For reasons difficult to truly grasp, fallen angels cannot be restored to God. Christians pray for their human enemies, but not for their spiritual enemies. The Church has for many centuries rejected the idea that demons will someday repent and be restored to God, thus, as St. Augustine notes in the City of God, there is no need to pray for the Devil. Likewise, we may pray for animals to recover from illnesses and injuries, but there is no need to pray for their spiritual conversion. Of all sentient beings, humans are unique in this: once spiritually broken, they can be repaired. Like angels, man may fall. Like animals, man may die. But unlike angels and animals, between the falling and the dying, a human being may be restored to God.
A classical education is the education that naturally follows from this premise.
Inasmuch as classical education presumes man is the imago Dei, a classical education is entirely concerned with man’s unique property of receiving spiritual convalescence. A classical education is not about giving knowledge and power—neither do classical educators believe knowledge is power, or that power is good or bad or worth seeking after or not. There is only one kind of power necessary in this life and that is self-control, which happens to be the only form of power the world hates and rejects. However, a classical education is not a place to gain leverage against the world. A classical education is not concerned with “changing the world” or “making the world a better place”, both of which are sentimental ways of dressing up a lust for power.
A classical education is a place for remedy, medicine, balm, ointment, and healing. It is a confessional booth. If a classical school is a place for therapy, then it is a place for learning to walk again after a car crash, not a place for a psychiatrist’s couch. It is a place for people who have hope and need help. It is not a place for people who are just fine, special, brilliant, advanced, and desperately in need of confirmation and praise. “Those who are well do not need a physician.”
The teacher is not the doctor. The doctors are St. Augustine, Plato, Boethius, Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Bach, Caravaggio, the martyrs, and the apostles. They are the doctors because they saw Health itself clearly—or, I should say, Health Himself. He is mystically the doctor, as well, and the medicine. He is all things, although He is not the Great Undertaker or the Great Cheerleader.
He is the Great Physician.
1 thought on “Only Man Can Be Healed”
This is so poignant for me. My greatest failures in education have always come from putting myself to high in the hierarchy of The Great and Human Convalescence. Thank you especially for this insight, “There is only one kind of power necessary in this life and that is self-control, which happens to be the only form of power the world hates and rejects.”
“He alone is the true doctor who can impress form, infuse light, and give virtue or power to the heart of the hearers.” St. Bonadventure.
Does this mean that the best of teachers can at least be physician assistants? I know that I myself may not be medicine in its true sense…but I have at least been a soporific.