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January 29, 2021

Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun set on your anger, and do not leave room for the devil.
Ephesians 4:26-27

To the faithful of St. Catherine’s:

This passage from Ephesians has come up a number of times in the last few weeks for me. We recently finished the letter to the Ephesians in our Bible study group on Sundays. I also encountered this passage Thursday morning in my email inbox where there was an email waiting for me by a Greek scholar who had done an analysis of the passage. That was after encountering it Wednesday night while praying night prayer. That passage is the lectio brevis, the short reading contained in the Church’s Wednesday night prayer.


In all the years I have prayed it I don’t think it ever occurred to me why the Church put that short reading into the night prayer until this week. It is at the end of the day and I am being exhorted by the Apostle to identify things that I might be angry about and to pray for peace. If the “sun sets” on my anger, that is, if I nurture what I am angry about and refuse to address it in a constructive way, then it leads me to sin. By giving a kind of time limit to my anger, it urges me to immediate reconciliation wherever possible before grudges set in because when that happens it has a way of amplifying the original offense or cause of the anger into much higher proportions than it is often called for. Perhaps many of us have had the experience of nursing a grudge for so long that we can no longer remember exactly why we have ill feelings toward a particular person, only that we still have them from long ago. Immediately addressing the cause of anger wards off grudges which have a way of draining our energy and impacting our day-to-day joy. If immediate reconciliation in impossible, we can at least do our best to release feelings of animosity as the day is ending by putting the situation in God’s hands. St. Paul says something similar in Romans when he urges against private vengeance and exhorts his listeners to “leave it to the wrath of God” (Romans 12:19). God will act with justice and in a way that is free of selfishness.

Do we have a ritual at the end of the day to commit the activities of that day (good and bad) to God? Do we seek to reconcile immediately where feelings have been hurt or when we or others have acted badly? Do we know how to do that well? Do we see that as an important expression of our faith?

Follow the counsel of the Apostle. Do not let the sun set on your anger. Reconcile immediately where possible and put the rest in God’s hands.

I’ll see you all soon,

Fr. Patrick

Janaury 8, 2021

The Ministry of Reconciliation

To the faithful of St. Catherine’s,

There was a wide range of emotion after what happened this week, from disconcerted to frightened to outraged. One article that I read offered the question: is this the end of something or the beginning of something? It seems that time and our efforts toward reconciliation in truth and love will go a long way toward answering that.

As I often do, I thought about the Bible in times like this. One of the most difficult and frequently misunderstood books of the Bible is Revelation. It can be hard for readers to get beyond the incredible imagery to the themes and messages that lay at the heart of it. The style of the book of Revelation is not unique. It belongs to a genre that we call “apocalyptic” literature which we can find several examples of in the 400-year period between 200 BC and 200 AD, especially in Jewish cultures. While it is a somewhat amorphous genre and difficult to pin down to a definition of what constitutes “apocalyptic” literature, the Greek word from which it is derived is used to describe something which is revealed which was previously hidden (hence “Revelation”). This kind of literature flourished in times of great stress and instability for the Jewish people (from false messiahs, to uprisings and revolts, to hostile foreign governments and the destruction of the Temple). Unlike what is commonly supposed today, apocalyptic literature is meant to give strength and comfort by communicating to its readers that in times of upheaval God is still the ultimate power in the world and all time and history are moving toward His ends. Thus as fortune and actions turn and turn like a wheel where first we are at the top and then we are at the bottom, the Almighty stays at the center. The book of Revelation ends with a description of the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It reads in part, “Night will be no more, nor will they need light from lamp or sun, for the Lord God shall give them light, and they shall reign forever and ever…Amen! Come Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22). There is no place for grief, anxiety or pain in the final victory of God.

The breaching of a powerful worldly institution like the Capitol building in Washington, DC is certainly shocking to many and disconcerting to most. But we do not lose hope because what has been revealed to us in Christ is the indominable power and love of God. Those who have been baptized into that love, the Church, now have the mission to be ministers of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18).

How ought we to go about that? The first thing that we have to remember is that we cannot be consumed by fear. The glory of God has been revealed to us in Christ and the fruits of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross is made available to all through the Spirit. We have all that we need, so there is no cause for fear of final separation from God. We should also reflect not only on what happened this last week, but where we want to go from here and how we should get there. If we are to reconcile the divisions that we see so openly before us, perhaps we can start with the divisions in our lives now. Are we bridges to Christ or are we obstacles to Christ? If we find ourselves being obstacles, how can we go about removing the obstacle so that others can see the love of Christ in us? Where do we need to speak less and listen more? What will our role in this healing process be? Have we started first with prayer?

Onward with hope and the love of Christ.

I’ll see you all soon,

Fr. Patrick

December 23, 2020


To the faithful of St. Catherine’s,

Advent blessings to all!

I would like to give everyone an update on my situation. On Monday,  I got the results of my COVID-19 test and, to no surprise, I tested positive. I then contacted my doctor who gave me my instructions for isolation. I will continue in isolation through Monday, December 28. I will be cleared to leave isolation provided that I do not have symptoms. I will be very cautious when re-entering life at St. Catherine’s.

I am very thankful for everyone who has reached out and offered support during this time. Obviously, this was not how I wanted to spend Christmas, but I still have much to be thankful for. My symptoms have thus far been mild. I hope that they will remain that way, but I am aware that this is a strange virus that sometimes acts unpredictably. I am keeping my doctor informed and following her instructions.

Thank you again to everyone and I hope that you all have a blessed and healthy Christmas.


See you in 2021,

Fr. Patrick


December 18, 2020

To the faithful of St. Catherine’s,

Advent blessings!

As many of you know by now, I was recently exposed to COVID-19. The exposure happened Sunday evening. Fortunately, I was not at St. Catherine’s Monday or Tuesday. I found out Tuesday evening. After consulting with the local COVID testing facility here in Wallingford, I was told not to get tested until 5-7 days had elapsed since my exposure. So I decided that Saturday would be the best day for me to get tested. Wednesday evening I started to develop a fever and a cough which lasted through the night and well into the next day until I beat it back with medication. At this point I’ve been using medications to keep my fever under control. The test will tell the story, but my symptoms seem to indicate that I’m positive for COVID-19. The test results will determine my course of action according to the state department of health’s recommendations.

Our friends, the Redemptorists, have agreed to take the in-person weekend liturgies as well as the Christmas liturgies at St. Catherine’s (including the Mass taping for those who will not be attending in person) since it seems likely that I will be in isolation. I am grateful for their help. Spending Christmas alone in my rectory was not how I saw my holiday playing out, but it’s what I’ve been given, and it affords its own opportunity for silence and reflection. Coincidentally, I had delayed much longer than usual in getting my Christmas decorations out and will now probably just leave them in their boxes for the season and have a quiet Christmas in more ways than one.

With almost everything stripped away it allows me to really focus in on the essence of the Christmas celebration. The celebration of our Lord’s nativity reminds me that the second person of the Trinity took on flesh that could become sick just like mine, that would die just like mine eventually will, and He made it holy and redeemed it from its sinful and sickly state so that my flesh could enjoy the Resurrection and life everlasting just like His does. God could have effected our redemption and salvation in any way He chose and He chose to become flesh in order to more fully reveal Himself to His created and to show us that at His essence God is love and humility. If we want to participate in the divine life, we must also be people who love and are humble. It seems like this a good starting point for my Christmas reflections.

I wish you all a happy conclusion to your Advent season.

I’ll see you all eventually,

Fr. Patrick

Fr. Patrick’s quarantine reading list:
The Plantagenets by Dan Jones
The Once and Future King by T.H. White
Paul and the Power of Grace by John Barclay
The Moviegoer by Walker Percy
The Apostle of the Crucified Lord by Michael Gorman

Fr. Patrick’s quarantine streaming list:
The Queen’s Gambit

November 13, 2020

“The Kingdom of God is among you.”
--Luke 17:21

To the faithful of St. Catherine’s,

This was one of our daily Mass readings this week and I thought it was an important one to keep in mind as we come toward a holiday season that many are feeling decidedly ambivalent about. As I write this the day after Governor Inslee implored Washingtonians to avoid large family gatherings for Thanksgiving and perhaps have a “virtual” or “remote” Thanksgiving celebration with friends and family enjoying it from the safety of their own homes and being present to each other through screens. I know many people are tired of virtual social gatherings, as am I. Every time I feel a bit weary opening up Zoom again though, I am reminded of how grateful I should be that such a pandemic occurred in a time and place where we have such technology, and how even more psychologically difficult it would be if such a pandemic occurred pre-internet (as global pandemics have in the past). Some of the gloom threatening to overshadow this holiday is also visibly seen by the late autumn change in the weather. Days are darker, wetter.

And yet…the victory over powers of darkness in the world has already been won. The Kingdom of God is among us. We ourselves possess the life-giving Spirit of Christ. The reason that we refer to the Holy Spirit in the Nicene Creed as the “giver of life” is because it is the effective power of God on earth today given through Jesus Christ. It is, in a very real way, the “life force” of the world. The Spirit was given to the Church at the feast of Pentecost and is alive in each of us through our baptism. It is present in the physical signs and prayers of the sacraments. It is manifested in the Church herself whom Christ Himself is present in. The Church is not a building; it is the baptized faithful who belong to our Lord in the Holy Spirit. The Kingdom of God and the Church are one.

This is very similar to the exhortation that St. Paul regularly gives his congregations: that no matter what the suffering that we’re going through, the victory has already been won through Christ Jesus and nothing will separate us from the love of Christ (Romans 8). Therefore, we should never despair because ultimately we will be with our Lord. That is the essence of St. Paul’s message: ultimately we will be with the Lord. The Kingdom of God is relational: it involves unity with the Lord. We possess it now through the Spirit and it will be brought into fullness at the second coming of Christ. Neither death nor a pandemic will separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

For many, many people Thanksgiving will not feel quite the same. Christmas perhaps, too. But we always have reason to rejoice precisely because our faith gives us the certain reason for hope eternal life. That is a reason to always be thankful.

I’ll see you all soon,

Fr. Patrick

November 6, 2020

Citizens of Heaven

To the faithful of St. Catherine’s,

I’ve been thinking about this idea of citizenship in heaven lately. Maybe it has something to do with the election and our current collective mood of thinking about our relationship to our nation. In his letter to the Philippians, St. Paul tells the people of God in Philippi that they are citizens of heaven: “Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we also await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

The reality of the citizens of Philippi would have also included citizenship in the Republic of Rome (for those who qualified, as Paul himself did and cited in Acts of the Apostles). The Philippians were a colony of the Roman Republican and governed by the laws and norms of Rome. They did not live in Rome, but they lived by Roman rule. To become a Roman citizen at that time was by no means an invitation to come and live in the city of Rome whose population was already bursting at the seams. They were to stay in Philippi and behave as Romans.

Paul is using this same colonial thinking to explain the status that the Philippians have before God. More important and enduring than their Roman citizenship is their Heavenly citizenship. The Church in Philippi ought to consider itself a colony of Heaven. Just as they cannot go live in Rome right now, they cannot go live in Heaven right now, but they are to live by the “laws” of Heaven. Eventually they will come to live in that Heaven when the Savior comes and changes their “lowly” bodies to conform with Christ’s “glorified” body. But until that happy arrives, they are to live now as Heavenly people.

How are they to do this? Paul goes on later in the letter to explain:

“Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you.” (4:8-9)

While we may be citizens of the United States, our most important citizenship is in Heaven, like the people of God in Philippi. We are called to build a just society and participate in the government of the earthly country insofar as it is possible, but we do so as colonists of Heaven. The norms and laws of the Kingdom of Heaven govern us before the norms and laws of the United States of America do.

Hold in your hearts the thoughts that the Apostle is calling us to that I quoted above, live the Beatitudes and by the grace of Christ the King the Kingdom of Heaven will continue to unfurl before here in the United States and in all other parts of the world. As the preface to All Saints reminds us, the Heavenly Jerusalem is our Mother where so many of our brothers and sisters in the communion of saints now rejoice in the Savior and intercede for us.

I’ll see you all soon,

Fr. Patrick

October 16, 2020

Peace be with you.

To the faithful of St. Catherine’s,

Those of you who care to think back to March may remember that one of the first liturgical casualties of COVID-19 was the sign of peace at Mass. I remember watching a Mass online with Archbishop Dolan of New York who, upon hearing the deacon exhort the congregation “let us offer one another a sign of peace”, interjected, “actually, let’s not!” That was one of my first indications that things would be immediately changing for the short (and not so short) term.

In a way, it was easy to make the liturgical decision to omit the sign of peace immediately. I would imagine that most people do not know this, but the sign of peace is actually an optional part of the Mass. During the Communion Rite, the Roman Missal, which contains the prayers and instructions for celebrating the Mass, reads the following:

The Priest, turned towards the people, extending and then joining his hands, adds:

The peace of the Lord be with you always.

The people reply:

And with your spirit.

Then, if appropriate, the Deacon, or the Priest, adds:

Let us offer each other the sign of peace.


You’ll notice the instruction “if appropriate” leaves it up to the presider to determine if such an action is appropriate and then to omit it if he discerns that it is not.

In order to do this, it helps to understand what the sign of peace is in the context of Mass. Immediately before the sign of peace, the prayers of the Mass speak in thanksgiving and reflection of the peace we have in Christ. The familiar prayers read, “Lord Jesus Christ, who said to your Apostles: Peace I leave you, my peace I give you, look not on our sins, but on the faith of your Church, and graciously grant her peace and unity in accordance with your will. Who live and reign for ever and ever.” The presider then extends a sign of peace to the people. The peace that we are praying for is not just any peace, but true peace, the peace of Christ. What is the peace that Christ gives us? It is the peace of reconciliation with the Father. Jesus Christ’s mission and ministry on earth was one of reconciliation. The cross is about reconciliation. We have peace because where there once was division from God and condemnation, now there is unity with Him and deliverance from the sentence of spiritual death that we had brought on ourselves because of sin. When the New Testament speaks about the “justification” we have in Christ, the authors use legal language to express our newfound status. We have been “acquitted”, so to speak, of the ramifications of our sin and another has paid the penalty for us. If you have ever been in a situation when you knew a dreaded punishment was coming and at the last moment you were given reprieve, you would experience a kind of relief, peace and thanksgiving for the person or thing that saved you. Personally, I can think of times in my youth when I had “missed the mark” (the Greek word for sin, hamartia, literally means “missing the mark”) and expected to be punished (possibly severely) and was saved at the last moment. The peace that came upon me at the moment of my salvation was tremendous. This is analogous to the peace of Christ. Our Savior paid our debt of sin, ransoming us from the consequences, and now we have the peace of freedom that stems from forgiveness. This is what the sign of peace at Mass expresses.

But what are we to do with this? We are to extend the peace we have received in Christ to the ends of the earth. Recall the place of the sign of peace within the context of the entire liturgy. It is right before we approach the altar to receive communion. I offer two scripture passages for reflection, both from the Gospel of Matthew:

“If you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother as anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” –Matthew 5:23-25

“The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who decided to settle accounts with his servants. When he began the accounting, a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount. Since he had no way of paying it back, his master ordered him to be sold, along with his wife, his children, and all his property, in payment of the debt. At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.’ Moved with compassion the master of that servant let him go and forgave him the loan. When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a much smaller amount. He seized him and started to choke him, demanding, ‘Pay back what you owe.’ Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him, ‘Be patient with me and I will pay you back.’ But he refused. Instead, he had him put in prison until he paid back the debt. Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened, they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master and reported the whole affair. His master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to. Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?’ Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers until he should pay back the whole debt. So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives his brother from his heart.” –Matthew 18:23-35

Both of these passages focus on reconciliation and forgiveness. The first is more explicitly liturgical because it involves approaching the altar. The hearers are exhorted to make peace with their brothers and sisters before presenting themselves and their gifts before the altar of God. Making peace with others is a kind of prerequisite before one approaches the altar. The second passage is intense and speaks profoundly and seriously of what happens when we do not forgive others as we ourselves have been forgiven. I submit that this is not so much a threat by God as much as it a statement of what naturally has to happen through a kind of “spiritual metaphysics.” God has forgiven us in Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit and brought us back into an adopted filial relationship with Him. What Jesus has by nature (sonship with God) we have been given a share of by adoption. To participate in the nature of God is to be one who forgives and therefore offers peace. If we do not do this then we have rejected the newfound identity we have in the Holy Spirit and we cannot be participants in the kingdom of Heaven because we have not allowed the Spirit to transform us into people who can live in such a state of being. This is not an arbitrary punishment by God, this is more like a square trying to it into a circle. It just does not work.

Knowing this then and applying it back to the liturgy, it is important that the sign of peace retains its integrity as a sign of peace. When it returns eventually to Mass, I encourage folks who are not already in the habit of doing so to extend at least a statement of peace to those around them and not to let the sign of peace at Mass turn into a simple greeting or, worse yet, a thirty second “break” from Mass where we can chat with the people next to us. If we wanted to really live fully into what is being expressed by this sign of peace we should seek out if possible a person we may have anger toward or a grudge against and extend to them peace from our hearts before approaching the altar for communion. If that’s not possible then at least maintaining a verbal expression of peace is preferable in order to help us focus on the peace we have in Christ and our duty to bring it to others. And, of course, the spiritual nourishment we receive at Mass helps us take it out into the world and live the mission we have been given by our Lord.

I’ll see you all soon,


Fr. Patrick

October 9, 2020

“Manna was not needed in Egypt. Nor would it be needed in the promised land. It is the food of inaugurated eschatology, the food that is needed because the kingdom has already broken in and because it is not yet consummated. The daily provision of manna signals that the Exodus has begun, but also that we are not yet living in the land.” –NT Wright


To the faithful of St. Catherine’s,

This passage from NT Wright caught my eye this week. I reflected a lot on it because I had never really given much reflection to this fact of the Exodus experience. While it is true that the manna in the desert was a foreshadowing of the Eucharist as our Lord Himself said in the bread of life discourse in John 6, this specific spiritual aspect of the manna had never struck me as it applied to the Eucharist, namely that it is both a temporary and essential nourishment specific to a long journey.

If you are less familiar with the story of the manna in the desert in the Exodus, then you can turn to the sixteenth chapter of that important book to read the story again. The Hebrews have just crossed the Red Sea, escaping their captivity in Egypt. They are now going through the long forty-year journey in the wilderness which will culminate in their arrival at the land promised to them by God. To sustain them on this journey, God rains down upon them “bread from heaven”. The manna in the desert, which was also eventually collected and placed in the Ark of the Covenant, was specific to their time of journeying. There was no more manna when the Israelites arrived in the place promised to them, nor was there manna for them when they were enslaved in Egypt. It truly is heavenly food for a journey.

Similarly, as it regards the Eucharist, we did not have the Eucharist before the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, the time of our perpetual enslavement to the forces of sin and death in the world. Nor will we have the Eucharist when the Kingdom of God is fully realized at the second coming of the Lord when every tear will be wiped from our eyes and the heavenly Jerusalem and the earthly Jerusalem are finally one and the same. It is true that sacraments as “holy signs that confect grace” are earthly realities. There are no sacraments in heaven or in the final (what Wright above refers to as “eschatological”) reality of the Kingdom of God in its absolute fullness. There will, of course, be no need for “signs” in that place because the unmitigated fullness of God’s grace will be all in all. But, as I have said repeatedly in my homilies, while the Kingdom of God is here (“inaugurated”), it is not yet in its final form because we are still subject to the effects of sin and death even as its final, most threatening reality of permanent separation



from divine love was dealt a fatal blow on the cross of our Lord. So we are on a journey as our liturgy of the Mass says so often, and the Eucharist is that temporary but necessary and most powerful food for the journey.

Many of been without the Eucharist for some time now since the days of covid. During some periods in history, the faithful have gone for months, years, even decades without receiving the Eucharist, especially when Catholics have lived in times and places of persecution. At other times in history, Catholics simply received the Eucharist less frequently as a matter of practice. Yet, it is nonetheless true that the grace of the Eucharist has been a present and essential sustaining force in the lives of the faithful. The celebration of the Mass is both the source of our faith (as it necessarily relates to Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and our salvation) and its highest expression (as it gives us an everlasting memorial of perfect love, substantially present and consumed by the believer). The Eucharist is everything to us.

What are the ways in which you see yourself as being on a journey in life? What are the essentials that you need for this journey? Is there a time in your life when the Eucharist was particularly spiritually nourishing?

I’ll see you all soon,


Fr. Patrick



Important Archdiocesan survey to review Fr. Patrick’s ministry at St. Catherine

The survey is active October 10th – 30th, 2020.

This survey is regularly done for pastors throughout the diocese to provide helpful feedback on their ministry at their parish.

It is a short survey and we welcome your feedback.  We are hoping to get 10% feedback so please consider responding.

This link is on the front page of the parish website.  

If you don’t have computer access and would like to offer feedback, please call Carolyn at the parish office at 206-524-8800. 

October 2, 2020

“Since the beginning of storytelling, he explained, Death has called on the unwitting. In one tale or another, it arrives quietly in town and takes a room at an inn, or lurks in an alleyway, or lingers in the marketplace surreptitiously. Then just when the hero has a moment of respite from his daily affairs, Death pays him a visit.

This is all well and good, allowed the Count. But what is rarely related is the fact that Life is every bit as devious as Death. It too can wear a hooded coat. It too can slip into town, lurk in an alley, or wait in the back of a tavern.” –Amor Towles, A Gentleman in Moscow


To the faithful of St. Catherine’s,

I was thinking about this passage from A Gentleman in Moscow last night. It seems to me that few would disagree that we are enduring a definitive “down turn” in the cultural mood. Covid is still with us and won’t be going away tomorrow (or anytime this winter it seems). This election season has further exposed bitter divisions in our culture and violence seems to threaten around every turn every time people gather for one purpose or another.

In A Gentleman in Moscow the protagonist, Count Rostov is under house arrest for political reasons in early 20th century Moscow during the Bolshevik revolution. While he appreciates many aspects of his environment and many of the people in it, his mood undergoes various transformations. He understandably yearns to live life outside even amidst the changes in the culture that he sees are threatening. The scene in which this passage is contained is brought about by a letter from a friend who is travelling while processing various events of his life. The Count, after an immensely pleasurable evening with a couple of the hotel workers, a rare time of pure levity amidst a dark situation, reflects on the way in which life sudden bursts forth through monotony or even darkness. We often think of death coming out of nowhere, but moments of joy and life can work just the same.

Can you think of a time when Life was lurking just around the corner? A time when unexpectedly a tremendously life giving moment befell you and caused you, even for an hour or two, to forget troubles that may have been weighing you down? Even in what may be a “cold” winter, can we not see these times that have come upon us in the past and believe with some measure of conviction that they will be waiting for us even in dark hours?

This is why hope is such an important virtue in our faith, because we believe with a certainty of conviction that Jesus is ultimately drawing history to himself, that he is its center and purpose. It’s true as we move through our life toward our ultimate reality in the Resurrection, but I also think that it is imagined in ordinary moments of joy when life breaks through darkness like a plant breaking through the soil. Endure the difficulties, yes, but be grateful for the life.

I’ll see you all soon,

Fr. Patrick

July 31, 2020


To the faithful of St. Catherine’s,

I’ve been thinking a lot about parables these last couple weeks as we’ve been going through Jesus’s parables in the Gospel of Matthew in the Sunday lectionary. It’s always good to ask or remind ourselves, what is a parable? This questions should be significant for us because they constitute the form of so much of our Lord’s teaching and preaching.

Parables were a common tool for instruction given by rabbis in the time period and we can find usage of the term going back to ancient Greece. Parables have been defined and re-defined in slightly different ways over the years, but essentially they are narratives based on everyday life which are instructive and have a self-evident meaning. The parables in the gospels are not just about religious truths, but they are consistently about the Kingdom of God and as such they have a kind of “second layer” to them which has to be brought out. We are meant to understand something from the parables, they are not meant to be forever totally obscure and mysterious, even though with some parables those on the “inside” (the disciples) may have understood them better than those on the “outside” (the onlookers, those without faith). Sometimes parables took an unexpected turn to illustrate a point and sometimes they took an ordinary situation and tried to reveal something about the Kingdom of God from it. Not every single aspect of a parable has a kind of hidden meaning and usually parables are meant to convey one specific idea rather than a whole multitude of them, so keeping our interpretation of parables focused on the concept that they are meant to convey is essential to understanding them.

Since the parables were given in a particular time and place, trying to keep them rooted in first century Palestine is key even if it is difficult, especially when they concern things like slaves and their owners and the behavior of one toward the other which we may not understand because that is no longer a reality in our current culture, or the parable of the ten virgins who are waiting up all night for the arrival of the bridegroom since the culture of wedding ceremonies is quite different as well. Again, as I said in my homily last week these differences do not make the parables impossible to understand, we just have to be aware of them and work a little harder to consider their meaning if it is not immediately obvious to us. We have to be open to how first century texts can and do have meaning for us in the twenty-first century.

We also have to be open to the idea that not all of the parables operate the same way and with a consistent formula or set of expectations. Some might be a little bit more allegorical, meaning that each aspect of it has a particular significance. The parable of the wicked tenants who kill the landowner’s son might be an example of this. Also, while it was traditionally true that parables by rabbis in that culture were used in order to be clear about the meaning of an idea or concept, sometimes our Lord’s parables were obscure enough to require clarification of their various aspects. We recently encountered an example of this in the Sunday Lectionary with the parable of the wheat and weeds. The point is that what we can say is generally true of the parables in the Gospels is often not universally true and we should be careful not to fix them into too rigid of categories.

I encourage regular reflection on our Lord’s parables, especially when we encounter them in the Sunday Gospel. What does this parable mean? What is the reality that it points me toward today? What is our Lord trying to teach me here and now and how do I learn, grow and incorporate it into my life?

I’ll see you all soon,

Fr. Patrick

July 24, 2020

To the faithful of St. Catherine’s:

Since we’re in year A in the three year Sunday lectionary cycle—The year of the Gospel of Matthew—it causes me to reflect more than usual on the Beatitudes. The Beatitudes are like eight keys to living out the fullness of our humanity, living in the Kingdom of God. They are cohesive, they interrelate and weave through each other. When we struggle with one, we find ourselves at a disadvantage to put the others into practice as well. If we struggle with meekness, for instance, that impacts our pursuit of justice, purity and peace. Something that Fr. Jacques Philippe pointed out in his book The Eight Doors of the Kingdom: Meditations on the Beatitudes that I never really gave much reflection to is both the personal dynamic of the Beatitudes and the community dynamic. The Beatitudes are indeed a call to interior transformation and personal conversion. But they also are expressed in human relationships, and therefore they have a communal dynamic which is essential to their character. Blessed are the meek, blessed are the merciful, blessed are the peacemakers are all acts that we do toward other people. These are the essential conditions that spiritual life thrives under, the soil that will receive the seed so to speak. If Christian communities, like parishes, are to witness to the Gospel to the world and to each other they must be places where those eight characteristics shine.

Perhaps have a meditation on the Beatitudes with a particular emphasis on seeing them played out in either the community of the family or the parish (or another community if one comes to mind). Is there a particular Beatitude that seems to really come out in that community? Is there one that the community struggles to express? If so, how do you see the impact on the other Beatitudes and what might one offer to try to bring it back into unity with Christ?

I’ll see you soon,

Fr. Patrick

July 17, 2020

“In all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” –Romans 8:37-39

To the faithful of St. Catherine’s,

As those who have been watching the livestream Sunday Mass from St. Catherine’s know by now, Romans 8 is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible, and we’re going through it in the Sunday lectionary right now. Since I don’t want to preach on this chapter in the Bible every week, I’d like to use this medium to offer an additional reflection on this inspired sequence of thought from the great Apostle Paul. Every time we go through this time in the lectionary it gives me cause to pour over every verse in that great chapter. One of the things that St. Paul is communicating here is that the Spirit of God is a kind of advanced sign of the new creation that will one day animate life without sin, suffering or pain. The presence of the Spirit of God now in the Church both inspires the Church to aid the Savior in bringing that out, the Kingdom of God, and because we are children of God who have been given God’s very Spirit, we are not to retreat back into the ways of the fallen world which is passing away but to live as citizens of the Kingdom of God, our present and future reality.

In this in-between time, however, we feel a tension between being affected by the forces of sin and darkness which are in their dying days and being drawn toward Christ. St. Paul experiences this tension in suffering, as well as many in the early Church and throughout her history. So many of the earliest Christian writings do not paint very rosy pictures of life as a Christian, rather they emphasize steadfastness and patience precisely because so many were undergoing suffering in the present time. These writings emphasize staying oriented toward our Easter hope in the final resurrection of the body and the life everlasting. In the meantime, however, endure. St. Paul’s beautiful eighth chapter of Romans concludes with the assurance that nothing will separate us from Christ’s love and he lists a whole host of things which are not meant to be taken quite so literally as they are reflections of the entirety of the universe and some key struggles that the Church in Rome may have been facing at the time. His point is not to let signs of disorder and chaos cause us to despair and forget the glory to which we have been called. To this list we can add items of our own.

For myself, I might add “disease” to this list, because sickness and death are signs of the old order which is passing away. They are also discouraging, especially in our present time when we’ve been trying for many months now to control a global pandemic in which our progress looks like two steps forward and one, hopefully not two, steps back. Recently I felt fear again as to what is waiting in the fall if we do not start seeing progress again. But this is where the Apostle would say “No!” Ultimately, Christ’s love will conquer and will be our final, fulfilling and joyful reality. Therefore, as our Lord says, we ought not to be afraid of the ones that can kill the body, but only what can kill the soul, and COVID-19 can’t do that, only we ourselves can do that by refusing Christ’s love. So, as with so many of the early Christian writers, the Apostle Paul is exhorting us to ward off discouragement through prayer and faith which strengthen hope and lead us to charity, the love of Christ that is animating the world. Do not let suffering and discouragement win. We must keep going. Christ is with us along the way.

I’ll see you all soon,

Fr. Patrick

July 11, 2020

To the faithful of St. Catherine’s,

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

As we recently passed Independence day, I was thinking about these three concepts. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are, of course, central ideas expressed in the preamble of the Declaration of Independence and part of the American ethos. We learn them when we are young children and they are formative to how we see the role of government and our nation. As I was thinking about it this week, I thought a lot about the pursuit of happiness and its relationship to life and liberty, especially liberty. How does our freedom contribute to our happiness?

Some people see the good of freedom as expressed in the ability to have as many choices as possible in order to be able to live the life that we want. Under this idea, restrictions on freedom are imposed since not everyone can live the life they would ideally want without infringing on the ability of others to do what they want. We therefore impose laws (or morals) and accept a limitation on freedom so that we can all go about living together in peace, even though we would really just like to do whatever we want. A person who subscribes to this might say, “I won’t steal from others only because I don’t want others to steal from me.” This view is referred to by some as a “morality of obligation” and those who espouse it go all the way back to some of the ancient Greeks. This seems close to what our Lord says when He says to “do unto others as you would have them do to you,” except it is cast in a more negative light than our Lord intended. Whereas our Lord is concerned with the flourishing of human beings, a morality of obligation is more concerned only with people not destroying each other.

But there is another view sometimes called a “morality of happiness.” In this view, freedom is directed specifically to the good of the person. It is not about having as many choices as possible, freedom is about the ability to pursue what contributes to a growth in our humanity. A person who is guided by a morality of happiness says, “I will not steal from others because it is harmful to my own soul and ultimate happiness to do so.” Morality does not impose restrictions on me as much as guide me toward my final end: life with God. The moral life does not prevent me from things which would otherwise be good for me, it guides me to how to live well since, as Plato says in the Republic, the moral life is the good life.

Liberty, therefore, allows us the freedoms to live a moral life that helps us thrive as people, individually and collectively. This seems to me to be what the pursuit of happiness is, not the pursuit of pleasures (some of which we sacrifice so that we can continue to live at peace with each other according to a morality of obligation), but the pursuit of our growth as people which we find by living our vocations that God gave us, to be stewards of His creation and to reflect His image to the world, to live in connection with and strengthened by His grace, to bring justice where it is lacking and worship our Creator.

Do we see our freedom as the ability to do whatever we want or to do as we ought? How does that bear itself out in our actions?

I’ll see you all soon,

Fr. Patrick

June 26, 2020


To the faithful of St. Catherine’s,

I noticed a certain kind of anxiety this week that I had not seen in some time. It reminded me a little bit of life in March. News has suddenly been telling us that coronavirus cases are spiking again in Florida, Texas and California, home to about a quarter of the nation’s population. Some states are rolling back the loosening restrictions. The idea that continual and linear progress would be made against this pandemic seems to have disintegrated. Many likely never imagined it anyway, but the bounce back is discouraging for many.

I was reminded of one of the best pieces of spiritual advice that I have ever received in the confessional: “Discouragement never comes from God.” That’s normally advice that I apply to root sins that people tend to struggle with and bring back to reconciliation again and again, feeling discouragement at their inability to “make progress” (whatever that means) against their affliction. When we get discouraged the image that we carry within ourselves of our own value and self-worth is quickly threatened. Discouragement easily slides into negative self-talk or self-loathing. A poor image of ourselves in addition to emotional or spiritual pain we feel too easily leads us to seek happiness in destructive places. Oftentimes this leads us back to the very sin that we are struggling with in order to attain the false consolation and satisfaction that it brings us (the “sweet sin” as one of my spiritual directors once dubbed it). This, as we can see, forms a cycle of discouragement that can trap the soul for a long time. Knowing that the discouragement we feel toward ourselves in the face of our sin does not come from God is a key to breaking out of this cycle. Reconciliation is also key, it is the return of the soul back to God and the restoration of the grace of our baptism by Christ. Ideally after confession one feels encouragement, healing and hope. That is why Reconciliation is a sacrament of healing, not of punishment. But regardless of whether we feel it emotionally, knowing it is the key.

I think that this same concept applies to this situation as well. Global pandemics are not a result of anyone’s sin, but we can nonetheless feel the same kind of discouragement in the face of it and that can cause us to feel resentment toward our fellow human beings and lead to other destructive thoughts and behaviors, perhaps not against ourselves, but against a group of people toward whom blame is assigned for the current situation. We connect with people who think like us (usually on social media) and it forms a kind of echo chamber where resentment builds and builds. This discouragement, as that wise confessor once told me long ago, does not come from God.

How do we break out of this? First, controlling what we can control in terms of our own diligence toward this pandemic and accepting what we cannot control (the behavior of others). Encouraging those whom we see not taking the proper measures to take the proper measures, especially our friends and family. Also, praying that God will heal us of this disease and give wisdom and strength to those in the medical field who are currently working toward that end, as well as for all impacted by the disease. Supporting with one’s time or finances (if able) efforts to help each other through his time. But it is also important to never let discouragement and anger overwhelm us, and to never let it be used as a weapon to harm others. There is never anything good down that path.

Hang in there, everyone. I will see you soon.


Fr. Patrick


June 19,2020

To the faithful of St. Catherine’s,

I was thinking about time this week. Even though Trinity Sunday and Corpus Christi are both in Ordinary time, the days after the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of our Lord feel like the moments when we enter into Ordinary time in earnest. We have now moved through the entire Easter season (and most of Lent) in our new COVID way of life. It’s been about three months now where time is moving in the absence of many of the events that punctuate it like the tolling of a bell. For many, these three months are the longest time they have ever been away from Mass. For myself, I think of the loss of a normal experience of Mass like the congregation and the singing. Other things have fallen by the wayside as well which normally mark the passage of time. Sports, for instance, have always been part of the changing of seasons for me. The Masters and March Madness ring in the early Spring for me just as much as Easter Sunday does, to say nothing of Major League Baseball. The silence emanating from that whole arena of my life has disjointed time’s rhythms for me, like a dance to music with half of the instrumentals missing. It hardly seems like the middle of June.


As I was thinking of this I reflected on the dual experience we have of time. On the one hand we experience time in a circular manner. Seasons come, go and come around again. We stack up birthdays and anniversaries. We have the same kinds of seasonal celebrations over and over which form traditions for us. So when many things that are part of the dance of time become conspicuously absent it can be psychologically jarring.

But we also know that time is linear. It only moves in one direction. We get older, never younger. But we ourselves and the world are moving on a journey with an ending: the Resurrection. That is the fullness of our Christian hope. Maybe to experience time well in its circularity we have to have certain anchors that remind us of where it is all going. Ordinary time does that for us in a way because of the absence of a defining liturgical event (like Easter, Ash Wednesday, or Christmas). Instead, our attention is drawn to the frequent repetition of the Sunday celebration of Mass, which is in and of itself like a miniature Easter Sunday. The frequent repetition of the Sunday celebration of the Eucharist reminds us all of where time is all moving, that is, Resurrection and life in abundance. Even if we cannot participate in Sunday Mass, our reminder to ourselves that Sunday is still the Lord’s day anchors us to face where it is all headed. Good anchors help us to face the right things: holiness and growing in our relationship and devotion to Christ, growing in our humanity. Good anchors remind us of the purpose of our lives.

Sure, I miss baseball, but hopefully baseball is not what my life point to with each passing year. Instead, my hope is in Christ and so that’s where my life should point. And time is still moving there as every passing Sunday reminds me. What are your anchors? What are the things in your life that repeatedly remind you of your life’s purpose? How often do you experience them and do you share them with anyone?

I’ll see you all soon,

Fr. Patrick


St. Catherine eBulletin - June 17, 2020

June 14, 2020

“Christ’s presence in this sacrament is not merely a symbolic representation of our unity as a community, or a reminder of his love. In the Eucharist, the dying and rising of Christ become tangible, and Christ is truly present in our midst: body, blood, soul and divinity.” –Archbishop Etienne


To the faithful of St. Catherine’s,

I hope that everyone has had a chance to read Archbishop Etienne’s pastoral letter on the Eucharist to the entire Archdiocese of Seattle. You can find it in the Northwest Catholic which is sent to each registered household in the Archdiocese. I especially liked this above quote. This is why the Church says that the Eucharist is the “source and summit” of our faith. It is the “source” of our faith in that the dying and rising of Christ are physically manifested in the Eucharist which he offered during the Last Supper and commanded the Apostles to do it in His memory. The death and resurrection of Christ is what has bridged the gap of sin and death that separated human beings from the Father and allowed us to be reconciled to Him by faith, expressed most potently in baptism and lived throughout one’s life. Without the dying and rising of Christ, “our birth would have been no gain” as the Easter Exsultet proclaims. Therefore, the risen Christ who gave himself up to death is the source of our faith. It is also the “summit” of our faith, that is, its highest expression. The Eucharist is substantially the body and blood of our Lord Himself, our Savior, the King of the universe. Worshipping Him is the highest and most important call for every soul.

The Eucharist is the center of the Mass and the center of our lives. Since it is the real presence of Jesus Christ on earth, the only appropriate response to the Eucharist is worship, adoration and grateful reception. Doing this also brings us into greater unity with each other in whom we share a communion in Christ Jesus. Therefore, it is appropriate that our postures during the Mass not only reflect worship of the Eucharist but also unity with each other insofar as that is physically possible. Therefore, Archbishop Etienne has called for all parishes in the Archdiocese to adopt a uniform posture during the celebration of Mass in order to express both worship and unity with those around us and also with our neighboring parishes. Specifically, he has called for all parishes to:

  • Kneel beginning after the singing or recitation of the Sanctus (Holy, Holy, Holy) until after the Amen of the Eucharistic prayer
  • Kneel after the Agnus Dei until it is time to go forward in the Communion procession
  • Upon returning to our seats following Communion, it is appropriate to “sit or kneel during the period of sacred silence after Communion

This will obviously represent a change from how St. Catherine’s has celebrated Mass for many years. I am, however, excited at the idea that we will now have a physical, concrete representation of the unity we share with our sisters and brothers in Christ across the entire Archdiocese. My hope is that this will also deepen our devotion to the Eucharist here at St. Catherine’s.

There may be some individuals who are not physically capable of kneeling. Those individuals should feel free to sit during the moments in which the congregation is kneeling. Also, individuals who are performing specific liturgical functions such as the cantor and the choir will remain standing during this time in order that they can better lead the congregation in prayer.

In a recent letter to the priests, Archbishop Etienne asked that the postures of prayer that he has outlined in his pastoral letter be adopted whenever the parishes resume their indoor masses. That will mean when King County moves into Phase II (hopefully very soon) and indoor masses resume at St. Catherine’s this will be our new liturgical posture. I will provide reminders from the altar for folks who may forget, but I believe that after a few weeks it will become habit. After all, this is the posture of nearly every other parish in the Archdiocese, so I am confident that people will adjust well.

Archbishop Etienne has also announced a “Year of the Eucharist” beginning on the feast of Corpus Christi and concluding on that same solemnity in 2021. In commemoration of that, we will have additional opportunities to deepen our devotion to the Eucharist in the coming year. I will also be speaking more in the coming year about this holy Sacrament and its meaning and purpose in our lives. It is my sincere hope that by becoming more devoted to Christ in the Eucharist the charity that flows out from that will draw us into greater unity with each other as well.



Fr. Patrick


Archbishop Etienne's pastoral letter on the Eucharist


June 8, 2020

Important Mass Re-Opening Information

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

We are thrilled that the day we can be together again for worship is getting closer and closer. The Archdiocese has given us strict guidelines on how we can safely celebrate the Eucharist. These guidelines tell us that we must complete a re-opening plan and receive approval for that plan before coming together again for Mass. We are reminded that “it is vitally important we be diligent in following the guidelines to reduce the risk of potentially spreading the virus.” We are indeed a close-knit community, and it would be tragic if one of our members became ill because they joined us at Mass, and we did not have the recommended safety precautions in place.

Currently, we are exploring how — or even if — we could accomplish an outdoor Mass; the logistics involved are quite difficult. We will update you on our progress and, in the mean-time, will continue to live-stream our Sunday Mass at 9:30am for the foreseeable future.

At the same time, we have begun our planning for Masses in the church space that will ensure we are able to worship together safely. The guidelines we are following for Phase 2 allow up to 50 people to attend a Mass — including the priest and various ministers.

The Archbishop has emphasized it is important for the faithful to be aware that the dispensation of attending Mass still remains in effect until further notice. There is no mandate to return to Mass, and it is at the discretion of the parishioner.

With the re-opening of St. Catherine, many things will be different. In coordination with the Archdiocese of Seattle and the Washington State Department of Health, changes include:

• mandatory registration for Mass attendance

• mandatory wearing of masks during the liturgy

• mandatory physical distancing by household and between single attendees

• no congregational singing

• an offertory basket as you enter in place of a collection

• Communion after the final blessing

Once details are finalized, we will provide more information on the new, temporary flow of the liturgy.

To help with our planning, we ask that you complete a short survey online at

Click here for survey.

It is important that you do this as soon as possible. We have also attached the survey for those who do not have internet access; please complete the survey as soon as possible and return to us at the above address.

In closing, I want to thank you for your patience, understanding and cooperation during these difficult times. I am grateful to you, our St. Catherine parishioners, who have been so generous during this unusual time. Not only have you continued your financial support to our parish and school, but also to St. Vincent de Paul and the Annual Catholic Appeal. You are making masks for us when we re-open, you call each other to “check in” and make sure everyone is okay, you pray for each other, and still find ways to serve the poor and vulnerable in our wider community. The parish staff and I continue to pray for all of you and ask your continued prayers for us. This is only temporary. We will all be together soon.

In Christ,

Fr. Patrick Sherrard
Priest Administrator

June 5, 2020

To the Faithful of St. Catherines,

Identity, Justice and Love

One of the most important lessons that I ever learned about identity came from St. Paul’s letter to Philemon. It’s a touching letter wherein St. Paul is trying to help Philemon, owner of a runaway slave Onesimus, see past the ways in which identity has been defined by the world around him and to see instead that through the cross of Christ we have all been given a co-equal status as adopted children of God. Philemon was likely a recent convert to the faith and Paul wants to give Philemon a chance to properly exercise his newfound status as a child of God. He sends Onesimus back to Philemon and asks him to welcome Onesimus back “no longer as a slave but more than a slave, a brother, beloved especially to me, but even more so to you, as a man in the Lord.” Here we have a different context in which Paul is finding room to express a reality he articulates in his other letters: that we are no longer Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female, we are one in Christ Jesus.

This is all well enough, Philemon might say, but what does that have to do with his specific situation? Paul seems to get at this when he says of Onesimus that, “I am sending him, that is, my own heart back to you.” He sees in Onesimus a common identity, a unity in the place where identity and meaning are discovered, “the heart.” This means for Paul that he is as bound to Onesimus’s good as he is to his own, and he’s trying to show Philemon that the new reality he has entered into by virtue of his baptism and faith ought to compel him toward that same sentiment.

So what ought Philemon to do? Emancipate Onesimus? Not enough, according to the Apostle. No, acting within the worldly confines of justice simply won’t do. Paul demands more, precisely because Christ Jesus would have demanded more as well. Justice renders to each their due, but love extends further. The Gospel that Paul has been announcing is not a Gospel of justice but of love which stands side by side with the other facing God. Liberating Onesimus and then rejecting him would have been a countersign to the Good News. More is at stake than justice as the world sees it. A new world ushered in by the Resurrection demands a new reality. Had the world simply been left to the hands of justice, human beings would have died. Love is what actually brings about new life. Justice can occur without spiritual communion, as when two enemies might settle an economic account and then leave just as bitter as ever. Love cannot. Even love for our enemies who reject us fosters communion with Christ.

If love is then relationship focused, all our actions which bring about justice in the short-term must have relationship and new life in sight in the long term. Yes, Philemon should free Onesimus, but as a pathway to a new expression of his common brotherhood. Yes, laws need to change. Yes, cultural attitudes and awareness need to change. But if it stays there it does not contain the fullness of the Gospel which is authentic reconciliation with God through Christ, and forgiveness and reconciliation with others as Christ has forgiven us. Paul clinches this point near the end of his short letter when he tells Philemon that if Onesimus owes you anything to charge it to Paul and Paul will pay. Paul pays a debt in order to bring about a reconciliation, just as Christ would have done. Final reconciliation is the ultimate end between those who were once enemies, who the world says ought to be miles apart socially but in fact share a unity which is both invisible and yet profound, brought about by grace, the love of God. Our efforts toward justice must be animated by this call in order to bear fruit for eternal life.

How are the particular things that we are doing now toward justice leading us toward ultimate reconciliation and new life? What are steps that might need to be taken in order to ensure that it finally happens?

I’ll see you all soon.


Fr. Patrick

St. Catherine eBulletin - June 4, 2020

May 29, 2020

To the Faithful of St. Catherines,

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart;
and you will find rest for yourselves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” Matthew 11:28-29

I was thinking about this passage this week. Whenever I read this or think about it I think about the sacrament of the anointing of the sick which has been a feature sacrament in my life these last few months. This is a passage in the liturgy of that sacrament when celebrated outside of Mass. Some commentators have said that these verses essentially sum up the entire Gospel of Matthew. I think that these verses at least encapsulate one of the dominant themes: that the weary soul finds its rest in Jesus, and it does so by taking the yoke of the one who is meek and humble of heart upon themselves. 

The Bible uses a lot of agricultural imagery. A yoke is what is attached to animals so they can pull an object such as a cart or plow. Jesus tells us in Matthew that his yoke is easy and his burden is light. He encourages us to take his yoke upon ourselves. Perhaps in order to do that though we have to free ourselves from whatever yoke that we have already around us. Maybe it is our own expectations of ourselves and what our life should look like. Maybe it is unreasonable expectations of others or fear of what the future might look like if this thing is not there or that thing comes to pass. Maybe the yoke is just anger at the world and the people in it. What’s the yoke that Jesus is calling you to rid yourself of?

Jesus describes himself here as being “meek” and “humble of heart.” This is the second time in Matthew that “meekness” has been mentioned, the other being the Beatitudes when Jesus describes the meek as the ones who will inherit the earth. This may be the most difficult Beatitude or Gospel characteristic to understand. Some have said that the Greek word that is rendered as meek might be better translated as “powerless”, so that it is not as much an emotional disposition of calmness (though it is probably at least still that), but it is a kind of statement about a person’s relationship to the forces of the world around them. On the one hand, Jesus certainly doesn’t always appear meek in the Gospels: think of when he calms the storm at sea or when he drives the money changers from the Temple. But if we look at His ministry as a whole, Jesus is submitting himself to the forces of evil and dysfunction around him in order to accomplish the mission of the Father (this is what holy week is so much about). Jesus was meek before Pilate. Jesus was meek before the apostles who abandoned him and He was meek before Herod Antipas. The Lord of the universe allowed evil to do its worst upon Him. Though He was not powerless himself, He adopted a position of powerlessness. 

Perhaps the lesson for us here is that surrendering to Divine Providence gives us a kind of peace of heart and proper view of ourselves and the world around us. This is not to say that it is easy, but to accept Jesus’s yoke of meekness is to release ourselves of the burden of always having to insist on our way of doing things, our vision of the future, or even controlling the image of us that may be cultivated by others. Jesus was misunderstood, and He desired the cup of suffering to pass from Him, but He submitted to the will of another. 

What lesson do we need to learn from that this week?

Hang in there, everyone. I will see you all soon. 


Fr. Patrick 

May 22,2020

May 22, 2020 Letter From Bishops of Washington
On the Reopening of Mass

May 22, 2020

To the Faithful of St. Catherines,

“Love is patient, love is kind.”

Some may have noticed that in the last couple weeks my homilies and weekly reflections have focused quite a bit on faith and hope. Faith is the bedrock of God’s covenant action on earth by which we have life, and hope is the confidence our faith gives us that God will ultimately deliver a fallen world back to restoration and healing. Of course, this glaringly omits the third of the theological virtues: love, which St. Paul says is the crown of the virtues in his famous passage from the first letter to the Corinthians. Many people probably read that passage from St. Paul’s letter and hear wedding bells. It is a wonderful explication of what love is (and is not).

First, though, what do we mean when we say that love, as well as faith and hope, is a “theological” virtue? Theological virtues are the virtues that are primarily directed to the good of our spiritual lives, which is different than the cardinal virtues of prudence, temperance, fortitude and justice which are concerned with the ordering of the goods of the world. Theological virtues are stable dispositions (as all virtues are) which order our relationship with God. To love someone in a theologically virtuous way is to act toward their good as a fellow human being made in the image of God, and so to love them is also to love the God that created them. As St. John reminds us, God is love and so to love another in a way that draws them into deeper communion with the divine love is to “put on God” so to speak in an even higher way than we do when we express even our faith and our hope. Faith and hope both come from God and lead us back to God, but love is God.

Fortunately, the Greeks had more than one word for love. What is the Greek word that St. Paul uses for love in this passage? Agape. Agape is the highest form of love, it is Christ’s love for the world, totally self-giving. It is the kind of love that compels one person to give their life for another. It is the highest virtue we can reach for.

St. Paul lists several characteristics of this love, but I have highlighted merely two because they are the first two that he lists before he delves into several attributes that agape is not. Perhaps pray over and reflect on these two characteristics of love for this coming week.

Love is patient. Where might I be experiencing a lack of patience right now? Is the frustration that I am experiencing proportional to the issue in front of me? The patient person is able to deal well with the faults and imperfections of others, to surrender to God’s timing in a situation rather than our own and to allow a less than ideal situation to exist where a higher good is attempting to come out. What are concrete steps that I can take to put myself in a position to be able to extend my patience when a difficult situation comes before me?

Love is kind. Where have I been sharper of tongue than I needed to be recently, perhaps in spoken word or over the computer? Have I surrendered the space I reserve for kindness in order to simply get my point across or more visibly manifest my frustration to another person and so to make myself feel more understood? In moments of great mutual stress oftentimes it just takes one person to be sensitive with their choice of words or expressions to take a conversation that could wound someone and to turn it to more positive and productive outcomes. When we are kind, we win a friend rather than winning an argument. Am I sometimes more concerned about being right than helping people?

Stay patient and keep room for kindness. We will get through this. I will see you all soon.


Fr. Patrick

May 20, 2020 St. Catherine eBulletin  (LINK)

May 15, 2020

“Sufficient for a day are its own troubles.”

To the faithful of St. Catherine’s,

The Gospels do many things. They look backward with understanding. They look forward with resolve and hope. They challenge and they encourage. But one thing they also occasionally do which we may not normally think about is offer practical daily wisdom. I cannot count the number of times the above quote has come into my head. It did so again when I was thinking about our current situation, especially in this month which is Mental Health Awareness month. In last week’s letter I listed psychological health as one of the major casualties of this pandemic. In the last couple weeks I’ve read several articles expressing major concerns about developing psychological illnesses for those who did not previously struggle with mental health as well as the worsening conditions of those who do. Families who are suddenly seriously concerned about their futures, people who live by themselves who already struggle with loneliness and depression and parents at their breaking point with having to continue to manage work responsibilities with no home sanctuary while also suddenly being the primary facilitator of their child’s education has exhausted some to the point of giving up. I recently read one article where an exasperated mother called her child’s teacher and said, “We’re done. It’s over. I can’t do it anymore.” Many, many people can surely empathize with that feeling. Extraordinary stress having to be carried for extended periods of time is its own threat to mental (and physical) health.

The above quote comes from the sixth chapter of Matthew’s gospel. In the wider context of the passage Jesus is exhorting his listeners to trust that God will provide for their needs, specifically for their need of Him and the life that He gives. Therefore “do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day are its own troubles."

To God, all things exist in a kind of present moment. The Almighty is outside of time, he does not have a past like we have a past nor a future like we have a future. He just Is. The present is the moment of privilege. The present is the moment when we can act. Too much time is often spent brooding on events of the past which may have shaped a better present (“If only I would have done this…if only I would have said that…”). Too much time is also spent worrying about future events of which we have no control. Within the context of this passage in Matthew 6 are several exhortations not to worry and to have no anxiety (an exhortation many of us have to remember to always strive toward even while we’re not able to perfectly live it). For myself, this passage from Matthew gives me a kind of license in moments of extraordinary stress to focus only on the things that come before me today, the things before me in my present reality with God. It is unrealistic to suppose that I will be able to come up with the final solution to any of my long-term problems or struggles today, but can I point to something that went well today? Can I say that I gave the best effort and attention that I had to managing the issue for this day only? Can I allow myself not to focus on bearing all the things I am carrying around with me to the top of the mountain today, but rather just moving them a few paces forward?

When situations get complicated and the path that the Lord is calling us to is not clear I find it helpful simply to return to basics: love of God and our neighbor. As our Lord reminds us, the commandments come down to those. That is everyone’s call every day. The life that Jesus is offering us through faith and love is available today and it is not dependent on our own ability to solve our problems or those of the world.

So, perhaps we just ask ourselves: did I spend time with God today expressing thanks, petitioning for my needs and those of others, or even just in simple rest and adoration? Did I give help to others the best that I was able to today?

Let yesterday go. Let tomorrow happen tomorrow. Sufficient for a day are its own troubles. 


Fr. Patrick

P.S.  Please see the Parish newsletter which will be sent out soon.  It will include an article from St. Vincent de Paul telling about the work they are doing with your tremendous donations. 

May 8 ,2020

Dear Parishioners,

Please view Archbishop’s video message to the People of the Archdiocese of Seattle.

In the video, Archbishop Etienne references the review of how we might be able to experience “drive-in spiritual services”. 

This afternoon the diocese informed us, after thorough review of the actual guidance from the state, it became clear “drive-in spiritual services” present many obstacles that could compromise the integrity, sacredness, and reverence of our Catholic worship.  To ensure the reverence and respect for the Sacred Liturgy of the Mass, especially the Blessed Sacrament, and after consultation with the Presbyteral Council, the Archbishop and Auxiliary Bishops have unanimously decided to postpone any celebration of “drive-in” Masses. They indicate, “As much as we would like to join in community as the Body of Christ in sacred worship, we must be patient as our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has instructed.”


Video from Archbishop Etienne addresses sacraments 
and parish openings during coronavirus

As COVID-19 restrictions begin easing in the state, Catholics in Western Washington should remain patient, stay vigilant and keep their focus on Jesus while awaiting the return of public Masses, Archbishop Paul D. Etienne said in a May 7 video message.

“Please keep the Lord a priority,” the archbishop said. “Please consciously be aware of his presence and how he is sustaining us during these days."


  • Other dioceses are starting to open up, but our situation is different.
  • We are at the epicenter of COVID-19 and must be more patient and vigilant.
  • The Lord can help us keep all things in proper balance and perspective.
  • Bishops have initiated communications with the governor’s office on a plan to reopen parishes and make sacraments available. 
  • In the meantime, a team of priests and leaders are determining how the governor’s “drive-in spiritual services” best applies to our parishes.
  • To minimize risk of exposing others, please don’t travel to other states where Masses are being offered.
  • Many of our churches remain open for prayer.
  • Gratitude to priests for making live stream Masses, confession and
    anointing available.
  • Please be patient, pray, stay close to the Lord and Our Lady.

Resources for parishioners:

New issue of At Home with Faith

Parishioner Prayers and Resources

Vimeo Channel   |   Facebook   |   Instragram   |   Northwest Catholic Story

May 8, 2020

To the Faithful of St. Catherine,

I’ve been thinking a lot about the Resurrection lately. Perhaps it’s because we’re still in the Easter season. Perhaps it’s because the weather feels like it’s brought out the springtime flora, nature’s sign that winter is definitely over. Perhaps it’s because governments are finally loosening coronavirus restrictions and we may be in a place where we can start thinking (only thinking) about the end of all of this. I’ve wondered sometimes whether in the wisdom of the divine ordering of the world the reason we experience the changing of seasons is precisely to foster in us regular reflections on death and life, a kind of catechesis given to us from nature itself which helps us think about our personal final end as well as that of the world as a whole.

What has happened (and is currently happening) to individuals and the world is significant on a level that I think few can really wrap their minds around when considering the sum total: physical, social, economic, political, psychological, spiritual. And yet, this virus, and everything that it has brought with it, too has an end. And life on the other side of it will have a beginning.

It simply will not do to think about the Resurrection as a kind of final and everlasting reward for getting through a long and difficult journey in the world. As easy and tempting as it is simply to think, “well, this is really painful, but God will set it right in the end so it doesn’t really matter,” we know in the parts of our being where we find and live in meaning that if the tragedies of our life don’t matter because God is inexorably moving it all toward one final end anyway then neither do the joys matter. Who among us would really believe that?

No, what’s happening does matter in just the same way as when we’re personally wounded by the sin of another person and we say to them, “I forgive you” we are not saying that what they did to us does not matter. Rather, we are saying that we are going to be spiritually oriented to reconciliation and life despite the obstacle that has been put before us. The Resurrection situates the Christian to look at death in much the same way. We don’t casually dismiss it, we stare at it with boldness, girded by hope, looking through it, as it were, rather than around it.

The Resurrection is not only true for our own bodies but for all of creation. It’s the Holy Spirit’s sign to us that, although death entered the picture through sin, and all the earth became subject to decay, creation itself, the world and all the human beings in it, was not a mistake. Jesus Christ’s emergence from the tomb and his presentation to the disciples gives Christians permission to see behind the veil (as it were) to a new order of creation emerging before us right now. Baptism gives us spiritual access to that new reality and it encourages us to have an imagination alive and pointed forward to the Resurrection. In his fantastic and pivotal eighth chapter of the letter to the Romans, St. Paul says that, “All creation is groaning in labor pains even until now…we also groan within ourselves as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.” Through pain, new life is coming.

What’s part of this new life, according to the book of Revelation? Healing. “He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, [for] the old order has passed away” (Revelation 21:4). In every part of life in which we see the futility of sin and death working its course, the Christian stands as God’s light-bearing witness to healing. In every way in which this event that we are going through has wounded human beings, Christians are called to be part of the process of healing and reconciliation as members of the body of Christ, the greatest and final healer. With an eye on what a Resurrected world looks like through the New Testament, we foster reconciliation which we can only do by engaging every aspect of the pain that is presented before us. Where does healing and reconciliation need to happen in your life, in your family’s life? What can you do to start or aid in the process? What may you need to let go of in order for that to happen?

We do not bypass tragedy, we enter into it with hope, confident that the Spirit can and will bring about new order from suffering and we can be participants in it. No room for despair, and no room for indifference. Let’s keep moving forward.

See you all soon,

Fr. Patrick

May 1, 2020

Grace and Peace to all! 

On Wednesday we celebrated the feast of our patroness, St. Catherine of Siena, the 14th century Dominican mystic who moved papacies with her holiness and insight.

St. Catherine also lived during the worst years of the Bubonic plague in Europe, years when many could not participate in the liturgical life of the Church in the way that they would have liked. One of the gifts of the mystical theologians of the Church, like St. Catherine, is their attentiveness to the hidden reality of life that undergirds the visible order of creation. Our Lord reminds us in the Gospel of St. Matthew to not be afraid of the one who can kill the body but not the soul. In other words, the life of God which animates the visible order of creation is, in fact, invisible, and the invisible life of communion with God is expressed in faith, which is accessible to us anywhere we are. The covenant life of God in both Old Testament and New is a covenant of faith. Faith is what makes the entire sacramental order come alive. Sacraments build our faith and they build on our faith.

Has there been anything recently which has built up your faith? Have you seen the actions of others that have built up your faith? Are we praying for the eyes of God to see signs of his divine life everywhere, not just in our parish, but in the sacrificial care that many are showing for others out of love for the other as a child of God. That’s the outworking of faith. The life that the Eucharist gives us is in fact all around us in the created order being restored by God, like the Spirit of God that breathed on the waters of creation in the book of Genesis.

Try to be attentive to one place where faith is alive today and give thanks to God for it.

I will see you all again soon,

Fr. Patrick


April 24, 2020

“I’m ready for this to be over so we can go back to normal,” was an expression I heard this last week around the rectory where I live. I would say that I have sensed more restlessness and frustration in the air now than at any point in our new reality so far, which, of course, makes sense. The longer we are asked to sacrifice the more difficult it becomes. For myself, I can sense the disciplines that I adopted to “do my part” starting to wane. I have been less conscientious about wearing a mask in public or wearing gloves around the office when I have to go in, for instance. As I thought about this, I was reminded of the expression used by football players to “play through the whistle,” that is, to keep playing with maximum effort until the official says that it is time to stop. It is time for me to recommit myself to my “stay at home” disciplines. How are you doing with it? Are you having the same experience?

This is not easy. None of us asked for this. But we are being asked to consent to this nonetheless. I have regularly returned to the words of Fr. Jacques Philippe on the subject of consenting to difficulty in his book “Interior Freedom”, which I heartily recommend. Fr. Philippe’s words are worth presenting at length:

“The exercise of freedom as a choice among options, plainly is important. However, to avoid making painful mistakes we also need to understand that there is another way of exercising freedom: less immediately exciting, poorer, humbler, but much more common, and one immensely fruitful, both humanly and spiritually. It is consenting to what we did not originally choose…It is natural and easy to go along with pleasant situations that arise without our choosing them. It becomes a problem, obviously, when things are unpleasant, go against us, or make us suffer. But it is precisely then that, in order to become truly free, we are often called to choose to accept what we did not want, and even what we would not have wanted at any price. There is a paradoxical law of human life here: one cannot become truly free unless one accepts not always being free!...This means consenting to our personal limitations, our weaknesses, our powerlessness, this or that situation that life imposes on us, and so on. We find it difficult to do this, because we feel a natural revulsion for situations we cannot control. But the fact is that the situations that really make us grow are precisely those we do not control.”

“When we are faced with things that we find unpleasant or consider negative, in ourselves or in situations, there are three possible attitudes. The first is rebellion…True, rebellion is not always negative—it may be an instinctive and necessary reaction in certain situations of desperate suffering; then it is a healthy reaction, provided that we do not remain fixated on it. Rebellion can also be positive as the rejection of an unacceptable situation, against which one takes action, for just motives, and using legitimate and proportionate means. What we are considering here, however, is rebellion as a rejection of reality…All this sort of rebellion does is add another wrong to the existing one. It is the source of despair, violence and resentment.”

“Rebellion may be followed by resignation. We realize we cannot change this situation, or cannot change ourselves, and end up by resigning ourselves…[Resignation] is not a Christian virtue, since it doesn’t include hope. Resignation is a declaration of powerlessness that goes no further. The attitude to aim for is consent. Compared with resignation, consent leads to a completely different interior attitude. We say yes to a reality we initially saw as negative, because we realize that something positive may arise from it. This hints at hope…We can say yes to the poorest and most disappointing human raw materials, because we believe that ‘love is so powerful in deeds that it is able to draw good out of everything, both the good and the bad that it finds in me,’ as St. Therese of Lisieux said…The act of consent, therefore, contains faith in God, confidence toward him, and hence also love, since trusting someone is already a way of loving him.”

How can we apply Fr. Philippe’s words to our situation? What in our lives is  the Lord calling us to consent to? Where is our disposition toward that thing now? How can we move (or allow the Lord to move us) toward consent?

Let’s give thanks to the Lord for the gift of the day.

Talk to you again soon,

Fr. Patrick

April 17, 2020

Dear St. Catherine community -

Peace be with you! In this difficult time, we are praying for you and yours. Please spend a moment to respond to this brief survey in the link below to help us meet your needs and grow as a faith community together.

-St. Catherine Parish Council

(Please don't confuse this with the link to the archdiocesan survey that was sent out yesterday.)   

St. Catherine Parish Survey

April 17, 2020

Calmer. Slower. Less.

My Apple Watch broke the other day. The face of the watch fell right off, which was somewhat bittersweet. I had always had a bit of a conflicted relationship with my timepiece. It was a gift from my sister for my ordination, useful in telling me things that were nice to know, but it was also frequently calling for my attention (I could never figure out how to get the right balance of notifications). It also had a function that mysteriously showed up one day where it would discern (somehow?) that I was stressed out and would tell me to take a minute of deep breathing to relax. I’m not sure if this was automated to go off randomly or if it sensed changes in my body that cued it, but this started happening so frequently I just automatically started to select “mute for today” when it first popped up because I knew that it would surely buzz me at least six more times that day. Now my Apple Watch is broken, and I think that it’s curiously appropriate that it happened at a time in my life where I’ve almost never been more disconnected from needing to know the time of day. What appointments do I have today? Usually none. Where do I need to be? Nowhere. Is there work to be done? Surely. Is there time enough to do it? Of course. So why does it matter exactly what time it is? 

We’re in our fourth or so week of life with Covid-19 restrictions. This last week I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on my experiences of life now compared to my life a year ago or at any point in my adult life, for that matter. The three descriptors that came to my mind immediately were calmer, slower and less. My day is no longer extremely tightly structured. Many events, activities and concerns have dropped out so that the contents that remain (maybe the contents that are essential?) have space to breathe. For me, time was always the most precious of resources. Never enough of it to go around, always difficult decisions to make. Feelings of guilt for not having more time for this thing or that thing running rampant. Stress abounding.

Was there too much in my life? Sure. That’s easy enough to see. But the more important question is why was there too much in my life?

Maybe at some point busyness became its own source of pride for me. To tell people that I was busy was perhaps a way of showing that I was in-demand (i.e., valuable, intelligent, useful, etc.). Or maybe at some point hard work for me became synonymous with long work, to keep a very full schedule morning, afternoon and evening warded off the accusation of being lazy, a sin in American culture if there ever was one. Maybe it emerged from a competitive culture that we see in business and society that tells us that we need to be always setting goals and striving for growth in every aspect of our lives, to have more and to be more, until we drop with exhaustion. Maybe it just came from a good desire to help as much as possible until it got a little out of control. I don’t know.

But so far my “stay at home” life has been a kind of addition by subtraction. I’ve focused more on depth, not breadth. I’m not checking my watch all the time (can’t, in fact), thinking of where I have to be next or preparing mentally for the next event. My attention doesn’t feel diced into a hundred pieces. I’m grateful that Jesus is the Savior of the world so I don’t have to be.

It’s created an interesting question for me: when we get back to “normal”, what will I allow back into my life? What will not make the cut?

Have you had similar experiences? How might we invite God (and others!) into that conversation?

Only a recommendation: pray with St. Irenaeus great insight, “the glory of God is a human being fully alive!” What gives you fullness of life? How do you know? I’ve had people comment that I appear different to them when I’m doing this thing or that thing, that I look happier, more energetic. Do other people notice changes in you when you’re “fully alive”? How might you express thanks to God for that gift?

Let’s keep praying for each other.

Happy Easter everyone,
Fr. Patrick 

P.S., The Facebook live broadcasts of Mass do not require a Facebook account to access. Just pull up St. Catherine’s Facebook page.     

April 16, 2020

Dear Parishioners,

There are two important items in this email.  Please read and respond.  Thank you!

1. Parish and Mission Effectiveness - survey from our Archdiocese of Seattle, part of the long-term pastoral planning process:

All practicing lay Catholics in the Archdiocese are invited to complete an online survey that seeks to better understand the experiences, beliefs, needs, desires and faith trajectories of Catholics across western Washington.   Your responses are anonymous and confidential.
Archbishop Etienne - Invitation to the Catholic Survey


Catholic Community Services of Western Washington is asking for your support.  For more information: (see this link also for a substitute for elastic)

Wow! This is your chance to join our CCS SEWING BEE to help make 10,000 masks for the safety of CCS/CHS front line staff who are working around the clock to provide essential services to our vulnerable neighbors in need.

It’s easy and fun…follow the links for sewing instructions, watch a video tutorial (below) and find your nearest CCS location where you can drop off or mail your mask donation.

Please share this need with your friends.

How to make a Face Mask


April 9, 2020

To the faithful of St. Catherine’s:

Happy Triduum! Is it unusual this year? Of course, but it is still Triduum. The liturgical life of the Church never stops.

Just a note for those who will be tuning into the livestream at St. Catherine’s (or any livestream in the Archdiocese for that matter): The Archbishop has made a number of modifications for the Triduum in consideration of the limited resources that parishes are facing as well as the need to maintain social distancing. You will notice, for instance, the foot washing on Holy Thursday is omitted (technically it is an optional part of the ritual in any year), the transfer of the Blessed Sacrament on Holy Thursday night is omitted, veneration of the cross will only occur for the priest, as well as other modifications. So you will not be watching the “usual” Easter Triduum celebrations. But, onward!

Below I’m going to include a link for the stations of the cross for folks who would like to pray them on Friday. 3pm is a traditional time to do that.

In terms of Easter, perhaps it’s a year to include a new Easter tradition for the family? If you have family traditions and rituals around Easter that you do at home, I encourage you to keep those up this year. Keeping something old and adding something new can make Easter 2020 special. Perhaps reading the Passion and Resurrection from the Gospel of Matthew or John and discussing it as a family? What does it mean to you this year? Just a thought.

Also, many will be praying the chaplet of Divine Mercy at 3pm on Good Friday and continuing each day leading up to Divine Mercy Sunday with special intentions for each day. I have attached relevant links below. I encourage you to take part!

I’m praying for you all. Please pray for me too.

Triduum blessings,

Fr. Patrick

Stations of the cross:

How to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet:

Intentions for the Divine Mercy Chaplet: 

RE: Request for Lectors and Cantors

April 4, 2020

Greetings St. Catherine’s parishioners,

As I mentioned in my previous communication, I will be livestreaming the liturgies of Holy Week through our Facebook page. It’s been a journey for me personally to consider if and how I should livestream Masses from St. Catherine’s during the pandemic with the rapidly changing situation and requirements from the government and the Archdiocese of Seattle, as well as my own personal sense of conscience and responsibility. Some of you may notice that you do not recognize some of the liturgical ministers who are helping me out with the initial livestream broadcasts. In the short amount of time for decision making and organizing that I had, I reached out to friends of mine who are trained liturgical ministers that I know do not belong to the vulnerable population and that are also comforting presences to me as I organize a quick, dignified Holy Week under extraordinary and, at times, stressful circumstances.

Beginning on Easter Sunday, I would like to open up the liturgical ministries of lector and cantor to our St. Catherine’s ministers. However, I must follow the policies of the Archdiocese, the government and the dictates of my own conscience as I do so. Since the definition of someone who is part of the “vulnerable population” is somewhat fluid, I am setting slightly more rigorous criteria than others might. Therefore, if you meet each of the following criteria and you would like to help out, please contact me by email:

  • 49 years old or younger
  • No underlying health conditions
  • Have not as recently as the last two weeks experienced symptoms of any illness
  • Do not live with someone who belongs to the vulnerable population
  • Are not of a heightened risk for exposure to COVID-19 through work or home
  • Are a trained lector or cantor

If you would like to help out on Easter Sunday, please contact me by Wednesday. I hope to celebrate these liturgies the best that I can. As some of you know, I volunteered to take the early lead on COVID-19 anointings in north Seattle. I am therefore going to be extremely cautious in monitoring my own health during this time. If my body doesn’t feel right or I think that I may be getting sick, I will be staying home and the livestream will be cancelled on potentially short notice. I hope that does not happen, but I am ready if it should.

I hope to see you all soon.


Fr. Patrick

April 3, 2020

To the faithful of St. Catherine’s,

Peace and good health to all!

Weeks have now gone by and normalcy does not yet seem on the horizon. It will get here, but it is not quite ready to show itself. How is everyone holding up? I have heard back from a few folks who are enjoying the content on I hope that you have had a chance to check it out. Remember, just click “I belong to a parish”, find our parish on the drop down menu by searching for it, sign up with your email, and it’s as simple as that.

A new rhythm of life has taken hold for me. Now that the priests that I live with and I are not able to be at our parishes as much as we normally are, we are able to be at the rectory often for dinner. I have enjoyed making dinner for the guys and trying new recipes. My days have hardly been empty, but they have been slower at times which has caused me to engage the contents of my life in different ways. One of the side effects of this curious age that we are living in is that it has caused me to develop a deeper appreciation for the gift of food and making good meals. When my old order of life still ruled, food that was made quickly was more important to me than food that was made well. This often caused me to cook on a higher heat than would otherwise be recommended because I wanted to get dinner done faster so that I could move on to “more important” things. Eating a dinner by myself that is overdone on the outside and underdone on the inside is one thing, but inflicting that suffering on another person is something else entirely. So, I have sought to cook well instead of fast. As a result, I have realized in the last couple weeks that my attentiveness to food has multiplied. Dinner has become for me less utilitarian, more social, more communal, more artistic. In other words: more human. How many other objects (or relationships) in my life, that I haven’t paid as much attention to because of the many “important” demands on me, need to become more human, as dining has become for me? Have you noticed similar things in your life?

We are a couple days away from celebrating Holy Week. Beginning this Sunday, Palm Sunday, I will be arranging to have the liturgies of holy week and the Sundays thereafter live-streamed from St. Catherine’s. You can check it out via our Facebook page. It’s a technology that I am unfamiliar with, but others are helping me. I hope that it goes well. Our schedule for the liturgies will be:

Palm Sunday: 9:30 am
Holy Thursday: 7:00 pm
Good Friday: 7:00 pm

Easter Vigil: 8:30 pm
Easter Sunday (and every Sunday thereafter): 9:30 am

Jesus is coming through the gates of Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. A place of joy, sorrow, health, brokenness, gratitude, rejection, every human experience. He’s coming to witness to perfect love, God’s love for the people that he has made his own. As Paul says in Romans, “What can separate us from the love of Christ?” We might not be able to receive physical communion right now, but nothing can ever stop the spiritual communion we have with our Lord in the prayer of the faithful. That can never be taken from us. Thursday was supposed to be the Chrism Mass at the Cathedral, and so in lieu of that the Archbishop asked all the priests of the Archdiocese to pray a holy hour at 7pm, the time the Chrism Mass was supposed to start. I’ll leave you all with the object of my meditation during that time, from that same letter from the Apostle:

“In the same way, the Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.” –Romans 8:26

I’m praying for you all. I hope you that you will pray for me too.

-Fr. Patrick


2. To view St. Catherine Masses, find the link on the front page of our parish website,, or go to the Facebook page at  

3. Check out the options on the Spiritual Resources page on our parish website


March 27, 2020

To the faithful of St. Catherine’s,

Peace to all!

With every passing week much seems to change. When I wrote to you all last week, we did not yet have the Governor’s stay at home order. Now we have reached a different phase of our response to the virus. Situations are different for everyone, as well the challenges that are being wrought by it. Some may be feeling a level of boredom or restlessness from being “trapped” in the house with no where to go and not much to do. Others may be feeling overwhelmed at transitioning their responsibilities to the home while also managing childcare and perhaps also their children’s education, a life one could hardly have imagined many weeks ago. Perhaps getting through the demands of the day is difficult enough. Maybe others are somewhere in between.

If you can manage it, I encourage everyone to reach out by phone to someone that you may have not talked to in a while to see how they are holding up, or if they need anything that you can help provide for them, especially prayer. This week I reached out to my grandmother whom I do not talk with as much as I should. It was good for both of us.

This week I purchased a parish subscription to FORMED, a Catholic media outlet run by the Augustine Institute. They are used by many parishes for things like sacramental preparation and faith formation. All parishioners of St. Catherine’s now have access to it. All you have to do is go to and click “sign up”. From there, indicate that you “belong to a parish” and type in “St. Catherine’s, Seattle” and find us on the drop-down list. Then you can sign up with a name and an email address and voila! There is a lot of great content on there. They also have an app that is accessible through your apple device or Roku player. They have content for kids and adults, movies and shows, as well as Bible studies, streaming Masses and prayer, lots of great stuff. Enjoy!

We at the parish are trying to be as obedient as possible to the Governor’s stay at home order, only coming in for essential items such as security and details needed to maintain the functioning of the parish which cannot be done remotely. It is a transition for us, much as it is for everyone else. Certain items might take a little longer than they normally do, but we will manage.  

I encourage everyone to take extended breaks from media coverage of COVID-19. Feeling trapped inside often causes us to turn to internet and television media outlets to pass the time which can seem like a never-ending loop of coverage of the virus. This can easily create a lot of anxiety in people over global and national situations that they can do little to affect. Turning devices and tv’s off for a few hours, or maybe flipping to a movie or a good book can be calming. Perhaps start a family book group where everyone reads a book at the same time and talks about it? My family started that last year and it has had a bonding effect on us, it gives us something to talk about and relate to.

Many who have been less impacted by the financial fallout of the pandemic have been looking for ways to help. To that end, our St. Vincent de Paul group indicated to me that their biggest need right now is monetary aid for rent support. While evictions have been deterred during the outbreak, rent will still be owed by many who have lost their income. St. Vincent de Paul financially supports those needs the best that they are able. Please consider a donation.

As I mentioned on Wednesday, you all are in my prayers now more than ever. Right now I am currently working on some remote faith formation opportunities. There will be more to come on that end. Please reach out to me if I can help you in any way. I will talk to you all soon.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Patrick


1. The link is here: 
Hit "sign up",   select "Belong to a parish",  type in "St. Catherine, Seattle"

2. Donations to St. Vincent dePaul or gifts to our parish can be made by

Email Carolyn Foster with any questions at

March 24 ,2020

To the faithful of St. Catherine’s,

I hope that everyone is holding up ok during these trying times.

In response to Governor Inslee’s Stay at Home order which takes effect tomorrow, I am closing St. Catherine’s parish church and office for the duration of the order. We will still be performing the essential functions and maintaining security, but the staff will be working remotely as far as it is possible.

I know this time is going to be difficult to some, but as the Jewish prophets reminded Israel when the nation went into exile, God is everywhere, and He hears our prayers everywhere. On Friday I will send out another communication to everyone with some thoughts. Please be assured that the faithful of St. Catherine’s are in my prayers each day. I wait with anticipation for the moment when we will all be able to return to our space again to pray and celebrate the sacraments. In the interim, we must all diligently do our part in this struggle out of concern for our neighbors as well as ourselves.

Please remember that I am available by phone if you would like to talk. I can still get voice mail messages from the parish office remotely. If you would like to set up a phone conversation for prayer, pastoral counseling, or another need, please feel free to call me at the parish office or send me an email. I am, of course, still available for sacramental emergencies by calling 206-384-2632. If you would like to meet for the sacrament of reconciliation or the anointing of the sick in a non-emergency situation, that is available by appointment as well by calling me at the parish office or also sending an email.

Tomorrow we celebrate the feast of the Annunciation when Mary said “Let it be done unto me according to Thy word.” Without knowing how, the Blessed Virgin trusted that all things work toward God for those who love him. Jesus is with us in moments of joy as well as moments of trial. We will get through this because our Lord will give us the strength to do so. The love of the Cross still gives joy to the world, and the Church soldiers forth in our mission.

Grace to you and peace,

Fr. Patrick Sherrard

The most recent guidance from Archbishope Etienne is on the archdiocese of Seattle website. Currently dated March 17, 2020 - click on " Covid-19 Guidance"

March 23, 2020  

Scheduled at this time:

  • Private prayer: the church is open 9 am to 1 pm Monday through Friday,
    and Saturday 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm
    • While in the church please stay at least 6 feet from other persons
    • We encourage those over 60 and those with underlying medical conditions to stay at home
    • Please wash your hands or use the hand sanitizer when you arrive and when you leave. 
  • Adoration on Tuesdays at St. Catherine, 9:30 am - 3:00 pm
  • Stations of the Cross:  A disposable handout will be available in the church next week to do stations on our own.
  • Reconciliation on Saturdays from 3:30 - 4:30 pm at the back of the church

All other events and groups are cancelled, postponed, or meeting online.  Contact your ministry or group leader with any questions.

March 20, 2020

To the faithful of St. Catherine’s:

It is doubtless by now that everyone’s lives have been impacted in some way by the global pandemic, some in more extreme ways than others. The government restrictions on our lives have tightened many times over the last couple weeks. The restrictions on the celebrations of the sacraments do not appear as if they will be lifted any time soon. In light of all of this, I would like to share a few thoughts with everyone.

This is not a Lent experience that I think anyone expected when we began on Ash Wednesday, but it is the one that we have been given. I encourage everyone to continue your disciplines of praying, fasting and almsgiving leading into Easter to the extent that you are able and to the extent that makes sense. Many are processing now what may be a very different financial situation in the coming months, so perhaps certain aspects of Lent may need to be re-evaluated and adjusted based on our new reality. The same can obviously be said for those who may have made a special commitment to come to Mass at certain times during Lent. I encourage you to think: how am I able to adjust this in a way that makes sense? What am I able to do instead if a certain practice needs to pause for a while? What about praying the rosary, the divine mercy chaplet, or times of quiet reflection with the Gospels? If I find myself unable to make financial donations, am I able to give perhaps a little more of my time? Am I able to check in with a neighbor or family member who may need some help?

I encourage everyone to make sure that Sunday is still the Lord’s day and that you and your household are taking special time for prayer and reflection on our faith. Continuing the habit of Sunday celebration of our faith is especially important in abnormal times. Links are on the website for livestreamed Masses as well as copies of the Sunday readings if that is helpful. Homilies will also be posted every week around midweek. As a reminder, during the duration of the outbreak, the faithful are dispensed from their obligation to attend Mass on Sundays. Church bells across the Archdiocese will be ringing at noon each day as a sign of solidarity. I encourage families to pray the Angelus at noon as a sign of spiritual communion.

As we may not be done with government restrictions put forward in an effort to slow the spread of the virus, I was reminded of St. Paul’s words to the Romans: “Let every person be subordinate to the higher authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been established by God” (Romans 13:1). The Apostle saw it as the duty of Christians to be obedient to justly established government. In that light, Christians have a responsibility to be responsible citizens and to do our part in the effort our governments at the state and federal level are making to slow the spread of the virus. It is very difficult since it does constitute a major disruption to normal life for most, but please be conscientious.

I encourage those who have not yet switched over to online giving to consider it as a way to continue giving to the parish while many operations have been suspended. By way of being just and caring to our employees, the Archdiocese has told parishes to continue to pay our employees their regular salaries and wages during the outbreak, so our expenses are still near normal levels while Mass is suspended. Please consider doing what you are able to do. Registration for Online Giving is on the front page of our parish website.  It can be used for a one-time gift as well as ongoing giving, and for donating to St. Vincent de Paul.

Our St. Vincent de Paul group has been very active during this time period. The city of Seattle has issued an eviction moratorium which is helpful to the immediate needs of many, but the economic impact of the pandemic is only just being felt by many others. Food donations are a need right now and can still be dropped off at the parish during the posted hours I sent out last week. The church is still open Monday-Saturday.

During this period of social distancing, if you have a need that the parish may be able to help out with, please give us a call and we will do our best to help.

In Christ,

Fr. Patrick Sherrard


Please continue to visit our webite for resources at

The Angelus prayer

The Angel of the Lord declared to Mary:
And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Behold the handmaid of the Lord: Be it done unto me according to Thy word.

Hail Mary...

And the Word was made Flesh: And dwelt among us.

Hail Mary...

Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray:

Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts; that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection, through the same Christ Our Lord.


March 13, 2020

To the faithful of St. Catherine’s,

I would like to give you an update on where our parish is right now in this rapidly changing situation.

Beginning this week, we are inviting those who would like to come to pray the stations of the cross to come during the hours that the church is open for private prayer. We will include disposable copies of the stations of the cross which we ask people to use and then dispose of in order to cease the spread of germs.

Please visit the website for updates regarding which ministries are still operational at this point during the outbreak. You can also call the parish office as well for that information, the number will be listed below. The parish website will be updated with opportunities to stay connected with the Mass remotely, including the Pope and the Archbishop’s livestream of the celebration of Mass, as well as gospel reflections for the week. I will continue to post homilies each week as normal which you can also find on the website under the “homilies” tab.

The church will be open for private prayer according to the schedule listed below. Our parishes offices will also be open according to that same schedule, excluding Saturday. In the event of an emergency, you can reach me by calling the number listed below.

Confessions will still be heard at the normal time on Saturday, 3:30pm-4:30pm. We will also be emailing bulletins to those who requested it.

Please remember to pray during this time, especially for those who have been most impacted by the pandemic.

In Christ,

Fr. Patrick Sherrard

Parish phone number: 206-524-8800

Sacramental emergency number: 206-384-2632

Parish website:

Church office hours:
Monday: 9am-1pm
Tuesday: 9am-3pm
Wednesday: 9am-1pm
Thursday: 9am-1pm
Friday: 9am-1pm
Saturday: 1pm-5pm
Sunday: Closed

March 11, 2020
A message from Fr. Patrick Sherrard

To the faithful of St. Catherine’s:

This has been a difficult and unprecedented time in our region. Out of charity for our neighbor and in the interest of public health, extreme measures are being taken to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

By order of Archbishop Etienne, all public celebrations of the Mass across the entire Archdiocese have been suspended.

Confession will be offered at its normal time on Saturday at 3:30pm. In light of this new announcement from the Archbishop, the plan to institute confession on Sundays during Lent from 9:30am-10:20am is postponed.

While Masses have been suspended, a link to the daily Mass reading will be on the front page of the parish website on top of the right column.  Sunday homilies will continue to be posted on the website under the homily tab. I strongly encourage everyone to set aside particular time on Sunday to pray, read the Mass readings and take time to reflect on them and offer your own petitions and a prayer of thanksgiving.

Please watch the personal message from Archbishop Etienne. The link is on the front page of our website at  

I know that for many this will come as a shock and sadness. In both good times and in moments of turmoil, prayer that comes from our faith remains our surest support. In that spirit, I will offer to you the prayer to Our Lady of Seattle provided by Archbishop Etienne:

Holy Mary,

We come before you as spiritual children in great need, seeking your intercession, and asking that your mantle of love surround us to console, protect, and lead us to your son Jesus.

We entrust all of God’s family, especially the church in Western Washington, into your immaculate hands. With your son Jesus’ gentle power you can undo any knot in our church, and in the lives of believers who entrust themselves to your care. Today I ask that –through your intercession, and that of St. James, our guardian angels, and the faithful in our Archdiocese – we may be free from every spiritual and temporal ill, and be safely led to encounter your son’s merciful, sacred heart.

Our Lady of Seattle, Undoer of Knots, pray for us!


Below are listed other opportunities to listen to and/or watch the celebration of Mass:

Spiritual Communion and Daily Mass on the Radio

Spiritual Communion and daily Mass can be heard on all Sacred Heart Radio stations and on the App.

5:00am LIVE and 9:00am Encore

Sacred Heart Radio Schedule for Review and Posting

SHR Radio Stations

Seattle:  AM 1050, FM 100.3

Spokane: AM 970, FM 106.1

Yakima:   FM 88.1

Olympia:  AM 1240, FM 104.7

Tacoma:  AM 1180


     EWTN Global Catholic Television Network: Catholic News, TV ...

And Mass can be viewed on EWTN everyday at 5:00 am, 9:00 am, 4:00 pm, and 9:00 pm.  

Watch EWTN live:


March 6, 2020

We are concerned with the spread of coronavirus and want to make sure we are guided by clear information to be responsible and prudent in decision-making in response to this virus.  Please read below for our current measures.


Per diocesan recommendations, we are following guidelines from the King County Public Health department in canceling or postponing any non-essential meetings or gatherings, particularly those that entail the gathering of over 10 people

At this time this applies to:

  • St. Catherine coffee hours
  • CLOW
  • Sunday School
  • Fr. Patrick’s bible study
  • St. Catherine Pub Night scheduled for March 14
  • Lenten Family Movie Night scheduled for March 20
  • St. Catherine School Mother/Son event
  • Confirmation classes for week of March 8-14.
  • CYO sports at our King County and Snohomish County parishes and school gyms for Friday, March 6th-Sunday March 8th.
  • The St Vincent DePaul meeting on March 9
  • St Vincent DePaul Helping Hands this weekend, March 7-8, 2020

Check back for updates to this list.

If you belong to a small St. Catherine group, please contact your ministry leader for information on your regular meetings.

We will continue to celebrate Mass as scheduled, implementing the protocols listed below.

You may fall into a category for which the health department recommends you not attend large gatherings.   For those who have vulnerable health conditions and cannot not attend Mass, you may consider yourselves dispensed from attending Mass during the duration of the coronavirus outbreak in our area.


We recently emailed changes to protocols at Mass as recommended by the Archdiocese.  We have already implemented these practices:

  • If you are sick or feel you are getting sick, stay at home and do NOT attend Mass. Missing Mass due to illness is not sinful; it is prudent and shows care for your brothers and sisters.
  • During Mass, at the Sign of Peace, simply say, “Peace be with you,” instead of offering your hand.
  • During Communion, the Eucharist will only be offered in your hand, rather than on your tongue. Additionally, we will refrain from offering the Precious Blood from the chalice at this time.

We ask parishioners:

  • Please assure your contact information is up to date at the parish office, especially email addresses for newsletter updates.
  • Consider bookmarking our website to stay up-to-date on communications.
  • Consider using electronic giving options in lieu of weekly envelopes.
  • Remember to pray - Catholics have always joined together in prayer during difficult and challenging times. May we do the same today, loving God and our neighbor. In times like this, we have the opportunity to live out Jesus’s command to love God and our neighbor. Let’s continue to pray for everyone involved – especially as we continue our Lenten journey.

May we take our inspiration from St. Clement of Rome:

We beg you, Lord, to help and to defend us. Deliver the oppressed, pity the insignificant, raise the fallen, show yourself to the needy, heal the sick, bring back those of your people who have gone astray, feed the hungry, lift up the weak, take off the prisoners’ chains. May every nation come to know that you alone are God, that Jesus Christ is your Child, that we are your people, the sheep that you pasture. Amen.”

March 4, 2020

Dear parish community,

With an increasing focus on the coronavirus around the world, we wanted to assure you that our team continues to monitor the situation. Without causing alarm, we believe it is prudent to remind you of our customary health precautions whenever there is an outbreak.

Our response to this spreading virus must reflect how we, as disciples of Jesus, love our neighbor and love God. In caring for all members of our community — especially the elderly and the vulnerable — we are carrying out the mission of the church. We must do our part to help prevent the spread of the virus.

Thank you

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