Our Dominican’s Corner, Sunday October 11, 2014, Rosary Sunday

mg_0329This weekend, we welcome home Reverend Brother Christopher Brannan, OP, who will preach Rosary Sunday.

There are so many things we can say about the rosary, this beautiful and sacred devotion that we Dominicans cherish.  Acknowledging the upcoming international inauguration of the Jubilee Year of the Order of Preachers (here at St Dominic’s at 10:00am on Saturday, October 31st – all are invited to attend this Mass), let us contemplate how this devotion is related to the spirituality of the Order.

According to legend, during St Dominic’s early days, he had a dream.  The Blessed Mother appeared to him, giving him a suggestion on how to preach against the Albigensian heresy, which Dominic spent his life to preach against.  During their discussion, she handed him the rosary, the string of beads named after Mary’s crown.

The essence of the Albigensian heresy is that all matter, the body, food, the material world, is evil.  The only thing worth saving is the spiritual world, the soul.

If we think about the mysteries of the rosary, this is a perfect counter to the Albigensian way of thinking.  The first Joyful Mystery is the Annunciation, the announcement that the spiritual God will be incarnated into a human body.  The first Luminous is the Baptism of Jesus, where St John pours water over Jesus’ body in order to sanctify and institute this Sacrament of Baptism.  The first Sorrowful Mystery is the Agony in the Garden, when Jesus sweats tears of blood while preparing for his Passion and Death.  Finally, the first Glorious Mystery is the Resurrection of Jesus’ Body to new life.  How could you not see that the body and soul is holy, worthy of saving from Jesus’ point of view?  His entire earthly experience sanctified human action.  By the blueprint of Jesus’ life, he demonstrates that the body—as the soul—is a gift from God the Father, and can and may be an instrument of holiness and light.

dom crucifix 2Dominican spirituality acknowledges the weakness of every human being; despite ourselves, every one of us is redeemed by Christ.  Thus, we do not condemn the world.  Rather, it is wiser to acknowledge our weakness, and pray for an abundance of blessing to make holy those whom he has redeemed.  The blueprint of Jesus’ life shows us how and what we can do through His grace and life.

This is why we Dominicans wear the fifteen-decade rosary on our left hip.  We remember the great dream that Holy Father Dominic received, and also remember that we have this great weapon-of-choice, this sword of prayer, that will grant grace from God through Mary’s intercession.

May we use the grace given to live out the mysteries of the rosary in the here and now!

Lastly, on our blog, Praedicare (blog.stdominics.org) I plan to share my latest short story that I had written whilst away on vacation.  Star Watch tells the tale of a young woman who is trying to live out her faith in a strange and beautiful situation.  Facing adversity and doubt from home and abroad, she is surprised by those who help her, and together, they strive to become the best versions of themselves. The first installment had been published this past Wednesday, October 7. Parts two and three will be published on October 14 and October 21 respectively.

Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us!
Holy Father Dominic, pray for us!

~Fr. Isaiah Mary Molano, O.P.

“Star Watch”, part 1

photo 2 (2)A few weeks back, I finally had time to write a short story. Joyful for this time, I spent many hours praying and thinking about God’s little gift to me.  And so, I will offer this to you during Month of the Rosary. This will be in three parts (how thomistic!)…so keep tuned. 

Also, please remember that the Dominican Jubilee will kick off at our blessed abode at 10:00am with a Mass celebrated by the Master of the Order, Father Bruno Cadore, O.P.  It’s the once in a lifetime event–you will be remiss to miss it!

 

Holy Father Dominic, pray for us!

 

STAR WATCH

The moon, sleepy and hazy, gazed over the highways of Hong Kong.  A moving parking lot of cars passed by overhead, dotted with the occasional double decker bus.  Concrete, noise and light embraced her like a scratchy shawl. Alexa Rose sat on a bench outside a congee place, listening to a bunch of young dishwashers and busboys, swearing in a mix of Cantonese and English.  She took out her phone and texted a friend, asking if she were home already.

“Maybe there,” she said, dropping her phone into her purse. She crossed her arms, bowing her head in prayer.  Her rested her arm over her large rolling luggage.  Her dismissal from her host’s home was cold, yet cordial.

“To be honest, I never felt comfortable with you staying with us in the first place—your work sounds important, but it doesn’t seem particularly…,” her former host said, her voice drifting.  She opened the main door.  The concrete sidewalk looked icey grey. “Perhaps you can email one of your young adults contacts.”

“Thank you,” Alexa Rose responded, more sheepish than she had intended.  She didn’t look at her former host in the eye, but rather, at the concrete path in front of her, rolling her baggage behind her.  The door closed behind her without a sigh.

Dragging her luggage behind her, she wandered Central, pondering her options.  None of her friends responded to her texts.  Being a workday, she contented herself sitting at a cafe, emailing her friends at home, telling two of them that she was just kicked out of her housing, and boasting to the rest of how happy she was to be back on the island. Meanwhile, she would text friends in Hong Kong, asking for a place to stay for the next few weeks.  Occasionally, she would glance at her large luggage bag.  Her entire life, including three years of working for these young adults for pennies, contained in three cubic feet.

She recalled the last time she and Jordan saw each other.  He had coffee, she a tall glass of tea.  “Now this time,” he begged her, “don’t tell me of your housing situation till it’s too late. I would hate to hear of you on the streets.” The memory let Alexa Rose shake her head.  She looked down at her phone.  Still nothing.

“Heyo,” she heard besides her.

She looked over, finding one of the busboys from the restaurant looking down on her.  Lanky in posture, he held a Styrofoam bowl in one hand, and hung off the doorpost with the other, his foot swinging down towards the concrete.  His hair, black and stringy, fell near his eyebrows and flayed at the ears.  There was a gap between his front teeth.

“Hello,” she responded, “Should I leave?”

He shrugged.  “Only if you want.  I just got this for you.”  He handed her the bowl.

She smiled.  “Oh, thanks,” she said, receiving the bowl.  “Congee?  What kind?”

“Standard stuff,” he responded.  “So yeah, you have somewhere to go tonight?”  He smiled.

She thought to herself, You can fit Montana between those teeth.  “Maybe,” she grinned, opening the bowl.  She sniffed. “Mmm.  Thank you.”

“If you want company, you know,” he shrugged, “I have a guy at Lan Kwai Fong.  Clubbing, drinking…you can spend the night, if you need.”

“Aww, that’d be nice.  Let me check with my friends and see,” she responded.

He smiled at her, going back into the restaurant.

Once he went back inside, she stuck her finger into the bowl and tasted the porridge.  She grimaced and snapped the bowl shut, suspicious at its contents.  She took her luggage and walked away, tossing the congee in the trash.

Shield c

Two years before, she sat across from her twin sister.  Fraternal twins, the only thing they shared in terms of looks was their blonde hair.  But even then, Zoe cut her hair pixie short, and tied it up in stubby pigtails. Meanwhile, her sister sat across from her in a long, parted ponytail, her eyes attentive.

“I just dropped the first few thousand on the duplex.  I mean, I didn’t think I would be a homeowner this quickly, but,” she hid a smile.

Alexa Rose responded, “I’m proud of you—mom must love it.”

She sighed, “Oh she does.  I think mom is lying about how many she told about Zoe being all grown up.”  She paused, drinking her coffee.  “I mean, we’re only twenty-nine, Lexi.”

Alexa Rose shrugged.  “Mom has to boast about one of us, you know.”

Her sister grimaced. “Yeah.”

“It’s a nice Christmas present,” Zoe mentioned, “Telling our mother that escrow went through.”  After a small pause, she continued,     “And you know, whenever you’re done with your work over in HK, you have a place to stay.  Your own room, your own shower.  Heck—I’ll even allow you to cook.”

Alexa Rose frowned.

Her sister shut her eyes tightly and shook her head. “Wow.  That was stupid.  I’m so sorry.”

After a long pause, Alexa Rose looked at her coffee cup and drained it.  “So that Christmas present that I was talking about.”

“Um, yeah,” she responded.  “I’ll happily—joyfully—pay for a month’s worth of groceries for you, of course.”

Shield c

Alexa Rose’s cell phone chimed.  Finally, she thought, flipping it out of her pocket.  Her friend, Elizabeth, texted back, “I can meet you at Saint Joseph’s right now.  Just finished adoration.”  Alexa Rose felt as though a foil of light pierced her heart.  Great!  The first thing that went right today.  Now, which MTR is that?  She answered her, “Walking there now.”

She remembered meeting Elizabeth, nearly three years ago.  Alexa Rose was finishing some research at one of the Universities on Chinese-American trade relationships for her thesis.  Needing a day out in the city, she packed up a novel, her smart phone and her Octopus card and left.  Finding herself near the Midlevel escalators, she walked around till she saw a blue building.

She paused in front of it, hitching up her backpack closer to her body.  A sign with chipping paint read “Dragon Boat Dim Sum” with a cartoony dragon boat painted underneath.  Inside the restaurant, there was a mashed assortment of plastic tables and iron chairs with red seats.  A soccer game played on a giant plasma screen.  A group of Chinese twentysomethings sat near the corner, two of them pouring over a book.  Some older folks read newspapers over cups of hot tea.  After a pause, she glanced at a menu at the entrance, already deciding to go in.  She waved to the guy behind the bar, who pointed to a table.

By the time Alexa Rose sat down, she already knew what she wanted.  When the waiter came by to drop off a boiling pot of tea, she ordered her lunch.  He nodded, his face plastic.  She disappeared into her book.

When some of her bowls had arrived, she put her book away and bowed her head in prayer.  She crossed herself and kissed her necklace crucifix, and quickly dropped food in her mouth.  She chewed slowly, feeling the ground pork and shrimp.  She tilted her head back and forth, comparing it to the shu mai that she had earlier that week.  She shrugged, and moved on.

“Excuse me?” she overheard.

Alexa Rose looked up and saw a woman her age.  She had large almond-shaped eyes and high cheekbones.  Her raven black hair flowed down past her shoulders.  She wore a pastel-pink shirt with sparkly dragons running down the front.  When Alexa Rose looked up at her, she could not help but match the large smile this woman had, feeling a breezy light emanate from her.  Alexa Rose felt like sighing.

Instead, she said, “Hello.  What’s up?”

“Up,” she said, looking at the ceiling.  She smiled, confusion painting across her face.  She looked back at Alexa Rose.  She flushed.

Whoops, Alexa Rose thought to herself, second language.  “May I help you?”

She recovered, looking back at her. “Yes, I hope so.  I saw you praying before you ate…” Her voice faded a little, her eyes resting below Alexa Rose’s chin.  “Are you a Catholic?”

“Why yes,” Alexa Rose responded, “I am.”  She felt the back of her neck prick, remembering a homily Jordan once preached.  If people ask if you are Catholic, he preached, how do we respond?  Do we tuck our crucifixes and scapulars in under our shirt, or do we boldly dress as a soldier of God?  She prepared herself for an insult, or a pointed question—something that would otherwise upset her.

“Well,” the girl flushed, looking at the floor. “Well, we’re Christians, too,” she said, motioning to the table filled with young adults.  “And when I saw you pray, I wondered if you would like to eat with us.  We’re having our Bible Study.”

Please return next Wednesday for the next installment of Star Watch!

Our Dominican Corner, OCTOBER 4, 2015, SOLEMNITY OF HOLY FATHER FRANCIS

Fr. Francisco, OFM Conv.

Fr. Francisco, OFM Conv.

Happy Feast of St Francis! This week, we celebrate the patron and namesake of our beloved city by the bay. As a Dominican parish, we also celebrate the wonderful connection between the Franciscans and ourselves, which is rooted in the many traditional stories about St. Dominic and St. Francis. Perhaps the most legendary encounter took place in Rome around the Great Lateran Council in 1215. Remember that, at the same time Dominic was preaching in France, Francis had sparked a religious revival in Assisi, Italy. Ten years St Dominic’s junior, but already given permission to establish a mendicant Order, St. Francis traveled to Rome for this Lateran Council, where St. Dominic was endeavoring to receive official recognition for his new order of preachers. Because of their proximity at this time, there are stories of the two great reformers meeting each other and exchanging gifts. One story has Dominic giving Francis the traditional Franciscan cord; another has Francis giving Dominic a leather belt. Most accounts agree that Francis and Dominic agreed to support one another and that future generations of their successors would work together in the Lord’s vineyard.

Though there have been examples of “sibling rivalry” between Dominicans and Franciscans over the years, there are two unifying traditions that have come down to us today. The first tradition is the invitation for a member of the other Order to preach on the feast of their Founder. For example, there is a custom for a Dominican to preach in Franciscan churches on the feast of St Francis and vice versa. This year, we are adding a twist to the spirit of this exchange by inviting one of our Franciscan brothers, Fr. Francisco Nahoe, OFM Conv., to come and preach this weekend. Fr. Francisco has been a Friar Minor Conventual for 31 years and a priest for 21 years. An ethnic Polynesian, he was reared in Oregon. Having entered the Franciscan Order in California, he completed his theological studies at the Seraphicum in Rome and returned to the Province after diaconal ordination. Since then, he has worked in Catholic education, campus ministry, formation and parochial ministry. More than a decade ago, he was assigned to the historical Church of Saint Francis, now the National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi. At present, he is the mission promoter for the Franciscan mission in Vietnam. When I asked him if he wanted to come and revive this fraternal pulpit exchange, he enthusiastically agreed, “I love the Dominicans!” Welcome, Fr. Francisco!

The second tradition aimed at fraternal bonding is rooted in our missionary corporation. When the Dominicans and Franciscans came to the Americas to establish missions, it was the custom to erect a prominent statue of a saint from the other Order. For example, if you visit any of the California missions established by the Franciscans, you will discover the image or statue of a Dominican saint somewhere inside. Last week, I visited the Mission at Carmel to pray at the grave of the newly canonized Fr. Serra and low and behold, amid a bevy of Franciscan saints, a beautiful painting of the Dominican, St. Rose of Lima decorates the wall of the mission. For our part, see if you can find the statue of St. Francis which adorns our very own St Dominic’s. (Hint: Look left of St. Dominic as you depart!) As we celebrate the feast of our Holy Father Francis, we call down God’s blessing on our city and world as we pray that Peace Prayer often attributed to St. Francis himself:

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is error, truth;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled, as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born
to eternal life. Amen.

Barely Barley

On the other side of Pope Francis’ visit, I reflected on some of the central themes of his young pontificate.  Caring for the poorest of the poor.  Having that elegant blend of being challenging and gentle when speaking about the most ardent of Catholic teachings.

That said, I had thought of that beautiful, paradigmatic tale of Jesus feeding the 5,000 with a few measly pieces of barley and a couple of tilapia.

tabghaThere is a small, random, detail that caught me this time around: the boy.  I mean, what is the boy doing there, in the first place?  It makes you wonder the circumstances that allowed this boy—and I have always imagined him being 8-years-old—to be on that hill in the first place.

One of his disciples,
Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish;
but what good are these for so many?” 

When thinking and praying about this passage, I am reminded of my father.  More specifically, I remember the viewing, the evening before his funeral Mass.  This was over ten years ago.

It wasn’t a proper Catholic vigil, mind you, but took place at the funeral home.  The place was small and sparse.  Innocuous brown carpet with black border lining.  Warm, wood paneling.  Up near the front stood a plain, dark wood podium, a matching cross, and dad’s casket, his body encased inside.

My mother walked to the casket, seeing my father’s face for the first time in over a week.  Her first glance was met with twisted consternation: “Those glasses—where are those glasses from?  He is not going to like to be buried in those glasses.”

My little second cousins grouped with their parents, as was the entire extended family. Two of them came up to my father’s remains with their Tonka Toy Trucks and Legos in their hands.  Their parents paced behind them, slowly, pensively, uncomfortable in their bodies and in their formalwear.

burning_candles_in_church_209033The children lined up, one by one, to pay respects.  However, after one little child looked at my father’s face, he turned around, and waved his sister over.  After they chatted, shook their heads and jilted and jangled from a few moments, they looked at each other and they nodded their heads most severely. The boy started stamping his foot and the girl hopped on one leg.  Quietly, quickly, they called on their father.  He looked at them, then at me.  I couldn’t help but smile…I mean, they’re children, right?

My cousin, their father, turned to me.  He was a proud father, and this was a family moment. He held a squelched smiled on his face, his arms swaggering, like an athlete ready to beat out his next opponent.

He asked me, “The kids want to give their toys to your dad as a going away present.”

And so they did.

 

Two little children give their favorite toys to their uncle, my father, as a going away present.  A little boy gives his little lunch to Jesus in order to feed 5000 people.  It’s not much, but it means much more than no one could have ever predicted.

Dominican Shield

And that is the thing with our life with Jesus.  We really don’t that much to offer—let’s be honest.  We have been given everything by God our Father, so the only thing that we have, really, is our sinfulness.  Not a great gift.

However, as little, and measly, as this gift is, we are still called to give it.  Like the little boy with the barley loaves, like the little children with their Tonka Trucks and Legos, they give to someone of importance what little that we have.

It challenges me.  Despite my vow of poverty, I find myself with boxes of stuff.  Books, memorabilia, liturgy supplies, boys, icons, books, trinkets, Harry Potter stuff, books.

The only thing, really, that I have is my sinfulness.  Not a great gift to God.

But…nonetheless, it is this little, annoying gift that I am called to offer.  Despite myself, even this is a gift which I am called to offer to my God.

Holy Father Dominic, pray for us!

September 27, 2015, Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Our Dominican Corner

frtim2Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward. Mark 9:41

Pope Francis’ visit to the United States has been a wonderful Catholic moment. From his address to Congress to his presence at the World Meeting of Families, from his homily at Ground Zero to his meeting with the poor in Harlem, the Pope has been a breath of fresh air in communicating the challenging power and exuberant joy of our faith. In a particular local way, the canonization of St. Junípero Serra marked a historic celebration. For the first time in Church history, a saint was canonized on American soil. For the first time, the Church has recognized a saint whose primary ministry took place in California. In his homily announcing St. Junípero’s canonization, Pope Francis articulated the reasons why devotion to St. Junípero is particularly important for us today. St. Junípero’s “work of evangelization reminds us of the first ‘12 Franciscan apostles’ who were pioneers of the Christian faith in Mexico. He ushered in a new springtime of evangelization in those immense territories, extending from Florida to California, which, in the previous 200 years, had been reached by missionaries from Spain. This was long before the pilgrims of the Mayflower reached the North Atlantic coast. There are three key aspects to the life and example of Friar Junípero: his missionary zeal, his Marian devotion and his witness of holiness.”

“First of all, he was a tireless missionary. What made Friar Junípero leave his home and country, his family, university chair and Franciscan community in Mallorca to go to the ends of the earth? Certainly, it was the desire to proclaim the Gospel ad gentes, that heartfelt impulse which seeks to share with those farthest away the gift of encountering Christ: a gift that he had first received and experienced in all its truth and beauty. Like Paul and Barnabas, like the disciples in Antioch and in all of Judea, he was filled with joy and the Holy Spirit in spreading the word of the Lord. Such zeal excites us, it challenges us! These missionary disciples who have encountered Jesus, the Son of God, who have come to know him through his merciful Father, moved by the grace of the Holy Spirit, went out to all the geographical, social and existential peripheries, to bear witness to charity. They challenge us! Sometimes we stop and thoughtfully examine their strengths and, above all, their weaknesses and their shortcomings. But I wonder if today we are able to respond with the same generosity and courage to the call of God, who invites us to leave everything in order to worship him, to follow him, to rediscover him in the face of the poor, to proclaim him to those who have not known Christ and, therefore, have not experienced the embrace of his mercy. Friar Junípero’s witness calls upon us to get involved, personally, in the mission to the whole continent, which finds its roots in Evangelii Gaudium.

“Secondly, Friar Junípero entrusted his missionary activity to the Blessed Virgin Mary. We know that before leaving for California, he wanted to consecrate his life to Our Lady of Guadalupe and to ask her for the grace to open the hearts of the colonizers and indigenous peoples, for the mission he was about to begin. In this prayer we can still see this humble brother kneeling in front of the “Mother of the true God”, the Morenita, who brought her Son to the New World. The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe was and has been present in the 21 missions that Friar Junípero founded along the coast of California. Since then, Our Lady of Guadalupe has become, in fact, the Patroness of the whole American continent. You cannot separate her from the hearts of the American people. She represents our shared roots in this land, the shared roots of this continent. Indeed, today’s mission to the continent is entrusted to her, the first, holy missionary disciple, a constant presence and companion, our source of comfort and hope. For she always hears and protects her American children.”

“Thirdly, brothers and sisters, let us contemplate the witness of holiness given by Friar Junípero. He was one of the founding fathers of the United States, a saintly example of the Church’s universality and special patron of the Hispanic people of the country. In this way may all Americans rediscover their own dignity, and unite themselves ever more closely to Christ and his Church.”

(Fr. Tim Conlan, O.P., pictured here serving in Guatemala. As we pray to St. Junípero, may we also pray for the missionaries currently serving God’s people around the world.)

A Preacher’s Life – Being a Guest

shepherd 1Today we celebrate the feast of Padre Pio.  Pope Francis is also on our shores.  As we said on Facebook, “Shepherd One has landed!”

In other words, it’s just another day at St Dominic’s.

Thinking about today’s readings at Mass, it is easy for us to contemplate how radical it was for Jesus to tell the Twelve to travel with hardly anything on their backs, no food, no water, no coin, nothing.

Yet today, let’s reverse the perspective.  What about we contemplate being on the receiving end of all these visitors?

alI cannot help but think of that little Syrian boy
found on the shore.  And indeed, considering that thousands of our brothers and sisters have been exiled from their homeland, I cannot help but feel compassion for those effected by ISIS.

I cannot help but think about Pope Francis’ visit to Cuba, as well as his visit to Washington, DC, New York, and Philadelphia.

In both cases, I cannot help but think about what it means to receive guests.  How generous are we, and how generous can we be?

Does it take Papal Stardom to allow us to open our doors and resources to give to the poorest and the needy?  Does it take the image of a deceased little boy by water’s edge to be generous?  What does it take for us to give of ourselves in Jesus’ name?  What drives us to be generous to others?  Tragedy?  The goodness of our hearts?  Guilt?

43When some think of Padre Pio, they think of the extraordinary graces that he had received—his stigmata and the many graces he had received in the confessional.  Yet what drew people to him was not what was on his hands.  What drew people to him was that he had recognized the suffering and the pain in people’s eyes—and he responded with saintly compassion.  Though some may have been attracted by Padre Pio’s wounds, what made him a saint was that he was another Christ, receiving the suffering and poor and provided for their needs.  Padre Pio was Christ for others, and he was rewarded with the wounds of the savior.

Padre Pio didn’t receive the stigmata in order to be Christ for the world—he received them because he was Christ for the world.

How generous are we?  How generous can we be?  We will never know who Jesus sends us on our way towards the heavenly kingdom.  Likely, he will send us people with no second tunic nor a walking stick.  Let us be generous.  Let us be Christ.

Holy Father Dominic, pray for us!

Our Dominican Corner, September 20, 2015, twenty fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Jesus and his disciples left from there and began a journey through Galilee, but he did not wish anyone to know about it. He was teaching his disciples and telling them, “The Son of Man is to be handed over to men and they will kill him, and three days after his death the Son of Man will rise.” But they did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to question him. They came to Capernaum and, once inside the house, he began to ask them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” But they remained silent. They had been discussing among themselves on the way who was the greatest. Then he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” Taking a child, he placed it in the their midst, and putting his arms around it, he said to them, “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.” (Mark 9:30-37)

dom crucifix 2This weekend we continue reading from St. Mark’s account of Jesus’ preaching mission in Galilee. Last week, we found Jesus and his disciples traveling in the furthest northeast region of Galilee at Caesarea Philippi. There wandering amid the ruins to the Greek god Pan, when Jesus asks them, “Who do people say that I am,” Peter immediately responds, “You are the Christ.” For Peter, it is a moment of wisdom and insight and yet, it is fleeting. Though Peter recognizes the divinity of Jesus, he fails to recognize that the mission of the Christ involves suffering, death and resurrection. When Peter chides Jesus for speaking about his own suffering to come, Jesus rebukes him, “Get behind me Satan.” Though Peter knows who Jesus is, he still has to learn what it means to follow him fully. It is not enough to profess the faith, the disciple must live it.

In light of this chastening, it is little wonder that as Jesus continues to speak of his future passion and death, the disciples are afraid to question him about it. Though they are not comfortable with the idea that the Messiah must suffer (in part because of what it implies for them!), they are very eager to argue who will have the positions of preeminence and power in the kingdom that Jesus establishes in the light of his presumed victory. We can image each disciple championing their particular virtues and exploits, no doubt comparing themselves favorably at the expense of the others. So when Jesus questions them afterwards in the comfort of their evening lodgings, they are rightly embarrassed to admit the nature of their boastful repartee. Jesus uses this opportunity to teach them what true power and authority looks like. He invites a child into their circle and tells them that he himself is identified with the weak and helpless, “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.” For the disciple of Christ, power is not rooted in one’s ability to control, but to be of service. The virtue of welcoming and encouraging those who are without status or authority is a hallmark of real discipleship.

GoldenGateBridge-long goodbyeThis week we seek the wisdom and strength to continue to follow Jesus in our own lives. As we rise in the morning, let us ask for the insight to discover God’s presence in the people and circumstances of the day’s events. Especially in those times and occasions when we could avoid or dismiss those who have little claim on us, we do well to open our hearts to welcome and respond to them as if they are Jesus himself. Even the least act of love can create the greatest moment of the day’s grace! ~Fr. Michael Hurley, O.P.

Solemn Mass Choir in the news! Guest Blogger: Simon Berry

Perhaps you wonder what our musicians do in the times between Masses and rehearsal – that’s a huge topic that I won’t go near yet!  However, you may be interested to learn about my secular music making with San Francisco Opera and this month’s production of Sweeney Todd, which has a huge organ part – indeed the organist opens the show with a mammoth solo an continues to play through a great deal of this complex show.

Its been a good experience working with musicians outside a religious house of prayer where values could be different yet most of the expectations are similar, if not higher.  Rehearsals always started and finished on time;  breaks were given at appropriate junctures.  My colleague musicians were punctual and positive minded and serious about the task in hand.  There were welcoming and friendly and supportive of each other.  I heard no back biting or gossiping.  I received a written letter of agreement outlining my responsibilities and the pay.  Payments were made as promised.

At the last rehearsal the music director sent a note of encouragement and thanks to each musician with some clarifications about a hard passage.

In return for this I was expected to learn a very hard organ part and play it in an appropriate manner at the first rehearsal.  When there were problems of ensemble and balance, I, and the other musicians, was expected to hear the well placed criticism and find a good solution.

I was expected to put in my learning hours on my own and be appropriately skilled and knowledgeable about my instrument and its role in the performance.  That was hard as it was a digital (MIDI) installation and hearing the sound from the audience perspective was not possible from the pit.

What were the benefits for me?  First I was able to re-evaluate my part as an ensemble musician and re-hone those skills.  Second, I was able to experience clear and logical requests from a director that enabled me to look at my own rehearsal style.  Third, I’ve had a reality check about the appropriateness of my skills.  Fourth, it was good for me to step outside my usual realm and be a visiting musician and have to fit into an established ensemble.

So now I have to question whether I treat my fellow professional musicians with the same level of trust and high expectations.  Do I encourage and help my less experienced musicians to live up to these levels or do I demand something that they cannot return without relevant help?  Do I offer help where needed?  Do I use their time well?  Do I represent my part of the professional well?  Will other musicians think more highly or organists or not following this show?  Did I do something to promote my instrument?

As I finish writing this column the reviews of Sweeney Todd are being published in the newspapers and on-line.  It was a tense time waiting to see if the critics liked the show and if they thought anything of the organ part.  I was fortunate in what they said about my part, but I have to wonder what would be the most appropriate reaction if they had not like it and negative criticism had been flowing around the Bay Area.  These are unknowns but I am deeply aware that a thoughtful and slow response time is usually the most appropriate.

http://www.sfgate.com/music/article/The-blood-flows-freely-in-Opera-s-Sweeney-6501970.php

http://www.marinij.com/general-news/20150913/review-sweeney-todd-a-big-meaty-triumph-by-sf-opera

September 13, 2015, Our Dominican Corner, Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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.”  He summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.  For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.”(Mark 8:27-35)

Following Christ is challenging.  Contrary to popular, contemporary preachers who promote the “prosperity gospel,” nowhere in Scripture does Christ promise that discipleship is easy or beneficial to our health or pocketbook.  Rather, Christ promises blessings for those who embrace the challenge to follow him no matter the cost.  Christ’s challenge to follow him is twofold.  First, like those first disciples, Christ asks each one of us: who do you say that I am?  This is a strange question, since Jesus asks not about his teaching or preaching, but about his very identity.  No other religious founder or guide places their identity at the heart of their message.   To their credit, leaders such as Buddha, Confucius, and Muhammad speak about the path or revelation that they discovered and invite others to follow, but none of them claim to be the Way itself.  Christ alone claims to be God.  Knowing this, there are just a few logical answers to Jesus’ question about who he is: he is either a lunatic who is diluted, a liar who is manipulating others for his evil intent, or he is Lord.  The current lazy idea that Jesus was a simply wise teacher, a nice guy, or an advocate for social reform would be ludicrous to any of His contemporaries.  Now if Jesus is diluted or evil, we can safely ignore him, but if he Jesus is God, then our whole life has to be centered in loving him with all of our heart, mind and strength.  Jesus compels a choice.  A choice that is not just one among many we might make, but a choice which give direction and focus to our life.

Second, it is not enough simply to affirm that Jesus is Lord, we have to live it.  Consider Peter.  Immediately after his inspired profession of Jesus as the Christ, Christ says “Get behind me, Satan.” Peter imagined that following Jesus would be easy, fulfilling, and prosperous.  Yet Jesus rebukes him for “thinking as human being do” when it comes to what following him entails.  We have a tendency to envision Jesus in our image and likeness and so following him is identical with our own desires and ambitions.  Jesus challenges us to go beyond the comfortable and take up our cross and be ready to lose our live for the sake of the gospel.  Following Christ challenges us to live the radically the selfless love which he modeled for us.

For this reason, living an intentionally religiously vowed life has a vibrant tradition in our faith.  This tradition continues for us this year we welcome the six men who have entered the novitiate. Br. Damien Dominic is a graduate from UC Berkeley in electrical engineering and computer science.  Br. Joseph Marie has a degree in marketing from the University of Houston. Br. Scott Norgaard has a degree in mathematical analysis from Rice University. Br. Columban Mary Hall is a graduate of the University of San Francisco and taught at a Catholic school in Houston.  He is former member of St. Dominic’s young adult group.  Br. Andrew Marie McCullough is a graduate of the UW and a convert to Catholicism.  Br. Patrick Rooney graduated this past May from Thomas Aquinas College.  Please keep these brothers in your prayers as together we take up the challenge to follow Christ as our Lord and life!

~Fr. Michael Hurley, O.P.

 

A Preacher’s Life: INTERVIEW WITH SR. JOSEPH MARIE, OP: YEAR OF CONSECRATED LIFE

Sanctuary, Corpus Christi Monastery, Menlo Park

Sanctuary, Corpus Christi Monastery, Menlo Park

A few weeks back, the Vocation Director of the Dominican Nuns of Corpus Christi Monastery, Sister Joseph Marie of the Child Jesus, OP, was interview by Kerri Baunach of Catholic Sistas.

Corpus Christi is the same place where Lise Faus has entered to deepen her discernment in where Jesus is calling her.

You can read the interview here.

 

Holy Father Dominic, pray for us!