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Two Wings: President’s Posts

Two Wings No. 1

By July 1, 2022May 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

I grew up in rural Minnesota amid prairie potholes, rolling hills, and big skies. Birds filled that landscape.

On occasion, I saw one with a broken wing. It fluttered and sputtered in short circles, going nowhere. To fly, two wings are essential. Without that balance and coordination between the two, there is no ascent.

That’s why the image used by Pope St. John Paul II at the beginning of Fides et Ratio, his magisterial encyclical on the relationship between the “two wings” of faith and reason, is so compelling. We need both wings to rise to the contemplation of the truth about God and ourselves.

Now the Catholic school is designed precisely to exercise both wings in its mission of education. Both faith and reason are essential for students to contemplate the whole truth and to accord themselves with it.

The Vatican had to censure distorted, one wing approaches to the truth in the mid-nineteenth century. The Holy See condemned both “fideism” (over-emphasizing faith to the detriment of reason) and “rationalism” (over-emphasizing reason to the detriment of faith).  Dei Filibus (1870) of “the First Vatican Council…pronounced solemnly on the relationship between reason and faith” and still serves as the standard for these two wings functioning properly according to St. John Paul II (Fides et Ratio, No. 52).

May the Lord grace our Catholic schools to use both faith and reason to rise to the splendor of the truth!

It’s About Time

Seventh Year

Last summer in my annual job evaluation with my supervisor, board chairman Fr. Andrew Jasinski, one of the goals I set was to begin a blog related to my role as President of St. John Paul II Catholic Schools. Many friends, colleagues, and professors have encouraged me to write more frequently and widely, in order to use the gifts given to me better.

I appreciate the expertise and assistance of our Communications and Marketing Specialist, James LaPlante, in helping me achieve that goal and this first post.

In the beginning, I plan to have a new post at 3:00 pm local time each Friday (the Divine Mercy Hour). I envision sections including a Fides et Ratio rumination (crucial for a Catholic school’s self-understanding), timely thoughts under the heading “It’s About Time” (because the Incarnation calls us to take time and place very seriously), a proverb that guides me as president, an “Attempt at Humor” (a decades-long tradition in my classroom and at school events), and a concluding preview of the Responsorial Psalm for the coming Sunday Mass (because it “has great liturgical and pastoral importance, since it fosters meditation on the Word of God” according to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal).

Today—July 1, 2022—begins my seventh year as President of St. John Paul II Catholic Schools, so it is an especially fitting day for my first president’s blog post.

St. Junipero Serra

July 1 is the optional memorial of St. Junipero Serra, “The Apostle to California.” Canonized by Pope Francis on September 23, 2015 in Washington, D.C., and described by Pope St. John Paul II as “an exemplary model of the selfless evangelizer,” the 18th century missionary priest had this motto: “Always forward, never back.” That sustained him in all the unique challenges he faced in sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ in his time and place. In 2017, I visited the San Juan Capistrano mission he founded in1776 including the chapel built where the saint offered Mass.

The Collect Prayer for Mass today is a good preamble for our Independence Day weekend:

“O God, Who by Your ineffable mercy have been pleased through the labors of Your priest Saint Junipero Serra to count many American peoples within Your Church, grant by his intercession that we may so join our hearts to You in love, as to carry always and everywhere before all people the image of Your Only Begotten Son. Who live and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.”

Patty Neuharth

Yesterday I attended the funeral Mass for Patricia “Patty” Neuharth at St. Joseph’s Church in Moorhead. Patty is the mother of Shanley graduates Steven ’85, Christine ’88, and Timothy ’93. She also served as a beloved administrative assistant at Shanley High School and Holy Spirit Elementary School for a span of 31 years (1981-2012). Timothy best described her as “mom” in all her various roles at home, school, and parish. After the funeral many attendees recounted her caring, support, and hospitality in our schools.

Thirty seven years ago, in July of 1985, I visited Shanley High School for a job interview for a Religion teacher opening. I entered the Southeast door at 705 13th Avenue North in Fargo and  walked up the steps to the main office. Patty warmly welcomed me, put me at ease, and let Br. Roger and Bill Ford (principal and assistant principal, respectively) know that I had arrived. (I do recall one interview question from that day: “Can you see yourself teaching here five years from now?” I answered in the affirmative, and did teach at Shanley for 31 years by the Grace of God.)

Patty was the first person I ever met at Shanley, and I am grateful for all she did for me, my family, and all the Shanley and Holy Spirit families over the decades.

May her soul, the soul of her husband, Gary, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. AMEN.

Rome Pilgrimage

29 Shanley High School pilgrims and their chaperones (Chaplain Fr. William Slattery, Sacred Heart Middle School Religion teacher Maggie Capouch, and her husband Ryan Capouch) are returning to Fargo today from their travels to the “Eternal City.” They left Fargo on June 19 as part of the annual University of Mary-sponsored pilgrimage for rising seniors in our regional Catholic high schools. This year, graduating seniors could also participate due to the Covid cancellations of the past two years. The robust pilgrimage is typically a well-oiled machine and the pilgrims have many memorable experiences. It always seems that any Shanley student who has participated has returned with an increased desire for the life of Grace and the practice of virtue—well worth the investment of time, travel, and money. The fitting climax of the annual pilgrimage is attending the Mass for the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul on June 29 at St. Peter’s, typically offered by the Holy Father, as was the case on Wednesday. Let us continue to pray for Pope Francis, successor to St. Peter, and for all the Bishops. May this year’s pilgrimage bear great fruit in our Shanley students!

President’s Proverb

“Christianity cannot send down deep roots, be handed on from one generation to the next, or flourish without language.” 

-Professor Robert Louis Wilken

Hagstrom’s Attempt At Humor (HAAH!)

Sunday Psalm Sampler

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

“The Responsorial Psalm…is an integral part of the Liturgy of the Word and…has great liturgical and pastoral importance, since it fosters meditation on the Word of God.”

–General Instruction of the Roman Missal

Lectionary Readings: Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time | USCCB

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 66:1-3, 4-5, 6-7, 16, 20

Responsorial Refrain: “Let all the earth cry out to God with joy”

Chris Brunelle’s YouTube recording: R&A Psalm 14th Sunday Ordinary Time 2022, Psalm 66 Cycle C – YouTube

This Sunday’s Psalm and refrain are joyful proclamations of thanksgiving—for a reason. They proclaim the “tremendous deeds” of God. They celebrate the joyful freedom of the first Passover, which has become the setting for the Paschal (“Passover”) Mystery we celebrate in each Eucharist (“Thanksgiving”).The crucified Lord Jesus has risen, indeed, conquering sin and death, our ancient enemies. For those mighty deeds, St. Paul exalts, “…Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor 15:57). So this week recall those mighty deeds from time to time, singing, “Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.” Just as the Lord sent out the 72 to proclaim the Kingdom of God, so, too, He sends us to do the same in our time and place.

Mike Hagstrom