Religion is not just a subject at St. Ambrose Academy, but the golden thread tying all the courses and lives of the faculty and students together. Students are taught about the fullness of the faith in all of their courses, in their extra-curricular interactions, and through student ministry. The Junior High Religion curriculum relies on Sacred Scripture (RSV), the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and the Faith and Life series (Ignatius Press), all of which is augmented by primary sources and opportunities for prayer.
Junior High studies provide a catechetical framework, educating students in Scripture, the basic articles of our Faith, the Sacraments, the Christian life of discipleship, prayer, and the universal call to holiness. The discussion-based classroom offers a nurturing environment for students to find the answers to their questions and experience the endless richness of the truth as revealed through Scripture and Sacred Tradition. They are also exposed to many of the traditional devotions of the Church with ample time to deepen their prayer life and relationship with Jesus Christ.
In 6th grade, each student receives their own beautiful Ignatian Bible, a copy of the Catechism, and The Handbook of Prayer (Scepter Press) for use throughout the years at SAA. The Faith and Life text – Following Christ – offers the blueprint for a life of love: the law of God, especially in the Ten Commandments, and the presence of Jesus in the Holy Mass.
Students are given frequent recitations in question-and-answer format so that the teachings of the Church are internalized and stored in their mental treasury for the rest of their lives. They are presented with the moral life as the path to happiness and see how God’s grace enables them to fulfill the law out of love. Instruction in the beauty and wonder of the Holy Mass deepens their love for Christ and their dependence upon him in all things. This class emphasizes vocal prayer and the memorization of devotions such as the Angelus, the Memoria, the prayer to St. Michael, and many more.
7th grade continues the Faith and Life series with The Life of Grace, which centers on Salvation History and the Sacraments. This course emphasizes grace as our link with God, his gift to us to bring us to Himself and his eternal life, with an emphasis on transmission of grace through the seven Sacraments and on God’s loving gifts of revelation of himself through the prophets, the Incarnation, and the Church.
Students read directly from Scripture in order to hear God’s Word spoken to them today and to enter more deeply into the covenantal relationship God offers to his people. Recitations from Scripture allow God’s living Word to penetrate hearts while acting out scenes from Scripture allow students to explore the lived experiences of the patriarchs, prophets, Mary, and the Apostles. The Scriptural precursors for all the Sacraments are discovered through the use of typology. This class emphasizes praying with Scripture, especially lectio divina.
8th grade follows the history of the Church: its founding by Christ, its birth in the Holy Spirit, the marks of the one, true Church, the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, the saints and the role of the religious and laity up to the present. Parts of the Gospels and much of Acts of the Apostles are read and discussed in class. The structure of the Church Jesus planned, the role of the Magisterium, the clergy, the religious and the laity and our own vocations are also considered by a study of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
In this class, students take a more active role in researching and then presenting to classmates about saints and the different vocations in the Church. This class emphasizes liturgical prayer, especially the Divine Office.