“Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth—in a word, to know Himself—so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves.”–St. John Paul II Preface to Fides et Ratio
Fides et Ratio Reflections
In the last post, I quoted St. John Paul II on “scientism,” the deficient view that “science” (often narrowly understood) is the only means of knowing. Embracing that limited “the empirical is the real” stance often leads to a rejection of faith as a means of knowing. As a result, he observed, questions of meaning and ethics are consigned to irrelevance.
(Consider, for example, in Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov the scornful dismissal of morality by Dmitri Karamazov in the pivotal conversation with his brother, Alyosha: “Ethics! What is ethics?” Later in that conversation, Dmitri, draws the haunting conclusion, “without God and the immortal life…all things are lawful.”)
Pope John Paul II explains further:
“And since it leaves no space for the critique offered by ethical judgement, the scientistic mentality has succeeded in leading many to think that if something is technically possible it is therefore morally admissible” (Fides et Ratio, No. 88).
Despite history’s grotesque and painful examples of the logical consequences of the “technically possible” becoming the “morally admissible,” the Holy Father in another encyclical on the moral life encourages all people of good will:
“But no darkness of error or of sin can totally take away from man the light of God the Creator. In the depths of his heart there always remains a yearning for absolute truth and a thirst to attain full knowledge of it. This is eloquently proved by man’s tireless search for knowledge in all fields. It is proved even more by his search for the meaning of life. The development of science and technology, this splendid testimony of the human capacity for understanding and for perseverance, does not free humanity from the obligation to ask the ultimate religious questions. Rather, it spurs us on to face the most painful and decisive of struggles, those of the heart and of the moral conscience.
“No one can escape from the fundamental questions: What must I do? How do I distinguish good from evil? The answer is only possible thanks to the splendor of the truth which shines forth deep within the human spirit, as the Psalmist bears witness: ‘There are many who say: “O that we might see some good! Let the light of your face shine on us, O Lord”’ (Ps 4:6)” (Veritatis Splendor, Nos. 1-2).
A shot of “Scientism” does not give immunity to the questions of good and evil.
It’s About Time
The Holy Rosary
“Strictly speaking, the word ‘rosary’ really means a garden in which roses are grown, just as an orangery is a place where oranges are grown, and even as a fishery is a place where fish are grown.” -Kevin Orlin Johnson
Today is the Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary. When I re-introduced this great meditative prayer to my high school students, I typically began with Kevin Johnson’s etymological image. When we pray it, I said, we are entering a garden of delight, a garden where meditation and devotion grow, a garden of roses offered to Our Lady.
All the mysteries which we meditate upon—joyful, sorrowful, glorious, or luminous—lead us to Jesus through Mary in the memorable motto of St. Louis De Montfort, whose Marian teachings so greatly influenced St. John Paul II.
St. John Paul II’s papal coat of arms displayed two symbols: the Cross and the Letter “M” at the bottom, his reference to Mary at the foot of the Cross.
Blessing of Pets
The annual Memorial of St. Francis of Assisi on October 4 has served as a fitting occasion for the “Blessing of the Pets” in many of our schools and parishes. Nativity School has developed this tradition in the spirit of St. Francis over many decades.
Tuesday afternoon’s weather was perfect as the students and families gathered outdoors for hearing God’s Word about the goodness of creation, reflecting on the call to care for it, singing His praises for it, and for the blessing of family pets—whether on-site or via a picture—by Nativity Pastor Fr. William Gerlach.
Fr. Gerlach noted that Pope Francis chose his name in honor of the holy man of Assisi.
Moreover, the saint’s “Canticle of the Sun” was the source of the Holy Father’s title of Laudato Si, his encyclical on “care for our common home”:
Respect Life Month
October is the annual “Respect Life Month” as designated by the U.S. Catholic Bishops: Respect Life Month. This year features the theme, “Called to Serve Moms in Need.”
The Bishops write that, “As Catholics, we are called to cherish, defend, and protect those who are most vulnerable, from the beginning to the end of their lives, and at every point in between. During the month of October, the Church asks us to reflect more deeply on the dignity of every human life.”
The dignity of the human person is the foundation of all Catholic Social Doctrine. May we embrace the Bishop’s call to reflect on that truth—and may that lead us to promote and protect the dignity of every human life in word and deed.
“The Rosary is my favorite prayer.”–St. John Paul II
Hagstrom’s Attempt At Humor (HAAH!)
Sunday Psalm Sampler
Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)
“Everything written about Me in the Law of Moses and in the Prophets and in the Psalms must be fulfilled.”–Luke 24:44b
Lectionary Readings: Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time | USCCB
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 98: 1-4
Responsorial Refrain: “The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.” (Psalm 98:2b)
Chris Brunelle’s YouTube recording: R&A Psalm 28th Sunday Ordinary Time 2022, Psalm 98 Cycle C – YouTube
A victorious song proclaiming the glorious, universal reign of God, Psalm 98 is used often in the Christmas and Easter liturgies. It is also used for the Feasts of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Its use this Sunday amplifies the universality of the message of the saving power of God found in the readings of the day: Elisha and Naaman (first reading from 2 Kings 5:14-17) and Jesus’ healing of the ten lepers (Luke 17:11-19)—with only the despised “Samaritan” returning to thank Him. Jesus tells the grateful foreigner, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.”
Psalm 98 proclaims that “All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God (98:3b) and invites us to sing joyfully this week, “The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.”