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Luke Henkel's reflection




Hi, I’m Patrick Barredo, director of social outreach and advocacy.
 
This Sunday, we celebrate Corpus Christi, the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, which calls to my mind the principle of Catholic Social Teaching called Solidarity, living in unity with one another and in right relationship with one another.
 
Pope Francis recently said that, “If we act as one people, also in the face of the other epidemics that are hitting us, then we can have a real impact.”
 
In this Sunday’s Psalm, there is a verse that says, “He has granted peace in your borders.” But when I look at the borders, and within our borders, of this great country of ours, I struggle to see where God’s peace exists.
 
There’s an image called the Seamless Garment in which we believe all life is woven together and all life is sacred. All life. But when one part of that fabric of life is oppressed, then we all feel that oppression. And so, we are called to make a preferential option for the poor, to turn towards those who are suffering the most. Today, I don’t think it needs to be said, but the poor are:
Those suffering from COVID-19;
The poor includes the Earth, groaning under the strains of climate change, caused by the work of human hands;
And the poor are all those who, for untold generations, have suffered because of racial injustice.

We are called to live in right relationship and solidarity with one another. Pope Francis asks that we turn to the light of the resurrection to guide us to “encounter the necessary antibodies of justice, charity and solidarity” to change the world. If only we could turn to one another and recognize that all of us are created by our God and Loving Father.
 
The author J.R.R. Tolkein in his epic saga The Lord of the Rings calls to mind a right relationship we should have with the Earth. He says through his protagonist Frodo Baggins that, “He felt a delight in wood and the touch of it, neither as forester nor as carpenter: it was the delight of the living tree itself.” What if we were to live in right relationship with one another, delighting in one another, rather than in domination?
 
Recently, we celebrated the feast of Pentecost, the feast of the Holy Spirit, who gives life to all of us and who compels all of us to give life to the world that we may care for one another. As you can see, I still have my Christmas tree up and it reminds me of the image of Christ as Emmanuel, God being with us and God being within us. Let us honor the divine that lives within each and every single living being, especially those who are suffering so unjustly during these days.
 
Let us together strive for the peace and justice that is the foundation of the Reign of God.

 



 

Tami Kowal's reflection

Hello, my fellow St. James Cathedral parishioners! I miss seeing you all and coming together in prayer to receive the Eucharist in our holy gathering place of St. James Cathedral. You have been in my prayers during these challenging times. I hope this message finds you well and in good spirits. If not, I hope connecting this way can bring a sense of comfort – we are indeed in this together!
 
My husband & I are parents to three teenagers and a wonderful dog of 8 years named Coco. She has become an unofficial therapy dog for us all during these times of anxiety. She is very happy in return because she has her entire pack at home every minute of the day. The cutest thing is how she goes to work with my husband each weekday in our sunroom, his makeshift home office. She gathers up all her stuffed toys, relaxes on the carpet, and gets to work...being the calming presence she is. Coco teaches us a lot. She doesn’t live in the past or worry about the future. She goes with us on daily neighborhood walks and her excitement level rises with the number of family members that join. When she has her whole family together, she is the most exuberant, jumping for joy as we set off together. This reminds me of us, the Body of Christ. May we jump for joy when we are finally all together again!
 
As I mentioned, we have three teenagers at home. Our eldest son is a high school senior, part of the Class of 2020 - we never could have imagined that his last year of high school & graduation would be online. Our daughter and youngest son are also schooling at home and are currently in the Confirmation Class at the Cathedral, which now takes place via Zoom meetings. We give many thanks to all the educators who have been so flexible, creative, and supportive during these unique times! None of us could ever be prepared for this time in history, yet our teachers have handled things with grace.
 
 
Speaking of grace, I am reminded of the comfort I have been receiving from one of my favorite saints, Therese of Lisieux, She said “Jesus does not look so much at the greatness of our actions, nor even at their difficulty, as at the love with which we do them.”  These words resonate because they remind us of the importance of doing small and ordinary things with great love. Whether we are cooking a meal, cleaning the bathtub, or helping a loved one with a project, if it is done with love, we have pleased the Lord.  If we allow it, this can be a time of surrender and strengthening our faith in God.  We could look at this stay at home time as being stuck and going without...or we could look at it as an opportunity to love and grow.
 
I remember receiving a phone call from Father Ryan a few weeks into the lock down to check in with our family & see how we were faring. This was a perfect example of a small thing done with great love and it put quite a smile on my face. I told Father Ryan that much to my surprise our family was experiencing harmony at home together. We were cooking & baking, creating music, playing games, decluttering, reading, watching movies, and going on walks with Coco. Without speaking it directly, we had each decided to occupy this new reality with love.  Now to be perfectly honest, since that initial lockdown honeymoon period, we have had some stressful days here and there - we are a human family after all, but love always has the last word.
 
St. Therese believed and taught that "everything is grace" - that God's face & presence could be experienced in every person and situation of our lives. May we be present to others with love in our hearts and actions during this time of uncertainty. Be well. Stay Safe. Peace be with you!

 



 

Hello church family! I’m Shemaiah Gonzalez. You may have seen my husband, Justo and our two sons, Massimo and Tomas at 10am Mass.
 
I miss holy water. I miss the smell of incense. I miss the way the light comes through the oculus after it’s been raining for months. I miss watching the chubby babies get baptized. But mostly I miss you all… terribly.
 
I miss passing the peace and talking to you at coffee hour. I miss that red sweater you wear each Pentecost  And you, I miss the seersucker suit you were going to wear on Easter. I was praying for a couple of you who were to be confirmed Easter vigil. I don’t know your name but God knew who I was talking about.
 
There are so many of you who don’t know my name and I don’t know yours, but we’ve been watching each other for years. You’ve watched my boys grow from babies to little men. And I’ve watched your faithfulness, your love for God and for our church. Even though we are not connected through the Eucharist right now, we are connected through our prayers. I can feel them and I hope that you can feel mine too.
 
I want you to know that I haven’t lost my joy. Not to say I don’t have difficult days. I do but isn’t this really what our faith had been preparing us for? It’s easy to have joy when life seems stable and under control.  It’s another to find joy in chaos and isolation. St Paul reminded us this from his prison cell and we know that joy is the fruit of the Holy Spirit within us. And in the book of James  we are told to Consider it all joy, when we encounter trials, knowing that the testing of our faith produces endurance.
 
So I’ve been intentionally looking for joy, each day. Those joyful moments are often a reflection of when we felt loved or felt God’s presence. Seeing a bald eagle flying overhead, a surprise call or distanced visit from a friend or a tickle fest with my boys. I’ve heard it said, The Joy that isn’t shared, dies young. So in the evenings we take turns answering the question,  Where did you find joy today? around the dinner table.
 
Not only does our joy not die, it multiplies when we hear a sacred moment through the eyes of our loved one. Even on tough days, as we look over the hours to try to find a moment to share, we realize, there were many. I’ve begun to end Facetime and Zoom calls with this question too. Where did you find Joy today?
 
This way we do not hang up spent, heavy and deflated from the frustrations and trials we shared and supported each other through, but laughing, overflowing with love and joy. I’ve heard it said that “Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God”.
 So I ask you, my dear church family, my home, Where did you find Joy today? Share it with us and it will grow.


 

The Body of Christ speaks from St. James Cathedral, Seattle on Vimeo.

 
 



Ruben DeAnda's reflection

My name is Rubén de Anda and from the quarantined shores of Lake Tapps, a heartfelt greeting of peace and good health to my fellow parishioners at St James Cathedral. 

I was asked to share, briefly, my reflections on the "Body of Christ Speaks”.  Wow!  So much to say in such little time.  So, I would like to share my thoughts with you on the resiliency of the human spirit and virtual communal prayer.

Once it was certain COVID hit our shores, I suddenly found myself recalling the familiar phrase “necessity is the mother of invention” and wondering if this virus would alter “business as usual”.  Yes, stay-at-home orders were issued to help flatten the curve and protect human life.  But with the right technology, I knew we would have to re-imagine how we work, play, and worship.  We are hard-wired to be in communion with one another.  And sure enough, we leveraged existing technologies to work from home, live-stream church services, and provide tele-medicine to patients with non-COVID symptoms.  Working from home can be productive and minimizes the pollution from all modes of land and air transportation.  Taking walks in our neighborhood is a great opportunity to marvel and just be in the presence of God’s creation.  And yes, we can watch virtual Mass but without the Eucharist, like most of you I’m sure, I feel short changed.  It is the “source and summit” of our life.  For now, we wait with great anticipation for the pandemic to end so we may once again participate in the Mass with even greater love and devotion.

When radio and television were invented, there was virtual communal prayer.  For example, I recall my parents tuning into a Catholic radio station that broadcasted the rosary.  They gathered us up and we would pray along with the voice in the box.  Last March mom managed to gather the troops once again but this time to pray the rosary as a family using Zoom!  What started as a Lenten practice quickly became a daily practice to this day.  I find our “rosary time” to be a very special.  We take a few minutes before and after to reconnect, share hopes, fears, and struggles with one another.  On more than one occasion, aunts, uncles, and cousins have joined in as well!  Although its virtual, I find this new way of experiencing community comforting.

I see that my time is up and I haven’t even had a chance to share with you how I’ve double down on recycling and re-discovered medieval Gregorian chants that were prayed during the Black Plague!

Know that I miss you all and look forward to the day we can come together once again to fully participate in the Mass and spend time catching up in person!  Peace, blessings, and good health to you all.




Thank you, Riggio family!


 

Patty Repikoff’s reflection
 
Hello, St. James Cathedral Community! Much peace to you! I so miss each of you, and all of us gathered at our Eucharistic table and many other tables!
 
As I consider blessings emerging for me out of this pandemic, I do so humbly, deeply aware of my privilege in the face of those who, pre-pandemic, already struggled to survive life’s inequities, whose lives now are doubly disrupted -- unhoused people, refugees, migrant workers harvesting our food. I am able to work from home, but I hold awesome gratitude for my younger Catholic Community Services colleagues who daily risk their lives on the front lines for the poorest among us.
 
I am a walker. Every day I walk 4 or 5 miles to the lake and back.  Since March my walks have become a saving grace. As the “stay at home” order unrolled, ferns began unfurling fronds, daffodils and camellias and cherry trees started blossoming, birds returned singing, and every day I walked more astonished at the natural world’s capacity to awake and rise up despite Covid-19’s threats.  The words of the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins came to mind… “nature is never spent; / there lives the dearest freshness deep down things…”  Each day now I ponder what dear freshness lives deep in my own soul, or in our world, or in our church, what waits to be awakened to heal our anxious and desperate world?
 
As Lent ended, I wasn’t looking forward to a “stay- at- home Zoomed” Easter. But the Easter angel’s message, “He is not here, he is risen!” marched right through the security system of my quarantined heart and reminded me that God’s grace can never be locked down, even if I am!  This Easter season I find the unlocked presence of the Risen Jesus everywhere, roaming free, available for spiritual communion, eager to surprise, console, hidden as the dearest freshness in my heart, in endless Zoom calls, in masked shopping lines, in desires to sew masks and bring food to shelters.
 
If I believe the Easter proclamation---that life conquers death, that self-emptying love trumps fear and greed, that compassion will not stay home or be locked down, then I need to get going, to follow the Risen Shepherd leading me through the narrow gate of this surreal moment to help bring forth the dearest freshness of a more just and compassionate world.
 


 

Suzanne Lee reflection:
 
Dear Cathedral Parishioners,
 
My name is Suzanne Lee. I am the Director of Family Ministry here at St. James. I support our married couples and families, especially at times of crisis, illness, death, and grief.
 
I’m acutely aware of how much you have been suffering and sacrificing since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of you have lost your jobs or had your hours cut back, and may still be waiting for federal and state assistance. Many of you are parents struggling to work from home while doing your level best to home-school your kids. But a lot of you have essential jobs and are working long hours, increasing the risk of infection to you and your families.
 
It’s painful for me to see how this pandemic is compounding the already deep divisions and inequalities in our society. We know that many of our essential workers are being paid the very least.
 
And so, with Fr. Ryan and the whole cathedral staff, I am praying for each one of you. We are here to help and support you throughout this crisis.
 
While recognizing the terrible hardships we now face, I also want to take a moment to explore the opportunity this moment presents. This is the 40th day since most of the cathedral staff began working from home. Like most of you, we have been in quarantine.
You know, the word quarantine literally means 40-days. In the Middle Ages, quarantine started referring to a period of forced isolation of travelers, ships, or whole communities to prevent the spread of infection during an epidemic.
 
But the concept of withdrawal from society has deep biblical roots. The Jewish people wandered in the desert for 40-years. After his baptism, Jesus fasted in the desert for 40-days, and Christians now commemorate Lent for the same length of time.
 
These references to 40-days or 40-years point to a period of intentional pause and rest, penance and purification, or trial and testing, ultimately leading to spiritual change and growth. And, if we take advantage of our forced isolation, we have a real chance to make this surreal time a moment of conversion and transformation.
 
It all may start with getting 40-winks. For those of us sheltering from home, our simplified lives may help us get a bit more sleep, leading to clearer thoughts. Maybe we’ll get a chance to listen to our old top-40's, those musical hits (or books, or movies, or experiences) that touched us deeply, made us dream, and shaped our life goals. We might find ourselves establishing new routines that help us make time for exercise, reflection, and prayer. We could learn something new that leads to changes both large and small in our lives.
 
One thing I’ve noticed on my walks in the neighborhood and visits to the grocery store is this visceral sense of community solidarity. People are really seeing one other. We say hello or give a friendly wave as we make room for each other to pass at a safe distance. Customers stop to thank the sales staff There’s a real awareness that we are all in this together.
 
The quarantine also has given me the chance to learn new ways of connecting with my children, grandchildren, and siblings, who are scattered all around the country. I had known how to FaceTime one-on-one with each of my children and their families, but now I have discovered how to initiate Group FaceTime visits so that I can see and talk to all of them at once! I feel like a mother hen who can finally collect all her chickens under her wings!
 
And another thing: on Easter Sunday, my siblings and I, had our first ever Zoom call. It was just amazing that we could all be together like that, and it happened to take place on our parents' 75th wedding anniversary! Now we are Zooming weekly, and it’s really strengthening our connections.
 
During this historic quarantine, opportunities for growth and change will be different for every person, but we'll all be presented, in one way or another, with new possibilities for renewal and transformation. I’m praying that each of us will find a way to reach out and grasp the hand of our merciful God and learn how to love our families, our communities, and our world with more tenderness.
 
Please take good care.

 


The Body of Christ Speaks from St. James Cathedral, Seattle on Vimeo.


Rosanne Michaels' reflection 

I heard the voice of Jesus say,
"Come unto me and rest;
lay down, O weary one, lay down
your head upon my breast."
I came to Jesus as I was,
so weary worn and sad;
I found in him a resting place,
and he has made me glad.
            Horatius Bonar
 
 
Hi.  I’m Rosanne Michaels, from the faith formation department here at the Cathedral.  It’s good to be with you…. “I heard the Voice of Jesus”….  is of course a hymn we often sing at the Cathedral… and one that has always touched my heart, especially during the darker, painful times of my life.
 
And now we are living in tough times of the Coronavirus.  So many people are hurting so badly,
and my heart goes out to them, every day.
 
A wonderful friend  once told me… as I was navigating one of my worst storms, that it is in times of suffering that we experience the greatest spiritual growth.  Not what I wanted to hear at the time, but true I think.
 
And now, as we navigate such a difficult time, I can’t help but wonder what new life might emerge from the darkness of this pandemic.
 
I don’t think we’ll get a heavenly manual in some dropbox, complete with all the great stuff we should learn through this painful and tragic time.  But, as we continue to hold one another in prayer, I know God is there, with us, loving us, and moving through us, so that we can be Christ for one another.
 
Every day, I experience members of our community  caring deeply for one another… reaching out, asking how they can help.
 
My prayer, for our own community, as well as for the country, and the world, is that we might continue to grow in love and compassion for one another….
 
For myself, in my own moments of prayerful reflection,  I have come to realize that the hardest part of all this for me…is the uncertainty. Because, really, I like to know what’s happening, what’s coming down the pike.  And now, during these days of the pandemic,  I can’t know what’s coming.
 
And so, I have learned… once again… that I’m not in control.  I don’t like it, but it is the truth.  And really, I never had control. We like to think we are in control.  But it’s an illusion…
What we do have is… this moment.  This moment to live in God.  And with that realization comes for me…  a kind of freedom.  A freedom born perhaps of throwing up my hands to the heavens…and then, listening, really listening, for the tender voice of Jesus.
 
And in this moment of surrendering myself to a God who loves me, I have been blessed with…a freedom from worrying so much about what’s going to happen…..from fretting over how well I’ve done something,  or what I need to do tomorrow.
 
In this newfound freedom, I’ve become more creative.  With my colleagues on the staff,  I’ve entered boldly the brave new world of “video platforms.”   Never heard of such a thing.  And  now I’m Zooming everyday.  One on one, classes, meetings, even retreats.  Who’d a thought.
 
And so, as I move through my days, working, zooming, calling people on the phone… I am able to remain with them in this moment, and listen, really listen, and share with them pain, fear, joy..
 
And at the end of the day,  I head out through the streets of my neighborhood to wave at people and smile at dogs, to feel warm sunlight and watch clouds gather.
 
And then as the sun disappears, I watch lights flicker on in the windows of the homes around me, and I smell the fragrance of the lilacs….I pray for all the people in the houses and the apartments, and and for all of you, my fellow parishioners…that we all might hear the loving voice of Jesus inviting us to rest in him.
 
 
I heard the voice of Jesus say,
"I am this dark world's Light;
look unto me, your morn shall rise,
and all your days be bright."
I looked to Jesus and I found
in him my Star, my Sun;
and in that light of life I'll walk,
'til trav'ling days are done.

 


The Body of Christ Speaks from St. James Cathedral, Seattle on Vimeo.


Michelle Maher's reflection
 
Hello St. James parishioners! I hope you are all well and finding some peace during this time of quarantine. Peace, perhaps, is my first wish for you because, as the mother of four teens at home and a middle school teacher to 45 adolescents, peace will likely not be the first thing that comes to mind when I look back on my time in quarantine. Like you all, I am waiting. With our days rooted in prayer, even waiting can be holy. If we look to the Old Testament, there are many translations of the word “wait”.
 
The first is “to bind together.” In my days of teaching Religion and English Language Arts remotely via Zoom, I have been astounded by how we have been able to come together. We have celebrated everything from birthdays to Seder meals and honored everything from Christ’s passion to our friends at the Josephinum. It truly has been remarkable.
 
The second is “to wait expectantly.” Three of my own children have had their Confirmation likely postponed. Rather than feel despondent about the prospect, they wait expectantly for the celebration of the year as Father Ryan keeps promising!
 
The third translation is “to grow silent.” Now, silence can be deafening for teachers, especially ones working under the awkward format of a Zoom call. I have chosen to hear it as a sign that seeds are taking root. Recently, a student blew my mind with his connection between our novel and Catholic Social Teaching. These connections  don’t happen as readily in the din of classroom life.
 
The final translation is “to long for.” Of course, we are all longing for the days when we can be together, to receive the sacraments, and to put this dark period behind us. There is also an undeniable urge to bring some of our experiences with us. From my 8th grade student who took a walk for no reason for the first time in her life to my 6th grader who is enjoying spending more time with his parents, we are all longing for something better, simpler, and purer.
 
It is my hope that, whatever your station in life, you are able to bind together, wait expectantly,  to grow silent, and to long for something better. If we do that, our waiting will not be futile. It will be holy. Peace be with all of you!

 





Katherine Berry's reflection:

Hi everyone, my name is Katherine Berry. I’m a parishioner of St. James along with my husband Sean and my daughters Isabelle and Sadie. I saw a bible verse, on, of all places, a coffee cup the other day. It was John 3:17 and it went “You don’t realize now what I am doing, but afterward you will understand” and that verse started me thinking about the “why” of all of this. What am I supposed to learn from this pandemic and the effect it is having on my life and the life of those around me?  I think most of us are pretty good at being grateful for the obvious blessings in our life, like work, home and family but though I don’t pretend to understand the full picture of the “why” all of this is happening, I have learned that I can have a deeper appreciation for all I have in my life.

I tend to see life as an opportunity to learn and I am always looking to answer the question “what am I to learn from this?” especially when things are really hard. I bet the Holy Spirit would enjoy me looking for lessons in the positive parts of my life, but it seems like I frequently look for those lessons when life is hard. Life has been hard lately. I am an elementary music teacher and I started to see the impact and fear of this virus in late February as my students stopped attending school and eventually when our superintendent had us move to on-line education. We had about two days to prepare and I have to tell you that taking a performance-based curriculum like music and moving it to a digital format has been quite the learning curve for me and my team. It’s tough to go from feeling good at your job to feeling really bad at it in just a few short days.

I have always enjoyed my work, but since I have been taken out of the classroom, I realize how much joy and energy my students give me. This time away from them has been so difficult and no zoom meeting will ever be able to replace the fun of making music with my kids in my classroom. Yes, the mute button is a much more immediate form of classroom management, but I would give anything to be managing my students in person.

I’m grateful for my home, but more so, I’m grateful for my garden and the space it gives me to escape from the news and enter into the quite of pulling weeds, pruning and planting new things. I’m grateful for my family, but more so, I’m grateful for the loving and patient relationship I have with my husband and the blessing of living with a 14-year old who willingly does her on-line school work and chips in when we need help with house work and taking care of our dog, Dallas.  I’m thankful for my good health, but more so, I’m grateful for my ability to go on long walks, practice those yoga stretches and celebrate the moments when it gets easier to touch my toes.

I’m grateful for my church and for the spiritual leadership of Father Ryan, but more so, I am grateful for my church family that is St. James. For all of the East apse parishioners that have become my “little church” over the years. For the choir and their dedication to prayerful music for our liturgies. I yearn for the Eucharist in a way I never thought would be possible and, when we do return to the Cathedral, I doubt I will have many Sundays where sleeping in is going to be more tempting then getting up and going to Mass.

Recognizing all that I have to be grateful for has also impacted my prayer life. I find that I am praying for people in ways that I hadn’t prayed for them before. I’ve always prayed for my students but now I’m praying for my students who’s home lives are dysfunctional and who miss school, not just for their friends and their teachers, but because it was a safe place, removed from domestic turmoil and food insecurities. I pray for the homeless and those who are marginalized,  who were already living on the edge of survival and now, with so many social safety nets dissolved, must feel even more vulnerable.

So, when Jesus said, “You don’t realize now what I am doing, but afterward you will understand” I pray that the lessons I have learned over these last weeks and the deeper appreciation for all that I have stay with me, even when times are good.
 
God Bless all of you and hang in there.

 


The Body of Christ Speaks from St. James Cathedral, Seattle on Vimeo.


John Kemnetz reflection:
 
Hi St. James Parishioners!

Like many of you, I miss the Cathedral. I miss the beauty and majesty of the building’s soaring Italian Renaissance architecture. I miss the consuming, chest-vibrating sound of the cathedral organs. I miss the subtle smell of incense and the nostalgic taste of the eucharist. But above all – I miss the people. Whether it be the chatty EMs checking in before noon mass, or the guests staying over night at the Winter Shelter, the cathedral brings together a unique and talented group of people who together accomplish extraordinary things in Jesus’s name.

Losing that physical community has been difficult. It’s also been difficult to have lost the in-person visits with people I used to see often – my friends and co-workers. I see much less of those people, and when I do see them, it’s on a screen, which feels odd when we’re in such close geographic proximity to each other. But I’ve also been surprised by what I’ve gained from all this. Because physical distance is no longer a factor in social plans, I’ve gotten much closer with friends and family from whom I am geographically far.

At this point in our lives, my family is spread out across the United States and spread thin on time – particularly with five kids between my three sisters. Finding time to connect with my family for a call has historically been difficult and, I’m a bit ashamed to say, rare. Now though, with all of our in-person commitments on hold, my family is as equally accessible as are my friends here in Seattle, and we’ve done frequent family video calls. I’ve gone from most of my interactions with my nephews being occasional Facebook likes on their photos to making funny faces and trying out all the special effects on Facebook messenger. Reconnecting with these people in my life has done more than just bring me joy – it’s given me perspective.

I guess that by now I shouldn’t be surprised that God can continue to surprise me, but He does. He regularly takes my priorities and plans and turns them upside down, giving me a whole new perspective. He makes the familiar unfamiliar, and the unfamiliar familiar. He makes the exciting mundane, and the mundane exciting. He makes the far close and the close far.

I look forward to when I can reunite with my family at the Cathedral, but for now, I’m thankful for God’s gift of perspective.

 

 

The Body of Christ Speaks from St. James Cathedral, Seattle on Vimeo.

 

Mark Schoen's reflection

Hello. My name is Mark Schoen. For those of you who don't know me, in normal times I serve as an EM and an occasional reader at the Sunday 5:30 Mass. Since these are not normal times, we meet in a different way.
In his Easter message a few weeks ago, Pope Francis talked about the significance of hope in this difficult time. He even repurposed a word we've been hearing a lot, calling the message of the risen Christ a “contagion of hope."

It's challenging though, for me, to hold on to that sense of hope these days. Much of the news I read in the paper and see on TV is overwhelming: no real end to this pandemic in sight and no easy remedies for the pain it is causing so many people.

Much like you, I normally get my sustenance of hope when we gather for the Eucharist. I also get a healthy dose whenever I think of the service that you offer our broken community. Both of those currents are severely curtailed at the moment. So, how does one respond?

I sincerely believe that this time calls me to be more active in cultivating the sense of hope that, before the coronavirus, I'm afraid I took for granted. Like many of you I'm trying to nurture hope by participating in our parish's virtual liturgies. In their forced simplicity they have a unique beauty. I'm paying close attention to the stories of first responders, caregivers, and essential workers – they’re heroes one and all. And, I actively seek out the stories of people directly affected by the pandemic. Though this can sometimes be painful, more often than not I’m deeply moved – and renewed – by their sense of hope.

The novelist Lin Yutang once wrote, "Hope is like a road in the country: there was never a road, but when many people walk on it, the road comes into existence."

We don't know what our world will look like on the other side of this pandemic. But, I eagerly look forward to walking that road with you.

 





Patty Bowman's reflection

We’ve been going through this coronavirus crisis during Lent and now during the Easter season.  It’s spring, the flowers are blooming, and the temperatures are warming up. And yet, as I spend time in quiet prayer, what keeps coming to me is some music that we usually associate with Advent and Christmas – Handel’s Messiah, and particularly the opening piece “Comfort Ye My People.”  The words for this piece come from the Book of Isaiah:  “Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God.”  Biblical scholars tell us that these words were written while the Israelite people were in exile in Babylon. The worse thing they could have imagined had happened: their country had been conquered, the temple had been destroyed and they had been driven into exile in a foreign land. And yet, in the midst of that grief and uncertainty, the prophet brings a word of encouragement:  Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God. 
 
We’re living through a similar time of grief, fear and uncertainty. This disease is taking lives and livelihoods. It’s hurting everyone, but it’s particularly hurting people who have so little already.  We don’t know when we’ll get back to normal, or even what the new normal will look like. I’ve been reading a lot about how this pandemic has exposed and exaggerated so many inequalities that have already existed, and how, as we rebuild, we have an opportunity to build a more just society.  And yet, in all of this, I keep hearing the musical promise of the Messiah, that we should take comfort in remembering that God has been with us in similar times of distress and has brought something new out of pain, and death and grief.  Which, of course, brings me back to the Easter season, and the stunning reality of Jesus’ resurrection, the victory of life over death, and of love over fear. Remembering how God has been with us in the past really does give me comfort to know that God is with us now, and that somehow, something new and beautiful will come out of all of this.
 
I miss my St. James family so much and I look forward to a time when we can all see each other again.
 
Stay safe, stay well.  See you soon, I hope! 

Listen to Handel's Comfort ye here








 

Hello Saint James Cathedral parishioners, 

I’m Dave Buchholz. My wife Christina and I are part of  the cathedral youth ministry department. Getting to experience service  and the catholic faith with your kids has been a huge joy for our family, and it is one of our favorite parts of ministering at the cathedral. 
 
One question we have put to the kids in youth ministry is “where have you seen God in the days of Covid19?” We received some great responses back, and I thought I would briefly share a couple of our favorites.
 
One of the youth, Benjamin, says “during the coronavirus I have seen God in my friends voices. Although I can’t be with them physically, I can still be talking and having fun with them through various different ways. Since I can’t look them directly in the eye, their voices are having a bigger impact on me.” 
Samuel says “I’ve seen God during these trying times through the people supporting those in need through donations, such as food and clothes.”
 
There were other responses, and I just want to say that it is incredible how the youth of the cathedral are handling this health crisis with grace and faith.
 
I figured I would share my thoughts on the same question.
 
Last year about this time, our family was in Nicaragua celebrating the wedding of our god daughter, Mirna. It was truly one of the most joyous and happy moments that our family and friends have had opportunity to experience together. We laughed together, we danced together, we celebrated two of our favorite people coming together as one before God and an amazing community of friends. God’s presence was truly, truly felt in this joyous occasion.
 
Flash forward one year, and we find ourselves in the grips of covid19, and terms like social distancing and self quarantine have become the new daily norm. As I wrote notes for this recording, the US has reported 40,620 deaths from the corona virus. 
 
So where am I seeing God in all this?
 
I believe that God is along side each life lost. I also believe that He is present, grieving along side each family and friend mourning those lives lost. I believe he is also there next to each individual recovering from the virus.
 
I see His presence is in the grocery workers, the police and fire department members working to keep us safe, and in all the essential workers helping us to adjust to the new normal.
 
I see Him in the faces of my family, as Christina, Payton, Bennett and I work together around the house, as we find new ways to laugh together, new ways to encourage one another. 
 
Finally, Every Sunday, as many of you parishioners have, we have been celebrating “ virtual Mass,” tuning in to view the live-streaming from Saint James Cathedral. I see God’s presence in the words of Father Ryan, and Archbishop Etienne. I see His presence at the altar.
 
Our family continues to pray for all our friends in the Saint James community. We pray for Father Ryan, and all the staff. We pray for the youth ministry kids. 
 
We look forward to the day the doors of the cathedral reopen, when we can gather together outside the confines of our living rooms, to when we can share in the Eucharist together. I especially look forward to the time when Father Ryan says “ let us now offer each other a sign of peace,” and we can shake hands, embrace, and put the days of Covid19 behind us. 
 
Until then, we wish that the peace of Christ be with each and every one of you.

 


 


Emily Lundell's reflection

Since the start of the pandemic, I find that I feel a greater connection to all humans. Yes, we can all get each other sick, but we can also all be the hands of God and do our part to save each other.
 
I find it easier to see God is working in all of us.
 
I keep coming back to the phrase:
I wonder what God’s love will do with this situation?
 
I keep coming back to the phrase of our own Fr Tom Lucas, that our hearts are being broken open. That there is a deeper truth we need to be able to see.
 
I recently came upon a reflection from Fr Ignacio Martin Baro, who was killed in El Salvador and was working at the time of Oscar Romero.
 
It goes like this:
 
There are truths that can be discovered only through suffering or from the critical vantage point of extreme situations.
 
I believe God is present here, working in this situation to help us uncover a deeper truth, a deeper sense of our interconnectedness and of our capacity to love.
 
Finishing on a lighter note, I feel I have to sing this song of joy that I recently heard while watching the film “O Brother Where Art Thou”. It has helped me stay focused on joy at this time of countless sorrows, and I hope it helps you all as well:
 
Keep on the sunny side, always on the sunny side
Keep on the sunny side of life
It will help us every day, it will brighten all the way
If we’ll keep on the sunny side of life
 
Finally, I end with a quote from Thomas Merton:  "Joy is the ineffable sign of the presence of God.”
 

 

 

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Seattle, Washington  98104
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