Discover Chesterton Series: "Love makes me speak"
By ERIC DEMEUSE, Headmaster and theology teacher
This article is the first in our monthly series entitled “Discover Chesterton.” The Discover Chesterton Series offers perspectives from students, parents, and teachers on the culture of life being cultivated at Chesterton Academy of Milwaukee.
Sometimes students have an amazing ability to say in one sentence what we as teachers strive to say in an entire lecture. In the junior theology class at Chesterton Academy, we read a section from Joseph Ratzinger’s book Introduction to Christianity. Ratzinger (the future Pope Benedict XVI) writes that what is at stake in the question of faith “is the whole structure; it is a question of all or nothing.” “Is this indeed the case,” I asked the students, “that the question of faith is a question of the whole structure of reality? Are the stakes really that high?” An eventful discussion ensued with many insightful comments. One particular comment stuck with me. A student explained, “It’s like falling in love. When you fall in love, when you give yourself more and more to another, you become more invested and thus have more to lose, until eventually it is a question of all or nothing.” I couldn’t—and didn’t—say it better myself. At the heart of living faith is love, and love demands the whole of us.
Even more than that, though, love prompts us to speak about those things that we love. In short, when we fall in love, we want to talk about it. As Dante writes in the Inferno, “Love makes me speak.” Last week the students discussed Dante’s Inferno in their literature class. I was amazed at our students’ ability to speak about what they were reading. The teacher, Mr. Guenzel, gave a single prompt then tactfully faded into the background as the students took over the discussion for forty minutes. Watching 16-year-old students discuss and debate about the meaning of a 14th century poem—and therein about the meaning of life and vocation, sin and death—is a rare sight in our culture today. But not at Chesterton Academy. At Chesterton, these discussions happen every day. The students are able to speak so well about such things because they love the pursuit of wisdom. “Love makes them speak.”
Yet as we all know, love is sometimes difficult to put into words—nothing we say can fully capture our love. This doesn’t stop us from trying, of course. In these few paragraphs, I have tried to express my love for our school community. In the coming months, students and other faculty will try to do the same. But our words fall short. The only way to understand what we do here at Chesterton is to come and experience it. For this reason, I invite you all to join us for an open house on Thursday, October 4th from 9:15-11:30 a.m. On this day you will hear from our students and teachers about the culture we are building at Chesterton Academy, and you will be invited to sit in on a theology class and witness how we live and learn. To borrow a phrase from one Church Father, “Come and share the life of our community and then you will understand.” We hope to see you there. May God bless you.