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.

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.


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


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.

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 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 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.

Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary

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

October 7th is the day on which the Church especially honors the Blessed Virgin Mary under her glorious title, “Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary.”

Father Luigi Gambero, an Italian Marianist priest who has considerable expertise in the study of the Fathers of the Church, identifies dozens of passages regarding Mary and her singular mission which were written in the early centuries immediately after the Passion, Death, Resurrection and Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ. In Mary and the Fathers of the Church: The Blessed Virgin Mary in Patristic Thought (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1999), Father Gambero demonstrates that our filial love for the Ever-Virgin Mother of the Savior and our sincere devotion to “telling the beads” are deeply rooted in the history, theology and practice of the Church.

For example, Saint Peter Chrysologus (c.380-c.450), Bishop and Doctor, whose Feast is July 30th, was convinced of the necessity of devotion to Mary. He penned these words about 1,600 years ago: “He who is not awestruck by this Virgin’s spirit and who does not admire her soul is ignorant of how great God is. Heaven trembles, angels quake, creation cannot bear it, nature is helpless—yet a girl carries God in her womb; she receives Him into herself and offers Him a dwelling place.”

For Saint Peter Chrysologus, such a truth evident in the following demands that the faithful everywhere honor that fair woman whom we salute in the Litany of Loreto as the Cause of our Joy. “Truly blessed is she who was greater than the heavens, stronger than the earth, vaster than the globe. For she alone contained within herself that God Whom the world cannot contain: she bore Him Who bears the world; she gave birth to her Father; she nursed Him Who nurtures every living thing.”

One may argue: “I do not find anything in this text or, for that matter, in any works of the Church Fathers that advocates the praying of the Rosary, which is, after all, a much later development in Christian piety.”

Yes, the Rosary is a “later development.” Nevertheless, Saint Peter Chrysologus and the other Fathers of the Church lay the essential foundation. It is right and just that we invoke the Mother of the Master. She is close to Him in Paradise as she was here on earth. The Rosary is the ideal prayer. Blessed John Paul II conceded that it was his “favorite” prayer.

This excellent book, Mary and the Fathers of the Church: The Blessed Virgin Mary in Patristic Thought provides salutary reflection particularly in this month of Our Dear Mother whom we venerate with our Rosaries in hand.

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

At the Cross Her Station Keeping

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

 “Near the cross stood His Mother . . . .”

  Mary, the faithful Virgin, was close to her beloved Son Jesus Christ on Calvary. She accompanied Him to His painful death and participated in His redemption of the human race.

Today the Universal Church, on the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows, recalls the Madonna’s eager willingness to suffer with Christ. This heroic surrender helped to effect our much-needed reconciliation with the Godhead. Because of the transgression of our first parents Adam and Eve, we were at enmity with God. Thanks to what the obedient Messiah and His humble Mother did on Calvary, misguided humanity enjoyed the long-anticipated possibility of a release from that awful sin which drove a large wedge between itself and its benevolent Creator.

  When we receive the Sacrament of Baptism, the Redemption wrought by Jesus blossoms in our souls. Baptism brings about the remission of Original Sin, the bestowal of Sanctifying Grace and our incorporation into the Mystical Body of Christ, not to mention—among other salutary results—the infusion of the three theological virtues (Faith, Hope and Charity), the four Cardinal Virtues (Prudence, Justice, Fortitude and Temperance) and the seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit (Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety and Fear of the Lord).

 There would be no graces of Baptism if Jesus had not freely died for us on the cross. The Father deigned that we would return to His friendship by way of the Precious Blood-stained wood of the cross and the selfless offering of Jesus by His Sorrowful Mother.

 The huge and significant part that Our Lady played in our redemption is, sadly, often forgotten. The Mother who generously accepted Him into her chaste womb at the Annunciation now on Calvary consented to His death. Both the Annunciation and the death of Christ demanded a prompt fiat from the sinless Maiden of Nazareth. And in both instances she splendidly fulfilled the Almighty’s command.

The Ever-Virgin’s entire existence—from her Immaculate Conception through her glorification in Heaven—was nothing but one unbroken “Let it be as you say” to the Lord. She never denied Him any request but continually embraced His mysterious plan for herself as well as His designs for all his sons and daughters.

 Mary’s availability to the Lord was remarkable. In one of his Sermons, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) hailed Our Sorrowful Mother and addressed her thus: “Thus the violence of sorrow has cut through your Heart, and we rightly call you more than martyr, since the effect of compassion in you has gone beyond the endurance of physical suffering.”

 Saint Bernard cautioned his listeners: “Do not be surprised, brothers, that Mary is said to be a martyr in spirit. Let him be surprised who does not remember the words of Paul, that one of the greatest crimes of the Gentiles was that they were without love. That was far from the Heart of Mary; let it be far from her servants.”

 Steeped in charity, Our Lady cooperated with Jesus as He opened the gates of Heaven for us by dying on the cross and rising from the grave. Let us not disdain the invitation of the Son and His Mother that—in God’s good time—we join them for all eternity in Paradise.

 Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us!