The Glory of God’s Glue
By Stephen Ambuul
Editor’s Note: Following is the text of a talk delivered by Stephen Ambuul, a recent graduate of the Chesterton Academy of Our Lady of Walsingham, at the school’s annual gala and auction on March 25. The gala raised more than $100,00 for the school.
I’ve been thinking lately about glue.
The saints didn’t talk much about glue. The doctors of the Church didn’t seem to make any mention of glue. In fact, the word “glue” appears not at all in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which strikes me as curious since it’s become so important to my understanding of my years at Our Lady of Walsingham.
In theory, you could have a school that pours over the same Euclidian equations, performs the same Shakespeare, conducts the same chemistry experiments, charts the same stars, discusses the same books by Dickens and Dante and Dostoyevsky. And yet, it would not be the same school at all.
These are stimulating ideas of Western civilization and they engage me like they do all students engaged in classical education. But what makes them so wonderful when they are couched in the atmosphere of this school?
I think it’s all about glue —the glue of God.
You can have classes, subjects, teachers, tests, and grades, and still be missing the element of purposeful direction, of divine inspiration, of genuine vocation.
At Our Lady of Walsingham, we don’t just have a religion class. God is the glue that binds together every field of study, every lecture, every homework assignment, every text book. The students don’t wake up in the morning and say, “I’m going to work on my spiritual growth today.” Simply attending class carries that promise.
In Natural Philosophy, we identify evidence of God in the world. In theology, we articulate God’s attributes. In astronomy, we observe the clockwork of his creation. In literature, we explore the tension of temptation that has created great human dramas since the fall in Eden. Every class has the effect of lifting our attention out of day-to-day rote memorization and toward the final end of salvation history — to join God in heaven and to bring along as many other souls as we can.
At Our Lady of Walsingham, God is present in all we do. And that presence brings to our studies so much sense. It’s one of the reasons students typically arrive on campus early, look forward to their classes, and stay late to continue the day’s discussion with their friends.
Which brings me to the glue of friendship. St. Francis de Sales writes that friends are crucially important and, as if appealing directly to residents of Colorado, he even uses a mountain analogy to make his point.
He writes: “Just as those who journey in the plain do not need assistance, but those who are on a steep and slippery path support each other for security’s sake, so those who are professed religious may not require private friendships; but those who are in The World need them to aid one another in the many evils and dangers which they encounter.”
Our modern society encourages young men to seek only pleasure and entertainment. But the teachers at Our Lady of Walsingham direct our attention much higher, to a journey up some “steep and slippery paths.”
Others may find such challenges intimidating, but with a group of noble friends like those I have found in our high school, the climb is less daunting. In fact, it’s welcome, because those friends are on the same climb, and as eager for my helping hand as I am for theirs.
G.K. Chesterton wrote: “The one thing that is never taught in the public schools is that there is a whole truth of things, and that in knowing it and speaking it we are happy.”
Whenever I need a little extra time to absorb one of our history lessons, or compute a difficult calculus problem, or understand some sophisticated philosophical concept, I take comfort in that quote. Because it’s clear that, just like me, Chesterton also spent some time thinking about glue.