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Two Wings: President’s Posts

Two Wings No. 14

By September 30, 2022No 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

Msgr. James Shea, the winsome President of the University of Mary, gave the opening keynote at last Friday’s Redeemed Eucharistic Conference in Fargo. He acknowledged the crisis of faith in the Eucharist evident in recent polls of Catholics. But he said it’s even worse than we think because it’s part of a growing crisis of faith in the broader culture. Large numbers of young Catholics, for example, lose their faith in their early teens, often due to the perception that faith and science are incompatible.

Here’s where the work of the winsome Fr. Robert Spitzer, Jesuit priest and former President of Gonzaga University is especially helpful. See Magis Center: Catholic Answers to Science, Faith and Reason

At a conference I attended five years ago, Fr. Spitzer cited a statistic that approximately half of Catholics 35 or younger who no longer practiced the faith said a [seeming] contradiction between faith and science was the leading reason.

In Fides et Ratio, Pope John Paul II mentions “erroneous currents of thought” (No. 86) and later includes “Scientism” (No. 88), defining it this way and giving this critique of its inadequacy:

“This is the philosophical notion which refuses to admit the validity of forms of knowledge other than those of the positive sciences; and it relegates religious, theological, ethical and aesthetic knowledge to the realm of mere fantasy. In the past, the same idea emerged in positivism and neo-positivism, which considered metaphysical statements to be meaningless. Critical epistemology has discredited such a claim, but now we see it revived in the new guise of scientism, which dismisses values as mere products of the emotions and rejects the notion of being in order to clear the way for pure and simple facticity. Science would thus be poised to dominate all aspects of human life through technological progress. The undeniable triumphs of scientific research and contemporary technology have helped to propagate a scientistic outlook, which now seems boundless, given its inroads into different cultures and the radical changes it has brought.

“Regrettably, it must be noted, scientism consigns all that has to do with the question of the meaning of life to the realm of the irrational or imaginary. No less disappointing is the way in which it approaches the other great problems of philosophy which, if they are not ignored, are subjected to analyses based on superficial analogies, lacking all rational foundation. This leads to the impoverishment of human thought, which no longer addresses the ultimate problems which the human being, as the animal rationale, has pondered constantly from the beginning of time. And since it leaves no space for the critique offered by ethical judgement, the scientistic mentality has succeeded in leading many to think that if something is technically possible it is therefore morally admissible” (Fides et Ratio, No. 88).

My Theology Advisor spoke of preventing the false choice of either “intellectual suicide” (putting reason aside for faith) or “needless loss of faith” (putting faith aside for reason). Our young people don’t have to choose between these two dead ends, according to the two wings of faith AND reason. Properly understood, faith and science are friends.

It’s About Time

St. Jerome

For many years in my classroom, El Greco’s “St. Jerome” hung on the east wall as the saint accompanied all my freshmen students through their first year, heavily devoted to Divine Revelation in general and Sacred Scripture in particular. Patron Saint of Scripture Scholars and with a gift for languages, he translated the Bible into Latin from Hebrew and Greek, gifting the “Vulgate” translation to the Church.

At Mass this morning, I listened to the opening prayer…

O God, Who gave the Priest Saint Jerome a living and tender love for Sacred Scripture, grant that Your people may be ever more fruitfully nourished by Your Word and find in it the fount of life. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever

…and was moved by these phrases describing St. Jerome and his example: “A living and tender love for Sacred Scripture” and the petition to be “fruitfully nourished” and discover “the fount of life” which is the Word of God.

On hearing those words, I thought of Pope Pius XII’s ground-breaking Divino Afflante Spiritu (“Inspired by the Divine Spirit”), released on this day in 1943. In it, the Holy Father called for a renewal of Scripture scholarship and its anticipated fruits, setting the course for Vatican II’s Constitution on Divine Revelation, Dei Verbum (November 18, 1965).

With World War II raging in 1943, it may seem odd that the Holy Father issued an encyclical on Sacred Scripture.

But it is precisely because of that all-encompassing war and the need to turn to the Prince of Peace for healing that he writes: “If these things which We have said, Venerable Brethren and beloved sons, are necessary in every age, much more urgently are they needed in our sorrowful times, when almost all peoples and nations are plunged in a sea of calamities, when a cruel war heaps ruins upon ruins and slaughter upon slaughter, when, owing to the most bitter hatred stirred up among the nations [emphasis added], We perceive with greatest sorrow that in not a few has been extinguished the sense not only of Christian moderation and charity, but also of humanity itself. Who can heal these mortal wounds of the human family if not He, to Whom the Prince of the Apostles, full of confidence and love, addresses these words: ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life’” (Divino Afflante Spiritu, No. 56).

Likewise, he calls the human race to divine grace: “There those who are wearied and oppressed by adversities and afflictions will find true consolation and divine strength to suffer and bear with patience; there – that is in the Holy Gospels – Christ, the highest and greatest example of justice, charity and mercy, is present to all; and to the lacerated and trembling human race are laid open the fountains of that divine grace without which both peoples and their rulers can never arrive at, never establish, peace in the state and unity of heart [emphasis added]; there in fine will all learn Christ, ‘Who is the head of all principality and power’ and ‘Who of God is made unto us wisdom and justice and sanctification and redemption’” (Divino Afflante Spiritu, No. 58).

Since reading the encyclical in Theology studies decades ago, I have never forgotten the phrase “the lacerated and trembling human race” and our only Hope, Jesus Christ.

That we might read and heed the Word of God, St. Jerome: “Pray for us.”

October 1, 1961

This picture hangs on the wall of his alma mater (Class of 1952) outside Shanley’s gym as it did at “Old Shanley” (at 705 13th Avenue North in Fargo).

The caption reads from a newswire:

New York. October 1, 1961. Connecting for No. 61.

New York Yankee Roger Maris swings and connects with the ball as he hits his 61st homer in the fourth inning of game with Boston at Yankee Stadium. He thus became the most prolific home run hitter in major league history, exceeding Babe Ruth’s historic record of 60 home runs, hit in 1927.

The picture will continue to hang at Shanley with pride.

Yankee Aaron Judge did tie Maris at 61 Wednesday night in Toronto:

Aaron Judge hits 61st home run, ties Roger Maris’ 61-year record (today.com)

The Yankees are back home at Yankee Stadium tonight, and with seven games remaining, number 62 is bound to happen.

If it were tomorrow, October 1, it would align with the date Roger broke Babe Ruth’s record 61 years ago. Best to Mr. Judge in his pursuit of the record.

Bonus for Roger Maris Fans: You can hear many memories of Roger Maris and the impact of his legacy in this treasury of interviews recorded, compiled, and graciously shared by videographer and former Shanley Auction Director, Lee Hoedl, a long-time Yankees fan:

ROGER MARIS CELEBRITY GOLF TOURNAMENT – YouTube

Lee is owner of hoedl’s haven productions: hoedl’s haven productions – HOME (hoedlshaven.com). Thank you Lee.

Catholic Charities Sunday

Bishop Robert Barron frequently quotes Emeritus Pope Benedict’s observation about the three tasks of the Church: to care for the poor, to evangelize, and to worship.

Our Sunday readings in recent weeks have especially highlighted the obligation to care for the poor (think of last Sunday’s haunting parable of Lazarus and the rich man, for example).

That emphasis sets the table well for “Catholic Charities Sunday” this Sunday in the Fargo Diocese. For more information about the good work of Catholic Charities North Dakota (CCND) and how to support our neighbors in need see this year’s video:

Reflecting on the Past, Looking Forward to the Future | Catholic Charities Sunday 2022 – YouTube

President’s Proverb

“Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.”

St. Jerome

Hagstrom’s Attempt At Humor (HAAH!)

Sunday Psalm Sampler

Twenty-Seventh 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: Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time | USCCB

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 95: 1-2, 6-7, 8-9

Responsorial Refrain: If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts.” (Psalm 95:8)

Chris Brunelle’s YouTube recording: R&A Psalm 27th Sunday Ordinary Time 2022, Psalm 95 Cycle C – YouTube

A hardened heart is the Biblical symbol for being closed and defiant before God. On the other hand, the open embrace of God is a willing and generous heart.

Biblically, our “heart” is who we are at our very core. It is our essence. God desires our heart and wants to be one with us.

In fact, St. Teresa of Calcutta interpreted Jesus’, “I thirst,” from the Cross to mean that He thirsts for and desires us—you and me—in an intimate heart-to-heart union. She even had “I thirst” painted on the wall of every chapel for the Missionaries of Charity. While noting the context of this Psalm is the assembly of the faithful (“Come, let us sing joyfully to the Lord”), may we seek to quench the thirst of Jesus with willing and generous hearts this week as we sing the reminder, If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts.”

Mike Hagstrom

mike.hagstrom@jp2schools.org