"Go, sell what you have and give to the poor, then come and follow me!" Mt. 19:21

"Go, sell what you have and give to the poor, then come and follow me!" Mt. 19:21

Monday, March 28, 2011

25 Men to Attend the Next Vocation Weekend at the Dominican House of Studies

April 1-3, 2011 will be our fourth and last vocation weekend for this academic year at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, DC. We are to capacity with 25 men scheduled to participate. While most of those coming are from the East Coast, the weekend will be an international event with men coming from the United Kingdom, Canada and as far west as North Dakota and Wisconsin.

I myself am from "out west" coming from the state of Colorado.  I decided to join the Province of St. Joseph (Eastern) after I studied at  Providence College in Providence, Rhode Island.  Our 58 student friars currently in formation & institutional studies come from all over the United States.

I recently wrote about the power of prayer for these weekends and how we rely very much on our Dominican Nuns & Sisters to whom I send the names of the participants of each weekend.  I ask each of you also to pray for the men who will come to consider God's call in their lives!

Oh and by the way, next year's vocation weekends are already filling up.  Do you think now might be the time to contact me to plan an informal visit or to register for the next vocation weekend?

Chapel of the Priory of the Immaculate Conception (Dominican House of Studies), Washington, DC

Holy Father, St. Dominic receives the Holy Rosary (above high altar, Dominican House of Studies)
The Cloister at the Dominican House of Studies, Washington, DC
Friars outside Chapel praying the De Profundis for the deceased friars just before dinner.
See also: 

Friday, March 25, 2011

"In Dominican Life the Man is Launched on the Way to Holiness"

Happy Feast of the Annunciation of the Lord!

This short audio clip comes from a talk, "The Dominican Spiritual Life: The Annunciation & The Passion" given by Fr. Walter Wagner OP who was novice master in our province for 10 years and now is Pastor at the Church of St. Vincent Ferrer in New York City.  In it he speaks about those structures of Dominican life which draw so many, but which ultimately must be internalized, so that we receive the Gospel continually, thus sparking a new demand for conversion.

I also offer you this excerpt by Fr. Romanus Cessario OP from his book, Perpetual Angelus: As the Saints Pray concerning today's solemnity:

"Those who live in Mary, those who repeat her name along with that of her divine Son, discover in themselves the fulfillment of the prophets' saying that a great reconciliation takes place in Christ. Things really do change. They change because of what God has accomplished in Jesus and Mary. 'Thus the fiat of the Annunciation,' says Pope John Paul II, 'inaugurates the New Covenant between God and the creature: while it incorporates Jesus into our race according to nature, it incorporates Mary into Him according to grace. The bond between God and humankind that was broken by sin is now happily restored.' At the Annunciation, Mary accepts as her personal vocation the spiritual mothering of all those who receive new life in Christ. She becomes the focal point toward which the whole history of Israel has been tending."
"The Annunciation" classic by Fra Angelico (Bl. John of Fiesole OP)

In the aspirancy guidelines (right column of this blog), we suggest that you "entrust your vocation to the Blessed Virgin Mary". With her prayers then today, renew your desire to say "yes" as Mary did to God. May our Blessed Mother, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, guard and protect your vocation so that with her powerful intercession and example we too may always say "YES" to God!

+ see also:  Formation Process, Aspirancy, Vocation Weekend

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

"Christianity Presupposes a Harmony Between God and Human Reason"

"Christianity presupposes a harmony between God and human reason." These were the words of Fr. Charles Morerod OP, the Rector of the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome (Angelicum) during a recent Holy See press conference to present a newly-published "Decree on the Reform of Ecclesiastical Studies of Philosophy".

Fr. Charles Morerod OP in Piazza San Pietro
Such a proposal, believe it or not, comes as a surprise to many people when this is preached. This hallmark of authentic Philosophy, Theology and Dominican Preaching is best articulated and taught by the Angelic Doctor, St. Thomas Aquinas.  The intellectual formation of our friars at the Dominican House of Studies (and all Dominican institutions) is of great importance, because it is our charge to propose to the world the "God of Faith and Reason"!  And such a proposal of who and what God is, and how He draws us to Himself, is not just some intellectual exercise, but one to which we try to bear witness each day. The Order of Preachers does this in a particular way (which Aquinas called "Apostolic") by Prayer, Study, Preaching and the Common Life.

"With the human ability to think under fire from relativism, priests and theologians need to study more philosophy."  Our Holy Father, Benedict XVI approved the new decree on January 28, 2011 (the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas) in order to highlight the importance of the Angelic Doctor in the study of Philosophy and Theology.

This new decree will most likely have some effect on the intellectual formation of our friars at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, DC.

Sources: VIS, Zenit 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

St. Joseph, Patron of our Province, Intercede for Us!

Happy Feast of St. Joseph!!

I am at our parish, St. Mary's in New Haven, Connecticut. Yale University surrounds our priory and beautiful church. Venerable Fr. Michael J. McGivney, the founder of the Knights of Columbus, is entombed in the back of this church where he founded the world's largest fraternal service organization in 1882. Our friars are working for his cause for beatification with the KofC and apparently the cause is moving along.

I will be giving a presentation here about our Dominican Missions tomorrow and then will head back to NYC where I will celebrate the 6:00PM student Mass at our University Church of St. Joseph at New York University.

I offer you this posting from Fr. Bruno OP about the patron of our province, St. Joseph.

I offered Mass for each of you today and for an increase in vocations to the Order of Preachers.  Certainly with the prayers of St. Joseph and Our Lady we cannot fail!

                    -Fr. Benedict Croell OP (Knight, 4th degree)
                     New Haven, CT

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

St. Catherine & the Sacrament of Confession: "the Fruit of the Blood"

Dominican Friars have been known throughout the centuries for the special ministry of hearing confessions. Some of our churches offer many hours for confession each week. During Advent and Lent here at the Dominican House of Studies, we frequently are asked to help with penance services in the area. Last Advent I went with 15 friars to one of the larger parishes in the Arlington diocese to help with confessions.

The Sacrament of Confession is called by St. Catherine of Siena, “Baptism through hope in the Blood.”  The image of blood is used to apply God’s mercy to the penitent to bring healing and forgiveness. As an on-going remedy for weakness it is an “on-going Baptism of Blood.”(1)  The “ministers who hold the key to the Blood” will “pour” the Blood over the soul of the penitent during the prayer of absolution.(2) Going to confession is an extraordinary experience for St. Catherine. Through confession, St. Catherine tells us, when "man comes out of the guilt of mortal sin, we see he is born anew every time.”(3)  If the penitent is able to confess his sins but chooses not to do so and simply has contrition, he will be deprived of the “fruit of the Blood.”(4)  It is a sacrament that should not be delayed in one’s life - particularly for someone considering a vocation. Along with Baptism, Penance hearkens back to the death of Christ where the Blood shed for humanity is ministered to the souls of the penitents restoring them to grace they originally drew from the power of the Blood in Baptism.
Finally, I would add that when a young man is regularly availing himself to the grace of the Sacraments of the Church (in particular the sacraments of Confession & daily Mass), he can be confident that any attraction he may have to Dominican life should be more seriously acted upon. It would then be a good time to call me and plan to come to one of our upcoming vocation weekends. May the "fruit of the Blood" which St. Catherine so eloquently speaks of be operative in your lives and in your discernment!
1 Dialogue, #75
2 ibid
3 Letters of St. Catherine of Siena, T305
4 Dialogue, #75

Monday, March 14, 2011

"The Lord has Given Us Great Hopes of a Good Catch!"

The Powerful Intercession of the Dominican Nuns & Sisters
When each of you come on a vocation weekend at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington DC, I always tell men it is the best way to learn the most about the Order in a very short time.  The vocation weekend goes beyond what you read about the Order, because you meet our 80+ friars here, many of whom are close to you in age. You have a chance to pray with us and to hear presentations by Dominicans about our way of life, which is part of an 800 year living tradition that has made many great saints!

Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia in Nashville, TN
Before each vocation weekend I write letters to monasteries of our contemplative Dominican Nuns & some Congregations of the Dominican Sisters in the US and Canada asking them to remember you in a special way.  Well, their prayers have been successful.  Our vocation weekends provide a great balance of information, interaction with the friars of our house, and quiet time for prayer to help you consider God's plan for your life.

One of our novices, Bro. Raymund, sent me the following quotation, reminding me that such prayer support between the friars and the contemplative nuns has been a major part of the Order from the beginning using very familiar language! Let it be said that we too, even now, have "great hopes of a good catch!"  Each of you are in our prayers during this Lenten season that the Lord will help you to respond generously to His call.

"Pray for me without ceasing unto the Lord (1), that He may always open wide His hands to us and may direct His word, through our lips, to His own honour and to the good of the Church and the increase of our Order. At the University of Oxford, where I am at present, the Lord has given us great hopes of a good catch (2): beg Him frequently that in those especially whom we hope to catch, as in others also, His will may be accomplished."

-Letter #32, Blessed Jordan of Saxony to  Blessed Diana;
written from England in the year 1230
(p.113-115 To Heaven with Diana! by Gerald Vann OP)

1. cf. Acts 12:5
2. Col. 3:12

Video: Fr. Dominic Legge OP on Dominican Preaching

Fr. Dominic Legge OP speaking at a vocation weekend at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, DC on Dominican Preaching.  Fr. Dominic is currently working on a doctorate in Theology at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland.  He also writes articles for the popular Catholic website, Headline Bistro.
Recently Fr. Dominic did a video interview about his vocation story.  Coming from Washington State he met the Order while he was in Law School at Yale University at our parish, St. Mary's in New Haven, Connecticut.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Salve Regina - Ordo Praedicatorum

"The Dominicans were not unaware that, at certain times, so eloquent of the beauty of God was the celebration of the Divine Office that it itself became a 'holy preaching'. Thus, with regard to the Salve Regina, for example, which the Dominicans sang every night after Compline, Jordan of Saxony remarks: "How many people have been brought to tears of devotion by this holy praise...!'  And he adds that, on a number of occasions, while the brethren were singing out the line from the Salve, 'Turn then most gracious advocate', one of the brothers had a vision of the Mother of God. He saw her, Jordan reports, 'prostrating herself in the presence of her Son and praying for the safety of the whole Order.'"
    -from p. 39-40, The New Wine of Dominican Spirituality: A Drink Called Happiness, by Fr. Paul Murray OP

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Our Holy Father at the Dominican Basilica of Santa Sabina

On the Aventine Hill in Rome, our Holy Father visits the Benedictine Church of Sant'Anselmo and then makes a penitential procession with all the Benedictines and Dominicans to the Dominican Basilica of Santa Sabina for Ash Wednesday Mass.

Last year some friars & and I from the Angelicum were privileged to distribute ashes & Holy Communion. Here is last year's videos (including where I gave ashes to the Holy Father's caretaker, Manuela Camagni who tragically died last year, +RIP)

...at the start of another video, you will recognize the tall one on the right (balding!), that is me.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Sons of St. Dominic: "To Enter into a Dialogue with the Modern World"

Here is the full 1964 classic vocation video from our province: "And the World Looks at Us".

This vocation film was written by Fr. Dominic Rover, O.P.  The scenes included here were filmed at St. Stephen Priory in Dover, MA, the Dominican House of Studies, Washington, D.C., and St. Dominic Church, Washington, D.C. From the archives of the Dominican Theological Library (www.dhs.edu) at the Dominican House of Studies, Washington, D.C. This 1964 video, still contains many valid insights into Dominican life.

Just recently even earlier Dominican vocation videos were found from the Western Province from 1961: "Life in a Monastery".

In all of these videos you will find our friars celebrating the Dominican Rite, of which our province recently produced tutorial videos and a website to train friars. Pope Benedict issued Summorum Pontificum, a motu proprio that gave a general permission to priests, whether diocesan or religious, to celebrate Mass in the Extraordinary Form – that is, according to the Roman Missal of 1962.  In doing so, the Holy Father affirmed that the normal form of celebrating Mass would remain the Novus Ordo, but he also exhorted the readers of his accompanying letter: “Let us generously open our hearts and make room for everything that the faith itself allows.”  

“It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place.”
–Benedict XVI, issuing Summorum Pontificum

From our website on the Dominican Rite: "The ancient Dominican liturgy, largely unchanged since 1256, beautifully expresses the distinctive charism of the primitive Dominican Order.  This site, a project of the Liturgical Commission of the Dominican Province of St. Joseph, makes accessible the riches of the ancient Dominican liturgy – not as a rival to the Novus Ordo, which remains the Ordinary Form of the Mass, but as a supplement to enrich our liturgical life with the treasures of our tradition, consistent with the express wishes of the Second Vatican Council" (Sacrosanctum Concilium 4).

Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI on Ash Wednesday

Click here for the Message of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI for Lent 2011
Click here for Vatican Radio Interview with Fr. Robert Ombres OP

From VIS
"Today, with the austere symbol of the ashes, we enter the period of Lent, beginning a spiritual journey which prepares for a worthy celebration of the Paschal mysteries. The ashes ... are a sign reminding us of our status as created beings and inviting us to penance, to intensify our commitment to conversion so as to continue following the Lord"

In Church tradition the period of Lent is characterised by practices such as fasting, almsgiving and prayer, said Pope Benedict, explaining how fasting "means abstaining from food, but it also includes other forms of privation for a more abstemious life". It "is closely linked to almsgiving ... which under the one name of 'mercy' embraces many good works". Moreover, during this period the Church "invites us to a more trusting and intense prayer, and to prolonged meditation on the Word of God".

"On this Lenten journey", the Pope concluded, "let us be attentive to welcoming Christ's invitation to follow Him more decisively and coherently, renewing the grace and commitments of our Baptism, so as to abandon the old man who is in us and clothe ourselves in Christ, thus reaching Easter renewed and being able to say with St. Paul 'it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me'".

(see also Archbishop Dolan on Roman Catholic Identity)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Passion of Christ: Conferences for Lent 2011

This Lent, join our student brothers of the Dominican House of Studies for evenings of reflection on the Passion of Christ. Brothers will be speaking in our parishes/campus ministries in Washington DC, New York City, Baltimore, and Charlottesville, VA.
  • Schedule for the Dominican House of Studies in Washington DC (link) (pdf)
  • Schedule for the Church of St. Philip & St. James at Johns Hopkins University (link) (pdf)
  • Schedule for the Church of St. Joseph at New York University (link)(pdf)
  • Schedule for the Church of Notre Dame at Columbia University (link)(pdf)
  • Schedule for St. Thomas Aquinas Parish at the University of Virginia (link)(pdf)
Each week during the season of Lent, each location will feature one of the talks below:
Wondrous That Tree: The Cross in Poetry
Bro. Sebastian White, O. P.
The holy and penitential season of Lent impels us to dwell upon our own sinfulness and need for redemption, and most importantly, the saving death of Christ on the Cross. Can poetry assist us in our prayer and observance of Lententide? In sooth, it can! By reflecting together on the Cross as it appears in poetry, we can be given a new and wondrous vision of “the wood of the Cross on which hung the Savior of the world.” Specifically, we will consider the Anglo-Saxon poetic vision, “the Dream of the Rood,” John Donne’s “The Cross”, and lastly, a few stanzas from the work of T.S. Eliot.
The Grotesque Iconography of Flannery O'Connor
Bro. Boniface Endorf, O. P.
Flannery O'Connor's fiction and how it portrays the effects of Christ's Passion and Man's Redemption in this shockingly real world.
What Happened on the Cross?
Fr. Joseph Alobaidi, O. P.
Among the Gospel writers, St. Luke’s account of the Passion and death of Christ is unique. In this talk, an expert in Biblical Studies will offer a meditation on St. Luke’s depiction of the Crucifixion narrative.
The (Other) Good Thief
Bro. Cajetan Cuddy, O. P.
Focusing on the Cross and spirituality, this presentation is a theological reflection on the life of a modern day "Dismas" -- a criminal who had a radical encounter with Jesus and the Cross. It is a true story of scandal, mercy, the meaning of true happiness, and the love of Christ.
Painting, Crucified
Bro. Gabriel Torretta, O. P.
The Crucifixion is a mystery of love too deep for mere words to express. As a result, Christians quickly turned to art to express the inexpressible, to return love for love. Painting, Crucified will trace the history of painted depictions of Christ's Crucifixion from its earliest representations to contemporary forms. The talk will elucidate major patterns of artistic symbolism in crucifixion scenes as an aid to visual literacy in this important medium of Christian piety.
Death Amidst Life: Lenten Gregorian Chant
Bro. Innocent Smith, O. P.
The Dominican liturgy preserves many ancient chants that are sung during Lent and Passion-tide. These chants present beautiful articulations of Christian teachings on death, suffering, dependence on God's mercy, and Christ's protection of his people. This presentation will include the singing of several Latin chants, and will offer an exposition of their history, influence, and theological meaning.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The New Wine of Dominican Spirituality: A Drink Called Happiness

If you have not picked up this book by Irish Dominican, Fr. Paul Murray OP, I would highly suggest it! Many friars have said it is probably one of the best contemporary books written on the topic.  We are reading it in the refectory these days here at the Dominican House of Studies.

I am preparing to give a talk at St. Leo's Parish in Fairfax, Virginia and I will be using it.  Fr. Paul taught me at the University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum) in Rome and helped direct my thesis on St. Catherine of Siena.

He was one of the more popular professors in Rome and one friar that you will never forget. He exhibits the joy of which he writes about in the Dominican spiritual life. At the "Ange" he always is given one of the largest classrooms because seminarians, priests, religious and lay people who study in Rome frequently come to his classes - even though they may not be registered formally.  Fr. Murray will be giving our annual house retreat here in Washington, DC from 15-20 August, 2011.

By the way, there are a number of great books written by Dominicans that we would recommend. Many of them are linked to our website, DominicanFriars.org.  Check them out and say a prayer that my talk goes well on Monday night!

Also, there are two more books recently written by Fr. Murray. I hear they are excellent, though they are not in our friars bookshop yet, they are available on Amazon.com. I have linked them here below.


Saturday, March 5, 2011

Preaching the Gospel of Life as Dominicans

Much of the Pro-Life work of the Order of Preachers in the United States takes place in mobilizing the people whom we serve in our parishes & campus ministries.  Frequently friars are involved with scholarly articles & talks to further the Gospel of Life.

*Hopefully you all saw the recent post on DominicanFriars.org about our Dominican parish, St. Patrick's in Columbus, Ohio.

Our own Providence College also brought many students to this year's March for Life with their chaplain, Fr. James Cuddy OP. (see his vocation story)

Our university parish, St. Thomas Aquinas at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville has one of the largest programs in the US teaching couples how to live the Gospel of Life in their marriages through the use of Natural Family Planning.

The Rosary, of course, is the Order's spiritual weapon to counter the "culture of death" since it meditates upon the Mystery of Christ's Incarnation. Through the preaching/praying of the Rosary, the goodness of creation and the dignity of the human person are common Dominican principles which have countered the theological errors since the time of St. Dominic.

Regina Sacratissimi Rosarii, Ora pro nobis!

Fr. James Cuddy OP, Chaplain at Providence College