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Two Wings: President’s Posts

Two Wings No. 76

By December 15, 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


Faith asks that its object be understood with the help of reason; and at the summit of its searching reason acknowledges that it cannot do without what faith presents” (Fides et Ratio, No. 42).

Yesterday was the Memorial of St. John of the Cross, Priest and Doctor of the Church. The Spanish Carmelite Mystic was also gifted as a poet, and the wisdom from St. John Paul II quoted above about the relationship between the Two Wings of Faith and Reason is aptly illustrated in the poems of St. John of the Cross. Recall, one of Karol Wojtyla’s two doctorates was in Theology and that dissertation was on the theme of faith in the works of St. John of the Cross.

Rhina P. Espaillat has a new translation of the Carmelite Mystic’s poems and I am delighted to have her book on my desk as I type this. (The Introduction is by her admirer and my friend, the late poet, Timothy Murphy.)

She translates one of his Quatrains this way and it reinforces St. John Paul II’s insight above:

The Sum of Perfection

Forget created things,
but their Creator, never;
the core attend forever;
love Him from whom love springs.

You can order her book here:
The Spring that Feeds the Torrent: Poems by Saint John of the Cross: St. John of the Cross, Espaillat, Rhina P., Murphy, Timothy: 9781951319090: Books



It’s About Time

December Saints

Recently, my wife and I spent several days with our grandsons. One part of our morning routine included identifying the saint of the day on the liturgical calendar and learning more about that saint. (Today, there are so many child-friendly resources about the saints.)

What a great stretch of saints over the past week—St. Juan Diego, Our Lady of Guadalupe, St. Lucy, St. John of the Cross, for example. Last night, I asked the boys which was their favorite this week. One said, “Our Lady of Guadalupe” and one said “St. Lucy.”

As we enter the last days of Advent, may these holy heroes continue to inspire us and to accompany us with their prayers in Christ.

All you holy men and women, all you Saints of God: “Pray for us.


NFHS Coach of the Year Finalist

Shanley Football Coach Troy Mattern at the season-opener

Shanley Football Coach Troy Mattern has been named a finalist for the National Federation of State High School Associations “Coach of the Year” award with his selection as Section 5’s 11-man Football “Coach of the Year.” Section 5 includes the Dakotas, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, and Nebraska.

We are grateful for Coach Mattern’s leadership and coaching of our young men and commend him for this well-deserved honor. (Last Spring at our Deacon Dinner Auction & Gala, he received our inaugural “Bosco Award” for the coach who exemplifies St. John Bosco’s positive, virtuous, and effective mentoring of young people.)

The national award winner will be named early in 2024. Thank you and best wishes, Coach Mattern!.


End of First Semester

Our final day of classes for first semester is next Thursday, December 21. Shanley students have final exams December 19-21. Younger students will be completing their curriculum units. All teachers will be completing report cards and progress reports for their students.  And all students and staff members will likely be sharing Christmas cheer and good will in the final days before vacation.

Classes will resume for second semester on Wednesday, January 3, 2024.

Interestingly, the semester total days of instruction differ: first semester has 81 “student contact days,” while second semester has 94 “student contact days” to meet our requirement of 175 days—all as “a community inspiring excellence through faith, learning, and service.”


President’s Proverb


“In the evening of life, we will be judged on love.”

–St. John of the Cross 


Hagstrom’s Attempt At Humor (HAAH!)




Sunday Psalm Sampler


Third Sunday of Advent (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: Third Sunday of Advent | USCCB

Responsorial Psalm: Lk 1:46-50, 53-54

Responsorial Refrain: “My soul rejoices in my God.”  -Is 61:10b

Chris Brunelle’s YouTube recording: R&A Psalm Third Sunday of Advent, 2023 Luke 1 – YouTube

Our Responsorial “Psalm” this Gaudete (“Rejoice”) Sunday is not from the Book of Psalms. Instead, it is Our Lady’s song of praise from the Visitation to her cousin, Elizabeth, as recounted in Luke’s Gospel. In this encounter between Elizabeth (carrying John, who leaps in her womb) and Mary (carrying Jesus in her womb), joy overflows, and Mary’s magnificent “Magnificat” is the result.

“The wisdom of God creates poets,” the Rev. James T. O’Connor observes in the opening of his book on the Eucharist, The Hidden Manna. He then posits the Mary’s “Magnificat” as the prime example. He explains, “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.

This week as we gather for the Third Sunday of Advent, let us joyfully praise the greatness of the Lord as we sing, My soul rejoices in my God.”



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).