“Great Jove, who know’st
The mutual rights of guest and host,
O make this day a day of joy
Alike to Tyre and wandering Troy,
And may our children’s children feel
The blessing of the bond we seal!
Be Bacchus, giver of glad cheer,
And bounteous Juno, Present here!
And, Tyrians, you with frank good-will,
Our courteous purposes fulfill.”
A toast and a prayer in the early moments of the Aeneid, as Aeneas is invited of the queen to tell the story of his seven-years voyage from Troy to Carthage. Dido offers an invocation to seal the past in such a way as to consecrate the future, entreating the blessing of Jupiter, “the bringer of jollity,” and his “bounteous” wife, the goddess Juno. Aeneas then spends book II telling of his adventures, his present dilemma, and the land which awaits him.
I was reminded of a comment from a fellow headmaster after reading this in the Aeneid last week: If the pagan Greeks and Romans would never undertake a work without praying and sacrificing to their gods, do we not have an even greater obligation to begin every day asking for the true God’s grace to enlighten our minds and bless our efforts?
Perfectly rhetorical and perfectly obvious: Yes! And we do!
Predictable in its daily form, Matins provides the proper spiritual context for each school day. We extend the principle even further; just as the day begins with a communal school prayer, so, too, does each class pray in the course of their day, for worship is the context for all learning here at The Academy.