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Message from the Chaplain

Father John Plass, CNHS chaplain

    Father John Plass,
    CNHS Chaplain

Cardinal Newman High School is particularly blessed. Aside from our impressive community of students, families and teachers here in Sonoma County, we also have a very unique patron in heaven. St. John Henry Newman (1801-1890) lived an uncommonly honest life, guided always by the truth that comes from God. Much of his life's work was devoted to the education of high school students and his writings remain for us a profound mine of insight that can be both challenging and rewarding to us as we traverse the same pathway that he trod "ex umbris et imaginibus in veritatem" (out of shadows and images into the truth).

There is no shortage of shadows and images in our world today. Behind many of our social ills lies a frightening insecurity with respect to the nature of truth. Centuries of breakdown in our philosophical tradition have brought us to the point where many now question the very possibility of there being an objective standard of truth by which to measure our lives. This agnosticism vis-à-vis the truth has resulted in each person defining his or her own personal "truth", which "truths" often end up conflicting with one another. Indeed, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger said on the eve of his election to the papacy, we live today in a "dictatorship of relativism."

While on earth, and already as a teenager, our heavenly patron wrestled with many of these same uncertainties about truth and error, especially in matters of religion. Thanks to the intervention of God's grace in his life, St. John Newman was able to see the path forward to a "real assent" to the truth. Once he had grasped the truth about religion, he was able to confidently make difficult decisions and to defend himself against voices that challenged those decisions. What's more, he took his firm grasp of the truth far and wide since, as he astutely pointed out, "It is one great advantage of an age in which unbelief speaks out, that Faith can speak out too; that, if falsehood assails Truth, Truth can assail falsehood." It is our hope that, inspired by our patron, Cardinal Newman High School will equip our graduates to be strong and courageous voices for the truth in our world today.

As Chaplain, it is my privilege to serve the entire Cardinal Newman community—students, families, faculty and staff—in this joint undertaking of moving from shadows and images to the clear light of truth. Through my classes and other contacts with community members, I seek to guide all of us on the road to heaven in such a way as will also help us to make this world a better place. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me at any time; I always have time to help in any way that I can. In the meantime, please be assured of my prayers for everyone at Cardinal Newman.

In Christ,

Fr. John Plass