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.
The Gift of Ears
Fr. Dominic DeLay, OP
Here at the end of the Easter season, we proclaim again the same gospel passage we proclaimed on the 2nd Sunday of the season, the passage which tells of Jesus' appearance to the fearful disciples on the evening of the day he rose from the dead. He twice bids them peace then breathes the Spirit on them, giving them the power of forgiveness.
But today's passage from the Acts of the Apostles ushers in the beginning of a new season, a season of Pentecost. We no longer number the Sundays of the summer and fall as Sundays after Pentecost, but why not consider today not only the end of Easter but the beginning of a season of Pentecost? Really, we live not only in the season of the Spirit but in the age of the Spirit. Ever since the Spirit came upon the disciples, humanity has been living in the age of the Spirit.
"Suddenly from up in the sky there came a noise like a strong, driving wind which was heard all through the house...Tongues as of fire appeared which parted and came to rest on each of them. All were filled with the Holy Spirit. They began to express themselves in foreign tongues and make bold proclamations as the Spirit prompted them. Staying in Jerusalem at the time were devout Jews of every nation under heaven...They [said] in utter amazement...'each of us hears them speaking in our own tongue about the marvels God has accomplished.'"
The tongues as of fire prompted an incredible diversity of tongues, perhaps even ears. It almost sounds as if, while the disciples were speaking in many tongues, each listener heard all the disciples speak the listener's own language. All without those convenient Star Trek translating devices.
In fact, today's passage from Paul's first letter to the Corinthians skips over the part where Paul names some of the manifestations of the Spirit, including the gift of different tongues and the interpretation of tongues. The manifestations of the Spirit also include the gifts of uttering wisdom and knowledge, and the gifts of faith, healing, miracles, and prophecy.
Some of these gifts aren't familiar to many of us, but each of us baptized in Christ has been given gifts of the Spirit, whether they're on Paul's list or not. Those recently confirmed may be especially aware of the gifts given to them by the Spirit.
But what's really remarkable about these many gifts is that they are all given for the common good. It's easy for us to neglect others' gifts or even our own, and it's also easy for us to forget that these gifts are for the sake of everyone else, not ourselves. With last Tuesday's decision by the California Supreme Court to uphold the ban on same-sex marriage, many of our baptized brothers and sisters feel in a deeper way the pain of separation. They may even feel that they don't have gifts to offer the rest of us.
Are we diligent in making sure they know that we value their gifts, that God has gifted them, that their gifts are needed for the common good? Perhaps even their same-sex orientation is a gift for all of us. While official church teaching is that a homosexual orientation is a sickness of sorts and requires great sacrifice, we all know that from sickness and adversity can come especially deep gifts to use for the sake of others.
Paul also teaches in today's passage that we are one body. Homosexuals and heterosexuals share a body. We are one body, male and female, young and old, people of all colors, terrorists and the soldiers that fight them, pro-life and pro-choice, immigrants and descendants of immigrants, the guilty and the innocent (and any of us that aren't little children aren't in the innocent category). We are all one body. We all drink of the same Spirit.
And surely that Spirit is ready to douse us with the gift of interpretation of tongues. Put in another way, the gift of listening. Are we ready, in the midst of our fear, for a season of listening to those who are in pain, and listening to those who disagree with us or with official church teachings, such as the dignity of all life, the evils of war and torture and execution, the priority of the poor? What can others tell us, what can they teach us about how to serve them? What gifts do our enemies bear for us, and we for them? May our enemies grant us forgiveness, and may we give them peace.
What's in a Name?
Matthew's and Jacquelyn's Wedding, May 23, 2009
Matthew 22, 35-40
Fr. David Orique, OP
Focus: What's in a Name?
Function: To remind Jacque and Matt of the importance of their names—names as Christians, as a married couple, and as God's ministers.
What's in a name?
A. Matt, you have been a member of the Newman Center community for a long time. I am not sure exactly when you first starting attending Newman, but I do remember almost every Sunday you sitting in the same area—in the front-middle section, the congregation's right, and our left. You are a faithful man, a consistent man... During your early years at Newman, you were generally happy, BJ (Before Jacque). Yet, AJ (After Jacque), you became ecstatic, elated, euphoric, and exhilarated—as was Jacque. After getting to know you both better during the marriage preparation process, your happiness and joy are understandable. You enjoy each other.
B. Jacque and Matt, your parents are proud of you; your family and friends are happy for you. This pride and happiness is the result of seeing the effort and love they invested in your lives bear fruit. Your parents must be especially joyful; they gave birth to you and they provided for your start in the world. Your parents, in collaboration with God's grace, as well as your own choices, have formed you into good Christians and fine human beings.
C. Jacque, as you might recall, I teased—ribbed you (pun intended from the First Reading) a few weeks ago about how much your parents (Brian and Laura) loved you. When you explained the wedding celebration, in all its glory, you described quite the "royal wedding." Frankly, these days are truly a celebration... You are having an amazing wedding celebration to send you and Matt off on the adventure of your married life together. The initial celebration began with The Excelsior... (Marcia and Mark) Next was the wedding Nuptial Mass at the Newman Center... after that the Downtown Athletic Club (Finally, after almost eight years in Eugene, I get invited to the DAC)... Then King Estate Winery.... This is an amazing list of venue names to celebrate and to remember your wedding celebration, as you commence your married life together.
II. What's in a Name?
What's in a name?
A. While speaking with Matt and Jacque about their wedding celebration—their big celebration; the time their world would rock; the moment their lives would change—change in a major way, I heard of and was inspired by a number of comments—some were quite profound and inspiring; a few were especially playful and humorous. (Jacque and Matt are educated and thoughtful, as well as happy and joyful.)
B. Playful and humorous... Jacque taught me the name of a "particular" kind of bride—the type of bride she wanted to avoid being denominated: "Bridezilla." Since, I am not a wedding coordinator, I do not have to tame or handle such species—these creatures transmorphed by liturgical obsession and celebratory mania. Yet, I thought to myself, "If there are brides named 'Bridezillas', could there also be grooms named 'groomensteins'"? I have not seen or experienced any such mutation of personas in Jacque or Matt.
C. Humorous and playful too were a few other names that came to mind. I thought of a couple of wedding-related movies: "Bride Wars" (Maybe there should be one called "Groom Battles?"); "Runaway Bride" (How about "Out of Control Groom"?); "Meet the Parents" (How about "Greet the Parents?") Perhaps, all of us might know additional amusing names. Beside humorous or playful names, there are our own names.
D. Our names are important. They communicate something about us. They say something about those who named us. They say something about who we are called to be as Christians.
III. Jacqueline's and Matthew's Christian Names
What's in a name?
A. Jacqueline and Matthew, Matt and Jacque, your Baptismal and Confirmational names are laden with meaning and tell us something about you.
B. Jacqueline's Name
1. Jacque, your baptismal name (given to you by your parents) is from the Hebrew and means "may God protect." Your confirmation name (chosen by you) is Catherine of Alexandria; she was an inspirational figure of strength and conscience. She was a saint and martyr, and also a noted scholar.
2. Jacque, as you move forward in life, may God protect you. May you protect what God has entrusted to you from this moment forward—your married life with Matt. Jacque, as you grow in your married life with Matt, may you be a figure of strength and conscience, as well as a scholarly student and saintly actor of the Christian faith.
3. Jacque, in addition to loving "the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind," you will need to "love your neighbor as yourself." From this day on, Matt will be your most important neighbor. Jacque, to be a good neighbor to Matt, means not walking all over him or wiping your feet on him, in a word: he is not your "door-Matt."
4. Jacque, your soon-to-be husband is an individual made in the image and likeness of God, called to be your equal, and equally called to service and sacrifice with you, for each other, and for those that God brings into your lives. Ultimately, the Christian life is about service and sacrifice, living the example of Jesus Christ.
C. Matthew's Name
1. Matt, your Baptismal name (given to your by your parents) is from the Hebrew and means "gift of Yahweh." Your Confirmation name (chose by you) is Thomas More. In addition to being the patron saint of this parish, he too was an inspirational figure of strength and conscience. Like Catherine of Alexandria, Thomas More was a martyr and a scholar.
2. Matt, as you move forward in life, may you treasure the gift of Yahweh. May you be a gift of Yahweh to all—a gift to all those that God will entrust to you from now on. Matt, as you grow in your married life with Jacque, may you be a figure of strength and conscience, as well as a scholarly learner and saintly protagonist of the Christian faith.
3. Matt, in addition to loving "the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind," you will need to "love your neighbor as yourself." Beginning today, Jacque is your most important neighbor. Matt, to be a good neighbor to Jacque, means you need to remember she is not here to meet your every need, request, whim or caprice; that is, she is not your "Jacque-of-all trades."
4. Matt, your soon-to-be wife is an individual made in the image and likeness of God, called to be your equal and equally called to service and sacrifice with you for each other and for those that God brings into your lives. You see, ultimately, the Christian life is about service and sacrifice, following the model of Jesus Christ.
IV. Christian Name and Christian Identity
What's in a name?
Everything is in a name—in the name of being a Christian, which means forging a new identity.
A. In forging a new identity as a Christian couple—you merge your individual single lives together to fashion a new life together. Your life has changed—changed in name, identity and reality. Your names are no longer associated with your former single lives; you are now a couple. Your identity is no longer tied to your previous single life; you are now a pair Your reality—after you both say "I do," will no longer be the same; you will be joined together in the sight of God and in the presence of all of us as witnesses. You are transformed by the Sacrament of Marriage into instruments of God's grace for others.
B. Married name, hyphenated name, or maiden name, your identity will be united from this day forward. For the union of strength and commitment, you will need a lot of patron saints to intercede for you, to encourage you, to inspire you... In addition to your maternal and paternal names sake, could those other supporters be family, friends, and colleagues?
C. Your parents, your family, friends, and especially those who share the name Christian are there to support you and to inspire you to remain committed to your Baptismal and Wedding Vows.
So "...be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (even when talking on your "I-phones or when playing on your "Wii-consoles," ) with gratitude in your hearts to God" Be thankful, Jacque and Matt, Matthew and Jacqueline, Jacqueline Catherine of Alexandria and Mathew Thomas More, wife and husband, husband and wife, Christian and Christian, one in the Lord.
Remain in My Love
6th Sunday of Easter
Fr. Dominic DeLay, OP
Remain in my love. That's such a beautiful and powerful metaphor, isn't it? Remain in my love. As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. Dwell there. Luxuriate in my love. Allow your joy to be complete. My joy is yours. You are my friends. I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. Remain in my love.
But remaining in Jesus' love for us is not only relaxing into his heart. It's also taking care that all our actions remain in the boundaries of his love, his heart. Love one another as I love you. Lay down your lives for one another. Go and bear fruit that will remain. This I command you: love one another.
Some American Catholics have been concerned that the University of Notre Dame's conferral of an honorary degree on President Obama shows support of abortion. Some would argue that another one of the President's blindspots is the Catholic presumption against war. But the priest who heads the university has pointed out that the President supports many Catholic teachings about justice. And the President has actually committed himself to reducing the number of abortions, a practical goal that we Catholics might do better at supporting even as we dialogue with one another and the rest of America about the wisdom and possibilities of legislation that prevents abortion.
Some Catholics have protested the President's visit to Notre Dame while others have praised it as an opportunity for dialogue. It's sometimes difficult, isn't it, to know whether we'll be heard better through protest or dialogue? Perhaps the presence of protesters will urge the rest of us to indeed initiate dialogue, to make sure we're doing what we can to work for justice. And it's sometimes difficult to know when it's time to be heard and when it's time to listen. But what's clear, even if difficult to act on, is that whatever we do, it should be done in love. "Remain in my love."
Pope Benedict has been sharing God's word of love with our brothers and sisters in the Holy Land this past week. He has been encouraging Jews, Christians, Muslims, and others to build on their common commitment to love of God and neighbor, to be "ever mindful of the common origin and dignity of all human persons." In fact, he blessed a new Catholic university where Muslims and Christians will study side by side. If President Obama and American Catholics have failed to sufficiently and appropriately pursue peace, the Pope has repeatedly and firmly taught peace this past week in the Holy Land. Many Catholics have a great devotion to Our Lady of Fatima, whose feast we celebrated this past week. Her great message, of course, was prayer for peace.
Probably all of us are Gentile beneficiaries of the first pope's reaching out to other nations. In today's passage from the Acts of the Apostles, the Jewish followers of Jesus were "astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit should have been poured out on the Gentiles also," and Peter responded, "Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit even as we have?" Today's psalm celebrates this action of the Spirit: "The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power...in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice...all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation by our God. Sing joyfully to the Lord, all you lands. Break into song. Sing praise."
All the nations are called to love. As today's passage from the First Letter of John says, "Love is of God...God is love...In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us..."
Similarly, to return to today's gospel passage, "It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain..." So that we might bear the fruits of justice and peace, let us remain, then, all of us together, in Christ's love for us.
A Tale of Two Mothers
Easter Week V/Mother's Day
Acts 9:26-31; Ps. 22:26-27,28,30,31-32; 1 Jn 3:18-24; Jn 15:1-8
Fr. Dismas Sayre, OP
This weekend, we have the pleasure and gift of honoring our mothers on Mother's Day. So what does that have to do with today's readings? Actually, I think we can tie them together pretty well. I would like to cite the great French Dominican priest of the 19th century, Jean-Baptiste-Henri Lacordaire, in one of his famous conferences, who said of mothers, "To the mother alone it has been given, that her soul during the nine months should touch the soul of the child, and impose upon it predispositions to truth, to gentleness, goodness, the culture of which precious germs she should complete in the light of day, after having sown them in the mysterious mysteries of her maternity." To which this 21st century Dominican replies, "Amen, Amen, Alleluia!"
Yes, our Dominican brother Lacordaire very poetically describes this intimate union between mother and child, especially in the womb. She is bonded in life-giving union to the precious soul in her womb, feeding the child, body and soul, and then preparing him for this life we are living now. It is a connection every bit as intimate and as life-giving as of the connection of the Vine and the Branches that our Lord speaks to us today. There is this very real, very personal bond, that cannot be severed, without damaging the branch, or in this case, the child. Unfortunately, our world is a little over-eager to "prune," shall we say, to sever this beautiful, spiritual and corporeal connection between mother and child. As far as our society and state are concerned, regretfully, the child may be considered a parasite, and the union is only voluntary on the part of the mother. If the unborn child is not wanted, it is cut off, and dies. How sad!
And this relationship between mother and child is not so different, my friends, between Holy Mother Church and Her children, no sir. There used to be a common theme in the art of many churches; I'm sure you've seen it, of "Pie Pellicane, Jesu" or that is, "Jesus, Kind Pelican." A little odd a title for us today, but it was a traditional image, of a mother pelican over its brood. And the mother pelican would pluck at her own chest, drawing out blood from her side to feed her young when in time of mortal famine. She would sacrifice herself for the good of her young, giving of her body and blood. That beautiful, motherly image is, my brothers and sisters, like the connection between Christ and His Church, the same life-giving unity He desires between His spouse, the Church, and Her members.
And yes, although there is no umbilical cord between Holy Rosary Parish or the Catholic Church in general to each of us, that sacrificial, life-giving spirit is just as intimate, just as necessary for us, the children of Holy Mother Church to have life in this world and the next. We are just as united to Holy Mother Church, and She feeds us, especially from the side of the one to whom She is united, Jesus Christ her Lord and Spouse. I would, then, paraphrasing our good friar Lacordaire say, "to Holy Mother Church it has been given, that Her soul, the soul of Christ, during the earthly life of Her children, should touch the souls of the children, and impose upon them predispositions to truth, to gentleness, goodness, the culture of which precious germs she should complete in the light of day, after having sown them in the mysterious mysteries of Her maternity, as Holy Mother Church." The reason that Holy Mother Church exists is the same reason that our mothers exist: to love, to nurture, to form her children, preparing them for the life which is to come in the next world. Just as our mothers prepare us for this life we live outside the womb, so does Holy Mother Church prepare us in this life to be good citizens of the world to which we are born in eternal life.
This spiritual union is also intimate and life-giving, and cannot be severed without damage to the child, any more than you can sever the branch from Jesus the Vine and expect it to live and bear good fruit. And yet, that is what many politicians, many pundits, and sadly, even some Catholics do, or try to do. They try to sever the connection between the Vine and the Branches. They tell the branches, "It's ok, go do your own thing." Most grievously, they try to separate the universal and local heads of the Church from the branches. They say "Oh well, that's just something the Pope thinks," or "That's just something the bishops say, but we know by our poll data that this percentage of Catholics, for example, thinks this is ok, or this is not ok." Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict, wisely reminds us that "Truth is not determined by a majority vote." No, what they are trying to do is hack off the branch from the vine, or sever the children from Holy Mother Church, and plant them instead in the soil of this world, to form a different vine, to bear the fruit of THIS world. Those vines will wither and die, spiritually, for they are cut off from the true life-giving Vine.
So how do we stay united, in this world to the one Vine? By staying united to the bishops. Our local patron, St. Ignatius of Antioch, who learned at the feet of St. John the Evangelist, the disciple whom our Lord Jesus loved, is very, very clear. He teaches his little flock, "Where the bishop is, there is the Church." You have to have that unity to be a living branch in the Vine of the Church of Christ. But St. Ignatius knew that individual bishops could fail and go astray, oh yes, even in his time, so he also lets us know that even he has to be united to the Bishop in Rome. Of the bishop of Rome he says, "You have envied no one, but others you have taught. I desire only that what you have enjoined may remain in force." See how much St. Ignatius loves unity!
And let no one think that this is an archaic teaching, banished to the ashbin of history, for our own Second Vatican Council teaches us, "This Sacred Council... teaches and declares that Jesus Christ, the Eternal Shepherd, established His holy Church, having sent the apostles as He Himself had been sent by the Father; and He willed that their successors, namely the bishops, should be shepherds in His Church even to the consummation of the world. And in order that the episcopate itself might be one and undivided, He placed Blessed Peter over the other apostles, and instituted in him a permanent and visible source and foundation of unity of faith and communion." Notice how we are united! As early as today's first reading, the disciples are afraid of Saul, or St. Paul, because they thought him against the Church, but once they see him acting boldly in unison with St. Peter and the apostles of the Church and what they taught, then they knew that he was one of them, a true branch of the true Vine.
Now, before I get accused of clericalism, I want to be perfectly clear: I, Fr. Dismas, am NOT the vine. I am not DI-VINE either. If you are united with me and not the bishops and the bishop of Rome, you do so at your own risk. If I ever teach you or do anything contrary to what the bishops in union with Rome teach, you can tell me to get lost. Push me aside (gently, though, I have a bad back). The Church, as much as I might not like to admit it, can survive without me, and even without priests. As Vatican II tells us, She cannot survive without bishops, those bishops in union with the pope, in union with Christ. Do not believe anyone who tells you otherwise, who tries to sever that tie between the bishops of the Church and Her believers.
So today, brothers and sisters, let us honor mothers. Let no person, no state ever dare to sever that most precious, life-giving bond between a mother and her child, be it in the womb, in the home, or in the life of the Church. In each of those, let the mother, be she biological or Holy Mother Church, ever seek to raise her children in love and perfect concordance with God's holy commandments. Amen.
Un cuento sobre dos madres
5a Semana de Pascua/Dia de la Madre
Hechos 9;26-31, Sal 22;26-27,28,30,31-32, 1 Jn 3;18-24, Jn 15;1-8
Fr. Dismas Sayre, OP
Este fin de semana, nos toca el gozo y favor de honrar a nuestras madres este Día de la Madre. ¿Qué tendrá que ver eso con las lecturas dominicales? Yo pienso, por lo menos, que podemos conectarlas bastante bien.
Les ofrezco el gran dominico francés del siglo diecinueve, Jean-Baptiste-Henri Lacordaire, que en una de sus conferencias famosas, dijo esto acerca de la madre: "A la madre solamente se ha otorgado, que su alma, durante los nueve meses, tocara el alma del niño, e imponerle las predisposiciones a la verdad, a la mansedumbre, a la bondad, el cultivo de cual germen ella misma debería cumplir en la luz del día, después de haberlo sembrado en el misterioso misterio de su maternidad." A cuál este dominico del siglo 21, yo, respondo "Amen, amen, ¡aleluya!"
Sí, nuestro fraile Lacordaire muy poeticamente describe la unión íntima entre madre y niño, especialmente en el seno materno, nutriéndolo, cuerpo y alma, preparándolo para esta vida en la cual vivimos ahora. Es un vínculo tan íntimo y vivificante como la de la vid y los sarmientos, del cual nuestro Señor nos habla hoy. Hay un vínculo, que es muy personal, muy real, que no se puede cortar, sin dañar el sarmiento, o en este caso, el niño. Desgraciadamente, nuestro mundo está un poco ansioso por "podar," digamos, esta bellísima, espiritual y corpórea vínculo entre la madre y el niño. En lo que al estado y a nuestra sociedad respecta, desafortunadamente, se puede considerar al niño como parásito, y la unión depende de la voluntad de la madre sólo. Si no quiere al niño, se corta la conexión y muere el niño. ¡Qué triste!
Y esta relación entre madre y niño no es tan diferente, amigos, como la de la Santa Madre Iglesia y sus niños, no Señor. Había un tema común en el arte, seguro que los han visto, del "Pie Pellicane, Jesu," o sea, "Jesús el pelicano bondadoso." Un poco raro para nosotros los modernos, digamos, pero era una imagen tradicional de la madre pelicana sobre sus polluelos, rasgándose el pecho, y que con la sangre alimenta a los polluelos, resucitándolos del hambre mortal. Se sacrifica por el bien de sus polluelos, ofreciéndose hasta su propio cuerpo y sangre. Esa imagen bella y materna es, hermanos, como la conexión entre Cristo y su iglesia, la mismísima vivificante unidad que desea entre su esposa la Santa Madre Iglesia y sus miembros.
Claro, aunque no haya un cordón umbilical entre Holy Rosary o la iglesia católica y cada uno de nosotros, ese espíritu auto-sacrificante y vivificante es tan íntimo tan necesario para nosotros, los hijos de la Santa Madre Iglesia para que tengamos vida en este mundo y el próximo, como la de una madre cualquiera. Estamos precisamente unidos a la Santa Madre Iglesia, y ella nos nutre, especialmente del costado de la persona a quien está unida, Jesucristo, su esposo y Señor. Entonces, yo diría, parafraseando nuestro Fray Lacordaire, "A la Santa Madre Iglesia solamente se ha otorgado, que su alma, el alma de Cristo, durante la vida terrenal, tocara el alma de sus niños, e imponerles las predisposiciones a la verdad, a la mansedumbre, a la bondad, el cultivo de cual germen ella misma debería cumplir en la luz del día, después de haberlo sembrado en el misterioso misterio de su maternidad como Santa Madre Iglesia." La razón por la cual la Santa Madre Iglesia existe es la mismísima razón porque existen las madres nuestras: para amar, nutrir, formar a nosotros sus hijos, preparándonos para la vida en el próximo mundo. Como nuestras madres nos preparan para esta vida fuera del seno materno, de semejante modo la Santa Madre Iglesia nos prepara en este mundo para cuando nazcamos a la vida eterna.
Esa unión espiritual también es íntima y vivificante, y no se puede cortar, sin herir al niño, tanto como uno no puede cortar el vínculo entre la vid y el sarmiento, y esperar que viva y dé buen fruto. No obstante, algunos políticos, tal llamados expertos, y tristemente, hasta unos católicos, hacen, o por lo menos, tratan de hacerlo. Tratan de cortar el vínculo, la unión entre la vid y los sarmientos. Les dicen a nosotros los sarmientos, "Está bien, hagan lo que quieran." Y aún más grave, tratan de cortar la unión entre la cabeza de la iglesia, sea local o universal, y sus miembros. Nos dicen "Ah, mira, eso sólo es lo que piensa un papa" o "Es nada más la opinión de los obispos, pero sabemos, gracias a las encuestas del público que tal porcentaje, por ejemplo, dice que esto está o no está bien." Hermanos, nuestro Santo Padre, el papa Benedicto sabiamente nos recuerda, "No se determina la verdad por un voto de la mayoridad." No, lo que están tratando de hacer es podar, dar un hachazo, para que los sarmientos se separen de la vid, o separar los niños de la Santa Madre Iglesia, y sembrarlos en la tierra de este mundo, para formar otra vid, para dar fruto de ESTE mundo. Esas vides se marchitarán y morirán, porque están separados de la verdadera y vivificante vid.
Entonces, como permanecer unidos, en este mundo, a la única vid? Por medio de unirnos al obispo. Nuestro patrón local, San Ignacio de Antioquía, quien aprendió a pies de San Juan Evangelista, quien nuestro Señor Jesucristo amó tanto, lo deja muy, MUY claro. Enseña a su pequeño y querido rebaño, "Dondequiera que esté el obispo, allí está la iglesia." Hay que tener esa unidad para ser un sarmiento vivo de la Vid de la iglesia de Cristo. Pero San Ignacio sabía bien que algunos obispos podrían fallar, hasta en esa época tan cerca a los apóstoles, ah ¡sí, Señor! Por eso, nos enseña que aun él mismo tiene que unirse al obispo en Roma. Sobre el obispo de Roma nos enseña, "No envidiaste a nadie, sino has enseñado a los demás. Sólo quiero que lo que prescribas entre en vigor."
¡Cuánto amó San Ignacio la unidad! Y para que nadie piense que es enseñanza arcaica, desterrada al basurero de la historia, nuestro propio concilio del Vaticano Segundo nos dice, "Este santo Concilio siguiendo las huellas del Vaticano I, enseña y declara con él que Jesucristo, eterno Pastor, edificó la santa Iglesia enviando a sus Apóstoles como Él mismo había sido enviado por el Padre, y quiso que los sucesores de éstos, los Obispos, hasta la consumación de los siglos, fuesen los pastores en su Iglesia. Pero para que el episcopado mismo fuese uno solo e indiviso, estableció al frente de los demás apóstoles al bienaventurado Pedro, y puso en él el principio visible y perpetuo fundamento de la unidad de la fe y de comunión." Dense cuenta del modo en que estamos unidos. Tan temprano como en la primera lectura de hoy, los discípulos, la iglesia tenían miedo de San Pablo, porque lo miraban de enemigo contra la iglesia, pero una vez que lo vieron actuando abiertamente y con valor en unión con San Pedro y los demás apóstoles y sus enseñanzas, entonces supieron que él era uno de ellos mismos, un sarmiento verdadero de la verdadera vid.
Quedemos bien claros, antes de que alguien me acuse de estar en favor del clericalismo. Yo, fray Dimas, de ninguna manera, no soy la vid. Si te unes conmigo, y no con el obispo y el obispo en Roma, hazlo a tu proprio riesgo. No tomo esa responsabilidad. Si alguna vez te enseño o hago algo que sea contrario a lo que los obispos en unión con Roma enseñen, dime "Alárgate de mí, infeliz!" Déjame atrás; dame un empujón al lado... pero suavemente, que me duele la espalda, ¡por favor! La iglesia, por tanto que no me guste confesarlo, si puede sobrevivir sin mí, y hasta sin los sacerdotes. Pero, como nos enseña el Concilio del Vaticano Segundo, no existe sin los obispos, ellos unidos al papa, unidos a Cristo. No crean cualquier fulano que te diga otra cosa, que trate de cortar ese vínculo entre los obispos y los creyentes.
Entonces, hoy, hermanos, honremos a las madres. Que nadie, pero nadie, se atreva a cortar ese más precioso y vivificante vínculo entre una madre y su niño, sea en el seno materno, sea en el hogar, o sea en la vida de la iglesia. En cada de éstas, que la madre, natural o la Santa Madre Iglesia, siempre busque a nutrir y a criar sus niños en amor y concorde a los sagrados mandamientos de Dios. Así sea, ¡amén!
Fr. Carl Schlichte, OP is blogging about his adventures in the Holy Land while he is there with fellow Dominican friars to study scripture.
Fr. Carl in Jerusalem
I will be trying my hand at blogging during the time leading up to and during my six weeks of study of the Gospels (as well as pilgrimages and adventures) from the École biblique et archéologique française de Jérusalem. "O magnify the Lord with me; and let us extol his name together." Psalm 34:4
Witness of Faith
This 3 minute video shows how our Newman students at Arizona State University pray the stations of the cross and witness their faith publicly on campus.
4th Sunday Easter, B
John 10, 11-18
Fr. David Orique, OP
Focus: We Count on the Shepherd; the Shepherd Counts on Us.
Function: To remind hearers to count on the Shepherd just as the Shepherd counts on us.
I. Counting Sheep
A. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten....
Counting. Counting. Counting.
"Fr. David, why are your counting?"
"Fr. David, what are you counting?"
"Are you counting your fingers or toes?"
"Are you counting sheep?"
Hmm, perhaps. Sometimes when we have trouble falling asleep—actually or figuratively, we could count sheep—we might use this numerical nocturnal sleep-aid.
B. However, on this Fourth Sunday of Easter—Good Shepherd Sunday, we are not counting sheep, nor imaging sleeping, but rather visualizing rising. We are visualizing Jesus Christ's rising from the dead, and our rising to the power and the purpose of being Christians—of being followers of the Good Shepherd in this life, as we anticipate our future rising from the dead to the fullness of Life in glory.
C. Each day, as followers of the Good Shepherd, we awaken to and stand in the brilliant dawn of Jesus' Resurrection. We no longer lie in the cold night of death and sin, but we rise in the warm day of Life and love. Each day, we rise from our slumber and embrace the Divine Shepherd's call of service and sacrifice. Just as we count on the Good Shepherd to lead us each day, so too the Good Shepherd counts on us to rise daily to this task.
II. We Count on the Shepherd
A. We count on the Good Shepherd to guide us, to strengthen us with the power of New Life, and to lead us in the purpose of the Christian life, which is faithfulness to the example and reality of Christian service and sacrifice.
B. Our Divine Shepherd, Our Good Shepherd, left us this example of service and sacrifice. In the Gospels we see and hear—and almost tangibly experience—Jesus' service to the poor, the marginalized, and the outcasts. He extended compassion to the poor, fed the hungry, and healed the infirmed. He showed mercy to marginalized, to those considered unworthy of equal respect; He greeted women, and He blessed the children. He welcomed the outcasts; He spoke to foreigners and ate with "sinners."
C. Our Divine Shepherd, Our Good Shepherd, offered Himself as both a real and a symbolic sacrifice. Jesus' death was a real sacrifice—the sacrifice of God-enfleshed-in-human form in the person of Jesus Christ. God Incarnate showed the depths of divine love: although we were far from God, God came close to us—closer than we are to ourselves. God came in the form of a servant offering Himself as sacrifice on a cross, and in this real sacrifice, He demonstrated the reality, the breath, and the depth of divine love.
D. Jesus' death was also a symbolic sacrifice. His death symbolized what we are called to do in His name: to follow the example of His enfleshed self-emptying love; to give our lives away so that all might find Life.
E. This is the message and the meaning of the Christian faith. This is the power and the purpose of being a Christian: to give ourselves totally to service and sacrifice in the name of Jesus Christ; to become the presence of the Good Shepherd to others, especially the poor, the marginalized, and the outcasts. As we give ourselves to this task of our Christian faith, we are transformed—and the world around us is transformed.
F. Such transformation is not easy. To live the example and realty of our Christian life is not easy. At times, it has been done well, historically and presently. At times, it will be done poorly. The past and the present are littered with the mistakes of those who have claimed to be Christians; we too have been, and will be some of those soiling the message and mission of the Good Shepherd. Even so, we turn each day to the Good Shepherd to ask for mercy and forgiveness, to seek guidance and wisdom, so that we might be renewed continuously in our commitment to the power and purpose as well as to the message and mission of service and sacrifice ... and we do this in name of the Good Shepherd—Jesus Christ.
III. The Shepherd Counts on Us
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten....
Counting. Counting. Counting.
No, we are not counting sheep.
We are counting on the Good Shepherd. And the Good Shepherd counts on you, you, you, you ... on us all.
For the Universal Church, may each of Her members hear and respond to the voice of the Good Shepherd by being faithful members of His flock, let us pray to the Lord
For leaders of nations, may their governance inspire their citizens to honesty and justice, let us pray to the Lord
For the millions of people that are forced to migrate, especially because of hunger, war or violence, and for those who care for them, that the Good Shepherd may carry them in His arms, let us pray to the Lord
For those adversely affected by the global economic slowdown and the current flue outbreak, may they be strengthen in the knowledge that the Good Shepherd faithfully cares for His flock, let us pray to the Lord
For those who are preparing to graduate and for those who are facing other transitions in life, may they hear and respond to the call of the Good Shepherd to dedicate themselves to a life of Christian sacrifice and service, let us pray to the Lord
For Fr. Joseph as he prepares for his new assignment and for Fr. Daniel as he prepares to enter our community, that they may always closely follow the Good Shepherd in their service as leaders in the flock, let us pray to the Lord
And for your prayers...
Salvation in Christ Alone
4th Sunday of Easter
Fr. Bernhard Blankenhorn, OP
The Bible is a great book, not only because it gives us God's revelation, but also because it is a marvelous piece of literature. The Bible is filled with colorful characters. For example, take Peter, whose speech we hear today in the first reading from the Book of Acts. Peter is zealous, impetuous and stubborn. He has a tendency to put both feet into his mouth and embarrass himself. Peter tends to act and speak before he thinks. Maybe that's why some of us can identify with him.
Today, Peter speaks to the Sanhedrin, meaning, the official religious leaders of Israel. Again, Peter seems to go a bit overboard. The high priest and others have been interrogating Peter and John about their public preaching. Basically, the Jewish leaders want the apostles to keep quiet about Jesus. Peter's answer is very direct. Miraculous healings are taking place by the power of Christ, the one that they, the Jewish leaders, rejected. Nothing will stop Peter from preaching Christ. Besides, he says, you Jewish leaders have no life with God unless you accept Jesus as Lord.
For many of us, a natural reaction to this rather aggressive speech is that Peter is being his imprudent self again. His zeal may be admirable, but he sounds quite intolerant, doesn't he? Why can't Peter just go off, live his life, and accept the fact that the Jewish leaders are who they are instead of condemning them? Peter sounds terribly closed-minded. His preaching was a direct confrontation with the Jewish leaders' assumption that the Torah, the law of God revealed in the Old Testament, is the way to salvation, to life with God. Peter's teaching also sounds confrontational in our time. He clearly claims that salvation is found only in Jesus. We too may find that idea hard to swallow.
We live in a multi-cultural, multi-religious world. Most of us know good Jews, Buddhists, Muslims or Hindus whose lives are often very admirable. We also know agnostics and atheists who do much good in the world. So we naturally wonder: Shouldn't these good Hindus or agnostics also go to heaven? Doesn't God love them too and want to save them? It doesn't make sense to conclude that all Buddhists are excluded from heaven simply because they don't believe in Jesus. But then how can Jesus be the only savior? Isn't Peter's speech simply wrong? Isn't the Buddhist or Jew saved because he's a good Buddhist or a good Jew and tries his best?
These are terribly important questions, and they deserve an answer. But before we look for a solution, let's back up and briefly consider what one non-Christian religion believes about salvation or everlasting life. We need a glimpse of the big picture so we can better understand exactly what our Catholic faith teaches us about salvation. So let's compare Peter's speech to the teachings of Buddhism on the path to everlasting life. We can learn a great deal about our own faith when we compare it to a different religion like Buddhism.
Buddhism is well-known for its teaching about nirvana. Some people think that nirvana is the Buddhist version of heaven, though that is only half-true. Nirvana is supposed to be a state of absolute liberation, complete detachment and peace. There is no God in nirvana. Buddhism does not believe in an eternal God, just temporary celestial beings that it calls gods. Nor are there human souls in nirvana. The core teaching of Buddhism is that the self does not really exist. What you and I consider the self or perhaps the soul is really a temporary being. You don't really exist as a permanent, immortal individual. So you don't really go to nirvana. Nirvana means that you have overcome the illusion that you exist as an individual self. Buddhist meditation is designed to help you recognize and accept that hard fact. That is why Buddhist meditation is so different from Christian meditation.
Perhaps the most famous living Buddhist teacher is the Dalai Lama. We often hear the Dalai Lama encourage Christians to practice their own religion. This is because he recognizes that certain elements of Christianity can help us Christians attain a better rebirth in the future. As you know, Buddhism firmly believes in rebirth, meaning, all of us have multiple even thousands or millions of lives. In other words, the Dalai Lama does not think that good Christians go to Christian heaven after this life. He's quite convinced that we Christians will be reborn. The Dalai Lama does not think that God or Jesus exists, and so, for him, there is no Christian heaven either. He believes that there is only nirvana. So how do we Christians get to Buddhist heaven, to nirvana? In his writings, the Dalai Lama says that only Buddhists can get there. In other words, if we are good Christians, we can diminish the number of our future lives and perhaps even have the golden opportunity of soon being reborn as Buddhists. And then, in a future life, if we are good Buddhists, we will have the chance to reach nirvana. This is why the Dalai Lama is in no hurry to convert us Christians to Buddhism. He thinks that we can convert in one of our many lives to come. For the Dalai Lama, there is one effective path to salvation, namely, Buddhist teaching and practice, period. Christianity can help in the short-run, but it will never get us to the goal.
It turns out that when the apostle Peter says that there is one path to salvation, he has much in common with the Dalai Lama. Now, I think that neither the apostle Peter nor the Dalai Lama are being narrow-minded. Peter says that there is one path to salvation. In fact, if you look at the major world religions, you will find that they essentially share a similar conviction. Islam holds that submission to Allah is the one way to everlasting life. Most of Judaism says that faithfulness to the Torah is the one path. So claiming that Jesus is the one way to salvation is not intolerant, unless we want to dismiss Buddhism, Islam and much of Judaism as intolerant. But this still leaves us with a real problem, namely: how can the good Buddhist or Jew be saved if Jesus is the only way?
The Bible already gives us a clue that every human being is given a real opportunity to share eternal life with God. In his First Letter to Timothy (2:5-6), St. Paul tells us that Jesus is the one mediator between God and humanity, and that God desires the salvation of every human being. Jesus didn't just come for the lucky few who have heard the Christian Gospel. This is the wonder of God's infinite mercy, the God who employs mysterious means to offer salvation to every person.
In our own time, Vatican II states very clearly that the Holy Spirit gives to everyone an opportunity to be united to Jesus in his Death and Resurrection, but in a mysterious way that is only known to God. For only God sees the human heart. God encounters every human being in the depth of their soul at some point in their life. Vatican II also speaks about Christ guiding persons of good will who have not yet arrived at a definite belief in God. In their striving for objective goodness and justice and in their quest for God, Jesus can begin to work in the hearts of those who do not yet clearly recognize the truth about the Christian Gospel. So perhaps after his life on earth, the Dalai Lama will be quite surprised to find himself in purgatory and then in heaven, adoring the Trinity.
I have a cousin who recently passed away. He was only 42 years old. He had a hard life. He wasn't raised to practice the Christian faith. He rarely encountered religious persons, and I don't think he died as a confessing Christian. I pray for him often, and I pray filled with hope. For I know that Christ met him at some point along the path. Jesus stretched out his hand, maybe once, maybe many times. Did my cousin accept it, perhaps without fully realizing what was happening? I don't know, but I am full of hope.
Jesus died for everyone. The one sure, safe path to life with God is explicitly believing in Christ and following his teaching, practicing the Christian faith. That is why Jesus tells his disciples just before his Ascension: "Those who believe and are baptized will be saved" (Mark 16). But Jesus came to bring every person into eternal communion with him. And so we hope for everyone, without exception. Jesus wasn't just a prophet or a nice guy. He is the Son of God, the one and only savior. Jesus gives eternal life to everyone who accepts the gift.
Gavin D'Costa, The Meeting of Religions and the Trinity (Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 2000), pp. 78-87.
Vatican II, Gaudium et Spes, #22
Vatican II, Lumen Gentium, #16
Good and Gracious Shepherds All
4th Sunday of Easter
Fr. Dominic DeLay, OP
You know the folksy term "the good doctor"? It doesn't just mean the doctor is competent. It also means he or she is good morally. But on top of that, it means he or she is gracious. That's the kind of shepherd the good shepherd is. The Greek word used here implies this graciousness. The good shepherd was even good enough to lay down his life for us.
And so the image of us as sheep isn't so much about who we are -- I don't feel like a sheep, although I don't really know what a sheep feels like -- but about who Jesus is. He isn't just a hired hand -- he doesn't take care of us for the money. In fact, I'm told that pay for messianic shepherds isn't very good. And so we can count on him not to run away when the wolves come. He cares deeply for each of us, more than he cares for himself. Jesus emphasizes that he lays down his life freely -- nobody's making him do it. He doesn't lay his life down for us because he doesn't have any other choice. He lays down his life for us with complete freedom and love.
Like sheep, we are vulnerable to the cruelties of nature and humanity, but as sheep belonging to the good shepherd, we are ultimately completely safe and secure.
Today's passage from the First Letter of John presents us with another image of ourselves: "See what love the Father has bestowed on us in letting us be called children of God! Yet that is what we are." If you felt the limits of the sheep image, perhaps this expands your appreciation of God's love for you. We are flesh of God's flesh. The apple of God's eye.
We are God's children. And God is our father. The notion of God as a father has its limits of course. God is our father and not our father. Our mother and not our mother. Our lover and not our lover. Because these are human terms which can only hint at all that God is for us. There is also the wound for some of not having the experience of a good father. Perhaps an understanding that God is the good father can heal that wound. Still, it's alright if God doesn't seem to present himself or herself to you as the good father but rather as some other good beyond our understanding. You are the apple of God's eye. I hope you're not allergic to apples. At least God isn't.
Sheep. Children. And there's more: "Dearly beloved, we are God's children now. What we shall later be has not yet come to light. We know that when it comes to light we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is." One day, we'll see God unmediated by creation and by language. And on that day, we shall be like God.
Even now we're like God. Even now, baptized into the risen Christ, we are good shepherds, good fathers and mothers, good daughters and sons. Even now, we're endowed with grace and graciousness. We don't fully see God, but God looks on you and says, "She is good. He is good."
Even now, we of all ages are not just sheep or children but shepherds and parents, tending to one another and laying our lives down for one another. In today's passage from the Acts of the Apostles, we find Peter, the main shepherd of Jesus' followers, standing up to the bad shepherds despite their torture. How are you called to be a good shepherd and good parent, and what risks does that involve?
This fourth Sunday of Easter, Good Shepherd Sunday, is often a time when we're reminded that we all have a call. What's your call? Maybe you already know it and are living it. But is God calling you to recommit or refocus? Is God calling you to risk even more?
Fr. Albert [at St. Finbar's, where I'm preaching tonight,] asked me to say a word about my own call as a Dominican, a priest, and a filmmaker and to describe how those elements of my call are related. I believe he wants us to be open to the surprising possibilities of God's call. I see my most basic call as the call to live out my baptism as a Dominican, a member of the Order of Preachers, who live a communal life of prayer, study, and service. Most, but not all, of the Dominican friars -- there are cloistered nuns, active sisters, and lay Dominicans in the Dominican family as well -- most of the Dominican friars are also priests. St. Dominic founded the order because there was a need for educated priests who would be allowed to preach -- at that time only bishops were allowed to preach. Nowadays, all Dominicans -- women and men, contemplative and active, religious and lay -- are challenged to preach, if not at Mass, then on other occasions.
Honestly, I was initially drawn to the Dominicans more because of their joyful communal life than because of their charism of preaching, but I've gradually grown into the life of a preacher. It's a gift to always be praying with God's word. Having to share it with others compels me to reflect first on what God speaks to me. Of course, as a priest, I also have the privilege of leading our eucharistic liturgy. Again, I'm challenged to let the eucharist transform me so that I can lead you in your own eucharistic transformation. My background in singing and theater have been put to good use as a leader of the eucharist. And all of these aspects of my life, as well as my development as a preacher, have been put to good use in the last ten years as a writer and director of films. The Dominicans, as the Order of Preachers and recognizing its rich heritage of artists, has been getting more involved in mass media. And so it is as a Dominican preacher and priest that I make movies, mostly dramatic films intended to reveal God's grace and graciousness in our lives.
How does God call you to reveal his graciousness to others? The mission statement for my film ministry is "In the Dominican tradition of truth seeking, Mud Puddle Films creates contemplative cinema that opens minds to mystery, hearts to hope." May all of our minds and hearts be opened today to the mystery and hope of God's gracious, loving call.
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
The Mission West Newsletter helps to keep your finger on the pulse of the province.
Click here for the latest version in PDF format.
Visit the Other Sites
of our Province
There are links to our ministry sites under Ministries. There are also links to information posted on some of those sites under About Us, including links to the blogs of the Students and House of Studies. Feel free to explore!
Visit also the Western Dominican Province on Facebook
Join our Mailing List
We look forward to sharing the content of our main page and occasional other information. Thank you for your support.
= = = = = = = = = = = =
You may also use this link to change your subscription.
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.