Give Your Teen a Head Start: Join The Liberal Studies Program – Fall Online Classes Start Soon


About the Liberal Studies Program

Fr. Joseph Fessio, SJ

Fr. Joseph Fessio, SJ

Ignatius Press and Angelicum Great Books Program have joined with cooperating colleges in the US, Australia, and Europe, to launch the Ignatius-Angelicum Liberal Studies Program (LSP), an online course of studies combining the best of home and distance learning with live, online classes.

Under the leadership of Ignatius Press founder and editor Father Joseph Fessio as Chancellor, the Liberal Studies Program provides unrivaled educational opportunities for homeschoolers, students enrolled in traditional high schools, and other students aged fourteen (9th grade) and up, to earn college credit while acquiring the foundations for a Catholic liberal education and lifelong learning.

LSP offers something unique among the many ways high school students can earn college credit — an online program specifically for Catholic students who want to embark on acquiring a liberal education using the Great Books approach pioneered by the great philosopher, educator, and Catholic convert Dr. Mortimer J. Adler.

Fidelity to the teaching of the Catholic Church is fundamental to the LSP program. Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Constitution on Catholic higher education, Ex Corde Ecclesiae, guides the LSP’s Catholic mission.

LSP is accepted for college credit at Benedictine College (Atchinson, Kansas, USA); Campion College (Australia); St. Bede’s Hall (Oxford, UK); Catholic Distance University, (online); and other colleges and universities. The growing list of collaborating colleges — the Universities of Western Civilization.

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Why the Angelicum Academy Curriculum?

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Education has ends and means to those ends. For Catholics the end is ultimately supernatural – heaven. Short of that the ends are those means that lead to the ultimate end, including proper training and education of the mind and will, and to a lesser degree, the body. PE, sports and some health education and biology address the body, with the more delicate aspects left to the parents, who may now reference Pope John Paul II’s theology of the body. Regarding the mind and will, Aristotle has this to say: “If there is some end of the things we do…will not knowledge of it have a great influence on life? Shall we not, like archers who have a mark to aim at, be more likely to hit upon what we should? If so, we must try, in outline at least, to determine what it is.” Notice that Aristotle mentions here both knowing and doing – that is, training the intellect and the will. Elsewhere Aristotle, when asked what the difference was between the educated and the uneducated, replied it is like “the difference between the living and the dead.”

Catholic education seeks to transmit the truths of the faith (supernatural truths) and the truths of nature. Why nature – because grace builds on nature. If nature is deformed or absent then grace either cannot effect improvement or with limited effect (except in the case of the miraculous). Supernatural truths are primarily taught in religion or theology classes and are, as the Pope recently mentioned – essential to Catholic education. The Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Compendium (abbreviated version) form the basis for this education. But how are natural truths to be taught in Catholic schools? The will is moved most by example. So parents and teachers – by their lives – are the primary schools of virtue. Added to living examples are dead examples – the lives of the saints, and their autobiographies (such as the Story of a Soul by the Little Flower), and good biographies of saints and virtuous men and women including pagans such as Socrates. Finally, by the study of bad examples and the resulting evils, such as Anna Karinina by Tolstoy and the Brothers Karamazov by Doestoyevsky. In other words, good literature – of all these types – is critical to a good education, Catholic or otherwise. Ethics needs to be restored as a philosophy course – to order and help students understand and generalize (universalize) these good examples – at least in secondary education.

It has been removed from almost all Catholic and public schools. The results are a lamentable decline in morality and ethical standards. The mind must be formed to be able to appreciate great literature. For this we need to learn to read, write, listen and speak. Thus phonics, grammar, composition, storytelling, discussions, speaking and rhetoric are necessary very early on. Math on through the calculus reveals to the mind in an indubitable way the order of the universe, its comprehensibility, and the precision of truth and its reliability. These tools are necessary to read the works of the absent and the dead, and to understand those present to us in conversation and lecture. Foreign languages, especially ancient Greek and Latin, form the mind to think in patterns like the glorious Greek and Roman sages who founded classical civilization. It is not a mere matter of learning those languages so we can understand English better – no, those languages form our minds to think like those great peoples of the past so that we can fully grasp who we are and how we got to be so, because our culture and civilization is largely founded upon theirs.

Likewise, our Catholic culture began in Greek and Latin as well (Hebrew is far less important, as the only book it is particularly useful for is the Massoretic text of the Old Testament – so it would be important for biblical scholars, but a very distant third even for them). Philosophy is a necessary component of all courses in varying ways, and in itself in courses beginning in 3rd grade and up (Philosophy for Children series) to form the mind to understand the data of sense and early education in properly ordered and organized ways. Why read if one cannot understand, but only sense. That is like watching the movie “The Passion of the Christ” and only being repelled by the bloodshed and cruelty, and not understanding the meaning of it all – as some did indeed complain. Our civilization and culture are transmitted to each generation by our art and our music, but primarily by our literature. One who has not read our great classics from Aesop and Mother Goose to Shakespeare, from Homer to Virgil to Dante to Milton; from Euclid to Einstein, etc. cannot be considered a well-educated person and is unprepared to participate in the great conversation, the on-going dialogue of our culture spanning three millenia. Such a one is like the person that drops in on a conversation nearly over and catches only the occasional word or phrase, gathering glimmers of light but no real enlightenment and making no contribution to the conversation.

From the above, one can easily understand how the liberal arts are oriented to prepare minds for reading and discussing the great masterpieces of our culture (in secondary and tertiary education); math and philosophy for ordering and understanding them. Our teachers may very occasionally be “great” men or women but more likely they will be less than that. But they can be great teachers if they lead us to great authors (and artists), both secular and religious, who in turn open up the natural and supernatural reality to us, unwarped by other personal agendas. Thus literature – particularly the great children’s classics in elementary school and the great books in secondary education, form the backbone of a classical liberal education. This means more than 2 or 3 or 5 books a year. It requires 10-20 good books per year at a minimum, and 30 or so great books per year in high school. Otherwise the result will be more of the only functionally literate, at best, ready perhaps for some particular, narrowly-skilled job but not ready for life.

Thinking will be reduced to processing data, like a computer, not understanding like a man. SAT scores may go up, but wisdom will go down (or, more accurately, never develop). But besides reading, there is discussion – conversation about what is read. This is equally important. Without it one misses much of the meaning revealed in discussions with others. Errors in reading pass by unnoticed and are unconsciously absorbed; the mind is left unsure and unsteady – like the poorly educated Catholics who embrace even Jehovah’s Witness or New Age myths because they never really understood their own faith – they merely parroted back answers not discussed and thus neither grappled with nor understood the deeper realities involved. So Catholic education to achieve its end must utilize the means to do so – the liberal arts and the backbone of a liberal education: the classics of literature (beginning with childrens’ and ending in the greatest). Besides reading them, they must frequently be discussed in a conversational setting – in the same manner we learn most of our day.

Questions must not only be allowed, but actively encouraged to blossom into discussions and debate, so that the mind grapples with truths, refines them and exposes and defangs errors. Mere lectures cannot begin, or rather, can only begin to do this – in any course. Without a serious reading plan of excellent literature, and equally serious encouragement of Socratic discussion, all is in vain. As Mortimer Adler noted so well 60 years ago, Catholic education has a huge advantage in possessing supernatural truths, which it squanders when it neglects the nature of man and treats students as if they were merely memories rather than reasoning beings. Again, grace builds on nature. The Holy Father Pope Bendict XVI has emphasized the importance of Logos – reason and mind – not just memory. Our culture is awash in data, facts, trivia – and almost completely deficient in understanding and wisdom. Education must restore these or utterly fail in its purpose, be it Catholic or otherwise. The model of Catholic education from the post-WWII era largely failed in its purpose. The evidence is all around us. The babyboomer generation is largely lost to the Church or so poorly educated that it cannot understand the faith well and so rejects this or that dogma and accepts this or that error willy-nilly. Understanding and wisdom were neglected in favor or memory. We forgot the doctrine of St. Thomas on understanding and wisdom – on the human person. This error was rooted in our loss of an understanding of what philosophy is. We forgot philosophy is a way, a stance towards reality, initiated by wonder, not merely a body of data or series of principles to memorize. Great literature and frequent Socratic discussion are the natural remedies for this, as is a correct understanding of wonder and philosophy. Our curriculum is completely integrated, K through 12, utilizing these means. One need not utilize our curriculum to reach the end, but “Shall we not, like archers who have a mark to aim at, be more likely to hit upon what we should?”

Patrick S.J. Carmack

Pres. The Angelicum Academy

6th Grade Socratic Class is Now FULL (We have added another class time for new students)

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Class Dates and Times 6th Grade Socratic Class 
1:00 PM Pacific Standard Time  This class is now full and closed to new students.
2:00 PM Pacific Standard Time 

First class is on Sept. 20

This is a new class now open for new students.


Click here for more information on our Socratic online classes.

Notes on the Angelicum Good Books List by Dr. Taylor

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Dr. James Taylor

Dr. James Taylor

It is assumed that in the age of the “Nursery” (ages 2-7) the child is being read to and the selections (Good Books List) remind us that children can listen to, and enjoy, many books they cannot yet read for themselves.

In my nursery age I was raised on the rhythms and rhymes of Mother Goose, Robert Louis Stevenson, and numerous poems and songs found in anthologies. Later, I heard the stories of the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson. The Steadfast Tin Soldier I still know by heart. Also, The Fox and His Travels, though I do not remember the author. Perhaps it was by the famous, Anonymous.

Years later I took my first formal course in Children’s Literature from Dr. Dennis Quinn at the University of Kansas and also had many conversations concerning these poems and stories with his colleague, Dr. John Senior. I have taught Children’s Literature at the high school and college levels for nearly two decades. What I have to say about the selections in this book draws from my childhood memories and adult reflections and my conversations with Quinn and Senior.

None of the age and literature categories used in the Angelicum Academy Good Books grade list are absolute. Think of the selections (grade levels) as notes of music with the freedom to work up and down the scale as you see fit. This is especially true of the Nursery and Preschool selections since the latter category is relatively new and could just as well signify Nursery. Even within the category of Nursery there are titles that one would want to withhold until a particular child is about to enter first grade. Seven years old was the traditional age the child went to school. Custom has changed for beginning school but the child’s intellectual stages of development have remained the same. Therefore, never rush the child into the book; it well may be that he or she will want to hear or begin to read one book over and over again. If so, remember that each time the child experiences the story or the poem, read to and or reading on his own, he is learning a great deal about how language works and becoming a good reader.

Now in Print! ~ Good Books Literature Guide for 3rd Grade

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Dr. James Taylor

Dr. James Taylor

Our 3rd grade Good Books Guide comes with a full-color front cover, Answer Key for each guide, True/False questions, and Essay questions to encourage young writers, and a synopsis of each book, written by Dr. James S. Taylor, author of the widely acclaimed Poetic Knowledge: The Recovery of Education 

Grades 4 and 5 will be in print this coming week.  We will announce their arrival as soon as we have them in stock. 

We will be giving these new guides away FREE to our enrolled 3rd graders during the month of August.  If you have a 3rd grader enrolled with the Angelicum Academy, we will send you free, the 3rd Grade Good Books Study Guide.  To receive your free guide for enrolled students only (if you enroll a 3rd grader in the month of August, we will send you the guide as well), please email us at:

This Good Books Study Guide is currently for sale in our bookstore HERE.




Encyclopædia Britannica Online User Name Change for Students

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Dear Parents and Students:  We had to change our user name and password to our online resources for students.  Please email us for this information.  We will respond quickly to your emails.  Thank you!  Mary Lee for the Angelicum  Academy


“The Wing-And-Wing” Book Report by Angelicum 7th Grade Student

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“The Wing-And-Wing” is a novel by James Fenimore Cooper. It is a sea fiction story.

The story is set in the very late 1700’s in Portoferrario, Elba, near Tuscany. It begins with a mysterious lugger approaching the shore, causing concern among the city’s residents because of French invasions. Among the people who gather to watch the lugger sail nearer to land are Tommaso Tonti, an experienced mariner; Vito Viti, the magistrate of the city; and Ghita, an eighteen-year-old girl who was left in Portoferrario by her uncle, she also seems to express much concern over the lugger.

Once the lugger arrives on shore, the captain emerges, and Vito Viti takes him to Andrea Barrofaldi, the governor of Elba. The captain apparently pretends to be in service to England, and gives the name of his lugger as “Wing-and-Wing”, as well as his own name as “Captain Jack Smith”. The governor nor the magistrate fully believe the captains story, however, as they acknowledge the English have never used luggers to travel on the seas, only the French and Spanish. After the captain laves, with an invitation to dinner with Barrofaldi later on, he meets with Ghita, whom he knows. The captain’s real name is then revealed to Raoul Yvard, and he has come there to see Ghita, his fiancée. But she does not like the fact that he is a deist. Fearing they’ll be seen together, they both leave, but plan to meet again.

In the meantime, the governor and magistrate’s suspicions remain about “Captain Smith” and the Wing-and-Wing, so they visit a lady named Benedetta’s tavern to discuss the issue with Tommaso. Soon their conversation is interrupted when two people, Ithuel Bolt from the Wing-and-Wing and a Genoese interpreter, enter the establishment. As the five of them converse with each other, Ithuel tells them how he, being from a state in America, was captured by the British and has since then hated anything having to do with Great Britain. When Ithuel is asked why he still serves England, when he has no difficulty in escaping, he replies that there are English all across the seas and he could easily be caught. In reality, however, he was captured by the British along with Yvard, and they both escaped in the French frigate Feu-Follet, which was being disguised as Wing-and-Wing. A short while late, an English frigate under the name of Proserpine arrives in Elba. Yvard has secret fear because of this, and convinces Vito Viti that the frigate might be French disguised as British, so he tries to drive the ship away. Later on that evening, Yvard and Ghita meet again and she asks him if he would transport her and her uncle to someplace else. He agrees to do so. In the meantime, Lieutenant Edward Griffin of the Proserpine enters Elba and convinces the authorities of Captain Smith and Wing-and-Wing’s real identities. With the governor now aware of the Feu-Follet, the Proserpine makes a full attempt to capture the Feu-Follet, but the crew’s signals are disrupted by Ithuel, who sets off rockets, thus allowing the lugger to escape. This starts a hot pursuit by the Proserpine, trying various schemes including the trickery of vessel flags, but when Yvard realizes they are the English, he kills several of them on board. The Proserpine crew even attempts to ignite a fire, hoping it would pass to Feu-Follet. So sure of this plan, they are stumped the next day after realizing that the Feu-Follet had passed Portoferrario earlier that morning.

The Feu-Follet soon lands in Naples, where Ghita’s grandfather, Admiral Francesco Caraccioli, is to be tried for treason. Despite Ghita’s pleas, Lord Nelson refuses to pardon Caraccioli, but she is able to see him one more time before he is executed. Ghita and her uncle are taken back to the Feu-Follet by both Ithuel and Yvard and they set sail again. Soon Yvard and Ithuel are approached by the Proserpine and are taken onto the ship. Vito and Barrofaldi recognize Yvard, and Ithuel is recognized as being a deserter of the Proserpine, so they are both tried soon for their crimes. Yvard is found guilty of being a French spy, and is to be executed the next day; however, after conversing with the Proserpine’s captain and officers, they begin to feel pity for him, and decide to send a messenger to Lord Nelson to revoke Yvard’s punishment. Afterwards, Barrofaldi and Vito Viti pay a visit to Yvard, and get into a heated argument. While the Proserpine’s officers are distracted by this argument, Ithuel emerges to take Yvard and they escape in the Feu-Follet’s yawl. Soon afterwards, the yawl arrives near St. Agata, where Ghita and her uncle leave the ship to visit a relative of theirs. Yvard once again asked Ghita to marry him, however even though she wants to accept she cannot because of their religious differences. After Yvard and Ithuel leave St. Agata on the yawl, they are taken back on board by the Feu-Follet’s crew. They then meet with the messenger who helped prevent Yvard from being executed. They capture him, thank him for his service, and release him afterwards.

Wanting to see Ghita again, Yvard decides to turn the Feu-Follet around and sail forward telling the rest of the crew that they will capture a British ship. Soon the4y actually come into conflict with the British, resulting in significant bloodshed. The Feu-Follet is sunk along with the remaining crew on it, and Yvard is seriously wounded. Ghita and her uncle ride out to the wreckage on a boat after the bloody battle, and are able to stay with Yvard during his last few hours of life.

I enjoyed this story because it was adventurous and suspenseful. One of my favorites scenes was when Ithuel was in the tavern criticizing the British people and their customs. I would recommend this story to anyone that enjoys sea novels or James Fenimore Cooper’s works.         

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