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Two Wings: President’s Posts

Two Wings No. 85

By February 16, 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


           Lenten Theme 2024
        Trinity School Hallway

As we begin the holy season of lent by taking up our crosses, it is good to recall St. John Paul II’s Pauline insights about the centrality of the Cross in the relationship between the Two Wings of Faith and Reason in Fides et Ratio:

“The crucified Son of God is the historic event upon which every attempt of the mind to construct an adequate explanation of the meaning of existence upon merely human argumentation comes to grief. The true key-point, which challenges every philosophy, is Jesus Christ’s death on the Cross. It is here that every attempt to reduce the Father’s saving plan to purely human logic is doomed to failure. ‘Where is the one who is wise? Where is the learned? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?’ (1 Cor 1:20), the Apostle asks emphatically” (No. 23).

May we embrace that crucial wisdom this Lent.


It’s About Time


Ash Wednesday

Distribution of Ashes at Nativity School Mass

We are employing the theme from Pope Francis for our observance of Lent 2024: “Through the desert God leads us to freedom.”

Message of the Holy Father Francis for Lent 2024 (

In our schools, we are embracing the call to journey prayerfully with the Lord through the desert with self-denial and almsgiving.

It was beautiful to see and hear the reports from each of our schools on Ash Wednesday as they began “with holy fasting this campaign of Christian service” (Ash Wednesday Collect prayer).

It was also striking to hear the “Prayer over the people” at the end of Mass with its call for God to puncture the ego and the self-centered tendencies against which we all struggle as sinners:

“Pour out a spirit of compunction, O God,
on those who bow before Your majesty,
and by Your mercy may they merit the rewards
You promise to those who do penance.
Through Christ our Lord.”

May we all find true freedom as a result of our Lenten journey with God.


Almsgiving – Friends of Chimbote

When I taught the senior year semester course, “Charity and Justice,” paragraph 2,447 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church was always a fundamental fulcrum. It describes the traditional Works of Mercy as “charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in need in his spiritual and bodily necessities.”

After the list of the Corporal and Spiritual Works, it then adds this gem:

“Among all these, giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity: it is also a work of justice pleasing to God.”

With prayer and fasting, almsgiving is central to our Lenten discipline. In our schools this Lent, one response to our “neighbors in need” will be support for the “Friends of Chimbote.” It is “a faith-based organization dedicated to supporting programs that improve and transform the lives of the poor of Chimbote, Peru and surrounding communities.”

Our region and schools have a long history of support for this 40-year-old mission for and with the poor, and we are glad to continue that support with this generation of students.

Please consider giving alms to our Peruvian neighbors in need this Lent.

Friends of Chimbote


Parent-Teacher Conferences

Last night Shanley High School and Sacred Heart Middle School had mid-term Parent-Teacher Conferences. Sacred Heart also hosted them on Wednesday afternoon. At the secondary level, a mid-term conference is a good practice for progress reports, timely advice, and goals for the end of the quarter and semester.

With these longer days of service by secondary teachers this week, there is no school today for the whole system. (We do have school on Presidents Day, Monday, February 19, and that is an opportunity to reflect on the historical service and leadership of our chief executives.)

Meanwhile, elementary school conferences will be held at the end of the third quarter (the week of March 4). Our elementary conferences will focus on the whole body of work and progress by the student for the third quarter.


President’s Proverb


“Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord and will be repaid in full.”

–Proverbs 19:17.



Hagstrom’s Attempt At Humor (HAAH!)



Sunday Psalm Sampler


First Sunday of Lent (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: First Sunday of Lent | USCCB

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 25:4-9

Responsorial Refrain: “Your ways, O Lord, are love and truth to those who keep Your covenant.” (cf. Ps 25:10)

Chris Brunelle’s YouTube recording: R&A Psalm First Sunday of Lent 2024, Psalm 25 (

When asked what the three greatest virtues were, St. Bernard of Clairvaux is reported to have said, “humility, humility, humility.”

Psalm 25 is a perfect companion to that answer and a perfect fit for the First Sunday of Lent.

The Psalmist humbly asks the Lord to guide, to teach, and to make His ways known. He makes this plea while humbly confessing his own sins and frailties. The Psalmist trusts that the Lord’s compassion, love, kindness, goodness, and mercy will triumph over his sinfulness, “for You are God my savior” (Ps 25:5b).

This week as we embark on our Lenten journey while humbly aware of our own need for the Savior, let us also turn to Him as we sing, “Your ways, O Lord, are love and truth to those who keep Your covenant.”




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).