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Urban Impressions of the Stations of the Cross

Friday, December 29, 2017

Cardinal Cupich Presents


Cardinal Blase Cupich presents
Developing Cardinal Bernardin's Consistent Ethic of Life 
to an Consistent Ethic of Solidarity

The Faith Formation Commission is elated that Cardinal Cupich is speaking on such a timely topic.  Please plan to join us:

Thursday, February 1, 2018
6 p.m.
Parish Center Auditorium

For more information, contact Dr. Kenneth Ortega,

JAVA & JUSTICE: Meet Millennials Who Are Making a Difference

January can be a month of reflection on how fortunate we may be.
Join us for a couple of evenings  for some fair trade coffee and presentations from some young advocates for justice. 
Both non-profit organizations will sponsor Lenten events at Holy Name Cathedral.
Get the inside scoop on these new adventures. For more information, contact Ken Ortega, or 312– 573– 4434

Taller de Jose

Monday, February 5                  Cafeteria                 6:30 p.m.

Located in Little Village of Chicago, this community resource center offers accompaniment to people in need of social and legal services.
A joint Lenten experience will be introduced during the evening.

Catholic Extension Society

Monday, January 29                  Cafeteria                 6:30 p.m.

Founded in 1905, this papal organization provides funds for isolated and/or financially under-resourced dioceses in the United States and its territories.  Currently, resources are assisting with hurricane-strickened mission dioceses, including Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
Learn about the unique partnership between Holy Name Cathedral and Catholic Extension for Lent 2018

The Faith Formation Commission  conducted a truly inspiring Art Fair to commence  the Advent Season, December 2.  Thank you to all participants mingling and viewing the artwork submitted by 20 local artists.  It was remarkable to see the varying media of art on display, designed to express Advent:  A Journey of Hope.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Faith Formation Commission at Tolten Tea

The Faith Formation Commission sponsored a table of edible delights at the Annual Tolten Tea.
In addition members of the commission interacted with guests, and explained the many formative opportunities offered by Holy Name Cathedral. They are blue ribbon winners by my estimation!

Pictured are:
Julie Yacopino, Kenneth Ortega, Deb Sabes, Tasha Robinson, and Caroline Devlin

This original painting was created by Grace Yarbro  for the Faith Formation Commission, and will be "on loan" from the Ken Ortega Office Collection for the Artistic Impressions of Advent:  Journey of Hope, December 2, 2017.  Come view it in person as well as the many other artistic impressions.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Artistic Impression of Advent: A Journey of Hope

The Faith Formation Commission
at Holy Name Cathedral

Call for Creative Submissions

For the art event
Artistic Impressions of Advent: A Journey of Hope

December 2nd, 2017
6:30-8:30 pm
Parish Center Cafeteria

All ages and skill levels are encouraged to submit artwork. Non-parishioners as well.

To secure your spot at this event, or for more information, contact Jill McLean
by email: or the HNC rectory at (312)-787-8040.

Even if you are not submitting art, mark your calendars now for what will be a powerful, evening of sharing and exploring artistic representations of hope and inspiration.

Accepted mediums: Painting, drawing, printmaking, small sculpture, collage and photography.

In the spirit of messages of the Advent season, consider sharing your talents and visual interpretations of hope and inspiration!

Holy Name Cathedral’s Faith Formation Commission presents

Artistic Impressions of Advent:
A Journey of Hope

An art show

December 2, 2017  |  6:30-8:30 pm  |  Parish Center Cafeteria – 751 N State St.

Mark your calendars now for what will be a powerful evening of
sharing and exploring artistic representations of Advent.

All work by local artists. Among others, artworks include
painting, drawings, and photography.

Wine, beer, and hors d’oeuvres will be served.

Free and open to the public. Children are welcome.

For more information, please contact Kenneth Ortega at or (312) 787-8040.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Doctors of the Church: St. Peter Canisius

Saint Peter Canisius
Feast Day: December 21

Peter Canisius lived at a time of great friction among Christians. The chasm between Protestants and Catholics had become violent and bitter. Peter earned the respect of those from both sides of the dispute through his words and deeds. He was one of the earliest members of the Jesuit order and had many achievements including:
  • forming several colleges and universities, 
  • influencing the emergence of the Catholic press and 
  • authoring Catechisms of the Catholic faith that could be embraced by common people and children. 
Peter was endeared for setting an example for Christian living through his acts of caring for the sick and visiting prisoners even with demanding responsibilities and a hectic schedule. He is believed to have traveled over 20,000 miles on horseback and by foot during his lifetime. Peter once wrote, “If you have too much to do, with God’s help you will find time to do it all”.

Peter engaged non-Catholics with openness and compassion. He once wrote “It is plainly wrong to meet non-Catholics with bitterness or to treat them with discourtesy. For this is nothing else than the reverse of Christ’s example because it breaks the bruised reed and quenches the smoking flax. We ought to instruct with meekness those whom heresy has made bitter and suspicious, and has estranged from orthodox Catholics, especially from our fellow Jesuits.”

In 1547 he attended the Council of Trent. Because he was widely respected by Protestants, Peter was tasked to deliver the Council’s decrees to the eastern Bishops and throughout a hostile Germany after earlier attempts had ended in violence and theft.

At an early age, he authored books on Leo the Great and Saint Cyril that became quite popular. Later his Catechism focused on three primary pillars, wisdom, justice and the sacraments. The concepts of faith, hope, charity and performing good vs. evil were important messages for followers to comprehend in the combative age in which they lived.

Peter had deep faith in Catholicism and God’s intervention. “The fear of many people is greater than necessary, because they look for human and not divine help: they act in despair instead of praying with holy confidence for the oppressed Church.”

Peter Canisius had many talents, but his ability to set an example of faith and love through his actions made him effective at breaking down barriers so his message could be heard. His efforts were instrumental in the Catholic Renewal and the conversion of many Protestants in Austria, Bavaria and Bohemia. Peter became revered as the Second Apostle of Germany for spreading Catholicism through this land in a manner rivaled only by Saint Boniface.

  • Do I worry too much and not pray enough? How can I set aside my fear?
  • Is my example to others as caring, open, and humble as it could be? How can I improve?
  • What simple ways can I find to show the world what being Catholic means?
By: Carl Casareto
Faith Formation Commission

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Doctors of the Church - St. Lawrence of Brindisi

Treasuring that which is of enduring value

This doctor of the church like an earlier St. Lawrence regarded people as treasures.

In the 3rd century, when a deacon, St. Lawrence, was asked to present the treasures of the church he sold what had monetary value to aid the poor. He then presented the people to the Roman official.

Several centuries later, in considering a well-known story of the Pharisees questioning Jesus about paying tribute to Caesar, St. Lawrence of Brindisi remarked upon the worth of people.

“We have been created in the image and likeness of God (Gn 1,26). …. So you are the money in the divine treasure-chest, a coin bearing the image and inscription of the divine emperor. “

The essential likeness that we bear is manifest in our actions. What we do is who we are. If we desire to be like God, we adopt His values.

We can learn to imitate Jesus Him by reading about his life- to read the Bible as His biography.

“For the word of God is a light to the mind and a fire to the will. It enables man to know God and to love him. 

St. Lawrence went on to say “For the soul it is a spiritual treasure of merits yielding an abundance of gold and precious stones.“

Jesus came to live among us to share in our humanity and so we have his example to follow.

“The Most High, the artisan of all things, performed all these works to manifest these treasures of his divinity. That work of God, however, must be considered preeminent in which all these attributes shine out most splendidly. These are much more resplendent and far more evident in the work of the incarnation than in the work of creation.“

St. Lawrence was a Capuchin Franciscan.

He wrote some homilies for the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi who loved God’s creation but especially Christ.

In one St. Lawrence said, “…[God] lavishes the grace by which he deifies men and makes them sharers of the divine nature.” And that "Saint Paul teaches there are two men in each person. One is the external...The other instead is interior, spiritual, immortal and incorruptible. Thus he said in 2 Cor 4:[16] 'what is internal is renewed from day to day.'"

St. Lawrence commended St. Francis for recognizing what is truly valuable.

" The man is perfect who abstains from every offense against God, his conscience and his neighbour....He desires for himself and treasures the good….”

What inspires you to imitate God?

Are there particular people, friends whose outlook and way of doing things influences you to be your best self?

How do you talk about what motivates you to do what you do?

What do you enjoy doing that enriches your life and the lives of others?

To read more about St. Lawrence of Brindisi please visit this page.

I hope you continue to be inspired by reading and praying to the saints.

Laura Ross
Faith Formation Commission Member

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Doctor of the Church: St. Catherine of Siena

St. Catherine of Siena is one of only three female Doctors of the Catholic Church. She is also an uncommon example of a saint and Doctor who served the Church as a layperson. She lived for thirty-three years, and in the course of her short life she composed many prayers and nearly 400 letters that still exist today. Her most notable contribution to the Church, a treatise called The Dialogue of Divine Providence, was dictated by Catherine while in a state of ecstasy over the course of a year. She reveals in detail the relationship between God and a soul, as represented by Catherine herself, with Jesus as the bridge. 

Catherine was an energetic, upbeat, intelligent child, and she was only six years old when she had her first mystical experience. On a walk home, she saw a vision of Christ seated in glory, along with Apostles Peter, Paul, and John. Following this experience, she resolved to dedicate her life to God. 

Catherine’s parents had other intentions for her life. They wanted her to marry, and in response Catherine cut off her hair to make herself unattractive. With her father’s eventual support, she joined the tertiary order of the Dominicans, a group of laity who participate in the works of the order but do not take religious vows. Catherine continued to live at home and committed herself to a life of solitude, intense prayer, and extreme fasting, eating as little food as possible. 

At 19, she had a second mystical experience. Both Jesus and his mother Mary appeared to her, and through this encounter she entered into a spiritual marriage with Christ.

Even though she had committed to a life of solitude, through prayer she felt a call from God to shift towards public service. In her work with the Dominican order, she began to care for lepers and cancer patients, and those suffering from the plague. Catherine was generous and prolific in sharing her intimate knowledge of Christ through her letters to fellow Dominicans and associates, and these letters increased her following in Siena. She was wholly committed to her faith, and challenged others to examine the state of their souls. Catherine also visited men sentenced to death in prison in an effort to help them make peace with God. She accompanied one prisoner to the scaffold, and he called out “Jesus and Catherine!” at his death.

In February, 1375, while visiting St. Christina’s church in Pisa, Catherine received the wounds of the stigmata. They were only visible to her during her life, but could be seen after her death.

Living during a contentious time in Italy’s history, Catherine was often called on to settle disputes. In the political sphere, the Papacy had fallen under the influence of the French crown as seven popes, in succession, resided in Avignon, France, rather than Rome. Catherine was a vocal advocate for unity in the Church. During the summer of 1376, she traveled to Avignon as ambassador of the Republic of Florence to make peace with the Papal States. She was unsuccessful and disowned by the Florentine leaders who used her in their strategy to advance their own political agenda. Catherine responded with a defiant letter. The pope returned to Rome in September of that year, in debatable response to Catherine’s efforts. 

Catherine lived her commitment to God in a broad spectrum. Years in solitude transitioned into serving the poor, imprisoned, and plague-stricken, and, as a lay woman, appealing to leaders for peace and unity in government and the Church with uncommon success.

  • St. Catherine served the poor and sick, and she used persuasion and her peacemaking skills in politics to work for unity in the Church. Do you ever doubt or let self-imposed limits influence what God might otherwise be calling you to do? 
  • Examining the circumstances in your life, are you fully open to the movements of God’s plan for you?
By Annie Syrowski
Faith Formation Commission Member

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Doctors of the Church - St Athanasius of Alexandria

He was born around 296 or 298 in Alexandria, Egypt. His parents where a prominent Christian couple, who had the means to educate the young Athanasius. He was educated in Greek, philosophy, rhetoric and jurisprudence. He studied Hebrew scriptures and the Gospel accounts and Christian texts of which later the Church would recognize as part of the Canon of the New Testament.

He seemed destined to become a Bishop. After Bishop Alexander witnessed the young Athanasius baptizing other children as they played. Immediately, Alexander summoned them and after arriving at his office he encouraged them to become priests. This became Athanasius calling he was ordained deacon about the year 319.

In the year 325, Athonasius served as Alexander’s secretary at the First Council of Nicaea. It was at this council that the term “consubstantial” was suggested by Athanasius. This was incorporated by Hosius into the Nicene Creed. Which was later adopted as the Creed of the Church.

In the year 328, Athanasius became the Bishop of Alexandria, after Alexanders’ death. His bishoproic inspired Athanasius to earn the title of “Athanasius against the world.” for standing against Arianism and the power of Rome. It was Emperor Constantine, who had called the Council of Nicea but later he became sympathetic to Arianism. Despite the Emperor’s change of heart and being exiled from his bishopric. Athanasius continued in Apostolic Faith in the Incarnation by enduring being exiled several times.

It was during one of his exiles in the Egyptian desert that he met the ascetic monk Antony. Their time together resulted in Athanasius writing a biography of “The Life of Antony”. The biography captures Antony’s courage of living life in the desert as a model for Christian living. The book later inspired another Church father, St Augustine of Hippo. Some of Athanasius other writings include “On The Incarnation” and “History of the Arians”. His contribution to the early Church has had a lasting impact. He has given the followers of Christ a large body of work on better understanding our Lord.

In conclusion, St Athanasius was a true defender of Christ’s divinity. 
  • Have you ever found it difficult to speak up for Christ?
  • Do you fear being rejected for being a follower of Christ?

If you are like me, perhaps you answered yes to any of the above questions. The road is not always easy but keep in mind the following scripture verse. 

Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 
Matthew 10:39

By Jaime Gonzalez
Faith Formation Commission Member

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Doctors of the Church: Gregory the Great

Gregory lived from 540 to 604 and was a man these turbulent years. The Roman Empire had fallen, Rome had been sacked several times and most of its grand buildings were in ruins. War, famine and the plague were prevalent throughout Rome and large sections of Europe. The world was desperate for organized, disciplined and visionary leadership. Gregory responded, setting aside personal desires for a detached, secluded life and his impacted is felt to this very day.

Gregory’s family lineage had produced two previous Popes. He was classically educated and won the admiration of Roman citizens for his administrative skills while serving as Prefect of Rome in his early thirties. When Gregory’s father passed in 575, he left public service to pursue his true passion. He converted his home into a Monastery and used his inheritance to establish six more. 

His monastic days were short-lived as Gregory’s skills were needed by the church and he was requested to leave his Monastery to serve in a number of important roles beginning in 579. The plague claimed Gregory’s predecessor, Pope Pelagius II in 590. Gregory reluctantly accepted his ultimate call to duty and became Pope.

Leaving the monastic life behind was a great sacrifice for Gregory. “I remember with sorrow what I once was in the monastery, how I rose in contemplation above all changeable and decaying things and thought of nothing but the things of heaven. I sigh as one who looks back and gazes on the shore he has left behind”.

Gregory’s contributions during his pastoral mission were deep, diverse and far reaching. Among his more impactful actions, Gregory famously promoted the plainsong choral music now known as the Gregorian Chant. 

Among Gregory’s major written works, the “Dialogues” did much to promote the widespread practice of monasticism, it’s lifestyle and Benedictine structure as might be expected from the first monk to become Pope.

Perhaps Gregory’s greatest contribution to the world was commissioning a group of 40 monks under Augustine to bring Christianity to England. These efforts are widely believed to be a catalyst to the unification of the warring tribes of the British Isles as the spread of the gospel brought common ground to the factions. St. Bede documents that Gregory had a very active hand in the conversion with frequent written communication and guidance throughout the process. Inspiring Augustine to forge ahead from trials at Gaul, Gregory wrote “It is better never to undertake any high enterprise than to abandon it when once begun. So with the help of God you must carry out this Holy task… although my office prevents me from working at your side… I hope to share in your joyful reward”

St. Gregory’s feast day is September 3rd.

  • When have I been asked to subordinate my desires to God’s calling?
  • What talents have I been blessed with that can benefit the children of God? 
  • How can I best use my gifts to glorify God and his creation?
By: Carl Casareto
Faith Formation Commission Member

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Doctors of the Church - St. John Chrysostom

St. John attested to Jesus' divinity against the heresy of Arianism.

How can we be like God?
We can imitate God by loving one another.

“The Holy Scriptures were not given
to us that we should enclose
them in books, but that we should
engrave them upon our hearts.”

When we pray, we come to know God’s love.

“Everywhere, wherever you may find yourself, you can set up an altar to God in your mind by means of prayer.”

When we love God, we learn how to demonstrate our love for one another.

“But first I want you to tell me this: do you know the power of love? Christ passed over all the marvelous works which were to be performed by the apostles and said, "By this shall men know that ye are my disciples, if ye love one another.”

“No act of virtue can be great if it is not followed by advantage for others. So, no matter how much time you spend fasting, no matter how much you sleep on a hard floor and eat ashes and sigh continually, if you do no good to others, you do nothing great.”

In our hearts, we come to love others through empathy- understanding what it means to live as they do.

“Helping a person in need is good in itself. But the degree of goodness is hugely affected by the attitude with which it is done. If you show resentment because you are helping the person out of a reluctant sense of duty, then the person may receive your help but may feel awkward and embarrassed. This is because he will feel beholden to you. If,on the other hand, you help the person in a spirit of joy, then the help will be received joyfully. The person will feel neither demeaned nor humiliated by your help, …. And joy is the appropriate attitude with which to help others because acts of generosity are a source of blessing to the giver as well as the receiver.”

As we do good for others, we can show love for ourselves as well.

“The Church is a hospital, and not a courtroom, for souls. She does not condemn on behalf of sins, but grants remission of sins....In the Church, the troubled find relief, and the heavy-laden, rest.

“Come to me,” says the Lord, “all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

What could be more desirable than to meet this voice? What is sweeter than this invitation? The Lord is calling you to the Church for a rich banquet. He transfers you from struggles to rest, and from tortures to relief. He relieves you from the burden of your sins. He heals worries with thanksgiving, and sadness with joy.

How has prayer helped you to empathize with others?

Which experiences of helping others have you found personally rewarding in ways which are intangible?

What did you learn and how did volunteering bring you contentment?

A famous literary maxim is “To err is human, to forgive divine.” 

When you attend mass, how do the readings and homilies attest to this?

To read more about St. John, please visit this page or this page from the Vatican.

Laura Ross
Faith Formation Commission member

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Doctors of the Church - St. Cyril of Jerusalem

The early Church had to endure many controversies during the first centuries. During these times, Cyril came into the world at or near Jerusalem. The year was 315 A.D. and not much is known of his parents. However, he did receive a formal education which centered on the Church fathers, philosophers and the Bible. He was ordained a priest. Later, when the Bishop died he became the Bishop of Jerusalem. 

During the time of his See, he was exiled three times. He was the Bishop of his See for 37 years, but spent almost 20 years in exile. The main reason was due to the spread of Arianism. 

Over the course of his time as Bishop, he delivered 24 catechesis. The majority of which are addressed to the catechumens who are about to receive Baptism. They explain the Sacrament of Baptism, conversion from secular morals and explain the 10 dogmatic truths in the Creed.

It is important to note that Cyril, was part of the First Ecumenical Council of Nicea. Which gave us The Nicene Creed. 

In one of his lectures he goes on to explain that there are two kinds of faith. The first, is a gift from our Lord, as was given at the last hour to the “Good” thief. The second, type of faith given by our Lord. Is the Holy Spirit. This type of faith goes beyond the doctrinal matters and produces effects beyond any human capability. Cyril sites Matthew 17:20, for further explanation. 

It becomes apparent that Cyril was courage’s during his life as Bishop and his works further reinforce his virtue of fortitude. I am reminded as a cradle Catholic. That it is to one’s best interest to read St. Cyril’s catechesis, to gain a richer and deeper understanding of our Baptism. 

By Jaime Gonzalez
Faith Formation Commission

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Holy Cross & St. Peter Damian

Doctors of the Church: St. Peter Damian 

St. Peter Damian was born in Ravenna, Italy in 1007.

St. Peter Damian was one of the most significant figures in the church during the eleventh century. 

At the age of 34, he left a comfortable life as a professor and writer to join the Monastery of Fonte Avellana, an order of Benedictine monks known for their austere lifestyle. 

St. Peter found his calling within this cloistered, monastic life – a life dedicated to prayer and charity. There are two aspects of St. Peter Damian’s life that elevate him in standing among the saints – his devotion to the Holy Cross and his dedication to the formation of rules for leading a monastic life. 

In his time at Fonte Avellana, Peter was drawn to and embraced the order’s Hermitage of Fonte Avellana; the hermitage focused their devotions on the Holy Cross, the central mystery of faith. 

Peter’s personal devotion to the Holy Cross is reflected in statements in his writings at the time:

‘O Blessed Cross, you are venerated, preached, and honored by the father of the Patriarchs, the predictions of the prophets, the senate of Apostles that judges, the victorious army of Martyrs, and the throngs of all the Saints’. 

The Holy Cross represents the supreme act of love for humanity by God. 

Peter compiled a rule for monastic life in which he stressed the rigor of the life of a hermit devoted to a prayerful life. In the silence of the cloister, the monk is called to spend a life of prayer by day and by night, with strict fasting; a monk must put into practice generous brotherly charity in obedience to the leadership of the monastic order. In his time as a Benedictine monk, St. Peter founded 5 additional monastery based hermitages in Italy.

Peter described the hermit’s life as ‘the parlor in which God converses with men’. 

His example of quiet contemplation and connection with God carries forward to today’s life – the special quality that silence in prayer and reflection brings to our lives as we listen to God’s voice in prayer. 

St. Peter Damian died in 1072; he was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pope Leo XII in 1828. 

For Reflection:
  • Can you think of opportunities to build time into your daily life for silent prayer and reflection? Think of opportunities to enrich your connection with God through prayer?
  • The Holy Cross is venerated during the Easter season; the rich, moving story of the Passion of Christ calls out the significance of the Holy Cross to Catholic Faith. Can we reflect on the significance of the Holy Cross beyond just the Lenten and Easter seasons? How can we do so? 

By Ken Henriksen
Faith Formation Commission

Note: the quotations from St. Peter Damian are cited from: Church Fathers and Teachers – From Saint Leo the Great to Peter Lombard, by Pope Benedict XVI, published by Ignatius Press, 2010.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Doctors of the Church: St. Ephram the Syrian

St. Ephram the Syrian

Feast Day is June 18.

St. Ephram was subjected to the same type of mass relocation that many Christians in the Middle East are facing today. In the year 363, his lifetime home of Nisibis fell to the Persians forcing Ephram to Edessa (in present day Iraq) where he lived in a cave in monastic seclusion and experienced the most fruitful and productive years of his life.

St. Ephram became known as “the Harp of the Holy Ghost” and composed a prolific number of poems and religious hymns as pioneer in the use of these forms of theological expression. He applied his verse to music in his efforts to combat some of the heresies of the day and address mysteries like the Immaculate Conception of Mary and the Incarnation. Ephram’s descriptions of death, the Last Judgement, heaven and hell later influenced Dante and his work. Several of his prayers and hymns are recited and sung regularly to this day.

Even Ephram’s life in Edessa was filled with challenges. At one point, Valens, and Arian Emperor, camped outside the town and threatened to kill all Christians who did not submit. The Edessans courageously defended their home, attributing their inspiration and determination to St. Ephram’s hymns.

Although he was born to a Christian family, Ephram evolved from a childhood of worldly pursuits in a manner similar to St. Augustine. He stated “I was born in the way of truth: though my childhood was unaware of the greatness of the benefit, I knew it when trial came.” Although there is vagueness to the record of his younger days, some believe the development of his faith was aided by a brief imprisonment after being falsely accused of the theft of sheep. In response to this injustice, he began a life devoted to God. He served as a Deacon in Nisibis before he and his fellow Christians were forced to depart. In his most famous prayer, Ephram seeks the grace to rise above earthly ways.

The Lenten Prayer of St. Ephram
O Lord and Master of my life, take me from the spirit of sloth, despair, lust of power and idle talk.
But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience, and love to Thy servant.
Yea O Lord and King, grant me to see my own transgressions, and not to judge my brother, for blessed art Thou, unto ages of ages. Amen

An extended version of this prayer can be found here.

A rendition of his “Hymn to the Light” can be found here.

  • Do I examine my thoughts and actions as a means of improving my faith?
  • Can I use adversity in my life as a platform for spiritual growth?
  • How can I inspire others to move forward with their own spiritual journey?
By: Carl Casareto
Faith Formation Commission 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Doctors of the Church - St. Francis de Sales

St. Francis defined love as a choice of the will.

“The pleasure and the movement of the will towards kind things is properly speaking, Love.”

We learn to choose love - in part through reception of the Eucharist.

On the Feast of Corpus Christi, the church recognizes the gift that unites us with God and with each other.

”You learn to speak by speaking, to study by studying, to run by running, to work by working, and just so, you learn to love by loving. All those who think to learn in any other way deceive themselves."

“Within the practices of religion, the Blessed Sacrament is what the Sun is to the stars; it is truly the soul of the Christian religion. It is the ineffable mystery that comprehends divine charity, by which God, truly uniting to us, communicates to us his magnificence, graces and favors.”

”I often speak with my Teacher, Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, because I can learn from Him. Jesus is the Teacher of the science of holiness. I go to Him because I would like to learn from Him how to become a saint. Of what use to me is all knowledge and education, if I do not become holy?"

"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 may give proof to all of His Presence." 

St. Francis worked with and influenced others who became saints.

He and St. Jane de Chantal founded the Order of the Visitation, sisters who served as teachers or nurses. He chose the name in honor of the humility and love Mary showed by attending to her cousin Elizabeth.

Later, prior to the 20th century, St. John Bosco founded a religious congregation inspired by the teachings of St. Francis de Sales. St. John recognized people’s potential and strove to evoke their innate holiness working with young men which society judged to be beyond help.

We can grow in love and should not be discouraged when we find it challenging.

For St. Francis wrote, “Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections, but instantly set about remedying them -- every day begin the task anew.”
  • How does your participation in the sacraments enrich you?
  • How do you personally demonstrate your love of God with your whole heart, soul, strength, and mind?
  • How does your love of God impact how you love others?
  • How do others inspire you to be your best self?
Read more about St. Francis from Pope Benedict XVI

By Laura Ross
Faith Formation Commission

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Doctors of the Church: St. Leo the Great

Saint Leo The Great
Birthdate Unknown- Died 461
Feast Day: November 10

Leo the Great was recognized as a peacemaker and unifier during an age where the Church and its people were in desperate need of both. The decaying Roman empire was in a state of collapse, leaving room for many forms of heresy to spread and barbarian armies to infiltrate. Leo faced these challenges head on.

“Virtue is nothing without the trial of temptation, for there is no conflict without an enemy, no victory without strife”

Leo was a Deacon resolving a dispute in Gaul for the Imperial Court in 440 when Pope Sixtus III passed and Leo was chosen successor.

Leo’s writing on the Incarnation, originally recorded in a letter to the Patriarch of Constantinople, was adopted as official doctrine of the Church at the Council of Chalcedon in 451. His teaching on the human and divine nature of Christ is captured in his famous quotation:

“It is one in the same Son of God Who exists in both natures, taking what is ours to himself without losing what is His own.”

This thinking, and Leo’s persuasive abilities were used to combat heresies such as Pelagianism (denying original sin, redemption through Christ and the origin of grace from God) and Manichaeism (combining elements of Christianity, Dualism, Buddhism and Babylonian folklore) to further his objective of unity for the Church.

Leo continued to add discipline and depth to his teaching by explaining the importance of Christ’s passion through his writings and many sermons (nearly 100 of which are still preserved today).

“No one, however weak, is denied a share in the victory of the cross. No one is beyond the help of the prayer of Christ.”

“Our sharing in the Body and Blood of Christ has no other purpose than to transform us into that which we receive”

Leo is also famous for using his persuasive abilities to avoid the ravages of attack by brutal enemies. He traveled unarmed to meet the notorious Attila the Hun and somehow convinced him to withdraw the armies advancing on Rome. Raphael’s fresco depicting the meeting is located at the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City.

Similarly, Leo convinced the Vandal Gaiseric not to burn Rome at the conclusion of their pillage in 455. Upon their departure, Leo actively aided those who were devastated by the ransacking and those who lost loved ones to captivity by the perpetrators.

Leo’s faith, strength, disciple and administrative talents kept the Church unified through the collapse of Rome and positioned it as one of the most influential institutions of the medieval world. 

  • How can I focus on ways to use my talents to aid our community?
  • How can faith lift me to take on the challenges of our times?
  • How do I fearlessly get involved so my good intentions can affect positive change?
Carl Casareto
Faith Formation Commission Member

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Doctors of the Church - St. John of Avila

The Apostle of Andalusia

John of Avila, was born in Almodovar del Campo, in the Provence of Ciudad Real, on the 6th of January in the year of 1499. His parents, Catalina Xixon and Alfonso de Avila, where a devote Catholic couple. His parents had the means to send him to the University of Salamanca to study Law. He was confronted during his studies in Salamanca and left without a law degree. After some time, he enrolled into the University of Alcala. Under the wings of the Dominican friar Domingo de Soto, he received his bachelor’s degree in philosophy and theology.

During his time in school his parents died and they left him substantial inheritance. Thereafter, he liquidated the assets and gave the money to the poor. His spiritual desire was in missionary work. After he was ordained a priest in the spring of 1526, he set his eyes on Tlaxcala. However, while in Seville the Archbishop saw in him the opportunity to evangelize in Andalusia. 

The young priest went on to make missionary contributions; creating a following of disciples; establishing schools and colleges in Andalusia. Some of his note worthy disciples include the Jesuits. He became spiritual adviser to other Saints. These include St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross and others. 

St. John of Avila died on the 10th of May, 1569 in the city of Montilla in Cordoba. His remains are located in the Jesuit Church of the Incarnation.

Jaime Gonzalez
Faith Formation Commission Member

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

What is going on at Mass?

The Mass is an integral part of our faith. The Eucharist is the source and the summit of our faith. Yet, how often do we find ourselves going through the motions at Mass? How often do we think about the history of the Mass or why we say the words we do?

The Faith Formation Commission is offering the chance to go through aspects of the Mass and answer some of these questions by offering another teaching Mass on June 8. All are welcome to join us. however, due to popularity, we ask that you register in advance. The registration form also includes the opportunity to ask questions.

In the meantime, you can find out more about the Mass parts here. All the answers to the question, "What's happening?" will be answered.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Doctors of the Church: St. Hilary of Poitiers

St. Hilary of Poitiers was born in Poitiers, France, in 315.

His parents were pagans and raised Hilary as a pagan; his education included learning Greek, a common language of the day.

Hilary lived the common life of the time working, marrying and having a family (a daughter). He dedicated himself to the study of the New and Old Testaments which led Hilary to abandon his standing as a pagan and become a Christian about the time that he was 35 years of age. He was baptized a Christian along with his wife and daughter.

He was held in high regard in the Christian community in Poitiers; he was elected as the Bishop of Poitiers in 353.

During the years Hilary served as the Bishop of Poitiers, the universal Christian community was divided in its interpretation of the relationship of Jesus Christ to God the Father. Two distinct concepts predominated thinking within Christianity at the time:
  • The assertion that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who was begotten by God the Father, is distinct of the Father and is subordinate to the Father (known as Arianism- a belief held largely by the eastern Christian church);
  • The assertion of Jesus Christ as within the Holy Trinity – God in three persons – Father, Son, Holy Spirit. (a belief held largely in the western Christian church)
St. Hilary was a firm believer and guardian of the Holy Trinity. His strong beliefs brought him into conflict with the Roman emperor of the day, Constantius II; Hilary’s actions to defend his thinking on the Holy Trinity resulted in his being sent into exile in Phyrgia (a region in modern day Turkey) by Constantius II for a period of 4 years.

He devoted much of his time in exile to writing. Among theological works composed by St. Hilary while in exile, is De Trinitate (On the Trinity); it is comprised of 12 books and considered a major theological work on the topic.

St. Hilary of Poitiers died in 367; he was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius IX in 1851.

A quote attributed to St. Hilary of Poitiers:

“There is no space where God is not; space does not exist apart from Him. He is in heaven, in hell, beyond the seas; dwelling in all things and enveloping all. Thus He embraces, and is embraced by, the universe, confined to no part of it but pervading all.”

To Reflect Upon:
  • How do we respond when faced with topics or issues where individuals hold strong convictions or line of thinking that differ from our own? How can we face approach a dialogue on these topics constructively while holding true to our beliefs? 

By Ken Kenriksen

Monday, May 8, 2017

Doctors of the Church: St. Bede the Venerable

Saint Bede the Venerable

Feast Day May 25

Born in the Medieval Anglican Kingdom of Northumbria, in what is now northern England, Saint Bede made a significant impact on mankind while living of his life inside the walls of a Monastery. Entrusted to an abbot by his parents at the age of seven, Bede became Deacon at 19 and Priest at 30. Educated in scripture, lives of the saints, sciences, and history, Bede developed into a humble and trusting servant of God.

Among his more famous quotations are:

“All of the ways of this world are as fickle and unstable as a sudden storm at sea.”

“The life of man appears for a short space, but of what went before, or what is to follow, we are totally ignorant’

“Christ is the Morning Star, who, when the night of this world is past, gives to his saints the promise of the light of life, and opens everlasting day”

“I was no longer the center of my life and therefore I could see God in everything”

“Unfurl the sails, and let God steer us where He will.”

St. Bede is credited with writing 45 books on topics of history and faith during his lifetime. No small feat considering,

“I am my own secretary; I dictate, I compose, I copy all myself.”

Study and teaching were important to Bede’s path to sainthood and he embraced this path.

“I have devoted my life to the study of scriptures, observing monastic discipline, and singing daily services in church; studying, teaching and writing have always been my delight.”

Bede’s most famous work, Historia Ecclesiatica, is an account of the influence of Christianity in the unification of the disparate tribes and races of early Britain. It is written in a manner similar to Acts of the Apostles, where Luke relates the movement of the Church from Jerusalem to Rome, St. Bede introduces us to the Saints and missionary heroes who bring the gospel to tribal Kings and spread faith that brings a common bond to the people of the British Isles. Bede’s work shows how St. Alban, St Augustine, Pope Gregory the Great and numerous other bishops and monks influenced warlords and kings and ultimately brought faith in Christ to the non-Roman barbarian north.

St. Bede’s writings from the monastery were widely known during his lifetime. His work was read in churches and he was sought by kings and other people of importance, even Pope Sergius. Despite this notoriety, St. Bede remained true to his monastic calling and with the exception of one brief teaching expedition in the school of the Archbishop of York, he remained inside the Monastery of St. Paul, Jarrow all of his adult life.

St. Bede shows us how observing and understanding holy lives can supplement scripture on a personal path to a quality life. His discipline and devotion to learning on the journey to sainthood can be an inspiration to us all. He is the patron saint of scholars.

  • Who's lives inspire you to reach for your best?
  • Which gifts give you the greatest impact from your little corner of the world?
  • Are there practices you can use to maximize the benefit of your gifts?
By: Carl Casareto

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Doctors of the Church: St. Teresa of Avila

St Teresa, whose name was Teresa de Cepeda y Ahumada, was born in Avila, Spain, in 1515.

Her parents were devoutly Catholic which set a strong foundation for the development of St Teresa’s spirituality. Her family was large – Teresa had 3 sisters and 9 brothers. She found great comfort in her youth in spiritual readings, in particular, she was struck by the stories of martyrs for the faith.

Teresa was a pupil of Augustinian nuns in Avila; as an adolescent she read the classics of Franciscan spirituality introducing her to contemplation and prayer. 

At age 20, Teresa entered the Carmelite monastery of the Incarnation in Avila. The spiritual focus of the Carmelite Order is contemplation – encompassing prayer, community and service. Teresa developed a deep spirituality through her devotion to the Order and its mission. In one of her many writings, she shares the following to describe her deep spirituality;

‘A feeling of the presence of God would come over me unexpectedly so that I could in no wise doubt either that He was with me or that I was wholly absorbed in Him.’ 

St. Teresa wrote several works that are observed by scholars to be remarkable as ‘mystical literature of the Catholic Church’. 

Through her experiences in the Carmelite Order, she became disenchanted with the practices of the Order, particularly the lax manner in which the Order observed cloister – a practice designed to strengthen spirituality and the practice of prayer. She developed a desire to return the Order to more conservative practices and held an ideal to reform the Order. She succeeded in this regard when in 1562 she founded the first reformed Carmelite monastery in Avila, with the blessing of church hierarchy and heads of the Carmelite Order. She dedicated her efforts to continue to found more reformed Carmel monasteries, several of which were built in Spain. In 1580, through her strong efforts, she received approval from Rome which authorized reformed Carmels as a separate and autonomous province. 

St. Teresa died in October 1582 while actively working on expansion and the building of new Carmel monasteries.

St. Teresa was beatified by Pope Paul V in 1614 and canonized by Pope Gregory XV in 1622. She was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pope Paul VI in 1970; she and St. Catherine of Siena were the first women to be honored with this title. 

Quotes attributed to St. Teresa of Avila:

“More tears are shed over answered prayers than unanswered prayers” 

“The feeling remains that God is on the journey, too.”

By: Ken Henriksen
Faith Formation Commission 

If St. Teresa of Avila interests you, watch for photos and reflections from the group of parishioners that will be visiting Avila this summer as part of a pilgrimage.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Doctor of the Church: St. Thomas of Aquinas

The young St. Thomas was born into Italian nobility, and the youngest son of Landolfo Aquino. He spent the first five years of his life in Roccasecca, Italy. His mother was given a prediction by a hermit that Thomas would grow up to be great scholar and ultimately achieve sanctity.

He was sent to the care of the monks in Benedictine abbey of Monte Cassino, at the tender age of five. During his stay there, the political climate changed and he was forced to leave to the Benedictine house in Naples. While in Naples, he was taught the writings of Greek and Arabic philosophers. In particular, he learned of Aristotle and Averroes, both of which had recently been translated in the West. 

In an act of defiance to his parent’s wishes he joined the Dominicans and received the habit in 1244. His parent’s responded by sending his older brother to capture Thomas and return him home. He spent a year locked up in the castle, having to endure multiple attempts of mischief by family members to break his will.

Ultimately, St. Thomas prevailed the family efforts and he made it back to Napels. Eventually, he made his way to the Dominican house at Paris and Cologne. It was here that he became a pupil of the leading Dominican theologian, Albert Magnus. 

There is an extensive amount of work St. Thomas accomplished over his life time. In as much, it ranges from philosophical and biblical commentaries, hymns and main works. 

His most renown work is his Summa Theologica. It is a remarkable study on his life long pursuit to answer his question of “What is God?” and how man can reunite with God through Christ. The book is divided into three main topics of faith, hope and charity. In turn each of the topics has further subtopics and questions.

In conclusion, St. Thomas had his mission presented to him early in life. Simply put he asked a question of “What is God?” He spent the remainder of his life in action to answer the question. His reward for his effort was experiencing a vision while saying mass. The result of which he never wrote again. 

If it interests you to read St. Thomas’s Summa consider the following questions. 
  • Is it possible to know God in this life?
  • Is man created for a definite purpose in life?
  • Is it possible to reach the kingdom in this life?
By Jaime Gonzalez

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Doctors of the Church: St. Jerome

St. Jerome devoted himself to producing an authoritative edition of the Bible. His translation is referred to as the Vulgate.

He regarded the Word of God as a treasure.

Corresponding with a noble woman regarding the education of her daughter, he wrote “Instead of jewels and silk clothing, may she love the divine Books"

For St. Jerome the Word of God was not merely to be read, but also to be lived.

He recognized God in the poor. His words attesting to this are similar to those of St. Teresa of Calcutta.

In another letter with regard to wealth, he advised that it be used to “clothe Christ in the poor, to visit Him in the sick, to feed Him in the hungry, to shelter Him in the homeless.”

When the Goths invaded Rome, St. Jerome turned from writing biblical commentary to helping refugees who came to Bethlehem where he was then living. "I cannot help them all, but I grieve and weep with them, and am completely absorbed in the duties that charity imposes on me," he wrote. "I have put aside my commentary on Ezekiel and almost all study. For today we must translate the precepts of the Scriptures into deeds. Instead of speaking saintly words, we must act them."

St. Jerome's translation of the Bible has had an enduring impact in conveying God's truth.

In considering how you might influence others, you might ponder:
  • How can my work lead others to God?
  • How can I show love for others by what I do and say?
And besides what you can do individually, do you ever wonder:
  • If there's a possibility of bringing the Good News to the nightly news, how would you do so?
  • Though we cannot eradicate all problems what help can we provide?
  • How can we join our efforts with those of others so that together we can do more?
For information about the archdiocesan anti-violence Initiatives - Watch the April 4th press conference here and read information here

Please visit these links to read more about St. Jerome:life & work and thought

To listen to a podcast, about St. Jerome please click here.

By Laura Ross
Faith Formation Commission

Note: Holy Name Cathedral Parish provides any links within these pages to other web sites for your convenience on an “as is” basis and cannot vouch for the correctness or appropriateness of their content.