Community of Thought

Post-feast of John of the Cross, I am reminded of the "Community of Thought" I was privileged to experience at Christendom College, Front Royal, VA. A picture of that golden country and a verse for my comrades . . .

Here is a house that armours a man
With the eyes of a boy and the heart of a ranger,
And a laughing way in the teeth of the world
And a holy hunger and thirst for danger:
Balliol made me, Balliol fed me,
Whatever I had she gave me again:
And the best of Balliol loved and led me.
God be with you, Balliol men.
--Hilaire Belloc, from "To the Balliol Men Still in Africa."

Although charity is the soul of every community, community of thought may play second fiddle. Gather people of one blood together, gather people in one place, give them a common task--yet without a common vision--what will hold this community together beyond mere sentiment (warns Wendell Berry in Home Economics)? Charity can work wonders, building a bond where you thought least possible. Nevertheless, I think human nature seeks a common vision.

In particular, schools wondering "Why don't we have school spirit?" should question whether those families united by place and common task have anything further to unite them? Charity of the Eucharist would be the key. But also important--do these people care about the same things? Honor the same heroes? Share the same vision? We need a common love to unite us in a deeper way than blood, task, and proximity. However, with a common vision, these three become the incarnations of the uniting factor and treasured means to draw us to true union.

Where does this begin? Christopher Olaf Blum puts it well: "Teachers who do not themselves cultivate friendship and practice it as a high ideal cannot effectively shape their students . . . If, however, the students' desire for friendship is nourished and directed by a compelling vision of the good life shown forth by their teachers' community, then the collegiate years may help to shape the balance of their adult lives for the better" ("Newman's Collegiate Ideal," Pro Ecclesia, Vol. XVII, No.3).

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