Category: Dominican Life

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.

 

 

The Feast of Our Holy Father St. Dominic

“A man who governs his passions is master of his world. We must either command them or be enslaved by them. It is better to be a hammer than an anvil.”

– Saint Dominic

Founder of the Order of Preachers, commonly known as the Dominican Order; born at Calaroga, in Old Castile, c. 1170; died 6 August, 1221. His parents, Felix Guzman and Joanna of Aza, undoubtedly belonged to the nobility of Spain, though probably neither was connected with the reigning house of Castile, as some of the saint’s biographers assert. Of Felix Guzman, personally, little is known, except that he was in every sense the worthy head of a family of saints. To nobility of blood Joanna of Aza added a nobility of soul which so enshrined her in the popular veneration that in 1828 she was solemnly beatified by Leo XII. The example of such parents was not without its effect upon their children. Not only Saint Dominic but also his brothers, Antonio and Manes, were distinguished for their extraordinary sanctity. Antonio, the eldest, became a secular priest and, having distributed his patrimony to the poor, entered a hospital where he spent his life minis ministering to the sick. Manes, following in the footsteps of Dominic, became a Friar Preacher, and was beatified by Gregory XVI.

The birth and infancy of the saint were attended by many marvels forecasting his heroic sanctity and great achievements in the cause of religion. From his seventh to his fourteenth year he pursued his elementary studies tinder the tutelage of his maternal uncle, the archpriest of Gumiel d’lzan, not far distant from Calaroga. In 1184 Saint Dominic entered the University of Palencia. Here he remained for ten years prosecuting his studies with such ardour and success that throughout the ephemeral existence of that institution he was held up to the admiration of its scholars as all that a student should be. Amid the frivolities and dissipations of a university city, the life of the future saint was characterized by seriousness of purpose and an austerity of manner which singled him out as one from whom great thin might be expected in the future. But more than one he proved that under this austere exterior he carried a heart as tender as a woman’s. On one occasion he sold his books, annotated with his own hand, to relieve the starving poor of Palencia. His biographer and contemporary, Bartholomew of Trent, states that twice he tried to sell himself into slavery to obtain money for the liberation of those who were held in captivity by the Moors. These facts are worthy of mention in view of the cynical and saturnine character which some non-Catholic writers have endeavoured to foist upon one of the most charitable of men. Concerning the date of his ordination his biographers are silent; nor is there anything from which that date can be inferred with any degree of certainty. According to the deposition of Brother Stephen, Prior Provincial of Lombardy, given in the process of canonization, Dominic was still a student at Palencia when Don Martin de Bazan, the Bishop of Osma, called him to membership in the cathedral chapter for the purpose If assisting in its reform. The bishop realized the importance to his plan of reform of having constantly before his canons the example of one of Dominic’s eminent holiness. Nor was he disappointed in the result. In recognition of the part he had taken in converting its members into canons regular, Dominic was appointed sub-prior of the reformed chapter. On the accession of Don Diego d’Azevedo to the Bishopric of Osma in 1201, Dominic became superior of the chapter with the title of prior. As a canon of Osma, he spent nine years of his life hidden in God and rapt in contemplation, scarcely passing beyond the confines of the chapter house.

In 1203 Alfonso IX, King of Castile, deputed the Bishop of Osma to demand from the Lord of the Marches, presumably a Danish prince, the hand of his daughter on behalf of the king’s son, Prince Ferdinand. For his companion on this embassy Don Diego chose Saint Dominic. Passing through Toulouse in the pursuit of their mission, they beheld with amazement and sorrow the work of spiritual ruin wrought by the Albigensian heresy. It was in the contemplation of this scene that Dominic first conceived the idea of founding an order for the purpose of combating heresy and spreading the light of the Gospel by preaching to the ends of the then known world. Their mission having ended successfully, Diego and Dominic were dispatched on a second embassy, accompanied by a splendid retinue, to escort the betrothed princess to Castile. This mission, however, was brought to a sudden close by the death of the young woman in question. The two ecclesiastics were now free to go where they would, and they set out for Rome, arriving there towards the end of 1204. The purpose of this was to enable Diego to resign his bishopric that he might devote himself to the conversion of unbelievers in distant lands. Innocent III, however, refused to approve this project, and instead sent the bishop and his companion to Languedoc to join forces with the Cistercians, to whom he had entrusted the crusade against the Albigenses. The scene that confronted them on their arrival in Languedoc was by no means an encouraging one. The Cistercians, on account of their worldly manner of living, had made little or no headway against the Albigenses. They had entered upon their work with considerable pomp, attended by a brilliant retinue, and well provided with the comforts of life. To this display of worldliness the leaders of the heretics opposed a rigid asceticism which commanded the respect and admiration of their followers. Diego and Dominic quickly saw that the failure of the Cistercian apostolate was due to the monks’ indulgent habits, and finally prevailed upon them to adopt a more austere manner of life. The result was at once apparent in a greatly increased number of converts. Theological disputations played a prominent part in the propaganda of the heretics. Dominic and his companion, therefore, lost no time in engaging their opponents in this kind of theological exposition. Whenever the opportunity offered, they accepted the gage of battle. The thorough training that the saint had received at Palencia now proved of inestimable value to him in his encounters with the heretics. Unable to refute his arguments or counteract the influence of his preaching, they visited their hatred upon him by means of repeated insults and threats of physical violence. With Prouille for his head-quarters, he laboured by turns in Fanjeaux, Montpellier, Servian, Béziers, and Carcassonne. Early in his apostolate around Prouille the saint realized the necessity of an institution that would protect the women of that country from the influence of the heretics. Many of them had already embraced Albigensianism and were its most active propagandists. These women erected convents, to which the children of the Catholic nobility were often sent-for want of something better-to receive an education, and, in effect, if not on purpose, to be tainted with the spirit of heresy. It was needful, too, that women converted from heresy should be safeguarded against the evil influence of their own homes. To supply these deficiencies, Saint Dominic, with the permission of Foulques, Bishop of Toulouse, established a convent at Prouille in 1206. To this community, and afterwards to that of Saint Sixtus, at Rome, he gave the rule and constitutions which have ever since guided the nuns of the Second Order of Saint Dominic.

The year 1208 opens a new epoch in the eventful life of the founder. On 15 January of that year Pierre de Castelnau, one of the Cistercian legates, was assassinated. This abominable crime precipitated the crusade under Simon de Montfort, which led to the temporary subjugation of the heretics. Saint Dominic participated in the stirring scenes that followed, but always on the side of mercy, wielding the arms of the spirit while others wrought death and desolation with the sword. Some historians assert that during the sack of Béziers, Dominic appeared in the streets of that city, cross in hand, interceding for the lives of the women and children, the aged and the infirm. This testimony, however, is based upon documents which Touron regards as certainly apocryphal. The testimony of the most reliable historians tends to prove that the saint was neither in the city nor in its vicinity when Béziers was sacked by the crusaders. We find him generally during this period following the Catholic army, reviving religion and reconciling heretics in the cities that had capitulated to, or had been taken by, the victorious de Montfort. it was probably I September, 1209, that Saint Dominic first came in contact with Simon de Montfort and formed with him that intimate friendship which was to last till the death of the brave crusader under the walls of Toulouse (25 June, 1218). We find him by the side of de Montfort at the siege of Lavaur in 121 1, and again in 1212, at the capture of La Penne d’Ajen. In the latter part of 1212 he was at Pamiers labouring, at the invitation of de Montfort, for the restoration of religion and morality. Lastly, just before the battle of Muret. 12 September, 1213, the saint is again found in the council that preceded the battle. During the progress of the conflict, he knelt before the altar in the church of Saint-Jacques, praying for the triumph of the Catholic arms. So remarkable was the victory of the crusaders at Muret that Simon de Montfort regarded it as altogether miraculous, and piously attributed it to the prayers of Saint Dominic. In gratitude to God for this decisive victory, the crusader erected a chapel in the church of Saint-Jacques, which he dedicated, it is said, to Our Lady of the Rosary. It would appear, therefore, that the devotion of the Rosary, which tradition says was revealed to Saint Dominic, had come into general use about this time. To this period, too, has been ascribed the foundation of the Inquisition by Saint Dominic, and his appointment as the first lnquisitor. As both these much controverted questions will receive special treatment elsewhere in this work, it will suffice for our )resent purpose to note that the Inquisition was in operation in 1198, or seven years before the saint took part in the apostolate in Languedoc, and while ie was still an obscure canon regular at Osma. If he was for a certain time identified-with the operations of the Inquisition, it was only in the capacity of a theologian passing upon the orthodoxy of the accused. Whatever influence he may have had with the judges of that much maligned institution was always employed on the side of mercy and forbearance, as witness the classic case of Ponce Roger.

In the meantime, the saint’s increasing reputation for heroic sanctity, apostolic zeal, and profound learning caused him to be much sought after as a candidate for various bishoprics. Three distinct efforts were made to miss him to the episcopate. In July, 1212, the chapter of Béziers chose him for their bishop. Again, the canons of Saint-Lizier wished him to succeed Garcias de l’Orte as Bishop of Comminges. Lastly, in 1215 an effort was made by Garcias de l’Orte himself, who had been transferred from – Comminges to Auch, to make him Bishop of Navarre. But Saint Dominic absolutely refused all episcopal honours, saying that he would rather take flight in the night, with nothing but his staff, than accept the episcopate. From Muret Dominic returned to Carcassonne, where he resumed his preaching with unqualified success. It was not until 1214 that he returned to Toulouse. In the meantime the influence of his preaching and the eminent holiness of his life had drawn around him a little band of devoted disciples eager to follow wherever he might lead. Saint Dominic had never for a moment forgotten his purpose, formed eleven years before, of founding a religious order to combat heresy and propagate religious truth. The time now seemed opportune for the realization of his plan. With the approval of Bishop Foulques of Toulouse, he began the organization of his little band of followers. That Dominic and his companions might possess a fixed source of revenue Foulques made him chaplain of Fanjeaux and in July, 1215, canonically established the community as a religious congregation of his diocese, whose mission was the propagation of true doctrine and good morals, and the extirpation of heresy. During this same year Pierre Seilan, a wealthy citizen of Toulouse, who had placed himself under the direction of Saint Dominic, put at their disposal his own commodious dwelling. In this way the first convent of the Order of Preachers was founded on 25 April, 1215. But they dwelt here only a year when Foulques established them in the church of Saint Romanus. Though the little community had proved amply the need of its mission and the efficiency of its service to the Church, it was far from satisfying the full purpose of its founder. It was at best but a diocesan congregation, and Saint Dominic had dreamed Of a world-order that would carry its apostolate to the ends of the earth. But, unknown to the saint, events were shaping themselves for the realization of his hopes. In November, 1215, an ecumenical council was to meet at Rome “to deliberate on the improvement of morals, the extinction of heresy, and the strengthening of the faith”. This was identically the mission Saint Dominic had determined on for his order. With the Bishop of Toulouse, he was present at the deliberations of this council. From the very first session it seemed that events conspired to bring his plans to a successful issue. The council bitterly arraigned the bishops for their neglect of preaching. In canon X they were directed to delegate capable men to preach the word of God to the people. Under these circumstances, it would reasonably appear that Dominic’s request for confirmation of an order designed to carry out the mandates of the council would be joyfully granted. But while the council was anxious that these reforms should be put into effect as speedily as possible, it was at the same time opposed to the institution of any new religious orders, and had legislated to that effect in no uncertain terms. Moreover, preaching had always been looked upon as primarily a function of the episcopate. To bestow this office on an unknown and untried body of simple priests s seemed too original and too bold in its conception to appeal to the conservative prelates who influenced the deliberations of the council. When, therefore, his petition for the approbation of his infant institute was refused, it could not have been wholly unexpected by Saint Dominic.

Returning to Languedoc at the close of the council in December, 1215, the founder gathered about him his little band of followers and informed them of the wish of the council that there should be no new rules for religious orders. Thereupon they adopted the ancient rule of Saint Augustine, which, on account of its generality, would easily lend itself to any form they might wish to give it. This done, Saint Dominic again appeared before the pope in the month of August, 1216, and again solicited the confirmation of his order. This time he was received more favourably, and on 22 December, 1216, the Bull of confirmation was issued.

Saint Dominic spent the following Lent preaching in various churches in Rome, and before the pope and the papal court. It was at this time that he received the office and title of Master of the Sacred Palace, or Pope’s Theologian, as it is more commonly called. This office has been held uninterruptedly by members of the order from the founder’s time to the present day. On 15 August, 1217, he gathered the brethren about him at Prouille to deliberate on the affairs of the order. He had determined upon the heroic plan of dispersing his little band of seventeen unformed followers over all europe. The result proved the wisdom of an act which, to the eye of human prudence at least, seemed little short of suicidal. To facilitate the spread of the order, Honorius III, on 11 Feb., 1218, addressed a Bull to all archbishops, bishops, abbots, and priors, requesting their favour on behalf of the Order of Preachers. By another Bull, dated 3 Dec., 1218, Honorius III bestowed upon the order the church of Saint Sixtus in Rome. Here, amid the tombs of the Appian Way, was founded the first monastery of the order in Rome. Shortly after taking possession of Saint Sixtus, at the invitation of Honorius, Saint Dominic begin the somewhat difficult task of restoring the pristine observance of religious discipline among the various Roman communities of women. In a comparatively short time the work was accomplished, to the great satisfaction of the pope. His own career at the University of Palencia, and the practical use to which he had put it in his encounters with the Albigenses, as well as his keen appreciation of the needs of the time, convinced the saint that to ensure the highest efficiency of the work of the apostolate, his followers should be afforded the best educational advantages obtainable. It was for this reason that on the dispersal of the brethren at Prouille he dispatched Matthew of France and two companions to Paris. A foundation was made in the vicinity of the university, and the friars took possession in October, 1217. Matthew of France was appointed superior, and Michael de Fabra was placed in charge of the studies with the title of Lecturer. On 6 August of the following year, Jean de Barastre, dean of Saint-Quentin and professor of theology, bestowed on the community the hospice of Saint-Jaques, which he had built for his own use. Having effected a foundation at the University of Paris, Saint Dominic next determined upon a settlement at the University of Bologna. Bertrand of Garrigua, who had been summoned from Paris, and John of Navarre, set out from Rome, with letters from Pope Honorius, to make the desired foundation. On their arrival at Bologna, the church of Santa Maria della Mascarella was placed at their disposal. So rapidly did the Roman community of Saint Sixtus grow that the need of more commodious quarters soon became urgent. Honorius, who seemed to delight in supplying every need of the order and furthering its interests to the utmost of his power, met the emergency by bestowing on Saint Dominic the basilica of Santa Sabina.

Towards the end of 1218, having appointed Reginald of Orléans his vicar in Italy, the saint, accompanied by several of his brethren, set out for Spain. Bologna, Prouille, Toulouse, and Fanjeaux were visited on the way. From Prouille two of the brethren were sent to establish a convent at Lyons. Segovia was reached just before Christmas. In February of the following year he founded the first monastery of the order in Spain. Turning southward, he established a convent for women at Madrid, similar to the one at Prouille. It is quite probable that on this journey he personally presided over the erection of a convent in connexion with his alma mater, the University of Palencia. At the invitation of the Bishop of Barcelona, a house of the order was established in that city. Again bending his steps towards Rome he recrossed the Pyrenees and visited the foundations at Toulouse and Paris. During his stay in the latter place he caused houses to be erected at Limoges, Metz, Reims, Poitiers, and Orléans, which in a short time became centres of Dominican activity. From Paris he directed his course towards Italy, arriving in Bologna in July, 1219. Here he devoted several months to the religious formation of the brethren he found awaiting him, and then, as at Prouille, dispersed them over Italy. Among the foundations made at this time were those at Bergamo, Asti, Verona, Florence, Brescia, and Faenza. From Bologna he went to Viterbo. His arrival at the papal court was the signal for the showering of new favours on the order. Notable among these marks of esteem were many complimentary letters addressed by Honorius to all those who had assisted the Fathers in their vinous foundations. In March of this same year Honorius, through his representatives, bestowed upon the order the church of San Eustorgio in Milan. At the same time a foundation at Viterbo was authorized. On his return to Rome, towards the end of 1219, Dominic sent out letters to all the convents announcing the first general chapter of the order, to be held at Bologna on the feast of the following Pentecost. Shortly before, Honorius III, by a special Brief, had conferred upon the founder the title of Master General, which till then he had held only by tacit consent. At the very first session of the chapter in the following spring the saint startled his brethren by offering his resignation as master general. It is needless to say the resignation was not accepted and the founder remained at the head of the institute till the end of his life.

Soon after the close of the chapter of Bologna, Honorius III addressed letters to the abbeys and priories of San Vittorio, Sillia, Mansu, Floria, Vallombrosa, and Aquila, ordering that several of their religious be deputed to begin, under the leadership of Saint Dominic, a preaching crusade in Lombardy, where heresy had developed alarming proportions. For some reason or other the plans of the pope were never realized. The promised support failing, Dominic, with a little band of his own brethren, threw himself into the field, and, as the event proved, spent himself in an effort to bring back the heretics to their allegiance to the Church. It is said that 100,000 unbelievers were converted by the preaching and the miracles of the saint. According to Lacordaire and others, it was during his preaching in Lombardy that the saint instituted the Militia of Jesus Christ, or the third order, as it is commonly called, consisting of men and women living in the world, to protect the rights and property of the Church. Towards the end of 1221 Saint Dominic returned to Rome for the sixth and last time. Here he received many new and valuable concessions for the order. In January, February, and March of 1221 three consecutive Bulls were issued commending the order to all the prelates of the Church-. The thirtieth of May, 1221, found him again at Bologna presiding over the second general chapter of the order. At the close of the chapter he set out for Venice to visit Cardinal Ugolino, to whom he was especially indebted for many substantial acts of kindness. He had scarcely returned to Bologna when a fatal illness attacked him. He died after three weeks of sickness, the many trials of which he bore with heroic patience. In a Bull dated at Spoleto, 13 July, 1234, Gregory IX made his cult obligatory throughout the Church.

The life of St. Dominic was one of tireless effort in the, service of god. While he journeyed from place to place he prayed and preached almost uninterruptedly. – His penances were of such a nature as to cause the brethren, who accidentally discovered them. to fear the effect upon his life. While his charity was boundless he never permitted it to interfere with the stern sense of duty that guided every action of his life. If he abominated heresy and laboured untiringly for its extirpation it was because he loved truth and loved the souls of those among whom he laboured. He never failed to distinguish between sin and the sinner. It is not to be wondered at, therefore, if this athlete of Christ, who had conquered himself before attempting the reformation of others, was more than once chosen to show forth the power of God. The failure of the fire at Fanjeaux to consume the dissertation he had employed against the heretics, and which was thrice thrown into the flames; the raising to life of Napoleone Orsini; the appearance of the annals in the refectory of Saint Sixtus in response to his prayers, are but a few of the supernatural happenings by which God was pleased to attest the eminent holiness of His servant. We are not surprised, therefore, that, after signing the Bull of canonization on 13 July, 1234, Gregory IX declared that he no more doubted the saintliness of Saint Dominic than he did that of Saint Peter and Saint Paul.

Born: 1170 at Calaruega, Burgos, Old Castile

Died: August 6, 1221 at Bologna

Beatified: July 13, 1234 by Pope Gregory IX at Rieti, Italy

Patronage: astronomers; astronomy; prelature of Batanes-Babuyanes, Philippines; diocese of Bayombong, Philippines; Dominican Republic; falsely accused people; scientists

Representation: chaplet, Dominican carrying a rosary and a tall cross; Dominican holding a lily; Dominican with dog and globe; Dominican with fire; Dominican with star shining above his head; rosary; star

Unity: The Feast of St. Mary Magdalene ~ The Rev. Dcn. Igor Kalinski, OPI

 

Hello my dear family and friends.  You know I am witnessing and living my vocation serving The Old Catholic Unified community in my town Gevgelija and all around  Macedonia, serving as a Dominican friar to the poor, marginalized and LGBTQ communities.

As a Dominican friar I want to share that today we celebrate the legacy, the life and the ministry with her example of serving of this holy mother Mary Magdalene, equal to the apostle.

Many centuries ago, the General  Chapter of our Order Dominican declared her as a Defender and Protector of our order.

Me living in such a conservative and anti LGBTQ society makes me motivated through her example and intercessions for all of us as a very close friend of Jesus.

She faced daily struggles of rejection, not acceptance and bigotry, because she was honored to be the very first human creation to see the empty tomb and our risen Lord Jesus.

She was the first ever to talk to Jesus on the resurrection morning.

While the humanity in that age treated the woman badly, Jesu embraced her, accepted her, blessed her and gave her authority to preach the gospel even in Rome to the emperor.  In the eastern European tradition, she was the first lady to paint a red egg and to announce the resurrection gospel to the world.  (Red represents the blood of Christ and it’s the most important color when painting eggs.)

Do you think it was easy in that time? Certainly not easy.  It was very difficult, and there was much suffering because of the gender inequality with which she struggle.  Even the apostles laughed at her and did not believe her when she told them what she sow and with whom she talked.

Are we not the same today? Racial hatred, LGBTQ phobia, divisions in the nations?  This is not t God’s agenda.

Our goal and our agenda is acceptance, integrity, equality and integration.

I have learned a lot through her example and suffering.

I fight daily for improving of this marginalized people toward  equality for everyone.

Its still the same today like in that time, people still want us to be put in box, just because they have built themselves to hate. Is that correct?

Is that the Gospel of Jesus?

NO!

Our goal and ministry is to be fully integrated, regardless of gender, sexuality, races.  We are taught in Galatians 3:28 that there is “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for we are all one in Christ Jesus.  We are all equal in Gods eyes.

By the way, Mary Magdalene is considered to be the first woman priest in Christian.  This is only a part of the legacy of this great woman who fought hatred in the ancient times.  We are called to do  the  same.

But for God, all genders are equal, and we have to work to be improved this for the better common life. Jesus wants us before we go in heaven, to build  heaven in our hearts and our societies.

If we heal division and embrace diversity, and love all our neighbors we can improve all of our common and private lives.

So I pray through her intercession about these divisions, Its time for us to live as true Christians.  We are only one human race, and we are all equal. If the church does not preach this is a dead church.

I will never stop fighting for this people, that’s why I’m a Dominican.

St Mary Magdalene pray for us.

Living for Jesus ~ The Rev. Dcn. Igor Kalinski, OPI

My beloved brothers and sisters, dear family of our risen Lord Jesus Christ, as we have passed the middle of Eastertide season, and we are approaching closer to the feast of Ascension of our Lord in Heaven, we have all experienced, during every Gospel story during His presence among His disciples, from the very moment of the devoted women who first have seen the open tomb and sow the Angel, Saint Thomas, the two people going home in Emmaus, and Jesus explaining all the Scripture, braeking the bread, preparing the meal beside the lake.

We believe all these events that have occurred, strengthening their faith as ours too, passing every liturgical season in the calendar, growing in our faith.

Let us strive to preach the risen Christ our Lord, with our daily prayers, for the conversion of sinners and for all blasphemies against His Sacred Heart.

Let us preach the Gospel through our daily little acts of piety and affection to our neighbors, spend one hour with those that are lonely and that need our attention or company, when we don’t have what to offer for their material benefit, we still can sacrifice of our time for them, even we maybe are passing turbulent times, we can still help each other, to one to another with our confession of confidence, if we build this true connection in purity and sanctity with them, that will help a lot to bear the good and the negative of one to another, and even give a good advice we are gifted  from God , a beg that all of us can give good and prudent advices.

We always can pray and petition those vulnerable people, sign the names, and offer in the daily offering of mass, or recited the office of dead for those that they might lost.

Let testify to them, with all the respect to them.

I see so many lonely people around, that are with no friends, or family members, like strangers, forgotten from the society, let us be that light, to bring them good energy, to spend time, even when we are not capable facing our own demons, , I will sacrifice that one hour, so that can feel that we are here always for them in good or in negative, always when they need our company, we can share our support, visiting the elderly  and the disabled, make some nice shopping, spend nice time with tea or coffee, talking about anything that they prefer.

I do not force Jesus to them, I just act in a most modest and humble way, and my preaching is through the action and true friendship.

We must petition for the needs of all of them.

As a deacon, is not so much that I can offer, like the holy sacraments, but with God’s grace and authority of the Holy Mother Church, volunteer work , the Divine Office prayer, , the visitations to the disabled and elderly, and those that seek advice, or are searching for deeper understanding, or having vocation, those in need of advice and prayer.

As we are striving the Dominicans to study and the fruits from what we study to put into action to the world around us, and those that seem to be sanctified and to live a holy life.

Always to hold the truth, to live the Truth and to endure within the Truth. Veritas-Truth- devoted life in absolute integrity with God, who is Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Amen

Deacon Igor Kalinski OPI; Dominican Oratory of St’s. Sebastian & Peregrine in Gevgelija/N. Macedonia

“Family Friendly?” ~ The Feast of the Holy Family ~ The Very Rev. Lady Sherwood, OPI

 

Reading 1: SIR 3:2-6, 12-14

Responsorial Psalm: PS 128:1-2, 3, 4-5

Reading 2: COL 3:12-21 or: COL 3:12-17

Gospel: MT 2:13-15, 19-23

Liturgical colour: White.

My Dearest brothers and sisters, Today, we come together as a church to celebrate the earthly family of Our Dear Lord and Saviour  Jesus Christ. The Holy Family of Mary, Joseph, and of course, of Our Lord Jesus himself.  This feast challenges us all to look at what it means to be family.  And our eyes turn toward the Christmas nativity scene.  During this time of Christmas, we tend to sentimentalize the Holy Family – they often tend become figures of plaster and paper,  instead of being of true flesh and blood. But we forget: they weren’t all that different from how we are.  They were holy, yes that’s true,.  But they were also human just like us.

The life of the Holy Family is a life not always turning out the way in which they would’ve expected.  It’s the  life story of a teenage mother,  who conceived a child before she was married.  It’s the life story of an anxious father,  who confronted this scandal,  and who at first,  was planning on divorce. It’s the life story of a family forced to become refugees, living as immigrants in the land that once held their ancestors as slaves. It’s the story of a missing child, and days of anxious worry, stress,  and searching by his parents.

But there is even more.  It’s the story of our Lord’s violent death by crucifixion –  where his mother watched with helplessness and unimaginable sorrow.  This family was holy.  But it was also a human family.   We need these reminders.  Especially now.

The Church calendar shows us that the Christmas season is one of light – but it is also of shadow.  The day immediately after Christmas day and the joy of the Lord’s birth, we celebrate the feast of the first martyr, St. Stephen.  Then a couple days after this, we mark the feast of the Holy Innocents,  all the children who were slaughtered by Herod.  The joy of Christ’s birth is suddenly tempered by tragic reminders of what the Incarnation cost.  And the Holy Family shared in that.

It is just a few steps here from the wood of the manger to the wood the cross. But in so many ways, the two singular events are inseparable.   One led inevitably to the other. Joy and sorrow are almost side by side, linked by sacrifice, by faith, and by love.  It is the story of our salvation.  And it is the story of the Holy Family.  he juxtaposition of those two images in this church, the crèche and the crucifix, serves as a powerful lesson for this feast. We realize that when we speak of the Holy Family, we speak of a family that struggled and suffered, like so many of us.

But: this family also knew profound hope. They trusted completely in God. They call all of us to that kind of trust. And they are with us. In our own time, they stand beside all who worry, who struggle, who search, who pray.  The Holy Family stands beside parents anxious about their children, worrying for their welfare.  They walk with immigrants and refugees separated from those they love.  They comfort teenage mothers and single parents.  They console the prisoner, the outcast, the bullied, the scorned—and the parents who love them.  And they offer solace and compassion to any mother or father grieving over the loss of a child.

The Holy Family shares our burdens. But they also uplift us by their example. Jesus, Mary and Joseph were never alone. They endured through the grace of God.  They prayed. They hoped. They trusted in God’s will.  We might ask ourselves where we can find that kind of peace and purpose in our own families, in our own lives.

The Holy Family surely must’ve had moments in their life, when living those virtues which they had, when things seemed so desperately hard, or even impossible. But they did things most of us don’t. They listened to the angels who passed them the will of God. They dreamed.

And they gave themselves fully to God.

They made of their lives a prayer.

When we find ourselves overwhelmed, we need to remember where it is that we must focus on today for our guidance and to remember to look toward the Lord’s Nativity, and His Holy Family and their lives. There is our model for living: Jesus, Mary and Joseph.  But we need to see them in full,  also ensuring that we remember the closeness of the cross. That was their life and it’s our lives too.  Yet, through all their hardships, in a time of anxieties, difficulties, of persecution and tragedy—a time to some extent like our own –they showed us how to be people of  true faith, people of forgiveness,  and people of love.

They show us, in other words, how to be holy in our lives.

Blessed Peter Geremia

 

God has a mission for each of us and has given us the gifts to successfully complete the purpose for which He created us. Our job is to discern our role in His creation. The gifts He has given us can be the instrument of our damnation when used against His purposes; when we discern correctly through prayer and spiritual direction these same talents and abilities can sanctify us and those around us. It’s not too late to seek God’s will for your life–in fact, we should attempt to understand His will for our every action, each day, using all the gifts his has given us.

Peter Geremia was unusually gifted. He was sent early to the University of Bologna, where he passed his studies brilliantly, and attracted the attention and praise of all. On the brink of a successful career as a lawyer, he experienced a sudden and total conversion.

Having retired one night, he was pleasantly dreaming of the honors that would soon come to him in his work, when he heard a knock at the window. As his room was on the third floor, and there was nothing for a human to stand on outside his window, he sat up, in understandable fright, and asked who was there.

A hollow voice responded that he was a relative who had just died, a successful lawyer who had wanted human praise so badly that he had lied to win it, and now was eternally lost because of his pride. Peter was terrified, and acted at once upon the suggestion to turn, while there was still time, from the vanity of public acclaim. He went the next day to a locksmith and bought an iron chain, which he riveted tightly about him. He began praying seriously to know his vocation.

Soon thereafter, God made known to him that he should enter the Dominican Order. He did so as soon as possible. His new choice of vocation was a bitter blow to his father, who had gloried in his son’s achievements, hoping to see him become the most famous lawyer in Europe. He angrily journeyed to Bologna to see his son and demanded that he come home. The prior, trying to calm the excited man, finally agreed to call Peter. As the young man approached them, radiantly happy in his new life, the father’s heart was touched, and he gladly gave his blessing to the new undertaking.

Peter’s brilliant mind and great spiritual gifts found room for development in the order, and he became known as one of the finest preachers in Sicily. He was so well known that Saint Vincent Ferrer asked to see him, and they conversed happily on spiritual matters. He always preached in the open air, because there was no church large enough to hold the crowds that flocked to hear him.

Being prior of the abbey, Peter was consulted one day when there was no food for the community. He went down to the shore and asked a fisherman for a donation. He was rudely refused. Getting into a boat, he rowed out from the shore and made a sign to the fish; they broke the nets and followed him. Repenting of his bad manners, the fisherman apologized, whereupon Peter made another sign to the fish, sending them back into the nets again. The records say that the monastery was ever afterwards supplied with fish.

Peter was sent as visitator to establish regular observance in the monasteries of Sicily. He was called to Florence by the pope to try healing the Greek schism. A union of the opposing groups was affected, though it did not last. Peter was offered a bishopric (and refused it) for his work in this matter.

At one time, when Peter was preaching at Catania, Mount Etna erupted and torrents of flame and lava flowed down on the city. The people cast themselves at his feet, begging him to save them. After preaching a brief and pointed sermon on repentance, Peter went into the nearby shrine of Saint Agatha, removed the veil of the saint, which was there honored as a relic, and held it towards the approaching tide of destruction. The eruption ceased and the town was saved.

This and countless other miracles he performed caused him to be revered as a saint. He raised the dead to life, healed the crippled and the blind, and brought obstinate sinners to the feet of God. Only after his death was it known how severely he had punished his own body in memory of his youthful pride (Benedictines, Dorcy).

A Holy Lent: Ash Wednesday~The Rev. Shawn Gisewhite, OPI

Although it can be a little grim, I love the Ash Wednesday service. More than any other single service in the entire Christian year, it expresses the two great truths of our faith.

First, we acknowledge our mortality and our sin. We are marked with ashes and reminded that we are dust and to dust we shall return. Then comes Psalm 51 and the long “litany of penitence” in which we confess the many ways we fail to live as we should in the short time allotted to us.

There is something refreshingly honest in that. Even if we mostly try not to think about it, we all know that we will die someday, and we all know that we do not always act the way we should.

But, if we stopped there, we would be left without hope. Thankfully, our service continues with the words of God’s forgiveness and love, and the sacrament that unites us to Jesus Christ in his death and resurrection.

And that, in a nutshell, is our faith. We move(or rather, we are moved) from sin and death…to life and love.

Just like Ash Wednesday, Lent, which begins right now, is all about the move from sin and death to life and love.

During the service, the Priest will invite you all, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent. some of the things we can do in order to observe a holy Lent are: Self-examination and repentance. Prayer, fasting, and self-denial. Reading and meditating on God’s holy Word.

Now, those are all good things to do anytime. But more than any other season in the Christian year, Lent is a time for us to be brutally honest with ourselves about where we stand in our relationship with God.

Lent invites us to reflect on our priorities. I don’t mean what we say we value. I mean the priorities that are reflected in the way we live, how we spend our money, where we put our emotional energy. What would the people who know us best say is important to us? What would they say about our love of God and neighbor?

For me, I suspect for most of us, answering those questions can be painful.

Sin is bad enough. The fact is, I do things I ought not to do. I leave undone things I ought to do. I sin against God and neighbor in thought and word and deed.

It is even worse to think about my own death or the death of the people I love. One of the hardest things for us to do as Priests is saying Last Rites.  I did so for a woman who died a few hours later. As I prayed for her, it hit me that someday I will be the one lying there.

Those are hard truths, and most of the time we turn away from them. Perhaps that is as it should be. But we cannot really escape the hard truths of our own lives, not indefinitely. At some point, we have to turn and face our sin and our mortality. Lent is the season when the Church invites us to face those hard truths, beginningg with this service.

And so we work at self-examination and repentance and the other Lenten disciplines.

But as in this service, so in the rest of Lent, there is the good news. Even in Lent, we hear the word of God’s forgiveness and love! Even in Lent, we hear the good news of Christ’s victory! Even in Lent, we hear the good news of God’s kingdom of justice and mercy and love!

Indeed it is the good news of God’s love for us that makes it possible for us to face the hard truths of our lives with courage and faith and hope. We can acknowledge our sin, because we know that in Jesus Christ we are forgiven. We can acknowledge that we will die, because we know that someday we will live again with Christ our Lord.

I am grateful for the good news that we hear even in Lent. But we should not hurry too quickly to the good news of Easter. Nor should we linger too long with our sin and mortality. Rather, Lent is about the move from one to the other.

What Lent adds to the lessons of Ash Wednesday is time:  time to practice, time to grow, time to come closer to God, time to experience that move from sin and death to love and life.

I have a friend who is currently on one of those new fad diets. For now, my friend is eating no gluten and no processed food and no sugar and no alcohol and hardly any fruit or carbohydrates. It all sounds grim to me, and she says I am right.

Her plan is to stay on this diet for a few weeks while she gets all the toxins out of her body.

Lent is like a spiritual version of that diet. For a few weeks, we adopt practices that help to purify our spiritual systems. To the degree that we can, we avoid sin and live right. We give up those things that sdistract us from God. We take on practices that support our efforts to grow in the knowledge and love of God.

And because Lent is just six weeks, we can commit to things that we might not be able to sustain indefinitely. I am giving up soda, tea and beef. Come Easter, I intend to return to all three! But I can give them up for a while.

But a kind of spiritual detox, important as it is, does not exhaust the meaning of Lent. The goal of Lent is for us to draw closer to God permanently.

This, too, is a little like my friend’s diet. For now, she is giving up everything that makes eating worthwhile. After a few weeks, she will relax and eat some of that stuff again. But her long-term hope is that this diet will change how she eats in an ongoing way. Going forward, she will eat some carbohydrates, for example, but not as much as she used to.

Lent is like the strict period of my friend’s diet. But coming out of Lent, we can hopefully have developed new and spiritually healthy habits.

So, for example, if you do not have a morning prayer routine, you might try saying the service of Morning Prayer every day during Lent. It takes about fifteen minutes. Then, if that is too much, and it may well be, you could continue after Lent ends with a scaled down prayer routine. You are spending a few minutes in prayer every morning.

All of this is one long way of saying that I encourage you to take the invitation to a holy Lent seriously, to spend time prayerfully reflecting on what you could do in this holy season to grow closer to God, and to reflect prayerfully on habits that you could begin to form that will draw you closer to God in an ongoing way.

And I urge this in the name of Jesus Christ, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. Amen.