Excelsior! This Latin word (meaning ‘higher’) is the theme for St. Mary’s Academy this school year.
To express this theme of strong desire and upward movement, the holy card features Pier-Giorgio Frassati, an avid mountaineer and Catholic social activist in Italy at the beginning of the last century. Pier-Giorgio has been nicknamed “The Man of the Beatitudes,” and he is pictured on the holy card in the middle of his last climb, just days before he died of polio in his mid-twenties. He is thus a fitting model for the faculty and students of the Academy, as we try to rise ever higher in our practice of all the virtues - intellectual, moral, social, and theological - which lead to our beatitude. The back of the holy card further develops the theme of Excelsior with two quotations. The one from Fr. Mateo expresses it from a more negative standpoint: “Fear one thing only: mediocrity.” This mediocrity or lukewarmness of soul is the antithesis of Excelsior, and we know that Our Lord threatens to “vomit out of his mouth” those who are neither hot nor cold in following His commands and promoting His Kingship in themselves and the world. The other quotation is from Scripture (“Friend, go up higher”) and encapsulates the more positive side of our theme. To those who are striving and fighting, who are cooperating with God’s grace so as to merit that constant increase in holiness and virtue, God does not threaten, but rather He gives strength and encouragement. He inspires us onward, not just as our Creator and Savior, but as our heavenly Father, and yes even as the truest and most profound Friend of our soul, for we are called to participate in His own life, and to share with Him all that we have received. “Friend, go up higher.” How encouraging! May we all grow in this friendship with Christ, even as Pier-Giorgio did, and spur each other on, higher and higher towards the peak of the mount of holiness and virtue. Excelsior!