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It is always an honor, pleasure and privilege for host Rick Howick to welcome Auxiliary Bishop Timothy Freyer to our studios (high atop the

Tower of Hope). In this lively conversation, we will be talking about what it means to be an ‘Easter People.’

It is all about the resurrected Christ.


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Originally broadcast on 4/10/21


If you are a frequent listener to the Empowered by the Spirit radio broadcast, you know that our host, Deacon Steve Greco, is a man of great enthusiasm for his Catholic faith. And when it comes to Easter, that can be quite infectious!

On today’s offering, Deacon had the chance to sit down with our very own Auxiliary Bishop for the Diocese of Orange, Timothy Freyer. This session was recorded in more of a “living room” setting, rather than the studio. I think it adds more of an intimate ambience of sound quality.

Listen in, and I guarantee you will find it to be time well spent!



Originally broadcast on radio – 4/4/21


Host Rick Howick welcomes Ellen Roy to the studio for today’s discussion. Ellen is the Executive Director for Catholic Charities of Orange County. She shares about her fascinating background; and, about some of the incredibly important work that happens every day. This ministry is an absolute lifeline to so many.. Catholic Charities of OC!

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Originally broadcast on 3/27/21


On this memorable edition of Cathedral Square, Fr. Christopher Smith shares the Gospel readings for Palm Sunday and Holy Week. He then offers reflections that will both challenge and bless you.

In addition, you will hear glorious music weaved throughout the program (The Lamb of God by Rob Gardner).

Our prayer is that this program will greatly enrich your Holy Week experience.

Listen, and SHARE!







Original broadcast on 3/27/21


Host Rick Howick interviews guests on a variety of topics. On this week’s program, Rick welcomes back the Vicar-General for the Diocese of Orange, Msgr. Stephen Doktorczyk.  He also serves as the Moderator of the Curia.

On this broadcast, Rick and Monsignor drill down on some of the most important highlights of Holy Week!






Originally broadcast on 3/20/21


Episode No. 79 Easter 2020, An Easter Like No Other

Four Cathedral Musicians talk about what it was like to prepare for Holy Week, Triduum and Easter Sunday without congregations, without instrumentalists, with a limited number of singers and in some cases just an organ and cantor. The Corona virus has given the church an Easter like none of us have ever experienced before. Enjoy this fascinating look into the planning (and replanning) that it took to make Easter 2020 come alive in four of the nations most important cathedrals:

Christ Cathedral, Orange California Dr. John A Romeri, Director of Music and David L. Ball, Assistant Director of Music and Cathedral Organist
Christ Our Light Cathedral, Oakland California Dr. Rudy De Vos, Director of Music and Organist
St. Thomas More Cathedral, Arlington Virginia Dr. Richard Gibala, Director of Music and Organist
The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, DC Dr. Peter Latona, Director of Music and Organist

MUSIC: Haec Dies John Shepherd (1515 – 1558) Christ Cathedral (6 staff singers) John Romeri, conductor
MUSIC: Alleluia Randall Thompson Christ Our Light Cathedral (8 staff singers) Rudy De Vos, conductor
MUSIC: The Lord Will Reign Forever James Biery St. Thomas More Cathedral (recorded before Corona with their Cathedral Choir) Richard Gibala, conductor
MUSIC: Christ our Passover, Peter Latona The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception (5 singers) Peter Latona, conductor
MUSIC: In The Father’s Glory Peter Latona The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception (5 singers) Peter Latona, conductor

ARTICLE: The Music of the Easter Season: Adapting to the Challenges of Coronavirus Dr. Peter Latona



Vatican City, Apr 11, 2020 / 03:40 pm (CNA) – Here is the full text of the Easter Vigil homily of Pope Francis, delivered April 11 at St. Peter’s Basilica.

“After the Sabbath” (Mt 28:1), the women went to the tomb. This is how the Gospel of this holy Vigil began: with the Sabbath. It is the day of the Easter Triduum that we tend to neglect as we eagerly await the passage from Friday’s cross to Easter Sunday’s Alleluia. This year however, we are experiencing, more than ever, the great silence of Holy Saturday. We can imagine ourselves in the position of the women on that day. They, like us, had before their eyes the drama of suffering, of an unexpected tragedy that happened all too suddenly. They had seen death and it weighed on their hearts. Pain was mixed with fear: would they suffer the same fate as the Master? Then too there was fear about the future and all that would need to be rebuilt. A painful memory, a hope cut short. For them, as for us, it was the darkest hour.

Yet in this situation the women did not allow themselves to be paralyzed. They did not give in to the gloom of sorrow and regret, they did not morosely close in on themselves, or flee from reality. On the Sabbath they were doing something simple yet extraordinary: preparing at home the spices to anoint the body of Jesus. They did not stop loving; in the darkness of their hearts, they lit a flame of mercy. Our Lady spent that Saturday, the day that would be dedicated to her, in prayer and hope. She responded to sorrow with trust in the Lord. Unbeknownst to these women, they were making preparations, in the darkness of that Sabbath, for “the dawn of the first day of the week”, the day that would change history. Jesus, like a seed buried in the ground, was about to make new life blossom in the world; and these women, by prayer and love, were helping to make that hope flower. How many people, in these sad days, have done and are still doing what those women did, sowing seeds of hope! With small gestures of care, affection and prayer.

At dawn the women went to the tomb. There the angel says to them: “Do not be afraid. He is not here; for he has risen” (vv. 5-6). They hear the words of life even as they stand before a tomb… And then they meet Jesus, the giver of all hope, who confirms the message and says: “Do not be afraid” (v. 10). Do not be afraid, do not yield to fear: This is the message of hope. It is addressed to us, today. Today. These are the words that God repeats to us this very night.

Tonight we acquire a fundamental right that can never be taken away from us: the right to hope. It is a new and living hope that comes from God. It is not mere optimism; it is not a pat on the back or an empty word of encouragement, with a passing smile. No. It is a gift from heaven, which we could not have earned on our own. Over these weeks, we have kept repeating, “All will be well”, clinging to the beauty of our humanity and allowing words of encouragement to rise up from our hearts. But as the days go by and fears grow, even the boldest hope can dissipate. Jesus’ hope is different. He plants in our hearts the conviction that God is able to make everything work unto good, because even from the grave he brings life.

The grave is the place where no one who enters ever leaves. But Jesus emerged for us; he rose for us, to bring life where there was death, to begin a new story in the very place where a stone had been placed. He, who rolled away the stone that sealed the entrance of the tomb, can also remove the stones in our hearts. So, let us not give in to resignation; let us not place a stone before hope. We can and must hope, because God is faithful. He did not abandon us; he visited us and entered into our situations of pain, anguish and death. His light dispelled the darkness of the tomb: today he wants that light to penetrate even to the darkest corners of our lives. Dear sister, dear brother, even if in your heart you have buried hope, do not give up: God is greater. Darkness and death do not have the last word. Be strong, for with God nothing is lost!

Courage. This is a word often spoken by Jesus in the Gospels. Only once do others say it, to encourage a person in need: “Courage; rise, [Jesus] is calling you!” (Mk 10:49). It is he, the Risen One, who raises us up from our neediness. If, on your journey, you feel weak and frail, or fall, do not be afraid, God holds out a helping hand and says to you: “Courage!”. You might say, as did Don Abbondio (in Manzoni’s novel), “Courage is not something you can give yourself” (I Promessi Sposi, XXV). True, you cannot give it to yourself, but you can receive it as a gift. All you have to do is open your heart in prayer and roll away, however slightly, that stone placed at the entrance to your heart so that Jesus’ light can enter. You only need to ask him: “Jesus, come to me amid my fears and tell me too: Courage!” With you, Lord, we will be tested but not shaken. And, whatever sadness may dwell in us, we will be strengthened in hope, since with you the cross leads to the resurrection, because you are with us in the darkness of our nights; you are certainty amid our uncertainties, the word that speaks in our silence, and nothing can ever rob us of the love you have for us.

This is the Easter message, a message of hope. It contains a second part, the sending forth. “Go and tell my brethren to go to Galilee” (Mt 28:10), Jesus says. “He is going before you to Galilee” (v. 7), the angel says. The Lord goes before us. He always goes before us. It is encouraging to know that he walks ahead of us in life and in death; he goes before us to Galilee, that is, to the place which for him and his disciples evoked the idea of daily life, family and work. Jesus wants us to bring hope there, to our everyday life. For the disciples, Galilee was also the place of remembrance, for it was the place where they were first called. Returning to Galilee means remembering that we have been loved and called by God. Each of us has our own Galilee. We need to resume the journey, reminding ourselves that we are born and reborn thanks to an invitation given gratuitously to us out of love. This is always the point from which we can set out anew, especially in times of crisis and trial.

But there is more. Galilee was the farthest region from where they were: from Jerusalem. And not only geographically. Galilee was also the farthest place from the sacredness of the Holy City. It was an area where people of different religions lived: it was the “Galilee of the Gentiles” (Mt 4:15). Jesus sends them there and asks them to start again from there. What does this tell us? That the message of hope should not be confined to our sacred places, but should be brought to everyone. For everyone is in need of reassurance, and if we, who have touched “the Word of life” (1 Jn 1:1) do not give it, who will? How beautiful it is to be Christians who offer consolation, who bear the burdens of others and who offer encouragement: messengers of life in a time of death! In every Galilee, in every area of the human family to which we all belong and which is part of us – for we are all brothers and sisters – may we bring the song of life! Let us silence the cries of death, no more wars! May we stop the production and trade of weapons, since we need bread, not guns. Let the abortion and killing of innocent lives end. May the hearts of those who have enough be open to filling the empty hands of those who do not have the bare necessities.

Those women, in the end, “took hold” of Jesus’ feet (Mt 28:9); feet that had travelled so far to meet us, to the point of entering and emerging from the tomb. The women embraced the feet that had trampled death and opened the way of hope. Today, as pilgrims in search of hope, we cling to you, Risen Jesus. We turn our backs on death and open our hearts to you, for you are Life itself.


Even amidst the COVID-19 crisis we are all dealing with right now, we must remember that we are an EASTER people!

Deacon Steve Greco is delighted to welcome our very own Bishop Kevin Vann of the Diocese of Orange for our Easter program.

Be sure to share this podcast with a friend.





Originally broadcast on 4/12/2020


Never before in our lifetimes have we experienced a Lent like Lent 2020. The extraordinary measures taken amid a global health pandemic occurred in tandem with the Lenten season. While public Masses may have been temporarily suspended, it did not mean commemoration of the Holy Sacrifice ceased. It also did not cancel Christianity’s most hallowed day, Easter Sunday. 

After the long Lent of 2020, Easter’s promises of new life in Christ takes on new meaning. The solitude enacted by restrictions placed on our everyday life provided opportunities for a new way of looking at life and its greater context, God. Perhaps we took too much for granted, wanted things more than we needed, relativized relationships and our treatment of the other. Holy Week and especially Good Friday provides us a path to ponder these matters in union with the trials and sufferings endured by Jesus, from the Last Supper to the hasty placement of his battered and bloodied body in the tomb. 

“Those drops of blood I shed for you,” Blaise Pascal reflected in Pensées 

Our comfort zones were disrupted during this time of uncertainty and crises. But Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI) once said, “There is no experience of God unless one goes out from the business of everyday living.”  

“We need to keep in mind that there is always hope in the Resurrection,” Vicar General Monsignor Stephen Doktorczyk said. “There is a saying, ‘there would be no Easter Sunday without Good Friday.’ Jesus had to suffer before rising. We, too, are suffering greatly.” 

Christian art often depicts the Resurrection by having a triumphant Christ emerge from a sarcophagus while the Roman guards sleep. His right hand is in the gesture of benediction while he clutches a banner of the Triumphal cross in his left. In the Gospel of St. John, we are told, “In the place where he had been crucified there was in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had yet been buried” (19:41). It was in a garden, Gethsemane, where Jesus confirmed the will of the Father and where he was betrayed by Judas. One garden gives way to another, one of new and everlasting life. 

It was also in a garden where Adam and Eve were cast out of Paradise. In the Resurrection of Christ, the garden from the Fall is renewed and fulfilled. Jesus becomes the new Adam. An ancient tradition says the ubilucum mundi, the center of the world, is Jerusalem, where God created Adam. In our own Creed, recited every Sunday, we profess that before rising again on the third day, Christ “descended into hell.” This is the focus for meditation on Holy Saturday, a time of darkness for those living, before the brilliant light of Resurrection. Yet even here Adam, the first man, is not forgotten. A verse from an ancient Syriac liturgy states, “He visited Adam in Sheol,” the Hebrew word for the place of the dead, “and brought him astonishing news: He promised him life, and the Resurrection that would completely renew him.” 

Death, then, no longer has the last word. In Eastern Christianity, this moment of anastasis is depicted in Christ emerging from the sarcophagus clutching the hands of Adam and Eve, pulling them out of the realm of the dead. Psalm 24 is frequently associated with the descent into hell, popularized in the Middle Ages. “Lift up your heads, O gates; be lifted, you ancient portals, that the king of glory may enter (24:9).” A popular legend told of Satan and his minions panicking upon hearing this thunderous voice outside the gates. They look at each other in dread, quoting the next verse (24:10): “Who is this king of glory; the Lord of hosts, he is the king of glory!” 

The richness of how the faith has been expressed over time hinges on the reality that Jesus of Nazareth triumphed over death on the third day. Monsignor Doktorczyk recalled being in the Holy Land for both Holy Week and Easter Week in 2006. “On Easter Sunday, a priest friend and I travelled by car from Jerusalem to Galilee,” he explained. “We reflected on Matthew 28:10,” where Jesus encounters “fearful yet overjoyed” disciples scrambling to tell the others of the empty tomb. “Do not be afraid,” said Jesus. “Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee. There they will see me.” This struck Monsignor Doktorczyk in a powerful way as he was doing just that. 

But the reality of the Resurrection transcends time and place. The Easter Season is an opportunity for us to look upon the world around us with new eyes. Monsignor Doktorczyk invites us to ask ourselves, “Is our hope in Jesus Christ? Do we believe all things are possible for God (cf. Romans 8:28)? We pray that this difficult Lenten season will make us stronger in faith in Jesus Christ and much less focused on ‘other gods.’”


We have a very special treat to share with you on today’s podcast episode of Cathedral Square. As you may or may not be aware, each Sunday we air a ‘live stream’ of the 9:30 AM Mass at Christ Cathedral. There are several such presentations that are archived on our Facebook page.

Today, we bring you the messages that Fr. Chris delivered on the 3rd and 5th Sundays of the Easter season.

Be sure to share this inspiring podcast with a friend!





Originally broadcast on 7/13/19