March 12, 2023

This week we celebrate the feast of St. Patrick. Patrick was captured and sold into slavery in Ireland and suffered greatly in his young life. Escaping to France he had a spiritual conversion and was ordained a priest. He returned to Ireland with a strong desire to convert the people of Ireland to believe in Christ. He was extremely successful in bringing peace to warring factions, establishing churches and monasteries throughout the country and training many priests. As we celebrate the feast of this great and holy saint, I encourage you to pray this prayer of St. Patrick on Friday, March 17, his feast.

Christ shield me today, Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise, Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me, Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me.
(from St. Patrick Breastplate prayer)

On March 19 each year we celebrate the Solemnity of St. Joseph, spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Patron of the Catholic Church. This year March 19 falls on the Fourth Sunday of Lent so the feast for St. Joseph is transferred to Monday, March 20. You are invited to join us on Monday, March 20, to celebrate the Solemnity of St. Joseph, at the 7:30 am, 11:40 am or 1:15 pm Mass here at St. Peter's as we honor the memory of this holy man and pray that all of us might be as faithful to God as St. Joseph was in his life.

In December 2020, Pope Francis issued an Apostolic Letter titled, Patris Corde ("With a Father's Heart"). In this Letter the Pope described Saint Joseph (the husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary) as a beloved father, a tender and loving father, an obedient father, an accepting father; a father who is creatively courageous, a working father, a father in the shadows.

Pope Francis stated he was issuing his Apostolic Letter on December 8, 2020 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Pope Pius IX’s (December 8, 1870) declaration of St Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church.

Though there are only a few accounts of St. Joseph in the scriptures, the passages that are in the bible tell us of a humble, honest and faithful man, who protected Mary and Jesus through some harrowing experiences. Though he was engaged to Mary he found out she was pregnant before they lived together. He had the right to walk away from that engagement but he trusted in God, who sent an angel in a dream to Joseph. Matthew's Gospel records Joseph's faithfulness in Chapters 1-2 (as found in the US Bishops New American Bible.)

Joseph quickly takes Mary and the infant Jesus to Egypt to escape the murderous rage of King Herod. They become refugees in a foreign land enduring dangers and unsettling conditions in order to keep the child safe. Matthew's Gospel only briefly describes what must have been a dangerous journey in the middle of the night towards safety. (See Matthew 2:13-15)

Joseph and Mary are faithful to the Jewish laws and take Jesus to the Temple, " present him to the Lord as it is written in the Law of the Lord." (Luke 2:22-24) Joseph and Mary continued to take Jesus to the Temple and once they feared Jesus had been lost as they returned from one of those visits and neither Joseph or Mary could find Jesus. Like any teenager, Jesus was growing in independence and did not think of the consequences of not notifying Joseph and Mary that he had remained in the Temple instead of returning with them to Nazareth. "Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress." And Jesus respond to them, "Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?" The family returned to Nazareth together and "Jesus increased in wisdom and in statue and in favor with God and people." (see Matthew 2:41-52)

In his Apostolic Letter, Patris Corde ("With a Father's Heart") Pope Francis explains why he wrote this letter about St Joseph and the place Joseph has in being Patron of the Universal Church. "The aim of this Apostolic Letter is to increase our love for this great saint, to encourage us to implore his intercession and to imitate his virtues and his zeal." 

Pope Francis concluded his Letter about St. Joseph with the following prayer. I encourage you to pray this prayer, especially on March 20 and throughout this Lenten Season. 

Hail, Guardian of the Redeemer,
Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary. 
To you God entrusted his only Son; 
in you Mary placed her trust; 
with you Christ became man. 

Blessed Joseph, to us too,
show yourself a father 
and guide us in the path of life. 
Obtain for us grace, mercy and courage, 
and defend us from every evil. Amen.


The following three books were written by Friar Gilberto Cavazos-Gonzalez, the John Duns Scotus Chair of Franciscan Spirituality at the Catholic Theological Union and a member of our Franciscan community here at St. Peter’s in the Loop.

  1. Tradiciones of Our Faith: Resource of Intercultural Dialogue. Chicago: World Library Publications, 2012. A book on Catholic Traditions from around the Hispanic/Latino world. Great for intercultural faith sharing.
  2. Beyond Piety: The Christian Spiritual Life, Justice and Liberation. Eugene OR: Wipf & Stock,2010.
  3. Greater than a Mother’s Love: The Spirituality of Francis and Clare of Assisi. Scranton PA: University of Scranton Press, 2010.

Fr. Gilberto is also leading a Tourgrimage to the Franciscan Holy Places of Italy (June 2-13). This 12- day study tourgrimage of the Catholic Theological Union is led by Br. Gilberto Cavazos-González and Br. David Volgger, a Biblical Scholar. It is part tour, part pilgrimage and a study of the origins of Franciscan spirituality. The tourgimage will visit Franciscan Rome, Inspirational Assisi, Mystical La Verna and the Evangelical Rieti shrines. Cost for auditors is $2,400 plus an auditor’s fee of $338 – Total $2,738 (airfare not included). For more information write to Br. Gilberto:  [email protected]  or visit the webpage:

Please be sure to consult the weekly church bulletin as well as St. Peter's website for the latest schedule and information for Lent, Holy Week and the Easter Season.


Please remember in your prayers CPD Officer Andrés Vásq uez Lasso who was killed last week in the line of duty. Please also remember all those innocent people who were shot or killed recently here in the Chicago area. Let each one of us do whatever we can to help bring peace and justice to our area and an end to the increasing violence affecting each of us.

May you have a prayerful Lenten week.

Fr. Michael