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Two Wings: President’s Posts

Two Wings No. 52

By June 30, 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

Blaise Pascal

Last week, I welcomed and introduced Pope Francis’ new Apostolic Letter on Blaise Pascal and the example his life provides for the two wings of faith and reason:

Apostolic Letter “Sublimitas et Miseria Hominis” of the Holy Father Francis on the Fourth Centenary of the Birth of Blaise Pascal (19 June 2023) | Francis (

Early in the letter, the Holy Father highlights Pascal’s “fundamental attitude of awe and openness to all of reality.”

He then notes Pascal’s focus on his neighbor in need as part of that attitude about reality: “This openness to the world around him kept him concerned for others even in his final illness, at only thirty-nine years of age. At this, the last stage of his earthly pilgrimage, he is reported to have said: ‘If the physicians tell the truth, and God grants that I recover from this sickness, I am resolved to have no other work or occupation for the rest of my life except to serve the poor.’  It is moving to realize that in the last days of his life, so great a genius as Blaise Pascal saw nothing more pressing than the need to devote his energies to works of mercy: ‘The sole object of Scripture is charity.’”

May we imitate Pascal’s openness to all of reality–especially our neighbors in need as we celebrate the blessings of liberty in our land. May we use our freedom virtuously in serving the poor.

It’s About Time

Rome Pilgrims

Shanley Rome Pilgrims outside St. Mary Major Basilica

We have 29 members of the Class of 2024 in transit home today as part of our annual Rome pilgrimage sponsored by the University of Mary. That number of pilgrims is 32 percent of next year’s Senior class, and that bodes well for the coming school year as leaders at Shanley High School.

The opportunities our students have in this program are simply breath-taking:

The Colosseum, St. Paul’s Outside the Walls, St. Peter’s, the Vatican Museum, St. John Lateran, Scala Sancta, Catacombs, Monte Cassino, Assisi, Siena, Orvieto, and Papal Audiences. One of the annual trip highlights is attending the Mass for the Solemnity of Sts. Pater and Paul on June 29. May the graces they gain from that Mass and this pilgrimage be a boon for them and for our schools. Prayers for them, please.

Stateside, at the Solemnity Mass of these two Princes of the Apostles I attended yesterday, the priest highlighted the phrase “may their intercession make us devoted to You,” from the soon-to-be-prayed “Prayer over the Offerings” as a point of meditation for the gathered faithful: “May the prayer of the Apostles, O Lord, accompany the sacrificial gift that we present to Your name for consecration, and may their intercession make us devoted to you in celebration of the sacrifice.” That’s a worthy intention and resolution for us all.

July 1

Tomorrow, July 1, marks the first anniversary of this blog and the seventh anniversary of my first day as President of St. John Paul II Catholic Schools and Director of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Fargo. Unquestionably, given my weaknesses, faults, and shortcomings, it is only by the Grace of God that I am beginning my eighth year of service.

Thank You, Lord, for your Providential designs and for all those who pray and work for the mission of Catholic education.

When I was named to these offices, I asked the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) for permission to use their prayer for Catholic Schools. ACE representatives granted permission, provided I give acknowledgement to ACE as the source of the prayer.

It’s fitting to renew that as I continue to appeal for prayers to support Catholic schools.

Prayer for Catholic Schools

(Used with permission from the University of Notre Dame’s “Alliance For Catholic Education”)

Preface: … [W]e recognize that our lives and our work are totally dependent upon God.  Through prayer, we entrust to God our communities and all we do in service to Catholic schools, as we share Mary’s conviction: 

“Nothing will be impossible for God” (Luke 1:37).

Let us pray:

O Christ, our Teacher,

You invite Your faithful people to make disciples in Your name and to announce good news to the poor.  We thank You for the gift of Catholic schools, where

The message of Your life, death, and resurrection is proclaimed,
Christian community is experienced,
Service to our brothers and sisters is modeled,
And worship of You is cultivated.

Increase our zeal for ensuring that all children and families can benefit from a high quality Catholic education, and that Catholic schools grow in their ability to nurture the soul of our nation.

We ask this through the intercession of Our Lady, Mother of Catholic Schools.  Amen.

Independence Day

July 4, 2023, is the 247th birthday of the United States of America.

The immortal words of the Declaration of Independence are immortal because they are rooted in the Natural Law, the Eternal Law: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

In my role, I am particularly grateful for the blessings of Religious Liberty and for the existence of Catholic schools in our nation. On occasion, I ponder the counterexample of Fidel Castro in Cuba, who had closed more than 350 Catholic schools by October 1961. When St. John Paul II visited Cuba in 1998, Religious Liberty was a prominent theme. Tyrants may try to bury the Natural Law, and many innocents are crushed in body and soul along the way, but that won’t stand in the long run, ultimately.

As we strive to perfect and protect those unalienable rights endowed by our Creator, may we be strengthened in our resolve as we celebrate Independence Day.

President’s Proverb

“And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”

–Conclusion of the Declaration of Independence, signed by the 56 delegates of the Second Continental Congress

Hagstrom’s Attempt At Humor (HAAH!)

Sunday Psalm Sampler

12th 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: Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time | USCCB

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 89: 2-3, 16-19

Responsorial Refrain: “Forever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.” (Ps 89:2a)

Chris Brunelle’s YouTube recording: R&A Psalm 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2023, Psalm 89 – YouTube

The word “Psalm” translates as “melody of praise” via the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures). A Psalm, then, is a song of praise, and today’s portion of Psalm 89 especially exemplifies that genre.

The Psalmist sings—and exhorts us to sing—in praise of God’s steadfast, unshakeable goodness and the covenant relationship He has established and maintained with His people. Forever.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus invites us to take up our Cross, to follow Him, and to receive Him—the One Who is New Covenant, the One Who opens the door to Beatitude. Forever. This week, let us pledge our fidelity to Him as we sing, “Forever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.”

Mike Hagstrom