Leading students to reverence truth, desire goodness, and rejoice in beauty.
Grades 7/8 overnight trip to Québec City, October 2019
From the Director's Desk

“Our society must make it right and possible for old people not to fear the young or be deserted by them, for the test of a civilization is the way that it cares for its helpless members.”                         
Pearl Sydenstricker Buck (1892-1973), 
winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1932

Dear parents and friends of St. Timothy’s,

As Christmas approaches, it is a time when many folk have the opportunity to get together as families with grandparents and great-grandparents. Thankfully, our Creator understood the need for us to live in relationships which span different generations, and provide richness, wisdom, and opportunities for grace.

As Christians, understanding that each of us, whatever the age, ability, or frailty is made in Imago Dei (the image of God), opens our eyes to the ways He has designed us to live in relationships where we can show respect, dignity, love, and service to each other, despite our fallenness.

As our population ages, and families are more often dispersed around the world, there are many more elderly people who do not have the gift of having close family nearby. St. Timothy’s has a history, almost from its inception, of having a heart for the seniors in our community. Over the years our students have brought much joy to several groups by singing to and with them, and by relishing in activities such as sewing, making paper airplanes, and playing games. Through these times, our students, especially those whose elderly relatives are far away, get a taste again of the blessing that it is to spend time with older people.

Over the last few months we have been developing a relationship with a seniors’ day centre which caters for dear folk suffering from mild to moderate dementia and depression. We are excited about this, as alongside our visits, the staff have come to school to give our students “pre-visit” training, to demystify these diseases, and encourage our students to show patience, respect, and kindness to these lovely people.

Our students have come away from these visits with real joy. There was a beautiful incident in the latest visit, where a dear Romanian couple, who find English a struggle, found that one of the shyer children in our group was a native Romanian speaker. He sat between them, and they doted on him, like any grandparent might, and they feasted together on the joy of shared language, as each of them came alive in their native tongue.

This type of joyful experience will stay with our students, and remind them of the humanity, the Imago Dei, of those in our community from a completely different generation.

I pray that our “Wonderful Counselor” and “Prince of Peace” would reign in your hearts and families this Christmas.

Jenny Small,

Scripture Memory Work

Luke 1:30-38 (NKJV)
Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”

Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”

And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.”

Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

Virtue of the Month

Refers to restraint; it is the limiting and disciplining of our bodily desires. It is knowing when to say a healthy no.

"Give us this day our daily bread."

Luke 11:3

"I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever."
John 6:51


Upcoming Events
Touching the Transcendentals:
Truth, Goodness, and Beauty in Art
Excerpts from a keynote speech given by Kirsten Appleyard, Curator at the National Gallery of Canada, at the Starry Night Gala, November 9th, 2019

“From the moment you declare who you are, you have the right to say what you think. Therefore you must speak the truth, the goodness of things,
and the beauty of the face of God.”


These are words spoken by a Catholic painter named Arcabas who passed away just last year. For Arcabas, these three transcendentals are at the heart of his sense of artistic vocation. All aspects of his art that are true, good, and beautiful are derivative of their divine transcendent counterparts, thereby granting us a glimpse of the One who is all Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. According to the twentieth-century neo-Thomist philosopher Jacques Maritian, “The moment one touches a transcendental, one touches being itself, a likeness of God, an absolute, that which ennobles and delights our life; one enters into the domain of spirit.”

For those of us who dedicate our lives to Christ, every decision and every action should be guided by these three properties of being. We need to seek and engage with all that is true, good, and beautiful, in an effort both to draw closer to Him whom they reference, and to proclaim His glory to the rest of the world.

How can art help us do this? How can we look at and read art—how can we teach our children to look at and read art—so that it presents the heavens to the earth, so that we are drawn into the mysteries of the Church, our eyes opened to a reality outside ourselves, bringing us into closer communion with Him who is all Truth, Goodness, and Beauty? 


In what sense is art able to give us Truth? For Christian artists, painting the Truth should be one of their primary objectives. There are a number of ways to accomplish this, but I’d like to focus on truthful representation. And I’m not talking about realism, because the most realistically painted image can be the farthest thing from the truth. As Maurice Denis, a twentieth-century Catholic artist and art theorist has stated, truth in art is not defined by the exactitude with which objects are represented, rather “truth consists in the conformity of the work to its means and its end… A painting conforms to its truth, to the truth, when it communicates well what it must say.” 


[...] Central to any discourse involving the arts is the question “what is the good of art?” What is the purpose of man’s creative impulse? According to many, the good of art is simply to be a source of pleasure or a form of entertainment. Art offers no longer the transfiguration of the senses but a glorification of sensual experience as an end in itself. In many cases the good of art is discussed in therapeutic terms; accordingly, a taste has been formed in which paintings are steeped in emotional sentiment and saccharine imagery. And if people today don’t believe that art exists to create a mood, at the very least they describe it as a projection of the artist’s mood on the outside world. Art is self-expression, art is self-definition—art is the triumph of subjectivism. 

“The artist has become the paradigm of the lonely hero wandering in an absurd and hostile environment. He becomes the mythic quester for whom there is no holy grail. Reality begins and ends in his ego. Cut loose from a hierarchical cosmos, he must now stagger around this existential landscape, searching for his own lost face.”
-Michael O’Brien, contemporary Catholic writer and artist

[...] One of the goods of art is celebrating the mystery of the Incarnation and its implications for man. Now, it is impossible to grasp the mystery of the Incarnation by which God incomprehensibly and gloriously became part of us, but art can act as a means by which this mystery discloses itself more fully in all its wonder and uniqueness. For some artists, they grapple with this mystery by exploring various aspects of humanity, for God, in the Incarnation, did not only reveal an image of himself, he revealed a person.

A human person with a human face—our own face restored to the original image and likeness of God. Christ’s coming thus reminds us of the sanctification of our species—man has been set apart by the imago dei that we bear. This image may be severely marred at the moment, but thanks to Christ’s redeeming work on the cross it will one day be restored to its former glory. Until then, we cannot deny the presence of the imago dei in us—we cannot, as many artists are wont to do, strip man of his dignity and humanity. Instead, we must restore a sense of the good in man. One way of doing this is to explore the tenderness of human interaction.

There was a time, however, when artistic pursuit implied something much more self-transcending. For Saint Augustine, the usefulness of all arts was, at the first level, that they conduce to the enhancement of human life; even more important, the arts at the highest level are propaedeutic to the love of God. 

[...] Rembrandt’s The Prodigal Son (see above) is an example of the good in human relationships made possible by Christ’s example of the ultimate Good. One of the most frequently illustrated parables in the history of art, the story of the prodigal son contains the important themes of death and rebirth, sin and grace, departure and realism, self-alienation and self-recovery. Rembrandt depicts the climax of this scene—the moment when father and son are first reunited.

The prodigal’s shoe has fallen off, indicating the abject state of his return; his face is hidden from view and his hands are clasped around his father’s legs: “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son” (Luke 15:21). The father, on the other hand, leans forward and extends his arms, eager to embrace his son who was once lost and is now found. Rembrandt perfectly captures the warmth and sincerity of this family reunion—his expressive lighting and colouring and the magic suggestiveness of his technique, together with the simplicity of setting, help us to feel the full impact of this event. 

[...] In Arcabas’s version, the artist places the figures close to the picture frame, drawing us into the composition and highlighting our place in the scene. We are the prodigal son kneeling in a manner reminiscent of the orans pose, and God the Father stands with his arms open, ready to receive us—made possible by the redeeming work of God’s son, represented in the cross that Arcabas has strategically placed between the father figure and the prodigal. For me, this is the ultimate symbol of homecoming—of the darkness of human existence illuminated by tenderness, of weary and sinful mankind taking refuge in the shelter of God’s mercy. This is thus a celebration of the good of human life and love insofar as it is a reflection of a higher Good.


We now come to Beauty, the most important transcendental for an artist. “Beauty is the word that shall be our first,” the theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar cries, “Beauty is the last thing which the thinking intellect dares to approach, since only it dances as an uncontained splendor around the double constellation of the true and the good and their inseparable relation to one another.” An artist may cherish what is True and love what is Good, but it is Beauty that drives his artistic pursuit—it is Beauty that calls him to transcendence, opening his soul to the eternity God has put in his or her heart. 

“The beautiful is neither the ‘true’ nor the ‘good’, it can substitute for neither one, but both need it in order to win access to the heart of men.” 
-Etienne Gilson, French philosopher

And yet, of the three transcendentals, it is Beauty that is most often abused or else completely swept aside. Talented artists throughout the ages have shown us what it means to separate Beauty from her sister transcendentals and glorify her for her own sake; conversely, the contemporary cult of the ugly derives pleasure in brutally ravaging Beauty’s face. In the former case, Beauty is no longer oriented toward a higher Truth; in the latter she has been deprived of the Good. In both cases Beauty is emptied of significance—she is left, in the words of Gerard Manley Hopkins, “wrecked, this majesty beaten down.”

[...] For art to be truly beautiful it must be a reflection back to the One source of perfect Beauty—it must engage with ultimate Truth and proclaim that which is Good. Regardless of how magnificent a work of art is, if we lose the sense of reference, we lose our sense of proper worship. 

There’s so much more that could be said on this topic, but I wanted to give you a small taste of what it could look like to search for Truth, Goodness, and Beauty in art, and how this search can open our eyes to the glorious mysteries of the faith, leading us back to the One who is all Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. We in turn must strive to be vessels of these transcendentals in order to proclaim His glory to the world.

I’m going to leave you with something that Michael O’Brien once told me when I was speaking to him about his artistic vocation. I hope his words bless you as they have me: “No matter what you decide to do, awareness of the transcendent begins in your heart, in your particular mission in life, your particular vocation. You may talk about Christ in your work and dazzle the eyes and the intellect, and change nobody. But if you’re truly living in the fire of the Holy Spirit, which all of us struggle to do and never achieve perfectly—if you’re living to some degree in that fire of the Holy Spirit, the words that God speaks through you and with you are life-giving words. If they’re also beautiful life-giving words, then their power to give life is greatly enhanced.”            

Curriculum News
The grades 7/8 class visited Québec City in October and had a wonderful time digging more deeply into history, science, art, and of course the French language! Stops included visits to the art gallery, the aquarium, and the old town.
Recent Events
Our annual Starry Night Gala on November 9 was a wonderful success! We enjoyed beautiful music from a string quartet, featuring NACO musicians, including our own school parents, violinists Jeremy and Sara Mastrangelo. Our keynote speaker, Kirsten Appleyard, a curator at the National Gallery of Canada, gave a moving talk on the transcendentals in art (see article above). We were then entertained by a variety of staff, parents, and alumni, including a choral performance led by our music director, Leora Nauta, accompanying on the organ. We are already looking forward to next year: November 14, 2020! You can view more photos from this amazing evening here.
At St. Timothy's we value creating leadership opportunities for our older students, as well as the interactions that happen between different ages. Here are a couple of recent examples: in the top photo, some of our grade 7 and 8 students are reading to younger children, and in the bottom photo two of our grade 8 students are stepping in as Latin instructors for the grade 4s!
Our grades 3/4 students were treated to a special math class this week: one of our dads, Dr. Jonathan Patrick, a math professor at Telfer School of Management (U Ottawa), visited and taught them how to play chess!
Our grades 5-8 students recently sang for the residents of Grace Manor, a long-term care facility in Ottawa. This is part of our ongoing efforts to serve the elderly in our community, as we teach our students the value of reaching out to those in need.
"Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things."
Philippians 4:8
Copyright © 2019 St. Timothy's Classical Academy. All rights reserved.

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