Dear Member of the De La Salle Community:
As we approach the end of the second month of the return to school, I wish to first thank the many parents and students who have expressed to me their gratitude for our efforts to try to give our students a decent school experience in the midst of the continuing pandemic. We would like to be able to do more, but public health restrictions do not allow us to be doing more at this time. Let us hope that the current troubling trends begin to take on an improved direction so that we can consider a return to our regular school life. For now, patience, a good attitude and common sense are the best remedies.
Some teachers, students and parents have inquired of me about the Holy Father’s recent comments regarding civil unions in a documentary that was released in Europe a week or so ago and now in North America. It is always important to know that the Church has a precious gift in what is referred to as the Deposit of Faith, our collective beliefs, outlined clearly in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, a compilation of the Church’s Magisterium. This articulation of the Faith is not some stale and unusable text. It is intended to be studied, learned and applied to our daily life as Christians to the best of our ability. Every serious Catholic should possess a copy. As well, schools and parishes are untrusted with the task of instructing the faithful in the teachings of the Church.
In addition to the Catechism, there are from time to time, various forms of instruction made available to the faithful. These may be encyclicals, exhortations, and policy statements issued from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith or the Holy Father. Matters such as the issue of civil unions for persons of same-sex attraction have been addressed with clarity and charity in a document promulgated by the Holy See in 2003 – “Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions of Homosexual Persons”. It is definitive and clear. For those sincerely interested in what the Church teaches about this particular matter, I highly recommend that people take the time to read the document.
We all live in a world saturated by social media. Some of it is good, and some is bad. It seems to me that we would all benefit from some good old-fashioned advice when it comes to what we choose to say and what we choose to write in and for the public forum. We have all, from time to time, had to reflect on the words we have used or chosen when talking to others, writing emails and leaving telephone messages, using Facebook, Snapchat, Tik Tok and the like. Before social media began to permeate our lives, those of us of a certain vintage can remember saying things that we would rather not have said if we had the chance to do it over. I can think of times when in anger or haste, I said really confusing and harmful things to my parents, siblings, colleagues and others. There have definitely been times when, as an administrator and religious superior, I failed to provide clear direction because I did not consider the weight and nuances of what I communicated. It is incumbent on those in authority, especially to exercise their responsibility, keeping in due consideration the need to lessen unnecessary uncertainty and anxiety when communicating ideas, opinions and instruction to others. Granted, this is not always easy, but it is necessary. We sometimes forget that while the Church must involve Herself in the affairs of life in this world, it must also hold firm to the belief that the Church and its teachings are of supernatural origin.
Yet, in today’s world of the instantaneous dissemination of information and communication, it is even more important to be prudent and discreet as words can appear literally across the planet in a matter of seconds. I was taught that we must watch over our thoughts because, at some point, our thoughts become the words we use. We can all benefit from remembering that the source of our thoughts needs to be found in a genuine pursuit for truth and goodness. As believers, we must look for this goodness in the life of Jesus Christ, our Faith, the Eucharist and the good example of others. We must also be careful not to misspend our words before those who only wish to devour them for their own appetites, as our Lord reminds us in Matthew Chapter Seven. It is naïve to believe that there exists always and in every circumstance a possibility of honest dialogue and attainable consonance on every issue we must face in a world which, in essence, rejects the Gospel. “Whom would you say I am trying to please at this point – men or God? Is this how I seek to ingratiate myself with men? If I were trying to win man’s approval, I would surely not be serving Christ.”(Galatians 1:10)
Our own Founder reminds the Brothers against this often strong impulse. He is very clear to us about the need to prepare carefully our words and what we teach. My experience tells me this is very good advice. It is sadly too obvious that social media tends to diminish the meaning and trivialize events too much. Some are of the view that this is just the way we need to communicate or interact with society today. Not all things, let us say those matters of real importance to our lives and to our souls deserve a certain “gravitas” or seriousness and should never be reduced to sound bites for easy consumption or shallow attempts to explain complex issues. Perhaps, I am not with it, but I am increasingly disturbed that too many of us in the Church have bought into adopting the ways of the world in the belief, mistaken in my view, that we must always leave people where they are rather than bring people to a better destination. Christ is King of the world but a world redeemed by his life, death and resurrection.
Finally, as we move into the month of November, let us take time to pray for our deceased relatives, benefactors and friends. Our Catholic Faith tells us that this is a good and salutary thing to do. We do well to remember the good they have done for us, the living. We pray in gratitude and hope that they, the dead to this world, have found peace and the fullness of joy in the Kingdom, the reward for all God’s faithful ones. We ask them to intercede for us in the belief and hope that we, too, will someday be deemed faithful.
Brother Domenic, fsc