Search 2013 – Be one of God’s troopers

Ephesians 6:10-17

Battle against Evil.

10  Finally, draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power.

11  Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil.

12  For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens.

13  Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground.

14  So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate,

15  and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace.

16  In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all [the] flaming arrows of the evil one.

17  And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

To all you holy men and women out there – a journey of a man in search of something greater than himself:
I want to be a Saint

Taking a Stand for the Truth

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

“For Zion’s sake I will not be silent,
For Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet.
Until her vindication shines forth like the dawn
And her victory like a burning torch.”

With the specter of so many worries hanging over the world today we must be vigilant and deliberate about which way we turn for consolation. The news in our city, state, nation and world is rife with bad news complete with all the sordid details. Open rejection of God and His Eternal Law is applauded with glee or met with a shrug of the shoulder. Saints and sinners alike are victimized by the way the world is going, and contributes to a sense of malaise that is increasingly difficult to avoid.

These days, any answers the Church gives is met with howls of derision and protest. There is an attractive convenience in the avoidance of truthful self-examination and spirituality based upon the Commandments of the Father and the Gospel of His Son; instead it is traded for a ‘don’t tread on me’ conception of freedom that demands liberty from any constraint or moral absolute. The Catholic Church teaches freedom for the truth…our culture continues down the path of freedom from the truth and we are experiencing the fruit of this philosophy now.

Pornography, perversion and anatomy is subject matter for cheap laughs on primetime television. Abortion providers are trumpeting the freedoms they have ensured for society and children think sexting is a grown-up way of acting. Your priests are cursed and reviled because we dare to ask couples who are seeking marriage to cease living together. These are just a few of this week’s examples….

Ordinary Time has returned to our Church calendar. The Year of Faith beckons us to study the vast treasure of wisdom as taught to us by centuries of theological thought emanating from Christ and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Culture brands the Church as irrelevant for the modern world, as if arrogance of progress and technology somehow trumps the same human nature that has existed since the fall of Adam and Eve. If we don’t recognize this lie, we are going to pay a price. The issues that the Church takes a stand on are not going away, nor will they be solved through legislation, popular opinion or keeping
our heads in the sand.

There is no doubt we are paying a price now. The price is all over the news and all over the world. One ready example was provided by Pope Paul VI when he prayerfully predicted the fallout from widespread use of contraceptives over forty years ago:
The general lowering of moral standards throughout society
A rise in marital infidelity
The lessening respect of women by men
The coercive use of reproductive technology by government

Vigilant and deliberate about where we turn for consolation means we are going to have to do more than complain about these problems or complain about those with these problems. The first thing we need to do is eradicate any filth from our lives now. We have to learn what our faith teaches and why. We ought to fast and pray for our nation and the world. Life is short and our judgment will be thorough, and while we do not discount the compassion of a merciful God, if we are careless enough to think His mercy is summoned like a car insurance commercial, we are in big trouble. Presumption is a sin and an effective weapon of Satan. Instead of trying to out think God and the Church, it is imperative that we learn what She teaches and why…then live in the freedom Christ extends to us. It is the freedom which will enable us to live in the world and be untainted by it. Happiness and confidence are sure to ensue.

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!

The Hidden Gift of Suffering

A unique characteristic of the Christian life is the call to carry our crosses – not only to carry them but embrace them.  In our convenience-driven culture, we are apt to feel that struggles are mistakes.  We work quickly to avert our trials so that we may restore for ourselves a state of peace and ease.  We seem to forget that such a battle is a part of the Christian life.

Throughout the Gospels, Jesus reveals that, in the midst of difficulty, we often find the greatest blessings.  In the Beatitudes, he expounds upon the fact that those who are poor, who mourn, who are persecuted, will experience the greatest blessings of all.  Bl. John Paul II, in his book Mystery & Identity, expressed how each of the commandments include a struggle with vice, such as lust, dishonesty or greed, but through those struggles we discover much richer values (p. 30-31).  How beautiful it is for man and woman to battle lust and, through that pursuit, discover the richer dignity of their beloved.

Christianity teaches us not to fear suffering but instead to suffer well.  The trials of our lives often present themselves as mysteries to us, but they do have the capacity to become blessings.

Jesus asks us continually to trust in him.  He calls us to abandon ourselves to his providential will.  He asks us to follow his commands knowing that, while they may be difficult, they will help us to detach from lesser goods and instead to discover the glory of God’s love reverberating through every human experience.  May we see in our crosses opportunities to grow in greater love and to place ourselves more fully in God’s hands.

Prayer for Purification

From a talk by Fr. Jeff Norfolk:

Three Hail Mary’s

Protection of Mind, Heart and Body

Purification of Thoughts, Words and Actions

One of the first to practice this and to recommend it was St Anthony of Padua (1195–1231). His purpose was “to honor the spotless Virginity of Mary and to preserve a perfect purity of mind, heart and body in the midst of the dangers of the world”.

This prayer has been recommended by St Anthony of Padua, St Alphonsus Liguori, and St Leonard of Port Maurice.

Welcome to Natural Family Planning Awareness Week!

A new child is one of the most amazing gifts that a couple can receive.  The child serves as a sign of his parents’ love and becomes a lifelong adventure for the couple as they learn to form and nurture him.  The grave nature of this obligation means that it is important for a couple to exercise responsible parenthood even in regards to fertility.  While the easy solution within our society is to use contraception in order to bar fertility from the union of husband and wife, that action has consequences that are far more serious than a couple would ever expect.  In 1968 in his encyclical letter Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI warned that if the use of contraceptives became widespread, marital infidelity would increase, men would lose respect for their beloved, and immorality would increase especially among the youth.  Looking at the trends over the past 40 years, his predictions have been strikingly accurate.

The solution for married couples is surprisingly simple although often not widely discussed.  That is why this week has been nationally declared Natural Family Planning Awareness Week.  NFP is a way for couples to regulate fertility based on the natural signs in a woman’s cycle.  It is 99% accurate and is helpful for couples to both avoid and achieve pregnancy.  Through NFP, husbands are able to elevate their wives by understanding her body and respecting its design.  It promotes sincere communication and allows the couple to revere the gift of life through every stage of their marriage.  Statistically, couples using NFP stay together.  Studies show that the divorce rate for NFP couples is under 5% compared to the 50% national average.  Women also do not have to face the physical consequences of a pill designed to make her body work improperly.  Take advantage of this week by learning more about NFP.  Perhaps it is something to consider for your own marriage or to share with couples that you know.

Here is a link to more resources from the Diocese of Sioux Falls: Respect Life Office.

May God bless our marriages and families!

A Revolt Against Artificial Contraception

The debate about religious freedom has heated up in recent months as new health care laws lay down the mandate that health care providers will be required to cover artificial contraceptives, abortifacients, and sterilizations.  For many, this has brought up the question: What is the big deal about contraception?  Truly, this is no light matter, and its consequences have been grave.  Relationships have become oversexualized and meaningless, and the problems that were supposed to be solved have increased.  A group of young people, fed up with the situation, have created an online grassroots effort to portray the truth of the situation and provide a better solution.  To check out this edgy site and to learn more about the problem of artificial contraception, click on the following link:

Fortnight for Freedom

Last night began our “Fortnight for Freedom” where Catholic Americans around the country united together to defend the rights guaranteed by our Founding Fathers and endowed by our Creator: the right to Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. Believing that all people possess inherent dignity, our Founding Fathers listed numerous human rights that cannot be violated.  At question currently is the right to freedom of religion.  Oddly enough, the aspect of our religious freedom that is at the greatest risk is the duty to defend and care for the human person’s right to life.  This right is at the foundation of all other rights.  We are guaranteed human rights based upon the knowledge that every person possesses dignity regardless of age, ability, or circumstance.  Now the very nation which was founded to safeguard our freedom and protect our rights has asked us to violate our duty to protect life and subsequently to violate our consciences.

If we as Catholics and citizens of this country no longer value our duty to care for human life, we can no longer expect any other human right to be held sacred.  If we become passive, we may discover that our morality and beliefs, so long protected by this nation, may continue to be compromised in greater ways.

As this Fortnight for Freedom begins, we are called to stand up for the moral truths that enable us to witness to love, the love which unceasingly cares for every person, the love which profoundly expresses our own dignity: the love revealed in Jesus Christ.  While we cannot expect every person in this nation to profess the Christian faith, we can and must expect that this nation will allow us to practice our own faith.  We can and must love in the way that Jesus loves.  This means caring, in a holistic way, for every person, whether that may be a patient, employee, or stranger.  Our government asks for us to create within ourselves a false dichotomy where we believe in our minds but do not let that faith bear fruit in our actions.  What a limit to our freedom and an unfortunate expression of the state of our society.

During this Fortnight, let us exercise our freedom of religion through prayer, penance, and enriching our understanding of the issue at hand.  May God continue to bless America.  May he help us to develop a society that promotes true social justice where the rights of every person are protected and where we may work as a community to help every human life flourish.

Terror of Demons

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

The Universal Church exults daily in the memory of Saint Joseph but especially each March 19th—the Solemnity of Saint Joseph.

It is often said that we know little information about Joseph and his life from Sacred Scripture. That assertion is clearly true.

But we can know something regarding this magnificent Saint. How? Not only by prayerfully meditating on the relevant passages in The Holy Bible but also by asking God Himself to teach us about this “just man” who is the Foster Father of Jesus, the chaste Husband of the Ever-Virgin Mary and the reliable Patron of the Universal Church.

The Lord has countless secrets to reveal to us about Joseph. God wants to instruct us in the ways of Joseph’s faith, perseverance, purity and loyalty.

The “Litany of Saint Joseph” is an excellent place to begin. The vivid titles convey so much meaning and truth. One of my favorite appellations from the Litany is “Terror of Demons.”

Satan and his cohort of fallen angels had no success in seducing Joseph. He checked his temper, he refrained from idle speech and he was righteous in his dealings with his neighbors. Because Joseph was close to the compassionate Almighty, he was enabled to overcome the vicious onslaught of Lucifer and his vindictive companions.

Those who turn to Saint Joseph for his powerful intercession and good example do much to keep Satan and the other wholly corrupt devils at bay. In this sense, Joseph is the Terror of Demons because when the friends of Jesus avail themselves of his salutary influence, Saint Joseph is for them a sure protection against the oppressive wiles of the Prince of Darkness.

There are numerous prayers to Saint Joseph. What follows is the “Consecration to Saint Joseph.”

O Blessed Saint Joseph!
I consecrate myself to thy honor, and give myself to thee, that thou mayest be always my father, my protector, and my guide to the way of salvation.
Obtain for me a great purity of heart and a fervent love of the interior life.
After thy example, may I perform all my actions for the greater glory of God, in union with the Divine Heart of Jesus, and the Immaculate Heart of Mary!
And do thou, O Blessed Joseph, pray for me,
that I may experience the peace and joy of thy holy death. Amen.

Sweet Heart of Mary, be my salvation!
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I give you my heart and my soul.
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I love you: save souls!
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, assist me in my last agony.
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, may I breathe forth my soul in peace with you. Amen.

With Saint Joseph as our help, we may confidently approach the Risen Lord Jesus Christ through Blessed Mary and realize that our humble efforts—poor as they are—will please our merciful God.

 Saint Joseph, Terror of Demons, pray for us!

St. Joseph Novena

NOVENA PRAYER – “a devotion of prayer on nine consecutive days”

Oh, Saint Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God, I place in you all my interests and desires. Oh, Saint Joseph, do assist me by your powerful intercession, and obtain for me from your Divine Son all spiritual blessings, through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. So that, having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of Fathers. Oh, Saint Joseph, I never weary of contemplating you, and Jesus asleep in your arms; I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press Him in my name and kiss His fine Head for me and ask Him to return the Kiss when I draw my dying breath. Saint Joseph, Patron of departing souls – pray for me. Amen.

– Saint Francis de Sales

(This prayer was found in the fiftieth year of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In 1505, it was sent from the Pope to Emperor Charles when he was going into battle. Whoever shall read this prayer or hear it or keep it about themselves, shall never die a sudden death, or be drowned, nor shall poison take effect on them; neither shall they fall into the hands of the enemy, or be burned in any fire or be overpowered in battle. Say for nine days for anything you may desire. It has never been known to fail, so be sure you really want what you ask.)

This novena may be offered to all categories.