St. Anselm’s Abbey School

A Catholic Benedictine School for Boys Grades 6 - 12

Academic Excellence

75 years of rigorous, classical education

Religion

Our Religion classes, many taught by Benedictines, are designed to present the fullness of the Catholic Faith. All of our students, Catholics and non-Catholics alike, learn the teachings, Tradition and history of the Church and how to appreciate the beliefs of others.

Department Overview

The curriculum is designed around an understanding of faith and reason that are intertwined. All students learn to read and analyze difficult primary sources (some in their original languages, Greek and Latin), including Scripture, the writings of Saint Thomas Aquinas, and our patron, Saint Anselm of Canterbury. They critically engage arguments and come to possess the intellectual or philosophical skills of inquiry upon which theological study is predicated.

Our Upper School Curriculum meets and exceeds the standards set down by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USBBC) Curriculum Framework for Teaching High School Religion. The study of Scripture and Church Doctrine in its academic aspect gives a foundation for spiritual development which is also fostered through a life of liturgy and service in the school.

Curriculum Sequence

Form A
Old Testament I
Form I
Old Testament II
Form II
New Testament
Form III
Doctrine I: God, Trinity, Jesus Christ
Form IV
Doctrine II: Church and Sacraments
Form V
Christian Ethics
Form VI
Electives including: Modern Spiritual Masters; The Monastic Movement in the Church; Sacred Masterpieces; Unity and Division in Christianity; World Religions in Dialogue; Bioethics; Theology of the Body

Course Descriptions

Old Testament I

Our three-year study of Sacred Scripture begins in Form A. Students read the narrative portions of the books of Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, and Joshua (with a brief look at Leviticus). This is a reading class that focuses on the successive covenants God makes in order to gather the human race, scattered by sin, back into one family. Reading skills and developing literacy are key points of emphasis.

Course Length: All Year
Registration Policy: Required for Form A

Old Testament II

Students continue their study of the Old Testament begun in Form A. The history of Israel unfolds in the books of Judges, I Samuel, II Samuel, I Kings, and II Kings. Students also read from the prophets, especially Isaiah, as well as other narrative selections. This is a reading class that focuses on the developing understanding of kingdom in Israel. In addition to continued reading skill development, this class begins to place more emphasis on note-taking, outlining, and textual annotation. Students are also exposed to the way Scripture is read in the Church and to the monastic practice of lectio divina (prayerful reading of Scripture).

Course Length: All Year
Registration Policy: Required for Form I

New Testament

Our Form II students complete their study of Sacred Scripture by reading the Gospel of St. Luke and the Book of Acts. Jesus Christ is presented as the fulfillment of God’s saving plan for the human family in general and the prophecies of the Old Testament in particular. The Acts of the Apostles is considered “Part II” of the same narrative and is and a continuation of the work of Jesus, now carried on by the Church he founded. Time permitting, students will also read selections from the New Testament letters.

Course Length: All Year
Registration Policy: Required for Form II

Doctrine I: God, Trinity, Jesus Christ

Our Form III religion class introduces students to the beliefs of the Catholic Church on God, Faith, and Revelation, and the person and work of Jesus Christ. Most material is taught from primary sources, with a special emphasis on the writings of St. Anselm of Canterbury wherever appropriate. Students are challenged to analyze arguments, write critical responses, and generally pursue the Anselmian project of " fides quaerens intellectum" (faith seeking understanding) in the context of the ancient and apostolic faith of the Church.

Course Length: All Year
Registration Policy: Required for Form III

Doctrine II: Church and Sacraments

This course will help students understand that in and through the Church, we encounter the living Jesus Christ. The Church is both human and divine; the Church was instituted by Jesus Christ, was given to the Apostles, and is sustained by the Holy Spirit. The Church is not only a visible structure; the Church is made up of persons who make up the living Body of Christ. Then, in the Spring Semester, we will study the seven sacraments, which are real encounters with Christ. We will emphasize the importance of the Eucharist as the source and summit of our faith.

Course Length: All Year
Registration Policy: Required for Form IV

Christian Ethics

The Form V Ethics class is a challenging study of the writing of St. Thomas Aquinas on the perennially necessary question of happiness. Our primary textbook is his Summa Theologiae . The fall semester is a close reading of ST I-II Q6-19 and a fresh look at the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes as the divine teaching on the path to happiness. In the spring semester students read The Four Cardinal Virtues by Josef Pieper; students take turns teaching an entire day of course material in small groups. The year concludes by applying all this material to the Church’s teaching on sexuality as found in, "inter alia", the papal encyclical Humanae Vitae.

Course Length: All Year
Registration Policy: Required for Form V

Modern Spiritual Masters

The course Modern Spiritual Masters examines the life and writings of a dozen persons who have made major contributions to spirituality in recent decades. Almost all of them were Christian (for example, Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, Mother Teresa, and Henri Nouwen), and the one who was not (Mahatma Gandhi) was greatly influenced by Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Selected texts from the writings of the twelve masters will be taken from the book Modern Spiritual Masters: Writings on Contemplation and Compassion, edited by Robert Ellsberg and published by Orbis Books. In addition to the reading and classroom discussion of these writings (with discussion being based on questions distributed in advance), there will also be lectures on the life and writings of these persons, the viewing of a number of documentary films, and the discussion of reflection papers written by the students on assigned topics.

Course Length: 1 Semester
Registration Policy: Elective for Form VI

The Monastic Movement in the Church

The course will examine the history and development of monasticism in the Church from its 4th century origins to the present. The sources of the Rule of St. Benedict will be explored and the influence of Benedictinism on religious life and Christian culture through the ages. Varieties of monastic life in the contemporary Church will be studied together with current interest in "monasticism for the laity" and the role of Benedictine spirituality today.

Course Length: 1 Semester
Registration Policy: Elective for Form VI

Unity and Division in Christianity

The course will examine some major themes in Church history relating to the unity of the Church and major sources of division in the Christian community. We will look at the development of church institutions in the first three centuries, the Great Schism of East and West in the 11th century, the Protestant Reformation, the age of the Enlightenment, effects of rationalism, and contemporary ecumenism in the post-Vatican II Church.

Course Length: 1 Semester
Registration Policy: Elective for Form VI

World Religions in Dialogue

The course World Religions in Dialogue offers a comparative theological approach to four religions: Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. The readings will be taken from the book World Religions in Dialogue , edited by Pim Valkenberg and published by Anselm Academic. This work contains perspectives on these traditions from both “insiders” and “outsiders,” the former written by Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist scholars of their own religions, the latter written by Christians who have specialized in the study of each of these religions. In addition to the reading and classroom discussion of these readings (with discussion based on questions distributed in advance), there will also be lectures on topics not covered by the readings, the viewing of some documentary films, the discussion of reflection papers written by the students on assigned topics, and a field trip to a religious site in the Washington area.

Course Length: 1 Semester
Registration Policy: Elective for Form VI

Theology of the Body

This course introduces the students to the key themes of Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. This course will examine the philosophy of the human person and human sexuality in accord with man’s creation in the Image of God. This course will then look at man’s call to love through a total gift of self. This call to love goes to the core of what it means to be a human person; this is not only written on the soul, but is also written into our bodies. With this as our foundation, we will then look at particular themes such as freedom and person, male and female difference, the nature of chastity as virtue, consecrated life, and marriage and family.

Course Length: 1 Semester
Registration Policy: Elective for Form VI


Christian Life on CampusLiving Faith Through Prayer and Service


Religion Faculty
Mr. Robert Alspaugh, Department Chair
Form III Religion, Christian Ethics
M.A., Theology, Franciscan University of Steubenville
B.A., Theology, Franciscan University of Steubenville
ralspaugh@saintanselms.org
Mr. John Goldberg
jgoldberg@saintanselms.org

Fr. Michael Hall, OSB, '56
Unity and Division in Christianity
Ph.D., History, McGill University
Diploma in Historical Studies, University of Cambridge
M.A., History and Politics, Catholic University of America
B.A., Philosophy and History, Catholic University of America
mhall@saintanselms.org
Mr. Michael Staron
Religion, Philosophy of Religion
M.A. Catholic University of America
B.A., Drew University
mstaron@saintanselms.org
Abbot James A. Wiseman, OSB
Religion & Science
S.T.D., Theology, Catholic University of America
M.A., Theology, Catholic University of America
B.A., Philosophy, Georgetown University
jwiseman@saintanselms.org
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