of a liberal education. When I am successful as a teacher, it is because I am passing this lesson on to my own students as well.
The defining aspect of my education at Wyoming, in addition to the College’s fidelity to the magisterium and the wisdom of its professors, was the intellectual community it fostered. Truth is not a private good; it is a common good that unites those who share in it in love. From the moment they step in the door, freshmen at Wyoming Catholic find themselves caught up in a society greater than themselves. It is this kind of community I aim to foster among my own students. And it is just such a love of the truth—a love upon which Wyoming Catholic College was founded—that I strive to inculcate in my students.