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.


Weathering the Storms of Life

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

The weather has certainly given us something to talk about for the last week. It is funny how the warm summer days pass by with such ease and the wretched weather is remembered and lamented. Then again, last week the power was out, trees crashed to the ground and the ice was a monster. All that was followed by six inches of snow and the weather this week; so I guess it is fair to hold on to this latest round of winter discomfort a bit.

At the same time, we have experienced another example of the tyranny of the present. We want the good times to last and the frustrating ones to flee. The Lord calls us to be forward looking people of faith and gives us a way of living and being that is way easier said than done. The world is full of turmoil, violence and sin. God is ignored or used a means to justify sins of our day. We feel like we are up against the ropes being pummeled and all we really want to do is what is right and good.

During the Easter season, the Book of Revelation is a great salve for what pains us and a powerful reminder of what we are living for and how to attain it. This is a time of great distress, as it was in the times when John was writing. Our victory will never be found in our checkbooks, smooth faces or a perfect day well-spent; our victory is won through a long, hard slog of faith with Christ as our guide and support. Biological life is fleeting and changes like the day to day weather…our ultimate purpose is to join the great multitude in heaven and stand before the throne and before the Lamb where hunger and thirst are no longer worries like they are during this day we find ourselves in.

The pursuit of holiness is an experience of great effort, failings and growth. It is an aspiration of the soul for union with God that is forced to weather many storms. This beautiful aspiration also allows us to appreciate the good stretches of smooth sailing as well. In the midst of it all, our Easter season of joy allows us to be resolute and confident because our faith finds its truth in the Resurrection and the surety of Christ’s victory over sin and death. The gates of heaven have been opened and what awaits us makes the journey absolutely worthwhile.


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.


This is our Easter Joy!

Posted by Fr. Andrew Young, St. Joseph Cathedral

Happy Easter! Today we celebrate the greatest day of the Church year – the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! Imagine yourself back in the time of Christ, putting all of your hope and trust in this man who seemed to be what you expected in a Messiah.They had been waiting for the Messiah to come. This man seemed like the one. He was a guy who healed, cared for, welcomed and loved everyone, not just those who thought or acted like Him. They must have thought, this is HIM – the person who all the Scriptures had foretold would come and save His people. Great news! But then, in the dark of night He is arrested, beaten, crucified and hung on a cross for death. The one they had placed all their hope and trust in was a fake! Now what?

If we ended the story here, there would have really been no point to the coming of Jesus into the world. Death would still happen, sin would still prevail and there would be no hope for the gates of Heaven to be opened. We would have no hope – life would be a cruel trick. Fortunately, this is not where the story ends, but Jesus Christ truly did rise from the dead, opening the gates to Heaven for each of us – so that we too might enjoy eternal paradise with God.

So where does the story end for you? Do we simply stop at the cross and never proceed or do we advance to the resurrection? Do we get stuck in the grind of the day or the sufferings of this world, or do we look to the hope of the future? This world we live in passes away as will we. Our hope is in the resurrected Christ. Our hope is our own entry into Heaven to share in the heavenly banquet of Christ. Getting simply caught up in the things of this world, we will be like the disciples today that simply “seek the living one among the dead.” If we want to seek life, eternal life, we must look beyond the cross, beyond the daily struggles, beyond life on earth – to the resurrection!

This is our Easter Joy! Christ came among us not simply to live and die – but to rise again! Live today with this Easter Joy! Live this year with this Easter Joy! Live with Easter Joy, all the days of your life! Jesus Christ Is Risen, Let Us Rejoice and Be Glad!


Build Unity in Holiness Under the Banner of Christ

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

Last Wednesday Bishop Swain celebrated the Mass of the Blessing of the Oil of Catechumens, the Oil of the Sick and the Consecration of the Sacred Chrism. As explained in the liturgical guide, “this Mass, which the Bishop concelebrates with his college of presbyters and at which he consecrates the holy Chrism and blesses the other oils, manifests the communion of the presbyters with their Bishop. Presbyters are brought together and concelebrate this Mass as witnesses and cooperators with their Bishop in the consecration of the Chrism because they share in the sacred office of the Bishop in building up, sanctifying and ruling the people of God. This Mass is therefore a clear expression of the unity of the priesthood and sacrifice of Christ, which continues to be present in the Church”.

Implicit in the theological explanation of this Mass is also the unity of the People of God with our Bishop and priests of the diocese. Founded upon the common priesthood of our Baptism, the unity of the Church with Christ is the first of the four marks of the Church; One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic. This order is not arbitrary.

The rancor and fear that exists today in everything from politics to family life emanates from disunity; they are the byproducts of a deviation from God’s will and His Natural Law. The four marks of the Church are marching orders, it is what we should strive for and how we are called to live. This is Christ’s will for His Church.

At the same time, we have witnessed disunity in the Church that exists at its highest echelons. It exists in our diocese as well. This doesn’t mean the Church itself is less than holy, it means the humans who comprise it are in the same boat as all the sinful people Christ came to save. The Church is holy because of Christ, not its leaders or people. His Gospel, Sacraments and grace are what help us to be holy in His Church. We are all disappointed in the way the world is going, including the public sins of our beloved Church. That is why we will do well to heed the Gospel lesson Christ gives us today of the woman caught in adultery. Instead of throwing stones at each other or giving up on the Church because of the sins of others, wouldn’t we do well to concentrate on reforming our sinful ways and strive to build unity in holiness under the banner of Christ?

Lent is rapidly building to a crescendo to Palm Sunday, the start of Holy Week. Use the confessional in the days ahead to confess sins and strive to fully enter into this most holy time of the year through an increase of fasting, prayer and alms-giving. The Church exists for the sanctification of the world and the salvation of souls. Now is the time to avail ourselves to the mercy Christ exemplified in today’s Gospel…our pathway to living in peace through unity and holiness before the Lord.


Laetare, Jerusalem!…..Be joyful Jerusalem!!

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

Lots of wind and chill this week; and just as we declare victory over our icy sidewalks and begin to believe that our salt stockpiles might just make it through the season a new enemy begins to show…Spring.

This is not some official declaration that Spring has sprung, rather its an admission that whatever plateau we think we have arrived at there are more challenges ahead. While the weather has been dreary, and the snow melt offers entirely new struggles, it seems we have taken it with a grain of salt (pun intended). Why? We have begun to dream about warm sunny days and flowers blooming. All we have to do is endure March, realize there may be another blizzard or two and wait for warm weather to come to us.

This is Laetare Sunday, and the reason to rejoice can be founded upon the fact that time is passing quickly and the rigor of Lent is leading to the joy our hearts seek; our Redemption that is won through Christ.

Look at the way in which we see time as an ally regarding the coming of Spring; conversations are hopeful, the gallows humor of shared winter miseries has abated, and we are more resolute in our determination to negate the effect of the weather on our moods. All this stems from what we perceive in the air, our memory in which the way winter’s back is broken year in and year out is recalled and our will to be stoic in the face of what the rest of winter may have in store for us.

Do not miss the spiritual parallel here! Our joy this day springs from the fact we are making progress in time as we advance toward Holy Week and Easter, but it must be realized as more than chronological progress. Hopefully our joy is founded upon the spiritual progress we seek due to our prayer, fasting and almsgiving in cooperation with the gifts of grace.

Time and eternity cooperate in our lives. If we look upon time as an enemy, we are going to miss the awareness of God’s will in the challenges and joys of daily life and fail to integrate our toils in time with the eternal now of God beckoning us toward heaven.

Lent is a gift. This is the time set aside each year to attune our memory, intellect and will to the eternal Will of God so that it harmonizes with our daily life. Time wants to teach us to stave off death by seeking comfort and peace in material things. The eternal gives life and answers all questions about time. Lent implores us to adorn our souls with virtue. Time doesn’t last….its NOT eternal. Christ calls us forward and wins for us life eternal; which is the better deal? Throughout these winter months we dressed warmly, shoveled our driveways and endured icy blasts of wind and snow, all the while knowing better days were ahead. We better be doing the same for our souls; shielding ourselves from sin through the practice and use of virtue, eradicating sin from our lives and adorning ourselves with a love for charity. Through these practices, time will never seem like a tyrant because it will be our ally. With our minds and hearts fixed firmly on the desire for holiness and life eternal we can live in the eternal now of God despite what the seasons of life throw at us.



Lenten Efforts Spring from the Heart

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

The Transfiguration of Christ gives great insight to the meaning of the adage ‘action follows Being’. It points to this theological reality and our desire as children of God; we want to be like Christ and we want to act like Him. Our actions either confirm or betray what is in our hearts and the way we respond to Christ. Our heart or soul is that immaterial part of us where our Being (who we are, what we are, that we are) and the Truth of God intersect. This combination and interaction is the life-force of God that creates and sustains us. The glorious Transfiguration not only tells us who Jesus is, but helps us understand what His mission really means for all of Creation. His actions follow upon Being; the great I AM who is life itself. Hence, as the Divine Redeemer, Christ gives life where death seeks to prevail, healing where sin abounds.

 Fasting, prayer and almsgiving is never a ‘hurts so good’ proposition that we engage in to appease God as if to hold back His vengeful hand. What we are seeking to do is purify our intellect so that we can see rightly the things of the world in relation to eternal life. At the same time, we seek to straighten and correct the willfulness that causes us to deviate from the will of God; we want our minds right, we desire to choose the Good. Our triumvirate of Lenten practices is about much more than human effort because grace abounds in the midst of our Being and actions…we are not alone in the barrenness of Lent, we are cooperating with God.

There is no scandal to the Cross, as if Christ’s road to Calvary and subsequent crucifixion was a failure…Christ’s death was permitted by the Father so the Son could conquer death and give us life eternal. As we progress through Lent, our increase in fasting, prayer and almsgiving are efforts that spring from the heart; a purity of intent for the sake of purity in action. We are making room for God in our hearts in order for our sinful nature to be eradicated, that we may act in accord with His will. The Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Christ. As we receive Him at this Mass, remember it is Christ who is part of us, feeding our soul in the most intimate manner so we may act upon His loving initiative and ‘Be’ His children in thought, word and deed.


Lenten Sacrifices

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

As we begin this season of Lent, what really matters is where it leads us. We know by our place in the history of Salvation that Lent ends in Easter joy. We prepare by rending our hearts to the Lord in fasting, prayer and almsgiving; a Lenten journey that seeks to raise our spiritual aspirations above what we demand for our bodily needs. To borrow a phrase from our Declaration of Independence, we desire pretty basic things: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The methods we use to attain these goals and what we define these as can complicate our spiritual life and lead us away from the goal of heaven and the Gospel of Christ.

 Lent is more than giving something up for the sake of the season. At its core, Lent is a recalibration of the methodology we use to live our American values within the context of Gospel holiness. When we choose to ‘give something up’ or exercise a corporal or spiritual work of mercy each day, it is imperative that we place our sacrifices in terms of our own sinfulness and desire to be reconciled to God.

 Have we noticed the amount of noise in our lives? The television barks about the dire political and economic woes facing the world, our radios blare as we put on our socks or find ourselves stuck in traffic. We feel we have to be constantly engaged on the cell phone, on the computer and social expectations keep us on the run. “It’s life!” we say, but how important to our lives is the question. Even in the midst of our Lenten sacrifices, can’t we just slow down and disconnect a little more? If we could do this, we’d have more time to reflect and listen to the Lord instead of the constant jabbering of daily life.

 We seem to refute the possibility that time can indulge us in the pursuit of quiet prayer and reflection. If we are too filled and preoccupied with the things in life, where will we ever find the life that is Christ? One hour out of a week that has 168 isn’t going to leave us as filled as Christ promises or desires us to experience. Careful examination of time will lead us to surprising conclusions, foremost of which is the fact that we have more time for what is spiritual than we realize.


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!