We love the vibrant heritage of our Faith. Although we are not Roman Catholic, we are in communion with Rome. We are part of the Eastern Catholic Church as the Roman Catholic Church is part of the Western Catholic Church. Our Liturgy, however, is the same as that of the Eastern Orthodox Church, written by St. John Chrysostom and barely changed since he wrote it in the 4th century. Our Liturgy is sung in beautiful, ancient tones with incense hanging in the air. Processions of priests, deacons, and altar servers move through the crowd against a background of the rich golds, purples and reds of the iconostasis. Byzantine Catholicism recognizes the importance of body, soul, and the relationship between them. It draws us closer to the real presence of Christ and the gifts that He gives us. It is not just something we do on Sundays, but a visceral, experiential way of life that emphasizes beauty, mystery, and a poetic knowledge of the Faith. Catholicism, and Byzantine Catholicism in particular, also aligns beautifully with two of our primary influences at St. Anthonys - the educational philosophy of Maria Montessori and that of John Senior.
Maria Montessori was a doctor (the first woman to become a doctor in Italy, in fact), a scientist, a researcher, and a devout Catholic. She specialized in psychiatry and research in education, spending years observing how children learn best and developing her philosophy of education. Her philosophy is Catholic in its essence; it elevates the dignity of the human person above the rigor of the curriculum, asks for each student to strive for virtue & exercise self-control, and emphasizes the importance of Beauty, Truth, and Goodness. Popes have condoned Montessori education as the most Catholic of all educational philosophies, and even suggested that all Catholic schools should be Montessori schools. As Pope Saint John the XXIII says, “It is possible to see a clear analogy between the mission of the Shepherd of the Church and that of the prudent and generous Montessori directress - who with tenderness and love knows how to discover and bring to light the most hidden virtues and capacities of the child.”
Just as Montessori did, John Senior desired to see those in this developmental period learning experientially. For instance, in his Idea for a School, John Senior, also a devoted Catholic, proposed that the students live out the poetry of the Church by singing the Liturgy of Hours (the Psalms). At St. Anthonys, as we sing the Liturgy of the Hours each day, the students will become continually subject to the Word of God - it will seep into their very souls, forming their thoughts, feelings, and actions. The students also participate in weekly Divine Liturgy, where the catechism of our Faith is sung. The boys have the opportunity to serve on the altar and the girls as Gospel Bearers and Cantors. Our rich Catholic theology is also woven all through our daily discussions, whether they be about the interwoven tapestry of creation, the Golden Ratio, or Huckleberry Finn - all are aimed at the pursuit of Truth.
As we pursue Truth, we seek to grow in the moral virtues and the intellectual virtues. Byzantine Catholicism, Montessori, and John Senior emphasize a holistic experience of the Beautiful, as we do at St. Anthonys.