Rest and Re-creation on Sunday

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

As summer gets into full swing, this ‘oldie but goodie’ may help us to refine and perfect a particular virtue that can be a joy to undertake; the little-known virtue of Eutrapelia. St. Thomas Aquinas describes eutrapelia as the ‘habit of a pleasant and cheerful turn of mind’. While at one level eutrapelia is the habit of solid and good recreation for the sake of our sanity, it is really an expression of our inner righteousness that is manifested in outer decorum.

We all recognize the human need to relax and play; a turning away from the pressure and drudgery of work to recharge our batteries. Paying attention to our rest is vital to our health, but part of this equation is relaxation through exercise, games or a lazy day with a good book. The question is how and when we play. Balance is the key, because we don’t want to be addicted to our pastimes, and they must never be indecent or cause injury through carelessness or malice; don’t let leisure become an occasion of sin! Another big factor is timing. Missing Mass for the sake of games or through a self-imposed dispensation from Sunday Mass because we are ‘on vacation’ is just plain sinful and a needless omission of our spiritual duties. Blowing off Mass cannot be justified, especially in light of the number of Masses available in our area and around our state on the weekends. Hopefully we put more effort in fulfilling our weekly Mass responsibility than we do in pursuit of games and vacations. Some of us know the feeling of dread when trying to find Mass in a strange place or what it is like when the Mass times listed in the motel directory are incorrect and we are stuck; when this happens, the Church in Her compassion provides for these situations. The question then becomes whether we planned for this possibility as well as we planned for the vacation in the first place.

The commandment reads “keep holy the Lord’s day”. Lately that seems to mean a free day to do as we please; for example, yard work that absolutely must be finished ‘today’. God has given us a built-in free day in our busy life. Don’t fill it up with more of the daily grind, relax well and refer it to God. Recreation means re-creation; it’s the Lord’s Day in which we partake, sharing and experiencing in the joy and beauty of Creation. If this day is purely self-referred and we think it means we can do whatever we want, we miss out on God and His glory.

When we render the praise that God is due, wherever we are, we are content and avoid sin…needless sin at that. If you are away from home, 1-800-MASSTIMES will help you find where you need to go. Develop the virtue of Eutrepelia. Play hard, play well and go to Mass on Sunday. Summer is fun, but it is short, so make the most of it in a well-rounded, spiritual way. Happy Father’s Day!!!!

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!


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.


Saint Day Celebrations

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

This past Thursday, the Church celebrated his martyrdom with simplicity at our daily Masses. Not so in New York’s ‘Little Italy’ though! St. Januarius was martyred in 305 AD by the emperor Diocletian who had him thrown to bears in Pozzuoli, Italy. When Father Young, his sister Amy, my nephew Luke and I happened upon the famous ten-block Italian-American enclave in the heart of Manhattan, the yearly festival was in full swing. It was a scene to behold; an endless array of food vendors, Italian restaurants, merchants hawking their wares and lively arguments in Italian every time you turned around. The 11 day festival is alive with energy, fun and food, but the people there make no apologies that it is a religious celebration. At the center of it all is the Most Precious Blood Church; a simple little Italian parish church that is the national shrine of St. Januarius or ‘San Gennaro’. Set back from the narrow street, you entered a courtyard where a sad, large wall commemorates the parish’s war dead since the First World War. We were struck by the number of last names that were the same throughout all these wars our nation fought. Brothers and cousins…and heartbroken families who paid the ultimate price for pursuing what they knew to be the right thing to do.

 The Church of the Most Precious Blood is not an architectural gem, nor does its beauty take your breath away. When we walked in for our visit, it was like walking into a well-worn home of a large family. Simple faith oozed from every nook and cranny. The statues were old, but were adorned with a fresh coat of paint and dollar bills pinned to the ribbons streaming aprons affixed to them. Most telling of all was the number of people of all ethnicities and ages praying there in simplicity and solitude.

 The miracle of the liquefaction of his blood occurs three times a year; September 19th (Feast Day), December 16th(Patronal Feast Day of Naples) and the Saturday before the first Sunday in May. While it has never been explained by science, the people know how to explain it. They don’t seek to explain their faith through science because they live it through experience.

 Our Gospel today reminds us that we cannot serve both God and mammon. In our lives and dealings, when our simple faith guides our actions and outlooks we are able to constantly place the allurements of the world into proper perspective. We leave this world with same things we entered it with. Christ’s main concern is our souls. The Church exists to guide and guard us through the dangers that exist to our souls and to help us on our pilgrimage of faith. The Feast of San Gennaro is an example of simple faith in action. The money they raise goes to the poor and disadvantaged people throughout New York City…It has never been used to fill parish coffers. The losses their parish endured due to war impelled them to care for the other orphans of war throughout their city. This simple example of faith in action has endured mafia interference, get rich marketing and a whole host of other distractions. The festival has stayed true to its intent. When we stick closely to our intent, we are well on our way to the true and lasting riches of heaven.


Pope Francis Doesn’t Cease to Surprise Us!

Posted by Fr. Andrew Young, St. Joseph Cathedral

We can read all throughout Scripture where our Lord surprises, amazes and astounds the crowds as well as His own disciples. Whether it be through His miraculous healings, seemingly contradictory practices or His simplicity and humility, He surprises.

Pope Francis in many ways carries out some of these same characteristics in how he has served as our Holy Father whether it be in his actions, writings or decisions. He doesn’t cease to surprise us!

Actions: Just last week he decided to go to Lampedusa, a small island off the coast of Italy, to show his support for immigrants. Weeks ago, a group of immigrants were trying to make it to the island from Tunisia, but the small boat ended up sinking causing the death of many. Pope Francis went to this small island to show his support and love for the marginalized, particularly the many immigrants that have died while trying to make the dangerous journey from Africa to Italy. Not something I would have expected of the Holy Father, especially without at least six months of planning or organizing!

Writings: Additionally, Pope Francis released his first encyclical, Lumen Fidei, the Light of Faith, which was not only written by him, but also Pope Benedict XVI – four hands, not two! Not something that has been done or at least publically acknowledged in the past. I encourage you to pick up this encyclical either at the Vatican website or eventually at one of our local bookstores. As we read this document, the hope is that it will surprise us at the gift of faith that is in our life. So often we just take our faith for granted – something we just have or do. We forget that our faith helps lead us to a true encounter with Jesus Christ and if we don’t nurture it, our faith begins to fade. In the encyclical, Pope Francis says,

“There is an urgent need, then, to see once again that faith is a light, for once the flame of faith dies out, other lights begin to dim….faith, received from God as a supernatural gift, becomes a light for our way, guiding our journey through time.”

Decisions: Not only that, but Pope Francis also announced the approval for canonization of two of our most recent Popes – Blessed John Paul II and Blessed John XXIII. This is cause for surprise as well, since Blessed John XXIII only has one recorded miracle and not the required two miracles for canonization – but he is the Pope!

 One thing is for certain, Pope Francis does not cease to amaze us in his role as the Holy Father. TIME Magazine agrees when it reported that religion is “IN”. Why? Because of the example – and might I say surprises – of Pope Francis. Let us pray that we too can draw people to believe in Jesus Christ through our own actions, words and decisions – our own little surprises. The Good Samaritan in our Gospel today, surprised the man who was injured along the side of the road. Who are you willing to surprise today?

The Blessing of Being a Priest

Posted by Fr. Andrew Young, St. Joseph Cathedral

Believe it or not, this weekend marks my one-year anniversary of being a priest – June, 29th. This year has truly been a blessing for me and sure has gone fast. After initially hearing the call to become a priest when I was younger, it took me some time to finally take that leap of faith and trust in God’s providence. I am sure glad that I finally did! This year has been a lot of firsts – saying my first Mass, funerals, anointing the sick and dying and so many more. Now as I transition into year two, I will not be able to rely or blame my missteps on being a “baby” priest! I guess I am a veteran – well not really.

I do want to thank the parishioners of the Cathedral of Saint Joseph for being so kind to me over this past year of priesthood. With any new priest, it takes time to get to know them and to see the little things that they may do different than other priests. The real gift though is that each of us as priests are different and unique –bringing our own gifts as well as our own weaknesses into the parish. You have been extremely supportive and welcoming towards me throughout this journey and I look forward to another year celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and all the Sacraments with each of you.

In my own reflection on this year, I would like to share some words of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. I pray that I will be able to fulfill his vision of the mission of a priest as he sees it in the world, especially here at the Cathedral and in my other ministries as Chaplain of O’Gorman Junior High School and the Military Archdiocese.

“As an act of infinite mercy, he (Christ) calls some ‘to be’ with him and to become, through the Sacrament of Orders, despite their human poverty, sharers in his own priesthood, ministers of this sanctification, stewards of his mysteries, ‘bridges’ to the encounter with him and of his mediation between God and man and between man and God.” Please pray for me as I pray for you that I may be a suitable bridge – not a bridge to nowhere – but a bridge that will lead each of us to a closer relationship with Jesus Christ.

Saint Peter and Saint Paul, the Apostles whose feast I was ordained…Pray for us.


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.


Divine Mercy Sunday

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

Divine Mercy Sunday is an Easter gift from Christ to His Church that invites us to indulge and revel in His unfathomable mercy while we celebrate the Resurrection. It makes sense really, because the two go hand in hand. The God-made-man suffered and died for our sins, and through His singular intent to carry out the Father’s will, was raised from the dead to crown His victory over sin and death. Mercy and the power of God: this is our refuge as sinners, the means through which our intention and hope in life is fulfilled and brought to its true destination in heaven.

The message of Jesus’ Divine Mercy was given to Sister Faustina, a simple Polish nun, who
became one of the great saints of the twentieth century. Her simple diary described the incredible visions and revelations that Christ provided her for the singular sake of redeeming souls. She was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2000, and it was his wish that the entire message of Christ as spoken through St. Faustina be observed and applied on the Second Sunday of Easter.

Today’s readings speak of this mercy as they point to Christ’s invitation to trust in His benevolent mercy and desire to forgive our sins. It is a call to face the trials and tribulations of the present day and future with a steadfast participation in Christ’s mercy by performance of corporal works of mercy, prayer to His Divine Heart and meditation on the meaning of His great love and mercy. Divine Mercy is Christ’s Easter gift to His Church. We only need to gaze upon the blood and water flowing from His side to see that this blood of Golgotha speaks of His willingness to die for us as the water of Baptism recalls the forgiveness of sins at Baptism and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Christ’s singular attention was focused on completing His Father’s will. His sacrifice brought about our Redemption, which is mercy itself. Seek the meaning of this mercy in your prayer today, and the ways in which you apply it to your daily life.


We Have a Pope!!

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank you for granting us your servant, Pope Francis.  May you inspire in his heart the spirit of St. Francis, a spirit of humility, spiritual poverty, and tireless devotion to your love.  Grant him a sincere understanding of your will that he may rebuild your Church and offer her new strength.  Remain close to his heart that he may reflect to the world the love of your Son.



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.