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Welcome to another episode of Cathedral Square featuring your host, Fr. Christopher Smith.

On this week’s program, we visit with a married couple who have a wealth of fun an interesting stories to share. Their names are Tom and Joanne Peters, and they have been married for more than 50 years. To top it off, they just happen to be the owners of the Christ Cathedral Gift Shop, which is housed right here on the campus of Christ Cathedral in Garden Grove.

Listen as Tom & Joanne share their amazing and inspiring journey of faith together.






Original broadcast date 7/10/21


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

On today’s enlightening broadcast, Rick asks Father questions about his life that are biographical in nature. This is a truly fascinating conversation! Be sure to SHARE this podcast with a friend or neighbor.






Originally broadcast on 6/12/21


One of my fondest childhood memories is listening in fascination with my
Holy Family elementary school classmates as our teacher read aloud to us. 

The stories I remember most come from the classic C.S. Lewis tale, “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.” 

The vivid mental images of the magical wardrobe, the snowy crunch of forest paths, and the wonders of the fantastic Narnia captured my young imagination. As an adult I can see plainly the allegorical references to Jesus (Aslan the lion), Mary (our heroine, Lucy), Satan (Lucy’s evil brother, Edmund) and the Jewish people (Mr. and Mrs. Badger), among many others. As beloved as the seven-volume “Chronicles of Narnia” was to me as a child, I was thrilled to read them our three children. 

Until fairly recently I was unaware of Lewis’s close friendship with faithful Catholic J.R.R. Tolkien, while I knew of his serious scholarship. I love thinking about the two of them quaffing pints in an Oxford tavern as they debated Catholicism or critiqued each other’s works of fantasy.  

Besides “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,” our children loved Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” and the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy as much as the Harry Potter series.  

Lewis biographer Joseph Pearce notes that the two men bonded over their experiences in World War I, the loss of their parents early in life, and their literary and teaching careers. “They both avoided contemporary culture, neither had a car nor would drive one, and both largely ignored politics and the news,” Pearce writes. “And in their fledgling efforts as novelists, they served as each other’s first readers. ‘The unpayable debt that I owe to him was not influence but sheer encouragement,’ Tolkien wrote decades later. ‘He was for long my only audience.’” 

Perhaps surprisingly, Lewis never embraced Catholicism. As Pearce writes in Catholic World Report, “A lesser known but nonetheless powerful part of C.S. Lewis’ legacy is the impact that he has had on the conversion of countless numbers of people to the Catholic Church.  

“This is indeed an astonishing phenomenon considering that Lewis never became a Catholic himself, unlike many other literary converts, such as John Henry Newman, Gerard Manley Hopkins, G.K. Chesterton, Evelyn Waugh, and Graham Greene, to name but an illustrious few,” Pearce writes. 

He says that his friendships with people like Tolkien helped convert Lewis from atheism to Christianity. But like other scholars, Dr. Thomas Howard, writing in, speculates that Lewis – raised Protestant in Northern Ireland – opposed the papacy and thus never seriously considered becoming Catholic. 

This is somewhat ironic, considering that many prominent Catholic authors mention Lewis frequently as a key influence on their work. I find it poignant that as close as he came, Lewis never entered the Catholic Church.  

After all, Lewis “believed in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, which he referred to as the Blessed Sacrament; he practiced auricular confession; he vehemently opposed female ordination, condemning in forthright terms the danger of having “priestesses in the Church”; he declared his belief in purgatory and in the efficacy of praying for the dead; and, last but not least, he crusaded against the errors and heresies of theological modernism,” Howard writes.  

“It is perhaps, therefore, not so surprising that C.S. Lewis has ushered so many people into the Catholic Church.” 


At Christmas, our senses come alive. We savor a steaming cup of cocoa, sniff the spicy smell of cloves and cinnamon in the kitchen, enjoy twinkling lights on our tree.  

And everywhere – shopping, baking, commuting, and working – we hear the familiar notes of traditional and newer Christmas carols. One Los Angeles-area FM radio station – KOST 103.5 – began playing Christmas music this year on November 8.  

Still, many of us have no idea about their history, how Christmas carols developed, and what they mean. 

The ubiquitous songs we hear repeatedly each holiday season have their roots in ancient pagan chants, but in English the first Christmas carols appeared in a 1426 book by John Awdlay, a chaplain in Shropshire, who listed 25 carols probably sung by groups of wassailers who went caroling from house to house.  

Publication of Christmas music books in the 19th century helped to spread carols’ popular appeal. The first appearance in print of “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen,” “The First Noel,” “I Saw Three Ships,” and “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” was in “Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern,” published in 1833 by William Sandys. The Victorian era gave rise to such favorites as “Good King Wenceslas” and “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear.”  

Christmas carols have some surprising history and meanings. 

  • “The 12 Days of Christmas” actually was written as an act of rebellion, created centuries ago when Catholicism was outlawed. Each verse references religious beliefs but, sung as the carol, it could be performed in public without fear of persecution. “True love” refers to God and “partridge in a pear tree” stands for Jesus dying on the wooden cross. 
  • “Carol of the Bells” wasn’t about Christmas at all. It was a Ukrainian folk chant called “Shchedryk” that welcomed the spring and described a bird flying into someone’s house to tweet good fortune. Composer Peter Wilhousky heard it and wrote the English lyrics. 
  • “Do You Hear What I Hear?” written by Noël Regney and Gloria Shayne Baker, was penned as a response to the Cold War. When sung in a church, “a star, a star, dancing in the night with a tail as big as a kite,” refers to the star of Bethlehem, but also describes a nuclear missile. 
  • Based on the 1863 poem “Christmas Bells” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the song “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” was written when his son, Charles Appleton Longfellow, joined the Union Army as a soldier during the Civil War. Charles did so without his father’s permission. Having just lost his wife in a fire, Longfellow turned to poetry as an outlet for his sorrow. 
  • Irving Berlin, a Russian Jewish immigrant, wrote “White Christmas.” Legend says he wrote the song, which contains just 54 words and 67 notes, while working away from home and missing his family. “White Christmas” aired on the radio shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and, when performed overseas the following Christmas, it reminded homesick soldiers of their families. 
  • “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” the story of the scrappy young reindeer who felt like an outcast but ended up saving Christmas, was written by Robert L. May. Having skipped grades, May was younger than his classmates and felt that he didn’t belong, so he wrote himself into Rudolph.


On this week’s program, Deacon Steve Greco welcomes C.R. (Chad) Stewart to the program. Chad has just completed a book that is already making a big impact in the lives of young people. It’s called “Britfield and the Lost Crown.”

It’s been said that about 90% of all the young adult adventure books on the market are based on occultism, witchcraft, demigods or some sort of nefarious agenda. Our guest today aims to do his part to take back our children’s minds and


“Britfield” is a fast-paced young adult adventure novel  that took several years to complete. Tune in and hear all about this fascinating tale!

Visit the web site at:






Originally broadcast on 9/15/19


“Joined by Grace: A Catholic Prayer Book for Engaged and Newly Married Couples” by John and Teri Bosio. Ave Maria Press (Notre Dame, Indiana, 2017). 136 pp., $9.95.

“Forever: A Catholic Devotional for Your Marriage” by Jackie Francois Angel and Bobby Angel. Pauline Books and Media (Boston, 2017). 163 pp., $15.95.

“Prayers for Catholic Couples: With Reflections from Pope Francis’ ‘The Joy of Love,'” compiled and edited by Susan Heuver. Word Among Us Press (Frederick, Maryland, 2017). 167 pp., $11.95.

Whether they know it or not, married couples today need lots of prayer to live their vocation well. They always have, but perhaps today they may need it more than ever. Three recently published books approach this need in rather different ways.

Of the three, the most like a traditional Catholic prayer book is “Joined by Grace,” in which John and Teri Bosio have compiled a great many traditional Catholic prayers, from prayers from the Mass to litanies to praying with some of the saints to other devotions, such as the rosary and the stations of the cross, each with a brief explanation.

For couples already connected well to a parish and mainly comfortable with formal prayers, this may be quite helpful; however, it’s unfortunate that these prayers and devotions aren’t linked more specifically with the joys and challenges that marriage presents.

The second book, “Forever” by Jackie Francois Angel and Bobby Angel, is designed as a four-week exploration of the theology of the body from St. John Paul II, a theology that some couples have found more helpful than others. It tends to be rather didactic and not as devotional as a prayer book often would be, perhaps suitable for a couple to read aloud to one another daily, but what the Angels have done here requires a considerable time commitment on the part of a couple.

Last, but not least, is “Prayers for Catholic Couples,” which includes brief excerpts from Pope Francis’ 2016 apostolic exhortation “The Joy of Love” (“Amoris Laetitia”). Susan Heuver has done a fine service for couples in making insights from this compassionate document easily available to couples for their reflection.

In his introduction to his pastoral letter, Pope Francis explained, “It is my hope that, in reading this text, all will feel called to love and cherish family life, for ‘families are not a problem; they are first and foremost an opportunity.'” That tone indeed comes through in this little book.

Pope Francis talks about the lack of perfection in families: “No family drops down from heaven perfectly formed; families need constantly to grow and mature in their ability to love.”

He observes about marital fidelity that “just as a good wine begins to breathe with time, so too the daily experience of fidelity gives married life richness and ‘body.’ Fidelity has to do with patience and expectation. Its joys and sacrifices bear fruit as the years go by and the couple rejoices to see their children’s children. The love present from the beginning becomes more conscious, settled and mature as the couple discovers each other anew day after day, year after year.”

He even discusses parenting: “It is also essential to help children and adolescents to realize that misbehavior has consequences. They need to be encouraged to put themselves in other people’s shoes and to acknowledge the hurt they have caused. … It is important to train children firmly to ask forgiveness and to repair the harm done to others.”

After each brief excerpt from “The Joy of Love” Heuver includes a reflection question or two and a short prayer for the couple to share. These offer an opportunity for a couple to reflect on their lives on the run, which is often the only opportunity they may have.

All three of these books of prayers could be helpful for couples trying to live a faith-filled, sacramental marriage in a world that seems to value change and superficiality instead.


In celebration of its 40th anniversary, the Diocese of Orange recently released two new books that chronicle its 40-year history. Both books are available in the Diocese’s online store at

“Call to mission: The Diocese of Orange–40 years and counting…” a beautiful coffee table book, has been introduced to mark this historic occasion. This inspiring book tells the story of faith and development for each parish and school in the Diocese and shares the overall journey of faith for the Diocese over these past 40 years. Photos, historic images, and flowing narrative tell the story of the Diocese of Orange, now the 10th largest in the Country. ($30;

A second book titled “Together we journey. Together in Faith” is an inspiring graphical novel that tells the story of the Catholic Church in Southern California beginning with the Missions founded by Saint Junipero Serra, through the founding and exponential growth of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange, to the historic acquisition and renovation of the Christ Cathedral campus. This is a beautifully illustrated story of the dynamic and multifaceted journey of faith for Catholics in Orange County, California. The books are available in hard cover ($15; and paperback ($10;