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“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

Wednesday, May 13, 1981, was a beautiful, sunny, blue-sky day in central Minnesota. As I was walking on the Saint John’s University campus during the 10:00 am hour, I heard that Pope John Paul II had been shot.

Just as so many of the faithful around the world spontaneously offered prayers for his well-being, so did we.

Miraculously, the Holy Father survived the point-blank attempt on his life by a trained assassin. Months later, he would meet the perpetrator in person and forgive him.

May 13 is the memorial of Our Lady of Fatima, marking the first appearance of Our Lady to the three children of Fatima (Jacinta and Francisco Marto and their cousin Lucia dos Santos) in 1917—64 years before the assassination attempt.

About the significance of his survival, Pope John Paul II always maintained, “In everything that was happening I saw—I do not weary of repeating this—a special maternal protection of the Madonna. And in coincidence—there are no simple coincidences in the designs of Divine Providence—I saw an appeal as well, and, who knows, a recalling of attention to the message which began…[in Fatima]…through the means of three children, the son and daughters of humble country people, the little shepherds of Fatima, as they are universally known.”

Regarding Mary’s maternal protection, we, too, can embrace St. John Paul II’s concluding appeal to her in Fides et Ratio: “May Mary, Seat of Wisdom, be a sure haven for all who devote their lives to the search for wisdom. May their journey into wisdom, sure and final goal of all true knowing, be freed of every hindrance by the intercession of the one who, in giving birth to the Truth and treasuring it in her heart, has shared it forever with all the world” (No. 108).

It’s About Time

May is Mary’s Month

May Crowning at Sacred Heart-Shanley

“May is Mary’s month and I/Muse at that and wonder why…”

–opening lines of “The May Magnificat” by Gerard Manley Hopkins, S. J.

English Jesuit priest Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote “The May Magnificat” in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary while a student at Stonyhurst College in 1878. The broader world did not know those words until his collected poems were published in 1918—29 years after his death from typhoid fever while serving in a slum parish in Dublin.

It has been said that no one should graduate from a Catholic high school without having committed to memory the 48 lines of “The May Magnificat” by Hopkins. When I repeated that statement to my Freshmen each May, nervous glances shot across the room. 48 lines? Are you serious, Mr. Hagstrom?

But they are short lines and, thankfully, Fr. Hopkins employed beautiful rhyme and meter. It’s relatively easy. In the end, though, I didn’t require that it be memorized, but many Freshmen chose to do so for extra credit. I hope they can still recall it years later this May.

May Magnificat by Gerard Manley Hopkins – Famous poems, famous poets. – All Poetry

Nevertheless, in reading and studying the poem, they all understood Hopkins’ central point: May is Mary’s month because “all through mothering earth” Spring is producing “growth in every thing,” just as Christ the Lord grew within her. Her magnifying of the Lord is echoed in mother nature magnifying the Lord, especially in the month of May.

Recent days here finally feel like Spring, so enjoy the flowers, the blossoms, the greening, the birthing, the growing, and the newness!

Our schools typically observe May Crownings this month of May.  May we, too, magnify the Lord in our observances and seek to do His Will as Our Lady did so perfectly.

In a similar way, congratulations and thank you to all mothers and grandmothers on Mothers Day this Sunday. Thank you for so beautifully glorifying God in your motherhood.

Senior Awards Night

Wednesday evening, we gathered in the Shanley auditorium to recognize and congratulate our 75 graduates. Recognition included awards and scholarships at a variety of levels: national, state, local, and school. What a gifted group of seniors ready to commence on the next steps of their journey. Congratulations to our graduates and best wishes to each of them.

I presented and explained the Randall R. Rustad Memorial Award, named in honor of our beloved colleague and legendary Shanley Social Studies teacher, Class of 1968, who died on January 31, 2015. If we agree with Pope John Paul II that “there are no simple coincidences in the designs of Divine Providence,” then Randall’s passing on the Memorial of St. John Bosco, Patron Saint of Youth, is a perfect fit, given Mr. Rustad’s combination of high expectations and genuine love for the well-being of his students. Congratulations to recipient, Luke Hollcraft.

I also presented and explained the James Wold Award and Gladys Wold Award, given this year to Keagan Walker and Emilia Bowden, respectively (congrats!). The Wold family established the James Wold Award in 1954 in gratitude for the miraculous power of prayer in the recovery of their son James Wold from life-threatening injuries. (The Presentation Sisters had organized prayer while James was near death.) It was to be given annually to a senior boy at Shanley High School who believed in the power of prayer and who lived his faith in word and deed—as determined by the school’s faculty. In 1977, the Gladys Wold Award was established for a senior girl. The Wold Awards are rightly revered and are rooted deeply in our school culture, thanks to the Wold family and the Providence of God.

Scholarship Breakfast

Yesterday at the Avalon Events Center, we held our annual “Scholarship Breakfast,” honoring our generous scholarship donors and recognizing our 15 underclassmen Merit Scholarship recipients. The merit scholarships are applied to next school year’s tuition. Congratulations to this year’s awardees.

In addition to these scholarships, other scholarship funds from our donors fund in part our over-all needs-based tuition assistance program, which also includes budgeted funding each year.

Shanley alumnus, current parent, and donor, Chris Meier ’91, was the speaker. With wit and wisdom he explained the varying reasons why parents choose us and why he and his wife, Karen, were happy to begin a scholarship fund in gratitude for his own parents’ choice of Catholic schools for him and his siblings.

President’s Proverb

“My God, I believe, I adore, I trust, and I love Thee! I beg pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not trust, and do not love Thee.”

–Prayer taught to the three children (Francisco, Jacinta, and Lucia) at Fatima by the Angel of Peace

Hagstrom’s Attempt At Humor (HAAH!)

Sunday Psalm Sampler

Sixth 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: Sixth Sunday of Easter | USCCB

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 66: 1-7, 16, 20

Responsorial Refrain: “Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.” (Ps 66:1)

Chris Brunelle’s YouTube recording: R&A Psalm Sixth Sunday of Easter 2023, Psalm 66 – YouTube

“There was great joy in that city” (Acts 8:8).

The proclamation of the Gospel and all the accompanying signs of its power lead to “great joy” in the city of Samaria as we hear in the first reading this Sunday.

So, too, in Psalm 66, do we hear of God’s great deeds in salvation history and the accompanying joy which fills “all the earth.” God has delivered His people from their enemies, and in His Paschal Mystery, Christ has delivered us from our ancient foes. Sin and Death will not have the last word. That is both case and cause for rejoicing.

This week as we enter in the great memorial of His redemptive suffering, death, and resurrection, may we gratefully rejoice as we sing, “Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.”

Mike Hagstrom