Category: Dominican Life

The Call ~ The Rev. Frank Bellino, OPI

Many of us, at one time or another, dream of leaving everything behind. All the ties and responsibilities that nail us down, all the daily drudge, our half-heartedness about our work or our families, the weight of our past and our failures, all the things which define us.

It would be so simple to simply dump all the baggage of life, disappear, and start again in another place with a new passport and a Swiss bank account. In our fantasies, running away from everything would free us to start again as a new person, to become someone else more intelligent, more successful, popular or better looking.

In the Gospel, four fishermen leave everything behind, all the ties and bonds of work and family, to follow Jesus. But they leave everything in response to a call:

“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (“Follow Me and I Will Make You | bibleteacher.org”)

Jesus doesn’t offer them a career, as carpenters, soldiers or tax collectors. He isn’t offering them exciting new love affairs, or friendships unencumbered by the weight of failure and misunderstanding.

The call to discipleship isn’t an attempt to recreate a new set of ties and bonds of love and responsibility, to escape all that defines and supplies identity. It is a call to discover that God given identity in a new way, in the crimson dawn of salvation in the words and actions of Jesus. I will make you fishers of men.

The call to follow establishes a relationship between what the disciples are now, and what they are to become. Their ordinary work, drawing sustenance from the darkness of the sea, becomes a sign of a deeper reality, drawing men and women from the darkness of sin and death, into the torrent of wind and flame manifested at Pentecost.

That which defines them now is not bypassed or ignored but becomes the scene of an urgent call to a deeper self-understanding, the call of grace. So, the disciples don’t leave fishing nets and boats upon the shore so that they can escape the daily struggle to make a living. Nor do James and John leave their dad sitting in the boat because they’ve grown tired of him or can’t afford a retirement home.

Grace does not take us from one identity to another but opens out a new and surprising depth of identity in the life of God. The disciples then leave everything behind not to escape, but to discover the true depths of the Spirit’s call. This Spirit, pouring from the Risen Christ, doesn’t replace our natural desires and hopes. Sharing in the Divine life does not mean that we are not called to live a fully human life.

Grace, then, begins to manifest itself in the reality of our lives, in those things which define us, make us who we are: but within these things it sounds an urgent call, a call to discover how much more we are, to understand ourselves in the gracious newness breaking into the world in the risen body of Jesus. For some, like the disciples in the Gospel, this call will require a leaving behind. In religious life, Christian men and women do not go in search of a fantasy life, but a life defined by the bonds and responsibilities of grace, of the new human community of the church formed at Pentecost.

But for most people, the call will not require a complete leaving behind, but an expanded vision of who we are, and our value in God’s plan. The call of Jesus to repent, because the kingdom of heaven is close at hand, is a call not to allow sin, and all the failures of life, to define us. For from our baptism, we have been caught up, hooked into this new age of grace, where we may swim freely.

The urge to escape who we are often weighs very heavily upon us. But there are no real clean slates in this life: who we are is intimately bound up with those we live with, those who have cared for us or hurt us, with the ways of making a living and passing the time we have settled for.

The call of God’s grace doesn’t offer us a new identity, the fantasy life we have always longed for. The call to be a disciple is a call to move to an even deeper understanding of who we are, who we are called to be, in the self-giving of God in the cross of Jesus, and the hurricane of glory which finally transformed simple fishermen into fishers of men.

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.

Amen.

Jesus: The Medicine of God ~ The Rev. Frank Bellino

Jesus was guided by the Spirit into the wilderness and tested by the devil for forty days. During this time Jesus proved his love for his Father was stronger than everything else. Our love for Jesus leads us to want to draw closer to Jesus during Lent and overcome anything in our lives from the devil that keeps us apart from Jesus. Jesus in the desert is our model during Lent. If Jesus had given in to any temptation of the devil, he would have wrecked his Father’s plans. When we succumb to temptation, we wreck God’s plans for us. Sin separates us from what God intends for us. Sin separates us from God. It has been like that since Adam and Eve committed the first sin in the garden. Because of that sin Adam and Eve were kicked out of the garden. Sin separates us from Jesus. But our love for Jesus impels us to want to overcome sin during Lent so that we will not be separated from Jesus. Our love for Jesus impels us to take Lent seriously so that at the end of Lent we will be closer to Jesus. Do you love Jesus enough to fix whatever in your life is separating you from Jesus? Lent is the time to do it. Do we love Jesus enough to take Lent seriously so that at the end of Lent we can say we gave up this sin or overcame that sinful inclination so that we could be closer Jesus? Do we love Jesus enough so that when we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus at the end of Lent, we can also celebrate Jesus’ new life in us because we overcame sin during Lent? Do we love Jesus more than anything keeping us from Jesus? Lent is the time to draw closer to Jesus.

When we are ill, we go to the doctor and the doctor will give us medication. If we take medicine, we hope to get better. For centuries the Church has recommended medicine during Lent to help us get better, to bring us closer to Jesus and help us overcome sin. That medicine is the three things we heard in the Gospel on Ash Wednesday (Matt 6:1-6, 16-18); prayer, fasting and almsgiving. These are a remedy to help cure our soul. This remedy is the wisdom of centuries of experience; the experience of centuries of holy people who drew closer to God during Lent with the remedy of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Not only is this remedy the wisdom of centuries of experience of holy people, it is the teaching of Jesus. As we heard in the Gospel on Ash Wednesday it is Jesus who taught us about prayer, who taught us the value of fasting, who taught us the value of almsgiving. Why would someone question what Jesus taught us and say there is a better way during Lent? Jesus in the desert is our model during Lent. Our love for Jesus leads us to want to draw closer to Jesus during Lent and overcome anything in our lives from the devil that keeps us apart from Jesus. We can do this through prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

We could say that the three Scripture quotations in today’s Gospel (Luke 4:1-13) that Jesus used to rebuke the devil when tempted in the desert are about prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

You shall worship the Lord, your God, and him alone shall you serve (Luke 4:8, see Deut 6:13) was Jesus teaching us to put God first in prayer and worship.

Man does not live by bread alone (Luke 4:4, see Deut 8:3) was Jesus reminding that fasting shows God is more important to us than any earthly thing we want.

You shall not put the Lord, your God to the test (Luke 4:12, see Deut 6:16) was Jesus reminding us not to test God by expecting God to intervene to look after those in need but instead to help them ourselves.

To pray we need quiet time. We cannot pray if the TV is turned on, or there are other distractions around us. We often read in the Gospels that Jesus went up into the mountains to pray (Matt 14:23; Mark 6:46; Luke 6:12; 9:28). It was quiet up there. If Jesus needed quiet for prayer, how much more do we need quiet for prayer? Can we find quiet time every day to spend with Jesus and Our Lady? We read that Elijah hid in a cave, and a windstorm went by, but God was not in the windstorm, there was an earthquake, but God was not in the earthquake, there was a fire, but God was not in the fire. Finally, a gentle breeze went by, and Elijah knew God was in the gentle breeze (1 Kings 19:11-13). To find God is to find a place of peace. A Church or Adoration Chapel is an obvious place but can we also as a family pray together for a significant length of time at least once day? The Rosary is a wonderful prayer for use together as a family.

Jesus was asked why his disciples did not fast while the Pharisees and the disciples of John the Baptist fasted. Jesus replied that the while the bridegroom was with them it was not the time to fast but when the bridegroom would be taken away then it would be time for them to fast (Matt 9:14-15; Mark 2:18-20; Luke 5:33-35). Now is that time. We can fast from TV for a time and that will give us more time for prayer so then we should be fasting and praying together. We could also fast from the internet for a time so spend more time with family. Above all of course Lent is all about giving up sin. All the fasting of Lent is to provide us with greater strength to fast from sin. Fasting is for Jesus.

Almsgiving is a demonstration of our love of God and love of others. When we love God, we love others in their need and give to them from our surplus because they are also children of God. That is why we begin the Lord’s Prayer saying, “Our Father…” because we are all children of one Father in heaven. Once when talking to the Pharisees when they were concerned about externals Jesus said that if they gave alms then they would be clean (Luke 11:41). On another occasion Jesus said that giving alms earns you a purse that never grows old and treasure in heaven (Luke 12:33). Jesus taught the parable about the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31). Rich person did not even give the scraps to the poor man. But when they died the poor man was in heaven the rich man in agony.

We could say that the three Scripture quotations in today’s Gospel that Jesus used to rebuke the devil when tempted in the desert are about prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

You shall worship the Lord, your God, and him alone shall you serve (Luke 4:8, see Deut 6:13) was Jesus teaching us to put God first in prayer and worship.

Man does not live by bread alone (Luke 4:4, see Deut 8:3) was Jesus reminding that fasting shows God is more important to us than any earthly thing we want.

You shall not put the Lord, your God to the test (Luke 4:12, see Deut 6:16) was Jesus reminding us not to test God by expecting God to intervene to look after those in need but instead to help them ourselves.

When we’re ill, we go to the doctor and the doctor gives us medication. If we take medicine, we hope to get better. For centuries the Church has recommended medicine during Lent to help us get better. That medicine is prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

Judge Who??? ~ The Very Rev. Lady Sherwood, OPI

Reading I: Sir 27:4-7

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 92:2-3, 13-14, 15-16

Reading II: 1 Cor 15:54-58

Alleluia: Phil 2:15d, 16a

Gospel: Lk 6:39-45

My dearest brothers and sisters in Christ:

First, let’s take a look at our Gospel reading for Today of  Lk 6:39-45 (NIV):

39 He also told them this parable: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit? 40 The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.

41 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 42 How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

A Tree and Its Fruit

43 “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44 Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. 45 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.

So what is this telling us and what can we learn from the Lord’s teaching of the Gospel today?

Each and every one of us at some point in our lives become prone to excuse our own faults and magnify the faults of others and to put our judgement upon them. You know how it goes: It could be things such as: “I’m quiet, you’re unassertive; he’s a wimp.” “I’m concerned; you’re curious; he or she is nosy.” “I’m thrifty; you’re a bit tight; that person is cheap.” “I drive with the flow of traffic; you go over the speed limit; that person is very reckless.”

Jesus knows  our common propensity to justify ourselves and to blame others. As He concluded the section of His sermon dealing with the requirement of loving even our enemies, He knew that we would try to dodge its demands by judging our enemies and by  excusing ourselves. So He gives a strong corrective by showing how we should focus on showing mercy, not judgement, even toward those who have wronged us (6:36-38). Then, to help us apply it, Jesus goes on to show that we must focus on judging our own sins or we will be like the blind  trying to lead the blind (6:39-40). Only when we have judged our own sins can we then see clearly to help another person with their sins (6:41-42). In fact, we must judge ourselves down to the heart level, because only a good heart can produce good fruit (6:42-43). Thus Jesus is teaching us that …

To love as we ought to be doing, we should focus on showing mercy toward others but (also) on judging our own sins.

Let us pray:

Almighty God,  sometimes we struggle with anger and with judgement. We see things and want to get revenge or we wish others to be punished for wrongdoing. We pray that you fill our hearts with compassion and forgiveness. Help us  not to condemn but seek first to forgive others. Help us not to judge, but to serve. Amen.

Saint Catherine of Siena

   

She was the youngest but one of a very large family. Her father, Giacomo di Benincasa, was a dyer; her mother, Lapa, the daughter of a local poet. They belonged to the lower middle-class faction of tradesmen and petty notaries, known as “the Party of the Twelve”, which between one revolution and another ruled the Republic of Siena from 1355 to 1368. From her earliest childhood Catherine began to see visions and to practice extreme austerities. At the age of seven she consecrated her virginity to Christ; in her sixteenth year she took the habit of the Dominican Tertiaries, and renewed the life of the anchorites of the desert in a little room in her father’s house. After three years of celestial visitations and familiar conversation with Christ, she underwent the mystical experience known as the “spiritual espousals”, probably during the carnival of 1366. She now rejoined her family, began to tend the sick, especially those afflicted with the most repulsive diseases, to serve the poor, and to labor for the conversion of sinners. Though always suffering terrible physical pain, living for long intervals on practically no food save the Blessed Sacrament, she was ever radiantly happy and full of practical wisdom no less than the highest spiritual insight. All her contemporaries bear witness to her extraordinary personal charm, which prevailed over the continual persecution to which she was subjected even by the friars of her own order and by her sisters in religion. She began to gather disciples round her, both men and women, who formed a wonderful spiritual fellowship, united to her by the bonds of mystical love. During the summer of 1370 she received a series of special manifestations of Divine mysteries, which culminated in a prolonged trance, a kind of mystical death, in which she had a vision of Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven, and heard a Divine command to leave her cell and enter the public life of the world. She began to dispatch letters to men and women in every condition of life, entered into correspondence with the princes and republics of Italy, was consulted by the papal legates about the affairs of the Church, and set herself to heal the wounds of her native land by staying the fury of civil war and the ravages of faction. She implored the pope, Gregory XI, to leave Avignon, to reform the clergy and the administration of the Papal States, and ardently threw herself into his design for a crusade, in the hopes of uniting the powers of Christendom against the infidels, and restoring peace to Italy by delivering her from the wandering companies of mercenary soldiers. While at Pisa, on the fourth Sunday of Lent, 1375, she received the Stigmata, although, at her special prayer, the marks did not appear outwardly in her body while she lived.

    Mainly through the misgovernment of the papal officials, war broke out between Florence and the Holy See, and almost the whole of the Papal States rose in insurrection. Catherine had already been sent on a mission from the pope to secure the neutrality of Pisa and Lucca. In June, 1376, she went to Avignon as ambassador of the Florentines, to make their peace; but, either through the bad faith of the republic or through a misunderstanding caused by the frequent changes in its government, she was unsuccessful. Nevertheless she made such a profound impression upon the mind of the pope, that, in spite of the opposition of the French king and almost the whole of the Sacred College, he returned to Rome (17 January, 1377). Catherine spent the greater part of 1377 in effecting a wonderful spiritual revival in the country districts subject to the Republic of Siena, and it was at this time that she miraculously learned to write, though she still seems to have chiefly relied upon her secretaries for her correspondence. Early in 1378 she was sent by Pope Gregory to Florence, to make a fresh effort for peace. Unfortunately, through the factious conduct of her Florentine associates, she became involved in the internal politics of the city, and during a popular tumult (22 June) an attempt was made upon her life. She was bitterly disappointed at her escape, declaring that her sins had deprived her of the red rose of martyrdom. Nevertheless, during the disastrous revolution known as “the tumult of the Ciompi”, she still remained at Florence or in its territory until, at the beginning of August, news reached the city that peace had been signed between the republic and the new pope. Catherine then instantly returned to Siena, where she passed a few months of comparative quiet, dictating her “Dialogue”, the book of her meditations and revelations.

    In the meanwhile the Great Schism had broken out in the Church. From the outset Catherine enthusiastically adhered to the Roman claimant, Urban VI, who in November, 1378, summoned her to Rome. In the Eternal City she spent what remained of her life, working strenuously for the reformation of the Church, serving the destitute and afflicted, and dispatching eloquent letters in behalf of Urban to high and low in all directions. Her strength was rapidly being consumed; she besought her Divine Bridegroom to let her bear the punishment for all the sins of the world, and to receive the sacrifice of her body for the unity and renovation of the Church; at last it seemed to her that the Bark of Peter was laid upon her shoulders, and that it was crushing her to death with its weight. After a prolonged and mysterious agony of three months, endured by her with supreme exultation and delight, from Sexagesima Sunday until the Sunday before the Ascension, she died. Her last political work, accomplished practically from her death-bed, was the reconciliation of Pope Urban VI with the Roman Republic (1380).

    Among Catherine’s principal followers were Fra Raimondo delle Vigne, of Capua (d. 1399), her confessor and biographer, afterwards General of the Dominicans, and Stefano di Corrado Maconi (d. 1424), who had been one of her secretaries, and became Prior General of the Carthusians. Raimondo’s book, the “Legend”, was finished in 1395. A second life of her, the “Supplement”, was written a few years later by another of her associates, Fra Tomaso Caffarini (d. 1434), who also composed the “Minor Legend”, which was translated into Italian by Stefano Maconi. Between 1411 and 1413 the depositions of the surviving witnesses of her life and work were collected at Venice, to form the famous “Process”. Catherine was canonized by Pius II in 1461. The emblems by which she is known in Christian art are the lily and book, the crown of thorns, or sometimes a heart–referring to the legend of her having changed hearts with Christ. Her principal feast is on the 30th of April, but it is popularly celebrated in Siena on the Sunday following. The feast of her Espousals is kept on the Thursday of the carnival.

    The works of St. Catherine of Siena rank among the classics of the Italian language, written in the beautiful Tuscan vernacular of the fourteenth century. Notwithstanding the existence of many excellent manuscripts, the printed editions present the text in a frequently mutilated and most unsatisfactory condition. Her writings consist of        

the “Dialogue”, or “Treatise on Divine Providence”; a collection of nearly four hundred letters; and a series of “Prayers”.

    The “Dialogue” especially, which treats of the whole spiritual life of man in the form of a series of colloquies between the Eternal Father and the human soul (represented by Catherine herself), is the mystical counterpart in prose of Dante’s “Divina Commedia”.

    A smaller work in the dialogue form, the “Treatise on Consummate Perfection”, is also ascribed to her, but is probably spurious. It is impossible in a few words to give an adequate conception of the manifold character and contents of the “Letters”, which are the most complete expression of Catherine’s many-sided personality. While those addressed to popes and sovereigns, rulers of republics and leaders of armies, are documents of priceless value to students of history, many of those written to private citizens, men and women in the cloister or in the world, are as fresh and illuminating, as wise and practical in their advice and guidance for the devout Catholic today as they were for those who sought her counsel while she lived. Others, again, lead the reader to mystical heights of contemplation, a rarefied atmosphere of sanctity in which only the few privileged spirits can hope to dwell. The key-note to Catherine’s teaching is that man, whether in the cloister or in the world, must ever abide in the cell of self-knowledge, which is the stable in which the traveler through time to eternity must be born again.

Born: March 25, 1347 at Siena, Tuscany, Italy

Died: April 29, 1380 of a mysterious and painful illness that came on without notice, and was never properly diagnosed

Canonized: July 1461 by Pope Pius II

Representation:  cross; crown of thorns; heart; lily; ring; stigmata

Patronage:  against fire, bodily ills, diocese of Allentown, Pennsylvania, USA, Europe, fire prevention, firefighters, illness, Italy, miscarriages, nurses, nursing services, people ridiculed for their piety, sexual temptation, sick people, sickness, Siena Italy, temptations

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Advent ~ The Rt. Rev. Michael Beckett, OPI

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 particular 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.

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 reading 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).

Historically, the primary color of Advent is Purple. This is the color of penitence and fasting as well as the color of royalty to welcome the Advent of the King. The purple of Advent is also the color of suffering used during Lent and Holy Week. This points to an important connection between Jesus’ birth and death. The nativity, the Incarnation, cannot be separated from the crucifixion. The purpose of Jesus’ coming into the world, of the “Word made flesh” and dwelling among us, is to reveal God and His grace to the world through Jesus’ life and teaching, but also through his suffering, death, and resurrection. To reflect this emphasis, originally Advent was a time of penitence and fasting, much as the Season of Lent and so shared the color of Lent.

In the four weeks of Advent the third Sunday came to be a time of rejoicing that the fasting was almost over (in some traditions it is called Gaudete Sunday, from the Latin word for “rejoice”). The shift from the purple of the Season to pink or rose for the third Sunday Advent candles reflected this lessening emphasis on penitence as attention turned more to celebration of the season.

In recent times, however, Advent has undergone a shift in emphasis, reflected in a change of colors used in many non-Catholic churches. The penitential aspect of the Season has been almost totally replaced by an emphasis on hope and anticipation.  Many Protestant churches now use blue to distinguish the Season of Advent from Lent. Royal Blue is sometimes used as a symbol of royalty. Some churches use Bright Blue to symbolize the night sky, the anticipation of the impending announcement of the King’s coming, or to symbolize the waters of Genesis 1, the beginning of a new creation. Some churches, including some Catholic churches, use bluish violet to preserve the traditional use of purple while providing a visual distinction between the purple or red violet of Lent.  However, it must be remembered that blue is not an approved liturgical color, for Advent or any other season, and it should not be the primary color in any Catholic liturgical celebration.

This does not eliminate any sense of penitence from the Season. With the focus on the Advent or Coming of Jesus, especially in anticipating His Second Advent, there remains a need for preparation for that coming. Most liturgical churches incorporate confessional prayers into the services of Advent that relate to a sense of unworthiness as we anticipate His Coming. It is appropriate even in more traditional services of worship to incorporate confessional prayers as part of the anticipation and preparation of the Season.

Even with the shift to blue for Advent in many non-Catholic churches, the vast majority of churches retain pink or rose among the Advent colors, and use it on the last Sunday of Advent. In the four weeks of Advent the third Sunday came to be a time of rejoicing that the fasting was almost over (in some traditions it is called Gaudete Sunday, from the Latin word for “rejoice”), and it remains associated with Joy.

The Advent wreath is a popular symbol of the beginning of the Church year in many churches. It is a circular evergreen wreath with five candles, four around the wreath and one in the center. The circle of the wreath itself reminds us of God, His eternal being and endless mercy, which has no beginning or end. The green of the wreath speaks of the hope that we have in God, the hope of newness, of renewal, of eternal life.

The four outer candles represent the period of waiting during the four Sundays of Advent, which themselves symbolize the four centuries of waiting between the prophet Malachi and the birth of Christ.

The center candle is white and is called the Christ Candle. It is traditionally lighted on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. The central location of the Christ Candle reminds us that the incarnation is the heart of the season, giving light to the world.

The light of the candles becomes an important symbol of the season. The light reminds us that Jesus is the light of the world that comes into the darkness of our lives to bring newness, life, and hope. It also reminds us that we are called to be a light to the world as we reflect the light of God’s grace to others (Isa 42:6). The progression in the lighting of the candles symbolizes the various aspects of our waiting experience. As the candles are lighted over the four week period, it also symbolizes the darkness of fear and hopelessness receding and the shadows of sin falling away as more and more light is shed into the world. The flame of each new candle reminds the worshippers that something is happening, and that more is yet to come. Finally, the light that has come into the world is plainly visible as the Christ candle is lighted at Christmas, and worshippers rejoice over the fact that the promise of long ago has been realized.

Give What to Who? ~ The Very Rev. Lady Sherwood, OP

Reading 1: IS 45:1, 4-6

Responsorial Psalm: PS 96:1, 3, 4-5, 7-8, 9-10

Reading 2: 1 THES 1:1-5B

Gospel: MT 22:15-21

Liturgical colour: Green.

Let us begin by looking at our Gospel reading today in MT 22: 15=21:

The Pharisees went off and plotted how they might entrap Jesus in speech. They sent their disciples to him, with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. And you are not concerned with anyone’s opinion, for you do not regard a person’s status. Tell us, then, what is your opinion: Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?” Knowing their malice, Jesus said, “Why are you testing me, you hypocrites? Show me the coin that pays the census tax.” Then they handed him the Roman coin. He said to them, “Whose image is this and whose inscription?” They replied, “Caesar’s.” At that he said to them, “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”

So, what we are being told here?

Today, We are hearing about Jesus’ encounter with the Pharisees and Herodians.

The Pharisees and Herodians were well known to have hated each other, but they were willing to put aside their differences to focus their energy  on working together with the purpose of bringing down Jesus.  They conspired together to attempt to trap him.  If Jesus said that they shouldn’t pay their taxes, he would  be arrested and imprisoned by the Romans.  But if he told people that they must pay the taxes,, he would’ve across as being unpatriotic to the people of Israel.  So what does he do?  He takes the coin and utters that timeless phrase: “Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God.”

Jesus focuses a lot on using images.  Caesar’s image was the image of the realm at that time.  Caesar’s image was the face of power, his face represented far more than just being Caesar, but  of the power of Rome itself.  It was the currency used by the great Roman Empire, and Roman coins were spread throughout the entire known world.  But ultimately, the empire ran it’s course and  eventually it fell apart.  Now, Roman coins are worth more for their rarity and antiquity than they are for their value.  Like Caesar’s coins, the things of this world are only  temporary in nature.  We know that we have a responsibility to render to the world those things that belong to it, like paying taxes, or voting, or maybe by buying things to provide comfort and flourishing for our physical lives here on earth.  These things are important to some extent, don’t get me wrong!  So go out there, and give to Caesar what  belongs to Caesar, give to the world what belongs  to the world, – but be assured that it is only temporary.

But as powerful as Caesar’s image may have been, or indeed the things of the world  currently  may be, there is another image that is even  far more powerful, and that carries far more responsibility – this is the image of God.  But it isn’t  upon coinage or upon the paper money of the world that bears the image of God, it our souls! Each of us, when we received the Holy sacrament of  our baptism, received an indelible, irremovable mark.  And that mark shows us that baptism doesn’t just make us card-carrying members of the Christian community.  It doesn’t just remove the stain from our original sin.  It also marks us, it seals us, with the mark of God, indicating that just as those coins bearing Caesar’s image belonged to Caesar, we ourselves belong to God!  And that mark won’t ever fade away with time like the Roman Empire, or today’s worldly things will be their temporary nature, This will last forever – we are God’s forever if we choose to be!!

I would say it is likely that the majority of us don’t have too many issues giving Caesar his due, and in fact, you’re probably feeling like you give him enough already.  That’s not the issue we are dealing  with here.  It’s the second part that is challenging.  It is the giving to God what is God’s – the living out of our baptismal dignity and making that indelible mark, that image of God on our souls actually mean something!  So what do we give to God?  What is it that belongs to God that we can give to God?  The answer is shown to us right here in the Cross of our Lordand saviour, Jesus Christ.  The gift that we can and indeed ought to give is the gift of ourselves.  It is a gift of self-sacrifice, a gift of self-emptying love!

“Give to God what belongs to God.”  This is the gift of a mother or father to their children, providing  them with clothes, shelter, education, faith, and despite the exhaustion and strain on the finances, doing it out of love. “Give to God what belongs to God.”  It’s the gift to the poor – whether this be the donating of food stuffs to the local food bank, or  whether it be offering days  working with a charity, to help those who are in need. “Give to God what belongs to God.”  It is putting God first in our lives, by taking that one hour to go to Mass, even if it is a busy day of  football games or doing other non essential things.  It’s about more than that hour! Much more! it’s about putting aside distractions, or tiredness,  to simply praise God, as he deserves!

As we approach the Lord in the Holy Eucharist today, we realize the need to live in the world, but we know in our hearts that we no longer in truth, belong to the world, the world is a temporary place we are merely passing through. We belong to God!!  May we have the grace to give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what he truly deserves, the gift of our whole hearts, and lives!!

The Lord Will Provide ~ The Rev. Dcn. Scott Brown, OPI

In today’s Hebrew Bible reading, the Psalm appointed for today, and the Epistle Reading (IS 25:6-10A;   PS 23; EPH 1:17-18)  we hear of how God provides everything we need.   In fact, there are approximately 170 places in scripture where we read of God’s promises of provision.  Of these verses, perhaps the most popular is today’s Epistle Reading, Paul’s words to the church at Philippi: “And my God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19, NRSV). 

Well now.  What?  What about the Christian poor?  What about the homeless?  Those who go hungry?

It’s enough to make a person crazy, isn’t it?  You’re thinking, “But I need…..and God hasn’t…..”  In today’s society, it’s all about consumerism, money, wealth, and getting more and more and more… 

There is a belief in our culture that many people are deceived by what is called the “prosperity gospel.” It is a false teaching that in essence says, “If I am a Christian, God promises to bless me with great health, wealth, and prosperity.” This teaching is a great danger to those who believe it. What happens is people place their hope in what God gives even over and above God himself. The problem is God never promises a life of riches, comfort, and abundant prosperity, so when a person experiences suffering they feel as though God has lied to them.  We have to remember that Jesus was born poor, and he died poor. During his earthly tenure, he spoke time and again about the importance of spiritual wealth and health. When he talked about material wealth, it was usually part of a cautionary tale. 

And too, while prosperity seekers might always be looking for money or possessions to miraculously arrive, we should take a closer look at what God desires to provide for us.  God does not want us to see Him as a heavenly source of mere material possessions. Acquiring things is not the fundamental goal of this life.  God is not a genie to grant us wishes.  Luke 12:15 states:  15 And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

So, what then, exactly is it that God DOES provide?  I think, maybe, perhaps, probably that what we think we need, and what God knows we need are two completely different animals. First, God provides in all the ways people and Earthly possessions can’t: through perfect love. No person knows us as intimately and requires nothing of us like God does.  We have to remember, too, that in 2 Corinthians 12:9 Paul writes: 

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

So… the grace is sufficient. Hmmm. And His power is perfect in my weakness. Well that sounds promising.  Faith carries you even when it’s hard to smile, hard to remain positively positive. Falling on your face doesn’t negate faith. It strengthens it when you can stand back up and say, yes, I trust you. I know you are here. I know your word is true.

God is saying, in this verse, that he has enough grace to carry us through the storms of our lives. He is assuring us that He will not let go of us. That is what His grace is and it is more than enough to meet any challenge. Once we admit that we are weak, God is there, willing and more than able to carry us through the hard times.

Even if He doesn’t provide, really He does. Even when we can’t see, He can. Even when we don’t believe, He does.

The Feast of the Archangels ~ The Rev. Dcn. Igor Kalinski, OPI

Deacon Igor Kalinski OPI, Marshal Tito 157, #1480 GEVGELIJA, Republic of Macedonia, Dominican Hermitage & Oratory of Sts Sebastian & Peregrine

Homily for 29 September, Feast of the Holy Archangels Rafael, Gabriel and Michael

I’m trying, from one side to say at least one office if I can due my sadness of the loss of our beloved archdeacon and Dominican sister, Dollie Wilkinson OPI. In every office of prayer, I conclude the prayers for petitions of her end on the earthly life, and been rewarded to leave this valley of tears, and serving now the heavenly tabernacle and interceding for the needs that she knows very well, of today’s lack of vocation within the body of Christ, the contemporary church of 21 century. The needs of her brothers and sisters from the Dominican family.

Today we celebrate the feast of the Holy Archangels, very famous of their obedience and ministry of God, that we can see from the Holy Scripture. Sister Dollie strived her best to be an angel of flesh, she has shown that every day of her religious devoted life. I am so blessed that God put me with reason, preparing me to learn from those, who are leaving us, and I have to strive, facing my own demons, allurements of my flesh, and my fallen nature, but is so much hope and peace when I reflect of all that kindness and little roses that she gave us daily through her unique petition prayer that she shared on the social platform. I reflect, and become strengthened to strive and to continue this path to the end of this life. She have been faithful to the fullest, very confidential like a mother or even like a grandmother, she could sister to many of us, or just confident friend, to share sins and problems with her.

Today reading from the book of Deuteronomy, giving me this answer and refreshment of the sacred call and ministry which is not complicated at all, and I referred paraphrasing this, reading from my native Macedonian language bible, pretty the same as many English translations, in chapter 7, verse 9, 10, 13 and 14.

Faithful to God, and God will loves you, remaining faithful to the solemn vows and oath that we take in front of the superior and the altar, god will protects our vow, and we with our faithfulness will be preserved for thousand generations. God will give all his love and blessings, to survive on this earth, with blessed cattle, blessed plants of the ground that can produce food, the womb of the mothers to give birth of children too.

This was all sister Dollie. She remained faithful and vowed to God, to her family, and her life partner, she grow and raise her daughters that are the continuation of her branches of family, she served faithfully her Order and church, she worked hard to earn money and feed her family and home, and all charitable acts of kindness that we will never know, and that she was certainly comforting people while waiting for her bus to drive her to her work, so many things fruitfully happened in her short , but very rich and profound life. She was like this verses that we read in the 7 chapter of Deuteronomy. Maybe she never realized this, doesn’t matter for her, it matter for us, this fullness of Gods promises in his word in the scripture are true picture of how I reflected and remined me of never forgotten beloved sister Dollie.

 

In Loving Memory of Our Sister, Dollie Wilkinson ~ The Rev. Deacon Igor Kalinski, OPI

Deacon Igor Kalinski OPI, Oratory of Sts Sebastian & Peregrine, Gevgelija, Macedonia

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Grief and mourning in the Dominican Hermitage and Oratory. Three days since our beloved and ever missed sister in Christ, family member of the Independent Dominican Order affiliated within the Old Catholic Communion with the Unified Old Catholic Church , serving in West Virginia, as a college, neighbor, deaconess, worker, mother, aunt, sister, grandmother, and wife.

Her service dedicated to the family, the home church, the church, and the work. With her little steps and little acts reminds me of the Little Teresa of Jesus, and sometimes with all ordinaries that make her an extraordinary friend and neighbor.

Since I entered the postulancy 7 years ago, she has said in time of distress and weakness, her sweet peaceful words with love and compassion. She served the church and Order with her amazing example to follow Christ and dedicate the rest for the work, prayer, and family.

The witness, the daily little roses of petitions, are very missed, and she gave me legacy of continuation there where she stopped to continue to serve the heavily altar together with ever missed beloved father Philip Gerboc, IOFM and sister Victoria Williams, IOFM.

Today’s reading from the book of Ezekiel reminds us of the right path of God, the right path that our beloved sister walked daily as servant of Christ and the Mother Church. Because we are all sinned through our ancestry we have the original sin and the prize is that our physical bodies will end its living, and soul will go to God. And is telling us till we breathe and are alive we have a daily possibility to contrite , repent, change our mind and habit, and continue in new life as dedicated to God, church and our neighbor, as our beloved sister Dollie so much strive to live to the rest of her life.

In the last verse 28 of chapter 18, Because that one who sow and refused to live his previous life of sin, will be alive and shall never die.

Our hope and our pillar of our living faith is the everlasting life, and resurrection. Nothing is going to be lost if we have Jesus, our Advocate, and our Redeemer.

I want to end with the prayer for our beloved sister Dollie Wilkinson,

Depart, O Christian soul, out of this world;

In the Name of God the Father Almighty who created you; In the Name of Jesus Christ who redeemed you; In the Name of the Holy Spirit who sanctifies you. May your rest be this day in peace, and your dwelling place in the Paradise of God. Into your hands, O merciful Savior, we commend your

servant Dolle. Acknowledge, we humbly beseech you, a sheep of your own fold, a lamb of your own flock, a sinner of your

own redeeming. Receive him into the arms of your mercy, into the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the glorious company of the saints in light. Amen.

May her soul and the souls of all the departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.