Vocations find their true meaning in Christ
Three young men share their stories as they are just days away from receiving an irreversible grace of being ordained priests. They speak about how they were influenced by others and how they could not avoid the call from God to be men who serve others.
Click here to see their video.
Keeping the Light Burning
Your prayers, service and donations help us to keep the flame of Dominican Vocations bright in the Western United States. Please do consider making a regular contribution for future preachers for the salvation of souls.
A New Campus with Improved Facilities
The Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology
expands their graduate school and moves into a new property.
Slideshow: Ceremonies for the new DSPT
God's Invitation to Co-Creation
27th Sunday, OT Mark 10, 2-16
Fr. David Orique, OP
Focus: God's Invitation to Co-Creation.
Function: To invite hearers to accept God's invitation to co-creation.
I. The Two Creations
Be creative! Be very creative! Be co-creative! Be co-creative with God!
A. In the beginning, God created. God created all things out of nothing, ex nihil; this was the first creation. In time, God the Father sent the Son, the Creator of all. The Son became a creature like us, lived among us, died for us and resurrected to offer us the possibility of New Life. Jesus Christ's resurrection was the second creation. The work of the first creation culminated in the greater work of our redemption, the second creation. As creatures of the first creation, we were brought into the second creation by baptism; we began living as this New Creation—the fullness of which will be realized in our own resurrection. We participate in both creations: we participate physically and spiritually.
B. We are all invited to co-create with God. There are many examples of our co-creation with God. We co-create with God when we cultivate the land, build buildings, heal the sick, care for others, engage in writing, gaze at the stars, play sports, etc. These expressions of our human potential are all forms of co-creation with God. Whenever we exercise our God-given abilities to create, we are in partnership with God.
II. Co-Creation of Marriage
A. In today's Gospel, Jesus refers to the partnership of marriage. Sacramental marriage is a special type of partnership with God and another. The spouses, wife and husband, co-create with God in their exclusive love relationship and any children they may have.
1. In Matrimony, the couple's marital love is to witness to the faithfulness of God's love. Creating a loving marriage is a life-long process—a developing process. There is no guarantee of success. Love is not a package received on the wedding day—it is a lifelong unwrapping of the marital covenant with God. This is why it is crucial to choose a life- partner wisely—so that this union will truly "work" as a partnership with God in one's spousal and parental relationships.
2. Most spouses exercise the power to co-create with God, to generate new life—to bring children into this world. Most are also co- creative partners with God in caring for children...for those who come into this world "trailing clouds of glory" as Wordsworth described children.
B. In today's Gospel, Jesus teaches us what is so special about children in God's creation. Jesus says that the Kingdom of God belongs to them. This is because little children are so powerless and dependent; they receive everything as gift. Accordingly, Jesus instructs us to be like children—to accept and cherish God's creations and our own creative potential as pure gift.
III. The Continuing co-creation of former spouses
In today's Gospel, Jesus also addresses divorce—a common and difficult reality of modern life. In addition to divorce, there are other causes of the dissolution of marriage: separations and death.
A. God continues to invite these individuals who were formerly married to co-creative partnerships. God does not abandon those whose sacramental unions ended. God is always faithful, especially in the midst of pain, change and loss. As Catholics, we believe that suffering is redemptive when it is united to the pain, brokenness and crucifixion endured by Jesus. Such suffering creates new understandings in us, and helps us to grow in compassion, in resilience, in faith, hope and love.
B. The divorced, separated or widowed individual is called to "re- present" Christ in the pain, change and loss. An individual's life is not defined by one decision or one set of circumstances. Because God walks with each individual, the experience of a severed union and of the "re- founding" of one's path is meant to be a new type of co-creative partnership with God.
Let us all, whether single, married, divorced, separated or widowed, be creative!
Be very creative! Be co-creative! Be co-creative with God!
For our Church, may all Her members actively co-create with God in order to build a more just and peaceful world, (pause) Let us pray to the Lord.
For leaders of nations, may the creative power of God guide all their deliberations and actions, (pause) Let us pray to the Lord.
For all Christians, especially those who suffer the pain of the loss of a special relationship, may God's Spirit comfort them and a generous faith community support them, (pause) Let us pray to the Lord.
For all those from our Newman Center on retreat at McKenzie Bridge this weekend, may they deepen their co-creative partnership with God, (pause) Let us pray to the Lord.
For our own faith community gathered here, may we continue to give loving support to the creative endeavors of all students, faculty and staff, (pause) Let us pray to the Lord.
On this Sunday, designated as Mental Illness Awareness Sunday, may God abundantly bless those suffering from mental illness and those who care for them, (pause) Let us pray to the Lord.
And for your prayers...
On Relationship with God
26th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Fr. Bernhard Blankenhorn, OP
When you come to Church, what do you pray for? Do you ask God for help in finding a spouse, or perhaps to fix your marriage? Do you want him to aid you in finding a better job, or perhaps just a job? Do you seek relief from financial stress, to pay off debt that burdens you? Perhaps you'd like to have a nice condominium one day, or a nice house to raise a family. Nowadays, even a simple house can cost a great deal of money. Perhaps you'd like to have a good retirement, and live a good long life, to stay in good health and not suffer too much.
From our youth, we've been taught to pray for these things, and we should. We naturally seek these natural blessings from God. They are all created goods, reflections of God himself, who made them all. None of this is bad. The Israelites also prayed for such natural blessings. In the Old Testament, God and Israel struck a kind of deal. Israel would obey the commandments and worship God alone. The Lord would bless them in return, giving them fruitful spouses, many children, land and security. If Israel obeyed, it would be prosperous and live in peace. We see Moses working out this kind of deal, and it seemed to function rather well for a while. All of it was intended by God to lead Israel into a closer relationship with him. By answering their prayers and loyalty with blessings, he proved to them that he was real. He showed them that he was powerful, wise and merciful. The natural blessings were a means to draw Israel to God.
But eventually, Israel began to stray from its promise. The Israelites would look over their fence at their gentile neighbors, with their different cultures and religions, and notice that they were also blessed. Sometimes, the pagan gods seemed to provide more blessings than the Lord, so many Israelites started to worship different deities. It became a constant problem in the Old Testament. It is not as if the Israelites were truly interested in their neighbors' gods for their own sake. They essentially saw them as more effective means to the natural goods that they sought. Israel had turned God into a tool. They primarily sought not a relationship with God, but the things he could produce for them.
The system broke down, and this is precisely what the apostle James announces to us in the second reading. There are wealthy Christians in the community for whom James has rather harsh words. We really have to hear the mocking tone of the letter: "Come now, you rich, weep and wail over your impending miseries. Your wealth has rotted away, your clothes have become moth-eaten, your gold and silver have corroded ... it will devour your flesh like a fire. You have stored up treasure for the last days." Most of us probably would not invite James to the next party that we're hosting! The wealthy Christians in his community probably look quite pious on the outside. They come to Church regularly and say their prayers. The Jewish members of this wealthy Christian elite probably would have considered their material means a sign of divine blessing. They seemed rather content with themselves. They practice injustice toward the poor, but they probably are not doing this because they enjoy being cruel. Few except the mentally disturbed enjoy being unjust. Rather, these wealthy Christians mistreat the poor because they have made money their god. They have turned God into a tool to gain wealth. James points this out in the middle of the text: "you have stored up treasure for the last days." Their ultimate end is their financial security and prosperity, not life with God. It is the greatest object of their hope, their future paradise. James announces that they will in fact become like the object of their deepest desires. Their flesh already rots like their coins of money. The punishment of hell has already started for them. But James teaches a more radical idea: from now on, wealth is not a sign of divine blessing.
We find the same teaching on the lips of Jesus in the Gospels. Jesus never promises his disciples natural blessings. This would have shocked his fellow Jews. Certainly, he promises 30 and 100 fold of families, spouses, brothers and sisters and houses, but the sheer number tells us that such language is metaphorical. It is symbolic of abundant spiritual blessings. In fact, Jesus promises his followers that they will be poor, persecuted, social outcasts and live hard lives. The old deal that God struck with Israel has changed, because Israel kept turning God into an instrument instead of making him the ultimate end. We can see why the Gospel of Wealth that is so popular in America today is so problematic. It takes a temporary pedagogical tool that God used in the Old Testament and turns it into God's eternal decree. The Gospel of Wealth directly contradicts the teaching of Jesus. It is stuck in the old, broken system, one that we cannot go back to.
This means that we cannot relate to God primarily as to the source of natural blessings. We certainly should pray for these created goods, but they cannot dominate our relationship with him. So if the old system is broken, what has taken its place? What should be the primary way by which we relate to God?
There is a striking image that comes to dominate the biblical teaching on the love of God. Beginning in the Old Testament, and intensifying in the New, one finds the power of spousal love as a favored image for our relationship with God. The Song of Songs, that marvelous poetic hymn about the wedding of Solomon, has long been recognized as a powerful symbol of the human soul's love for God and his love for us. The prophet Hosea also appropriates this theme. God speaks to Israel's heart in the desert. She has gone after other lovers, but now he woos her back to her home. In the New Testament, St. Paul speaks of Christ's love for the Church as that of a bridegroom sacrificing himself for the bride, to purify her and make her holy.
In the Book of Revelation, we encounter the very last description of the Church's relationship with God. It is a great wedding feast. The Church, the community of believers, is a beautiful bridge bedecked with jewels coming to wed her husband, the lamb of God, Jesus himself.
But exactly how does this apply to our relationship with God? Spousal love centers on loving the person for his or her own sake. Often, a relationship might begin where one loves how the other makes me feel, or for what the do for me. This is a kind of immature love that must grow into the mature love that seeks the good of the other for their sake. Perhaps this explains why America has such a high divorce rate. Perhaps one or both spouses never learn this mature love that looks beyond what the other does for me. We can see that profound love for the other in any healthy marriage rather easily. The object of such love is the mystery of the person. Each spouse dives into the infinite ocean of the other person, and simply seeks to behold their goodness. The fact that this brings one satisfaction or good feelings is completely secondary. Mature love seeks the good of the other, and refuses to turn them into a tool.
A mature relationship with God thus seeks to dwell with him not to gain something for myself, but primarily just to enjoy his presence, to behold his goodness. God reciprocates this spousal love. The great Dominican mystic St. Catherine of Siena cried out in one of her ecstasies: "God is drunk with love for you, he is inebriated with love." God does not just love you, he is in love. This is the height of spousal love to which he calls us, simply to fall in love with him. And when we do, we will act the way lovers do. Two people who are in love will do anything to be with one another. They do not ask, "Does he want me to change?" or "how far am I willing to go to make this relationship work?". Rather, lovers do anything to remain in love. It is the same with God. When we are in love, we do not measure how much we have to change our lives, or ask whether we have to give up a certain lifestyle. The very question becomes absurd. Lovers don't make calculations or set conditions. The lover does whatever it takes to remain with the beloved.
The 14th century Dominican Meister Eckhart used to travel up and down the Rhine Valley in Germany preaching to the farmers. He would tell them: "Some of you love God the way you love your cow." They loved their cow not for its own sake, but because it gave them milk. If we are not careful, we can treat God in a similar way. And so, when we come to pray to God, we must ask ourselves: do I want a relationship analogous to that of a farmer and his cow, or do I want a relationship with the divine spouse who is drunk with love for me?
Campaign for Dominican Friars
Support the Western Dominican Province
Mission West: Campaign for Dominican Friars is a capital campaign to raise critical funds for the support of our mission of evangelization and preaching the gospel in the Western United States, Mexico, South America and other places world-wide. Our mission begins by forming and educating our novices and student brothers to become good priests and brothers, zealous for Christ and His Gospel.
We must also care for our aged friars who, having dedicated many years in service to the people of God are now offering their continued service in prayer during their retirement, often requiring specialized care. This is why our new, three-year effort to raise $15 million is subtitled Campaign for Dominican Friars. We need and greatly appreciate your generous support. Can you help today?
A pledge of $25.00 a month from each person served by the Western Dominican Province over a four year period would make the total reach at least $15m. Some might be able to give more, others less, but if all could participate our goal would be easily reached.
Fill out the pledge cards at your local parish or Newman Center served by the Western Dominican Province or make a recurring donation now at our donation page.
|TOTAL as of Mar 30:||$945,617|
Please help us reach our goal.
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Building A Faithful Church
Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology
At DSPT we are a community engaged in study that is rooted in tradition and provides answers to today's challenges.
"Undoubtedly one of the strengths of the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology is the ability it fosters in its students to dialogue, on the intellectual level, with contemporary society ....The faculty is both academically prepared and doctrinally sound."
- 2008 report of the Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education.