“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 last week’s post, I featured the parent newsletter reflection of Shanley High School Principal Fr. Metzger on the educational dynamic he observed in a recent classroom observation. It was a first period sophomore world history class, and the teacher perfectly illustrated the two wings of faith and reason in pursuit of the truth.
First, the students were reading the primary texts involved in the Galileo case—not secondary sources or summations. Second, the students read with the virtue of humility in seeking the truth and while applying the tools of critical reason.
Fr. Metzger continued his reflection on the classroom visit:
“But there’s more.
“It’s no secret that critics of the Catholic Church will quickly raise the issue of the Church’s response to Galileo’s findings, that the Church condemned his science and locked him away. It’s the tired, worn position that the Church is opposed to science, and the Galileo controversy is the most damning evidence. What more fitting time to confront this accusation than in the history class itself, in the time and context of when the controversy played out?
“So immediately after reviewing Galileo’s own words in ‘Starry Messenger,’ that is, his accurate depiction of the solar system, the class took out the other assigned reading, a document written by St. Robert Bellarmine. At the time Cardinal Bellarmine was the prefect of the Holy Office. This is the department of the Vatican that is responsible for doctrinal accuracy. This office still exists to this day, though under a different name, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
“When someone makes the accusation, ‘The Church silenced Galileo,’ what do they mean? It would mean the Church issued a document condemning his theories and forbidding their dissemination. Who would issue that document? Cardinal Bellarmine. The Shanley sophomores read his very words on this most popular and controversial issue of Church history. What they encountered in the text was far from a condemnation and silencing of Galileo. Far from a fiery rebuke, it was a very measured, but admittedly cautious question of his theories. But Cardinal Bellarmine himself acknowledges that if Galileo proves his theories accurate, it is the responsibility of the Church to reconcile them to the scriptural accounts of creation with great care. Rather than issuing a rebuke to his theories, he’s calling both disciplines – faith and astronomy – to talk to each other, to dialogue, for the two to make the other stronger.
“You don’t get that depth of understanding from an anthology. You have to go to the sources themselves. This illustrates the inestimable value of reading primary sources. We don’t read about Galileo and Bellarmine. We read Galileo and Bellarmine. And in this instance, reading them together puts the controversy in a much different light, one far more nuanced and far more accurate than the prevailing simplistic stereotypes.
I hope you can appreciate that this did not happen in religion class, in a detached discussion on the battle between faith and reason. This lesson took place in a sophomore world history class, in the proper historical context of when it happened, and reading the primary texts of the men themselves. I wonder if the sophomores realize the caliber of instruction they received. And this was one lesson. This is what a Catholic liberal arts education provides.
“Tragically, none of this will be captured on a transcript. This class will simply display as ‘World History, 1 credit.’ That is the same information as any other high school transcript in the city. But you’d be hard pressed to find the caliber of instruction in other world history classes in the city when covering the scientific revolution. In Christ, Fr. Kyle Metzger.”
Thank you, Fr. Metzger for your insights and for promoting and strengthening the two wings of Catholic education at your alma mater.
It’s About Time
The Lord is my Light and my Salvation
Bishop John Folda presided at Holy Spirit School’s weekly Mass this morning—offered in St. Mary’s Cathedral as his symbolic chair reminds us.
In his homily, he told the students he was glad to host them at their temporary home in the old St. Mary’s School building, but also acknowledged their eagerness to return to their home school when the repairs are finished.
Bishop Folda then in a series of questions to the students turned to the season of Advent and “these dark days of December” and our longing for the light which is Jesus Christ.
He encouraged them always to remember the Responsorial Psalm from today’s Mass—especially when they felt darkness around them. He had them repeat the refrain loudly several times to conclude his homily: “The Lord is my light and my salvation” (Psalm 27:1).
The Virtues in Sport
Mr. Reggie Jackson, our JPII Schools Activities Director, recently procured and placed a new display in Shanley’s gym for our Eastern Dakota Conference member teams.
The classic Shanley Shield of the home team is displyed in the center of the circle and each of the other eleven member schools has its logo displayed around the circle.
From the top and then clockwise in the picture: Wahpeton Huskies, Devils Lake Firebirds, West Fargo Sheyenne Mustangs, Fargo North Spartans, West Fargo Packers, West Fargo Horace Hawks, Grand Forks Central Knights, Fargo Davies Eagles, Valley City Highliners, Grand Forks Red River Roughriders, Fargo South Bruins.
Moreover, as part of our education in virtue program, we have selected and displayed four virtues central to true excellence in athletics: Fortitude, Humility, Responsibility, and Self-Control. Each virtue is defined as well.
May all who compete here embrace these virtues.
Welcome St. Mary’s Saints
The first competition under the new EDC and virtue display will be a double-header with the girls and boys basketball teams from our friendly rival and fellow Catholic school—the Saints of St. Mary’s Central High School in Bismarck.
Now anyone who knows me knows that I wear blue on Saturdays in honor of Our Lady—a day which the Church in her wisdom promotes particular devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Unless we play St. Mary’s in a game, that is, which moves me to change to my Shanley red. The picture with this post includes former Shanley and now St. Mary’s teacher Nick Emmel and me on a previous game day.
Welcome St. Mary’s Saints to our campus.
“God is never defeated and His promises do not collapse in human defeats.”–Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI
Hagstrom’s Attempt At Humor (HAAH!)
Sunday Psalm Sampler
Second Sunday of Advent (Year A)
“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: Second Sunday of Advent | USCCB
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 72: 1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17
Responsorial Refrain: “Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.” (cf. Psalm 72:7)
Chris Brunelle’s YouTube recording: R&A Psalm Second Sunday of Advent 2022, Psalm 72 Cycle A – YouTube
Psalm 72 portrays the perfect majesty and royalty of the ideal ruler of Israel—the just king who governs the people with justice, which “shall flower in His days” (Psalm 72:7).
Variations of “to judge” are used 25 times in this Psalm, but it the judgment of the Just One Who “shall rescue the poor when he cries out, and the afflicted when he has no one to help him. He shall have pity for the lowly and the poor; the lives of the poor He shall save” (Psalm 72:12-13).
The Lord Jesus, of course, is the perfect fulfillment of this Psalm.
As we sing this Psalm’s refrain this week, we can simultaneously keep in mind the petition of the prayer He taught us (“Thy Kingdom come”): “Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.”