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.


The parish will have a number of Ash Wednesday services.

6:30am  Mass

8:00am Mass

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. 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!

What’cha doin’ for Lent?

Whatcha doin’ for Lent? the last three years, Ash Wednesday snuck up behind me like the small, annoying, snappy dog.

“Wait a minute—it’s when?”

I mean, stupid me, it’s not as if Lent doesn’t happen every year, or something.

So what happens?  I end up thinking about what to give up for like, five minutes, and then (grumbly) go about my day.

So what are you doing for Lent?

Most of the time, we think about what we give up.  I’ll stop eating chocolate.  I’ll stop having dessert.  I’ll stop watching Downton Abbey.  I’ll stop watching sports.

However, what if we look at Lent on the flipside?  Instead of giving something up, what about we add something that is good for us?  Instead of doing something that is potentially painful, what about we do something that is invigorating and helpful?

(Unnecessary aside: back in December, I was overheard saying, “I love Advent!  It’s such a beautiful and wonderful season. It’s like Lent—only without the pain!”  I think I ought to consider giving up talking for Lent.)

So what are you doing for Lent?

liturgy-of-the-hoursFor example, the Lent before I entered the Order, I pledged to pray the Divine Office—Morning Prayer, Midday, Evening Prayer—for the season.  I did pray Office, before, but I was hardly regular.  Moreover, by this time in my spiritual life, praying Office was becoming a part of me—so I figured, why not hasten the process?

I’m also bad at keeping contact with my friends in other parts of the world.  One year, it was part of my Lent to call a different friend once a week.

Another example, my last two years at Stanford, I intentionally “went Cistercian” for a half-day, once a week.  After I said Office and Mass, I would go into my room doing things in complete silence. I even added email and social media to the list, because I assented that communicating on the internet wasn’t silence—it was more like busy quietude.


Of course, we still ought to fast, pray, give alms for Lent.  Perhaps we ought to delete the Facebook and Twitter apps from our phone.  Refrain from meat or go to Adoration.  But it would behoove us as well to look at Lent—not as a time to give things up, but add things we ought to be doing anyway.

…like doing everything we can to prepare for the Resurrection.

Fra. Angelico, OP Noli me Tangere

Fra. Angelico, OP
Noli me Tangere


Jesus said to his disciples, “You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one as well. If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand over your cloak as well. Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go for two miles. Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.

Sermon-on-the-Mount-Fra-Angelico-c1440“You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do notthe tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

(Matt 5:38-48)


We live in an age of slogans. Memorable mottos, pithy political phrases, commercial catchwords are the foundational tools for effective communication. What is true of culture applies also to our faith. So I am not surprised when I am asked if Jesus’ preaching can be summed up in one sentence. Today, Christ gives us a particularly daunting challenge when he sums up the goal of discipleship: “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Christ’s purpose in preaching is to inspire the pursuit of perfection.

 Yet we know that we often fall short of perfection. We are all sinners, we have our faults and weakness, so Christ’s call to be perfect seems radically impractical, if not impossible. After all, Christ himself says that he has not come “to call the righteous, but sinners.This challenge of holiness does not seem to fit with the reality of our own fragility and God’s mercy. At first glance the expectation to be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect, is a bit of a head scratcher.

In order to understand what Jesus is saying, it is helpful to remember that the context of this preaching is the Sermon on the Mount. Just as Moses went up Mount Sinai in order to receive the Ten Commandments, so too Jesus ascends a mountain in order to give his first sermon in Matthew’s Gospel. The new commandments that Christ preaches make it clear that he is more than a simple law giver; he himself is the fulfillment of the law.  Last week, we heard Jesus compare the Old Law not with new laws, but with himself, “you have heard that it was said…but I say to you….” Jesus is not just a spiritual teacher or social preacher; He identifies Himself as the Son of God. For this reason, Christ calls us not just to follow rituals and rules, but to be in a relationship with Him. To be perfect as God the Father is perfect is impossible, if we think it is the “11th commandment.”

1That’s the point. There is no way that we can perfectly follow all the rules and live an impeccable life. One of the reasons for the law is for us to realize that we desperately need help. The help that God offers us is his grace, e.g., his love and mercy in our life. It is this grace that transforms us.  Perfection is only possible to the extent that Christ comes alive in us. That’s the goal. Anything less falls short of God’s desire for our happiness.

Sometimes our idea of Jesus is that he was a wise man or dynamic preacher. Certainly, he was. But he was radically more. Jesus is the Son of God, who calls us to be part of his family. Our faith calls us not simply to follow a moral code of ethics, but to be transformed by God into a member of His family. Christ’s call to perfection reminds us that we not only need his grace in our lives, but that we are called to live as He did, to forgive as He forgives, be merciful as he is merciful, and to love even our enemies that we might be children of our Heavenly Father.

~ Fr. Michael Hurley, O.P.


The Chair of Peter

Peter was just trying to do the right thing.

Today, we celebrate the Feast of the Chair of Peter.  We celebrate many things on this day—the charism of unity within the Catholic Church preeminent among them.  However, it’s odd, don’t you think, of the Gospel we get to share today?

Chair_of_Saint_PeterMark 8: 27-33

Jesus and his disciples set out
for the villages of Caesarea Philippi.
Along the way he asked his disciples,
“Who do people say that I am?”
They said in reply,
“John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others one of the prophets.”
And he asked them,
“But who do you say that I am?”
Peter said to him in reply,
“You are the Christ.”
Then he warned them not to tell anyone about him.

He began to teach them
that the Son of Man must suffer greatly
and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,
and be killed, and rise after three days.
He spoke this openly.
Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.
At this he turned around and, looking at his disciples,
rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan.
You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”

It’s an odd gospel.  Peter’s day of glory and condemnation.  One minute, he gets the gold star, and the next, he gets the ruler slapped against his knuckles.  This is the pericope we get for the Chair of Peter?

But let’s think about this for a second.

It’s easy for us to forget that Jesus is fully human.  He had just discerned what awaits him soon after he arrives in Jerusalem.  His death.  In a very human way, the story is not going to end well for the Carpenter.

Jesus is terrified.

He is in that odd place where He knows exactly what God wants Him to do, knows how much risk is involved, and has turned His face like flint—knowing that somehow and mysteriously, God will see Him through.  Jesus is terrified, yet He has thrown His lot in with His Father, knowing that His will be done, and not the will of the Son.  He is terrified, yet brave.

So of course, Peter wants to try to talk his friend out of (what sounds like) nonsense.  Of course Peter wants Jesus to live.  Of course Peter wants Jesus to thrive.

Yet after this exchange, notice what we don’t see. After Jesus rebukes the First Pope, we don’t hear Peter, or John, or Mary, or anyone get in Jesus’ way.  After the rebuke, Peter gets back in line, and follows Jesus to the Holy City.

peterWe know that Peter succumbs to weakness that Thursday night.  No, he isn’t there to see Him get scourged.  Nor does he see Him get crowned or die.  Yet, Peter is one of the first people whom Jesus reveals Himself to when He rises from the dead.  He is the one whom Jesus names as the leader of the pack.  The one whom Jesus tells to strengthen the fellowship, to keep everyone together.  It is Peter—not John, not Mary, not Paul—whom Jesus orders to keep everyone unified under the Banner of the Lamb.

The mystery of the chair.  Keeping everyone together, despite the weakness of the men who sit upon it. Knowing that the Pope is just as weak as we are.  Yet after being rebuked and ordered to get in line with everyone else, he is the one whom unites us, keeps us faithful, keeps us together.

May we admit our weaknesses, and find our courage.

Happy Feast.

Saint Peter, pray for us!  Holy Father Dominic, pray for us!

A Preacher’s Life – The Divine Office

Brother Brad is a mass media maven.

Back in January, he produced a video about one of the essential aspects of a consecrated religious’ life, the Divine Office.  What is the Divine Office?  It’s the Church breathing.

See this amazingly educational and enrapturing video here.

The brethren in Ireland praying their Morning Office

The brethren in Ireland praying their Morning Office

Here at St Dominic’s, we have Matins and Morning Prayer at 7:15am, Monday through Friday, Evening Prayer at 5:00pm Sunday through Saturday.  You are welcome to join us at the front of the Church.

Thank you for Brother Brad for this great work!  God bless you and your vocation!


Holy Father Dominic, pray for us!

Our Pastor’s Corner – Febuary 16, 2014

Brothers and sisters: We speak a wisdom to those
who are mature, not a wisdom of this age, nor of
the rulers of this age who are passing away. Rather, we speak God’s
wisdom, mysterious, hidden, which God predetermined before the ages
for our glory, and which none of the rulers of this age knew; for, if
they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
But as it is written: What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard,Hurley_021614_Web
and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared
for those who love him, this God has revealed to us through the
Spirit. (I Cor. 2:6-10)


Love is in the air in the wake of the flowers and chocolates of Valentine’s Day. In preparing for our Dinner Dance hosted by our Hispanic Community, I was asked about the Christian roots of this holiday.

Who was St. Valentine?
What is his connection with love?
Why do we send cards and chocolates to loved ones? Since Valentine’s Day is so popular and has a uniquely interesting history, I thought I’d start with a brief multiple choice quiz. Ready?

Was St. Valentine:

a. a priest in the Roman Empire who was thrown in jail and later beheaded because he helped persecuted Christians
b. the bishop of Terni who was beheaded during the reign of Claudius II
c. a courageous priest who clandestinely married couples when marriage was legally forbidden
d. an imprisoned Christian who secretly wrote letters to his jailer’s daughter which he signed “your valentine” as he awaited his execution on February 14
e. all, some, or a murky mixture of all of the above?

If you guessed e. have a piece of Valentine’s Day chocolate (if there’s any left). Because the facts about his life are more legendary than strictly historical, the Church dropped St. Valentine’s Day from the Roman calendar of official, liturgical feasts in 1969. This does not imply that St. Valentine is not a saint, nor that he did not exist, but since siblings Sts. Cyril and Methodius have more clear historical records, we celebrate their lives on February 14.

The seeds of St. Valentine’s Day were planted earlier by the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia. For more than 800 years, the Romans had dedicated this day to Lupercus, a god of fertility and health (sometimes associated with the Greek god, Pan). On Lupercalia, a young man would draw the name of a young woman in a lottery and would then keep the woman as a companion for the year. Once Christianity became normative in the Roman Empire, this custom was dropped in favor of a lottery in which both young men and women would draw the names of saints whom they would emulate for the year. Instead of Lupercus, the patron of the feast became Valentine. For Roman men, the day continued to be an occasion to seek the affections of women, and it became a tradition to give out handwritten messages of admiration that included Valentine’s name.

Valentines-Day-Quotes-Funny-Valentines-Day-Quotes-Valentines-Day-Wishes.com_In the Middle Ages, the English poet, Chaucer popularized this feast with a decidedly romantic flair. For example, in his poem “Parliament of Foules,” Chaucer links a tradition of courtly love with the celebration of the feast day. The poem refers to February 14 as the day birds (and humans) come together to find a mate. Thus the day was dedicated to love, and people observed it by writing love letters and sending small gifts to their beloved. Legend has it that Charles, Duke of Orleans, sent the first real Valentine card to his wife in 1415, when he was imprisoned in the Tower of London. Shakespeare’s love sonnets fueled the romantic fire of the holiday. Eventually, this tradition came to the New World. When factory-made cards became popular in the 19th Century, Hallmark began mass producing valentines. According to market research, 60% of folks will celebrate the day. The average person spends $133.91 on flowers, cards, candy, and total spending tops $18.6 billion. The passion of love is powerful.

photo (1)Our celebrations of love are a good reminder that love is more powerful than romantic senti-mentality. In our second reading, St. Paul reminds us that it is love itself which creates heaven. God is love and so the joys and blessings that He has prepared for our eternal destiny go beyond even our wildest dreams. It is one thing to talk about love; it is something else altogether to experience it. When we experience God’s love, our lives are transformed. The Gospel commandment to love one another is not the greatest just because Jesus mandated it; love is the catalyst which opens our hearts to receive the presence and joy of God in our lives. We are commanded to love because when we do, we flourish. Heaven is for lovers and God wants to be our Valentine. May we open our hearts to be pierced by the arrow of his love.

~ Fr. Michael Hurley, O.P.