On behalf of all the faculty and students, I would like to thank all of the parents, relatives, or family friends who attended the elementary school literacy fair last week. There was a great turnout, and considering the busyness of this time of year, it meant a lot to our students and staff.
We are entering the home stretch here, with only just under 4 weeks to go. I know anxiety and angst are both high, especially for families with graduates. Of course, we are not without a biblical parallel.
There is a seemingly divinely ordained fittingness between the academic year and our liturgical calendar. Each spring time, we re-live the stories of the early church. The Acts of the Apostles and the writings of St. Paul tell us that even though God became man, man still struggles mightily hard to get along with man. St. Paul spends the better part of his writing encouraging the early Christian communities to maintain perspective. And he also beckons the first Christians to live unlike the Gentiles.
In our modern culture, we are up against a somewhat different set of problems, the greatest of which is surely indifference and a willful rejection of human nature. George Weigel, an esteemed biographer of St. John Paul II and candid culture observer, recently wrote the following words, which provide just the right perspective as we transition into the leisure months:
Eastern Christian theology calls this theosis, “divinization,” and it’s a hard concept for many western Christians to grasp. Yet here is what St. Basil the Great, one of the Cappadocian Fathers of the Church, teaches about the sending of the Holy Spirit, promised in Acts 1:8 at the Ascension: “Through the Spirit we acquire a likeness to God; indeed we attain what is beyond our most sublime aspirations—we become God.” What can that possibly mean?
It means that, through the gift of salvation, we are being sanctified: we are being drawn into the very life of God, who is the source of all holiness. And it means that our final destiny is not oblivion, but communion within the light and love of the Trinity. Why? Because the glorified Christ, present in his transfigured humanity to the first disciples in the Upper Room, on the Emmaus Road, and by the Sea of Galilee, has gone before us and is now “within” the Godhead, where he wishes his own to be, too.
Wonderful, you say. But what does that have to do with healing 21st-century culture?
At the root of today’s culture of happy-go-lucky hedonism, which inevitably leads to debonair nihilism, is a profound deprecation of the human: a colossal put-down that tells us that we’re just congealed star dust, a cosmic accident—so why not enjoy what you can, as soon as you can, however you like, before oblivion? Why take your humanity seriously—including that part of your humanity by which you are constituted as male or female? You can change whatever you like; it’s all plastic and it’s all meaningless, because the only meaning of our humanity is the meaning we choose for it.
Christian faith offers a far nobler vision of the human condition than this dumbed-down self-absorption. Where do we find that nobler humanity exemplified? In the Ascension, and the incorporation of Christ’s human nature into the mutual love of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And where the Master has gone, the disciples are empowered by grace to follow.
I firmly believe that if we keep this perspective, we will continue to carry on with a renewed sense of energy, leading to a renaissance in Catholic education. There is clear evidence here at MRA, but also in the diocese of Manchester. In fact, one of our own pioneers was recently appointed Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Manchester - David Thibault.
May the intercession of our noble Mother, the Queen of Heaven, open the hearts of the faithful, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit, we can persevere in our pursuit of spiritual excellence and lasting fulfillment.
Yours Truly In Christ,