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Two Wings: President’s Posts

Two Wings No. 100

By May 31, 2024No Comments

“Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth—in a word, to know Himself—so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves.”

–St. John Paul II Preface to Fides et Ratio


Fides et Ratio Reflections


                 St. Justin, Martyr

Tomorrow, we remember St. Justin, Martyr, the Patron Saint of Philosophers, and early exemplar of the “Two Wings” of Faith and Reason.

Born in the Holy Land circa 100 AD, he was a well-educated lay philosopher who embraced the Christian faith in his early thirties. He was one of the first Christian thinkers to engage in philosophical dialogues with non-Christians, making the case for following the Truth: Jesus Christ. He and six companions were martyred in 166, having refused to deny their faith in Christ.

He also gave us some of the first detailed descriptions of the Rite of Baptism and of the celebration of the Eucharist, written for non-believers.

In Fides et Ratio, St. John Paul II describes St. Justin this way:

“A pioneer of positive engagement with philosophical thinking—albeit with cautious discernment—was Saint Justin. Although he continued to hold Greek philosophy in high esteem after his conversion, Justin claimed with power and clarity that he had found in Christianity ‘the only sure and profitable philosophy’” (No. 38).

St. John Paul II also emphasized the powerful witness of martyrs for the Truth: “the martyrs…are the most authentic witnesses to the truth about existence. The martyrs know that they have found the truth about life in the encounter with Jesus Christ, and nothing and no-one could ever take this certainty from them. Neither suffering nor violent death could ever lead them to abandon the truth which they have discovered in the encounter with Christ. This is why to this day the witness of the martyrs continues to arouse such interest, to draw agreement, to win such a hearing and to invite emulation. This is why their word inspires such confidence: from the moment they speak to us of what we perceive deep down as the truth we have sought for so long, the martyrs provide evidence of a love that has no need of lengthy arguments in order to convince. The martyrs stir in us a profound trust because they give voice to what we already feel and they declare what we would like to have the strength to express” (No. 32).

For the courage to witness to the Truth, namely Jesus Christ, we invoke this courageous martyr. St. Justin, Martyr: “Pray for us.”



It’s About Time


May 29 & 30 Anniversaries

        St. Mary’s Cathedral

On May 29, I gathered with some like-minded friends to celebrate the 150th birthday of G. K. Chesterton. I believe the Latin term for a 150th is a “Sesquicentennial.” In any event, it was a delightful evening.

Since the early 1990s I have been a member of a local “Chesterton Society,” an ecumenical discussion group that meets at the intersection of faith and reason in the amicable, insightful, and gracious spirit of G. K. Chesterton.

If you have not heard Roxane Salonen’s podcast interview with me about Chesterton and why he is worth remembering and celebrating, you can listen here:

Matters of Soul Importance with Roxane Salonen (

Then, on May 30, I attended the 125th Anniversary Mass for the dedication of St. Mary’s Cathedral in Fargo. It was also the “Sesquicentennial” of John Shanley’s ordination to the priesthood.

In his homily, Bishop John Folda said of the Cathedral’s grandeur, “There are many artistic treasures here. But I think you’ll agree with me that the greatest treasure of all is Jesus Christ—present in the Blessed Sacrament.”

With Corpus Christi this Sunday, we should indeed count our blessings for the great gift of the Lord’s abiding and substantial Presence.

Happy anniversary to the parishioners of St. Mary’s Cathedral and to the faithful of the Fargo Diocese!


The Visitation

Today is the Feast of the Visitation, celebrating the newly pregnant Blessed Virgin Mary’s visit to her pregnant cousin, Elizabeth.

In the Gospel reading at Mass this morning, we heard Mary’s Magnificat, a poem of praise which the Rev. James T. O’Connor exalts as the prime example of God’s wisdom in giving us poets.

He explains in his book, The Hidden Manna, “When she had given to the Lord of Hosts the flesh that would become our Bread, Wisdom caused her to break into a poem of praise, a song repeated by more people than probably any other composed.” Indeed, her song of joy has been sung daily in evening prayer for millennia.

As Corpus Christi Sunday approaches, it is well worth prayerfully reciting it again:

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for He has looked with favor on His lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is His Name.
He has mercy on those who fear Him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of His arm,
He has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich He has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of His servant Israel
for He has remembered His promise of mercy,
the promise He made to our fathers,
to Abraham and His children forever.
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen



The Diocese of Fargo will be celebrating two ordinations this weekend at Sts. Anne & Joachim Catholic Church.

Tonight at 7:00 pm, Mr. Timothy Kraemer will be ordained a Transitional Deacon.

Tomorrow at 10:00 am, Deacon Seth Skjervheim will be ordained a priest.

Fr. Skjervheim will be serving as Parochial Vicar at St. Michael’s Church in Grand Forks, which has an excellent Catholic school in our diocesan Catholic schools family.

Congratulations to both Ordinands. Prayers for them in their life of service to the people of God in the Diocese of Fargo.



President’s Proverb


“If it’s just a symbol, then to hell with it.”

–Flannery O’Connor on the Eucharist




Hagstrom’s Attempt At Humor (HAAH!)



Sunday Psalm Sampler


Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Year B)


“Everything written about Me in the Law of Moses and in the Prophets and in the Psalms must be fulfilled.”

–Luke 24:44b


Lectionary Readings: The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ | USCCB

Responsorial Psalm:Ps 116:12-13, 15-18

Responsorial Refrain: “I will take the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord.” (Ps 116:13)

Chris Brunelle’s YouTube recording: R&A Psalm The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi), 2024 (

Psalm 116 is most fitting for Corpus Christi—rich as it is in Eucharistic themes such as thanksgiving, deliverance, and offering sacrifice. Moreover, the “land of the living” indicates a liturgical setting “in the presence of all his people, in the courts of the house of the LORD, in your midst, O Jerusalem.”

The other readings today also point to the New and Everlasting Covenant renewed in and through the institution of the Eucharist, the heart of our faith and our participation in the Paschal Mystery.

This week, may we seek nourishment and strength for our journey, following in the path of the Lord’s self-sacrificing love as we sing in the assembly of the faithful, “I will take the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord.”





Mike Hagstrom

Mike Hagstrom was named President of St. John Paul II Catholic Schools and Director of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Fargo on March 15, 2016 and assumed office on July 1, 2016. When he applied for the position, he wrote that his “approach would be that of stewardship of the great gift of Catholic Schools. With the help of God’s Grace and all our stakeholders we can be good stewards together, seeing that our schools not only merely survive, but also thrive. For they are designed for human flourishing, forming as we do the whole person, each and every student, made in God’s image and likeness, endowed with a transcendent dignity and destiny.” Prior to this role, he taught Religion and served in a number of other leadership capacities at Shanley High School for 31 years. There, he embraced St. Bede’s notion that “I have always found delight in learning, teaching, and writing.” Mike earned his B.A. in English and M.A. in Systematic Theology from Saint John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota. He and his wife, Shawn, have two children (Therese ’08 and Joseph ’16) and two grandchildren (James and Oliver).