Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam
“To the greater glory of God”
As an Enneagram Nine, I am always struck by the amount of work that people are willing to put into creating a habit, building a skill, perfecting an art. Pure appreciation exudes from my core as I listen to complicated music, take in beautiful art, and admire the handiwork of passion beyond my comprehension. A lover of all things that take time, I simultaneously appreciate pajamas and a glorious nap. Selective with my time and energy, I have found a deep respect and comfort in an approach to work that comes first from my mother, followed by 10 years at Ambleside School of Ocala. One source guided my past, while the other will continue to shepherd my future.
Ambleside Schools International writes, “Work is essential to personhood. It is not a consequence of the Fall, but a gift given by our Creator so that we can co-create in, with, and through him, receiving the great inheritance he offers us. We, and our students, are in communion with the Almighty when we work well. History bears this witness: Thomas Aquinas, before beginning an intellectual task, prayed that the Lord would ‘instruct [his] beginning, direct [his] progress, and set Thy seal upon the finished work.’ Young students at Jesuit schools, in keeping with long tradition, write AMDG (Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam) ‘to the greater glory of God,’ in the top left corner of all written work. J.S. Bach signed his cantatas Soli Deo Gloria, signifying that his work was to the glory of God alone.”
Each week during morning assembly, our Ambleside community was invited to recite a prayer written by Saint Thomas Aquinas. An offering written hundreds of years ago continues to breathe an act of awe and surrender as our students prepare for the new school day. Unaware of the events that would meet us in early March, classes began diligently memorizing these words as an act of obedience, that would soon awaken within us a yearning to reconnect to the true purpose of all work.
Who, from the treasures of Your wisdom,
Has established three hierarchies of angels,
Has arrayed them in marvelous order above the fiery heavens,
And has marshaled the regions of the universe with such artful skill,
You are proclaimed the true font of light and wisdom,
And the primal origin raised high beyond all things.
Pour forth a ray of Your brightness
Into the darkened places of my mind;
Disperse from my soul the twofold darkness into which I was born:
Sin and ignorance.
You make eloquent the tongues of infants.
Refine my speech
And pour forth upon my lips the goodness of Your blessing.
Grant to me keenness of mind, capacity to remember,
Skill in learning, subtlety to interpret, and eloquence in speech.
May You guide the beginning of my work,
Direct its progress, and bring it to completion.
You Who are true God and true Man,
Who live and reign, world without end. Amen
Thomas Aquinas (1225–1275 A.D.)
As we fumble our way through the last few weeks of school, let us pause and reflect on the good work before us. Let us choose to glean from the experience of a slower pace and continue cultivating a habit of intentional work and play. Let us reunite in August as a community that is stronger in relationship with God, self, others, creation and the world of ideas: a community that consistently pursues an approach to work as communing with our Heavenly Father, and attune our hearts to the greater glory of God.