The Church’s Wisdom is Imperative for our Time

Posted 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, which contributes to a sense of malaise that is increasingly difficult to avoid.

These days, it seems that any answer 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. Lack of civility is rampant and the discord we all experience demands that God not be mentioned anywhere in the public arena. The United States Army this week was cowed into removing ‘For God and Country’ from their recruitment advertising. What are we so afraid of? Ordinary Time has returned to our Church calendar. Can we spend time studying and researching 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 the 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, the price we pay will be high. 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 bill already due 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 & divorce
· The dramatic lessening of respect for women by men
· The coercive use of reproductive technology on women

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 can do is eradicate any filth from our lives now. We must 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 outthink God and the Church, it is imperative that we learn what She teaches and why … then live in the freedom Christ extends to us through Her. This freedom will enable us to live in the world and be untainted by it.


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.


Allow the Eucharist to Bear Fruit in Our Hearts

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

When you have received Him, stir up your heart to do Him homage; speak to Him about your spiritual life, gazing upon Him in your soul where he is present for your happiness; welcome Him as warmly as possible, and behave outwardly in such a way that your actions give proof to His presence.
 –  St. Francis De Sales

  Truth is, I worry that we fritter away the most holy and intimate time we have with Christ in the moments immediately following our reception of the Body and Blood of Christ. It is hard for priests sometimes to distribute Holy Communion into hands of disinterest then see the communicant return to their pew and do nothing but wait for the Mass to end. Priests don’t watch and check, but we do see; and for all the time that we do not have (or give) during the week to pray, these precious minutes are more valuable than any of our other activities we have in our lives.

 When my brothers and sisters were little, we thought our mother used the Eucharist as a convenient method to keep us from arguing or fighting in the car on the way home from Church. (Joan invariably would accuse me of some dastardly deed during Mass.) But her insistence on prayer and posture immediately after communion in the pew and on the way home was part of the reverence that the Eucharist demands of us, not one of control.

 Christ’s victory over death is ours if we choose to accept it. This acceptance is received, not taken. In order for it to bear fruit in our hearts and lives we must digest this spiritual food in precisely the same manner that St. Francis DeSales suggests. The Eucharist is unlike any other meal of sustenance during the week that is eaten, then forgotten. Its power ranges far beyond feeling or taste because as the Bread of Life it is perceived by faith, and then experienced through our cooperation with the grace it provides.

 Our persistence in prayer is vital to our life in the Eucharist. The combination of the two will help to mold and shape us in the manner we ultimately desire. Resistance to prayer in the form of all our excuses, reasons and omissions prevents us from learning or uncovering these desires, because it is through our prayer that these desires become known to us.

 We all want to go to Heaven, right? Heaven is complete union with God, a sublime reality far beyond human measure, yet realized faintly and persistently throughout our lives. The Body and Blood of Christ coupled with our prayer lives are forms of that union with God we ultimately hope to experience perfectly. In ways perceptible to our senses, this precious Sacrament is received in a human manner to be enlightened by our faith and emboldened by the power of God. This gift of God is exactly what Christ proclaimed it to be: “This is my Body…This is my Blood”. It deserves our utmost respect and reverence as well as our persistent efforts to understand its importance to the world and our eternal life.


The Virtue of Eutrapelia

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

Is there such a thing as too much play? Now that’s a question my Dad and I went round and round about when I was younger, and of course he was right pretty much every time. A lot of times my study of theology in the seminary was punctuated by remorse over how untrusting I was of his wisdom…I’m definitely not as smart as I thought I was.

 There is however a little known virtue called Eutrapelia, which is the ‘habit of a pleasant and cheerful turn of mind’. It’s a habit of solid and good recreation, the human need to relax and play; to turn away from the pressure and drudgery of work and recharge our batteries. We all must pay attention to our rest, but part of this equation is relaxation through games, especially to relieve tension. We all recognize this need, and luckily, so does God.

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. A big factor, and one my Dad was always careful to monitor is the question of timing. Missing Mass for the sake of games is just plain sinful, and a needless omission of our spiritual duties. Blowing Mass off cannot be justified, especially in light of the number of Masses available in our area and around the state on Saturday and Sunday. Hopefully we put more effort in fulfilling our weekly Mass responsibility than we do in pursuit of games and vacations. We all have our experiences of dread when trying to find Mass in a strange place, or if the Mass times were listed incorrectly and we are stuck, and when this happens the Church provides for these situations. The question then becomes whether we planned for this possibility as well as we planned for our vacation or pastime in the first place.

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, there are many ways to find Masses near your location. I googled “Mass timesUSA” and found numerous websites and telephone services that can help us to find Mass anywhere. There is no vacation from the 10 Commandments, and our steadfast observance of them in all situations provides the proper example for children and loved ones alike. Develop the virtue of Eutrapelia. Play hard, play well and go to Church.  Summer is fun, but it is short, so make the most of it in a well-rounded, spiritual way.


Search 2013 – Be one of God’s troopers

Ephesians 6:10-17

Battle against Evil.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.


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!


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.



God Bless You Pope Benedict XVI!

Posted by Fr. Andrew Young, St. Joseph Cathedral

Habeumus Papam! We have a Pope! I think most of us remember that day eight years ago, after the passing of Blessed John Paul II, when the Cardinals in Rome elected a new Pope! Where were you when this happened? I remember that I had taken the morning off as a Marine to go and apply for a teaching job at the local Catholic School. I walked into the school all dressed up in my suit and the priest grabbed me and dragged me into the principal’s office because the white smoke was spotted coming up from the chimney above the Sistine Chapel. So my interview began with the entire staff around this table waiting for the newly elected Pope to come out onto the balcony of Saint Peter’s Basilica! As they announced Joseph Ratzinger, I was filled with joy. I had read some of his books and thought him to be a brilliant man, but most importantly a man who loved the Church that he had served for many years.

When I look back at the past eight years, my own journey to priesthood was influenced and helped by the example and witness of Pope Benedict. It was under his time as Pope that I took the leap of faith out of my comfort zone and decided to enter into seminary thinking that I might be called to be a priest. While studying at Holy Apostles in Connecticut, I had the privilege of traveling down to New York with the seminary to be present when he made his pilgrimage to the United States. Our seminary was the first to arrive at the field where the event was to occur – practically 10 hours later! I thought I had it great being only about 25 yards from where the Holy Father addressed the crowd! I thought it couldn’t get much better than that until I was told that I would spend my final four years of seminary in Rome, Italy, less that 5 minutes from Saint Peter’s Basilica! Throughout those four years I was able to go to many of Pope Benedict’s Masses, General Audiences, and Angelus Prayers on Sunday. I grew to love him even more through these different encounters but hoped one day I would actually get to shake his hand and greet him.

My third year of study in Rome, our college celebrated its 150th Anniversary of its founding, so Pope Benedict invited our entire college to the Vatican for a private meeting – private being about 500 people! I chose to go as far up front as possible in the hall so I could see him. My mistake, I should have been along the railing because as he entered he shook hands! I thought my one chance had slipped by me now until the Archbishop of the Military came to Rome last year and asked if I would accompany him to a meeting with the Holy Father, which I quickly said yes to! I was able to go up into his study, greet the Holy Father, have a picture taken and receive a rosary from him. The pictures are quite funny – most of them look as if I told him a joke and we were both laughing! My 25 second meeting allowed me to look into his eyes and see his tenderness, love and affection he had for his flock, for us, for me.

People have asked me why Pope Benedict stepped down from his position. My response, as I reflect back on my different encounters, words of wisdom I heard him say or that I read come down to one thing – he knew he was unable to fulfill the role any longer and that he loved the Church so much he couldn’t allow it, allow us to suffer because of it. He summed it up best at his last general audience on Wednesday,

“Loving the Church also means having the courage to make tough choices, difficult ones, having always before oneself the good of the Church and not oneself.”


Full, Conscious, and Active Participation

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

Distraction is something we all deal with whether in prayer, the workplace or at home with the kids. We try to drive and talk on the cellphone at the same time, cook and clean all at once, even watch two football games at the same time. There is so much to do, so little time that its no wonder that we have such difficulty at times just trying to accomplish what we really need to do, and do it well.

Distraction in Mass and at prayer is something we can overcome, given a little patience and attention to what we are doing and how we do it. There are two types of distraction; voluntary and involuntary. Of the two, voluntary distraction is the most damaging to our spiritual well-being because it is willful. We stop praying or lose our place in Mass because it is a deliberate preoccupation, a form of vanity which places ourselves before God and is
ultimately self-centered. We have to realize that Mass isn’t about being entertained, it is all about participating in Christ’s victory over death. That means we earnestly try to actively and consciously become part of the action of the Mass.

Involuntary distraction is hard to overcome, especially in terms of shutting out the busyness of our lives and not bringing them into Mass. Fleeting thoughts, intrusive flashbacks and the like are things we all deal with, but we can condition our attention to be wholly directed toward the matter at hand by utilizing a few strategies:

  • Verbal Attention- For instance, don’t read the church bulletin during the Penitential Rite or the Gloria, pray the prayer! Make an effort to respond at the proper times, join the invitations to prayer and articulate your responses correctly in a clear normal voice.
  • Intellectual Attention- Listen well and try to understand what is being said; it helps to keep us focused on the action of the Mass. Turn your mind toward what the prayer or response says and means, and earnestly make this part of your prayer.
  • Spiritual Attention- Keep your heart and mind firmly fixed on God and the true intention of your prayer; remember your reasons for being there…eternal life.

It is nearly impossible to avoid noticing how many people leave before the final blessing and the end of Mass, and the number of the faithful (particularly our adolescents) who hang out in the Narthex behind the closed doors or avail themselves to the restroom while Mass is in progress leads one to wonder about the necessity of such ‘breaks’ from the Mass. Mass is more than another thing we do, and is more than just an insurance policy that we pay for with passive attendance. Our full, active and conscious participation is a meeting encounter with Christ for the sanctification of our souls…when we go in peace, we are sent to sanctify the world by our example. Of all the things we do each week, this is our most important hour. Make it count!!