Quis Quid

Always done on the closest Saturday to the Feast of Our Lady Seat of Wisdom, Quis Quid is a game of wits, cunning, knowledge, and sophistry.

The students, in their respective teams of Cowboys, Poets, and Philosophers, compete amongst each other to gain the favorable vote of the faculty and staff. This game of pseudo-trivia is won by advancing up the game board until one reaches the “Seat of Wisdom” and wins the “golden tripod of victory,” reminiscent of the ancient Greek award at the end of the Illiadic games. The teams will do the silliest acts, give the worst sophisticated rhetorical orations, and even bribe the judges.

Perhaps reminiscent of “Calvinball” (for those who have read Calvin and Hobbes), there ARE rules. They just tend to change–sometimes, mid-game. Winning ultimately comes down to how well you can impress or persuade the faculty and staff through truth and humor (or, perhaps, through the eliciting of their pity).

This year, the Cowboys were victorious, due to their skit of “who had it worse: Job, Oedipus, or Agamemnon?” They chose Job, and their performance was so pitiful that it pained the judges to watch it. Ironically or not, that gained them the winning vote.

“A Whirlwind of Adventures!”

It has been a whirlwind of adventures! After Christmas break, our freshman class returned to Lander for a day of lessons, cross-country ski practice, and gear packing before the winter trip. On Sunday, we drove out to Jackson Hole, where we had more lessons, supper, and swing dancing.

Monday morning, we drove out to the Teton Mountains, unloaded our gear, and skied out to our camp location.

Our first task was to pile snow into a mound for the “Quin-zhee,” our snow shelter. As we worked, two people wearing skis stomped on the snow to pack it down.

After four hours of shoveling …

…we had a mound of snow 12 feet tall. (Dr. Zimmer was duly impressed: despite our scanty amount of snow, it was the tallest he had ever seen.)

Letting the mound solidify overnight, we returned on Tuesday to carve out the inside. (To the right of the door is our “refrigerator” where we kept our food.)

We slept in our snow cave that night.

Wednesday was a layover day at camp. We rolled out of bed at 9:00 AM and skied to join another group for Mass.

We returned to our camp and ate breakfast, went skiing, saw a moose (!), and came back to cook supper before dark. We hung out in our Quin-zhee, and after a night ski under the stars, we crawled, exhausted, into our cozy sleeping bags.

Thursday morning, we tore down camp…

…skied back to the trailhead, packed our gear, and departed for Pinedale. We spent the afternoon at a state-of-the-art rec center, complete with two swimming pools, a waterslide, a hot tub, a climbing wall, wallyball courts, exercise equipment, and even showers!

Friday was our downhill skiing day. It was my first time at a ski resort, and I had a blast. Riding the ski lifts, crashing head-first into the powder, conquering the bunny hills, admiring the breathtaking view from the top of the mountain … Yes, it was the highlight of my week.

Emily Felsheim is a member of the Class of 2021.

“…that they too may enter into His light.”

On January 22nd, 2018, the anniversary of the legislation permitting abortion in America, Wyoming Catholic College remembered the rights of the unborn with a candlelight Mass followed by All-Night adoration. The Mass was celebrated at 9:00pm, after which students took turns keeping vigil throughout the night, with new adorers coming in every hour.

In the haunting darkness of the church, the candles surrounding the Blessed Sacrament reminded all of us that Jesus Christ is the Light of Life, and that only His grace can transform the culture of death in our country. As we begin this new year, please remember the right to life of all the unborn in America, and please heed Christ’s call to defend them, that they too may enter into His light.

Anne Pfeifer is a member of the Class of 2018.

Nightlife at Wyoming Catholic

This past weekend was the first of our two annual Founder’s Scholarship Competitions. Amid preparation for their speeches, interviews, and essays, our “Foundlings” had time to enjoy some WCC weekend evening activities…like a bonfire! They joined current students from all four classes as well as several alumni for a jam session including guitars, two bodhrans (Irish hand drums), a penny whistle, a uke, and many, many voices, rounding out an night of marshmallows, tongue twister recitations, and Grimm’s Fairy Tales read-alouds (complete with sound effects).

Susan Gleason was born in Menominee Falls, WI, but raised in Michigan, Texas, California, and Wisconsin again before coming to Lander, WY, which she is thrilled to finally call home. A graduate of the College’s Class of 2017, Susan is now excited to continue sharing the place she loves so much with future students as one of the college’s Admissions Counselors.

“Spirit Week” in Pictures

This past week was “Spirit Week” at Wyoming Catholic College. In his email announcing the week’s schedule of activities, Thomas Raab (my fellow Residential Life Coordinator) reminded the student community to “have fun with it, but please retain some amount of human dignity.” I’d say they succeeded. (I’m still not entirely sure about Plaid Day, though. It’s a little frightening.)

Sophie Carter graduated from Wyoming Catholic College in May, 2017, and is currently working with the Office of Student Life as a Residential Life Coordinator. She enjoys going for long runs, playing crazy card games, drinking coffee, dancing, taking road-trips, working with stained glass, and spending time in the outdoors.

Exploring Truth, Beauty, Love, and Plato with Marsilio Ficino

Dr. Jason Baxter recently introduced his students to a book that had (previously) never been read at Wyoming Catholic College. With his guidance, the Juniors picked a work called On the Nature of Love for a class on the revival of Platonism in the Renaissance. written by Italian scholar (and Catholic priest) Marsilio Ficinio, the book considers Beauty as the overflowing of the splendor of Divine goodness, describing human love as man’s response to Beauty (and his way back to God).

During the Renaissance, philosophers and thinkers were well-accustomed to Aristotelian philosophy and Plato had largely fallen by the wayside. The translation and revival of Plato’s works caused some turmoil at the time because some of his thinking seemed so different (and even contradictory). The class discussed if Platonic and Aristotelian thought were truly opposed or if they could be seen as complementary, and this led to a conversation on how Plato’s idea of creation, love, beauty and “forms” melded with the Medieval, Renaissance and Modern world view.

Unfortunately, the Juniors only had one class on Ficino’s work. Yet even this brief taste left them with many challenging questions and with a deeper appreciation for the Platonic tradition.

Thomas Raab graduated from Wyoming Catholic College in May, 2017, and is currently working with the Office of Student Life as a Residential Life Coordinator. Thomas seeks to foster an authentic Western Catholic culture and to mentor students in the habits of courtesy, chivalry and the poetic-intellectual tradition.

The True Importance of Our New Building

“The essence of a school is a faculty. In a society like ours [most] think first of buildings, principals, students and then of ‘staff’ (teachers as the work force). But schools (as in ‘schools of thought’) are groups of friends at leisure, apart from business, given over to the free exercise of their rationality.” — John Senior

Divine Providence recently blessed our college with the acquisition of a new building to help provide classroom and study space for our expanding student body. The building is in good condition and in all aspects feels like an academic space; a place of study, quiet concentration and intellectual labor. As happy as I am for this new possession, it also reminded me of something important: a new building does not cause learning. A new building won’t make our students wise. In terms of our education, such accidental things as walls, roofs and electric lights support the growth of the human intellect, but they do not produce it.

In Athens, the hallowed halls of academia were the rolling hills; the trees, its walls; and its roofs were the vaults of the heavens. A Greek’s povertyhis lack of possessionsdid not hinder his ability to acquire wisdom, nor did it prevent the formation of his virtues. As I think about secular colleges and about their wealth, their plentiful, stately possessions, and their material offerings, I also think upon their emptiness and the disintegrating state of their education.

It is tempting to gage the worth of a college or university by the beauty of its buildings or the stateliness of its campus, and they are by no means unimportant. Yet they are not the heart.  The heart of a university is the friendship between its members, centered on the love of what is true, good and beautiful. In this regard, Wyoming Catholic is a living rebuke of the secular university.

Just as a poor field holds a pearl of great price or as a small manger in an impoverished town somewhere in Judea held an infinite treasure, so, too, our small, seemingly-unimportant college in Wyoming is rich in wonder and wisdom, whether it has impressive buildings or not.

Thomas Raab graduated from Wyoming Catholic College in May, 2017, and is currently working with the Office of Student Life as a Residential Life Coordinator. Thomas seeks to foster an authentic Western Catholic culture and to mentor students in the habits of courtesy, chivalry and the poetic-intellectual tradition.

The “Pied Beauty” of the Presocratics

Last week, The Imaginative Conservative published an article on the Presocratic underpinnings of Gerard Manley Hopkins’ famous “Pied Beauty”—an article written by our very own Madison Michieli (’19):

The Presocratic influence does not simply underpin “Pied Beauty,” however. It charges through all Hopkins’ imagery, as further analysis makes clear. In the first seven lines, he revels in all natural changes, from heaven to earth. Even the very word “dappled” brings forth the play of light on dark, overshadowing all creation from the patchwork of the countryside to the stippling of trout. Hidden below the specific images are the four elements, which through their combination and disintegration traditionally bring about all change. In the “skies of couple-color” we find air; in “trout that swim,” water; in “fresh firecoal chestnut falls,” fire; and in “landscape plotted and pieced,” earth. Without mimicry, Hopkins here carries a subtle undertone of the ancients, of the Heraclitean fire and Thalian water.

As I read Madison’s piece, I was struck by the way it grows out of Wyoming Catholic’s belief in a fully-integrated curriculum. Our students read the Presocratics during Freshman Year (as part of their PHL 102 course), but they don’t encounter Hopkins’ “Pied Beauty” until the following year (in HMN 201). As a member of an institution that encourages its various disciplines (and professors) to influence one another, though, Madison was able to recognize the ways in which Hopkins allowed his own philosophical education to pollinate and enform his poetry, and to embrace the same interdisciplinary approach in her interpretation.

The proper response to inscape, to the “lapping, run-and-mingle” of Being with Non-Being, is not subtle discourse in possibilities. Rather, it is acceptance of contrariety’s paradox: It is asking for causes and answering by assent. By the Parmenidean “yes and is,” Hopkins can hear the polyphony of finches’ wings and speckled trout as the “lapping, run-and-mingle” of Being with Non-Being. And in recognizing the mystery of this changing, fickle universe, he can sacrifice it to the unwavering origin of all being. “He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change, / Praise him.”

Read the whole thing.

Hillary Rowney grew up in a small California town next to Yosemite National Park. After graduating from Thomas Aquinas College in 2008, she was an elementary and junior high school teacher at a private Catholic school in Park City, UT for several years. She is Wyoming Catholic College’s Director of Student Life.

Dancing the Night Away

The Senior class threw the first formal dance of the Fall semester on Saturday evening, featuring a Phantom of the Opera theme. Everyone showed up in formal attire wearing mardi gras masks, and the seniors served an excellent Italian dinner, punctuated by a selection of comedy skits. After dinner, the next five hours were spent swing dancing, line dancing and waltzing (as well as other types of dance).

Formal dances are a perfect opportunity for the whole community to celebrate together—to produce something beautiful and ordered for themselves (the decorations, food, dress, music and dancing) rather than merely consuming.

These dances are a culminating moment in our Student Life culture: the dancing, the singing, the sparkling joy in someone’s eyes, the light-hearted yet sincere conversations between friends, the lights, the music, the small corners of happy silence, the bright coziness of the dance hall, and the cold damp of night. Such a celebration points to the warmth of a happy home—a reflection of the celestial dance of the stars, and a symbol of the heavenly feast. Participating in what should rightfully be called a celebration is the man of leisure; a man who knows what it means for something to be good in itself, who knows how to delight in a good for its own sake.

In other words, dancing is what a liberally educated man does. It unites his body in celebration to that higher “splendor of Truth” with which his heart and mind have fallen in love.

Thomas Raab graduated from Wyoming Catholic College in May, 2017, and is currently working with the Office of Student Life as a Residential Life Coordinator. Thomas seeks to foster an authentic Western Catholic culture and to mentor students in the habits of courtesy, chivalry and the poetic-intellectual tradition.

Pipe Night

The men of the College have begun a small tradition at the dorms: “Pipe Night” on Mondays. Gathering on one of the dorm porches, they light up their pipes and begin a conversation about the intellectual life, chivalry, or whatever else might strike them as a good topic of discussion. They often read poetry, gaze at the stars, and sing folk songs, as well.

This is a beautiful example of the ways in which the things a student learns from his books or from his professors can be lived out: to wonder at the stars, to think deeply about the important things, to turn that singular thought into the friendship of several minds conversing together, and by singing the same songs, to share in the same “weal and woe” that men before have experienced for hundreds of years.

Thomas Raab graduated from Wyoming Catholic College in May, 2017, and is currently working with the Office of Student Life as a Residential Life Coordinator. Thomas seeks to foster an authentic Western Catholic culture and to mentor students in the habits of courtesy, chivalry and the poetic-intellectual tradition.