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.
News From the Temple
5th Sunday of Lent
Fr. Dominic DeLay, OP
I discovered the following news article archived online this past week. I think the challenge for us, as I read the article, is to see ourselves in as many of the people in the article as possible and to resist considering how other people we know compare to the people in the article. In other words, the more we can recognize ourselves as sinners, the more good news there is for us today.
At the temple yesterday, large crowds were reported at a near stoning. Temple guards and Roman police reported no injuries. They have been on high alert during the busy Feast of Booths.
Apparently, the incident began when a popular new teacher came to the temple for another day of teaching. Each day, the crowds have gotten larger, eager to listen to the increasingly tense debates between the teacher and the Pharisees about his credentials. Some even say the Pharisees and chief priests are looking to execute him for blasphemy and sent their militia the day before to arrest him. However, it was reported that the militiamen were spellbound by the teacher and failed to carry out their orders of arrest. Eyewitnesses report that the crowds yesterday were already getting restless when a group of prominent Pharisees and their lawyers and militia broke in, escorting a woman they claimed to have found in the act of adultery.
Says one of the lawyers, "All we wanted to know was whether or not we should stone her. Moses says yes, but this rabbi has a record of finding ways to issue decrees of mercy. We hoped he could help us find mercy for this woman." Another lawyer for the Pharisees, though, secretly claimed that the whole affair was a trap set for the rabbi. "They wanted to stone him, not the woman," he reported. A source close to the woman agrees that she was part of a trap. "Look, no one has been stoned for adultery around here for years. Why should she get stoned? I've been telling her to be more careful, but still..." But most of the crowd sided with the Pharisees. Said one supporter, "They're only doing their job. Someone has to restore moral order to society."
One eyewitness maintains that the rabbi, when addressed by the Pharisees, seemed not to care at first. Almost as if he weren't listening. "I thought he might be drunk," says the eyewitness. "Or a bit touched. Everyone was waiting for him to speak, but he just bent down and started drawing in the sand with his finger. Doodling."
Others, though, say that he was actually writing. But there was no small dispute as to the content of the writing. One onlooker thinks she saw him draw a cross or a "t" so that he could write two columns, one for pros the other for cons. Some claim he wrote physical descriptions down to report to the authorities. "He was taking names and was going to kick some Pharisee phylactery," said one young man.
Others claim he wrote specific accusations against the onlookers, especially the Pharisees. Still others claim he was writing passages from the Torah. Says one witness, "I heard he was writing in some sort of code." Yet another onlooker speculated that he was writing his last testament and will. One person said, "Frankly, I think he was just scared or confused and was stalling for time." Yet none of these witnesses actually saw the writing for themselves.
Eventually, say onlookers, the rabbi stood up and made his pronouncement: "Whoever hasn't sinned should throw the first stone." This bizarre pronouncement caused great confusion at first.
Said one person at the scene, "I wasn't really sure what he meant by that. I thought I heard it wrong, but my husband heard the same thing. And my children. They were really looking forward to a good stoning, and until he said this, I was afraid they might have to go home disappointed. We try to teach the children good family values, and this is a fun way for the whole family to learn together. My children wanted to go first, but I wanted them to wait until we figured out if this was a trick. Also, I wanted to give the woman's poor husband and children the first shot."
A spokesman for the Pharisees explains that the rabbi unfairly drew attention away from the matter at hand. ''Besides," said the spokesman, "who of us hasn't sinned? But it's not as though we are adulterers."
One of the Pharisees reported that the rabbi had blasphemously claimed to be sinless. However, the Pharisee could not account for the rabbi's apparent disinterest in taking action himself.
Some of the eyewitnesses say the adulteress taunted her accusers, challenging them to throw their stones. One witness claimed that she even challenged them to also stone the man she had allegedly been found with. The man was apparently not at the scene, although some say that he was a Pharisee himself, maybe even planted by his brethren. Still others say the woman begged rather than taunted the Pharisees.
The Pharisees, though, were taking counsel with one another and their lawyers. Said one onlooker, "Those guys can't do anything without arguing about it first. I thought we'd be there all day." Her husband countered, saying, "But they have to be careful. I heard that some other lawyers have been talking about a radical idea, taking the Pharisees to court for that stoning that went bad last year."
Tension was apparently at its highest when the rabbi bent down and once again started writing or drawing in the sand. Again, reports vary about what he wrote. Some say he was drawing a line from which people could throw their stones. But these reports cannot be verified.
Witnesses say the old woman -- some say it was the adulteress' own mother -- stood next to the rabbi and readied her stone. One of the lawyers claimed that the Pharisees can take credit for this turn of events. It was only fitting that the woman's own mother should cast the first stone, as her shame was greatest. However, at least one witness claims that the old woman wasn't the mother but someone the Pharisees claimed was the mother.
The old woman drew back her stone to throw it. As she did, she glanced at the rabbi. "That was her mistake," said the lead lawyer for the Pharisees. "This man is possessed somehow. He frightened her. We are considering pressing charges against him for interfering with the execution of the judgment."
The following account was reconstructed from sometimes contradictory testimony: The old woman dropped the stone and walked away. The crowd murmured, but then another old woman dropped her stone and walked away, following the first woman. The crowd grew silent. And, one by one, they dropped their stones and walked away, leaving only the Pharisees and their lawyers. Even the Pharisees' militia walked away. The temple guards walked away as well, although it is disputed whether their leaving was to protest the stoning or to allow the stoning to proceed unhindered. They correctly assumed that the Roman police would follow them and the crowds rather than remain behind.
Meanwhile, says the lead lawyer, the rabbi merely kept writing in the sand, as if no one else existed. Finally, the Pharisees and their lawyers walked away. Said the Pharisees' spokesman, "The Pharisees wisely and compassionately chose not to cause a public disturbance. Rather, they will have their day in court, as prescribed by Moses in such instances."
Apparently, no one dared stay to watch what happened next. The same spokesman for the Pharisees reported hearing that the rabbi was crazy and planned on stoning the woman himself.
When this reporter arrived on the scene, there was only the chief priest, who was smoothing the sand with his sandals. No writing could be found. However, there was a mysterious trickle of water on the deserted square.
No one in the surrounding area could or would identify the woman, her partner in crime, or her husband. The rabbi's entourage claimed that he was busy praying and would be unavailable for comment. Others say he is hiding from the Pharisees and that they are now even more determined to execute him.
One old woman, who declined to be identified, could only say, half afraid, half overjoyed, "This man. He is doing something new. He is doing something altogether new."
God's Lost and Found
4th Sunday Lent
Luke 15, 1-3, 11-32
Fr. David Orique, OP
Focus: God's Lost and Found.
Function: To remind hearers how God's searches and waits when we are lost.
I. Lost and Found
A. "What's the bag, Dave?" Well, it's a "lost-and-found" bag. Let's look inside to see what's in there. There's a stuffed lamb. That's cute; isn't it? (By the way, this is the Lenten season, so don't be sheepish about going to confession, if you've been baaaad! It seems I'm taking it on the lamb. Don't chop me up.). There's a coin. That's interesting; isn't it? (Penny for your thoughts? This is a quarter; your thoughts are worth more than when this expression was first "coined;" since it came into currency.)
B. "Lost and found" is an important theme in today's reading from the Gospel of Luke. In fact, in Luke's Gospel, there are four "lost and founds."
II. Luke's Lost and Found
A. The first "lost and found" is early in Luke's gospel: the beloved story of the boy Jesus in the temple (Luke 2:41-52). Mary and Joseph found the lost Jesus conversing with the scholars of the Law; they were amazed at His understanding and answers. There's even a refrain associated with this story: "Little Jesus lost and found, something's lost that must be found, so will YOU please look around!"
B. The other three "lost and founds" are located in the fifteenth chapter of Luke. Scripture scholars refer to them as the Parables of Mercy.
C. There is the parable of the lost sheep (Luke 15: 4-7). When the shepherd found the lost sheep, after searching the hills and valleys, he called neighbors and friends together to rejoice that the one sheep will be reunited with the other ninety-nine.
D. There is the parable of the lost coin (Luke 15:8-10). When the woman found the one lost coin, after searching the crevices and crannies, she called her neighbors and friends to rejoice that the one coin will be reunited with the other nine.
E. There is today's parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32). When the father saw his lost son returning, after waiting for him, he called for feasting and celebrating.
III. God's Lost and Found
A. Each of these parables teaches us something about God's "lost and found." They offer us an image of God, as someone committed to finding us when we are lost, bringing us home, or waiting until we come home. (God's leaving the light on—the Eternal Light of Divine mercy.)
B. Just as the shepherd sought, God searches for us until we are found. Just as the woman looked, God looks for us until we are found. Just as the father waited, God waits for us to return home—to receive the divine embrace, the eternal ring, and the sacred cloak.
C. Yet, how will we be found? How will we return home? We are found when we recognize that, like the lamb and the coin, we are valuable to God. We return home, when like the younger son, we recognize that we are lost without God's mercy—mercy that guides us to lose a false sense of ourselves.
D. God's "lost and found" is filled with individuals like these two brothers. The younger-brother types have lost a false sense of themselves— a false identity built on pseudo-freedom, material riches and carnal pleasure; they have been welcomed home and found God's mercy, compassion, inclusion and openness. The older-brother types are more problematic, although they also need to lose a false sense of themselves— a false identity built on exclusion, power and legalism; they stay home rather than seek to know the world and the people around them, a world and people filled with ideas and understandings that would liberate them from fear and suspicion. For those older-brother types, the world, certain individuals and experiences are to be avoided.
Both brother-types need to lose something: one type needs to lose an over- heated desire for earthly attractions; the other type needs to lose a cold sterile other-worldliness.
What do we need to lose? And what do we need to find?
A. Because we are valuable to God. God searches for us. God finds us. God waits for us. For we are lost without God.
B. During Holy Week, we will rejoice that the union of the Son of God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity with our human nature in the person of Jesus Christ resulted in our redemption. Because God valued us, Jesus Christ became poor, stripped of dignity to manifest God's mercy, compassion, inclusion and openness to the world and to all people. Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, in a sense, lost Himself for a time, so that we might find the God who searches for us. During the Easter Season, we will rejoice with family and friends that Jesus Christ paid to redeem us, the price of this Divine coinage allows us to enter God's eternal home.
C. Oh, there is one more thing left in God's "lost and found." What's in the eternal bag, Dave? We are in God's "lost and found" bag. But who are we like, the younger sibling or the older sibling? Will we lose ourselves to truly find God or will we find only the God that we want and so lose our welcome in to God's eternal (home) banquet of rejoicing and celebrating?
For the Universal Church, may all Her members see their God-given dignity as well as how much God values, searches and waits for them..., [pause] let us pray to the Lord.
For leaders of nations, may they see and hear the needs of those they are called to serve, especially the most poor and vulnerable..., [pause] let us pray to the Lord.
For all those who feel excluded from this Eucharistic table, for whatever reason, may we find ways to welcome them home to this Sacred Meal of life and love...[pause] let us pray to the Lord.
For Fr. John and the retreatants to whom he is ministering this weekend..., [pause] let us pray to the Lord.
For all people who suffer loss due to war and violence, especially the millions displaced and the hundreds of thousands killed in the Darfur region of Sudan and in Iraq..., [pause] let us pray to the Lord.
For all those who will travel during the coming weeks to serve, to worship, or to rest may they reach their destinations and return home safely and renewed..., [pause] let us pray to the Lord.
..., [pause] let us pray to the Lord.
And for your prayers...
The Capital Campaign for the Dominican School of Philosophy & Theology
Lk. 13: 1-9
Fr. Michael J. Dodds, OP
Today, I'd like to say a few words about the Gospel and then tell you about the Capital Campaign at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology or DSPT as we call it.
I think there's one word in the Gospel today that can key us in on the meaning of the parable of the gardener and the fig tree and allow me to segue into the Capital Campaign.
That word is: "fertilizer."
The fig tree in the parable is not doing very well. The owner wants to cut it down, but the compassionate gardener says, "No, no! We'll give it special treatment." So, he plans to spread fertilizer around it, cultivate it, and see what happens.
I think sometimes in our spiritual life when we're not doing as well as we might, we may notice that any number of things are happening to us that seem disagreeable, unwanted, irksome or annoying.
At those times, we might apply the parable and ask, "What is God doing in our lives, and is it something like what the gardener is doing to the fig tree?" Perhaps God is also providing opportunities for growth through those disagreeable events that touch our, as the gardener provided for the fig tree. Heavenly fertilizer? In any cases, God's care for us can take surprising forms.
The same word can lead into the next part of the homily if we combine it with a line from the musical, "Hello Dolly." It's one of Dolly's favorite sayings: "Money is like manure; it's not good unless you spread it around."
So the Capital Campaign offers you a chance to "spread it around," hopefully in the direction of the Dominican School.
What is DSPT and why is its mission important to the Dominicans? First, I can tell you it's important to this Dominican since it's my job. I'm in residence here at St. Mary Magdalen's Parish. I enjoy the parish community very much and help out as I can, but my assignment from the province is to teach philosophy and theology at the Dominican School.
So what happens at the Dominican School? I think we can sum it up by looking at the past, present and future. We'll begin in the future.
The school is where the brothers of our Province are educated in theology, preaching, and pastoral ministry, to prepare themselves to work in the parishes and Newman centers of the Province. --In places like St. Mary Magdalen's.
So, DSPT is a hopeful place as it prepares our brothers for their future in the province. When my brother was young, he went to the minor seminary in Seattle. In the stone over the main door was a Latin phrase: "Spes ecclesiae in seminario (The hope of the Church is in the seminary)." But the young students there had their own way of translating it: "The hopes of the popes are in these dopes."
So our hopes for the future of the province are in the Dominican students at DSPT. In this way, the future of the school is also your future here in this parish, since the brothers studying there today will soon be serving here.
Looking to the past, we might consider the Dominican tradition that we teach, the tradition of St. Thomas Aquinas. One mark of Aquinas's genius was his openness to many different avenues of truth. Some in the Middle Ages when he lived were suspicious of the newly discovered writings of the pagan Greek philosopher, Aristotle. But Aquinas saw a truth in them that he could use in his theology. He used Aristotle often, and called him "The Philosopher."
He also recognized truth in the thought of the Jewish thinker, Moses Maimonides, and called him simply "Rabbi Moses." He saw value also in the Islamic tradition of Averroes and Avicenna, and called Averroes "The Commentator."
Aquinas could see truth in all these different sources yet not lose sight of the unity of all truth in God, who was for him the "First Truth." In our world today, truth can seem fragmented. So many sects and factions, each with a bit of the truth and hostile to others, warring against one anther. How often such tensions are manifested in the violence of our times.
It's important, then, to be in touch with a tradition, a wisdom, that knows how to bring together different factions into a unified vision of truth. Such was the work of Aquinas. Such is the tradition carried on at the Dominican School.
In the present, the school is an apostolate of the Western Dominicans that wants to open its tradition to a broad variety of students-- our own student brothers but also those of other religious orders as well as lay students, men and women. Today half the student body are lay students.
The school is part of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley-- nine schools and various centers forming an ecumenical and interreligous consortium. Three of them are Roman Catholic: Franciscans, Jesuits and Dominicans-- you can't get much more ecumenical than that. But there are also six protestant schools. So ecumenism becomes a daily reality. Last spring, for instance I gave a special reading course to a doctoral student from Korea who was also a Presbyterian minister. He wanted to learn the tradition of Aquinas. So the two of us read Thomas's treatise on the Trinity in Latin.
Through its philosophy program, the school is also interreligious in the students it teaches. Last year a Jewish woman graduated from our MA Philosophy Program, and this semester I have an Islamic student in my class on the philosophy of the human person according to Aquinas. He is a leader of the Shiite community in Hayward who wants to learn Aquinas's ideas on the human person as he shares with our students the tradition of the Islamic philosophers.
So the school includes a mix of students, one tradition sharing with another, coming to mutual understanding. All of that is happening right here in Berkeley, just a few blocks from this parish, at the corner of Arch and Vine.
Why a capital campaign for the school at this time? For years our school was located entirely in Oakland at St. Albert's Priory and open exclusively to Dominican friars. When we became the first Roman Catholic school to join the Graduate Theological Union in the sixties, we eventually moved our classes and administration to Berkeley to be able to take advantage of the class offerings of the other schools and allow them to participate in ours.
We rented a building for this for about thirty years until, a couple years ago, we got kicked out when the owners wanted it for their own use. As it turned out, that was a good thing since we had been wanting for many years to have a permanent location with our own campus in Berkeley.
Providentially, just when we needed a building, the former Temple Beth El property at Arch and Vine became available. We bought it and renovated it for $6.4 million, turning it into a beautiful space for all our academic needs.
But that has left us with a sizeable debt. So we have begin a $5 million capital campaign in all of our Dominican parishes and Newman Centers to pay the remaining debt and ongoing expenses.
Most academic institutions have alumni associations to help them out with such things. We have many alumni, but it happens that most of them have made a vow of poverty, so aren't much help in this case.
So we depend on you, the lay people of parishes, for help. You've probably seen the pledge card for the Capital Campaign. It offers an opportunity to make a 3-year pledge as a special gift to the Dominicans at this time in our history.
All of us Dominicans continue to be grateful to you for your support through the years. Each year you are generous in our Rosary Sunday collection for our students at St. Albert's. So many of you have contributed to the annual Alemany Dinner and to the special fundraising boat trip and dinner auction last month-- where the bidding was truly awesome.
We remain grateful for your past help, even as we come with yet another request and with our fervent prayer that God continue to bless you for all your generosity to us.
For more information on the Capital Campaign & a pledge card, please contact me: email@example.com
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.
Mission West Newsletter
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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.