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Two Wings: President’s Posts

Two Wings No. 33

By February 17, 2023May 5th, 2023No 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

The Splendor of Truth

In the Shanley High School newsletter yesterday, Principal Fr. Kyle Metzger ‘00 unveiled a new required course for all Shanley Freshmen. Father gave a detailed rationale for this initiative, and his motivation and explanation employ the two wings of faith and reason. Here are the key elements according to Fr. Metzger:

“We are calling the new course ‘Splendor of Truth,’ an intentional reference to Pope St. John Paul II’s encyclical by the same name. This course will be a year-long course on the discipline of Logic, which is one of the three linguistic arts. Interestingly, most English departments go by the name ‘Language Arts,’ but few are aware exactly what those arts are! There are three: grammar, logic, and rhetoric. Strangely, most high schools only teach one of the arts, grammar. Shanley will change that.

“Whereas grammar teaches the student the structure of words and their ordering, logic is the second language art that teaches the student to craft a line of thought into an ordered sequence that follows rationally from one point to the next. It is a skill essential to writing papers, for example, where one needs to propose a thesis statement and then defend it with clear evidence. Since the art of logic is so rarely taught, student writing and reasoning can often devolve into simply asserting ideas haphazardly without any clear rationale. Students of logic will be trained to recognize these illogical lines of thought as logical fallacies.

“We expect this course in logic, intentionally placed early in their high school career, to have positive consequences in all their courses at Shanley and beyond. Training the student to think clearly and sequential, and to write in a controlled and systematic manner will have innumerable benefits.”

I commend Fr. Metzger and the Shanley staff for discerning this need and turning to the “great tradition” embodied in this classical approach to learning.

It’s About Time

Mardi Gras

Tuesday, February 21 is Mardi Gras, literally “Fat Tuesday,” and the final feasting before the fasting of Lent. Savor something delightful in gratitude for the gift of food!

Ash Wednesday

Cold. Wind. Snow. Ice. More wind. We may be well past the point of the winter fatigue. We long for spring. In that case, then, Ash Wednesday is your day, for in English-speaking parts of the world “Lent” means “spring.”

“Lent” is a contraction of the word “Lengthen,” and that’s what daylight is doing. Days are getting longer—to the tune of six minutes each day here in Fargo (three from sunrise and three to sunset). [And, yes, even in English-speaking Australia, where days are getting shorter, it’s still called “Lent.”]

A previous bishop often used the analogy of Lent in the Church and spring training in baseball. Just as pitchers and catchers are reporting to spring training in Arizona or Florida this week and beginning their training regime, so, too, in the church we are called to begin our “spring training” regime. 

But rather than pitching, catching, and batting, we are called to practice our prayer, fasting, and almsgiving more intensely. Just as baseball players prepare for opening day and baseball “immortality,” so we prepare for the eternal glory of Easter by drawing ever closer to the Lord in Lent.

As we report for spring training next Wednesday, may we embrace the Lenten exercises to the glory of God.

Pope Francis’ Lenten Message 2023

Our JPII Catholic Schools’ Lenten theme is drawn from Pope Francis’ 2023 Lenten Message, just released this morning at the Vatican.

He has chosen a two-part reflection on the Transfiguration of Jesus: 1) “Listen to Him” (Mt. 17:5) and 2) “Rise and do not be afraid” (Mt. 17:7b).

The Holy Father first encourages us in the grace-filled season of Lent to listen to Jesus in the Sacred Scriptures, in those in need, and in our brothers and sisters in the Church. Secondly, he encourages us to rise and follow Jesus to Easter glory by preparing for His Passion and Cross with faith, hope, and charity.

Pope Francis enfolds his reflection in the context of the synodal journey to which he has called us.

Here is the full text of his message:

Lent 2023: Lenten Penance and the Synodal Journey | Francis (

President’s Proverb

“One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words.”


Hagstrom’s Attempt At Humor (HAAH!)

Sunday Psalm Sampler

Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

“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: Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time | USCCB

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 103: 1-4, 8, 10, 12-13

Responsorial Refrain: “The Lord is kind and merciful.” (Ps 103:8b)

Chris Brunelle’s YouTube recording: R&A Psalm Seventh Sunday Ordinary Time 2023, Psalm 103 Cycle A – YouTube

Just as Psalm 119 last Sunday, so too is Psalm 103 an acrostic poem. In the latter, however, there are only twenty-two verses rather than 176. Each verse begins with a letter of the Hebrew Alphabet from “Aleph” to “Taw,” so the structural teaching point is evident from the start: “Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all my being, bless his holy name” (119:1). The Psalm’s comprehensive structure reinforces the Psalmist’s desire to bless God with “all my being.” What better way to do so than the use of every letter of the alphabet?

Just as Psalm 119 prefigured Jesus as the fulfillment of the Law (cf. Luke 24:44b), so too is Psalm 103 a vivid foreshadowing of the power of the Paschal Mystery—the Death and Resurrection of the Lord—for “He pardons all your iniquities, heals all your ills. He redeems your life from destruction, crowns you with kindness and compassion” (Psalm 103:3-4).

May we gratefully recall that loving reminder of the Lord’s Divine Mercy this week as we sing,

“The Lord is kind and merciful.”

Mike Hagstrom