At Mass this morning, I encouraged everyone to pray for the past and future victims of Hurricane Gustav, which is expected to hit the Gulf South tomorrow. Being from south Louisiana, my plea was particularly heartfelt. After Mass, to my surprise, many parishioners shared with me stories of their own relatives who live along the Gulf Coast. It was a consoling moment as folks shared their stories and news. And so we all join together in union of prayer for friends and loved ones who will be affected by Gustav.
Just to give everyone a sense of what people in Louisiana are feeling, I attach the following letter. Since I don’t know the person who wrote it, I’ve left off her name. A friend sent it to me, and so I pass it on to you. Again, prayers.
Tonight, I am sitting here thinking a lot of things. For those of you who do not know, Hurricane Gustav, now a category 4 and forecast to become a category 5 tomorrow (which is the worst you can get with a hurricane), is quickly approaching the LA gulf coast. It takes a track toward land that makes the heart of many Louisianans drop. This could very well be the end of New Orleans if Gustav takes the track that both the meteorologists and National Hurricane Center have set down- very close to the mouth of the MS River- and truly a catastrophic path- one that send chills up and down my spine as I think of it now. Some have predicted that Gustav will very likely be worse than Katrina.
I have spent the day watching this storm, hoping with each newscast that someone would say this is a joke or that Gustav had just fallen apart over Cuba, but that hope is very quickly fading now. I watched many of my neighbors pack up and leave today. I saw the mass hysteria on the roads and at the grocery store when I went to gather supplies. It feels like an end of the world movie where the public panics, desperate efforts at the last moments to leave town with bumper to bumper traffic, no gas left at the pumps to fill up your car, and a monster looming near… this all just feels like a very, very bad dream that I think all of us keep hoping would just end- and all of us along the coast would wake up and find sunny skies with our old friend humidity alongside and nothing in sight in the Gulf.
Tomorrow, I leave to go into lockdown in the Emergency Room, where I work as an RN- right along where they have put the projected path of this hurricane. I have to stay behind because I have been scheduled to be part of this disaster team. It is my job, and I love being able to help people- it is why I chose this career. But tonight I am scared to death as many others are that I’ve spoken with. I will be separated from my fiancee and my family for God only knows how long as many others will be as they stay behind– the police department, fire department, paramedics, hospital personnel, national guard, etc.. It is frightening to know it may be a week or more before I can get in touch with those I love to know where they are and if they are ok– many of us are experiencing many emotions as we prepare tonight… It is frightening to think what this hurricane might mean for all of us who have made southeast LA our home.
I do not know where this will hit in the end. Forecasters have been wrong in the past… But I do know that wherever this hurricane hits- catastrophic doesn’t do justice to what this storm is capable of doing if it continues to strengthen as it has in the last 24 hours. I ASK FOR YOUR PRAYERS NOW for all of the people along the Gulf Coast, for all the families, and for all of us who remain behind and cannot leave. (Many of the older people in these communities do not want to leave and will not do so. Please pray for them and that they will leave as they have been directed to do by both city and state officials.)
I write to tell all of you a little about this because I know we can sometimes lose touch with the media and other parts of the world. I write to ask for your prayers for all of us down here. WE NEED ALL THE PRAYER WE CAN GET. PRAY FOR A MIRACLE- PRAY FOR A SPARING OF LIVES.
JUST PLEASE PRAY. AND ASK ALL OF THOSE YOU KNOW TO PRAY FOR US.
I love you all.
From St Thomas Aquinas to Fra Angelico, St Dominic de Guzman to Meister Eckhart, the Dominicans have been a dominant force on the intellectual life of the Church. Marked by a rigorous academic tradition matched with a duty to save souls, to be both apostolic and contemplative, the Order of the Friars Preachers has been around for almost 800 years. But in the period spanning between 1963 and 1984, it looked as though the Dominicans might be among the first casualties of the collapse in religious life that followed the Second Vatican Council. Like many other religious orders, the Dominicans revised their constitutions and began to re-examine their charism. In that period, over 3,000 brethren left the Order, world-wide, and by 1975, over 700 priests were laicized, according to Fr Benedict Ashley, an American Dominican. They were in the midst of a serious identity crisis.
But today, in the English Province, the Order of the Friars Preachers, is witnessing a slow and steady resurgence. Over half the friars are under 40, while most of the older ones are over 60. The English Province has 75 friars at present and a small but constant trickle of energetic novices. Young and enthusiastic or older and experienced, they are all Dominicans. Whatever their differences as men, they see themselves as called to follow St Dominic’s mission to preach and save souls. A running catchphrase in their conversations is “that is typically Dominican” and a strong formation marks that identity. Fr Richard Finn, the Regent of Studies at Blackfriars, Oxford, says: “We are blessed with vocations and their educational backgrounds and interests are important to us. We don’t take them to turn them into a standard Dominican product, but there is a strong Dominican formation and that is a strong intellectual formation.
“But of course, because truth is one there will be a common core of understanding and an appreciation of the economy of salvation in the Catholic Church.”
Fr Timothy Gardner, a friar based at London’s St Dominic’s Priory, believes that the growth of the last two decades is the result of the order rediscovering its charism. It has returned to the intentions of its founder to be defenders of orthodoxy, through study, prayer and preaching.
One paragraph in particular caught my eye. It contains sage advice for all of us who want to grow in our devotion to the Word of God.
“As Dominicans we have a passion for truth, but that has got to involve learning that things are often more complicated than we think. And as a kind of fundamental Dominican asceticism which is detachment from that which isn’t wholly true, actually surrendering some of our prejudices, our half-truths – the shorthand we often live by – we have to be prepared to give that up and focus on the truth of what God has revealed and thinking hard about it really.”
In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus turns his face toward Jerusalem-a place hostile to prophets-and announces his immanent suffering and death. When studied with the weekend’s other readings, this passage turns our attention to the price that must often be paid for witnessing to truth and justice. Christ calls it “the cross.”
My guest on today’s show hit upon this theme in light of this week’s controversy surrounding Speaker Pelosi. Fr. Dominic Legge, OP, professor of theology at Providence College, helps us to make a clear distinction between Christian discipleship and political expediency.
Listen and enjoy!
A man for all (political) seasons
Today is the second of two feasts celebrated each year in honor of St. John the Baptist. On June 24, the Church celebrates his birth. On August 29, we commemorate his death.
In any political season, it is important to remember the events surrounding John’s martyrdom. As the Gospels record, John died at the dangerous intersection of morality and lust-drunken power. Even in the best of circumstances, the crossroads of natural law and political will remain difficult to navigate successfully.
Conclusions regarding the specifics of the natural law may differ, but in principle the precepts of the natural law are not subject to democratic political debate. In other words, the laws regarding human life and marriage, just to name a couple of natural law issues, do not emerge from anyone’s political will. They are the precepts of a higher authority, whose will we discern through physical and metaphysical studies of creation, on the one hand, and revelation, on the other. Because the natural law does not originate in the political realm, it follows that its precepts cannot be changed by any political majority. It lies outside of anyone’s competency to adjust the order of creation. Therefore, today’s debates as to whether abortion is murder, whether euthanasia is murder, or whether a same-sex union can be a marriage make little sense. These are not realities subject to political opinion or prudence. To the contrary, the natural law stands as the political will’s standard and judge.
When the political realm begins to exceed its bounds and legislate outside of its competency, prophets appear on the secular and religious stage to remind leaders of the true nature and origin of human rights. St. John the Baptist is a prime example. His was not a political tiff with Herod and Herodias. His critique centered not on their tax policy or the kingdom’s relations with Egypt. His words to the royal couple were much simpler, words that everyone regardless of political stature can understand: “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” That’s not a political statement. It’s a human one. And John paid a human price for it.
God our Father, you called John the Baptist to be the herald of your Son’s birth and death. As he gave his life in witness to truth and justice, so may we strive to profess our faith in your Gospel.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
In 1215, St. Dominic traveled to Rome with his bishop, Foulques of Toulouse. Foulques was attending the Fourth Lateran Council. Not an invited participant at the Council, Dominic had his own reasons for making the trip.
Earlier that year, Foulques had established Dominic and his first companions as a new congregation of preachers dedicated to serving the needs of Toulouse. This was a welcome step forward, but only a first step for Dominic. His plans were larger. Dominic knew that soon his preachers would be in demand everywhere. Truth, after all, is a universal need. He therefore accompanied Foulques to Rome to transform his local congregation into a universal order. For this, he needed the recognition of the Pope.
At first, Dominic’s plans were frustrated. He arrived in Rome to learn that, among the many decisions made at Lateran IV, the Council Fathers agreed that no new religious orders were to be created or recognized. At the time, the bishops judged that groups were multiplying faster than the Church could assure their authenticity. They concluded, therefore, that any new association seeking approval from the Church would have to adopt one of the ancient monastic rules already in use. Among these were the Rules of Augustine, Basil, and Benedict.
From the Confessions of St. Augustine (IX.10):
“My mother said: ‘Son, as far as I am concerned, nothing in this life now gives me any pleasure. I do not know why I am still here, since I have no further hopes in this world. I did have one reason for wanting to live a little longer: to see you become a Catholic Christian before I died. God has lavished his gifts on me in that respect, for I know that you have even renounced earthly happiness to be his servant. So what am I doing here?’”
St. Monica fulfilled her vocation as a Christian wife and mother not only by meriting the conversion of her son, St. Augustine, but also by giving the Church an everlasting witness to the power of tearful prayer.
Her ardent love of Christ led Monica to desire Christ too for her pagan husband and children, all of whom she eventually won over to the faith. Augustine put up the greatest fight. Before embracing the Church, he first had to travel the world in pursuit of its half-truths and hollow honors. In God’s providence, these served to wear down his stubbornness. Monica helped, too. She followed him, praying and crying, all the way to Rome and Milan. God rewarded her persistence. Just before she died, she watched as her son received baptism from the hands of St. Ambrose. The tears of Monica’s eyes prepared Augustine’s soul for the waters of salvation.
Monica died at Ostia, Rome’s port city, while awaiting transport back to her native Africa. As seen above, Augustine recounts her death in his Confessions. Centuries later her relics were discovered beneath the cathedral of Ostia. They were transferred to the Church of St. Augustine in Rome, where they rest to this day.
God of mercy, comfort of those in sorrow, the tears of Saint Monica moved you to convert her son Saint Augustine to the faith in Christ. By their prayers, help us to turn from our sins and to find your loving forgiveness.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
In today’s first reading from Second Thessalonians (2:1-3a, 14-17), St. Paul diffuses a situation disturbing the young Church in Thessalonica. Word reached them, purportedly from Paul himself, that the anticipated “Day of the Lord” had already come and gone. Imagine if you were told that the Second Coming of Christ had happened, and that you missed it. As an apostle, Paul first calms the anxiety of the Thessalonians. He convinces them that the word they received was false. Then, he sets out to strengthen them against spurious teaching by telling them, among other things: “hold fast to the traditions you were taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours.”
Here we see the apostolic ministry of the Church at work. Because of sin, ignorance, and weakness–and sometimes through malice–error often affects the lives of believers. But watchful shepherds, commissioned by the Lord to lead and teach, detect the error, confront it, correct it, and then restore the faithful to right teaching. In the Church, the apostolic office is a mercy given us by Christ himself to protect and guard the fullness of his salvific truth. The teaching office of the bishops, who at their head sits the Pope, possesses the grace of infallibility when it defines and interprets issues of faith and morals. Within the past few days, we’ve seen the grace of this office enacted in rather dramatic ways.
As is now well known, the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), made over the weekend woefully inaccurate statements regarding the consistency of the Church’s teaching on life. Here is a transcript of the remarks she made on Sunday’s Meet the Press:
On July 15, Father Jones and several members of the Hospitality Committee took a day trip to Westpoint. While touring the storied Army campus, they visited the famous Cadet Chapel, which is a sister church to St. Vincent Ferrer. They share the same architect, Bertram Goodhue. After lunch, the parish’s “pilgrims” enjoyed a leisurely boat ride on the Hudson.
Check after the break for pictures of their trip.
The King of France from 1226 to 1270, St. Louis IX is another of the Church’s saints who demonstrates that personal holiness and public service can align in the Christian life. When the high concerns of both Church and State find a common home in human hearts, the two orders benefit within their own proper spheres.
The holiness and virtue of St. Louis are recorded in the Catholic Encyclopedia:
St. Louis led an exemplary life, bearing constantly in mind his mother’s words: “I would rather see you dead at my feet than guilty of a mortal sin.” His biographers have told us of the long hours he spent in prayer, fasting, and penance, without the knowledge of his subjects.
The French king was a great lover of justice. French fancy still pictures him delivering judgements under the oak of Vincennes. It was during his reign that the “court of the king” (curia regis) was organized into a regular court of justice, having competent experts, and judicial commissions acting at regular periods. These commissions were called parlements and the history of the “Dit d’Amiens” proves that entire Christendom willingly looked upon him as an international judiciary. It is an error, however, to represent him as a great legislator; the document known as “Etablissements de St. Louis” was not acode drawn up by order of the king, but merely a collection of customs, written out before 1273 by a jurist who set forth in this book the customs of Orléans, Anjou, and Maine, to which he added a few ordinances of St. Louis.
St. Louis was a patron of architecture. The Sainte Chappelle, an architectural gem, was constructed in his reign, and it was under his patronage that Robert of Sorbonne founded the “Collège de la Sorbonne,” which became the seat of the theological faculty of Paris.
He was renowned for his charity. The peace and blessings of the realm come to us through the poor he would say. Beggars were fed from his table, he ate their leavings, washed their feet, ministered to the wants of thelepers, and daily fed over one hundred poor. He founded many hospitals and houses: the House of the Felles-Dieufor reformed prostitutes; the Quinze-Vingt for 300 blind men (1254), hospitals at Pontoise, Vernon, Compiégne.
Among his counselors and companions St. Louis counted his relative, St. Thomas Aquinas. The image above depicts a famous meal they shared one evening. The event is recounted in the paragraph below, taken from the biography St. Thomas Aquinas by Placid Conway, OP:
St. Louis IX, King of France, held his relative Thomas Aquinas in the highest esteem, and made him a member of his Privy Council for State Affairs. It was his wont to inform the holy Doctor the evening before of all important business to be discussed on the morrow, so that he might come prepared to tender advice. One is not surprised to find these years synchronize with the monarch’s greatest temporal glory, opening an epoch of lasting benefit to France. He excused himself as often as he could with propriety from sitting at the royal table, but whether at Council board or supper, he was as recollected as in his cell. While sitting at table one evening with the King and Queen and guests, he was observed to be quite lost in thought. Vainly the Prior plucked his sleeve to arouse him, when suddenly the goblets and platters jumped from a blow of his fist on the trencher, and the sonorous voice rang out: “The argument is clinched against the Manichees!” All the while his train of thought had been of the heresy of the new Manichees, the Vaudois, and Cathari. The Prior rebuked him for such unseemly conduct, but the gentle Louis only smiled, and bade one of his secretaries write down the argument hastily, lest it might lose its force and clearness.
St. Louis died in 1270 in Tunis, North Africa, while on his second crusade to the Holy Land. His relics were taken to Bologna, then Lyon, and finally to the royal chapel at St. Denis, where today only a finger remains.
O God, you called your servant Louis of France to an earthly throne that he might advance your heavenly kingdom, and you gave him zeal for your Church and love for your people. Mercifully grant that we who commemorate him this day may be fruitful in good works, and attain to the glorious crown of your saints.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
The work on the church roof continues, though each new section presents its own new challenges. Removing the old roof has uncovered several spots where rust has taken hold of the church’s structural beams. Of course, these problems need to be fixed before the new roof is completed.
After the break you’ll find the latest photos from the contractors.
The first person from the Americas to be canonized, Rose of Lima remains a saint for our time. Her virtue, holiness, and zeal for souls, especially for the sick and oppressed, continue to reveal the heights of holiness possible in the modern world.
Upon reading her biography, however, many become troubled over her severe fasting and penance. By today’s standards, her attempts to lessen her physical beauty seem bizarre. But what are today’s standards? Considering the money spent and physical torture endured nowadays to preserve youth and beauty, forsaking these for love of the pure and chaste Christ doesn’t seem so odd.
After receiving the habit of St. Dominic, Rose dedicated herself to penance for the sins of her country, the conversion of sinners, and the souls in Purgatory. She led an exemplary religious life, and many miracles followed her death.
Given the nobility of her religious observance, something in this image of St. Rose seems out of place. Granted she put some of her poetry to music, I wouldn’t want to confuse Rose with Soeur Sourire, the Singing Nun.
God our Father, for love of you Saint Rose gave up everything to devote herself to a life of penance. By the help of her prayers may we imitate her selfless way of life on earth and enjoy the fullness of your blessings in heaven.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
Joining me on the show today were Fr. James Cuddy, OP, the parochial vicar of St. Louis Bertrand Church in Louisville, KY, and Fr. Sean Connor, pastor of St. Ann’s Church in Neponset, MA. We discussed the Queenship of Mary and the readings for this coming Sunday.
The Gospel, taken from Matthew 16, recounts Peter’s confession of faith at Caesarea Philippi. As you will remember, upon hearing Peter’s confession Christ gives him the keys of the kingdom of heaven, which symbolize his authority in Christ’s Church to bind and loose sins.
Meditating on this Gospel never gets old, for how can we fail to appreciate the divine love, mercy, and forgiveness we receive through the Sacrament of Penance, the gift of the keys par excellence.
Enjoy the show!
Queen of Heaven, rejoice, alleluia! For he whom you did merit to bear, alleluia! Has risen as he said, alleluia! Pray for us to God, alleluia!
One week after observing the Solemnity of the Assumption, today we remember the Queenship of Mary. Again, the Church points our attention up and forward. Today, we meditate on heaven.
The image above depicts both the singular grace of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the common grace of glory to which we are all destined in Christ. In crowning the Mother of the Son as Queen of Heaven and Earth, God the Father crowns his own gifts of creation and redemption, bringing both to everlasting and supernatural perfection. In particular, Mary’s coronation brings to fruition the grace of the Immaculate Conception, by which God conformed Mary at the moment of her conception to the cross of her Son. Accordingly, as the perfect disciple on earth, Mary is also the first of the saints in heaven.
In Mary’s coronation we see too the inheritance promised us in Christ, which is to share in the life of the Blessed Trinity, reigning with the Son and sharing his sovereignty over creation. St. Paul explains this mystery in his Second Letter to Timothy: “The saying is sure: If we have died with him, we shall also live with him; if we endure, we shall also reign with him” (2:11-12). As Queen, Mary resumes her role as mother, extending her care over the mystical and royal body of her Son, the Church militant and suffering, whose members hope to share in her reign as co-heirs of Christ.
Father, you have given us the mother of your Son to be our queen and mother. With the support of her prayers may we come to share the glory of your children in the kingdom of heaven.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, on God, forever and ever. Amen.
On Thursday, October 2, an evening lecture on Catholic political life will be delivered at the Church of Our Saviour (Park Avenue at East 38th Street). Edward Mechmann, the public policy director for the archdiocesan Family Life/Respect Life Office, will speak on “The Conscience of Catholic Voting.” Sponsored by the of the Family Life Office, the evening will begin at 5:45 PM. A question and answer session will follow Mr. Mechmann’s remarks. The lecture is free and open to the public.
Also relating to the upcoming election, the bishops of the United States have called on all American Catholics to prepare spiritually for the first Tuesday in November. They suggest in particular praying a novena. From the USCCB:
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) invites U.S. Catholics to pray before the November election a novena for life, justice, and peace called Novena for Faithful Citizenship. It is a podcast and available for download.
Joan Rosenhauer, Associate Director for the USCCB’s Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development, said that the special novena is part of “the bishops’ campaign to help Catholics develop well-formed consciences for addressing political and social questions.” The bishops issued their statement on forming consciences for faithful citizenship in November 2007.
Helen Osman, USCCB Secretary of Communications, expressed hope that the novena could help “Catholics enter into prayerful reflection as they prepare to vote.” Seventy-one percent of all visitors to the USCCB’s web site download the free podcasts of the daily NAB readings. These same visitors are encouraged to use the novena podcast for prayer. Osman said that the USCCB wants to support Catholics as they weigh pre-election issues and that “providing a prayer resource on the Web can help us focus on our common values and identity as Catholics.” The novena emphasizes the dignity of life, justice, and peace.
The Novena for Faithful Citizenship runs for nine days and can be used consecutively, one day each week, for nine days prior to the election, or “in any way that works best for a community or individual,” said Rosenhauer.
Since St. Pius V, who died in 1572, only one other pope has been raised to the altars, St. Pius X, whose feast we celebrate today.
Born Giuseppe Melchiore Sarto in the northern Italian town of Riese, the future pope and saint was ordained a priest in 1858 for the Diocese of Treviso. After several pastoral assignments, Pius became rector of the seminary and eventually vicar general of the diocese. In the midst of his active service, the young Pius made time for study and contemplation. Throughout his priesthood, he developed his understanding of the doctrines of St. Thomas Aquinas. He also fostered his devotion to the liturgical traditions of the Church, particularly her heritage of Gregorian Chant.
In 1884, Pius was elected Bishop of Mantua. Five years later, he was created a cardinal by Pope Leo XIII and made Patriarch of Venice. As shepherd of these two local churches, Pius effected growth and renewal, especially by reforming the doctrinal and liturgical lives of his priests and seminarians. Pius would carry this same zeal for renewal to the See of Peter, to which he was elected in 1903.
Fr. John Farren, OP, the Director of Advancement for the Province, discusses the readings for the Solemnity of the Assumption and the Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time with Angelo Matera, the editor of Godspy.com.
Most people now attending Dominican parishes might have little idea that before the 1960′s Dominicans worldwide celebrated both Mass and the Divine Office according to their own ancient traditions. These included Mass texts, liturgical hymns, and chant melodies, many dating back to the 13th century, that were unique to the Order of Preachers. During the liturgical reforms of the late ’60′s, the Order was given the choice of maintaining its liturgical tradition or adopting wholesale the reformed Roman Rite. The circumstances of the time, which included greater mobility and sustained interaction with diocesan parishes and institutions, prompted superiors to switch the entire Order to celebrating the common Roman Rite.
Certain elements of the Order’s ancient traditions, however, have endured. Others continue to be studied and appreciated for the substantial contributions they can make to contemporary Dominican celebrations of the Roman Rite.
Fr. Augustine Thompson, OP, a priest of the Holy Name Province, maintains a blog entitled Dominican Liturgy, in which he explores various elements of the Order’s liturgical traditions. Be sure to check it out. There one can find explanations of classic Dominican prayers and practices. Also available are electronic copies of old liturgical books. Of particular interest are the pictures Fr. Thompson posts of Masses being celebrated today in the Dominican Rite.
Mark your calendars!
On Saturday, October 4, the Family Life – Respect Life Office of the Archdiocese of New York and the Church of St. Vincent Ferrer will host an afternoon conference to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the encyclical Humanae Vitae. Our keynote speaker will be Dr. Janet Smith, whose books and recordings on the subject of contraception are well known. She will deliver two lectures: “Humanae Vitae: Controversy and Prophecy” and “The Connection Between Contraception and Same-Sex Unions.”
The conference will also include a panel discussion with three professional couples who will share their experience of living the Church’s teaching.
To conclude the conference, the Most Reverend Gerald Walsh, an auxiliary bishop of New York, will celebrate Mass and preach.
The conference is free and open to the public.
Today’s feast of St. Stephen, King of Hungary, reminds us not only of the holiness we should aspire to as Christians in the world, but also the high standard of excellence and virtue to which we should hold our leaders and elected officials. The life and example of St. Stephen confirms the fact that virtue and piety can only strengthen, not weaken, one’s public service of the common good. This is an important lesson to ponder during this election year.
The Office of Readings today has us reflect on St. Stephen’s words of counsel to his son regarding the interior dispositions necessary to rule with justice:
My beloved son, delight of my heart, hope of your posterity, I pray, I command, that at every time and in everything, strengthened by your devotion to me, you may show favor not only to relations and kin, or to the most eminent, be they leaders or rich men or neighbors or fellow-countrymen, but also to foreigners and to all who come to you. By fulfilling your duty in this way you will reach the highest state of happiness. Be merciful to all who are suffering violence, keeping always in your heart the example of the Lord who said: I desire mercy and not sacrifice. Be patient with everyone, not only with the powerful, but also with the weak.
Finally be strong lest prosperity lift you up too much or adversity cast you down. Be humble in this life, that God may raise you up in the next. Be truly moderate and do not punish or condemn immoderately. Be gentle so that you may never oppose justice. Be honorable so that you may never voluntarily bring disgrace upon anyone. Be chaste so that you may avoid all the foulness of lust like the pangs of death.
All these virtues I have noted above make up the royal crown and without them no one is fit to rule here on earth or attain to the heavenly kingdom.
Almighty Father, grant that Saint Stephen of Hungary, who fostered the growth of your Church on earth, may continue to be our pwoerful helper in heaven.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
On November 1, 1950, Pope Pius XII promulgated Munificentissimus Deus, in which he defined today’s mystery as a divinely revealed dogma of the Catholic Faith:
For which reason, after we have poured forth prayers of supplication again and again to God, and have invoked the light of the Spirit of Truth, for the glory of Almighty God who has lavished his special affection upon the Virgin Mary, for the honor of her Son, the immortal King of the Ages and the Victor over sin and death, for the increase of the glory of that same august Mother, and for the joy and exultation of the entire Church; by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.
Hence if anyone, which God forbid, should dare willfully to deny or to call into doubt that which we have defined, let him know that he has fallen away completely from the divine and Catholic Faith.
Before his definition, Pope Pius constructs a litany of authorities that demonstrates the constant teaching of the Church regarding the assumption. Two of his authorities are St. Albert the Great and St. Thomas Aquinas.
When, during the Middle Ages, scholastic theology was especially flourishing, St. Albert the Great who, to establish this teaching, had gathered together many proofs from Sacred Scripture, from the statements of older writers, and finally from the liturgy and from what is known as theological reasoning, concluded in this way: “From these proofs and authorities and from many others, it is manifest that the most blessed Mother of God has been assumed above the choirs of angels. And this we believe in every way to be true.” [Mariale, q. 132] And, in a sermon which he delivered on the sacred day of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s annunciation, explained the words “Hail, full of grace”-words used by the angel who addressed her-the Universal Doctor, comparing the Blessed Virgin with Eve, stated clearly and incisively that she was exempted from the fourfold curse that had been laid upon Eve. [Sermones de Sanctis, Sermo XV in Annuntiatione B. Mariae]
Following the footsteps of his distinguished teacher, the Angelic Doctor, despite the fact that he never dealt directly with this question, nevertheless, whenever he touched upon it, always held together with the Catholic Church, that Mary’s body had been assumed into heaven along with her soul. [Summa Theol., Illa; q. 27, a. 1; q. 83, a. 5, ad 8; Expositio Salutationis Angelicae; In Symb. Apostolorum Expositio, a. S; In IV Sent., d. 12, q. 1, a. 3, sol. 3; d. 43, q. 1, a. 3, sol. 1, 2]
The image above depicts a medieval tradition relating to the assumption first recorded in a seventh-century work entitled The Passing of Mary. It recounts how Our Lady dropped her cincture down to St. Thomas the Apostle as she was being assumed into heaven. Why St. Thomas? In her merciful care for him, the Blessed Virgin gives the incredulous apostle a second chance to demonstrate his faith. According to the legend, the reception of the cincture allows St. Thomas to atone for his previous disbelief in the resurrection by becoming the first herald of the assumption.
New York City’s unusually high abortion rates reveal the contemporary need for the Church’s Gospel of Life.
In his 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI clarified again the intrinsically evil nature of abortion, this time in the context of his discussion of the illicit means of spacing children within families. In defending the “principle of totalilty” that should govern every instance of the marital embrace of husband and wife, the Pope lists abortion as one means of birth control absolutely contrary to both the natural law and the Christian Gospel.
In conformity with these landmarks in the human and Christian vision of marriage, we must once again declare that the direct interruption of the generative process already begun, and, above all, directly willed and procured abortion, even if for therapeutic reasons, are to be absolutely excluded as licit means of regulating birth.
This is certainly one of the least controversial points Pope Paul makes in Humanae Vitae. One might wonder why he even mentions it. The reason is this: the logic behind his conclusion regarding abortion is the same that undergirds his more disputed conclusions regarding the use of the pill, prophylactics, and all other artificial and invasive forms of birth control. Once identified, his reasoning in explaining the Church’s teaching is easy to understand. In every instance of sexual expression, the Pope explains, the integrity of the sexual act must be respected by husband and wife. To act otherwise is to dismantle a fundamental structure that supports married life. More to the point, to willfully render sterile something which by nature is generative and oriented toward fruitfulness is both to act contrary to the law written into human nature and to sin against Christian charity.
On August 8, the Feast of St. Dominic, the Province’s eleven postulants began their yearlong novitiate.
During a sacred ceremony held at St. Gertrude’s Priory in Cincinnati, the postulants presented themselves to the prior, who asked them, “What do you seek?” They responded, “God’s mercy and yours.” Thereupon, the prior received each postulant into the novitiate by vesting him in the habit of St. Dominic.
Click here for pictures and biographies of the new novices. Please keep them, by name, in your daily prayers.
Br. Thomas More Garrett
Br. John Devaney
Br. Maximilian Yergeau
Br. Boniface Endorf
Br. Joseph Fussner
Br. Benedict Joseph Freeman
Br. Sebastian White
Br. Gabriel Torretta
Br. Frederick Erdman
Br. Paul Marich
Br. Innocent Smith
Fr. Gabriel Gillen, OP, discusses the readings for the Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time with Fr. Jonathan Kalisch, OP.
On this Feast of Our Holy Father Dominic, we sing praise to God for our redemption in Christ and for the wondrous pathway to Christ’s kingship and priesthood he has revealed to us through his Preacher of Grace.
With devotion to our illustrious founder we sing today the responsory sung by generations of his sons and daughters–the O spem miram. This ancient chant recalls the paternal charity St. Dominic promised to show his followers after his death.
O spem miram, quam dedisti mortis hora te flentibus, dum post mortem promisisti te profuturum fratribus! Imple, Pater, quod dixisti nos tuis juvans precibus.
V. Qui tot signis claruisti in aegrorum corporibus, nobis opem ferens Christi, aegris medere moribus. Imple, Pater, quod dixisti, nos tuis juvans precibus.
Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto. Imple, Pater, quod dixisti, nos tuis juvans precibus.
(O wonderful hope, which you gave to those who wept for you at the hour of your death, promising that after your death you would be helpful to your brethren! Fulfill, Father, what you have said, and help us by your prayers.
V. You shone on the bodies of the sick by so many miracles: bring us the help of Christ to heal our sick souls. Fulfill, Father, what you have said, and help us by your prayers.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Fulfill, Father, what you have said, and help us by your prayers.)
In your prayers today please remember especially our Province’s eleven postulants. They begin their novitiate today by receiving the habit of St. Dominic and their new names in religion. Through the intercession of our Holy Father Dominic, may God prosper their religious vocations!
Tomorrow we celebrate the feast of St. Dominic, our founder, which we will observe with particular solemnity at the 5:30 evening Mass. We will be joined by Dominicans and Franciscans from around the city. All are welcome to attend.
Tradition has it that St. Dominic and St. Francis of Assisi met each other in Rome in 1215 while observing the deliberations of the Fourth Lateran Council. Because the Council Fathers were creating legislation governing new religious orders, the two founders were particularly interested in the outcome. According to one legend, Dominic and Francis met and fell immediately into mutual esteem for each other’s grace and charism. As a sign of their friendship in the Lord, they exchanged belts. Francis took Dominic’s leather belt, characteristic of a preaching canon, while Dominic took Francis’s rope cincture, the symbol of his poverty.
In honor of the friendship between Dominic and Francis, a noble tradition has developed among their disciples. Dominicans and Franciscans celebrate the feasts of their founders together. Franciscans join Dominicans on August 8, and Dominicans join Franciscans on October 4. At the Mass of St. Dominic, a Franciscan preaches, and at the Mass of St. Francis a Dominican delivers the homily. In keeping with this ancient tradition, Fr. Dominic Monti, OFM, the Vicar Provincial of the Holy Name Province, will preach at tomorrow’s Mass.
Lord, let the holiness and teaching of St. Dominic come to the aid of your Church. May he help us now with his prayers as he once inspired people by his preaching.
Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Transfiguration, a mystery of Christ’s earthly life recorded by all four Gospels.
It was on this day in 1221 that St. Dominic went home to the Lord. We celebrate his feast day in two days. Another notable death anniversary: Pope Paul VI died thirty years ago today.
The Office of Readings has us read from a sermon written by Anastasius of Sinai, a seventh-century bishop and abbot of St. Catherine’s Monastery near Mt. Sinai. He is the subject of a famous Rembrandt portrait. In his homily, Anastasius shares with us the spiritual significance of Christ’s Transfiguration:
Upon Mount Tabor, Jesus revealed to his disciples a heavenly mystery. While living among them he had spoken of the kingdom and of his second coming in glory, but to banish from their hearts any possible doubt concerning the kingdom and to confirm their faith in what lay in the future by its prefiguration in the present, he gave them on Mount Tabor a wonderful vision of his glory, a foreshadowing of the kingdom of heaven.
These are the divine wonders we celebrate today; this is the saving revelation given us upon the mountain; this is the festival of Christ that has drawn us here. Let us listen, then, to the sacred voice of God so compellingly calling us from on high, from the summit of the mountain, so that with the Lord’s chosen disciples we may penetrate the deep meaning of these holy mysteries, so far beyond our capacity to express. Jesus goes before us to show us the way, both up the mountain and into heaven, and–I speak boldly–it is for us now to follow him with all speed, yearning for the heavenly vision that will give us a share in his radiance, renew our spiritual nature and transform us into his own likeness, making us for ever sharers in his Godhead and raising us to heights as yet undreamed of.
God our Father, in the transfigured glory of Christ your Son, you strengthen our faith by confirming the witness of your prophets, and show us the splendor of your beloved sons and daughters. as we listen to the voice of your Son, help us to become heirs to eternal life with him, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
Within the next two or three years, we will begin using new English translations of the Mass. The first of the new translations, which includes only the Ordinary of the Mass, has just received approval from the Holy See. This text will not be used, however, until translations of the entire Roman Missal have been approved.
Even a quick read of the new Ordinary reveals its distinction from the one currently in use. First approved in 1970, the current translation of the Ordinary, which includes the Eucharistic Prayers, has often been criticized for its rudimentary prose and loose adherence to the Latin original. The new translation makes up for these shortcomings. The new prose is elevated, almost to the level of the poetic, and the vocabulary and grammar used convey more clearly the meaning of the Latin. These new translations will take some time getting used to, but through them the quality and solemnity of the Church’s Eucharistic worship (in the Ordinary Form) will be greatly improved. As many have argued, the dignified and less familiar prose of the new translations will make the mystical heart of the Mass more, not less, intelligible.
Click here to read through the newly approved English translation of the Ordinary of the Mass.
Below you find a video compiled from images and interviews taken at last month’s Ignite Your Torch Youth Conference in Louisville, KY. Organized by a community of Lay Dominicans in New Hope, KY, the conference brought together priests and religious from all over the country to lead over 250 young people in four days of prayer and study.
During my years as a seminarian and a priest, I’ve participated in many youth conferences and retreats. By far, this one was the best I’ve seen.
Make plans now to attend Magnificat’s “Pilgrimage of Hope” this October in Boston. The two-day conference will feature numerous workshops by popular Magnificat authors, various concerts, special meals, Confessions, and Mass with the Archbishops of Boston and Bordeaux.
Click here for more information.
Years ago, August 4 was the feast of St. Dominic. Now, it is the feast of St. John Vianney, the patron of parish priests.
This nineteenth-century French pastor remains a model of pastoral charity for all priests charged with the care of souls. John Vianney spent himself, to the point of ill health, in preaching to his flock and administering to them the sacraments of Christ. What drove him to such love and sacrifice was his profound understanding and admiration of the priesthood of Christ. In all humility, John Vianney grasped the unique place held by the priest in God’s salvific plan. In other words, he knew what the priest is for:
When men want to destroy religion they begin by attacking the priest, because where the priest is no more, there is no more sacrifice, and where there is no more sacrifice, there is no more religion.
Leave a parish for twenty years without a priest, and beasts will be worshipped there.
Below the break you’ll find reprinted an account of the meeting between St. John Vianney and Henri-Dominique Lacordaire, the diocesan priest turned Dominican who reestablished the Order of Preachers in France after the Revolution. As you can see, God wondrously brought these two holy ones together in mutual respect and esteem.
Father of mercy, you made Saint John Vianney outstanding in his priestly zeal and concern for your people. By his example and prayers, enable us to win our brothers and sisters to the love of Christ and come with them to eternal glory.