Category: Article

St. Thomas Aquinas, Memorial~Br. Milan Komadina, Novice

Today we commemorate Saint Thomas Aquinas. He was born in Italy in 1225 (only four years after Saint Dominic’s death). In 1244, he entered the Dominicans and in 1245, he moved to Paris (and later to Naples, Rome, and Cologne) to study, teach and write. Written toward the end of his life, Thomas Aquinas’s most noted work is the Summa Theologica, in which he posits five arguments for the existence of God. But, Saint Thomas’s genius is attributed to much more than a single work. He is honored as a Doctor of the Church, and is the patron saint of scholars, schools, and students. Nearly eight-hundred years after his death, his legacy continues to teach much about grappling with truth, learning, and how both are essential to faith.

Today we read in Hebrews 11 about the importance of having faith. In our everyday life we encounter many problems. These problems could be health issues, financial or job insecurity problems, having a bad relationship with some friends or family members and so on and so forth. However, there is one thing that we, as Christians share and it could help us a lot in those hardships. This is called Faith. Faith in God does not only mean that we believe that there is God who created us. It also means that we believe that God is still present everywhere and at any time in our life. He is timeless and he has no limitation in existing at the same time in the past in the present and in the future. Sometimes we see that in the present the things in our life are not as we would like them to be. We hope we deserve better and we feel that our cross might be a bit bigger that we could carry. In those situations it is good to remember Hebrew 11:8-19 saying about Abraham who trusted God and who had full faith which means that he know that all the hardships he was struggling with were there for some reason. He moved to the Promised Land even though he could not know what this new land would bring him. But he trusted that God is in control of the future and he trusted that God had a plan. This chapter reminds us that God also has a plan for every single person. Especially the verses 11 and 12 –

And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.

This is what we could call the Faith in Action. I guess that we all have struggles with having strong faith in absolutely every period of the life. Sometimes we feel unjust, or we feel hurt or we feel that we do not deserve the things that are happening to us. But still, it is important to remember also that Job was the most righteous man of his time and God allowed the devil to make many temptations, loss and hardship to his life. Yes we know the past, and sometimes it can be hard to remember it, yes, we also live our present and we could sometimes feel blue about it, but what we do not know is the future. God is in the future and he knows why we have certain hardships or temptations. But he gave us the Bible and he thought us that we will always have the cross that we can carry. He gave us the faith and he thought us through Abraham what having faith means. As a perfect example of faith is the readiness of Abraham to sacrifice his own son. As we read in verses 17, 18 and 19 –  

 By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son,even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.”Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.

A God example of perfect faith is that Abraham knew that God could even get Isaac back from the death. The lesson about Abraham and the importance of strong faith is the lesson that we all should repeat in our everyday life. People tend to lose or minimize their faith in the moments of hardships. Many years after Abraham, Our Lord Jesus also experienced the lack of faith of his followers when he was sleeping on the boat while there was a storm coming. As we read in Mark 4:35-41. In verse 38 they asked –

“Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

This is the sentence we probably often ask when struggling with the storms of our everyday problems. We are not used to let us be guide by Jesus and trust him. But happy news are that we could always rely on Him because he was the one killing down the wind and calming the storm. And he wants us to be always reminded about the question he asked in verse 40 –

He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

My prayer for today is that we all could have the faith as Jesus thought us. The faith strong as the one that Abraham had. And to always remember that God is in control. Amen.

Mary, The Mother of God~The Rev. Frank Bellino, OPI

It’s quite common for parents to have unique influence in the lives of their children. Of course, that’s not always apparent while the children are growing up but once they become adults, even a word from a parent can have a significant effect. And the mother-son relationship is no exception to that.

Very often, a quiet word from a mother can have a remarkable impact on their child. It can produce a big change in behavior when all manner of alternatives has failed. And it can turn lukewarm interest or indifference on the part of the child into something approaching enthusiasm. Indeed, it’s not unknown for shrewd judges of human nature to approach a son’s mother in order to get her to persuade the son to do something for them. But if that is the case for even the most obstinate son, how much more effective will a mother’s word be in the case of a perfect son?

And that’s exactly what we find in the relationship between Christ and his mother Mary. Christ is the perfect son and Mary is his mother. And like any mother we can expect Mary to have a big influence on Christ her son. So today when we celebrate the solemnity of Mary the Mother of God, the Church affords us a good opportunity to think about that relationship and to give thanks to God for it. But here it gets a little more complicated because Christ is not just only human as we are, Christ is divine also, he is God: Christ is divine and human. And that is effective in the way Mary influences her son Christ.

But what difference? We have to be careful here. Being divine and human does not make Christ any less human than we are, it does not make Christ any less Mary’s son, and it does not make Mary any less Christ’s mother.

Being human is about being a person who possesses human nature; Christ is a person who possesses human nature, therefore Christ is human. Similarly, being a mother is about giving birth to a person who is human, Mary gave birth to a person who is human, therefore Mary is a mother. What distinguishes Christ from us is that from eternity Christ existed as a divine person while we do not. However, in time, through the Incarnation, Christ became human: so, Christ was a divine person who was human. But a divine person who is human, is a person who is human and as such a full and true human being, one who had a mother and was a son to her.

So how does Christ’s being divine and human make a difference in the way Mary influences her son? Well, when a mother tries to influence her son, it is quite likely that the son does not know how things will work out. Indeed, perhaps he does not even care how things will work out. And regardless of whether he cares or not, it is quite likely he can be persuaded to act one way or another. But that does not work in Christ’s case. Christ, as we saw, is divine and human. Christ is God and as such he cannot lack any knowledge and must know how things will work out.

However, God knows all, and God also governs creation providentially and there are no gaps in that destiny. So, we cannot say that God does not care how some things will turn out or is open to persuasion, pleading or any other such thing that we can think about. And thus, it is for God, so it is also for Christ.

But if that’s the case, what role is left for Mary to influence Christ her son? Not much it seems. Thankfully that is not the end of the story. In his wisdom God does bring some things about through our intercession. It’s not that he leaves a gap in his wisdom for us to have our free will. Rather we come to desire what God wants in particular situations, we ask for it and God brings it about.

However, for most of us what God brings about through our intercession is quite small, because we do not play a crucial role in salvation history. Mary on the other hand does play a crucial role in salvation history and so God in his providence does bring about many things through Mary’s intercession.

Hence a prayer offered to God through the intercession of his mother Mary stands a much better chance of being answered than one which is not offered through the intercession of Mary. And that is the way Mary can influence her son, just as we would expect a mother to be able to do.

Just a Shepherd~The Rt. Rev. Michael Beckett, OPI

8And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  9And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.  13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

15And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.  16And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

17And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.  18And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

19But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.  20And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them. Luke 2:8-20  King James Version (KJV)

After 2000 years of Christmas sermons, in hundreds of languages, in different countries throughout the world, and by way of innumerable faith traditions, is there anything new or original left to be said about Christmas, and what it means, that hasn’t been said before?   Perhaps not.  However, like re-reading that favorite book for the 17th time, or watching that favorite movie or television show for the 358th time, even when you know exactly what comes next, what the very next word is going to be, often we find a new meaning or a new slant on something that is as tried and true as Christmas itself.

And so it is with me this year.  The Gospel reading for today  recalls the story of the angels bringing the news of Christ’s birth to the shepherds.  Now, we all know that story.  We’ve heard it many times over, and those of us who cherish “A Charlie Brown Christmas” will always, in some ways, hear Linus quoting from Luke, no matter who is reading that passage of the Bible to us.   We know the story.  We SEE the story in every Nativity scene we pass by.  There is almost always a shepherd near the manger carrying a lamb on his shoulders and another lamb or sheep to be seen somewhere hanging around.    It’s always seemed to me that the sheep and the shepherds were just THERE, minor players in a Christmas play, the “extras” assigned to the kids who didn’t quite measure up to the roles of Mary or Joseph;  they enter stage left, ooh and aah over the baby, and exit stage right, singing “Go tell it on the mountain”, singularly unimportant and taking secondary roles to the more illustrious wise men (who in reality weren’t there at all) and most definitely playing supporting roles to the Holy Family, or just standing around as so much scenery, contributing to the mood and filling up the bare spots in the Nativity scene.  I overheard a conversation recently that made me really think about the shepherds.  While visiting some friends, their cat jumped into the midst of the family crèche and knocked over the obligatory shepherd.  It was chipped.  The younger daughter of the family was somewhat distressed, and to make the little girl feel better, the mother said to her, “Don’t worry about it, Honey.  It’s just the shepherd.  He’s not all that important.”    I didn’t think much about it at the time, but when reading the Scripture appointed for today, it struck me.  Not all that important?  But weren’t they?  Who WERE these shepherds?  Why were they there in the first place?  Why did THEY get the news of Christ’s birth in such a spectacular way?  Who were they that they should be eyewitnesses of God’s glory and receive history’s greatest birth announcement? 

In Christ’s day, shepherds stood on the bottom rung of the Palestinian social ladder. They shared the same unenviable status as tax collectors and dung sweepers. Only Luke mentions them.  When the twelve tribes of Israel migrated to Egypt, they encountered a lifestyle foreign to them. The Egyptians were agriculturalists. As farmers, they despised shepherding because sheep and goats meant death to crops. Battles between farmers and shepherds are as old as they are fierce. The first murder in history erupted from a farmer’s resentment of a shepherd.  Smug religious leaders maintained a strict caste system at the expense of shepherds and other common folk. Shepherds were officially labeled “sinners”—a technical term for a class of despised people.

Into this social context of religious snobbery and class prejudice, God’s Son stepped forth. How surprising and significant that God the Father handpicked lowly, unpretentious shepherds to be the first to hear the joyous news: “It’s a boy, and He’s the Messiah!”  What an affront to the religious leaders who were so conspicuously absent from the divine mailing list.  Even from birth, Christ moved among the lowly.  It was the sinners, not the self-righteous, He came to save.  So is it  really all that surprising that the first announcement of Christ’s birth was to the lowly shepherds on Bethlehem’s hillsides?

Consider the events leading up to Christ’s birth.   Mary was barely 15.  Christ was born to an unwed mother, Mary, a servant girl; Mary the young woman who delivered while only betrothed to Joseph.  He was born in a stable, a cave!   A holy God being born to a couple no different than immigrants, far from home and in a strange city, in a place where animals were kept.  A couple who couldn’t even find a place to stay, turned out of every inn!  It’s all too bizarre. 

Yet this is the God we experience.  This is our claim;  This is the meaning of his very name: Immanuel, meaning “God with us” — with us not just in nice times, but most especially in the times of our lives when we are in the caves, and stables of our lives, when we are turned out of the places we’d like to be, when we are at the lowest of low points, when we are out in the dark, and in the cold like the shepherds.

Our God, the God who comes to us in the person of Jesus Christ, is the God of the oppressed, the repressed, the depressed; the God of the sad, the grieving, the sorrowful; the God of the lonely, the lowly, the poor, the God of the Shepherds; the God of the despised, the destitute, the dejected. Our God is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God who stood with the enslaved Hebrews in Egypt, who led them out of Egypt to a promised land of freedom.  Our God is the God of widows and orphans and stranded travelers. Our God is the God who doesn’t stay neat and tidy and spotless, but comes and stands beside us in our times of deepest need, who comes among us as the child in the dirty manger and the God of the shepherds on the hillside.  The God we’re speaking of dares to join the unsuccessful, the failures, the dispossessed, and the downtrodden;  the God of the Shepherds.

Wherever there is suffering, our God is there. He stands with Zacchaeus, the despised tax collector, and with Bartimaeus, the blind beggar. He is with us when we face cancer, chemotherapy, and radiation treatments. He is with us when we face amputations, operations, loneliness, the loss of a loved one, or even death itself.  The God of the manger and the Shepherd is Immanuel, God with us. At our deepest times of loss and need, in the dirtiest and most embarrassing parts of our lives, God is with us, His rod and His staff, they comfort us.  It is God who glues us back together when we become, like that figure in my friends’ Nativity scene, chipped, flawed, and much less than perfect.

And it is up to us, to demonstrate the love of God, the God of the lowly, the downtrodden, to the world.  We, like the shepherds in the Christmas story, are to be the ones who are to proclaim the good news “which shall be to all people” to all the people of the world.   It is our responsibility as Christians to be the instruments through which God can work in this world.  As was  most famously stated more than four centuries ago by Saint Theresa of Avila:

Christ has no body but yours,
no hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks with compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours, no hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks with compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

My very favorite Christmas carol, “In the Bleak Midwinter,” includes the lines, “What, then, shall I bring him, empty as I am? If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb. If I were a wise man I would do my part.  What can I give Him?  I can give Him my heart.” 

Won’t you, this Christmas, give Him your heart?  Won’t you, like the shepherds in the children’s plays of the Christmas story, be one to “go tell it on the mountain, over the fields and everywhere” that Jesus Christ is born?  Amen.

Getting Ready~The Rt. Rev. Michael Beckett, OPI

Our trees are up, our halls are decked, and the house is relatively clean.  I mean, maybe we’re not quite ready for Charles and Camilla to visit,  but I’d not be embarrassed if, say, William and Catherine or Joe and Jill popped in.  For all practical purposes, we are ready for Christmas. 

What about y’all?  Shopping done?   Decorating finished?  Parties planned?  What does “being ready for Christmas” really mean? 

Today is the First Sunday in Advent.  I’m about certain that every one of us has seen an “Advent Calendar.”  Those cute little things that count down until Christmas.  Whilst they can be fun and exciting, they really have nothing to do with “Advent” though.  Not really even close.  So, one might ask, “What is Advent?”  And, as is my custom, I’m gonna tell ya. 

Since the 900s, Advent has marked the beginning of the church year, and is a season of great anticipation, preparation, and excitement, traditionally focusing on the Nativity of the Christ Child, when Jesus came as our Savior.  During Advent, we as Christians also direct our thoughts to His second coming as judge.

The word Advent is from the Latin adventus, meaning coming,” and is celebrated during the four weeks of preparation for Christmas. Advent always contains four Sundays, beginning on the Sunday nearest the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle, (November 30) and continuing until December 24. It blends together a penitential spirit, very similar to Lent, a liturgical theme of preparation for the Second and Final Coming of the Lord, called the Parousia, and a joyful theme of getting ready for the Bethlehem event.

Advent is a time of preparation that is marked by prayer. Advent’s   prayers are prayers of humble devotion and commitment, prayers of submission, prayers for deliverance, prayers from those walking in darkness who are awaiting and anticipating a great light (Isaiah 9).   

So whilst we are preparing our homes for Christmas, should we not also be preparing our hearts and minds?   We all of us know that Christmas is on 25 December, and that’s when we celebrate Jesus’s birth.  What we don’t know, however, is when Jesus is coming back.

In the Gospel appointed for today, Jesus says to his disciples:
“As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.  In those days before the flood, they were eating and drinking,
marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day that Noah entered the ark.  They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away.
So will it be also at the coming of the Son of Man.  Two men will be out in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left.  Two women will be grinding at the mill;  one will be taken, and one will be left.  Therefore, stay awake!  For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.
Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into.  So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”

As we go about “getting ready” for Christmas, let us not forget what we are really ‘getting ready” for.   I invite each of you to have a most blessed, holy, and prayerful Advent.  Amen.

The Feast of All Dominican Saints~The Rev. Dcn. Scott Brown, OPI

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.  Mt 5:8

Today we celebrate the Feast of All the Saints of the Dominican Order. 

We come together as one Dominican Family today to celebrate not only Our Saints, but also our many Blesseds, Holy Friars, Nuns, Sisters, and Laity who have lived over the past 800 or so years.

We are so privileged to celebrate them as they provide us with an example by which we follow in our religious lives, by their wonderous fellowship in their communion and in their much-needed aid to us by their intercessions to God on our behalf.  We celebrate all of those Dominicans who were faithful in their lives lived with great prayer, silence, and penance, those who have educated thousands of souls, and Third Order members who have sanctified the world.

We celebrate in thanks to God on this important feast day for our Order and turn to the examples of our Saints, their lives, and their intercessions for us to that they may guide us on our spiritual journey.

Our Spiritual Father, Saint Dominic left us a wonderous legacy of teaching and preaching by word and example of how we should live our lives.  It is, then, joyous and encouraging that so many of our Dominican brothers and sisters have been beatified and canonized.

How fitting that the Gospel appointed for today includes these words spoken by Our Lord:

…..but those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age
and to the resurrection of the dead  neither marry nor are given in marriage.  They can no longer die, for they are like angels; and they are the children of God because they are the ones who will rise. That the dead will rise even Moses made known in the passage about the bush,
when he called out ‘Lord,’ the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and he is not God of the dead, but of the living,
for to him all are alive.”   (Lk 24: 34-38)

Let us pray then in the example we have been taught to ask our dear saints to intercede for us, and to thank our God for all the saints of our Dominican Order and for the fruits of our order to be pleasing in his sight by joining in the Dominican Order Litany of Saints:

God, the heavenly Father have mercy on us.

God, the Son, Redeemer of the world have mercy on us.

God, the Holy Spirit have mercy on us.

Holy Trinity, one God have mercy on us.

Holy Mary pray for us.

Saint Mary Magdalen pray for us.

Holy Father Dominic pray for us.

Holy Father Dominic pray for us.

Holy Father Augustine pray for us.

Holy Father Francis pray for us.

Blessed Jane of Aza pray for us.

Blessed Reginald pray for us.

Blessed Bertrand pray for us.

Blessed Mannes pray for us.

Blessed Diana pray for us.

Blessed Jordan of Saxony pray for us.

Blessed John of Salerno pray for us.

Blessed William and Companions pray for us.

Blessed Ceslaus pray for us.

Blessed Isnard pray for us.

Blessed Guala pray for us.

Blessed Peter Gonzalezpray for us.

Saint Zdislava pray for us.

Saint Peter of Verona pray for us.

Blessed Nicholas pray for us.

Saint Hyacinth pray for us.

Blessed Gonsalvo pray for us.

Blessed Sadoc and Companions pray for us.

Blessed Giles pray for us.

Saint Margaret of Hungary pray for us.

Blessed Batholomew of Vincenza pray for us.

Saint Thomas Aquinas pray for us.

Saint Raymond of Penyafort pray for us.

Blessed Innocent V pray for us.

Blessed Albert of Bergamo pray for us.

Saint Albert the Great pray for us.

Blessed John of Vercelli pray for us.

Blessed Ambrose pray for us.

Blessed Cecilia pray for us.

Blessed Benvenuta pray for us.

Blessed James of Varazze pray for us.

Blessed James of Bevagna pray for us.

Blessed Jane of Orvieto pray for us.

Blessed Jordan of Pisa pray for us.

Saint Emily pray for us.

Blessed James Salomonio pray for us.

Saint Agnes of Montepulciano pray for us.

Blessed Simon pray for us.

Blessed Margaret of Castello pray for us.

Blessed Augustine Kazotic pray for us.

Blessed James Benefatti pray for us.

Blessed Imelda pray for us.

Blessed Dalmatius pray for us.

Blessed Margaret Ebner pray for us.

Blessed Villana pray for us.

Blessed Peter Ruffia pray for us.

Blessed Henry pray for us.

Blessed Sibyllina pray for us.

Blessed Anthony of Pavonio pray for us.

Saint Catherine of Siena pray for us.

Blessed Marcolino pray for us.

Blessed Raymond of Capua pray for us.

Blessed Andrew Franchi pray for us.

Saint Vincent Ferrer pray for us.

Blessed Clara pray for us.

Blessed John Dominic pray for us.

Blessed Alvarez pray for us.

Blessed Maria pray for us.

Blessed Peter of Castello pray for us.

Blessed Andrew Abellon pray for us.

Blessed Stephen pray for us.

Blessed Peter Geremia pray for us.

Blessed John of Fiesole pray for us.

Blessed Lawrence of Ripafratta pray for us.

Blessed Anthony della Chiesa pray for us.

Saint Antoninus pray for us.

Blessed Anthony Neyrot pray for us.

Blessed Margaret of Savoy pray for us.

Blessed Bartholomew of Cerverio pray for us.

Blessed Matthew pray for us.

Blessed Constantius pray for us.

Blessed Christopher pray for us.

Blessed Damian pray for us.

Blessed Andrew of Peschiera pray for us.

Blessed Bernard pray for us.

Blessed Jane of Portugal pray for us.

Blessed James of Ulm pray for us.

Blessed Augustine of Biella pray for us.

Blessed Aimo pray for us.

Blessed Sebastian pray for us.

Blessed Mark pray for us.

Blessed Columba pray for us.

Blessed Magdalen pray for us.

Blessed Osanna of Mantua pray for us.

Blessed John Liccio pray for us.

Blessed Dominic Spadafora pray for us.

Blessed Stephana pray for us.

Saint Adrian pray for us.

Blessed Lucy pray for us.

Blessed Catherine Racconigi pray for us.

Blessed Osanna of Kotor pray for us.

Saint Pius V pray for us.

Saint John of Cologne pray for us.

Blessed Maria Bartholomew pray for us.

Saint Louis Bertrand pray for us.

Saint Catherine de Ricci pray for us.

Blessed Robert pray for us.

Blessed Alphonsus and Companions pray for us.

Saint Rose pray for us.

Saint Dominic Ibanez and Companions pray for us.

Blessed Agnes of Jesus pray for us.

Saint Lawrence Ruiz and Companions pray for us.

Saint Martin de Porres pray for us.

Blessed Peter Higgins pray for us.

Blessed Francis de Capillas pray for us.

Saint Juan Macias pray for us.

Blessed Terence pray for us.

Blessed Ann of the Angels pray for us.

Blessed Francis de Posadas pray for us.

Saint Louis de Montfort pray for us.

Blessed Francis Gil pray for us.

Saint Matteo pray for us.

Blessed Peter Sanz and Companions pray for us.

Saint Vincent Liem pray for us.

Saint Hyacinth Castaneda pray for us.

Blessed Marie pray for us.

Blessed George pray for us.

Blessed Catherine Jarrige pray for us.

Saint Ignatius and Companions pray for us.

Saint Dominic An-Kham and Companions pray for us.

Saint Joseph Khang and Companions pray for us.

Saint Francis Coll pray for us.

Blessed Hyacinthe Cormier pray for us.

Blessed Pier Giorgio pray for us.

Blessed Bartolo pray for us.

Blessed Michael Czartoryski pray for us.

Blessed Julia Rodzinska pray for us.

Sister Dollie Wilkinson, pray for us.

All holy Dominican brothers and sisters pray for us.

 Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, spare us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

Let us pray.–

God, source of all holiness, you have enriched your Church

with many gifts in the saints of the Order of Preachers.

By following the example of our brothers and sisters,

may we come to enjoy their company

for ever in the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ,

Your Son, who lives and reigns with You

and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.


St Martin De Porres-A Saint of Humility for All~The Very Rev. Lady Sherwood, OPI

My dearest brothers and sisters in Christ,

Today, we commemorate a saint who was a simple man of prayer who did many menial tasks such as sweeping  floors  in a Dominican friary.

There are stories that this man had the ability to be in two places at the once, levitating and exuding light whilst praying, and of having the ability to walk through locked doors, as well as having powers as a healer.

This Saint went on to become the patron saint of hairdressers, race relations, innkeepers, African-Americans, public schools, interracial harmony, Peru, people of mixed race, social justice and more.

This gifted man is non other than St. Martin de Porres, and it is his feast day which we commemorate as the church today.

Let us take a look at the life of this Saint:

St. Martin de Porres was born in Lima, Peru, in 1579 to a Spanish father and a freed black slave.

“His father rejected St. Martin for his dark skin and because of that, his childhood was one of poverty. He experienced everything the poor went through— he suffered hunger, starvation, rejection, and abandonment.

“Most who grow in poverty can become bitter with the world, but God had graced St. Martin at an early age. He allowed Christ’s love to change his heart. His poor background enabled him to relate to others. Even as a child, he would give his scarce resources to beggars whom he saw as less fortunate than himself.

“He reflected Christ the humble servant, Christ who came to serve and not to be served. That is what made St. Martin de Porres unique. His whole life was an attitude of humility.”

He was apprenticed to a barber at age 12.

“At that time, being a barber meant not just cutting hair, It also meant medicine, doctoring, treating wounds and fractures, prescribing medicine, like a doctor and pharmacist would do.

Martin became so good that people left his master and went to him instead. He became very successful and made great wealth, but he gave it all to the poor.”

In his mid-teens, St. Martin felt the call to religious life with the Dominicans, but did not deem himself worthy of becoming a priest or a brother.

He joined the Dominicans as a third order lay person, performing menial tasks, like sweeping and cleaning.

“It wasn’t long before the Dominicans realised the person they had in their midst, and St. Martin was asked by the Dominicans to join the order.

“St. Martin de Porres surrendered to God with complete humility. When you surrender to God, when you are humble, you allow divine providence to provide the means to become holy.”

After decades of serving with the Dominicans in various capacities, St. Martin de Porres died on Nov. 3, 1639.

Let us pray:

Oh God Our Father, Who has given us in Thy Humble Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the model of all virtue and perfection, grant to us the virtue of humility. We think so little of Thee because we are so full of self. We cannot love Thee more until humility shows us our own nothingness and makes us rejoice in our complete dependence upon Thee.

You have given to the world a glorious apostle of humility, St Martin de Porres. Guide us by his example and strengthen us through his intercessions in our efforts to conform our hearts to the humble Heart of Thy Crucified Son.

Renew, O Lord, in these days, when pride and forgetfulness of Thee are so widespread, the wonders which You performed through Thy humble servant, Martin de Porres, during his lifetime. We pray that all the world may know of St Martin and of the surpassing value of the virtue of humility. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Feast of All Saints~Br. Milan Komadina, Novice

Let us learn something more about All Saints and about some traditions that are popular worldwide on this day. On the Solemnity of All Saints, November 1, the Church celebrates those Christians who achieved spiritual maturity. It is a day to venerate all the holy men and women who have been canonized by the Church. The first evidence for the November 1 date of celebration and of the broadening of the festival to include all saints as well as all martyrs occurred during the reign of Pope Gregory III (731–741), who dedicated a chapel in St. Peter’s, Rome, on November 1 in honor of all saints. On November 1st each year, people flock to their family plots in cemeteries across the country. They also use this holiday to hold a family reunion where groups of an extended family gather together. The day is filled with music and food. There is also prayer and religious traditions. There was also a superstition that All Souls’ night was a time when the dead revisited their homes, therefore some people would leave lit candles outside their homes to help to guide the deceased souls. Meals and wine were also left out as refreshments for them. Much like Halloween in other countries, All Souls’ Day is marked by the consumption of impressive quantities of sugar – particularly in the form of frutta martorana, beautiful marzipan sweets in the shape of fresh fruits and vegetables, and ossa dei morti, almond biscuits.

Today in Revelation 7:9-10 we read the following sentence: `After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”` People from every nation, tribe and language will be standing before the throne and before the Lamb (Jesus). Every person is welcome to serve God and to become holy. God does not make distinction between people or discriminate based on one`s nationality. Here, in Germany I can see many foreigners on the streets. There are many Ukrainian refugees, people from Balkan countries, people from North African countries and other migrants. But not all of them have the same status. In finding a job, using the rights and in everyday life knowing local language is a must, plus bearing the EU citizenship opens many doors. People from third world country have many difficulties in acquiring their visa and also surviving in this country. Similar situation is in many countries worldwide. The language matters, the origin matters, the tribe matters. With Heavenly Jerusalem it will be different. No visa would be needed, no new language course and so on. The only visa for resident permission for eternal stay with God will be our faith in Jesus.

In John 3:1-3 it is written: `See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure` We are all called children of God and we should all considered each other like brothers and sisters. This is why we also pray to saints. Since today in All Saints Day we also remember all saints it is good to talk about the beauty and blessings of prayers to saints. In some Christian denominations people do not pray to saints fearing that it could look like worshiping them and we know that there is only one God and only God should be worshipped. But what we really do when we pray to saints we ask them to pray to God together with us. It is similar as when we ask our friend from the church to pray for us. Mostly all prayers that we pray to saints end with `pray for us` and this is the right prayer. We can pray and to angels as well. They are all servants of the Lord and we can as them to pray God for us, too.

Here is a beautiful prayer for All Saints Day:

Dear God, thank you for the example of the Saints. I desire to join in their company, worshiping you forever in Heaven. Please help me follow their footsteps, and yours, Jesus Christ. Please help me to conform myself to Your image, seeking Your will in all things, as the Saints did. Please help me to devote myself, and all that I do, to Your glory, and to the service of my neighbors. Amen.

The Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul~Br. Milan Komadina

When you are old, you will stretch out your hands and another

will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go   

Today we commemorate St. Peter and St. Paul. This day honors the martyrdom of the two saints, sometime between AD 64 and 68. While the church recognizes that they may not have died on the same day, tradition says that this is the day that they were both martyred in Rome by Emperor Nero. Peter was the rock on which Christ formed His Church, and became the first Pope as the specialized Shepard of Christ’s Flock on Earth. Paul wrote the majority of the New Testament, with 13 letters ascribed to his name (most scholars agree that 7 are objectively his, yet the other 6 are of contested authorship). St. Paul (born as Saul) is often considered to be the most important person after Jesus in the history of Christianity. His epistles (letters) have had enormous influence on Christian theology, especially on the relationship between God the Father and Jesus, and on the mystical human relationship with the divine. St. Peter and St. Paul had been imprisoned in the infamous Mamertine Prison of Rome and both had foreseen their approaching death. While I was reading today more information about apostles Peter and Paul I was inspired to talk about one thing from the Bible. I read John 21:15-19. In this chapter Jesus is talking to Peter and here is what it says:

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”

While reading Bible for today I was very touched with this last sentence saying:” …when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” This sentence brought me back to some memories that I have experienced almost 13 years ago. In 2009, when I was preparing to become a novice in order to become an orthodox monk I was instructed by my spiritual father (abbot) that before moving to monastery I should serve the army and I was told to serve civil army in Gerontology Centre. This is how we call the nursing home for old and week people. I applied for the civil army and in that year I spent 9 months helping and serving people in need who were users of the services of the Centre and who lived there. There were more than 300 people mostly between 70 and 90. Many of them were left alone. Their children (if they had them) usually were living far away and there were no cousins or friends to help them in their daily needs. Such as preparing food for them, bringing medicines or accompanying them to the doctor. I remember that many of them were suffering on daily level. Few times I even witnessed some of them dying. At that time I was readying Bible every day and I was regularly attending prayers in the local church. While caring the old sometimes I used a chance to spontaneously mention Jesus. If they were eager to learn more about Jesus we kept the conversation in that direction. And I remember a very important thing that I was regularly noticing between old and sick who were atheists and those who were believers. Atheists were usually depressed and often unhappy. They were feeling that they are at the final period of their life. Left alone, sick and depending on the care of Gerontology Centre workers. With one word depressed and hopeless. And they were often complaining. Another group was a group of the people in the same position. Same old, same sick and same alone. But actually they were not alone. They were not complaining. They were thankful for having people around them, thankful for the rest of their life, thankful for everything. Their mindset was positive and the only thing that distinguished these two groups was faith in God. The happy group was alone, but actually not alone. They had God, they had joy and happiness. Today in readings I found another important sentence that I may bring into correlation to the story that I shared. We read in 1 Timothy 6:17-18: 

Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.”

The sentence that I would like to pay attention to advises us to put our hope in God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment and in the other hand not to put our hope in wealth. Again I remember my experience from working and helping in nursing home for old people for nine months. There were people who were rich for the local Serbian standard. They could afford better service in the Gerontology center, with private nice equipped apartment and additional health care service. But still, they were not very happy. Additionally there were old people from poor background who could only afford a bed. They had shared bathroom, shared room and poor conditions. But those among them who were having Jesus were really happy, relaxed, grateful and complete. In the end of this sermon I would like to bring the message to all of you that as Jesus said. Maybe one day when we are older and sick another will dress us up and take care of us, maybe we would be alone or even feeling hopeless. But also let us then remember that God also says we should put our hope in God and surely our life will have much better quality and with Jesus we would be complete, happy and loved. Also, I would be happy if this sermon help you remember your neighbor who might be old and sick and might be needing help. Let us help to those in need and let us be blessed with prayers of the apostles Peter and Paul. Glory be to our God. Amen.

1+1+1=1 Or Why Math Makes Me Crazy~The Rt. Rev. Michael Beckett, OPI

There are a few things about which I could not be more certain:  Scott loves me truly, madly, deeply (I really like that song.)  My Daddy was the wisest man on the planet.  My Momma was the bestest woman to ever draw breath.  Jesus loves me, and my salvation is secure. 

And, conversely, there are things in life that I will never, never fully grasp.  Like, why do some people think it’s OK to wear stripes and plaid together?  Pi or upper-level mathematics?  How things travel a zillion miles a minute in space?  Why chocolate isn’t its own food group?

And  then, there’s the Holy Trinity.  The Holy Trinity is a mystery that we will never fully understand; never even come close to understanding.  We believe that the God of the Bible is one God. God has one essence – one substance. In other words, one “stuffness.” However, God exists in three Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Each Person in the Trinity (or the Godhead) is fully God and fully a Person. They are equally eternal, powerful, sovereign, and worthy of worship. But they are one God.

Got that?  Me, neither, but it is central to our faith. 

Many theologians and holy men and women of God have attempted to explain just how this Trinity Thing works.  One God, Three Persons.  Three in one and one in three.  They have, of course, failed.  It has been said that if you try to explain the Trinity, you will lose your mind. But if you deny it, you will lose your soul.  There are several popular analogies often used to explain the Trinity, but, they don’t work and in reality are heresies.   (Uh oh!)  Here they are:

God is like water. Now, we know that water can be in three different forms:  Liquid, Ice, and Vapor.  But this doesn’t work and this particular heresy is called “modalism.”  Modalism expresses the belief that God is not, in fact three separate persons, but one God expressed in three different forms.  Now, if this were the case, then and the Trinity really is like water, then the story of Jesus (the Son) praying to the Father all those times in the Bible, is just Jesus talking to Himself.  This belief denies something central to God that makes Him God. So comparing God to water isn’t really as helpful as one might think.

It’s also been said that The Trinity is like a man:  A father, who is a son, who is a husband.  Nope.  Same as modalism.  Won’t work.

Then there is the age-old story-legend-myth of St. Patrick using the shamrock.  Or the more modernized versions using an egg or an apple.  The shamrock has 3 leaves to make one whole plant, the yolk, shell, and white make up one egg, or the peel, flesh, and core of an apple make up one fruit.  Umm…no.  Won’t work, because any of these three things that make up one thing will not stand on their own to be a complete thing?  Know what I mean?  The egg yolk, shamrock leaf, and apple peel don’t make one complete whole.  And this particular heresy is called Partialism.  Sigh……

Moving on…

The sun has been used to explain the Trinity.  This example says that the Father is like the sun. The Son is like the light rays that visibly reveal the sun, as Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God.  The Holy Spirit is like the heat that emanates from the sun, unseen yet powerful and effective in making the sun felt.  This makes sense, right???  Nope. Sorry.  This explanation is fatally flawed in that is describes the Son and Spirit as creations of the Father. This is the error of Arianism (not to be confused with Aryanism, which is also bad).  In Arianism, the Son is not eternally equal with the Father, but was the Father’s first and best creation. This would make Jesus something less than fully God.  This little gem of heresy is called Subordinationism and was first espoused by Arius who lived in the late 200s/early 300s, and whose modern-day followers are now known as  Jehovah’s Witnesses.

A couple more illustrations of the Trinity that aren’t quite so bad, but aren’t great either are these:

American Christian pastor, speaker, author, and widely syndicated radio and television broadcaster in the United States, Tony Evans, has said that the pretzel is a good illustration because it consists of one piece of dough with three holes. Take away any one of the holes and the pretzel isn’t really a pretzel anymore. (According to some people, the pretzel was actually invented in Europe several hundred years ago by a monk who wanted to illustrate the Trinity to the children of his village, so he took some dough, looped into the familiar three-hour shape, based it, and gave it to the children as an edible object lesson.)

Or this from noted scientist Dr. Henry Morris. He notes that the entire universe is trinitarian by design. The universe consists of three things: matter, space, and time. Take away any one of those three and the universe would cease to exist. But each one of those is itself a trinity.

Matter = mass + energy + motion

Space = length + height + breadth

Time = past + present + future

Are we having fun yet?  No?  OK, I’ll bring this to a close.  In so doing I’m gonna end where I started. The Trinity is a doctrine that all Christians believe but no one really understands. That much should be clear from this message. If you try to explain the Trinity, you will lose your mind. But if you deny it, you will lose your soul.

Someone asked Daniel Webster, who happened to be a fervent Christian, “How can a man of your intellect believe in the Trinity?” He said, “I do not pretend fully to understand the arithmetic of heaven now,” he replied. How kewl is that little phrase???  “The arithmetic of heaven.”

The Trinity should cause us to bow in humble adoration before a God who is greater than our minds could ever comprehend.

Today, the Feast of the Holy Trinity, we rejoice that we have a Triune God who has provided for a Trinitarian salvation. When we were lost in sin, our God acted in every Person of his being to save us. The Father gave the Son, the Son offered himself on the Cross, and the Holy Spirit brought us to Jesus. We were so lost that it took every member of the Godhead to save us.

In 1774 a man named Ignaz Franz wrote a hymn of praise to the Trinity: Holy God, We Praise Your Name. This is the fourth verse:

“Holy Father, Holy Son, Holy Spirit, Three we name you;

While in essence only one, undivided God we claim you.

Then, adoring, bend the knee, and confess the mystery.”

Let us pray.

Holy God, above us, among us, within us: we rejoice this day that while you might have chosen to be unknown to us, you have revealed yourself in many ways. Each encounter with you calls us to return blessings with worship, compassion, and service. As we worship you today, we do so in gratitude for all your parental care for us through your creation.  As we worship you today , we do so because, in love, you gave us Christ, that through him we might find eternal life. As we worship you today  your Spirit leads your church to reach out in compassion, mercy, and grace to all your children everywhere. In gratitude, we celebrate you, three and yet one. Amen.

Happy New Year! ~ The Rt. Rev. Michael Beckett, OPI

So…  Happy New Year!   

What?  You say to me, “Bishop, did you skip Christmas altogether?”  Nope.  Today marks the beginning of the new liturgical year.  Do, please, allow me to explain:

Within the calendar year, there is another year:  the great cycle of the liturgical year, revolving around the life and ministry Christ.  Each season of the liturgical year has its own focus, feasts, words, and colors, giving us an opportunity to reflect on the meaning of the coming of Jesus, his life, and his commission to His people to be a light to the world. words, and colors, giving us an opportunity to reflect on the meaning of the coming of Jesus, his life, and his commission to His people to be a light to the world.

Since the 900s, Advent has marked the beginning of the church year, and is a season of great anticipation, preparation, and excitement, traditionally focusing on the Nativity of the Christ Child, when Jesus came as our Savior.  During Advent, we as Christians also direct our thoughts to His second coming as judge.

The word Advent is from the Latin adventus, meaning coming,” and is celebrated during the four weeks of preparation for Christmas. Advent always contains four Sundays, beginning on the Sunday nearest the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle, (November 30) and continuing until December 24. It blends together a penitential spirit, very similar to Lent, a liturgical theme of preparation for the Second and Final Coming of the Lord, called the Parousia, and a joyful theme of getting ready for the Bethlehem event.

Thus, Advent is far more than simply marking a 2,000-year-old event in history. It is celebrating a truth about God, the revelation of God in Christ whereby all of creation might be reconciled to God. That is a process in which we participate, and the consummation of which we anticipate. Scripture readings for Advent reflect this emphasis on the Second Advent, including themes of accountability for faithfulness at His coming, judgment of sin, and the hope of eternal life.

In this double focus on past and future, Advent also symbolizes the spiritual journey of individuals and a congregation, as they affirm that Christ has come, that He is present in the world today, and that He will come again in power. That acknowledgment provides a basis for holy living, arising from a profound sense that we live “between the times” and are called to be faithful stewards of what is entrusted to us as God’s    people.     As the church celebrates God’s Incarnation in the physical presence of Jesus Christ, and anticipates a future consummation to that history for which “all creation is groaning, awaiting its redemption,” it also confesses its own responsibility as a people commissioned to “love the Lord your God with all your heart” and to “love your neighbor as yourself.”

We celebrate with gladness the great promise of Advent, yet knowing that there is also a somber tone as the theme of final judgment is added to the theme of promise. This is reflected in some of the Scripture readings for Advent, in which there is a strong prophetic tone of accountability and judgment of sin. This is also faithful to the role of the Coming King who comes to rule, save, and judge, the world.

Because of the dual themes of judgment and promise, Advent is a time of preparation that is marked by prayer. While Lent is characterized by fasting and a spirit of penitence, Advent’s   prayers are prayers of humble devotion and commitment, prayers of submission, prayers for deliverance, prayers from those walking in darkness who are awaiting and anticipating a great light (Isaiah 9).

As we prepare ourselves for the coming Christmas season, let us also remember that we are in Advent, preparing for the coming of Christ, our King.  May all of you have a meaningful, blessed, and holy, Advent.