The Lyceum at St. Mary's Ryken

The Lyceum - A Mission Statement 

In the suburbs of Athens, in a somewhat inconspicuous and shaded area, the Lyceum stood. This building housed a variety of activities: gymnastics and athletic training, military exercises, philosophical debate, political assembly, and cult practices. Then Aristotle started a school there. While this school engaged students in all subjects, it did so under the auspices of truth. For Aristotle, this search for the truth encompassed all fields of human endeavor. It found expression in the library that was also present at the Lyceum and even in the multipurpose building itself, which became a fitting structural gesture towards the kind of educational, intellectual, cultural, and spiritual vision Aristotle inculcated. This vision, nurtured in the Athenian suburbs, would lay the intellectual foundation for a coherent vision of the world that we call “Western thought” in recognition of its temporal, cultural, linguistic, and spiritual diversity of elements.

The Lyceum is modeled on this approach. St. Mary’s Ryken has long been a school and presence within the Southern Maryland community. Like Aristotle’s own vision, the Lyceum aims to deepen these educational, cultural, and communal ties through a constant search for the truth. Beyond Aristotle, ours is a decidedly Catholic vision in which Catholicity, or universality engages all ideas, questions, and perspectives in order to sift them through a cultivated lens of faith and reason. By wading into these intellectual, cultural, and spiritual waters, the Lyceum works to form our local community and its guests to be bearers and guardians of a renewed Western vision whose patrimony gave root to Christendom in Europe before spreading to all corners of the globe. 

Our First Course: Why Beauty Matters

Course Description: This course will explain why beauty matters. In doing so, we will take up the essential place beauty has in the intellectual life, wider culture, and the human experience. Whereas beauty is generally seen as superficial or even inessential, this course will take up Prince Myshkin’s idea from Dostoevsky’s The Idiot, “beauty will save the world.” In pursuing this idea, we will see how beauty manifests in ideas, in art, in everyday life, in religion, and in the human person itself. Through an engagement with a variety of art forms, including literature, poetry, painting, sculpture, music, and architecture, we will engage with what beauty is, how it can be identified, and just how essential it is for a truly Catholic vision of the world. Class capacity is limited to 20.

Instructors: Dr. Christopher Pearlberg, D.M., Indiana University / Dr. Aaron Matthew Percich, Ph.D., West Virginia University

Location: St. Mary's Ryken - Rupert Hall 220

Dates/Time: The course meets on Wednesdays, from 7:00 - 9:00 p.m., beginning February 9 through April 6. There will be no class for Ash Wednesday, March 2.

Fee$145 covers the registration and all materials.

For questions or more information, please contact John Olon at

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