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Two Wings: President’s Posts

Two Wings No. 54

By July 14, 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

In his new Apostolic Letter on the 400th anniversary of Blaise Pascal’s birth, Pope Francis demonstrates Pascal’s perennial wisdom in terms of 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 (

There is a humble service in Pascal’s approach to these questions according to the Holy Father:

“As Christians, we need to avoid the temptation to present our faith as an incontestable certainty evident to everyone. Clearly, Pascal was concerned to make people realize that “God and truth are inseparable,” yet he also knew that belief is possible only by the grace of God, embraced by a heart that is free. Through faith he had personally encountered “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, not the God of the philosophers and the learned,” and had acknowledged Jesus Christ as “the way, and the truth, and the life” (Jn 14:6). For this reason, I would suggest that everyone who wishes to persevere in seeking truth – a never-ending task in this life – should listen to Blaise Pascal, a man of prodigious intelligence who insisted that apart from the aspiration to love, no truth is worthwhile. “We make truth itself into an idol, for truth apart from charity is not God, but his image; it is an idol which must in no way be loved or worshipped.”

Pope Francis’ observation echoes Pope John Paul II’s observation in Fides et Ratio about service of the truth:

“The Church is no stranger to this journey of discovery, nor could she ever be. From the moment when, through the Paschal Mystery, she received the gift of the ultimate truth about human life, the Church has made her pilgrim way along the paths of the world to proclaim that Jesus Christ is ‘the way, and the truth, and the life’ (Jn 14:6). It is her duty to serve humanity in different ways, but one way in particular imposes a responsibility of a quite special kind: the diakonia of the truth. This mission on the one hand makes the believing community a partner in humanity’s shared struggle to arrive at truth; and on the other hand it obliges the believing community to proclaim the certitudes arrived at, albeit with a sense that every truth attained is but a step towards that fullness of truth which will appear with the final Revelation of God: ‘For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully’(1 Cor 13:12)” (No. 2).

May we embrace that spirit of service to the truth in our witness and conversations with all people of good will.

It’s About Time

St. Kateri Tekakwitha

Today we remember St. Kateri Tekakwitha. The “Lily of the Mohawks” was the first Native American to be beatified (by Pope John Paul II in 1980) and to be canonized (by Pope Benedict XVI in 2012).

Devotion to her has only grown since those celebrations.

Fr. Edward Sherman, a priest of the Fargo Diocese, served at several Native American reservations, played a role in working for her canonization, and attended the October 21, 2012 ceremony in Rome as noted in his February 2023 obituary:

Obituary | Fr. Edward John Sherman of Hankinson, North Dakota | Frank Family Funeral Home

Father authored a book about her (2007) and included North Dakota perspectives on the then-blessed Kateri as well as a prayer for her canonization. The book sits in pride of place in arm’s reach of my office desk:

Tekakwitha: Holy Native, Mohawk Virgin 1656-1680: Edward Sherman: Books

St. Kateri’s significance for the catholicity of the Church is evident as we pray the Collect from today’s feast day Mass:

O God,

Who desired the Virgin Saint Kateri Tekakwitha

to flower among Native Americans

grant, through her intercession,

that when all are gathered into Your Church

from every nation, tribe, and tongue, they may magnify You

in a single canticle of praise.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,

Who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

God, for ever and ever. AMEN.

Bishop John Shanley

Sunday is the anniversary of the death of the Most Rev. John Shanley, the first Catholic Bishop of the then-new state of North Dakota in 1889. The pastor of St. Paul (Minnesota) Cathedral was consecrated on December 27, 1889. His original see city was Jamestown, but by 1891 the good bishop moved the see to Fargo, which offered better transportation as a railroad hub and larger general and Catholic populations. 

On July 16, 1909, he passed away in his sleep in his residence at the relatively young age of 57. The beloved bishop’s funeral was the largest ever held in the state to that point in time with some 3,500 attendees in and around the cathedral. Businesses closed. The citizens of Fargo wept. Stirring tributes to the good bishop occupied the spoken and written word for days.

“Shanley High School” was named in honor of Bishop John Shanley and dedicated on January 5, 1951. Shanley’s first graduating class was the Class of 1951 after the name change from the previous school, Sacred Heart Academy (1897-1950).

Tools For Teachers

This week, JPII Catholic Schools Teachers had an opportunity for on-going formation as Catholic educators with the 2nd Annual “Tools For Teachers” summer workshops. It was an opportunity for me to return to the classroom as a total of 18 teachers joined me for prayer, reflection, instruction, and conversations about the noble role of being a Catholic school teacher. That time together confirmed something I know very well: we have great teachers. Period. I am grateful for their dedication to our students and to the art of teaching. May all their investments in continuing education this summer bear fruit in our schools.

President’s Proverb

“In an age awash in information, often transmitted without wisdom or critical sense, the task of forming present and future generations of Catholic teachers and students remains as important as ever.”

–Pope Francis

Hagstrom’s Attempt At Humor (HAAH!)

Sunday Psalm Sampler

15th 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: Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time | USCCB

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 65:10-14

Responsorial Refrain: “The seed that falls on good ground will yield a fruitful harvest.” (Lk 8:8)

Chris Brunelle’s YouTube recording: R&A Psalm 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2020, Psalm 65 – YouTube

Used at this point in mid-summer, Psalm 65 aligns with the growth and grandeur of pastures and crops, of fields and flocks. It anticipates an imminent, abundant harvest. The Psalmist celebrates God’s providence in visiting, preparing, and watering the land.

In our part of the world at the moment, we need not imagine this providential care for creation: recent, regular rains have led to a lush landscape.

What a beautiful preparation for this Sunday’s Parable of the Sower and the seeds (Mt 13:1-23). This week, let us sing the reminder of our call and task to be “good soil”—receptive and hospitable to the Word of the Lord: “The seed that falls on good ground will yield a fruitful harvest.”

Mike Hagstrom