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Moral Theology and the Sanctification of Time

This course for high schoolers asks the age-old questions about human nature posed by poets and philosophers from ancient times. What does it mean to be fully human? What is the soul’s good? How is the soul properly ordered toward its good? How do we live in a right relation with one another and with the natural world? In short, what does it mean to be God’s children?
Moral Theology and the Sanctification of Time is not a course in moralism or legalism. It is not about laws and actions that will make us successful in life. It is grounded in the Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount, which turn the whole notion of “success” on its head. This course is about understanding who God created us to be, and the gifts that He has given us to draw us closer to Him and to one another. It is about knowing ourselves and, in knowing ourselves, knowing God. It is about loving one another and, in loving one another, loving God. It is about the pilgrimage of life and the sanctification of time.

To that end, we will read Aristotle’s great classical text The Nicomachean Ethics to situate ourselves in the classical doctrine of the soul and its proper virtues, which were given Christian expression by medieval theologians like Thomas Aquinas. With that solid foundation, we will read Josef Pieper’s book The Four Cardinal Virtues, which makes classical and Thomistic teaching on the virtues relevant to contemporary Biblically minded Christians. As a sort of case study of virtue in action (or the failure thereof), we will discuss Jane Austen’s novel Emma. We will then read selections from a variety of Christian theologians on the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity as we turn our minds and hearts to sanctification.

Finally, moving from the theoretical to the practical, we will explore the system of prayer, scripture reading, and worship provided by the Book of Common Prayer, “the daily round, the common task” to quote John Keble. The Calendar, the lectionary, the offices and rites of the BCP are all designed to edify our minds and discipline our wills to holy living.

There are no prerequisites for this class, other than an enquiring mind and a desire “to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”

Required Materials:
Books and supplies are not included in the purchase of the course.

  • Victor Lee Austin, Christian Ethics: A Guide for the Perplexed 
    • ISBN: 978-0567032201
  • Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Translated by Terence Irwin. Hackett Publishing Co.
    • ISBN: 978-1624668159
    • Note that it is essential to get the correct translation of Aristotle in print. Kindle editions are often not the same translation. Use the ISBN to purchase a print copy.
  • Josef Pieper, The Four Cardinal Virtues. U. of Notre Dame Press. 
    • ISBN: 978-0268001032
  • Jane Austen, Emma (any edition) 
  • The 1662 Book of Common Prayer, International Edition. IVP Academic, 2021 
    • ISBN: 978-0830841929
  • A Bible (any version)
  • Other reading selections will be provided by the instructor

Rhea Bright, Chair of The Canterbury House of Studies, holds a B.A. from the University of King’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and an M.A. in Classics from Dalhousie University, also in Halifax. Her Classical studies involved Latin and Greek, as well as classical and medieval literature, philosophy and theology. King’s Foundation Year Program, an early integrated great books curriculum, and the Dalhousie Classics department formed and nurtured what became a life-long love of the classics and a deep appreciation of the contribution of the ancient world to whatsoever is good and true and beautiful. She also has a Bachelor of Education from Acadia University in Wolfville, N.S. Rhea taught Ancient and Medieval Humanities at the University of Central Oklahoma for nine years, and over the course of ten years at Providence Hall and The Academy of Classical Christian Studies, she taught Latin, Logic, Bible, and integrated ancient literature and history. Rhea is married to Father Patrick Bright, an ordained Anglican priest who served for over 24 years at All Souls’ Episcopal Church in Oklahoma City and recently retired from full-time ministry. Together they raised five sons, now grown. They now live in a 170-year-old house in rural Nova Scotia.

Quarter 1

  1. Victor Lee Austin, Christian Ethics
    1. Contemporary challenges to ethics
    2. Ethics as proper to being human
  2. Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics:
    1. The Good for Mankind
    2. Moral Virtues
    3. Intellectual Virtues
    4. Continence & Incontinence

Quarter 2

  1. Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics
    1. Friendship
    2. Pleasure
    3. Happiness
  2. Josef Pieper, The Four Cardinal Virtues
    1. Prudence
    2. Justice
    3. Fortitude
    4. Temperance

Quarter 3

  1. Jane Austen, Emma
  2. Victor Lee Austin, Christian Ethics
  3. The Theological Virtues: Faith, Hope, Love
  4. Friendship in the light of the theological virtues
  5. Further readings on Faith, Hope, and Love including Thomas Aquinas and Jeremy Taylor

Quarter 4

  1. The Sanctification of Time: Spiritual Formation through Scripture, Prayer and Worship
  2. Common Prayer and the Daily Offices
  3. The Office Lectionary
  4. The Psalter
  5. The Liturgical Year
  6. The Holy Communion
  7. The Eucharistic Lectionary
  8. The Other Rites of the Church

Red checkmarkComputer: You will need a stable, reliable computer, running with a processor with a speed of 1 GHz or better on one of the following operating systems: Mac OS X with Mac OS 10.7 or later; Windows 8, 7, Vista (with SP1 or later), or XP (with SP3 or later). We do not recommend using an iPad or other tablet for joining classes. An inexpensive laptop or netbook would be much better solutions, as they enable you to plug an Ethernet cable directly into your computer. Please note that Chromebooks are allowed but not preferred, as they do not support certain features of the Zoom video conference software such as breakout sessions and annotation, which may be used by our teachers for class activities.

Red checkmarkHigh-Speed Internet Connection: You will also need access to high-speed Internet, preferably accessible via Ethernet cable right into your computer. Using Wi-Fi may work, but will not guarantee you the optimal use of your bandwidth. The faster your Internet, the better. We recommend using a connection with a download/upload speed of 5/1 Mbps or better. You can test your Internet connection here.

Red checkmarkWebcam: You may use an external webcam or one that is built in to the computer. Webcam Recommendations: Good (PC only) | Best (Mac and PC)

Red checkmarkHeadset: We recommend using a headset rather than a built-in microphone and speakers. Using a headset reduces the level of background noise heard by the entire class. Headset Recommendations: USB | 3.5mm

Red checkmarkZoom: We use a web conferencing software called Zoom for our classes, which enables students and teachers to gather from around the globe face to face in real time. Zoom is free to download and easy to use. unnamed-e1455142229376 To download Zoom:

  1. Visit
  2. Click to download the first option listed, Zoom Client for Meetings.
  3. Open and run the installer on your computer.
  4. In August, students will be provided with instructions and a link for joining their particular class.

Red checkmarkScanner: In this class, students frequently submit homework assignments by scanning pages from their workbooks. Students and/or their parents should have easy access to a scanner and the ability to use it.


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