Two thousand years ago, Pontius Pilate was faced a highly unusual prisoner. Mad cries and evil threats from the mob without seeped ominously into the hall, clouding the Roman governor’s thoughts and rendering the Nazorean’s words all the more cryptical. Sighing, Pilate asked once more, “Are you a king then? Jesus answered: You say that I am a king. For this I was born…that I should give testimony to the truth. Every one that is of the truth, hears my voice.” Everyone that is of the truth? Pilate’s mind spun. A lifetime of urgent questions and empty answers flashed before his eyes, and from his lips burst the cynical query, “What is truth?”

Two millennia have raced by since the day man put God on trial. Today, the rioting mobs, scheming politicians, rigged judicial systems, and twisted truth of Pontius Pilate’s time sound shockingly familiar. Our world persists in condemning Truth, sacrificing it daily on the altar of commodity and power. Now, more than ever, Pilate’s question begs an answer. What is truth, and can it be known with certainty? Does truth matter, or should we, as new-age guru Deepak Chopra suggests, seek truth but “run from those who think they’ve found it?”

Catholic, liberal arts Thomas Aquinas College takes a firm stance on the issue, made clear in its motto Fides Quaerens Intellectum or Faith Seeking Understanding. The college affirms that truth can be known and faith is not an obstacle, but rather an aid, in the pursuit of knowledge. To accomplish this, students at Aquinas study a curriculum that “presents the arts and sciences of liberal education as a comprehensive whole. There are no majors, no minors, no electives, and no specializations.”

Though unusual, it is precisely the broadness and diversity of subjects covered in the Aquinas program that equip young people with the skills necessary to “live well the life of the free citizen and of the Christian.” Most college students specialize in a single field, having little knowledge of other disciplines. When faced with false ideologies, this specific education proves a stumbling block, causing people to feel incompetent to challenge a widespread consensus or mob rule. Students at Aquinas, however, gain confidence and security in numerous disciplines through vigorous class discussions. Deep questions about philosophy, natural science, theology, music, geometry, and logic are visited daily. Upon graduation, alumni possess a solid intellectual background, not to be easily shaken by weak ideologies or illogical mandates.

When not discussing or studying the works of great classical authors, students at Aquinas engage in a number of recreational activities such as swing dancing, hiking, intramural sports, choir, and theater. A deeply-knit community life is characteristic of Thomas Aquinas College, manifest in the kindness and generosity between upperclassmen and freshmen. Free from the divisive and notoriously distracting effect of elite clubs such as sororities and fraternities, students form deep friendships and cultivate the practices of courtesy and respect so often lacking between men and women.

Not satisfied with fortifying merely mind, heart, and body, Aquinas offers students many opportunities to grow spiritually as well. Holy Mass is said two or three times daily on campus. Additionally, the sacrament of penance is always available and chaplains frequently provide spiritual direction to students. With 10% of alumni entering religious life, it is impossible to deny the great fruits of the college’s vibrant Catholicism.

The path of the true, the good, and the beautiful is undeniably harder than the path of the convenient, the mediocre, and the fashionable. Christ’s passion and death irrevocably mingled suffering with righteousness and truth, and those who seek him find persecution a sad reality. Abstractly, the liberal arts education sounds dry and unappealing — certainly not something worth suffering for. It is concretely, however, in everyday life that the true worth and beauty of a Thomas Aquinas College education shine forth. Some may ask, won’t this education yield a high number of snobbish, superior youths, devoid of mercy and compassion? Certainly not. Far from creating delusions of grandeur and supreme wisdom, a genuine education increases humility, for true knowledge consists in acknowledging God’s greatness and the smallness of human understanding.

May all who have received the gift of faith and knowledge never forget that for this God brought us into the world: to glorify his name in all circumstances and give testimony to the truth.

Teresa Padilla is an 18-year-old homeschooled member of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Cottage Grove.