Sign Up for Our Newsletter!

Sign-Up to receive updated stories from OC Catholic.


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!

Listen and SHARE this podcast!






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


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.’”


LOUISVILLE, Ky. (CNS) — As Catholics dutifully sit at home, doing their part to protect vulnerable people from COVID-19, the Holy Spirit has been busy inspiring creative ways to minister in the Archdiocese of Louisville and around the world.

Pastors are offering drive-through adoration and confession as well as livestreaming and on-demand liturgies online. Some parishes are ringing their church bells at 10 a.m. daily at Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear’s invitation. The bell ringing is meant to be a reminder that people are not alone.

Parishioners are taking part in phone trees, calling to check on vulnerable members of the parish. Others are donating grocery store gift cards to help families in need.

It’s a time of sacrifice as well.

The consequences of social distancing have led to canceled public liturgies and prayer services throughout Lent, and upcoming Palm Sunday, Holy Week and Easter observances, leaving priests to pray these liturgies in solitude, or with just one or two attendants. Catholics are participating as best they can from home through online livestreams in many dioceses around the world, including the U.S.

Clergy suggested there are at least two important things that Catholics can to do spiritually during their confinement, in addition to regular prayer:

— First, engage in spiritual Communion, a simple prayer expressing one’s ardent desire to be in communion with Christ.

— Second, make a perfect act of contrition. This act involves an examination of conscience, as well as a desire for forgiveness and the intention to make a confession when it’s safe to do so.

To help the faithful meet their spiritual needs during the church’s holiest week of the year, dioceses around the world are planning to livestream Palm Sunday Masses, chrism Masses, Holy Thursday liturgies, Good Friday’s celebration of the Passion, and Easter Vigil and Easter Masses.

Among those broadcasting the traditional church services are the dioceses of Trenton, New Jersey, Albany and Rochester, New York, and Corpus Christi, Texas. Catholics can check their diocesan website to learn of plans for livestreaming of liturgies in their locales.

Many other dioceses and parishes already are livestreaming Sunday Mass and while they may not have announced specific plans for Palm Sunday and Easter, diocesan and parish websites may contain new details.

In the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, Father Tom Kovatch at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Bloomington, Indiana, has been livestreaming his celebration of Mass on Facebook from the church. Father Kovatch learned to livestream after all Catholic churches in the archdiocese were closed to stop the spread of the coronavirus, like the rest of the country’s churches.

In Hendersonville, Tennessee, in the Diocese of Nashville, Father Andrew Forsythe has been setting up his portable altar and cameras to record a private Mass he celebrates in the parking lot of Pope John Paul II High School. The students are confined to their homes because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Mass is the highest form of prayer,” said Father Forsythe, who is the chaplain and a theology teacher at the Catholic high school. “It’s our lifeline. It’s where community comes from.”

Bishop John O. Barres of Rockville Centre, New York, which has been rocked with a high number of COVID-19 cases, offered a pastoral letter for parishioners for reflection during the final weeks of Lent.

Titled “The Great Week: A Pilgrimage With the Lord in Holy Week,” the letter takes readers through the traditional observance throughout the days marking Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday to his resurrection at Easter.

While the pastoral letter was prepared in advance of the rapid advance of illness caused by the new coronavirus, it asks the faithful to reflect on how Lent can be a spiritual grace that carries them through the year.

Some parishes across the Louisville Archdiocese continue to offer the sacrament of reconciliation with either a carefully planned drive-through (that assures safe distance and confidentiality) or an interior room that is disinfected, large enough to keep a safe, 6-foot distance between people and soundproof.

In general, though, Karen Shadle, director of the archdiocesan Office of Worship, suggested delaying the sacraments.

“We’re trying to get people to stay home as much as possible. That is the spirit governing everything. It’s about safety,” Shadle said.

“Unless you are in an emergency near-death situation, the sacraments should be delayed,” she said. In situations where someone is near death, families should call their pastor.

Several archdiocesan parishes are attempting to meet people’s spiritual needs in different ways.

Father William Bowling, pastor of Holy Trinity and Holy Name parishes in Louisville, told The Record, the archdiocesan newspaper, that he is exploring ways to serve people who are dying and desire anointing.

He also has been leading prayer online — on Facebook live — several times a day. He said he is “bursting with pride” at the way Holy Trinity School and the parishes have handled the crisis.

He encouraged people to “look for the grace.”

“People can find in this an extraordinary opportunity for spiritual growth,” he said. “This is an opportunity for prayer, in communion with God, and to care for one another. I believe the church can emerge from this strengthened and purified.”

Deacon Dennis Nash, director of the Diaconate Office and a deacon at St. Raphael Church, also in Louisville, said ministries and parishes are in triage mode.

“So much of our ministry is face to face, so we’re having to reinvent the wheel,” he explained. “We have to assess the priorities and the need.”

Deacons of the archdiocese have an extensive prison ministry and, since prisons aren’t allowing visitors, the deacons have only been able to let them know, “They are in our prayers and we ask them to pray for all of us,” Deacon Nash said.

Hospitals, he said, have placed restrictions on ministers, though ministers have still been able to see Catholic patients in an emergency situation, after a health screening.

Father Charles D. Walker livestreams Mass at St. Bernard Church in Louisville and keeps a school yearbook and parish directory on the altar.

During a recent broadcast, he told viewers he keeps the books on the altar “just to remind me you’re with me in prayer, I’m with you in prayer. Every day I have been praying for you and I want you to know that.”

Within hours of school closing announcements made March 19, he said, parishioners had collected $500 in grocery gift cards for school families that have few resources. Within a few days, that fund had exceeded $2,000. Gift cards are being shared with families and elderly parishioners in need. Other volunteers are part of a phone tree, calling elderly and vulnerable parishioners, as well as delivering groceries and medicine to them.

“The creativity and especially the generosity of folks trying to be church and be helpful and loving — to me that’s an exciting and very holy, beautiful thing.”

Louisville-area nursing homes also are trying to find ways to keep residents engaged, since they can’t gather or have visitors. The Little Sisters of the Poor have held “hallway bingo and hallway rosary” for residents who stay in the doorways of their rooms. They also regularly have a dog who visits residents.


VATICAN CITY (CNS) — While conferences and meetings can be postponed for months because of the coronavirus pandemic, the liturgies of Holy Week and Easter cannot, with the exception of the chrism Mass, said the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.

“By the mandate of the supreme pontiff for the year 2020 only,” the congregation issued guidelines March 20 for celebrating the Triduum and Easter liturgies without the presence of the faithful.

“Easter is at the heart of the entire liturgical year and is not simply one feast among others. The Easter triduum is celebrated over the arc of three days, which is preceded by Lent and crowned by Pentecost and, therefore, cannot be transferred to another time,” said the “Decree in the Time of COVID-19.”

The decree was signed by Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the congregation, and by Archbishop Arthur Roche, secretary.

Because the chrism Mass is not formally part of the Triduum, they said, a bishop can decide to postpone its celebration. Usually the Mass is celebrated in the Holy Week and includes a gathering of all the priests of the diocese to renew their priestly promises. During the Mass, the oils — the chrism — used in the sacraments are blessed by bishop and distributed to the priests to take to their parishes.

Where public Masses have been canceled, the decree said, the bishops, in agreement with their bishops’ conference, should ensure that the Holy Week liturgies are celebrated in the cathedral and in parish churches. The faithful should be advised of the times for the celebrations, so that they can pray at home at the same time.

“Live — not recorded — televisual or internet broadcasts are helpful,” the decree said.

On Holy Thursday, the Mass of the Lord’s Supper should be celebrated in the cathedral and in parish churches even without the faithful present, it said. “The faculty to celebrate this Mass in a suitable place, without the people, is granted in an exceptional manner to all priests” this year.

“The washing of feet, which is already optional, is to be omitted” when there are no faithful present, it said. The traditional procession with the Blessed Sacrament at the end of the Mass also is omitted, and the Eucharist is placed directly in the tabernacle.

If there is any way to do so, the decree said, the Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion should be celebrated and, among the formal prayers of petition, there should be “a special intention for the sick, the dead, for those who feel lost or dismayed.”

For the celebration of the Easter Vigil without the faithful present, it said, the preparation and lighting of the fire is omitted, but the Easter candle is still lit and the “Exsultet” Easter proclamation is sung or recited.

Processions and other expressions of popular piety that are traditional around the world during Holy Week may be transferred to another date, the decree said. It suggested, for example, Sept. 14-15 in connection with the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.


VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Vatican office that distributes free tickets to papal events has posted a notice on its website that “the liturgical celebrations of Holy Week will take place without the physical presence of the faithful.”

While public gatherings, including Masses, have been banned in Italy through April 3, Holy Week begins with the Palm Sunday liturgy April 5, so the notification from the Prefecture of the Papal Household was read as a sign that the ban would be extended, at least at the Vatican.

Matteo Bruni, director of the Vatican press office, told Catholic News Service early March 15 that arrangements for the pope’s Holy Week and Easter schedules were “still under study” and that the prefecture’s note was meant only to inform people seeking tickets that they would not be distributed as usual.

The prefecture’s notice said the decision was made “because of the current global public health emergency” posed by the spread of the coronavirus.

In a formal statement March 15, Bruni said Pope Francis would celebrate all of the Holy Week and Easter liturgies: Palm Sunday, the chrism Mass, the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, the liturgy of the Passion of the Lord, the Easter vigil Mass and Easter morning Mass.

However, he said, the Vatican still is studying how those liturgies will take place and with what kind of participation “that respects the security measures in place to avoid the spread of the coronavirus.”

The decisions will be communicated, “as soon as they are determined, in line with the evolving epidemiological situation,” he said, adding that whatever decisions are made about who can or cannot attend, the liturgies will be transmitted and streamed live.

The Prefecture of the Papal Household posted its notice late March 14, hours after the Italian Ministry of Health released daily figures for the COVID-19 infection, which continues to spread despite the entire country being on lockdown.

As of the evening of March 14, the ministry said, 21,157 people had tested positive for COVID-19; 1,441 people with the virus had died; and 1,966 were considered cured after testing negative twice.


Every year on the last Monday in May our nation pauses to remember the great sacrifices made by our military in defense of our freedoms. Remembering the sacrifice is how we honor their legacy and shine a light on the great price paid for our independence from tyranny.  

Holy Week is like our liturgical “memorial days” during which Catholics pause in much the same way, to reflect on the suffering and sacrifice Jesus made in defense of our very souls and rescue from the tyranny of sin. The Resurrection is the singular event that validates our faith in Christ. But the joy of Easter, only comes through Calvary and remembering the sacrifice adds poignancy to our joy at salvation. 

From the earliest times, Christians have revisited the events leading up to the great victory death achieved through the Resurrection. This time is called the Holy Triduum. Lent ends and the Triduum begins with the Mass of the Lord’s supper on Holy Thursday and culminating with the Resurrection on Easter Sunday. 

However, we actually begin to commemorate the path to our salvation a week before, on Palm Sunday. This Mass reflects on Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. Since ancient times, the palm has symbolized victory, triumph, peace and immortality. It appears often on first-century Jewish ossuaries and on coins. The crowd in Jerusalem was signaling the kingship and authority of Jesus through the symbol of the palm, something that undoubtedly did not sit well with the Jewish and Roman authorities and set into motion the events of the week. 

Remembering that day, we begin Mass outside the church, where the Palms are blessed and we then enter the church rejoicing and singing Hallelujah. However, as the Mass concludes the mood becomes more somber as we anticipate the Passion. 

The following day is the Chrism Mass, held at the Arboretum at Christ Cathedral, where the Bishop gathers with all the priests and clergy in the Diocese to bless the holy oils that will be used throughout the diocese all year.  According to Lesa Truxaw, director of Liturgy for the Diocese, “Gathering all the priests with the Bishop is an important part of the Chrism Mass. The priests renew their priestly promises made at their ordination.” The public is invited to the celebration which will be held this year on April 15 at 5:30 p.m. at Christ Cathedral. 

Holy Thursday, or the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, is when we remember our call to service as Christians and commemorate the establishment of the Holy Eucharist. Like Jesus, the priest washes the feet of the followers. How this is done may vary from parish to parish, but the message is our role as servant to others. After Mass, the Eucharist is taken out of the Church for adoration through Good Friday.  

Good Friday is the commemoration of Christ’s great suffering and death on the cross. This sacrificial love demonstrates just how much and to what extent the Word made Flesh loved us. The reading of the Passion is always the same, from John 18. “We are called to pray for the needs of the world,” says Truxaw. “There is also the veneration of the Holy Cross, the Lord’s prayer and then the Eucharist is distributed from extras consecrated on Holy Thursday. There is no consecration on Good Friday. In a sense, we fast from the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrament.” 

On Holy Saturday Catholics are urged to pray and meditate on the Passion, but no services are held during the day. The Easter Vigil begins after dark, not at sunset. This means that the service usually goes well into the evening, 2 1/2 – 4 hours, so parents of younger children and babies should take this into consideration.  

Like Palm Sunday, Holy Saturday or Easter Vigil begins outside. In contrast to the light and celebration of the previous Sunday, the darkness and solemnity is broken with the Service of Light. “The Pascal Candle is blessed, and the congregation, each holding candles, process into the darkened church symbolically dispelling the darkness from our hearts and minds,” said Truxaw. “There are a maximum of nine readings associated with this service, although the priest may eliminate a few if there are a lot of catechumens and candidates. In any case it is definitely the mother of all vigils.”  

This is a Mass, however, the sacraments we reference in a regular Mass are actually given in the context of the Vigil Mass. Following the Homily, are the baptisms and profession of faith by the congregation. The next step is confirmation, which in this case is performed by the priest not the Bishop, and finally during the Eucharistic liturgy the newly baptized and confirmed are able to receive their first communion with the congregation. 

The conclusion of the Easter Vigil is joyful and triumphant and this joy continues through the Easter season which concludes on Pentecost Sunday. 

Having walked with Jesus through the Passion, Easter Sunday feels exuberant. In a sense, we have just walked through the Valley of Death into life. Something to remember all year long.


Host Rick Howick interviews guests on a variety of topics. On today’s show, Rick welcomes a gentleman who happens to be one of our neighbors in the ‘Tower of Hope’ on the campus of Christ Cathedral. It’s none other than Fr. Robert Spitzer, president of the Magis Center and host on EWTN’s popular TV show, “Fr. Spitzer’s Universe.”

Join us for this lively conversation as we talk about our Lenten experience and Holy Week.








Originally broadcast on 3/24/18


Episode 32   March 24,  2018 Christ Cathedral Musicians, Dr. John Romeri, Director of Music, and David L. Ball, Assistant Director and Organist, present a special MUSIC FROM THE TOWER with the great music for Palm Sunday and Holy Week.


MUSIC: Hosanna filio David Opening Gregorian Chant for Palm Sunday   “Hosanna to the Son of David”

MUSIC: Christus Factus Est   Gregorian Chant based upon the second reading of Palm Sunday Philippians 2: 8 – 9

MUSIC: Christus Factus Est   choral settings by Felice Anerio and Anton Bruckner   “Christ became obedient for us, even unto death”

MUSIC: Mandatum by Peter Latona   a musical setting for the washing of feet “Faith, Hope and Love, the greatest of these is Love”

MUSIC: Ubi Caritas   the Offertory Antiphon for Holy Thursday choral settings by Maurice Duruflé, Paul Mealor and Ola Gjeilo “Where charity and love prevail, God is there”

MUSIC: Ave Verum by William Byrd   a communion motet for Holy Thursday   “Hail the ture body, born of the Virgin Mary”

MUSIC: Pange Lingua   Gregorian Chant for the transfer of the Eucharist on Holy Thursday evening “Sing my Tongu, the Savior’s glory”

MUSIC: In Monte Oliveti Anton Bruckner   Motet for the stripping of the altar on Holy Thursday   “On the Mount of Olives, he prayed to the Father”

MUSIC: Miserere Mei Gregorio Allegri   The final psalm (Ps 51) of Tenebrae on Holy Thursday   “Have mercy upon me, O God”

MUSIC: Popule Meus by Tomas Luis de Vittoria   For the veneration of the Holy Cross on Good Friday “Oh my people, what have I done to you”

MUSIC: Faithful Cross by Leo Nestor For the veneration of the Holy Cross on Good Friday

MUSIC: Salvator Mundi by Thomas Tallis “O Savior of the World, save us all”

MUSIC:   Vinea mea electa by Francis Poulenc   “O vineyard, my chosen one! I planted you: how are you changed from sweet to bitter, to have crucified me and released Barrabas?”

MUSIC: O Sacred Head   by Johannes Brahms   Karl Richter, organist