The Rationale of our Master's Curriculum:
Faith, Hope and Charity
The Augustine Institute was founded in 2005 on the 1650th anniversary of Augustine's birth. Inspired by Augustine's approach to theology and evangelization, we combine the disciplines of theology, history and pedagogy in order to equip those desiring to share the Catholic faith with others. This interdisciplinary approach aims at preparing students to understand the primacy of the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity in the task of evangelization.
Sacred Scripture and Theology - Faith
Theology is a science that helps the practitioner to understand the content of Biblical Revelation as handed on to us by the Magisterium of the Church through Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. In our curriculum, it is this 'deposit of faith' that the faculty seeks to impart to our students. As an academic discipline, the students of Theology should study the content of the Catholic faith, so that, in turn, it will strengthen and deepen their own faith. Hence, the living faith of the Church and of our students is at the center of our curriculum and teaching philosophy.
Catholic History and Culture - Hope
History and culture disclose how the human drama unfolds in time. Biblical Revelation is disclosed in the form of a historical narrative about God's saving presence within that drama, a drama that occurs within the particular cultural context of ancient Israel and the apostolic Church. In our curriculum, history is intended to respond to the call issued by the General Directory for Catechesis, (107-108) that all catechesis be grounded in the narrative of salvation history in its three phases: Old Testament, New Testament and Church history. Theology, which studies God's self-communication in history, is a discipline that theologians—such as the Fathers and Doctors of the Church—have developed over time within a multitude of particular historical and cultural contexts. To understand St. Paul, St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. John Newman, or Blessed John Paul II, one must grasp the cultural and historical circumstances they addressed; otherwise, theological study can devolve into abstractions. Still more, as St. Augustine recognized, history and culture are the very medium of our relationship with God; and since it is there that we meet Him, a proper appropriation of its content perfects our memory and leads us to praise God for all that He has done for His people in time. When viewed in its full integrity, the study of history as "salvation history" yields that hope that we have not been abandoned to our weakness, but have been cared for by a loving Father at every point in that complex and textured history.
Evangelization and Leadership - Charity
Effective teaching is the practical skill enabling a man or woman of faith and hope to share these theological gifts with others in the active charity of evangelization and catechesis. In this mode of evangelization, which we call "narratio," the faculty does not merely propose the narratio as a theological concept; our professors also model this approach in the classroom. This serves both to unite the content and methodology of instruction and to give students a direct experience of the mode of evangelization and catechetical formation they themselves will be asked to employ. This form of instruction "is radically inspired by the pedagogy of God as displayed in Christ and in the Church" (GDC, 143) and joins the handing on of faith to the redemptive work of salvation history, the liturgy, and Christian experience. Here, again, St. Augustine is our guide. In his De Catechizandis Rudibus (On Catechizing of the Uninstructed), he tells the deacon Deogratias that, "whatever you narrate, narrate it in such a manner that he to whom you are discoursing on hearing may believe, on believing may hope, on hoping may love." We at the Augustine Institute hope that our students who hear the narratio of salvation history, as we utilize it in our teaching of Sacred Scripture and Tradition and in the study of history and culture will be so moved by faith, hope and love that they will aspire to share their faith with others as witnesses in the New Evangelization.
Although the study of Scripture, theology, history, culture, catechesis, and evangelization is formative in itself, the Augustine Institute differs from some other strictly academic programs in that it also stresses the personal and spiritual growth that helps make our graduates worthy instruments in the hands of God for the advancement of the New Evangelization. Leadership within the Church requires spiritual depth and maturity. This component of our curriculum includes retreat opportunities, access to spiritual direction, and also, for some of our resident students, a common life in households with shared prayer and directed spiritual formation. This is furthered by the shared academic work of the Institute and opportunities for shared meals, community events, and other forms of spiritual and recreational fellowship. This emphasis on personal growth is not an optional part of the Master's program but integral to it and one of the elements that provides confidence to those who seek to employ our graduates in school, parish and diocesan settings. They will find in our graduates mature men and women able to meet the challenges of today's world.