A Mother’s Love

Posted by Fr. Thomas Fitzpatrick, Rector of St. Joseph Cathedral

Happy Mother’s Day! It is a perfect day to honor our mothers; we are in the sixth week of Easter and in the month of our Blessed Mother. We all have a special place reserved in our hearts for their sacrifice and love, because there is nothing better than a mother’s love.

Ah yes … a mother’s love. The last time I was home, my mother got after me at the way I was holding my pencil … a mother’s love. If any of her children were unmannerly at the dinner table and needed to be corrected? … a mother’s love. A washcloth to our fevered brow? … a mother’s love. Constant training in the faith and not letting us get away with anything? … a mother’s love.

Mothers are not called to be our best friends because they are called to something greater that transcends friendship. If you ask people who their best friend is, usually their mother isn’t mentioned because they are in a totally different and more esteemed class. While no mother would say they are perfect, at the very least any mistakes they may have made were borne of love.

As we joyfully continue to celebrate this season of Christ’s resurrection we have a perfect opportunity to live in gratitude. The deliverance through Christ from the power of sin and death gives us life. He bore our trials and through His sacrifice has redeemed us. For all of us who love our mother because of their sacrifice, perseverance and love, we are able to gain insight into why we can love our Lord; he saves us from the one thing our mother’s cannot.

The promise and fulfillment we receive from our Lord in today’s Gospel is an invitation to a life of true freedom; we remain in His love by following the Commandments and the Gospel which enable us to live through our capacities for what is good, just and true. It’s the way of life we aspire to naturally but can never be fulfilled by advertised products or an identity assumed by what we see and read. Purity of heart and confidence flows from our attachment to Christ the vine.

Christ rushes to rescue us through forgiveness and grace quicker and with less hesitation than a mother entering a burning building to save her child. Our Blessed Mother loves us with a tenderness and care that could make our biological mothers blush with envy. All these gifts have been laid at our feet by our loving Father. This is how and why we live in joy this season and in thanksgiving for our mothers. We face the trials and toils of life, but we have our mothers and the graces flowing from heaven to see us through to the reward of eternal glory. So it’s a party day! … thankful for our mothers, and joyful in our redemption through Christ.

Happy Mother’s Day!!

Posted by Fr. Thomas Fitzpatrick, St. Joseph Cathedral

Happy Mother’s Day!! It is a perfect day to honor our mothers; we are in the fourth week of Easter and in the month of our Blessed Mother. We all have a special place reserved in our hearts for their sacrifice and love, because there is nothing better than a mother’s love.

Ah yes…a mother’s love. The last time I was home, my mother got after me at the way I was holding my pencil…a mother’s love. If any of her children were unmannerly at the dinner table and needed to be corrected? …a mother’s love. A washcloth to our fevered brow?…a mother’s love. Constant training in the faith and not letting us get away with anything?…a mother’s love.

Mothers are not called to be our best friends because they are called to something greater that transcends friendship. If you ask people who their best friend is, usually their mother isn’t mentioned because they are in a totally different and more esteemed class. While no mother would say they are perfect, at the very least any mistakes they may have made was borne of love.

As we joyfully continue to celebrate this season of Christ’s resurrection we have a perfect
opportunity to live in gratitude. The deliverance through Christ from the power of sin and death gives us life. He bore our trials and through His sacrifice has redeemed us. For all of us who love our mother because of their sacrifice, perseverance and love, we are able to gain insight into why we can love our Lord; he saves us from the one thing our mother’s cannot.

Christ rushes to rescue us through forgiveness and grace quicker and with less hesitation than a mother entering a burning building to save her child. Our Blessed Mother loves us with a tenderness and care that could make our biological mothers blush with envy. All these gifts have been laid at our feet by our loving Father. This is how and why we live in joy this season and in thanksgiving for our mothers. We face the trials and toils of life, but we have our mothers and the graces flowing from heaven to see us through to the reward of eternal glory. So it’s a party day!!…thankful for our mothers, and joyful in our redemption through Christ.
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The Virtue of Holy Cunning

Posted by Fr. Andrew Young, St. Joseph Cathedral

As we come into the Cathedral today we will see that the Nativity Scene has been taken down, the trees have been placed in the recycling, the bows are boxed up – the Christmas Season has officially ended. Not only has Christmas ended, but the final college football game has been played – my alma mater Navy won their bowl game – and the Minnesota Vikings are sidelined for yet another year. So does that mean we cheer for the Packers and Bears? Nope, they are out too! Winter is setting in and there is a long way until March madness kicks off for college basketball. Sometimes the journey forward can look bleak, but let us not forget what we have received – the Light of Christ!

For the past few weeks we have had many celebrations, solemnities and feasts in the Church. We celebrated Christmas, the gift of the Holy Family, the presence of the Mother of God – Mary, and just last weekend Epiphany where the three Magi come to adore the Lord in Bethlehem and then set out on journey after encountering Christ. After leaving Bethlehem, the journey of the Magi looked dangerous with many obstacles but having seen the Light of Christ, they trusted that He would brighten and guide their way.

Our journey through this life at times can also have obstacles, sufferings and hurdles, which need to be confronted. Our faith and trust in God can be tested. Sometimes, like the wise men, we may lose track of that star and feel the darkness closing in upon us. Does the light of Christ we encounter in the manger of Bethlehem on Christmas guide and lead us in our journey today and tomorrow or do we simply fall back into the mundane and darkness of the world?

At the Epiphany Holy Mass, Pope Francis encouraged the faithful to be like the Magi and to go out on this journey of faith with the virtue of “holy cunning.” He explains that holy cunning is a “spiritual shrewdness, which enables us to recognize danger and avoid it.” The Magi used this virtue by recognizing that King Herod had no desire to go and give worship to Jesus in Bethlehem and would be waiting for their return to do them harm. Through their holy cunning, they decided to take another path to their homes. “These wise men from the East teach us how not to fall into the snares of darkness…but to guard the faith, guard it from darkness.”

As we enter into the new liturgical season of Ordinary Time, don’t let the light that we have just encountered these past few weeks simply fade away or get obscured in the darkness of the world! Let the Light, let Christ, guide your path and accompany you along the journey of faith. Grow in the virtue of holy cunning to recognize the good, the true and the beautiful and to avoid that which tries to obscure it!

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The Feast of the Holy Family

Posted by Fr. Andrew Young, St. Joseph Cathedral

Today as Church we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family – Jesus, Mary and Joseph! Jesus came to us in the manger as a baby, who like any infant, needed a family that would care for Him, nurture and protect Him. God had chosen Mary and Joseph to provide that for Him so He could grow and eventually fulfill the mission He came to accomplish through His cross and resurrection. Mary held and nursed Jesus to good health, while Joseph was the protector of the family against those that wanted to do them harm. Mary and Joseph are the examples for all moms and dads who desire to provide a home, not simply a house, for their children to grow up in. Our opening prayer at Mass today thanks God for giving us “the shining example of the Holy Family” and asks God to helps us “imitate them in practicing the virtues of family life.” We give thanks today for the “yes” of Mary and commitment of Joseph to welcome the newborn Savior into their home, to raise Him and protect Him.

Mary and Joseph though are not too unlike many of our parents. God has given children to parents as a gift. This gift is to be nurtured and loved. We as children are to give thanks to our parents for the gift that they have given to us – the gift of life! Too often, I think, we take our families for granted. Often times we are the hardest and even the meanest to the ones that love us the most, to the ones we owe the greatest debt of gratitude.

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Love Mary with Joy

“This evening we are celebrating together the close of the Marian month. But the month of May cannot end; it must continue in our lives, because veneration, love, devotion to Our Lady cannot disappear from our hearts, on the contrary they must grow and be expressed in a testimony of Christian life, modelled on the example of Mary” –  Blessed John Paul II

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To Be a Woman Like Mary

Posted by Sara Hofflander – co-founder of beopentoGod.com

As a young woman just beginning marriage and family life, it has been a great grace for me to look to Mary during this Advent and Christmas season.  Living as a woman actively involved in the world, it can be hard to detect God’s hand moving in my life and to know how to fittingly respond.  Mary, the kind of girl we all wish we could be, shows us how it’s done.  First at the Annunciation, the angel Gabriel appears to her, who was a simple and perhaps comfortable young woman, and presents to her a glorious challenge to become the Mother of God.  Mary’s response, “How can this be?”, teaches me so much.  She is not resisting God’s call, nor is she doubting his ability to make it happen, but she wants to know how.  This how grants her the clarity to be able to more readily serve him.  Once she understands how, she immediately gives her fiat – let it be done.  Mary teaches me how to make my prayer: “Help me, Lord, to understand your will so that I may more readily do your will.”

After her yes, the Gospel of Luke says she goes in haste to visit her cousin Elizabeth.  It’s almost surprising to think of Mary moving in haste, but this serene, gentle woman was called to something extraordinary, and she responds immediately.  She has been given something great from God, and she wastes no time in moving to share that gift, the love of her Son, with others.  Her action teaches me not to be fearful in responding to God’s love but to boldly allow him to transform what I think, say, and do so that he can work through me for others.

Following this story, Mary stays with her cousin Elizabeth, returns to Joseph, journeys with him to Bethlehem, and then gives birth to a Son in a stable.  This trying and somewhat ordinary event is greeted by angels, shepherds, and wise men all expressing awe at what God had worked through her.  Mary’s response?  She ponders all these things in her heart.  Mary’s life was filled with difficult journeys, persecution, and uncertainty yet also with incredible blessings from God.  So, too, our lives are filled with trials and joys, some expected and others not so much.  Mary has taught me to embrace this turbulence with trust in God and to pause frequently to ponder these things in my heart.  She has shown me how to discover  deeper meaning in my day-to-day life and to acknowledge the hand of God at work, unfolding his beautiful plan.

Finding True Hope and Joy in Christ

Posted by Fr. Thomas Fitzpatrick, Rector of St. Joseph Cathedral

These last days before Christmas were absolute torture growing up. The expectation, coupled with the struggle to stay on Santa’s good list while trying to tame our excitement meant each minute passed with excruciating length. As we grow older, the shoe is on the other foot…nothing seems to be ready, time flies and the shopping isn’t finished! On top of that, we continue to seek and find meaning to the words ‘Merry Christmas’ and ‘joy to the world’. This final Sunday of Advent is the perfect time to intensify our prayer and search for the coming Christ amidst the promptings of decorations, shopping and cheer.

Our true joy springs from the hope given to us from God through the simple, humble birth of His Son. He has come to us, visible in His humanity; the reality of His Spirit manifest in His deeds, authority and power.

In earthly measure, we reckon that joy is experienced when we have arrived at a goal…there is a certain finality involved which sets off celebration and happiness. Our Christian joy lies in the fact that our salvation is at hand, a moment of truth we accept and practice because it leads to the bliss of heaven. The ‘already, but not yet’ of our pilgrimage is not a joy of finality, but promissory joy that springs from the hope of eternal life through the certitude we have in Christ and experience through His grace. This is why hope must be a part of our everyday life as pilgrims.

The virtue of hope is one of the theological virtues, one we receive by God’s good grace. It helps us to integrate our daily lives with the Gospel call of Christ and the promise of eternal life. Thus we are fortified and prepared to see the frustrations, difficulties and happiness of this life in terms of our final goal and destination, which is heaven. True hope and joy does not lay in earthly wealth, achievement or physical pleasures because we are engaged in a spiritual endeavor that necessitates a close identification with Christ and His Gospel. He experienced all the physical and emotional hardships we encounter, and remained steadfast and true. The joy of this season springs from the fact that our salvation is at hand, and it emboldens us to live as we ought because it is made possible through His love.

Enjoy your time with family and friends and celebrate well the birth of our Savior!

Immaculate Mary

Posted by Monsignor Charles M. Mangan + J.M.J.

The Universal Church exults constantly, but especially every December 8th, in the truth of Our Blessed Mother’s Immaculate Conception.

God shielded Mary from Original Sin. She did not inherit, as we did, the transgression of our parents Adam and Eve.

Pope Blessed Pius IX (1846-1878), in his December 8, 1854 Apostolic Constitution entitled, Ineffabilis Deus solemnly defined: “The most blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instant of her conception, was by the singular grace and privilege of Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of Original Sin. This doctrine is revealed by God and therefore must be firmly and constantly believed by all the faithful.”

 Like Jesus, Our Lady is sinless. She did not contract Original Sin nor did she commit actual sin, that is, the category of moral offenses with which we struggle. Mary lived virtuously by adoring her Creator, obeying His commands and serving her neighbors.

 Each of us may rightly ask: If the Ever-Virgin is so excellent, how can I, sinful as I am, have anything in common with her?

 First, we share Mary’s human nature. She was and remains totally human. Hence, we have this real connection with her that opens up the possibility of a genuine relationship with her.

 Second, the Mother of God freely and generously cooperated with the incredible grace that was granted her and persevered in it. This is what the Lord demands of us.

 True, we were conceived with Original Sin, while Mary was not. But we have been redeemed through the reception of the Sacrament of Baptism. We have been given that long-awaited second chance. Consequently, there is no reason why we should not imitate Mary, cultivate—with the Lord’s help—a deep rapport with her and strive for the degree of holiness that God wants for us.

 In 1830, Our Lady instructed Sister (now Saint) Catherine Laboure (1806-1876) to have a medal struck, which we know as the Miraculous Medal, on which is stamped the affirmation and imperative: “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.”

 In 1858, only a little more than three years after the Bull of 1854, Mary asserted to little (now Saint) Bernadette Soubirous (1844-1879), “I am the Immaculate Conception.”

 Yes, O Lady, you were immaculately conceived. And because you surrendered to the Holy Spirit, now you reign in Heaven with Jesus the Messiah. We delight with the great Saint Bonaventure (1221-1274), Bishop and Doctor of the Church, in offering you fitting veneration: “Mary the Virgin is the advocate of sinners and the glory and the crown of the just. She is the spouse of God, the abode of the Trinity and the most special resting place of the Son.”

 May we always pattern our existence after yours, saying “yes” to the Risen Christ and “no” to sin!

 O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.

Immaculate Conception

“O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.”  These words don the Miraculous Medal.  They are also repeated frequently at Lourdes, a place of pilgrimage where Mary appeared to a young peasant girl and reminded the world of the desires of her Son.  The Immaculate Conception is somewhat a mystery.  Mary shares fully in our human nature, yet at her conception she was redeemed by her Son’s Passion and therefore did not experience the effects of original sin.  If we meditate on this with an open heart, we can truly discover something beautiful.

First this shows the intimate and profound love between mother and child.  God chose to create a fitting mother for himself – one capable of bearing and nurturing him.  In all tenderness he chose to create a mother who possessed the greatest beauty.  She had the beauty of surpassing purity, ardent charity, and angelic sweetness.  Jesus gave to us a mother who revealed the true nature of beauty to the world, not vain or arrogant but instead a humble yet dazzling reflection of the glory of God.

Mary’s Immaculate Conception also reveals to us who we were made to be.  She exemplifies human nature untarnished by sin.  Because we have chosen sin, we bear its consequences in our nature.  However, because we have been redeemed by Christ, we have the ability to participate in his divine nature.  If we take time to meditate on the heart of Mary, we can discover more clearly how God desires to reshape our own hearts and invite us into deeper communion with him.

May this feast be more than a Holy Day of Obligation.  May it be an opportunity to fall in love with the woman Archbishop Fulton Sheen described as the “World’s First Love.”

Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us!

The Luminous Mysteries

Posted by Monsignor Charles M. Mangan + J.M.J.

Today—October 16, 2012—is the tenth anniversary of the Luminous Mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary. Blessed John Paul II bequeathed an incredible gift to the Church. Here is something that I wrote ten years ago.

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 “The Year of the Rosary”: what a great announcement it was when Pope John Paul II, on his 24th Anniversary (October 16, 2002) of his Election as the Successor of Saint Peter, signed his latest Apostolic Letter, Rosarium Virginis Mariae (The Rosary of the Virgin Mary), which is available on the Web Site of the Holy See (http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/apost_letters/documents/hf_jp-ii_apl_20021016_rosarium-virginis-mariae_en.html).

 It is no secret that the Holy Father wants to urge strongly the daily recitation of the Most Holy Rosary. He even asks that we remember, amidst our other concerns, a pair of special intentions: 1.) peace in our troubled world; 2.) for families, many of whom are buffeted by diabolical assaults.

 The Holy Rosary is a combination of prayers and meditation on the Mysteries. For the Holy Father, praying the Rosary means doing five things with Our Lady: remembering, learning, becoming conformed to, praying to and proclaiming Jesus the Lord.

 Pope John Paul II has been “the Pope of many firsts.” Although the Rosary has been the same for 400 years, nevertheless, with his customary lack of fear, the Holy Father decided to add five new Mysteries. He calls them the “Luminous Mysteries” or the “Mysteries of Light.” Now, the Rosary has a new dimension: explicit reflection on the life of Jesus from His Baptism at the hand of Saint John the Baptist through the Last Supper during which He bestowed on His Apostles (and us) His adorable Body and Blood that are our nourishment for our challenging—and sometimes, tiring—pilgrimage to Heaven.

 One may pray daily the entire Rosary of twenty Mysteries or one set (Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful or Glorious) of five Mysteries.

 Here are the Luminous Mysteries and a short reflection on each.

 1. Jesus’ Baptism in the Jordan River. Although He was and is the sinless Son of God, Jesus permitted John the Baptist to baptize Him. When Christ ascended from the Jordan, the Holy Spirit in the shape of a dove descended on Him while His Father from Paradise said: “This is My Beloved Son, on Whom My favor rests.” (St. Matthew 3:13-17)

 Jesus, You are the Lord. Answer my prayer when I cry to you. Help me always to profess You regardless of the cost.

 2. Jesus’ Revelation of Himself at the Wedding of Cana in Galilee. With unshakable trust, the Virgin confided in Jesus that there was no more wine. After His reply, the Madonna instructed the waiters to “do whatever He tells you.” Then, the Lord of the Universe changed the water into wine, performing His first public miracle. (St. John 2:1-11)

 Jesus, You are the Lord. I need Your fresh grace; please evict from my life the old sin that has clung to me. I will answer Mary when she commands me to do whatever You tell me.

 3. Jesus’ Proclamation of the Kingdom of God, with His Call to Conversion. The Messiah spent Himself in announcing the Good News of His Father’s love for His sons and daughters with the corresponding imperative: “Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” Christ was not deterred by threats of punishment. He shouted out the Truth and was willing to suffer for it. (St. Mark 1:14-15)

 Jesus, You are the Lord. My ears and soul are open to Your message. Let me never harden my heart to Your commands but realize that in them are found the road to Everlasting Life. Help me to value anew the Sacrament of Confession.

 4. Jesus’ Transfiguration. Christ allowed Peter, James and John to see His Divinity. And they were utterly astounded to see their Lord with Moses and Elijah. The voice of the Master’s Father was heard: “This is My Son, the Chosen One. Listen to Him.” (St. Luke 9:28-36).

 Jesus, You are the Lord. How I must have deeper faith in You! I know that You will not leave me orphaned but will stay with me. Mary responded to Your Divinity. May the same be said about me.

 5. Jesus’ Institution of His Body and Blood during the Last Supper as the Sacramental Expression of the Paschal Mystery. On Holy Thursday, Jesus Christ left behind gave His Flesh and Blood for all His friends to eat and drink. The Lord said: “This is My Body . . . This is the Chalice of My Blood.” His Sacred Presence remains in the Tabernacle. The Crucifixion of Jesus the next day completed the stupendous gift of Himself that He began the previous night during the Last Supper. (St. Matthew 26:26-29)

 Jesus, You are the Lord. Your Body and Blood in Holy Communion sustain me. Help me to receive the Most Holy Eucharist with the faith and love characteristic of Mary.

 Most Blessed Mary, Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, pray for us!