Second Sunday of Lent – Perseverance

So how are you doing with all of those penances?

Every Ash Wednesday, we dream about how powerful our Lent will be.  Running three miles a day.  Reading the Bible.  Writing the next Great American Short Story.  Yet here we are, on the Second Week of Lent.  We forgot to run yesterday (and the three days prior), we’ve stopped reading the Bible because Leviticus is so amazingly boring, and writing that short story?  Uh, sure.

Yet when we are reminded of the Jesus’ Transfiguration, we are reminded of something we have forgotten so long ago: the Resurrection.  That we are going to go through trials, annoyances, frustrations.  We will go through those dry spells and those times where we want to give up and those periods of doubt.  But it is not for naught—we are reminded of the Resurrection.  The Transfiguration reminds us that the penances we partake and the sacrifices we endure are for a greater purpose.  They remind us—concretely and painfully—that there is a greater purpose.  There is a reason for our penance.  There is room for joy despite our loss.

The Resurrection.

So stand up.  Try again.  Persevere.

Only through the gristle of the Cross can we come to the glory of the Resurrection.

How do make a good confession, part I

Saint Dominic’s holds confessions before each Sunday Mass.  Potentially, we can have six to seven hours of confession a weekend.

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…and you thought YOU had a ugly point of view….

But here are some pictures of what the other side of the confessional boxes look like.  This is my confessional, of course.  Sparse and small.  These pictures are a reason why smell-o-vision hasn’t been invented yet.  You don’t wanna be surrounded by asbestos.

Being in the box, you cannot help but think about what makes a good confession.  This isn’t going to be a comprehensive list, nor is it meant to be.  But just a few thoughts:

  1. A good examination of conscience.  I remember once a person came into the box and after I had led the Sign of the Cross, there was an uncomfortable pause.  A long one.  Eventually, the penitent said, “Um, I don’t know why I’m here.  My wife said that I should come inside.”  Okay, that’s just bad for about 1,001 different reasons.  So this is what you ought to do: Clear your mind, look up the Ten Commandments or the Beatitudes and reflect on your life.  To paraphrase Socrates, the unreflected life is not a life worth living.  Look into your past and reflect how good you have been a child of God.  What have you done that brings you closer or further from God?
  2. Focus on your relationships.  The Greatest Commandment is all about your relationship.  How well are you loving God?  Your family?  Your friendsphp5kpNsWAM?  Your roommate?  Your cat?  Our relationships form us, grate at us, and teach us virtue.
  3. So why did you do that?  Again, the unreflected life is not worth living.  It’s one thing to admit that you stole from Safeway; it’s another thing to understand why you stole in the first place.  Do you have a repetitive sin?  What leads you to perform that particular act?  Are you improving in your life with God?  Are you deepening your relationship with Jesus?
  4. Are you really sorry?  Sometimes, we know that something is sinful, but we are still assenting that it is a sin for me.  I’m not promoting “Catholic guilt”—I’m daring you to develop your moral reasoning.
  5. Dream BIG.  What kind of person do you want to be?  Do you want to be a saint?  What kind of saint do you want to be?  Allow Christ’s mission and vision for your influence what you say in
  6. Pray.  Ask the Holy Spirit to guide your words as you come into the box.

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A good friend of mine told me that the box is intimidating.  Certainly it can be.  But it is also a safe place in which we can encounter Jesus in an intimate and personal way.  I go to confession about once every three weeks.  For me, it is that place where I can gauge—honestly—how well my first relationship is going, bad, good, and everything else.

There’s nothing to be scared of when you come into the box.  Coming to this Sacrament is an exciting and important time.  It is a time where Jesus yearns to be with you, to love you—a time where He wants to call you His own.

Holy Father Dominic, pray for us!

Our Pastor’s Corner – 1st Sunday of Lent

Hurley_Cassidy_lent1_final_webLent has launched. Beginning with Wednesday’s ashes, this 40-day season is a journey into the heart of our faith. The word “Lent” comes from the word meaning “spring” and, we can expect that if we actively undertake this Lenten journey, we will experience spiritual growth and renewal. This first Sunday of Lent, we follow Christ into the desert where he faces three temptations. Each temptation is powerful precisely because it sparkles with illusions of happiness. The devil beguiles Jesus by appealing to the three P’s: power (jump from temple parapet), pleasure (stones transformed to bread) and possessions (the wealth and magnificence of the nations). Because they are basic human goods, each entices as the source and summit of human happiness.

Jesus responds to each enticement by quoting Scripture, “Man does not live by bread alone but by every Word that come from the mouth of God;” “You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test;” and finally, “Get away, Satan! It is written: ‘The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve.” As a man, Jesus overcomes the devil’s wiles, not because of miraculous motivation or super strength of will, but because He was empowered by the truth of Scripture.

temptationofjesusJesus went into the desert to pray, fast and open himself to the Father’s will. These three spiritual exercises strengthened Him, so that when temptation came, He responded, not simply with His own desires, but with God’s words. In the face of the temptations of power, pleasure and possessions, Lent gives us the spiritual tools of prayer, fasting and almsgiving as potent resources with which to overcome temptation. Let’s consider how each of these spiritual exercises promotes spiritual health.

 

Prayer is the foundation of our spiritual life. Without prayer, no spiritual growth is possible. In the Gospel we see that prayer is what shatters the illusion that happiness comes from power. Instead, happiness comes from knowing and doing God’s will, which is discovered through prayer. Prayer is simply talking to God and then quieting ourselves to listen for His response. Though it may seem easy to do in theory, there are few things more difficult than to take time each day for quiet communion with our creator. From the time we wake up until the moment of evening retirement, our days are bursting with the noise of activity and bustle. Yet through it all, God is trying to speak to us. But we cannot hear his voice without taking regular time each day to sit down, quiet our minds and embrace the silence. Lent calls us in a practical way to carve out moments for prayer, to join the community in worship and to enter into the silence where God speaks to our hearts.

Fasting is the act of giving up something in order to develop spiritual discipline. In fact, fasting is so ingrained in the Catholic psyche that Lent has almost become synonymous with it. One main meal on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, Meatless Fridays, no sweets or chocolates: such are traditional fasting practices. By fasting, we overcome the illusion that pleasure can truly bring us lasting happiness. Pleasure is fleeting and, by denying ourselves those comforts that we often mistake for necessities, our heart expands to receive the graces that go beyond our shallow desires. Fasting goes beyond just food and drink. Consider the time and energy we commit each day to TV, the Internet, social media. For example, instead of playing “Words with Friends,” we might take time to pray words from the Scripture.

Almsgiving is the culmination of the Lenten disciplines, for through it we open ourselves up to God’s grace. Just as fasting is about “giving up,” almsgiving is about “giving to.” Whereas fasting is about saying no to ourselves, almsgiving is about saying yes to others. Through almsgiving, we conquer the temptation to seek real happiness in our possessions. Almsgiving most directly applies to giving financial and other material support to those in need, but it can also apply to spiritual needs. For instance, when I asked our elementary children to give an example of almsgiving, one child offered, “I could be kind and share with someone at school who never shares with me.” What if for each of the next six weeks, you chose a family member, coworker or even a stranger and went out of your way to show some act of kindness. It can be as simple as giving a hug, helping with chores, or being mindful to saying thank you!

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These 40 days of Lent will be filled with struggles and temptation, yet through prayer, fasting and almsgiving, we anticipate the rich fruit of God’s blessing blossoming in our lives. May this Lent truly be a springtime of grace!

~Fr. Michael Hurley, O.P.

 

A Preacher’s Life – Study

Study is essential to the Dominican way of life.  To study is a rising of the mind to God.  It is a way to raise your intellect and reason and battle with the Truth, seeing the Truth in everything–science, history, literature, in the lab, on the streets, in books and spreadsheets.

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Study is essential to the Dominican way of life. Photo Credit: G Tarchinsky

Brother Brad, our mass media maven, produced an amazing video about how our student brothers see the habit of study.  You are invited to engage in this video here.

Brother Brad, thank you for your work!  God bless your vocation!

Holy Father Dominic, pray for us!

Lent – a season of giving

Lent is a season of giving.

One may argue that the season of giving is Christmas.  But why not Lent?

It is during Lent that we give up chocolate and movies and Facebook.  It is during Lent that we give up meat and gossiping and whining.

But what if we look at Lent—not as a season of drudgery—but as a season of offering a gift to God?  Can we not give our sacrifices of chocolate and our time on Facebook and our delight in eating sugar and protein as a gift to someone who has given us Divine Life?

Why not give our sacrifices in this Great Season as a gift to the Father?

Because afterall, His Son gave his sweat, flesh and blood to give us the gift of immortality.  The least we can do is offer a minor annoyance in order to give God the gift of ourselves.

Preview of the 7:30 Ash Wednesday Mass

Guest post: Simon Berry

If its any encouragement, the Solemn Mass will include the incomparable setting of Psalm 51 (The Miserere) by Allegri.  This is the piece of choral music where a lone soprano reaches a high C in the verses, which alternate between full choir, solo quartet and chant group.  Mozart thought it was sublime and copied it down from memory:

Gregorio_AllegriGregorio Allegri (1582 – 1652) was a singer in the Papal Chapel from 6th December 1629, until his death. He is almost exclusively known for this setting of Psalm 51 the Miserere mei.  Most will know this choral work for its haunting soprano top Cs, and the myths surrounding its performance by the Sistine Chapel Choir.

It was de rigeur for those on the Grand Tour in the 18th century to hear the work in the Sistine Chapel during Holy Week. Many have expounded on the piece’s beauty and uniqueness, and legend tells that unauthorized copying of the work was an excommunicable offence. Despite this, Mozart is said to have reconstructed the work after hearing it performed from memory, thus avoiding excommunication on a technicality.

Come to pray, receive the sign of the ashes and be inspired to live a good Lent.

ASH WEDNESDAY SCHEDULE

The parish will have a number of Ash Wednesday services.

6:30am  Mass

8:00am Mass

12:15pm
Short Prayer Service (no Eucharist)

5:30pm Mass

7:30pm Mass

Holy Father Dominic, pray for us!

Our Pastor’s Corner – March 2, 2014

“Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span? Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin. If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith? So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’ All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.” (Mt. 6:24-34)

As a priest, I am frequently called upon to bless water, statues and various devotional articles. I am always edified when folks bring their sacramental treasures into the office, for it reminds me that our faith touches our lives in a real way. Recently, someone asked me to bless a handsome statue of St. Anthony. Our conversation revealed that he had a lifelong devotion to St. Anthony, famous for being the patron saint of finding lost articles.

I was stuck by the familiarity with which he spoke of the saint. He shared several stories about how, through St. Anthony’s intercession, prayers had been answered in powerful ways. For example, when he is desperate to find something lost, he prays, “Tony, Tony come around, there’s something lost that can’t be found.” If I didn’t know any better, I would have thought that he was talking about a good friend or family member. To him, St. Anthony is very much alive and part of his days.

Someone might consider such devotions to be a bit quaint or naïve. After all, do God and indexthe saints really care about finding lost keys, misplaced wallets or other trifling travails? In the Gospel, Jesus responds in the affirmative. He reassures us that there is nothing too small, no trouble too trivial for God to respond to our needs with his care. In the first reading, God compares his concern for us to a loving mother, “Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you.” (Isaiah 49:15) This is a refreshing reminder. In an age of cynicism and doubt, God reassures us that we can trust that He will always be there for us. God cares.

And yet, since it can be difficult to live that trust, worry creeps into our lives. To the extent that we doubt God’s eagerness to have an intimate relationship with us or are cynical with regard to his real concern about the details of our daily life, to the same extent fear and anxiety begin to consume. When we think that success and happiness is all up to us, there is good reason to doubt. In response, Christ heartens us: Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? When we consider the blessings of our lives, it becomes clear that we have more reasons to have faith in God’s providence than to fret in our own futility.

http://www.panoramio.com/photo/10113676Even if God’s care and blessings are not evident, Christ points out that worry is wearying: there is nothing more futile than worry. “Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span? Why are you anxious?” I think of all the time and energy spent in considering pessimistic hypothetical outcomes. It is as if human nature itself has a “what if” worry gene that saps creativity. God cares. So Christ invites us to refocus all our attention towards our relationship with him. “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.” In other words, instead of worrying about all that is or might possibility go wrong, Jesus invites us to keep your eyes on him, trusting that he will catch us if we fall. This week, whenever worry or anxiety begins to loom in our lives, let us pray that simple six word prayer, “Lord Jesus, I trust in you.”

~Fr. Michael Hurley, O.P.

A preview of Lent

So what’cha doing for Lent?

Praedicare will provide a plethora of theological enjoyment–we hope–as the season of preparation commences.

Every Sunday, we hope to publish Father Michael’s “Our Pastor’s Corner” (which is also available every Sunday in the bulletin).

Every Wednesday, we will publish two series on two key Sacraments in our Christian life.  imagesFirst will be a three-part series focusing on the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  The second will be a three-part series that focuses on the Sacrament of Baptism–which is apt, especially for those members of our community that will receive the Easter Sacraments at the Easter Vigil.

On Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday, we will offer three short “previews” to the evening’s liturgies, focusing on the liturgical unity of the Paschal Triduum, the prostrations of Good Friday, and the Easter Fire.

That’s the plan, anyway.  But then again, God is unpredictable, so if there are interesting things that come up…well, we’ll let you know when we do.

Like with all of these posts, we hope that these reflections will invigorate your Lent!

Holy Father Dominic, pray for us!

A Preacher’s Life – “O.P.”

I think I have six nicknames.  It’s a Filipino thing.

Like a character in almost any Russian novel, a Pinoy can have at least six nicknames over the course of his or her life.  And some of them are actually a compliment.

The Order of Preachers too has a nickname: The Dominicans.

When I was an Undergrad, I was so confused why Fr. Martin called himself “a Dominican priest” yet had “O.P.” at the end of his name.  I had asked him once, but he gave a very quick answer—which of course, served me right, because it was 9:00 at night and he was rushing off to another meeting.

Fran AngelicoBut alas, the Order too has a nickname.  We members of the Order of Preachers call ourselves “Dominican” in honor of the Order’s Father and First Member: Saint Dominic de Guzman.  Just like the Order of Friars Minor call themselves “Franciscan” (after Saint Francis of Assisi), we honor our Father and Founder by using his name as our nickname.  We strive to live in the ideals that he had set up, govern ourselves by his rule and spirit, and partake of the mission in which he had zealously given his life.

In everyday parlance, we use the term “Dominican” and “Order of Preachers” interchangeably.  Both phrases point to the same ideal and mission: to hand on the fruits of our contemplation to others; to speak only of God and to God; to praise, to bless, to preach that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Holy Father Dominic, pray for us!