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Two Wings: President’s Posts

Two Wings No. 7

By August 12, 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

If “many people stumble through life to the very edge of the abyss without knowing where they are going” (Fides et Ratio, No. 6), how can we have confidence in a way to the truth?

An alumni parent and I were having a conversation this week in which we acknowledged and lamented the reality that some of our children may no longer practice the faith handed on to us from the Apostles through our Catholic schools and parishes.

We spoke of our commitment to prayer for them and to being examples of the priority of faith.

With novelist Walker Percy in mind, I also said, “Besides, what else is there” in which to trust and hope and live?

In a famous self-interview decades ago, Percy rejected a mere atheistic humanism as an answer on the brink of the abyss: “This life is too much trouble, far too strange, to arrive at the end of it and then to be asked what you make of it and have to answer ‘Scientific humanism.’ That won’t do. A poor show. Life is a mystery, love is a delight. Therefore I take it as axiomatic that one should settle for nothing less than the infinite mystery and the infinite delight, i.e., God. In fact I demand it. I refuse to settle for anything less. I don’t see why anyone should settle for less than Jacob, who actually grabbed aholt of God and would not let go until God identified himself and blessed him.”

Let us continue our prayers for all seekers of the truth…that they (in Dr. Percy’s charming Louisiana expression) may grab “aholt of God.”

It’s About Time

The Deacon Way

Back to school “Deacon Way” sessions have begun for our students and parents. The “Deacon Way” was a phrase coined by our former, late Activities Director Randy Nelson early in the summer of 2014. He had been moved by my two word commencement address (“Go Deacons!”) to the Class of 2014, done some reflection, and created the phrase “Deacon Way” to summarize the path of high expectations and goals for our Shanley students.

With his characteristic huge smile and big, booming voice, Randy gave me a June preview of the presentation he was preparing for the mandatory pre-season meetings with students and parents. He had even added some attempts at humor, and he was absolutely giddy with anticipation.

But Randy never gave that presentation. He was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer just before the August pre-season meetings and had begun grueling treatments, so our superintendent, Dr. Michael Smith, presented Randy’s message for the first “Deacon Way” session. Randy passed away on December 1, 2014, a few weeks after witnessing in person our girls volleyball team capture the 2014 state championship in Minot.

In his presentation, Randy defined the Deacon Way this way:

• Faith

• Leadership

• Character

• Positive Role Model

• Academics

• Sportsmanship

Randy challenged our students to give their very best, called them to the path of virtue that lifts up others, and built all that on the foundation of faith. That’s the Deacon Way. That’s the opportunity we have at Shanley High School as we call all our students to that path of excellence.

The Assumption

Monday, August 15 is Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In her Assumption—body and soul—into Heaven, she humbly goes before us as our mother and exemplar. Her glorious Assumption proclaims the transcendent dignity and destiny of the human person, body and soul, created in the Image and Likeness of God. We are made for Heaven.

Many commentators have noted that this dogma’s proclamation by Pope Pius XII in 1950 was especially significant in the wake of all the assaults on the human person in the first half of the twentieth century—war, genocide, and death-dealing ideologies on an unprecedented scale.

The statue of Our Lady pictured here is from the chapel at the Bishop’s residence in Fargo. It and the chapel’s other splendid carvings were completed in 1938 by German master carver August Schmidt.

At the base of the statue we see a Latin title for Our Lady, “Tota pulchra es Maria” (“You are completely beautiful, O Mary”)—a reference to Song of Songs 4:7. Her crown of stars (Revelation 12:1) hearkens to the first reading for the Mass of the Assumption.

May her radiant beauty, Heavenly queenship, and ardent prayers draw us to our Heavenly homeland.

Welcome Back Teachers!

On Wednesday, August 17, all teachers will return to school (as if they weren’t here already readying their classrooms and instructional materials!), roll up their sleeves, and finalize preparations for the first day of school for grades 1-12 on Tuesday, August 23 and for Little Deacons through Kindergarten on Thursday, August 25.

Welcome back and thank you teachers for your service!

President’s Proverb

“Nothing great ever happens apart from prayer.”

Bishop Robert Barron

Hagstrom’s Attempt At Humor (HAAH!)

Sunday Psalm Sampler

Twentieth 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

Lectionary Readings: Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time | USCCB

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 40: 2, 3, 4, 18

Responsorial Refrain: Lord, come to my aid! (Psalm 40:14b)

Chris Brunelle’s YouTube recording: R&A Psalm 20th Sunday Ordinary Time 2022, Psalm 40 Cycle C – YouTube

Every word of Sacred Scripture—the Word of God—is focused on Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, Who is the fullness of revelation.

That is especially clear in the Book of Psalms as He revealed in the dialogue with several disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:44b). Jesus even prayed the words of the Psalms while in agony on the Cross, affirming that notion.

That’s why the Church has continually prayed the Psalter through the hours of the day and why the Responsorial Psalm is a part of the Liturgy of the Word in every Sacred Liturgy. That’s why I’ve added the “Sunday Psalm Sampler” feature to this weekly blog. The Psalms are ultimately about Him. It is His voice we join in singing the Psalms.

We can see His suffering and ours in Psalm 40, for example, as we “wait” and “cry” to the Lord and are “afflicted” in “the pit of destruction” and “the mud of the swamp.”

The Ordo’s commentary for the Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time confirms our unified voices: “Like Christ, we must never grow despondent or abandon the struggle to proclaim and live the truth.”

With trust and solidarity in Christ, we can sing this week, “Lord, come to my aid.”

Mike Hagstrom