“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
As we prepare to celebrate the “wonders of His love” at Christmastime, I marvel that two great men of the Twentieth century linked wonder to being truly alive.
St. John Paul II in Fides et Ratio, observed that “Without wonder, men and women would lapse into deadening routine and little by little would become incapable of a life which is genuinely personal” (No. 4).
Albert Einstein famously said, “The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and science. He who knows it not and can no longer wonder, no longer feel amazement, is as good as dead, a snuffed-out candle.”
May we be graced to grow in wonder as prepare for the coming of the Lord of Life.
It’s About Time
Our Lady of Guadalupe
Today we remember St. Juan Diego, the native convert to whom Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared four times in December 1531. Monday is the related Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
The renowned and venerated image of Mary on St. Juan Diego’s cloak is a source of wonder and awe in its miraculous origin—and in surviving centuries of weather, a bombing, and intense scientific scrutiny.
Until my reading it in my morning prayer this morning, I didn’t realize the ardent prayers of the bishop involved prior to the apparitions.
“The intervention of God through His holy Mother, the Virgin of Guadalupe, on December 9-12, 1531, was in part a response to the prayerful petition of Mexico’s first bishop, Friar Juan de Zumarraga. For several years—amid injustice, crime, and the seeming futility of his efforts—Bishop Zumarraga prayed for deliverance. The Virgin’s apparition came as a clear answer to these prayers, and Bishop Zumarraga was the first to see the miraculous image imprinted on Juan Diego’s cloak” (Msgr. Eduardo Chavez Sanchez, Magnificat magazine, December 2022, p.131).
In the trials of our time, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas: “Pray for us.”
Candlelight Christmas Concert
This year’s Shanley “Candlelight Christmas Concert” begins tonight at 7:00 at Sts. Anne & Joachim Church in Fargo. There will be a second performance tomorrow at 1:00 pm.
The “Candlelight Christmas Concert” tradition began in 2002 under the direction of Mrs. Rebecca Raber. The vibrant concert tradition features lessons, hymns, and carols tied to an annual theme (“Child of Peace” this year). In recent years, Bishop John Folda has provided piano accompaniment on “O Holy Night.” As the concert concludes in candlelight, all those gathered sing “Silent Night.” Choral Music Instructor Miss Emily Lech is now in her second year as Producer-Director-Conductor of the Candlelight Concert.
If you are unable to attend the concerts, we will have a recording posted on this website in the coming days. There you will also find recordings of all our school concerts and programs for the Advent to Christmas season.
At this time of year, sincere thanks to all our student musicians, actors, and dancers; to all our student artists; and to all our music and art teachers and to our classroom teachers for making these seasons so holy and bright with the beauty of Christ’s birth. That’s the true meaning of Christmas, right Linus?
The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception
Yesterday in our schools, we observed the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary—the settled Catholic teaching that Our Lady “was, from the first moment of her conception [by her parents, Sts. Anne and Joachim], by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin” (Pope Pius IX, quoted in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 491).
Our board of directors determined several years ago to have school on Holy Days of Obligation, namely All Saints Day (November 1) and the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (December 8).
But the school day was to be strikingly different at all levels (elementary, middle school, and high school). Worship was to be at the heart of the day—Mass offered with dignity, reverence, and joy. Expanded prayer time. Lessons altered, incorporating aspects of the holy days, if possible. Homework eliminated or cut back. Service opportunities. Appropriate festive dress. Special treats or meals served, etc.
I’m delighted that our schools have taken the board’s challenge to heart and that there has been a decidedly festive spirit on these days in recent years. Thanks to all students and staff members for living the liturgical life of Grace in our schools.
“I have discovered that leading a school calls for the same skill set as leading a classroom. The major difference is that principals are mentoring adults rather than teaching students.”–Todd Whitaker, What Great Principals Do Differently
Hagstrom’s Attempt At Humor (HAAH!)
Sunday Psalm Sampler
Third 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: Third Sunday of Advent | USCCB
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 146:6-10
Responsorial Refrain: “Lord, come and save us.” (cf. Isaiah 35:4)
Chris Brunelle’s YouTube recording: R&A Psalm Third Sunday of Advent 2022, Psalm 146 Cycle A – YouTube
The book of the prophet Malachi is the last book of the Old Testament, and the Gospel of Matthew is the first book of the New Testament. That’s a span of 400 years.
In this Sunday’s Gospel reading from St. Matthew, Jesus quotes the prophet Malachi in reference to John the Baptist: “Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way before you” (Mal. 3:1). Jesus tells the inquiring disciples sent by the imprisoned John that clear messianic signs accompany His public ministry.
Another great Psalm of praise, Psalm 146 proclaims those very signs of the Lord’s gracious activity on this Third Sunday of Advent, for the Lord “keeps faith forever, secures justice for the oppressed, gives food to the hungry…sets captives free…gives sight to the blind…raises up those who were bowed down…loves the just…protects strangers…The fatherless and the widow He sustains, but the way of the wicked He thwarts” (Psalm 146:6-9).
May we recognize our need for that Savior as we kindle our Advent longing for the coming of the Lord as we sing this week: “Lord, come and save us.”