“The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
Day pours out the word to day,
and night to night imparts knowledge” - Psalm 19:2
One of the fondest but shortest experiences of my life thus far is the time I spent at Camp Fatima. Looking back, I wonder why it even occurred to me that I should go there the summer after my first year teaching here: it was a highly illogical decision. We married in May of 2009 and then I thought it prudent to ask my wife to live at an all boys camp with me for the summer. My poor wife left the comforts of a home where we could rest and eat our own food, to live in a rustic cabin behind a basketball court and eat cafeteria food three times a day. I think we were vegetarians at the time too so all we ate that summer was veggie burgers. I am sure I haven’t eaten a veggie burger since then!
It was there at Camp Fatima that I encountered the series of historical events which I myself never learned as a child. I use the word historical events very intentionally. You see, faith is not an irrational act made by pious believers who cannot come up with a scientifically verifiable explanation for how the world works. Believing in the divinely ordained role of the Blessed Virgin Mary isn’t something that religious people manufacture because we refuse to accept the authority of science in determining how humanity ought to act in this world.
Those three children were docile to an authority outside of themselves, and that is as natural as breathing. Whatever we do is likely done because someone told us it was a good thing to do. Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco were docile to the right person; they were willing to be taught by a heavenly figure despite the hostile aggressions of other authorities around them - authorities who sought to discredit their stories and discount their credibility as reliable witnesses.
Who should we be docile to today? What would happen if Mary appeared to us now? Would we seek to explain it away using the scientific scalpel that is so often touted as absolute truth? Or, would we do the unscientific thing and believe the testimony of a heavenly figure?
Here is the crux of the question: Should we have faith in the authority of revealed truth or should we have faith in the authority of absolute science? Shouldn’t science confirm what God has revealed in salvation history? Or should science only seek to explain away what God has revealed?
I thought truth and science were on the same team! Am I mistaken?
The number one reason young people are leaving their faith is because they think science is the answer. They report that witnesses of the faith cannot give an intellectual account of why God exists, an answer to the problem of suffering, nor a rationale for the distinctiveness of the Christian religion. What is to be done about this? I think the more important question is this: What is the one thing you want your children to know in the bones of their being? Do you want them to know that science is the measure of truth? Or do you want them to know that Truth is the measure of truth?
The one thing I want my children to know is that they are made for the highest Good, God Himself. Every good we do now orders our existence to Him. Science confirms this but it sure doesn’t explain it, nor does it need to prove it.
God made each child so unique that we have a scientific code of our own: DNA. Do you know who helped discover DNA? A Dominican nun: Sister Miriam. She must have been religious! But she was also scientific! Which first, you think? Religious or scientific? Does it really matter? Is not each person a human being wonderfully made for union with God? Why do we always have to use descriptors that reduce this reality away from heaven and into this world?
God assumed our human condition and gave us all we need to know the truth: Jesus is God incarnate, the Word made flesh, truth in a human body. I would think that if God, the Author of all truth, had something to say, then we should have a listen. We should be docile to the Author of the world we live in lest we start to think we alone know what to do with it. We humans do not have the best track record of using science for good.
Believing that the sun danced on this day (October 13) in Portugal: highly logical.
The definition of a miracle is the suspension of laws of nature. Mary promised a sign to those three docile and faithful children and she delivered on her promise. The sun literally danced in the sky for tens of thousands of people to see, and their testimonies regarding the woman in white have been confirmed by history. That sounds like true knowledge to me. The world saw it and then attempted to eradicate it from the historical record. Fatima should be the most famous story of modernity. Instead, it has been relegated to a pious belief espoused by unscientific people (by the way, Google put that article first in the search!). Everything told to them that was going to happen, happened. Communism rose and collapsed, there was an attempted assassination on the Pope, yet Mary remains a mother to us all.
This confirms for me that heaven is the last word. Heaven is the goal. And it remains a major priority for us parents to make sure that our children know how to be docile to the rightful authority of us all: Truth. Heaven is communion with God and God is Truth. Science is just a field of knowledge in the total body of knowledge to be discovered by sharing our common human experience with each other.
Back in college I used to eagerly await Pope Benedict XVI’s Wednesday audience addresses. He had such a lucid way of integrating so many forms of knowledge into a catechetical teaching, and I can admit at the time I was much like many young people seeking an intellectual basis for the ascent of faith. The name of the building where I studied science in college was Albertus Magnus - St. Albert the Great. During a Wednesday audience in 2010, Pope Benedict XVI had this to say about the great scientist-saint-doctor of the Church:
“Above all, St Albert shows that there is no opposition between faith and science, despite certain episodes of misunderstanding that have been recorded in history. A man of faith and prayer, as was St Albert the Great, can serenely foster the study of the natural sciences and progress in knowledge of the micro- and macrocosm, discovering the laws proper to the subject, since all this contributes to fostering thirst for and love of God...
St Albert the Great reminds us that there is friendship between science and faith and that through their vocation to the study of nature, scientists can take an authentic and fascinating path of holiness..”
The Lady in dazzling white said these words to the children at Fatima: "Each time you say the rosary, my children, say after each decade, ‘O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of Hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especially those most in need'." May we make this prayer each day of our lives for the conversion of sinners and the redemption of our souls.
- Mr. Derek Tremblay, Headmaster