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Two Wings: President’s Posts

Two Wings No. 16

By October 14, 2022May 5th, 2023No Comments

“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

A scientistic approach to knowledge has sometimes been supported by citing the example of the 17th century episode of Galileo. Thankfully, Pope John Paul II reckoned with that perception when he formed a study commission to re-examine the historical case and clarify the proper relationship between the two wings.

In his speech on the occasion of the summary of the commission’s report on October 31, 1992, he gave his authoritative assessment, rooted in a balance of faith and reason, properly understood:

“From the beginning of the Age of Enlightenment down to our own day, the Galileo case has been sort of ‘myth’, in which the image fabricated out of the events was quite far removed from reality. In this perspective, the Galileo case was the symbol of the Church’s supposed rejection of scientific progress, or of ‘dogmatic’ obscurantism opposed to the free search for truth. This myth has played a considerable cultural role. It has helped to anchor a number of scientists of good faith in the idea that there was an incompatibility between the spirit of science and its rules of research on the one hand and the Christian faith on the other. A tragic mutual incomprehension has been interpreted as the reflection of a fundamental opposition between science and faith. The clarifications furnished by recent historical studies enable us to state that this sad misunderstanding now belongs to the past.”

This “sad misunderstanding” need not, therefore, be the reason for embracing the inadequacies of scientism.

It’s About Time

October 11

Tuesday was the 60th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council on October 11, 1962. For that reason, it is also the feast day of St. John XXIII, who called the council and gave his opening address that day.

There have been some 60th anniversary assessments of the council this week, and though some of those seem like Rorschach tests, two thoughts come to my mind.

One is the saying of my graduate Patristics professor, Fr. Godfrey Diekmann, OSB (who attended the council as a peritus). “Historically,” he noted, “a Church council takes at least a century to implement.” If that’s the case, then we are at the 60 percent phase.

The other is the hermeneutical framework suggested by Pope Benedict XVI, who also attended the council as a peritus. Regarding the question of the correct interpretation (hermeneutics) of the council he maintained, “On the one hand, there is an interpretation that I would call ‘a hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture;’ it has frequently availed itself of the sympathies of the mass media, and also one trend of modern theology. On the other, there is the ‘hermeneutic of reform,’ of renewal in the continuity of the one subject-Church which the Lord has given to us. She is a subject which increases in time and develops, yet always remaining the same, the one subject of the journeying People of God.”

St. John Paul II Feast Day Observed

“Do not be afraid.”

Though his annual feast day is October 22 (which this year is Saturday of next week), we will observe St. John Paul II’s feast day with an all-schools Mass next Wednesday, October 19 at 9:30 am in the Shanley-Sacred Heart gym.

That honors the recommendation of our board of directors, which directed that we should celebrate our patron saint’s feast on a nearby school day in those years when the feast falls on a non-school day. The accompanying graces, teaching, and prayer call us to deeper communion with Christ in the communion of saints.

We haven’t gathered for this Mass as a system of five schools since 2019 due to COVID in 2020 and busing issues last year. (Last year, though, recall that the high school and middle school students gathered for it.)

As in previous years, Bishop John Folda is scheduled to preside, and we count this annual Mass as a major celebration of our heritage and identity as “St. John Paul II Catholic Schools.”

On October 22, 1978, the 58-year-old Polish Cardinal was inaugurated as universal Pastor of the Church, proclaiming on that day, “Do not be afraid! Open wide the doors for Christ.”

He had been elected a few days earlier on October 16. In his first address to the crowd in St. Peter’s Square, he confessed, “Dear brothers and sisters, we are saddened at the death of our beloved Pope John Paul I, and so the cardinals have called for a new bishop of Rome. They called him from a faraway land—far and yet always close because of our communion in faith and Christian traditions. I was afraid to accept that responsibility [emphasis added], yet I do so in a spirit of obedience to the Lord and total faithfulness to Mary, our most Holy Mother.”

Cardinal Karol Wojtyla chose the name “John Paul II.” John. Paul. The Second.

With that name, he honored his three saintly predecessors as successor to St. Peter, now known as Bl. Pope John Paul I, St. Paul VI, and St. John XXIII.

With that name, therefore, we honor and embrace these four holy leaders. In the communion of saints, we invoke their prayers for our Catholic school system. St. John XXIII, St. Paul VI, Bl. John Paul I, and St. John Paul II: “Pray for us.”

Tempus Fugit

Last Sunday at our home parish’s fall festival, my wife and I bid on several silent auction items. She had the winning bid on a wok; I on a grandfather clock. (I hate to say it, but now we can wok around the clock.)

I loved the clock’s custom wood craftsmanship and, especially, the insignia above its face: “Tempus Fugit” (time flies). It certainly does.

President’s Proverb

“Cling to the Rosary as the creeper [vine] clings to the tree, for without our Lady we cannot stand.”

St. Teresa of Calcutta

Hagstrom’s Attempt At Humor (HAAH!)

Sunday Psalm Sampler

Twenty-Ninth 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

Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

Lectionary Readings: Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time | USCCB

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 121: 1-8

Responsorial Refrain: “Our help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”  (Psalm 121:2)

Chris Brunelle’s YouTube recording: R&A Psalm 29th Sunday Ordinary Time 2022, Psalm 121 Cycle C – YouTube

Psalm 121 is among the pilgrimage songs called the “Songs of Ascent, “ for pilgrims making their way up to Jerusalem would sing along the journey. “Up to Jerusalem,” is quite literal: Jerusalem is a city built on the hills—2,430 feet above sea level.

Psalm 121 begins, “I lift up my eyes toward the mountains; whence shall help come to me?” Verse 2, which serves as the answer, is a statement of conviction: “my help is from the Lord, Who made Heaven and earth.”

The Psalmist underscores that belief in the Lord’s assistance by using “guard” or variations of that word six times in the Psalm’s eight verses. The pilgrims’ path was at times uncertain and unsafe, so this Psalm’s recognition of the Lord as their guardian set the tone for their travels.

As we make our pilgrim way this week, may we sing that same reminder of the Lord as our guard and guide: “Our help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”  

Mike Hagstrom