MCCHS FRIDAY FOCUS
167th EDITION: October 9, 2020
From the Desk of Rev. Jared Twenty
As it turns out, there’s an election coming up...who knew?!
Jokes aside, we all know how important an election is for our country, and how tense the current political climate is right now about November 3, 2020.
Far be it from me to presume to be an expert and lecture anyone on politics. However, as the Spiritual Director of Marian Central, you should expect that I provide you, not with my own thoughts and opinions, but the authentic teaching of the Church, in communion with the Bishop and the Pope, through which we might have well formed consciences as we approach the voting booth.
To that end, I highly recommend the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) document, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship. Without summarizing the whole thing, I just want to highlight and briefly comment on three quotes from the recently written Introductory Letter.
“For all Catholics, including those seeking public office, our participation in political parties or other groups to which we may belong should be influenced by our faith, not the other way around.”
The point is subtle, but challenging. Each of us has to honestly ask ourselves: Which comes first? Faith or politics? God or country? To be sure, the two need not be in opposition. But for the Christian, they can only truly work in harmony when Christ comes first.
And so I can ask myself: Do I begin by allowing Christ and His Church to form my conscience (not to “tell me who to vote for” but guide me in the moral principles that affect my political choices)? Or, do I rather start from the framework of my political ideology, thus narrowing the influence of my faith to merely becoming a sort of divine stamp of approval on my previously established opinions?
Priests are often told that either: 1) they should never talk about politics, or 2) they should tell everyone else who they have to vote for. Both are wrong. Both misunderstand the proper relationship between the authority of the Church and the role of conscience. The Church is not an expert in political science. She is, however, the expert in faith and morals, since she has received from Christ the authority to speak on these issues in His name (“He who hears you hears me,” Luke 10:16). Therefore, as a priest I don’t refrain from telling the faithful who to vote for because I’m “scared to speak the truth” or because I want to “protect the Church’s tax exempt status.” Rather, I refrain because that’s not my job. On the flip side, I not only have the right but the responsibility to speak about the moral implications of our political engagement so that those spiritually entrusted to me might more clearly attune their consciences to the voice of Christ.
“The threat of abortion remains our preeminent priority because it directly attacks life itself, because it takes place within the sanctuary of the family, and because of the number of lives destroyed. At the same time, we cannot dismiss or ignore other serious threats to human life and dignity such as racism, the environmental crisis, poverty, and the death penalty.”
Here the bishops simply affirm the clear and consistent teaching of the last four popes on the pro-life issue in contrast to the common confusion in our contemporary debates. Protection of the unborn is a “preeminent priority.” It is not a side issue among many, it’s central. Nevertheless, it is not the only issue. It is not the only threat to human dignity. Other concerns such as racism, environmental degradation, poverty, and capital punishment are also “serious threats.”
Being pro-life certainly includes engaging in the political sphere to change public policy, but it is so much more than that. It means working to bring about change at a more fundamental level. It means changing what Pope St. John Paul II called the “culture of death” and what Pope Francis has referred to as the “culture of waste” – a culture that has the audacity to view as expendable any human person or group of people, created in the image and likeness of God, of incalculable worth and dignity. It means changing hearts and minds. It means proclaiming the Gospel. It means following the Great Commission to “make disciples of all nations,” (Matthew 28:19).
“Our commitment as people of faith to imitate Christ’s love and compassion should challenge us to serve as models of civil dialogue, especially in a context where discourse is eroding at all levels of society. Where we live, work, and worship, we strive to understand before seeking to be understood, to treat with respect those with whom we disagree, to dismantle stereotypes, and to build productive conversation in place of vitriol.”
When it comes to political discourse and dialogue, Christians are to exhibit the utmost civility and charity. Consider St. Peter, who wrote to the earliest Christians, “Give honor to all, love the community, fear God, honor the King,” (1 Peter 2:17). Or St. Paul, who wrote, “I ask that supplications, prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone, for kings and for all in authority, that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life in all devotion and dignity,” (1 Timothy 2:1-2). Keep in mind that both of these men were writing to Christians who were persecuted by the state, and they themselves were eventually martyred by the “kings” that they called on others to pray for. They did not exhibit a spirit of division, hatred, or vitriol, but of peace, mercy, and charity. Far from being the result of a cowardly fear of opposition, this charitable spirit was rather the direct result of their love for Christ and their obedience to His command to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” (Matthew 5:44). How sad it would be if Christians lost their commitment to this command, following the foolish way of the world which only seeks to gain power.
Whether we’re voting early or waiting until November 3rd, we all need to prepare. I hope you get the chance to read Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship as you do. But above all make sure to pray, discern, and be charitable.
First Quarter Grading Information
Next week is the last week of the first quarter! That came fast, didn't it? Quarter 1 ends on Friday, October 16. All students should be checking the grading portal to review their grades for the quarter. All work should be completed and turned in and students should be communicating directly with their teachers for help.
Semester Grades are calculated as follows:
Each of the two quarter letter grades for a course counts two-fifths (Q1 40%, Q2 40%) and the semester exam counts one-fifth (20%). For a student to pass a course s/he must pass two of the three segments (Q1, Q2, sem exam). If a student fails two of the three segments, s/he will earn a grade of “F” for the course.
Quarter 2 begins on Monday, October 19 at which time students’ grades will be reset.
With early application deadlines approaching quickly, I’d like to ask that any students applying to colleges that require a counselor letter of recommendation submit their transcript request forms for only those schools to Mrs. Diamond no later than Thursday, October 15th.
Transcript request forms can be picked up in the Guidance Office or found online on the Guidance Department’s Website: https://sites.google.com/view/mcchsguidance/transcript-request-form?authuser=0
Those students should also complete their Counselor Letter of Recommendation Questionnaires in SCOIR no later than Thursday, October 15th. When completing these, students should provide 1-2 solid paragraph responses to Questions 2-8 (and 9, only if applicable).
If you don’t know if a college that you’re applying to requires a counselor recommendation, please see/contact Mrs. Diamond so she can give you that info!
Note: Students do not need to have applied to these schools before submitting transcript request forms. Their applications can still be “in progress” and can be submitted on or before the schools’ application deadlines.
Next Week's College Visits
All juniors and seniors may attend these virtual visits. Students must receive permission from their teachers to attend each visit and must sign up for all visits in SCOIR. Students learning remotely on the day(s) of any visits will be sent links to access the presentations through their Marian Central email accounts.
Week of 10/12 - 10/16
Thursday, Oct. 15: St. Xavier University, Viterbo University, University of MN-Twin Cities, University of Denver, St. Ambrose, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Friday, Oct. 16: UW-LaCrosse, Milwaukee School of Engineering, St. Mary's College (Indiana)
Conferences with teachers will take place virtually this year on
Thursday, October 22nd
from 5:00 - 8:00 pm and
Friday, October 23rd
from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm.
Scheduling of conferences begins at 9:00 am on Tuesday, October 13th and ends at 3:00 pm on Friday, October 16th. For scheduling information and additional details, please click here.
Sweater season will be here soon! Per the student handbook:
“Sweater Season begins November 2, 2020 and ends as we leave for Spring Break on March 26, 2021. During this season, students are expected to wear school uniform sweaters OR red fleece quarter-zip jackets and uniform slacks. Shorts and polos are not permitted during this season."
Napoli Lunch Orders
Adoration: Daily during lunch periods
Confession: Daily at 2:40 pm
Mass: Daily at 3:00 pm
Senior retakes will also take place on these days.