"At the time of her death,
Mary “having completed the course of her earthly life,
was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.”
- Pope Pius XII, Munificentissimus Deus, 1950
Sometimes (most times, in my experience) it is hard to “hear” God speaking to us. Other times, it is as if he delivers his message with a baseball bat to the head. The past two days for me have been the baseball bat scenario.
As I was talking to him about what to write in this welcome message, trying not to rehash stale old sentiments about back to school excitement, he clearly showed me that I need to speak about the Blessed Mother and St. John Bosco, with a little bit of St. Peter thrown in for good measure. Repeatedly and clearly. I got the message.
I am writing this on the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Mother, the beautiful feast that celebrates Mary being assumed, body and soul, into heaven at the end of her earthly life. At a recent retreat for diocesan school leaders, a priest shared that early in his priesthood, although he had a fondness for the Blessed Mother, he was afraid of having “too much Mary” because she might overshadow Jesus. He came to realize, though, that there can never be “too much Mary.” In fact, he found that the more he loved and honored the Blessed Mother, the closer he got to her Son.
A question I like to ask my students when we are discussing Mary (it is a trick question, but I think they forgive me for it) is “Was Mary necessary?”
Well, God is God, and he can do all things, right? He didn’t need Mary. He could have come to earth without subjecting himself to life as an infant needing the constant care of a mother. He could have chosen to come to earth at any age, in any circumstance. But, he chose to subject himself to a human mother and become the most vulnerable of all humankind – an infant. No, God didn’t need Mary, but he chose to make her necessary to Jesus and to us, which is profoundly significant.
Mary’s ultimate purpose is to bring us closer to Jesus. She was the conduit by which God sent his Son to us, and she is the sure and easy path back to Him. She is God’s gift to us.
There is so much to say about her, but I will leave it at this. Our school was founded by a group of people with a particular and profound devotion to the Blessed Mother. Our school has been consecrated to her and is under her protection and guidance. She is our anchor, securing us safely to the Truth, who is her Son.
St. John Bosco has been on my mind lately, too, but in a very powerful way in the past two days. This dream of his was brought to my attention several times, as well as this quote: “Young people should not only be loved but should also know that they are loved.” You may recognize this quote from a certain Headmaster’s email signature.
Our school employs John Bosco’s Preventive Method for teaching, forming, and interacting with youth. We will be taking a deeper dive into this method before school starts, with training from one of the Salesian Sisters of John Bosco’s order. To quote the article above, “The technique of the preventive method consists chiefly in kindly supervision with the aim of building character and guarding against harmful influences: the conjunction of vigilance and familial affection, to prevent infractions rather than punish them. “This system,” the saint writes, “is based entirely on reason, religion, and kindness.””
At the retreat, we were asked to have a vision of what we would like our school to be, and to keep this vision in mind when the difficult times come. It will help us to stay the course, make good decisions, and not get discouraged.
Similar to Peter walking on the water to Jesus. As long as Peter kept his eyes on Jesus, he could do the impossible. Once he noticed the wind and waves and took his focus away from Our Lord, Peter sank. So it is with us.
My vision of the ideal school wasn’t far off from what Mount Royal Academy currently has in place – a robust classical curriculum, teachers with a heart for their students, a vibrant and caring community, and most of all a solid Catholic identity, built on a foundation of Marian devotion and governed by the loving kindness of St. John Bosco’s method.
It is wonderful to behold what God has created here at Mount Royal Academy.
Enjoy the remaining days of summer. It will be so good to be with you all again soon! - Mrs. Lisa Sweet, Academic Dean