October 25, 2014

● First Quarter Report Cards will be emailed to parents on Wednesday.

●Applications to renew tuition assistance are available now. Applications must be postmarked by February 3rd.  http://stmichaelsprep.org/images/stories/Admissions/psas_financial_aid_application.pdf

School pictures were emailed to parents last week. If you did not receive your son’s school photo, please contact Mrs. Christian.

Daylight Savings ends Sunday, November 2nd. Don’t forget to set clocks back one hour.

●Our next Open House is Saturday, November 8th at 3:30. Do you know someone who might be interested in attending St. Michael’s next year?

● Our next cross country meet is Tuesday, October 28, at 2:00 PM, at St. Michael’s.
● Our next football game is Thursday, October 30, at 3:30 PM, at St. Michael’s.

Article by a Norbertine Priest
[The following is an article written by Fr. Sebastian Walshe, a Norbertine of St. Michael’s Abbey.  It first appeared in the English edition of L'Osservatore Romano, the official newspaper of the Vatican.]

The Lord Himself will give you a sign (Isa. 7:14).
“The Church has always had the duty of scrutinizing the signs of the times and of interpreting them in the light of the Gospel.”  These words from the opening paragraphs of Gaudium et Spes find special meaning and application in the present as the Church reflects upon our times in the Synod on the Family.  These signs of the times are to be judged in light of the Gospel, which offers to mankind a sign from beyond time, a revelation from eternity.

Oral Exams
Human life is filled with signs: traffic signs, signs giving directions, signs advertising something.  Our words are signs we use to communicate with one another.  Even facial expressions and clothing are kinds of signs of our interior dispositions that are interwoven with our daily human experiences.  So we find signs everywhere: man-made signs and even natural signs like smoke which is a sign of fire.  Human life would be impossible and unbearable without these signs.

Today there are so many signs and so many kinds of signs that interpreting all of them can get so confusing so quickly.  Nowhere is this more evident than in the modern family.  New reproductive technologies are being developed; public opinion is shifting about the origin, nature and purpose of the family; new laws are everyday being passed.  How should we interpret these signs?  Does the Gospel have anything to say about them?  These are the questions facing the Synod on the Family.

So what does the Gospel have to say about the signs of the times?  First of all, the Gospel teaches us that God too institutes signs.  The Lord Jesus teaches that the Incarnation is intended to be a sign when he says to Philip: “He who has seen me has seen the Father,” (Jn. 14:9).  And so that He might always be with us, Jesus gave us the seven sacraments of the Church as signs of God’s grace.  These signs given by God point beyond ordinary human life to a higher, supernatural life.  The Gospel also teaches us that the things in the natural world are also intended by God to be signs of the supernatural.  Jesus says to Nicodemus: “If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?” (Jn. 3:12).  In other words, unless we understand the meaning of the natural things around us, the “earthly things,” we cannot understand the “heavenly things” of which they are signs.  No one in this life has a direct experience of that supernatural life, so that means the heavenly life is given to us entirely through earthly signs.  Entering into the supernatural life presupposes a knowledge and love of the natural order.  We have no alternative.
The Synod on the Family is now in the process of interpreting these signs anew, trying to help modern man understand them once again, to make them fresh for those who have lost a sense of the sacred in the natural world.  In particular, the Synod is striving to interpret to the world the supernatural significance of the natural family.  The stakes are high.  For unless modern man can recapture the meaning which God has written into the natural human family, the result will be ignorance and error, indifference and animosity, toward the entire supernatural order.

Archery Club
The natural human family itself is a privileged sign intended by God to lead us into supernatural realities.  When we survey the principal mysteries of our faith, we find that they are expressed in terms of relationships within the human family: God is a Father, who has an eternally begotten Son.  This is the foundational truth of our faith.  The relationship of this Son to His Church is that of a bridegroom to his bride.  The love of God for His people is like that of a mother for her infant child.  Moreover, among the seven Sacraments of the Church, the best known is the Sacrament of Matrimony.  It is best known because it is closest to nature, standing as it were on the boundary between the natural and supernatural order.  And so it is the natural beginning point by which souls are lead into the life of grace.  Hence, it was the first sacred sign instituted by God at the origin of our race in paradise, when He united Adam and Eve in marriage.

We read in the Gospel according to St. John that it was at a wedding feast that Jesus first manifested His glory and His disciples first began to believe in Him.  This is not by chance.  The natural beginning of the Christian faith is in the Christian family, and the first sacrament by which children come to believe is the marriage between their parents.  For while habitual faith is infused first at baptism, that faith becomes actual through the witness of the Sacrament of Matrimony.  The Sacrament of Matrimony is the first sign by which Christ is glorified; and children first learn to believe in Christ’s love for them, they first become disciples, through the marriage of their parents.
In the beginning of creation, God blessed each day and called it good.  But on one occasion, it was not good: it was not good for the man to be alone.  Yet once woman was made from man, God said that it was very good.  Every artist has his favorite work of art, and God’s favorite is the human family.  From all eternity, in fact, He understood himself as the Son of Mary, as a member of a human family.  The reason for God’s predilection is that more than the other parts of His creation, the family reflected His own goodness and beauty.  Hence, we cannot know God, we cannot love Him, without knowing and loving the natural human family.  To do so would be tantamount to considering someone beautiful whose accurate reflection in a mirror we consider ugly.

Archery Club
Consider how the modern distortions of the family can lead to distortions in faith.  The indissolubility of marriage is intended to be a sign of God’s eternal and unique love for His Church.  Is it any surprise then that religious pluralism and the denial that there is one Church is widespread in a society in which divorce and remarriage are widespread?  The natural begetting of a child through the loving union of husband and wife is intended to be a sign that God creates each human soul immediately and with love.  This reality is obscured in a society which accepts in vitro fertilization or other artificial means of procreation.  The eternal and natural procession of the Son from the Father is signified by the natural begetting of a child, yet this significance is lost to a society which accepts cloning or other non-natural modes of reproduction.  In such a world, God, if one believes in Him at all, will simply be viewed as a technician, a maker who stands apart from and indifferent to His creation.  And in households where, by design, there is no father or there is no mother, how will the children come to understand God as Father or what it means for God to love us like a mother?  Or how shall the spiritual motherhood of the Church or the Virgin Mary be valued in a society which teaches that mothers are expendable, a non-essential part of a family, which can be replaced by a man?  And when the natural relationship between husband and wife is denied, the purpose of a male priesthood is misunderstood or rendered meaningless.  Pope Francis underlines the significance of a male priesthood when he wrote that it is “a sign of Christ the Spouse who gives Himself in the Eucharist,” (EG 104).  C.S. Lewis put it this way in God in the Dock: “One of the ends for which sex was created was to symbolize to us the hidden things of God. One of the functions of human marriage is to express the nature of the union between Christ and the Church. We have no authority to take the living and semitive figures which God has painted on the canvas of our nature and shift them about as if they were mere geometrical figures.”  Examples could be multiplied but, suffice it to say, a lack of love and esteem for the goodness of the natural family entails a lack of love and esteem for God and the things of heaven.
Archery Club

From this we can see that the natural relationships within a family are not simply a matter of necessity or competence to carry out a function.  They are also indispensable signs of higher realities.  The case of the Holy Family is a striking example of this.  If ever a father and husband were unnecessary and expendable in a family from the perspective of functionality, it was in the Holy Family.  St. Joseph was not necessary to beget or even educate the child.  God was the child’s Father and the Holy Spirit was the Spouse of the Virgin Mary.  St. Joseph was not necessary as a moral or intellectual guide to his spouse who was conceived without original sin, and is acclaimed by the Church as Virgin most prudent, and Seat of Wisdom.  The power of miracles or angelic protection could have sufficed to provide and protect the child and His mother.  Yet in spite of all this, God willed the Holy Family to have a husband and father, and it was through St. Joseph that He guided the Holy Family in the early years of the life of Jesus.  In the one case where God could have done without a husband and father, He chose not to.  Grace builds upon, preserves and perfects nature, even in its most extraordinary manifestations.

The Lord Himself has given us the sign of the human family: the almah, the maiden under a guardian, who shall bear a Son and call Him Emmanuel, “God is with us.”  Indeed, if we cherish and believe in this sign, God shall be with us, and we with Him.

 Prayer Requests
● For Mrs. Donna Loeffler, who is undergoing some health problems.

● For all the benefactors of St. Michael’s Preparatory School, living and deceased.


October 18, 2014

●First Quarter Oral Exams are this Tuesday, October 21 through Friday, October 24.  Students are encouraged to study; parents are encouraged to pray.  First quarter report cards will be emailed to parents some time around October 30.

●Applications to renew tuition assistance are available now. Applications must be postmarked by February 3rd.  http://stmichaelsprep.org/images/stories/Admissions/psas_financial_aid_application.pdf

● Congratulations to Coach Meschuk and the football team on their recent victory over Laverne Lutheran! The next football game is Friday, October 24, against Avalon [Catalina Island], at 5:00 PM.  Parents are welcome to pick up their sons from St. Michael’s on Saturday morning, if they wish.
● Congratulations to Fr. Alan and the cross country team on their excellence performance these past weeks! The next cross country meet is on Friday, October 24, at 3:30, at Mt SAC [20900 W. Temple Ave, Walnut, CA 91789].

Sermon by a Norbertine Priest
“I used to discuss with my brother how we could become martyrs.  We settled to go together to the country of the Moors, begging our way for the love of God, that we might be there beheaded.” 

St. Therese of Avila desired at the age of seven to be martyred.  She determined to run away with her brother in search of the Moors or Muslims who had invaded much of Spain from Africa throughout the centuries and had killed many Christians. Since she had read in the lives of the saints how many Christians and saints had received the crown of martyrdom at the hands of the Moors, she thought “this was a very cheap way”, as she put it, “to purchase the vision of God”.  Although her attempt to become a martyr was thwarted by her uncle, who caught St. Theresa and her bother making their escape just outside of the city walls, she would have undoubtedly been inspired to do this after reading about St. James the Apostle and his conflicts with the Moors in Spain. 

At the Battle of Clavijo, in the 9th Century, the Moors had demanded a yearly tribute of 100 Christian maidens from the Spaniards and, in return, the Moors promised not to attack them.  The Christian King Ramiro I refused to pay the tribute and called on Christian knights to march against the Muslim Moors.  The Christians were surprised to find an immense army of Moorish troops and were forced to take refuge in the castle at Clavijo.  That night King Ramiro had a vision that would change the tide of the battle for Spanish Catholics and be a source of hope and inspiration to them for centuries.  King Ramiro said “I was sleeping, when the blessed Santiago appeared to me.  He assured me he was Santiago (or St. James), the blessed Apostle and that God had entrusted him with the guardianship of Spain”.  He continued, “Be courageous, I will assist you tomorrow to vanquish your enemies.  However, many of your soldiers will be destined for eternal rest and will receive the crown of martyrdom during your struggle for the name of Christ.  Therefore, at dawn, after receiving the sacrament of penance with the confession of sins, after receiving the Body and Blood of the Lord in the Mass, do not be afraid to challenge the Moor’s, invoking God’s name and mine, and be certain that they will fall by the edge of the sword.”  After preparing for battle, as the Apostle had ordered, they attacked, using “Santiago” for the first time as a war cry.  As Santiago had promised,  he appeared in the middle of the battle as a great white knight, with a white banner on a white horse crushing the enemy and leading the Christians to victory.”  Earning the title “Santiago Matamoros” or St. James the Moor slayer. 

St. Theresa would have been well aware of this tradition and, during her own lifetime, of the tribute paid to Santiago Matamoros by Don John of Austria who travelled to the tomb of the Apostle in Compostela after he defeated the Muslim Turks at the Battle of Lepanto.  However, as the victory at Lepanto was attributed to those praying the Holy Rosary far from the conflict, St. Theresa discovered that her crown would not be a martyr’s but that of a virgin forged through prayer within the walls of the cloister.  Nevertheless, the efficacy of her prayer life does not pale in comparison to those knights who fought courageously and confidently at the side of Santiago the Moor slayer in the battle of Clavijo.    

In St. Theresa’s autobiography she tells us about the graces she receives through her life of prayer.  She say’s “Seeing, then, that our Lord is so powerful, — as I see and know He is, — and that the evil spirits are His slaves, of which there can be no doubt, because it is of faith, — and I a servant of this our Lord and King, — what harm can Satan do unto me? Why have I not strength enough to fight against all hell? I took up the cross in my hand, — I was changed in a moment into another person, and it seemed as if God had really given me courage enough not to be afraid of encountering all the evil spirits” (Ch. XXV. "Divine Locutions. Discussions on That Subject" ¶ 24).

Coach Aaron Meschuk
I feared them so little, that the terrors, which until now oppressed me, quitted me altogether; and though I saw them occasionally, I was never again afraid of them — on the contrary, they seemed to be afraid of me. I found myself endowed with a certain authority over them, given me by the Lord of all, so that I cared no more for them than for flies. They seem to be such cowards; for their strength fails them at the sight of anyone who despises them. These enemies have not the courage to assail any but those whom they see ready to give in to them, or when God permits them to do so, for the greater good of His servants, whom they may try and torment” (Ch. XXV. "Divine Locutions. Discussions on That Subject").

Several controversies have developed surrounding these two extraordinary Spanish saints through the centuries.  One concerning Santiago Matamoros or St. James the Moor Slayer was relatively recent.  Officials of the cathedral at Santiago de Compostela wanted to remove a statue of the saint in the cathedral that depicts him on a white horse slaying the Moors.  However, a public outcry, fueled by an bombing attack in Madrid by radical Muslims in 2004, prevented them from removing it.

Another controversy developed in 1622, after St. Theresa’s canonization, over who would be Spain’s patron saint;  The Apostle, Santiago or the Mystic, St. Theresa of Jesus.  Let us trust in the intercession and protection of both of these great saints.  Asking St. James the Moor Slayer to defend our fellow Christians being persecuted in the Middle East and ask St. Theresa to intercede for us so that we might trust in the efficacy of our prayers far from the conflict for those who risk martyrdom by beheading.  

 Prayer Requests
● For Mrs. Donna Loeffler, who is undergoing some health problems.

● For all the benefactors of St. Michael’s Preparatory School, living and deceased.