Education in Virtue

Mount Royal Academy teaches elementary school students about virtue using Openlight Media's curriculum for education in virtue. To explore the definitions of and relationship between the three theological virtues, four cardinal virtues, and gifts of the Holy Spirit using an interactive version of their virtue tree (pictured above), click here. 

Education in Virtue

Recognizing that a life of moral virtue lived in response to Christ's call to love is the basis for for a happy and holy life, Mount Royal seeks to form students in virtue in a number of different ways. Intellectually, students are taught about the virtues at an age-appropriate level in their  courses and through continual discussion throughout the school year about the virtue of the month (listed below). In this way, they begin to understand and be able to articulate the components of the moral life they are called to live. Relationally, students naturally learn from and seek to emulate their teachers who continually strive to live out the virtues they ask their students to practice. Teachers uphold a clear standard of excellence in their classrooms that not only prepares and enables students to learn but forms them in habits of virtue such as respect, patience, and kindness. Most importantly of all, our education in virtue finds at its source the life of grace lived out in our rich liturgical life, in which students' lives are animated by the continual return, in the sacraments and in prayer, to a transformative encounter with Christ in his Church. The fruits of this education are expressed in the spirit of charity and joy which pervades our campus culture, and are evident in the manner in which students conduct themselves in their studies, friendships, and co-curriculars. 

Virtue and the Spiritual Life

Mr. Matt McMenaman, Liturgical Life Director

The cultivation of virtue in pursuit of the highest ideals of human living can be traced all the way back to the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations. Prior to the coming of Christ, perhaps the best articulation of virtue was offered by Aristotle. Essentially, he argued that the attainment of happiness consists in virtuous living and contemplation of truth. In order to contemplate truth, the soul must be in perfect command over all rational and emotional powers. Thus, virtue is the means to that end. 

Christianity recognized the natural goods discovered in the great thinkers of the ancient world and unpacked the deeper meaning of virtue infused by God’s saving grace. Fr. Ambrose Gareil was a French Dominican whose early 20th century writings on St. Thomas Aquinas and moral theology offered profound insight into the life of virtue. In The True Christian Life, he distills the ultimate goal of the life of grace as, “the intimate indwelling of God in the souls of the just.” This means that the very divine life that God lives within himself is brought to life in the soul. The grace of God (his divine life) elevates human nature so that virtuous living takes on a supernatural character. The theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity are infused in the soul and the moral virtues of prudence, temperance, justice, and fortitude are divinized. God’s divine life dwells within the Christian soul “so that he may stir up and provoke” his own divine activity within us. By the grace of God, human action takes on a supernatural character. This is the work of God alone and we only aspire to be willing subordinates to his work. God only waits for our free acceptance of this gift.

What this means is that our moral life must be interpenetrated by our spiritual life. The moral life of each one of us is best understood in terms of the pursuit of virtue in all our activities. The most basic understanding of morality begins with the notion that one must choose good and avoid evil, but this is the bare minimum of understanding. Virtue means moral perfection. Virtue is acquired through effort. The effort to seek excellence in every chosen activity on a daily basis. Perfection only exists truly in God, who is the plenitude of perfection in every way imaginable. Therefore, the perfection of virtue in each person is only possible through transformation in Christ, by his grace.

This is the belief that informs our mission to live virtuous lives and invite our students and their families to cultivate virtue during each school year. Our tradition has been to hold up one virtue for consideration each month. Thanks to the addition of new student planners for junior high and high school students, we are augmenting our approach. The planners published by Open Light Media are infused with their Education in Virtue curriculum. The design of the planners includes a new virtue each week. As students track their assignments, they will have an opportunity to focus on one particular virtue each week. Grades six through twelve will follow this program while the garden and elementary students will continue to focus on one virtue each month, since it is developmentally more appropriate for them. 

As a school for the whole family, we hope that parents will also benefit from this new resource. Our educational efforts are accomplished in partnership with you. As you help your child each week, spend some time discussing and reviewing the planner information. There are additional resources on the Open Light Media website. By God’s grace, may we all find new pathways to lasting happiness through growth in virtue this coming year.

Garden and Elementary Virtue Sequence

September - Responsibility

October - Foresight

November - Gratitude

December - Hope

January - Fortitude

February - Affability

March - Trustworthiness

April - Generosity

May - Loyalty