Having received a thorough catechesis in Junior High, Senior High students are now able to start Theology – though there is ample repetition for those who require further catechetical training.
Religion courses are supported by the work of the History curriculum so that students are receiving complementary training in both Church history and thought with a particular emphasis on the response of the Church to contemporary issues in the secular world. The immersion in primary sources from the Popes and Magisterium train students to understand Church teaching straight from the source so that they are prepared to find the answers to their own questions for the rest of their lives.
Through the integration with the other courses, students witness the unity of the teaching and marvel at the work of the Holy Spirit in the intellectual tradition of the Church. Through written and rhetorical exercises, students are also equipped to confidently articulate the teaching of the Church in order to go out and evangelize through a loving and faithful apologetic and joy-filled witness to a Catholic life in Christ. This intellectual formation is supported by the work of Student Ministry and the entire culture of prayer and Sacraments fostered in the SAA environment.
What are the Four Cycles?
Click here for a brief overview of the four cycles of our senior high curriculum!
Cycle I: The Church in the Pagan World/Logic
Cycle I begins with a study of Traditional Formal Logic. This unit strengthens the students’ critical thinking as well as providing a philosophical vocabulary for theological study – essence, matter, form, etc. From Logic, the course turns to the Early Church where students become intimately acquainted with the Church Fathers through their lives and writing offering a compelling illustration of the Apostolic Church and the witness to Christ against prevailing pagan norms. Their theological training also includes an intense study of the early Christological heresies – Gnosticism, Docetism, Arianism, et al. – in order to fully comprehend the Creed and be on guard against their modern counterparts.
The year ends with St. Augustine’s Confessions, which, while providing immense instruction in theology, is a highly relatable story for young people today. The guiding theme that unites the semester is the relationship between faith and reason – that reason is a beautiful gift of the human person but is limited in its power to know and serve God. The intellect requires revelation, the will requires God’s grace, and a loving God comes down to our level to save us. Daily scriptural reading is focused on the book of Wisdom and a close study of ST Ia Q1 a1 on revelation forms the Thomistic portion.
Cycle II: Scripture/Medieval Church
This course offers students a deeper study of Sacred Scripture, reviewing the salvation history learned in Junior High, but with an added emphasis on the unity of the canon of scripture and the Church’s method of reading Scripture. In addition to the study of Scripture itself, students read Dei Verbum. Religion II also works in partnership with History II, offering a study of major medieval developments, such as the rise of monasticism, the method of scholasticism, and the counter-reformation, from a theological rather than an historical perspective.
The guiding question of the course is “Who are you, Lord?” Aware that “ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ,” as St. Jerome said, this class gives students the tools to plumb the depths of Scripture and to see that errors in reading Scripture lead to a loss of relationship with Christ’s Body, the Church. Students pray lectio divina regularly in class. A close study of ST II.2 Q110 on lying forms the Thomistic portion of the class.
Cycle III: Sacramental and Moral Theology
This class focuses on moral theology and the Sacraments and, through each, encounter the theology of Thomas. The Church’s moral theology and its sacramental theology borrow heavily from the language and systematization of Aquinas. This is a natural way to teach the Thomistic method, via specific topics, but without staying limited to Aquinas. For both moral and sacramental theology, the teacher begins with both the Scriptural foundation and the basic premises of the Summa and then moves into other texts, particularly the Catechism. The guiding theme of the course is exitus and reditus, the manifold gifts of God in creation and our response of love to this Giver of gifts. The foundation of the moral life is relationship, a point which is emphasized again and again.
Cycle IV: The Church in the Modern World
Cycle IV Religion focuses on Church teaching as it responds to modern problems of our own era. The year begins with a study of the Vatican II teaching on the lay vocation to “work for the sanctification of the world from within as a leaven.” (LG 31) The next unit, complementing the work of Cycle III, offers a renewed study of marriage and family with an age-appropriate training in St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body focusing on “male and female he created them.” (Gen 1:27)
Finally, students receive a thorough training in Catholic Social Teaching, with a close reading of Rerum novarum augmented by excerpts from the social corpus of Popes John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and the documents of Vatican II. The guiding theme of Cycle IV is the perfection of the human person in self-gift (GS 24). The Thomistic study is focused on IIaIIae Q66 a2, the Thomistic defense of private property, and Ia Q13 a5 on the analogy of being. Scripture reading is focused on the prophets and how God’s repeated call to reject idolatry and impurity and to serve the widow and the orphan speaks to our lives today.