“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
Today we remember St. Anselm, Benedictine Abbot of a monastery in Normandy, who became the Archbishop of Canterbury. He fought for the rights of the Church and was a brilliant theologian and philosopher.
St. Anselm gave us the classic definition of theology: “Faith seeking understanding” (Fides quaerans intellectum). In this dictum and his life, he marvelously exemplified the relation of the two wings of faith and reason. (In philosophy classes at Shanley, we noted his “two wings” example and discussed the relative strengths and weaknesses of his ontological argument for God.)
In Fides et Ratio, St. John Paul II reflects on the example of St. Anselm in the section subtitled, “Important moments in the encounter of faith and reason.” The saintly pope writes in No. 42,
“In Scholastic theology, the role of philosophically trained reason becomes even more conspicuous under the impulse of Saint Anselm’s interpretation of the intellectus fidei. For the saintly Archbishop of Canterbury the priority of faith is not in competition with the search which is proper to reason. Reason in fact is not asked to pass judgement on the contents of faith, something of which it would be incapable, since this is not its function. Its function is rather to find meaning, to discover explanations which might allow everyone to come to a certain understanding of the contents of faith. Saint Anselm underscores the fact that the intellect must seek that which it loves: the more it loves, the more it desires to know. Whoever lives for the truth is reaching for a form of knowledge which is fired more and more with love for what it knows, while having to admit that it has not yet attained what it desires: ‘To see you was I conceived; and I have yet to conceive that for which I was conceived (Ad te videndum factus sum; et nondum feci propter quod factus sum).’ The desire for truth, therefore, spurs reason always to go further; indeed, it is as if reason were overwhelmed to see that it can always go beyond what it has already achieved. It is at this point, though, that reason can learn where its path will lead in the end: ‘I think that whoever investigates something incomprehensible should be satisfied if, by way of reasoning, he reaches a quite certain perception of its reality, even if his intellect cannot penetrate its mode of being… But is there anything so incomprehensible and ineffable as that which is above all things? Therefore, if that which until now has been a matter of debate concerning the highest essence has been established on the basis of due reasoning, then the foundation of one’s certainty is not shaken in the least if the intellect cannot penetrate it in a way that allows clear formulation. If prior thought has concluded rationally that one cannot comprehend (rationabiliter comprehendit incomprehensibile esse) how supernal wisdom knows its own accomplishments…, who then will explain how this same wisdom, of which the human being can know nothing or next to nothing, is to be known and expressed?’”
St. Anselm, Bishop and Doctor: “Pray for us.”
It’s About Time
“April is the Cruelest Month”
Thus begins T.S. Eliot’s poem, “The Wasteland.” As a literary symbol, April is perfect for the cruel, inconstant lover—lovely, enticing, and warm one day, ugly, repelling, and cold the next. Sunny, seventy-degree days quickly yield to gray cold days and wet, slushy snow. I enjoyed posing the question to students, especially after a biting wet April wind. Some agreed with Eliot; others believed various winter months were far crueler. Our spring sports athletes would likely agree with Eliot, eager as they are for favorable weather for events. Do you agree?
Strategic Planning Update
I’m happy to share the progress of our Strategic Plan formation as I did for our September 21 official kick-off and for our March 18 retreat. I’m grateful to Partners in Mission, our consultants, and to the many stakeholders who have contributed along the way.
This is the second week of sharing the draft of our new five-year plan with school staff members, advisory council, and parents. In these “Listening Sessions,” we have shared the draft and gotten impressions and feedback from constituents.
These sessions continue the plan’s momentum and help in refining it further for our board of directors, which will review and ultimately approve the plan to set the goals and objectives for a thriving future.
As of this posting (3:00 pm, Friday, April 21), North Dakota House Bill 1532 sits on Governor Burgum’s desk. He has until 6:59 tomorrow morning to sign the historic bill.
The bill is designed to empower parental choice in education by providing a modest tuition reimbursement, through a transparent process, to parents that choose to send their child to a qualified North Dakota non-public school.
Governor Burgum’s signature on the bill would cultivate the common good and invigorate the educational landscape in North Dakota.
“Don’t let yesterday take up too much of today.”–Will Rogers
Hagstrom’s Attempt At Humor (HAAH!)
Sunday Psalm Sampler
Third Sunday of Easter (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 Easter | USCCB
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 16: 1-2, 5, 7-11
Responsorial Refrain: “Lord, You will show us the path of life.” (Ps 16:11a)
The use of Psalm 16 as the Responsorial Psalm this Sunday illustrates the Lord’s interpretative principle for the Old Testament at the head of this weekly blog feature: “Everything written about Me in the Law of Moses and in the Prophets and in the Psalms must be fulfilled” (Luke 24:44b).
Filled with the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, the birthday of the Church, St. Peter interprets Psalm 16 and its perfect fulfillment in Jesus precisely as the Lord Jesus recommends: “For David says of Him: I saw the Lord ever before me, with Him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed. Therefore my heart has been glad and my tongue has exulted; my flesh, too, will dwell in hope, because You will not abandon my soul to the netherworld, nor will You suffer your holy one to see corruption. You have made known to me the paths of life; You will fill me with joy in your presence” (Acts 2:25-33).
This Sunday’s Gospel account of two of Jesus’ disciples encountering the Risen Lord on the road to Emmaus, likewise, shows the power of His way of understanding the Old Testament: “Were not our hearts burning within us while He spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us” (Luke 24:32).
In all humility, this week let us defer to the Interpreter of Interpreters of Sacred Scripture as we sing with confidence to the One Who shows us the way: “Lord, You will show us the path of life.”