Are Our Excuses Lame?

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

The blame game never works. Retribution against an opponent on the playing field is the act the referee  always seems to notice, not the instigation. Trying to shift responsibility onto bosses or co-workers for less-than-optimal performance or results  never looks good and is a weak defense. As we see in the Gospel today, it doesn’t work with Jesus either.

When the servant was called to account for his fearful inaction he decided his best defense was not true honesty or self-examination, it was to accuse his Master for somehow forcing him to bury his talent. Was the Master as terribly demanding as  the servant accused him of being? We can reasonably assume by the manner in which he doled out his possessions that the Master was prudent with his treasure and just in dealing with his servants. All three accepted their Master’s generosity. Unfortunately for the third servant, he just didn’t get it…the Master wasn’t just giving him a task, he investing in the servant; and that servant took the easy way out. He did nothing and then blamed the Master for his deficiencies.

The blame game may be a popular strategy, but that doesn’t mean it works well. True intellectual and spiritual maturity allows us to see our own culpability and shortcomings so that we can honestly assess ourselves and dissect the chain of events like the one  we experience in today’s Gospel. The responsibility of this episode was not due solely to the fact that the Master was a demanding man as the servant tried to contend. His excuses were lame.

Are our excuses lame? It is like the time the man enters the Confessional to confess his sins to the old Monsignor. He begins, “Bless me Father, for I have sinned. My wife……”

As we continue through the month  of November praying for the souls in Purgatory, we also remain focused on the Four Last Things: Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell. A good prayer point for reflection is an assessment on how much and how often we employ the blame-game to exonerate our own actions or inaction in order to shift responsibility to others. Remember the words of St. Augustine. “The more we pay attention to the sins of others, the less attention we pay to our own.”  Our spiritual life and the custody of our souls is the most important ‘talent’ the Lord has entrusted to us. Careful reflection upon our actions and desires in the daily situations of our lives is key to our growth, maturity and holiness. We will serve God and ourselves if we use this time well.


The Synod of Bishops

Posted by Fr. Andrew Young, St. Joseph Cathedral

Over the past two weeks the headlines on most television networks, newspapers and magazines has been about what is going on in Vatican City with the Synod of Bishops. All the headlines seem to say that “change is in the air” but of course, most of that is simply speculation from the media. This Synod of Bishops does give us an opportunity to  understand the workings of the Church in a more profound way. How the Holy Father, Pope Francis, works in conjunction with the College of Bishops to  tackle difficult questions and challenges within our society and Church. Our world today is not the same place as it was 200 years ago,  we all know that fact. How the Church responds to modern problems, especially those that affect the modern family, are essential and need a clear teaching.

Shortly after the  Second Vatican Council in 1965, to continue the spirit of collegiality and communion among all the Bishops of the world, Pope Paul VI established the permanent institution in the Catholic Church called the Synod of Bishops. It is an assembly of Bishops from around the world who assist the Pope on important issues facing the Church. The Synod of Bishops can meet as a General Assembly in two different kinds of sessions – Ordinary or Extraordinary. The Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops are convened to deal with matters “which require a speedy solution” and which demand “immediate attention for the good of the entire Church.” The Synod that we have been hearing so much about for the past two weeks is an Extraordinary General Assembly, only the third ever held since the creation of the institution in 1965.

This year’s Synod  was convened on October 5th and finished on Ocotber 19th in Vatican City. It assembled Bishops of many ethnic backgrounds and cultures from around the world along side Pope Francis. The Synod looked at topics that relate to the family and evangelization – The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization. A vast array of discussion items fell under this umbrella, a few of which have been highlighted by the news – Church teaching on the indissolvability of marriage, divorce, remarriage, same-sex attraction, openness to life, and contraception. The hope was that the “synod of fathers would thoroughly examine and analyze the information, testimonies and recommendations received from the particular Churches in order to respond to the new challenges of the family.” In 2015, an Ordinary General Assembly of Bishops, representing a greater number of Bishops from around the world, will continue the work of the just completed Synod and reflect further on the points discussed and distribute guidelines for the faithful and pastors to implement.

n the opening homily of the Synod on October 5th, Pope Francis laid the groundwork for the Bishops so that free, open and frank discussions could be held for the greater good of the faithful and Christ’s Church. He said, “Synod Assemblies are not meant to discuss beautiful and clever ideas, or to see who is more intelligent. They are meant to better nurture and  tend the Lord’s vineyard, to help realize his dream, his loving plan for his people. In this case the Lord is asking us to care for the family, which has been from the beginning an integral part of his loving plan for humanity.” May the work that our Bishop’s completed in this Synod continue to bear fruit in all our
families and in the family of the Church.


Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul

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

The main steps to the entrance of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome are flanked by two huge statues: one of St. Peter holding the keys of the kingdom, the other is St. Paul holding his epistles and a sword. In these two great saints of our Church we commemorate not just the example of their lives in Christ, but the Church itself as well; One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic.

These four marks of the Church are attributes really, “inseparably linked with each other,
indicating essential features of the Church and her mission” (CCC #811). This paragraph in our Catechism goes on to explain that “the Church does not possess them of herself; it is Christ who, through the power of the Holy Spirit makes His Church One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic, and it is He who calls her to realize these qualities”.

That’s right; we are called to realize these qualities….to make them happen. From teaching our children the faith to avoiding the sins our culture readily encourages us to partake in, our unity as the People of God is the reflection of our union with Christ. The source for our Church is Christ Himself, and the mysteries that surround her cannot be reduced to what we think or want them to be. We must be careful to avoid forming Christ in our own image, but to be formed in the image and likeness of Christ. The dissension, conflict and selfishness we see at work in the world today are directly attributable to the fact that God is being ignored. Luckily, these two great saints we remember today did not ignore Christ. Sure they made mistakes and struggled mightily to live in holiness, they readily admitted their weakness; but they stayed in the game, a living testimony to the faith that remains today as proof that the Church is alive despite the frailty of members. Christ is alive; hence the Church lives as well.

Every time we enter the Cathedral through the main doors we pass under the gaze of St. Peter and St. Paul who flank the depiction of Christ the King. Each year we commemorate these great saints while at the same time proclaiming yet again “Christ yesterday, today and forever”. Our unity as Church means we never forget the treasures the past has provided for us in the present as we continue to proclaim and teach the faith for the sake of future generations. This is our unbreakable bond with Saints Peter and Paul because it is our bond with Christ Himself. It is our treasure, blessed assurance and joy. Happy Feast Day!


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.


St. Joseph the Worker

Posted by Fr. Andrew Young, St. Joseph Cathedral

This past Wednesday, the Church celebrated the Feast Day of Saint Joseph the Worker. Since our parish is the Cathedral of Saint Joseph it was a blessing to be able to celebrate with those that attended our daily Mass but also to begin what we hope to be an annual choral concert. It was a fine job by our choir and all those who participated…special thanks to Dr. Ostermann for all his hard work!

Saint Joseph is a model for each of us, both men and women, by his commitment to serving God through his self-sacrificing love for Mary and Jesus. Saint Joseph did not have an easy life, but one which required him to work by the sweat of his brow. One of my favorite images in the Cathedral is the rose window near the altar of Saint Joseph. In the center we have the beloved spouse of Mary, Joseph, who is surrounded by all the different images of men carrying out their vocations in their lives. It might just be my way of looking at this rose window, but in my mind, the image that appears directly above Saint Joseph, the one at 12 o’clock would be the pinnacle, most important. What is man doing in this image – working, hard labor! Saint Joseph was a worker and he passed this human trait along to Jesus who also was a carpenter like Joseph.

The work that each of us does has a purpose and it is not just simply for financial gain. Our work has not only a natural, human purpose but a supernatural one as well. When we work, we truly participate in the creative work of God, we join ourselves to Saint Joseph and to Christ, who both worked. But in doing this creative work, we also are able to provide a living for our loved ones, feel a sense of accomplishment in our lives, and contribute to
society by giving needed help to others. When our work loses the supernatural aspect or simply becomes a means for ourselves to benefit, we forfeit the chance of allowing our efforts and work to sanctify us and grow in closer communion with Christ.

Take a minute to think about one person in your life, and it could even be yourself, who loves the work that they do. Why? I guarantee you that if the reason they love their work is based simply upon their paycheck, vacation dates or luxurious lifestyle – they really don’t love the job. They love their work because they feel like they are making a difference in the world, they are able to reach someone, they are able to participate in the work of Christ by being Christ to others. I absolutely love being a priest! Why do I love this “work”? Because I am able to carry out the work of Christ, whether it be in baptizing a baby, preparing a couple for marriage, grieving with a family who lost a loved one, or hanging out with the junior high kids at O’Gorman – seeing both the natural and supernatural purposes – and making me a better man and priest!

Saint Joseph the Worker, help each of us to realize and come to know how the work that we do, no matter how ordinary, can be made holy, which in turn can make us holy and allow us to truly participate in Christ’s work of salvation.


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

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!

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.


 “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 (

 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!