Being able to just be in the presence of beauty is central to coming to know God and to participate in the sacramental life. As students come to appreciate beauty for its own sake—independent of utilitarian goals—their souls are prepared to receive God at a deep, pre-cognitive level. As Oscar Wilde understood, sensitivity to the beauty of material things prepares one’s soul to become sensitive to the beauty of spiritual things. To learn to be still and silent in the presence of great beauty prepares one to be still and silent in the presence of great holiness….
In a society that values efficiency over depth and productivity over quality, [pragmatism] is a temptation we all face. Our schools—even our Christian schools—are too often based on the model of factory production, where the main values are speed and efficiency, and where the only type of progress that counts is that which can be quantified.