By Sister Maria Philomena, M.I.C.M.
Theme: Toward an Integral Catholic Culture: Variations on a Theme of Father Feeney
Title: Towards a Deeper Understanding of the Powers of Life as they Transcend the Material: The Acquisition of Wisdom and The Transmission of Culture
This presentation is a work of art in itself. It is a well-organized and systematic application of the heart of Brother Francis’ course on psychology as it applies to wisdom and culture. As a student of Brother Francis for nearly twenty years, Sister Mary Philomena, who has been teaching high school and grammar school herself for most of that time, must have been a very receptive learner. With amazing grace and clarity of thought she turned her audience into an attentive classroom. Point by point she explained each of the twenty-six powers of life in man, beginning with the three man shares with vegetative and sentient life, then progressing to the twenty-one powers man shares with sentient animals only, and culminating in the two spiritual powers of intellect and will. She explained how these powers enable man to transcend the material senses and use them to acquire wisdom and culture in his capacity as a being of reason made in the image and likeness of God. Sister defines culture simply, but saliently, in keeping with the conference theme: Culture is an environment that sustains life and the expression of that life. From this she draws her definition of education: the acquisition of wisdom and the transmission of culture. One need not have had Brother’s course in psychology, which classically is defined as “the study of life,” to appreciate the lessons to be absorbed from Sister’s talk. It is a self-contained gem of pertinent information that gave everyone at the conference a “deeper understanding” of our own human nature and its capabilities.
2009 SBC Conference
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