I am just about to begin my freshman year at Thomas Aquinas College in Southern CA. TAC (as it is often called) offers possibly the best Catholic higher-education in the country, to date, or one of the best. As its name indicates, the patron of the school is St. Thomas Aquinas, a personal hero of mine, and the greatest theologian/philosopher whom the Church has ever produced. TAC grounds its students solidly in the thought of St. Thomas, not by way of forcing it on them, but by training their minds to think rationally and logically so as to arrive at the truth; and for this, St. Thomas is used as a guide. Naturally, then, the school is committed to giving an education which is informed by the teaching of the Catholic Church. But the way in which it teaches the Catholic faith to its students is very excellent, in that it trains the minds of the students to arrive at the truth by their own efforts. The excellence in this is that the student is allowed to see the beauty of truth, particularly of the Catholic faith, more freely.
Which brings me, of course, to the other - though not at all unrelated - aspect of this education: it is a freeing education, a liberal (in the sense of liberating) education. Freedom, contrary to popular belief, is not without its limits. In fact, true human freedom can only be achieved if their are limits. Truth is one such limit. One of my favorite analogies is one which likens truth to light: without it, one cannot see. But if one cannot see, one cannot direct oneself along one's path - i.e. one would not be free. There is another useful analogy that may be employed here - I think it comes from Chesterton: truth is like a wall along a border, atop a great mountain. To pass beyond the border would result in one plunging to one's death; hence, one is forced to linger far from this border, but nearer the center of the mountain. Whereas when there is a wall - which is a definite limit - placed at that border, one will be free not only to venture nearer the border, but even to climb upon and leap from the walls themselves! Thus, truth is absolutely necessary in order for one to be free. This is precisely what is meant by the words of Jesus when he says "the truth shall set you free" (John 8:32). And it is precisely this which Thomas Aquinas College seeks to achieve in the education which it offers its students. At TAC, the definite goal is the attainment of the truth, both in matters pertaining to reason and those pertaining to faith. This attainment of the truth is what liberates the student. Furthermore, the training at TAC prepares one to go into the world and embark upon a continual quest for truth, and thus a continual process of liberation.
In addition to the excellent education provided at this school, there are also the excellent opportunities for progress in the spiritual life. One of my absolute favorite things about this school is the fact that it offers the Tridentine rite of the mass every day, in addition to the Novus Ordo, celebrated in a magnificent and beautiful chapel. Moreover, there are several priests always available for confessions and spiritual direction. Likewise the people on campus, both tutors and students, are for the most part very devout Catholics, providing an excellent atmosphere and culture, overall, in which one may grow spiritually, as well as intellectually. I consider myself unworthily blessed to be able to attend Thomas Aquinas College, and I hope and pray that I will be able to exert myself enough to profit well from the benefits offered there. Sancte Thoma de Aquino, ora pro me!