Welcome to Living Nazareth! We are a private co-educational high school in Berryville, VA with a strong Catholic identity employing a contemplative model to cultivate the interior life while offering a rigorous classical education entirely faithful to the Magisterium. We think it too little to be merely a college-prep school; we are first and foremost a “Heaven-prep” school. How does this differ from any other well-intentioned Catholic school?
The Destination - Quo Vadis?
The end to which all our activity is ordered is to produce citizens of Heaven. This goal informs all that we do at Living Nazareth and is the priority above any other worldly goal. While some other schools may claim this in theory, for most of them a fundamental difficulty arises.
The Difficulty – Worldly Conventions
The conventional school setting is intrinsically ill suited to this goal. Because it mirrors that of public schools it is suited, by design, to the same worldly goals espoused by them. The daily schedules parallel the same frenetic shuffling we find in worldly institutions, with little time built in for recollected prayer or thoughtful reflection. But these are simply symptomatic of a deeper parallel in the priorities. If your priorities do not inform your schedule, your schedule will soon form your priorities.
The Difference – The Contemplative Model
At Living Nazareth, we emphasize the necessity of giving our time to God to allow Him to work. Each day, we have three extended breaks from designated classroom time for students to approach God in prayer, explore new pursuits, reflect more deeply on their learning, and receive individual guidance from wise directors. Each of these is absolutely essential to forming citizens of Heaven. It is this contemplative model and rhythm of life that constitutes the main distinguishing feature of our school.
The Inspiration - The Holy Family
It is in large part from the reading below (from a homily by Pope Paul VI at Nazareth) that the idea for this school was inspired. Our very name is taken from the same reading, so aptly does it articulate the atmosphere we wish to provide:
Nazareth is a kind of school where we may begin to discover what Christ’s life was like and even to understand his Gospel. Here we can observe and ponder the simple appeal of the way God’s Son came to be known, profound yet full of hidden meaning. And gradually we may even learn to imitate him.
Here we can learn to realize who Christ really is. And here we can sense and take account of the conditions and circumstances that surrounded and affected his life on earth: the places, the tenor of the times, the culture, the language, religious customs, in brief, everything which Jesus used to make himself known to the world. Here everything speaks to us, everything has meaning. Here we can learn the importance of spiritual discipline for all who wish to follow Christ and to live by the teachings of his Gospel.
How I would like to return to my childhood and attend the simple yet profound school that is Nazareth! How wonderful to be close to Mary, learning again the lesson of the true meaning of life, learning again God’s truths. But here we are only on pilgrimage. Time presses and I must set aside my desire to stay and carry on my education in the Gospel, for that education is never finished. But I cannot leave without recalling, briefly and in passing; some thoughts I take with me from Nazareth.
First, we learn from its silence. If only we could once again appreciate its great value. We need this wonderful state of mind, beset as we are by the cacophony of strident protests and conflicting claims so characteristic of these turbulent times. The silence of Nazareth should teach us how to meditate in peace and quiet, to reflect on the deeply spiritual, and to be open to the voice of God’s inner wisdom and the counsel of his true teachers. Nazareth can teach us the value of study and preparation, of meditation, of a well-ordered personal spiritual life, and of silent prayer that is known only to God.
Second, we learn about family life. May Nazareth serve as a model of what the family should be. May it show us the family’s holy and enduring character and exemplify its basic function in society: a community of love and sharing, beautiful for the problems it poses and the rewards it brings, in sum, the perfect setting for rearing children – and for this there is no substitute.
Finally, in Nazareth, the home of a craftsman’s son, we learn about work and the discipline it entails. I would especially like to recognize its value – demanding yet redeeming – and to give it proper respect. I would remind everyone that work has its own dignity. On the other hand, it is not an end in itself. Its value and free character, however, derive not only from its place in the economic system, as they say, but rather from the purpose it serves.
- Second Reading for the Office of the Holy Family
*Spiritual formation of students is a priority (“Seek first the kingdom of God”)
*Regular spiritual direction
*Daily communal prayer, including Eucharistic Adoration, Liturgy of the Hours, and Divine Mercy Chaplet
*Academic year and breaks structured around Daily Mass and the Liturgical Calendar
*Rigorous classical education in the Catholic tradition
*Specialized concentrations to suit the individualized needs of each student
*Small class sizes and student body for more personal interaction and individualized attention
*6-hour school days (includes Mass, sports, and other extra-curricular activities) and 4-day school weeks
*Parents invited to audit classes
*Priests and religious regularly involved in the life of the school
*Affordable tuition costs with financial aid available
*Wide selection of extracurricular activities including academic competitions, student clubs, music, and sports
*Learn more by using the links above or contact us!
Does this story sound familiar: Your child arrives at school early in the morning, returns late in the afternoon exhausted, has just enough time for dinner, homework, and sleep, and then wakes up to do it all over again? We have seen too much of this play out in the lives of too many students for too long. At Living Nazareth, we value the time your child spends with the family and we strive to make as much space for that time as possible, without sacrificing the quality of education. How do we do this? Because we recognize that when children are treated like human beings rather than products in an assembly line, their natural capacity for reason is the prime beneficiary. This requires a great deal of responsibility on the part of the student, but we are willing to trust them with that responsibility and guide them in the use of it, together with their parents, for the sake of their own growth and perfection. As St. Francis de Sales relates, when a hunter came upon the apostle John petting a partridge, he was astonished that so great a man would “waste time” like this. Surely it would be better for him to be preaching, converting nations, or working miracles. The saint calmly asked “Why don’t you always carry your bow with the string taut?” The hunter replied “If it were always bent it would lose its spring and be useless when I needed it.” St. John replied “The human mind is like that bow.”
Man was made for contemplation. On this point both Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas are clear. In today’s world, a person can be kept so busy and so entertained, that contemplation practically vanishes from his life. Our typical school schedules are a prime contributor to this spirit in the lives of our children, but Christ encourages in us a contrary spirit. At Living Nazareth, we not only strive to make time for teachers and students to stop and listen to God’s voice, speaking as He does both in prayer and in creation, but also seek to cultivate in our students this same habit of life, which ultimately produces in them the proper fruit of a liberal education: real freedom.
God seeks to share His divine life with us and to this end provides us with several aids. Here at Living Nazareth, we prioritize the reception of the Sacraments, especially attendance at daily Mass. We have a firm commitment never to compromise a student’s ability to receive Our Lord daily. We also provide several opportunities for daily communal prayer (including Eucharistic Adoration and The Liturgy of the Hours) and regular spiritual direction and confession. We recognize that we provide a far less valuable gift to your children than that which God, the greatest Teacher, desires to provide for them and seek to create the space and disposition in which they might receive His gifts more effectively. In this way they more perfectly follow their vocation and become the young men and women they were created to be.
"The contemplative model employed by Living Nazareth High School places necessary emphasis on the interior life of the young person as a keystone of the formation process. Without such life, nurtured and sustained by dedicated times of prayer, spiritual direction, and the Sacraments, any other efforts on behalf of human life are impossible."
- Fr. Shenan Boquet, President of Human Life International