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Here’s a powerful new episode of Orange County Catholic Radio, featuring host Rick Howick. Joining Rick for this podcast is Katie Hughes of Spirit Filled Hearts Ministry.

As we emerge from the Covid lockdown, Rick reflects on the temptations of Christ after his forty days in the wilderness. Our temptations are much like those of Jesus as he emerged from the desert. Rediscover how we confront them as a parish community of Christ, and how we find Christ most completely in the parish: in the Eucharist, in the faces who surround us, and in the Christ we share in parish life.




Originally broadcast on 4/9/22


Join Deacon Steve Greco and his guest, well- known author, professor and television personality, Fr. Robert Spitzer. Fr. Spitzer is president of the Magis Center and host on EWTN’s popular TV show, “Fr. Spitzer’s Universe.” 

On today’s enlightening broadcast, they’ll talk about the concept of why God allows suffering in our lives.

This is powerful stuff! So be sure to tune in and SHARE this podcast with others.




Originally broadcast on 9/27/20


VATICAN CITY (CNS) — People who feel restless or lacking inner peace will discover it when they visit those who are experiencing great difficulty, suffering, illness or persecution, Pope Francis said.

Jesus’ wounds are a source of peace “because they are the sign of Jesus’ enormous love” as he conquered evil, sin and death with his crucifixion and resurrection, the pope said April 28 before praying the “Regina Coeli” with visitors gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

Just as Jesus invited a doubting Thomas to touch his wounds, Jesus extends that same invitation to everyone today, he said.

“It is as if Jesus were saying to all of us, ‘If you are not at peace, touch my wounds,'” which are also present in the problems, difficulties, suffering, illnesses and persecution so many people experience today, the pope said.

“Are you not at peace? Go. Go on and visit someone who is the symbol of Jesus’ wounds. Touch Jesus’ wounds” because they are a source of his peace and mercy, he added.

Noting the day also commemorated Divine Mercy Sunday, Pope Francis said, “we all need mercy.”

“Let us get close to Jesus and touch the wounds of our brothers and sisters who suffer,” he said.

The pope also wished a happy Easter to Orthodox and Eastern-rite Catholics celebrating Jesus’ resurrection according to the Julian calendar.


Redemptive suffering can strike us as one of those medieval Catholic concepts that cause our Protestant brothers and sisters to roll their eyes. So when Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church addresses “The Purpose of Redemptive Suffering” in his Daily Hope column, it might be time for both Catholics and Protestants to settle down and take a new look at some ancient wisdom.

It is natural, when bad things happen to us, to blame God, others, or ourselves or simply to allow our very soul to sink into an abyss of sadness and grief. But if we allow suffering to open us to the needs of others then the entire journey, from shock to acceptance, leads us closer to God. Suffering becomes hope. Hope becomes joy. But it may take until we reach heaven to feel it.

Suffering teaches us that through pain we become aligned with Christ on the cross whose horrific suffering led to the joy of salvation. According to Pastor Warren, “Your pain often reveals God’s purpose for you. God never wastes a hurt!” In Romans 8:18 St. Paul says, “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us.” Redemptive suffering transforms our pain into a tool for the greater good. That is the crack in the wall where healing and hope can enter.

According to Father Troy Schneider, associate pastor at Holy Family Cathedral in Orange, “God turns every evil into good, but it is often hard for us to see how this will happen. Redemptive suffering links us directly to the cross. We cannot redeem ourselves, but we must accept Jesus at his word and take up our cross and follow him.” That cross leads us to Calvary but it does not end there. Calvary is the necessary suffering that leads to the resurrection and redemptive joy.

In today’s culture, avoiding suffering is embraced with missionary zeal. Not that we would wish suffering on anyone, but as St. Thomas Aquinas wrote, if suffering means something then there is value in it. “If there is no meaning to suffering, there is no meaning to anything, no meaning to happiness or joy either,” says Fr. Schneider. “We are told that it is merciful to bypass the suffering associated with sickness and death through assisted suicide. Dying people are closer to Christ than we are. Christ is in the midst of that suffering. Life is a gift and even at the end we must choose between good and evil.”

In his book John Paul II and the Meaning of Suffering, author Robert Schroeder says, “With suffering, there are no escape clauses. Its sharp tendrils reach all of us and cut deeply. But what if we could turn the tables on suffering – not by eliminating our pain altogether but by doing something to give it purpose and meaning? What if we could do good through our suffering? According to John Paul, that is precisely what our relationship with Jesus Christ empowers us to do.”

For suffering to have meaning it must be “for” something. How many of us remember nuns telling us to “offer up” our little pains and annoyances? And as trite as this may sound today, there is abundant wisdom behind it. Offering our suffering for others or for the glory of God puts us side-by-side with Christ on the cross. That is precisely what he did. He “offered up” His pain for the sake of mankind and He calls us to take up our own cross and do the same. No whining. No pity-party. No bailing out along the way. Taking the cross is a heavy burden but it is the only way to get to the joy of salvation. No pain, no gain.

The good news is that God helps us endure because what we go through has value. “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves.” MT 11:23.

Redemptive suffering does not mean that we have to go looking for trouble or make a spectacle of ourselves. As Archbishop Fulton Sheen said, “Penance does not require hair shirts today; our neighbors are our hair shirts.” Reconciliation is the final step in healing. It puts us right with God and completes the redemptive process. According to Fr. Schneider, “God created the universe in an explosion of love, something scientists call the ‘Big Bang.’ At some point that love between God and man was ruptured and the entire universe feels the effect of this rupture. This is the genesis of suffering. Jesus, through his passion, heals the rupture and through confession we are personally healed in our relationship with God. It is not just confessing sins; it is agreeing to get into a right relationship again with God.”

Because all we know is this mortal life, it is difficult to fathom the immensity of eternity. Sometimes we have to just hold on to our faith and the knowledge that in the end “this too shall pass.” The pain and suffering will all be worth it and it will somehow make sense. In the meantime, Lent is a good time to reflect on how we can use our pain and suffering for positive change and the benefit of others. It is also a good time to go to confession, get right with God and when disaster strikes, offer it up. Good old Sister Mary Francis was right.


Hope & Healing, a forum on mental illness, drew about 200 participants to Our Lady Queen of Angels in Newport Beach on Jan. 28 to acknowledge the Catholic Church’s outreach to the mentally ill and examine the effects such illness has on families and individuals. The forum featured several top Orange County experts on mental health and provided resources from churches, first responders and the medical community.

Speakers at the event noted that while a significant number of people suffer from anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, most never say a word because of the stigma associated with mental illness and the fear that acknowledging the illness will mean the loss of their jobs, social status and even their friends and families.

“We stigmatize everyone. In Orange County, we are the worst,” says Jeannine Loucks, the nurse who manages emergency care at St. Joseph Hospital. “It’s a brain disease no different from other diseases, like heart disease or diabetes.” With more than 30 years of experience – including working at the former Metropolitan State Hospital for the mentally ill – Loucks now is building an innovative network of mental health care.

The stigma surrounding mental illness must be tackled so that those who suffer can seek the treatment they need to lead fulfilling lives, speakers said.

“Fifty percent of mentally ill people never seek treatment,” notes Steve Pitman, president of the Orange County chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness and a national board member. Pitman’s brother and granddaughter both suffered with mental disorders, which have been found to have a genetic component. “Only by sharing do we know how to help them. We are on a marathon to overcome the effects of mental illness on our society.”

Pitman’s granddaughter Melissa suffered from bipolar disorder but talked to others about her mental illness, he said, and thus had reason to hope and a connectedness that his brother – who grew up in the 1960s when mental illness meant jail or institutionalization – never had. “She shared her gift with others so they could live happy, healthy, productive lives,” he explains. “Mental illness is isolating. We must stay connected.”

Dr. James Sanders, a therapist who works with Our Lady Queen of Angels’ mental health ministry, agrees. “We need to help each other out to thrive and survive,” Dr. Sanders says. “The Catholic Church wants to be inclusive and not shun them. Depression is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. and 44 million in our country live with mental illness. The problem is human isolation.”

Bishop Kevin Vann has begun a major mental health initiative and formed a Mental Health Advisory Board, explained Michael Donaldson, director of the Diocese of Orange’s Office of Pastoral Care of the Family in All Stages. Donaldson said that several parishes are doing mental health outreach as well. “Today, the Church is placing an emphasis on family and society. We are perfect instrument to reach out to families. We are going to change the world.”

Dr. Louise Dunn directs the Diocese’s New Hope Crisis Counseling Center and chairs the Mental Health Advisory Board, recalled the mental health conference first held in 2014 at Saddleback Church. The conference draws thousands annually and stemmed from a partnership between Saddleback Pastor Rick Warren and Bishop Vann. “That conference was powerful,” Dr. Dunn said. “It began our dialogue on mental health.” She said the advisory board will help the 62 parishes in the Diocese – which have diverse needs and demographics – with resources and information on mental illness. Individuals and families in search of help can call the New Hope hotline 24/7.