You know, it’s weird what sticks.
After a multitude of unsolicited and unanticipated comments and compliments, I have decided to offer on the blog my homily from this past Sunday for the Solemnity of the Dedication of St. Dominic’s.
Here you go—
In the year 1863, Fr Sadoc Villarasa, O.P., bought a slice of property between Bush and Pine Streets, and Pierce and Steiner Streets, for six thousand dollars. By 1873, the first building dedicated to Saint Dominic was erected—a wooden Church with no nails.
The congregation quickly outgrew the Church, and the community commenced to build the second Church, which was completed in 1883. Though this Church was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake, St Dominic’s was the first Church to be reconstructed in 1923.
This reconstructed Church is this Church, the building in which we are worshiping God this day.
For nearly 150 years, St Dominic’s has been a sacred space dedicated to Our Lord, a place in which our God is alive, vibrant, and present.
Think of all of the candles that has been lit thanks to the St Jude Shrine, the number of people praying at the Altar of the Dead, or at the Holy Name Altar, in front of Our Lady of the Rosary, the Pieta, or at our many side Altars.
Think of the battalions of believers who have sunk to their knees and prayed at this very Altar Rail.
Think of the number of baptisms, weddings, funerals, first Masses and Profession of Vows that have taken place within the Priory Church of St Dominic for all of these decades.
All of these people, coming to St Dominic’s, friars, sisters, laity alike, coming into the Priory Church of St Dominic, praying and thanking God during the highest and lowest moments of their life.
Think of the numbers of believers that have passed through these doors…all coming with their gladness and their sadness, coming into this Holy House…entering their spiritual home.
This weekend, we are celebrating that day in which this Church was dedicated to the Lord.
The day this building was called a house of God, this is God’s home, as well as ours.
This is one of the deepest things we can contemplate this week:
The fact that we are celebrating our home. This place of rest and light. This place, the Priory Church of St Dominic, has served as a spiritual home for so many Christians for so many decades, and hopefully, for centuries more. This place where we can find our deepest friends and loved ones, the place where we can truly be ourselves. The place where we can be most vulnerable to our God and to our friends and family—
St Dominic’s Catholic Church is not merely another building amidst a bunch of Victorians and nursing centers. St Dominic’s is not merely another address next to Walgreens, or La Boulange, or Fillmore. St Dominic’s is not just another street address.
It’s the place, I hope, where you found a community. Where you found family. The place where you can fall in love with God.
For many, St Dominic’s is that place where we can be, truly, who we are meant to be. A Christian in the fullest sense of the word. “Who do you say that I am?” Jesus asks.
Those who come into this Church are challenged to answer this question every time they fall on their knees. How freely do we say that Jesus is my Lord and my Savior? Jesus is my closest friend? Is Jesus that person in which we can struggle, and fight, as well as share our deepest and darkest thoughts and desires? “Who do you say that I am?”
St Dominic’s brings a challenge to every single person who calls this place his or her home. It demands a dedication to the live the Life of Christ in the here and now. Demands us to discern our Christian identity as the Father’s sons and daughters. It demands that we dwell deeply into the heart of Christ and to ponder His Mystery. The challenge demands that we discover the ramifications and consequences of calling ourselves Christian. “Who do you say that I am?”
We have some of our community that are simply indifferent to the home that our Church provides. Our own friends and family who come to the Altar of God on a wind of fancy. Those who, when they come through those sacred doors, this is not their home…this is a place they visit.
“Who do you say that I am?” They say, “I don’t know” or “I don’t care.”
Yet I am also reminded of the twenty-one martyrs who were beheaded because they named Jesus as Lord. Twenty-one of our brothers, martyred just a few months ago, because they call the Church their home. That their relationship with Jesus is so real,
so bold, so vibrant, that they could not imagine their lives at home anywhere else. “Who do you say that I am?”
When we enter this Church, how do we answer? Who do we say that Jesus is? How do we answer?
For nearly 150 years, we at St Dominic’s have been challenging, encouraging, preaching, that Jesus Christ can dwell in the deepest recesses of our hearts and minds. In the darkest places in our souls to brightest thoughts of our minds—can Jesus be in our midst. “Who do you say that I am?”
Through the intercession of Holy Father Dominic, may Jesus, Our Lord and Our Light,
make His home, His abode, in your hearts.
Holy Father Dominic, pray for us!
Thanks for the shared homily.
“If the sun is going down, look at the stars; if the earth is dark, keep your eyes on heaven. With God’s presence and God’s promises, anyone may be cheerful.”