Posted January 15th, 2017

PRESIDENTIAL INAUGURATION


OUR NEWLY ELECTED PRESIDENT, DONALD J. TRUMP, will be inaugurated this Friday, January 20. He was elected by the majority of the Electoral College, the duly recognized authority enshrined by our Constitution to allow equal representation of all our citizens in every state to elect a leader that best represents them as American citizens. It is sad that these past two months have not brought healing and reconciliation, but have amplified the divisions and mean partisanship that has been such a strong force in our political life for all too long. Elections allow those running for office to make their best case for why they should be elected. We know those campaigns, like this most recent ones, can bring out the worst in so many people. But once the people have spoken, we must all as American citizens, strive to work together for the good of our country and for others. We have many challenges before us, and many opportunities as well. Each of us has a responsibility to pray for our newly elected leaders and to ask God’s blessings on them and our country. It has been a long tradition that a variety of clergy have offered prayers at every Presidential inauguration since 1937.

One of those asked to lead the prayer this year is Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Archbishop of New York. He said: “I am honored to have been asked to offer a reading from Scripture at the upcoming presidential inauguration, and look forward to asking Almighty God to inspire and guide our new President and to continue to bless our great Nation.” All of us are invited on this day to lift up the needs of our nation to Almighty God, to pray for President-elect Donald Trump and his administration. We must give thanks to God for the abundant blessings and prosperity that marks our lives in this great nation of ours. We pray that God’s wisdom and truth will lead those who serve us in public office. We pray that they may work – once again – to defend and to advocate for the sanctity of every human life. We pray that –once again – people of faith will be respected and allowed to practice their beliefs and to worship freely without penalty or discrimination. We pray that the rule of law as intended by our Constitution and Bill of Rights will – once again – be respected by the judiciary in exercising their responsibility to interpret the intent of the law, not to create it. We pray that those in authority will understand their responsibility to serve as stewards of all that God has placed before them and to work to build a better country for all of its citizens, especially the poor and disenfranchsied, and those seeking to come to our shores and live peaceably with us as citizens.

Recently, I read the prayers offered at past presidential inaugurations and was struck by how fitting and appropriate for this week is the pray offered by Franklin Graham at the inauguration of President George Bush in 2001: “Blessed are you, O Lord, our God. Yours, O God, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor; for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O Lord is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and to give strength to all. As President Lincoln once said, “We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. It behooves us, then, to humble ourselves before the offended power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.” O Lord, as we come together on this historic and solemn occasion to inaugurate once again a president and vice president, teach us afresh that power, wisdom and salvation come only from your hand.

We pray, O Lord, for our President and Vice President-elect, to whom you have entrusted leadership of this nation at this moment in history. We pray that you will help them bring our country together, so that we may rise above partisan politics and seek the larger vision of your will for our nation. Use them to bring reconciliation between the races and healing to political wounds, that we may truly become “one nation under God.” Give our new president and all who advise him calmness in the face of storms, encouragement in the face of frustration, and humility in the face of success. Give them the wisdom to know and to do what is right and the courage to say no to all that is contrary to your statutes of holy law. Lord, we pray for their families and especially their wives, that they may sense your presence and know your love. Lead them as they journey through new doors of opportunity to serve others. Now, O Lord, we dedicate this presidential inaugural ceremony to you. May this be the beginning of a new dawn for America as we humble ourselves before you and acknowledge you alone as our Lord, our Savior and our Redeemer. We pray this in the name of the Father, and of the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

MAY GOD BLESS PRESIDENT TRUMP AND VICE PRESIDENT PENCE.

Posted January 3rd, 2017

Travelling Our Lady of Fatima Statue


On Sunday, January 22 at all the Masses, we will be hosting the visitation of the travelling Our Lady of Fatima Statue. The statue will be available in the Cathedral for devotion and prayer after each of the Masses. Visit our calendar of events for more information.

Posted January 3rd, 2017

Day of Payer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children


Join us on Monday, January 23 for a”Day of Payer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children.” This day is being observed as a day of prayer for the full restoration of the right to life for unborn children. Please view our calendar of events for more information.

 

Posted January 3rd, 2017

The Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul


The Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul falls on Wednesday, January 25.  Given the importance of this feast day for Saint Paul Cathedral parish, we will have an additional Mass scheduled for Wednesday evening, January 25 at 6:00 pm.  Visit our calendar for more information.

Posted December 16th, 2016

DON’T BE A GRINCH THIS CHRISTMAS!


Sadly, many Catholics see the jam packed Cathedral at Christmas as a bad thing! They complain that someone is sitting in their pew; they are upset that they can’t find a parking place; they think it’s a nuisance that the Mass is longer because so many people are going to Communion; and the list goes on. The truth is we are delighted to see everyone who comes and hope that their experience is so positive and welcoming that they will want to return more often. Christmas is a time for evangelization, for hospitality, for kindness and love. So don’t be a Grinch this Christmas. Smile at those around you at Church; take time to introduce yourself and to welcome those who are here; let them know how delighted you are to see them at Mass and how important the Cathedral is to you personally. Pope Francis reminds us that each and every one of us as Catholics has a responsibility “to bear witness to the joy of the Gospel by the goodness of our lives, and it demands of us a readiness to listen to and to walk with those who no longer practice their faith regularly.” So as you come to Christmas Mass this year, please make a resolution to help to bring others back to the practice of the faith. What a wonderful gift for the Lord Jesus; what a great gift for the Church; and what better way to live out our faith in a manner to pleasing to God than help guide those who have fallen away to embrace once again the joy of God’s saving love.

Posted December 8th, 2016

The Joy of Love


In August 2016, Pope Francis published his Apostolic Exhortation on the family, entitled Amoris Laetitia, two Latin words meaning the Joy of Love. This document draws together almost three years of consultations at the Synod on the Family which involved hundreds of bishops and input from Catholics in countries around the world. The Pope affirms the Church’s teaching that stable families are the building blocks of a healthy society and a place where children learn to love, respect and interact with others. At the same time the text warns against idealizing the many challenges facing family life, urging Catholics to care for, rather than condemning, all those whose lives do not reflect the teaching of the Church. In particular the document focuses on the need for “personal and pastoral discernment’” for individuals, recognizing that “neither the Synod, nor this Exhortation could be expected to provide a new set of general rules, canonical in nature and applicable to all cases”.

This document has been met with many different responses, including a letter written recently by four cardinals of the Church asking the Pope to clarify what he has written in light of the Church’s teaching. But another cardinal who is the archbishop of Washington, DC, Cardinal Donald Wuerl wrote this: “The Pope’s document has been widely and wholeheartedly embraced because we recognize in it a loving openness to pastoral ministry attuned to the needs of an increasingly broken world.” It is important to remember that love is at the center of the pope’s teaching. The Church’s teaching on marriage, human sexuality and the family is affirmed and held up in all its beauty. But what the pope reflects in his words are the result of his active listening, a listening to countless people on the lived situation of married couples and family life throughout the world. He has listened to the struggles, the disappointments, the challenges and sufferings borne by so many around us as they seek to embrace the truth of the Gospel.What has emerged is not a lessening of the need to teach clearly the doctrine of the faith. This is a task that the Church must be about in every age. We need to continue to find ways to bring the message of the Gospel into the hearts and lives of people everywhere. But Pope Francis is calling on the Church – and its pastors in particular – to do more than simply present the Church’s doctrine. We must learn to accompany those we teach, to “take on the smell of the sheep” whom we serve so that the “sheep are indeed willing to hear the voice of the shepherd.”

This is an insightful approach and one that is needed today more than ever. It requires a more careful and intensive formation for all those who minister in the Church. We must be close to couples as they prepare for marriage, walk with them as they begin married life especially in those first years of marriage, be close to them in times of crisis, and embrace their children.
Amoris Laetitia is not a list of answers to each individual human issue. It refuses to “beat people over the head” who might find themselves in difficult or imperfect situations. What the apostolic exhortation does do is to call for compassion, for tenderness, for kindness and for love. We are invited by Pope Francis to reach out to those who are struggling to face issues in life, who find it hard or impossible to embrace fully the teachings of the Church, and who find themselves on the outside looking in. As Cardinal Wuerl beautifully wrote: “The exhortation is a call to compassionate accompaniment in helping all to experience Christ’s love and mercy.”

In the end this is the exact response expected of anyone who desires to be an “evangelizing disciple” of Jesus. In the action of going out, encountering others, and walking with them on their journey, we also must recognize in the journey that we ourselves are drawing closer to the Lord. None of us can claim to be perfect; we are sinners not saints – every one of us. It seems to me that the pope is encouraging us – indeed begging us – to move away for judging others and to move towards a walk of faith and love with all our brothers and sisters. As they see our love for Jesus, as they hear our conviction about his teaching, as they experience others who are living out the Gospel authentically, their hearts will be open to the mercy, the love, the grace and joy of Jesus Christ. This is what will ultimately work to transform lives and enable each of us to have the kind of life God wants for us. Saint Paul’s words come to mind: “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. 7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. Love never ends.”Let us learn to speak the truth in love, to accompany those whose life situations are not perfect, so that together as the sinners we are, we can lead others to the truth, and grow ever closer to the Lord, “who will by his grace heal us so that we can have the life he wants for us.”

Posted November 29th, 2016

A HOLY SEASON OF GRACE HAS BEGUN


This is a season of special grace that calls the faithful to be alert and be prepared for the coming of Christ. Our minds focus immediately on the coming of the Lord at Christmas as we prepare to commemorate the birthday of our Savior and the mystery of the Incarnation. Advent calls us to be attentive and to be careful that we keep Christ in Christmas. All around us are the pulls of secularism, commercialism and materialism. Our response must be one to remind the world of why we have this season – it is to remember and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ into the world, the mystery of God becoming one like us in all things but sin, so that the darkness of sin could be eradicated by God’s saving power and human redemption won through the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross. Be careful not to water down Christmas. We must unapologetically and forcefully remind the world that Christmas is a Christian holiday – one in which we take great pride in celebrating – because it is the birthday of our beloved Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the Lord of all Life.

I encourage everyone, especially our families, to make this season of Advent a time of holiness and grace. Prepare well to celebrate the birthday of Christ by growing in faith. Read the Scriptures; pray the rosary and reflect on the mysteries of Jesus Christ; light the advent candles at home on your table and pray that God’s light will slowly diminish the reality of sin in your own life and in the world; go to confession and receive the healing power of God’s grace to prepare your heart to receive Christ in the Eucharist; attend Mass at least one additional day each week in Advent and realize the fruits that come to those who come to Mass daily. Make this season a time of preparation so the Christ-child will find a worthy place in your heart and home to dwell more completely with his love.

Pope Francis has called for Advent to be a time where we allow ourselves to be immersed in silence “so that we can discover the God of surprises.” God invites us to be still so that we can hear his voice more clearly and discover the gifts of his grace and be led to respond in the ways that he is calling to follow. Let us take the time to dispose our hearts and minds in such a way that we can discover what surprises God has in store for each of us this Advent season.

Posted November 21st, 2016

THANKSGIVING AND GRATITUDE


The German mystic, Meister Eckert, wrote that if the only prayer a person ever says in one’s entire life is “thank you,” it would be enough. But our human experience reminds us all too painfully that we like to complain far more often than we give thanks. We see the glass as half-empty more often than half-full. St. Pope John Paul II called this the disease of spiritual amnesia. He claimed that the greatest threat to our Christian life lies not from forces external to us but from within our own human heart. Materialism, secularism, personalism – all lead us away from God and our ultimate dependence on his grace. We are forgetful of God’s every guiding hand and focus on our own selfish pursuits. This was the downfall of many throughout the history of salvation.

The only effective antidote to this disease of spiritual amnesia Is our conscious act of remembering and giving thanks. This is why our patron, Saint Paul, urged the early Christians to make gratitude part of their daily prayer: “Be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in your richly with gratitude in your hearts to God. Give thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything.”

American tradition remembers that at some point the pilgrims who came to this country in pursuit of the freedom to practice their religious beliefs without persecution set aside a day to thank God for their blessings. Thanksgiving may be for some, America’s great secular holiday, but it is an intensely religious and spiritual celebration at its roots. President Lincoln spoke to this in his proclamation establishing Thanksgiving as a national holiday on November 26, 1863: “This year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften the heart which is habitually insensitive to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.”

We will soon be caught up in the turkey, stuffing, football and family. But we must never forget the reason that we have this day in the first place. Thanksgiving should bring to the forefront of our minds and hearts, the many and abundant blessings of our lives: the gifts of life and faith, the gift of family, and the gift of our bounty, the peace and freedoms we enjoy as Americans. Especially this year as our country continues to manifest deep struggles and disagreements over the presidential election, we must come together as we reflect on the greatness of the foundations, sacrifices and values upon which this country has been built.

Most importantly, of course, we remember today the blessings of our Catholic faith. In baptism, God gave us the life of His Spirit and brought us into the living Body of His Son, the Church. How blessed we are to have the Church – and the enduring presence of Christ in our lives – especially in the Eucharist, the very body and blood of our Savior that nourishes us for the journey. It is faith that makes us one family, united in the love of God. But we remember as well, that this great act of thanksgiving, celebrated here in the Eucharist, is only fully complete when believers go out to the whole world and tell the Good News of Jesus Christ. This is the work of the new evangelization that Pope Francis has entrusted to the Church. And the Pope has made it clear that the credibility and fruitfulness of this proclamation will depend entirely on two virtues: Joy and Mercy. As Mother Teresa said: It is only joy that catches souls and opens hearts. And as Pope Francis has reminded us time and again: it is the tenderness, compassion, kindness, forgiveness and mercy extended to others that will convict people with the Truth of the Gospel message and lead them to life in Christ. As we gratefully sing God’s praises this Thanksgiving Day, may we seek to pass our blessings forward to others, especially those in need among us.

I wish each of you – and your families – a blessed and joyous Thanksgiving Day!

Posted November 18th, 2016

Where are the adults in all of this?


“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” We all learned the content of the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States in our civics class. Every American has the right to have his voice heard, to assemble, to march, and to protest. But the key word in the first amendment is “peaceably.” As Americans, we have an obligation to voice our opinions and disagreements respectfully, civilly, and peaceably. It appears that we have lost that virtue in our country. People make their voice heard by demeaning others, by yelling, screaming, degrading and hurting others. This is not the American way; and it most certainly is not the Christian way. “Do unto others what you would have them do unto you.” That is the Golden Rule and its wisdom has much to teach our generation. Sadly, we have seen the protests in recent days of those who are not happy with the legitimate outcome of the American electoral process. The people have spoken, the votes have been counted, and we have a new President-elect in Donald Trump. Some may not like him as a person; others disagree with his policies. But none of that gives anyone the right to speak hatefully of others or to engage in the acts of destruction or violence that we have seen in recent days. It would help if our government leaders, those in the media and other responsible adults would simply “call a spade and spade,” and denounce what is taking place as unacceptable and out of line.

But worse yet are the scenes of high school and grade school students simply leaving the school in the middle of the day and taking to the streets, underage children sitting in major highways, wandering the streets of big cities in the middle of the school day, even destroying public property in some instances. And not just once, but day after day – a sight quite incredible to behold. Where are the administrators and teachers? Where are the parents of these children? Responsible adult behavior dictates that school administrators and teachers do not let students run the school, and parents do not let their children get up from the classroom at will and decide to march in the streets. Some reports have the students leaving school at the instigation of their teachers; two parents at the Cathedral reported to me that the teachers of their children were so distraught by the election results that they sat at their desk all day and cried, unable to teach, while the children sat and watched. In all truth these teachers should be suspended and forced to give back their paycheck for such outrageous and childish behavior. And we see the frenzied, out of control behavior being orchestrated at so many secular colleges and universities across the country as exams are being cancelled, classes suspended, service dogs brought in to console those distressed by the election results, and campus wide protests being organized in place of class. Teachers are too traumatized to teach and students are too distraught to learn. No wonder some have identified this generation as the “snowflakes students” who claim that “we are too fragile to be educated.”

So my question is where are the adults in all of this? Where are those who should know better? Can we really allow our children and young people to be subject to this kind of damaging behavior and cultural influence embraced by a radical liberal elite that has rejected morality, faith, virtue and the pursuit of real knowledge? I read a statement recently on a blog by Elizabeth Scalia that summed it up nicely: “Ideas thoughtfully explored? Debate? Critical thinking? That’s all too threatening to worldviews that have become so shrunken, narrow, parochial and self-interested that they could almost be mistaken for…wait for it…reactionary, know-nothing, provincialism.” Indeed, it is a sad state of affairs and our children, youth and young people deserve far better than this.

Posted November 14th, 2016

THE JUBILEE YEAR OF MERCY COMING TO A CLOSE


Last year, on December 8, 2015, on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Pope Francis opened the Holy Year of Mercy, unsealing the holy year door in Rome, and as he spoke these words: “To pass through the Holy Door means to rediscover the infinite mercy of the Father who welcomes everyone and goes out personally to encounter each of them. Passing through this door of mercy leads us directly into the arms of our Heavenly Father, to find his sweet and gentle touch, his tenderness and compassion, and the forgiveness our hearts so desperately need.”
And unlike any other Holy Year ever celebrated in the history of the Church – since the 13th century when this practice began – Pope Francis gave every diocese in the world the singular grace of having a Holy Year Door at the Mother Church, the Cathedral, so that as many people as possible may have the opportunity to pass through the door of mercy, the door of love, the door of hope and restoration.

There have been thousands of visitors to Saint Paul Cathedral over these past twelve months. It has been a powerful experience to see the pilgrims make that journey, some coming from great distances like the 400 young people from the Archdiocese of Omaha and a group from the Archdiocese of Chicago. The holy year door afforded each of us the opportunity to stop for a moment before we pass through that door, and remove the burdens of our sins, our burdens, our disappointments, our anger and bitterness, our jealousy and pride, our lack of compassion for others, and our anxiety and fears. The prayers on the outside of the holy door force us to stop and reflect on the magnitude of God’s unconditional mercy, but also challenge us to leave outside the things that so often prevent us from loving God with our whole heart and soul, and loving our neighbor. This has been the greatest blessing and gift of this Holy Year.

But clearly the hope of Pope Francis is that this year will encourage us to be people of mercy in our daily lives – to practice the corporal and spiritual works of mercy – and this will be a lasting effect of this year of grace. Christians must be the face of mercy for others, especially those who are marginalized and pushed aside in our culture. We must go out to the fringes of our society and bring the tender compassion of God to those who so desperately need it. “Be merciful as your heavenly Father is merciful.” Each day, we approach the altar as sinners and yet what really is most important for us is that we have the courage to trust in Jesus’ mercy, to trust in his patience, to seek refuge always in the wounds of his love. As Pope Francis reminds us: “We hear many offers from the world around us; but let us take up God’s offer instead: his is a caress of love. For God, we are not numbers, we are important; indeed we are the most important thing to him. Even if we are sinners, we are what is closest to his heart.” As the holy door closes to end this Year of Mercy, the doors of our hearts are meant to open more readily and easily to God’s love, the kind of love that God has for us – sacrificial love, merciful love, unconditional love, divine love, lasting love, burning love, real love. This is how God makes a new creation not only for humanity but for every human heart.

THE YEAR OF MERCY CLOSES THIS SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 20 ON THE SOLEMNITY OF CHRIST THE KING. ALL ARE WELCOME TO JOIN BISHOP ZUBIK AND FATHER STUBNA FOR THE CLOSING LITURGY ON SUNDAY EVENING, NOVEMBER 20 AT 6:00 PM.