The Art of Living class has opened my eyes and heart to the possibility that happiness can be achieved through the pursuit of perfecting human nature. I learned that my God-given nature is rooted in the Church’s teaching on virtue and morality. In this often chaotic world, the Art of Living class has helped me to stay focused on God’s final destiny for me – to spend eternity in His loving gaze.
The Art of Living: Mastering the Virtuous Life
With Daniel Campbell
The Art of Living class has given me the tools to better understand Church teaching and how it applies to my life and to the world around me. Being able to understand Aristotle and Aquinas is such a help for a foundation to understanding the natural law and the reactions against it in our world today. Being raised Catholic in the 60s and 70s, I learned that God is Love. But what does that mean? Aquinas and the virtuous life helps me put that into action by understanding rightly God’s love for me and, flowing from that, to naturally loving my neighbor for the love of God. This class advanced my learning enough so that I can now understand articles and blogs on sites such as First Things and The Catholic Thing. Daniel is great and so patient with questions and explanations. I recommend this class to anyone who wants a richer way of living as a faithful Catholic today.
Daniel is an excellent teacher and leader that brings an engaging and amiable style, has a seemingly inexhaustible knowledge of what it takes to live a virtuous life in today’s increasingly secular society, and challenges one’s intellect, will, and passions to embrace Jesus Christ and the Catholic faith. He does this by using Sacred Scripture and Tradition, the Catechism, Aristotle, St. Thomas Aquinas, and the cardinal and theological virtues. It has been a wonderful and essential class for me to more fully understand God’s plan and to try to pursue living a virtuous life in accordance with that plan. This class is timeless and most worthwhile. I may take the class again just to keep learning and to keep the principles at the forefront of my mind.
The Art of Living is a class that I would recommend to all Catholics. It is an excellent introduction to why we believe the things that we do, why they make complete sense, and how we can put them into practice in our lives. Daniel takes concepts that might seem complicated and breaks them down into parts that make sense. So much sense that not incorporating them into the way we think seems…irrational. Yet, the best part of the class is the wide ranging discussions we have (on topics perhaps not usually covered in a philosophy/theology class) that are always intensely real. Each person brings parts of their lives as Catholics, things that they love and things that they struggle with, and we help each other to work out different ways to see and solve things. We discuss things like: what am I actually supposed to be doing in ‘The New Evangelization’? How should I talk to someone in order to help them see that the Church is right on this, but without making them defensive? Is it really important that I have a Catholic funeral if my whole family is agnostic? I really hope that Daniel continues to teach this class, and that he eventually expands it to more classes about St. Thomas Aquinas. I am really going to miss it when it is over, both the challenge to incorporate the concepts and the camaraderie of watching us all grow in our faith.
I feel that it is a blessing to be able to devote an entire year to the study of the virtues and some of the foundational thought and Divine Wisdom of St. Thomas Aquinas. We all need to be educated and fortified with a solid understanding of what Truth is and is not and who we are and who we are not, so that we can be LIGHT to our confused and hurting world and bring Jesus to all we meet!
Life in Christ: Prayer and Conversion
With Daniel Campbell
This class opened the doors to the spiritual life for me. It was exactly what I was looking for to grow in my relationship with God, and when I found it, I remembered the parable of the man who found hidden treasure in a field. As I watched new Catholics coming into the Church this Easter, my thought for them was, “Now what? Where do they go from here?” This class provides knowledge, such as the “Stages of Spiritual Growth” and tools, including “Christian Prayer and Meditation” that all Catholics, new and old, need to turn their lifetime into a journey toward union with God.
Taking this class with Daniel was the best decision I made, a year that I learned how to grow in union with God and to build a better relationship with Him. In the past, I was frustrated when I prayed and never got an answer from God. I thought I was just wasting my time, but now I learn that God always listens and often provides the specific answers and guidance we seek, even when He doesn’t answer immediately or in the way we might have hoped. Now with Daniel’s teachings I know the step-by-step process of meditation, how to prepare for a good and fruitful prayer time.
Pilgrimage: A Journey Through Church History
With Dr. Jared Staudt
I found this class to be very pertinent during our present day journey. The faith and fortitude of our early church leaders gave evidence of Christ’s words to Peter that “the gates of hell would not prevail against it.” The Reformation, heresies, good popes, the not-so-good popes, and schisms, are history that we need to be aware of and even proud of. I would share the information with friends and family and the conversations were lively! I am glad for the opportunity to attend this class. Well worth it.
In the process of completing the Biblical School classes, I have learned much about the Bible and have been impressed with the St. John Vianney Lay Division and especially all of my instructors. However, I realized that the events of the Bible were over 2,000 years ago and I wanted to know how the Church of today was formed. This course was perfect for understanding all of the major events and major figures in Church history. The instructor, R. Jared Staudt, is very knowledge and makes the classes come alive. I recommend that all serious Catholics take this course.
The program, “Pilgrimage: A Journey Through Church History,” was superb, and enjoyable! Dr. Staudt’s knowledge of the subject was comprehensive, and his delivery of the lectures was engaging. His interacting with the students sincere and respectful, with time for questions or comments. I have been a lifelong Catholic and learned so much from Dr. Staudt’s presentations! I would highly recommend it.
I took Dr. Staudt’s class on Church History. Dr. Staudt is very knowledgeable on the subject and presents the subject matter in an enjoyable manner. No doubt about it, if a person wants to know detailed facts about the history of the Church, then this is the class to attend. I especially liked Dr. Staudt’s encouragement for the students to ask questions; there were no questions unanswered. This class is a MUST for anyone with an interest in Church history.
WOW! What a course! WOW! What eloquent and brilliant man that Dr. Staudt! My only regret is that it is over. This class answered so many questions for me. Dr. Staudt was so knowledgeable about our beautiful Church. I went away every Tuesday wanting more. I am only sad that it is over. God bless you all and thank you for making these informative classes available to us.
Dante’s Divine Comedy: A User’s Guide to Salvation
With Dr. Seth Fabian
Captivating! I loved every minute of it. Having Prof. Seth guide us on a journey through the beautifully written, yet complex nature of The Divine Comedy was amazing. I feel blessed to have reached a higher level of comprehension regarding this exquisite piece of ancient literature, all due to Prof. Seth for sharing his extensive knowledge of all-things Dante, his explanative abilities, and those fascinating commentaries!
Seth Fabian’s Dante’s class is a gem–whether you are a new reader of the Comedy or have already encountered Dante’s work. Dr. Fabian welcomes questions and answers extensively. His background helps unravel the historical, biographical, and theological references throughout the masterpiece. He also provides visual references for learning about the astronomical world of Dante’s time. Studying Dante’s Divine Comedy with Seth Fabian enhances the reader’s enjoyment and appreciation for both the subject matter and the craftsmanship, drawing one closer to the Divine Creator.
I loved the Dante class. Seth did an outstanding job of explaining the history, astronomy, theology, and literary techniques to make the class really robust. I especially loved Seth’s lectures; he loves the topic and his enthusiasm is contagious. The highlight was listening to Seth read a passage in Italian – it simply magnified the beauty of the poetry.
What a blessing to have Dr. Seth Fabian as our teacher and guide for The Divine Comedy! Dr. Fabian’s expertise on Dante and The Divine Comedy was apparent from the first class, but it is his love for this work that makes the class so wonderful. He showed us how to appreciate Dante’s poetry in a way I wouldn’t get on my own…This class helped me think more about the consequences of the deadly sins, and the virtues as their antidote…A classic masterpiece, taught by an aficionado of the work, all with no homework and no tests. What’s not to love? I highly recommend this class!
In a word, Seth Fabian provided a learning experience that makes me long for more. He was well prepared for each session and conducted class with direct commentary that was pregnant with meaning and packed with historical allusions, mythical incidents, spiritual insight, and human experience. It seems to me that even those who have read or studied Dante and The Divine Comedy will go away from this class with a renewed interest and appreciation of poetry beyond their greatest desire.
The Dante class with Dr. Seth Fabian was a pearl in my life. Although not official Church theology, this class offers a rich tapestry of thought-provoking evaluation of how our personal daily choices contribute to our paths to heaven, hell, or purgatory. The class with Dr. Fabian’s instruction is a journey through history with elements of the Church, the Papacy, the evolution and culture of the Roman Empire, astronomy, and the human spirit. This class is directly relevant to “the now” and to each of us personally. What a blessing to have such valuable and enriching instruction from an amazing historical figure and from Dr. Fabian who makes it possible to discover Dante’s message to us.
The Dante class was wonderful as the instructor took some incredibly weighty material and made it come to life in a relatable way through both his seriousness and his delightful, witty humor. There is so much in this course that it could be taken multiple times, and I believe you would gain something valuable each time. THANK YOU for offering this course!
Regarding my Dante class experience – subject territories as vast, rich, and deep as Dante’s Divine Comedy usually end up being taught in one of two ways: as a laborious unfulfilling slog or, in the case of our Dante class, as a work of stunning brilliance, taught with and by true passion for the subject, revealed as fresh, current, and as life changing in our own times as the day it was penned. Our instructor Seth has a gifted passion for Dante, knows Dante to depth inside and out, and, above all, is able to bring to vivid life the LIFE of the Divine Comedy. It is not hyperbole to say that for the average layperson/adult learner there is no better class on Dante to be found anywhere.
Without a doubt, this was one of the most interesting, and probably one of the best classes, I’ve ever taken. This was not just a trip through Dante’s Divine Comedy – Dante, a true genius – but a thorough examination of sin, of Divine justice and reward. Dr. Fabian’s knowledge of Italian, of Italian history, and the Comedy itself was amazing! Of 24 plus classes, at the end of most there was spontaneous applause. Recommended! Recommended! Recommended!
The Dante class with Seth Fabian as instructor was WONDERFUL, FABULOUS!!! I truly enjoyed this class, loved the format and how Seth read, instructing us verse by verse of this great work. This class and Seth are a wonderful addition to the Lay Division. I learned so much from this class. Yes, I can say it changed my thinking and my spiritual life, and moral life. Thank you Lord for advising me to take this class, even with the 40 minute commute. Once again, the Lay Division can’t go wrong with this class and Seth as instructor.
I had heard of Dante’s Divine Comedy, but wasn’t familiar with it. When I saw this class was being offered by the Lay Division and was subtitled a “User’s Guide to Salvation”, I was curious and wanted to learn more. I learned that this famous poem was written way back in the early 1300s and that it highlights the Catholic faith. I had no idea that Dante or his poem was Catholic. Nor did I know that Dante’s poem is separated into 3 parts: Inferno (Hell), Purgatorio (Purgatory), and Paradiso (Heaven/Paradise).
When I started the class, we began with Inferno. This part is dark and not pretty. It’s sad to see where our sins can lead us. Dante’s description of hell is so horrific that there were times that I was just sick to my stomach. But Dante, with his vast understanding of his Catholic faith, knew that our loving God had prepared a way for our salvation. And so, once we got to Purgatorio, Dante brought back into the picture our Christian hope; and for me a huge sense of relief. Ending with Paradiso brought about a greater longing for Heaven. And it reaffirmed that I want to go to Heaven.
Dante’s Divine Comedy is a beautiful allegory that challenges the faithful to examine their lives and causes them to consider where their life choices are leading them. Looking back, it seems quite providential that the class schedule coincided in such a way that we were reading Purgatorio during Lent and starting Paradiso at Easter. This was one intense way to enter into Lent and made for some good, prayerful reflections and meditations.
Although some things were way above my head and I struggled to wrap my mind around certain aspects of Dante’s poetry, I’m grateful I took this class. I am now more aware of the impact my daily actions have on my salvation, and so I ask myself if my actions are leading me closer or further away from a close relationship with God. It has encouraged me to pray harder for my loved ones, our world, and myself. I gained a deeper appreciation for our Catholic cultural history. I also learned that the ancient message of Dante’s Divine Comedy is still relevant today.
I give this class and Professor Fabian my highest recommendations. To learn from someone like Professor Fabian, who is enthusiastic and engaging, who is passionate about Dante and wants to share his great love and knowledge of Dante, made this class not only worthwhile, but also inflamed in me a great appreciation for Dante and his poetry. I loved it when he would say, “You have to hear it in Italian to appreciate it.” And then he would recite Dante’s words in Italian. And at our last class Professor Fabian showed up in his graduation cap and gown. A great finale!