Our Pastor’s Corner, JUNE 21, 2015, TWELFTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

Hurley 12St. Augustine’s preaching eloquence is legendary. Always quotable, St. Augustine was a master of bringing the Scriptures alive in his passionate, if lengthy, sermons. One of his most famous (and succinct!) sermons focuses on today’s Gospel of Christ stilling the storm on the Sea of Galilee. After reading it again in preparation for writing about the Gospel, I was inspired simply to share it with you in its entirety. Enjoy!  ~ Fr. Michael Hurley, O.P.

“I have something to say to you, if the Lord enables me to do so, about the reading from the holy Gospel which we have this moment heard, and in it I want to urge you not to let the faith sleep in your hearts against the storms and waves of this world. After all, it can scarcely be true that Christ the Lord had power over death, and did not have power over sleep, and that sleep possibly overtook the Almighty against His will, as He was sailing out. If you do believe this, He is asleep in you, but if Christ is awake in you, your faith is awake too. The Apostle says, That Christ may dwell through faith in your hearts (Ephesians 3:17). So even the sleep of Christ is a sign and sacred symbol. The people sailing in the boat are souls crossing the present age on a paltry piece of wood (Wisdom 10:4). The boat was also a figure of the Church. We are all of us temples of God, and every one of us is sailing a boat in his heart, and we don’t suffer shipwreck if we think good thoughts.

You have heard an insult—it’s a high wind; you’ve gotten angry— it’s a wave. So as the wind blows and the waves break, the boat is in peril, your heart is in peril, your heart is tossed about. When you hear the insult, you are eager to avenge it; you do avenge it, and by giving way to someone else’s evil, you suffer shipwreck. And why is that? Because Christ is asleep in you. What does it mean that Christ is asleep in you? That you have forgotten Christ. So wake Christ up, remember Christ; let Christ stay awake in you, think about Him.

What were you wanting? Revenge. It has escaped your memory that He, when He was being crucified, said, Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing (Luke 23:34). The One who was asleep there in your heart did not want revenge. Wake him up, call him to mind. The memory of Him is His word; the memory of Him is His command. And if Christ is awake in you, you will say to yourself, ‘What sort of person am I, wanting to get my own back? Who am I, brandishing menaces against another human being? I may well die before I get my own back. And when I depart from the body in a rage, breathing out fire and slaughter, thirsting for revenge, that One who did not wish to be avenged won’t receive me. No, He won’t receive me, the One who said, Give, and it will be given you, forgive and you will be forgiven (Luke 6:38, 37). So I will restrain my anger, and return to calmness of heart.’ Christ has commanded the sea, and there has come a great calm.

What have I said about anger, you should hold onto as a rule to be followed in all your temptations. A temptation arises, it’s a wind; you are troubled by a wave. Wake Christ up, let Him talk to you. Who is this, when even the winds and the sea obey Him? (Matthew 8:27). Who is this, whom the sea obeys? He is the sea, and He made it (Psalm 95:5). All things were made through Him (John 1:13). Imitate the winds and the sea instead: submit to the creator. At Christ’s command the sea hears, and will you be deaf? The sea hears, and the wind drops, and are you still blowing? ‘What do you mean?’ I say things, I do things, I think things up—what else is that but blowing, and not dropping at the word of Christ? Don’t let the waves overwhelm you when your heart is upset by a temptation. And yet because we are human, if the wind has driven us on and shaken our souls with passion, don’t let us despair; let us wake up Christ, and so sail on in a calm sea, and reach our home country. Amen.”

~Fr. Michael Hurley, OP

The Ancient New

I have this ritual on preaching weekends.

St Catherine of Siena, ambulatory

St Catherine of Siena, ambulatory

St Dominic’s has the practice of having one preacher for the entire English Sunday Mass rotation.  Though we gather weekly to have lectio divina to share our thoughts on the upcoming texts, there is one guy deigned to preach the weekend.

On Sundays in which I have the preaching gauntlet, I usually dress in my cappa (the black cloak that goes over my white habit) and a stole as I await for the Gospel to arrive.  I find myself near the St. Catherine of Siena statue on the ambo side of the sanctuary.  There, I usually pray in front of Catherine.

(Ever since Lent, I’ve been becoming a fan of hers…funny things happen when you learn the Called the Gifted Workshop, a product of the Catherine of Siena Institute.)

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Nine-Fingered-Catherine

And I would usually look up at Catherine, seeing her expressionless eyes, holding a book and a lily in her hands, symbolizing her virginity and her wisdom (and her classic Dominican work, The Dialogue).

But the other Sunday, the last time I preached, I looked up at Catherine, and I noticed something new.  There are these funky hashmarks up the statue’s main body.  Up-up-up they go, as though an eraser roughly rapped up the statue, taking out minor chunks of stone.  Further—and honestly, this ticked me off—you’ll notice that Catherine is missing a finger.  You can barely see it, because of the contour of her hand, but the lady is a nine-fingered-jack-Frodo-looking-person!

Dude!  I mean, like, dude!  Someone roughed out her finger?  Who does that?

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See the hashmarks? …maybe not…

Turns out that most of the statues in this part of the Church—the ambulatory—is like that.  All of these weird hashmarks going up the statue like the remnants of a race.

(Pope St. Pius V, OP, is missing two fingers too, which too is annoying, but….ugh.)

It’s weird, right?  I mean, I’ve been praying to Catherine, through this statue, for the better part of four months, and it’s now that I’m noticing that there is a series of funky contours.  It’s not as if I live in this building, or anything—I ought to have noticed this eons ago.

 

Yet…I don’t know—it makes me think about how we look at the Mass or anything else that feels like a routine.

I mean, Mass is Mass is Mass, right?  The relaxed atmosphere of the 5:30 Vigil, simplicity of the 7:30, the joyful messiness of the 9:30, the solemnity of the 11:30, the vivaciousness of the 1:30, the hospitality of the 5:30, the contemplative atmosphere of the 9:00.  Yet, it’s easy for us to just…take it for granted.  At the 11:30, we are always gonna have incense, at the 5:30 we are gonna get something lively Matt Maher-y.  We expect things, and we are comfortable with the predictable.

But that’s the thing with Mass.  Mass—the Eucharist—is a Mystery.  There is always something new here.  Jesus is always the same-and-never-the-same.  God is the onion which will never run out of layers.  There is always something new to discover and see and touch and smell.

I’m reminded of CS Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia.  With our need to be content, and comfortable, and predictable, we forget that Jesus is the Lion that is never safe but always good.  A playful kitten at one moment, a stern judge the next, and a lethal protector the moment after.

Another Dominican priest oftentimes teaches a simple morning prayer: “Surprise me, Lord.”

 

Since that Sunday, I’ve found myself glancing around the Church to see something new.  An angel here or a Dominican shield there or a saint that I don’t recognize over here.  As old as our little church is, there is always something that I have never seen before.

And just imagine how it is—not how it was, or will be, but is—with God, right now.

 

Holy Father Dominic, pray for us!

 

Our Pastor’s Corner, JUNE 14, 2015, ELEVENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

“To what shall we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable can we use for it? It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth. But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.” With many such parables he spoke the word to them as they were able to understand it. Without parables he did not speak to them, but to his own disciples he explained everything in private. (Mark 4:34-40)

Hurley PeregrineIn the wake of the festive trilogy of Pentecost, Trinity and Corpus Christi, we embark into ordinary time with a sense of great blessing. In the Gospel this weekend, Jesus compares the Kingdom of God to a mustard seed. Just as the large mustard tree comes from a diminutive seed, so too, the rich blessings of God’s grace find their origin in small moments, both ordinary and miraculous.

This past week, we concluded the powerful novena to St. Peregrine that was preached by Fr Brian Mullady, O.P. A central theme in Fr Brian’s preaching was the connection between healing and God’s grace. The story of St. Peregrine itself shows how small moments of grace can transform and heal. Born in Forli, Italy, around 1265, St. Peregrine grew up in a family and town that were politically and socially opposed to the Pope. When St. Philip Benizi, Prior General of the Servants of Mary, went to Forli to preach reconciliation, the hot-headed young Peregrine, who was very intense in his political fervor, not only heckled Philip during his preaching, but, in fact, struck him. Philip, instead of responding with anger and violence to the attack, turned and forgave Peregrine. This brief grace-filled encounter with Philip dramatically changed Peregrine. Having a palpable experience of compassion, Peregrine began channeling his own energy into doing corporeal and spiritual works of mercy and eventually he joined the Servants of Mary in Siena, Italy. He returned to Forli, where he spent the rest of his life, dedicating himself to the sick, the poor, and those on the fringes of society. His ministry involved long hours of standing which led to varicose veins. This condition later deteriorated into an open sore on his leg, which was eventually diagnosed as cancer. Peregrine’s leg wound became so serious that the local surgeon decided to amputate the leg. The night before the surgery, Peregrine prayed before the image of the crucified Christ, and when he awoke, the wound was healed and his leg saved. For this reason, St. Peregrine is the Patron Saint of those suffering from cancer.

Though St. Peregrine experienced God’s grace in an extraordinary way, God is also present in the ordinary of our daily lives. In a particular way, we are filled with the life of God whenever we receive the sacraments. The gift of the sacraments can only thrive when people respond to the call to ordained ministry. This month, we celebrate the ordination of several men who have connections to St. Dominic’s. Our own Dominican Fr. Gabriel Mosher celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving here last Thursday evening according to the traditional Dominican Rite. Having lived here with Fr. Gabriel when he was a novice in my first year of ordination, I rejoice that he has persevered in his call and look forward to many fruitful years of service. Moreover, we give thanks for the ordination of Fr. Marty Silva, SJ, who was involved with our young adults for many years and entered the Society of Jesus. Finally, we are delighted to welcome back the freshly ordained Fr. Timothy Ferguson to our morning Masses this Sunday. Fr. Timothy was on staff here at St. Dominic’s before pursuing a degree in canon law. Subsequently, he discerned the call to serve in the Diocese of Marquette, Michigan, and was ordained by Bishop Doerfler. May the Lord continue to call workers into the field to sow the seeds of his grace and harvest the fruits of his joy!

~ Fr. Michael Hurley, O.P.

My Sojourn to Hong Kong, part 3: An Incident on the MTR

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Rush Hour on the Mass Transit Railway (MTR)

Compared to other places in which Tricia had served, she constantly has told me that Hong Kong contains the most courteous people.  After this incident, she could be right.

Being that we did not have consistent car access, we oftentimes took public transportation—taxi, the tram, and the Mass Transit Railway (MTR).  We call the MTR BART and Londoners call it the Tube.

Catholic Cathedral of Hong Kong

Catholic Cathedral of Hong Kong

Tricia and I had been debriefing about a recent meeting with a Church dignitary when the train had stopped.  We passively saw some people come and go.  Once the train started leaving, we heard a THUMP and people leaping off their seats.  Turning to our right, we saw a middle-aged woman lying flat on the ground, looking as though she were passed out.  She wasn’t moving.  There was an older, grey-haired woman standing over her, trying to get her up and pulling on her arm.  In my shock, I saw four or five people in the car rush over to her and check her vitals.  Some spoke in English, saying that she had needed CPR.  Another laid next to her and started tapping her cheek, seeing if she were responsive.

After some discussion, they agreed to put her on her back to see if she responds to anything.  Unresponsive, the five individuals coordinated to lift her up and struggled, inch by inch, to hoist her to the nearest seat.  Her head hung low, her eyes shut, her arms and legs limp.  A sixth gentlemen took out some smelling salts and motioned to put it under her nose.  Just then, the car was slowing down and she was just starting to wake.

Once the car stopped, all but one stayed around.  Most who were around her either looked on or looked away.  Those who were still in the car sat paralyzed, gazing at the situation.  Within moments, the one who had left came back with a member of the MTR staff, who immediately took her pulse and started speaking with her.

The attendant then informed the front car to delay take off to take care of the woman.  Once the woman started to revive, the MTR resumed its journey to the next station.

The attendant, the six gentlemen, and the elderly woman stayed at the woman’s side, forming a perimeter of care.

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I wonder if we would do the same thing on BART.

Now, of course, we Californians look at public transportation very differently than Hongkongers.  For us, we look at public transportation with a little distain—as something necessary, but not necessarily a fan of it.  If we had a to choose between a car or BART, we would choose a car—we’re ‘mercan!  We’re independent that way!

Bart-logo.svgRelated, there is a shade of condescension regarding people who don’t have a car.  Generally speaking, when young adults in SF admit that they do not have a car—it’s a big deal.  It’s a sign of incompleteness, of humility—that you haven’t made it, or even worse, you did something wrong.

Yet for the Hongkongers, no one has a car.  Actually, the people who have cars can usually afford people who can drive their cars, if you get what I am saying.

So for this woman who collapsed on the MTR, she didn’t do anything wrong, she isn’t the anawi, she isn’t the ritually unclean, nor has she been cursed by God.  No…she is a regular Hongkonger in the middle of the MTR that (embarrassingly) collapsed in the car.  Just like anyone else.

So if any of us were in the middle of the BART and we just collapsed…would people help us out like they did her?  Would there be a perimeter of care?  Would there be a person sensitive enough to run out and get the BART personnel?  Would someone, who looked like he was helping, bend over and take her wallet?

Sadly, I’m not sure.

gapAnyway, once the lady revived, she insisted that she had simply slipped.  She didn’t mind the gap between the edge of the railway and the edge of the train.  Embarrassed, she left the car at next stop, being told to walk to the nearest clinic.

The most common public transportation I take is mostly BART, the 22 and the very entertaining 38.  So perhaps my opinion of SF public transportation is somewhat eschewed.  Yet, there are times when I wonder if we are compassionate enough to our neighbor, no matter how desperate the need.  …or…are we waiting for someone else to do CPR?

Holy Father Dominic, pray for us!

Our Pastor’s Corner, JUNE 7, 2015, MOST HOLY BODY & BLOOD OF CHRIST

O sacred banquet in which Christ becomes our food. The memory of his passion is celebrated, the soul is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us.

 Hurley Corpus ChristiThese simple yet powerful words are taken from the Antiphon for the Liturgy of the Hours for Corpus Christi, the solemnity that we are celebrating this Sunday. They were penned by the great Dominican theologian St. Thomas Aquinas at the request of Pope Urban IV. At the time, Pope Urban recognized a need to have a feast specifically to celebrate the rich treasure that the Eucharist is for the life of the Church. Certainly Holy Thursday celebrates the institution of the Eucharist, but because it is the gateway into Triduum, Pope Urban saw the wisdom in establishing a feast that simply focused on the mystery of our Lord’s most holy body and blood present in the Eucharist.

 There is a story that Pope Urban not only asked St. Thomas Aquinas but also the Franciscan, St. Bonaventure, who was also teaching at Paris at the time, to compose an Office and Mass in honor of the Blessed Sacrament. On the day they appeared to compare their efforts, the Pope invited St. Thomas to read his aloud first. As St. Bonaventure listened to sublime poetry read by his mendicant sibling, he recognized its genius and inspiration, and so slowly tore to shreds his own manuscript. Admittedly, there’s perhaps a bit of Dominican pride in the story (I’m not sure that’s what the Franciscans teach their novices), but it does underscore the beauty of St. Thomas’ Office and Mass setting which are now enshrined for all time in the Roman Missal and the Roman Breviary.

 

courtesy: LifeTeen

courtesy: LifeTeen

For those who are familiar with St. Thomas’ writings, we imagine him to be a theologian and scholar. In his texts for Corpus Christi, we discover that St. Thomas has the heart of a poet. The Eucharistic prayers and anthems that are so well known to us come from St. Thomas’ masterpiece: the Pange Lingua (concluding in the “Tantum Ergo”), the “Verbum Super num” (concluding with the “O Salutaris Hostia”), and the sequence before the Gospel, “Lauda Sion.” Also, St. Thomas penned the two Eucharistic hymns, “Adoro Te Devote” and “Panis Angelicus” for this Solemnity. Of all of these jewels, there is perhaps none as succinctly beautiful as the “O sacrum convivium,” O sacred banquet. In this brief prayer, which begins our daily evening prayers, St. Thomas gives us a profound, if brief, glimpse into our Eucharistic belief.

 O sacred banquet in which Christ becomes our food. The image of the Eucharist as food is deeply ingrained in the Catholic imagination. Hunger is an innate, driving desire. Just as our bodies crave the food we need to survive and thrive, so too, we all have a deep spiritual hunger which only our creator can satisfy. In the Eucharist, we are sated with the nourishing presence of Jesus in our hearts. This spiritual food encompasses the past, present and future.  The memory of his passion is celebrated, the soul is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us. By remembering Christ’s passion at Mass, God gives himself to us. This teaches us that if we are to truly be people of the Eucharist, we must be people of sacrifice, willing to offer our lives completely to God. The grace which fills us when we receive the sacrament worthily and reverently empowers us to live life fully as the unique person God has created us to be.

 Ultimately, the Eucharist points to our destiny: eternal life. The Eucharist is a gift that makes a promise. God offers himself to us in the form of bread as pledge that he has prepared a heavenly dwelling place for us. The grace of the Eucharistic is simply the beginning of the gift which God has in store for those who believe. I invite you to renew your appreciation and love for this gift as we celebrate Corpus Christi. At the conclusion of select Masses, we will have a Eucharistic procession to the Lady Chapel, time for prayerful Adoration, and Benediction. Let the Eucharist we receive be the joy of our lives!

~ Fr. Michael Hurley, O.P.

My Sojourn to Hong Kong, part 2b – “That one time when I said Mass in Cantonese”

So last week, you’ll remember that I had literally walked into concelebrating a Mass in Cantonese with the Dominican Friars of the Holy Rosary Province at Rosaryhill in Hong Kong Island.

Usually, it would take me the better part of the day of get over my embarrassment (yes, yes, we all have our pride issues…) but after the recessional, the priest brothers took off their stoles, turned them in to the sacristan and either left or turned towards me with a loving, fraternal handshake.

Father Provincial came up first and asked, “I didn’t know you knew Cantonese.”

“I…I don’t.”

“Oh, well,” he said, “well, yes. You will join the community for dinner?”

The Dominican Laity hosted a dinner for themselves and the friars for a dinner in the school cafeteria.

 

2015-04-29 20.21.43Now I didn’t realize this till I saw the friars: Rosaryhill is the Novitiate House of the Holy Rosary Province.  Like our priory, this priory housed the youngest members of the Order.  Seeing the novices, I introduced myself.  The novices hailed from Venezuela, mainland China, Burma and other places.

“This must be so exciting for you,” I mentioned.  “Holy Rosary Province.  The missionary arm of the Order—one of the oldest Dominican provinces in our history.  You must feel so privileged to carry this banner.  I mean—Holy Rosary Province.  Missionaries, legends even—the martyrs of Nagasaki and…you must feel so honored!”

One of the brothers slanted his eyes to another brother and smirked. “Uh, yeah, it’s great.”

“Yeah,” said another, “it’s yeah, great.”

One of the other brothers looked like he had fallen asleep while standing up.

Sigh.

Novices.

I don’t think they’ve taken Dominican History yet….

2015-04-29 17.48.30Actually, the novices were quite hospitable.  They were insatiably curious about our province—and the Order outside their little world of Hong Kong.  Asking about formation processes, the size of the territory and what kinds of ministry that Holy Name Province does.  Tricia and I presented the 3-minute summary of the Catherine of Siena Institute and the Called and Gifted Workshop (which they gobbled up like a bunch of 20-year-olds).  Tricia told the brothers about her work in Asia and they were rather amazed, promising prayers for Tricia’s continued perseverance.

For so many reasons, I needed to be at Rosaryhill that day.

 

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Dominican traffic cones….insert caption

In meeting the brothers at Rosaryhill, I was confronted with my own limitations, yet again.  Tired from the traveling, nervous for the workshop—by the time we made it to Rosaryhill, I wanted us to take a cab back to our hosts’ home.  All day long I had been surrounded by people, people, people—I yearned for ten minutes of quiet in my own room, alone, with me, God, and my thoughts.

Yet it would be a poor thing that the spiritual director of XLMS would not go to a Mass, celebrated by his own brethren, simply because he was tired.  Ecclesially speaking, XLMS is still quite young and needs all of the support from the Order and other Church entities it can get.

I think many of us have had those moments where the word ‘obligation’ is a blessing.

Yet, there had been so many blessings of this part of the journey.  Seeing more of Hong Kong, meeting brothers I hadn’t known existed, receiving the promises of prayers and penances from the novitiate. There are far worst things.

The next evening, we were to begin the Called and Gifted Workshop, the reason for our coming.  The brothers saw us off, and Tricia and Fr Isaiah Mary were off to their next adventure in Hong Kong.

 

Holy Father Dominic, pray for us!

Our Pastor’s Corner, May 31, 2015, Trinity Sunday

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Credit: KMitchell

“All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Mt. 28:18-20)

This weekend we celebrate Trinity Sunday. The revelation that God is Trinity teaches us that God is not some isolate, distant force that exists apart from creation, but is a relationship of persons who loved and continue to love creation into existence. When Jesus commissions His followers to make disciples of all nations, He reveals God as Father, Son and Spirit. The mystery of the One God as a relationship of persons forms the sacred language of baptism, that moment when we are born into the life of God. As a priest, it is always a privilege to speak these words of Christ whenever I baptize. As I pour the water and invoke the name of God as Father, Son and Spirit, the Trinity comes to life in the soul of the baptized. It is a moment of creation, for in the moment of baptism, we are drawn into the life of God who is a relationship of love.

Lest we take this relationship for granted, this insight that God is Trinity is a unique moment of revelation. Karl Rahner remarks, “If God’s incomprehensibility does not draw us into his super luminous darkness, if it does not call us out of our little house of our homely, close hugged truths…we have misunderstood the words of Christianity.”

PewterKnotThe truth of God as a Trinity is a radical idea, a profound mystery to meditate. For example, when the disciples ask Jesus to teach them to pray, Jesus says, “Abba, Father.” Perhaps because we are so familiar with Lord’s Prayer, we are not as astonished at these words as the disciples must have been. In Aramaic, the word Abba does not simply mean Father, but is a familiar, intimate term of endearment akin to Daddy or Papa. For the Jewish people, the name of God is sacred and thus is seldom spoken or written, lest it be dishonored or used irrelevantly. For this reason, the authors of the Old Testament employ various circumlocutions for the name of God, which are translated as “Lord” or “Almighty.” When Jesus calls God “Abba,” it is a shocking moment of revelation: God wants us to relate to Him not only as the Almighty creator of heaven and earth, but also as a loving father does to his child.

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credit: KMitchell

 

But the surprise does not end there. For we are invited to share in this dynamic love of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as St. Paul says to the Romans, “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as son, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ ” (Rom. 8:14-16). It is the Holy Spirit within us who enables us to live as children of God. Having experienced the fire of the Holy Spirit last week at Pentecost, on this Trinity Sunday, we are each empowered to live as a member of God’s family. So let’s live it. Set aside a moment this week to reconnect with the Trinity. Gather together as a family or take a quiet personal minute. At the beginning of the day, before a meal, or at our bedside, slowly and peacefully embrace the comfort and strength of Trinity as we pray Our Father

~ Fr. Michael Hurley, O.P.

Ordinations 2015

Pray with us as we celebrate the Mass of Ordination of Reverend Brother Gabriel Thomas Mosher, OP, to the Presbyterate, and of Brother Christopher Brannan, OP and Brother Dennis Klein, OP to the Diaconate!

 

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For more information about the future Father Gabriel Thomas’ Masses of Thanksgiving go here.

 

Holy Father Dominic’s pray for us!

My Sojourn to Hong Kong, part 2a – “That one time when I said Mass in Cantonese”

In the first days of our trip to Hong Kong, Tricia and I, representing the St Francis Xavier Lay Missionaries, had days brimmed with meetings with Church dignitaries.  After a midafternoon appointment with one of the Bishops of Hong Kong, we were invited to visit Rosaryhill, the lone Priory and School of the Dominican Province of the Most Holy Rosary.

catherine sienaBeing the feast of St. Catherine of Siena, we knew that that this is an auspicious day.  It’s a Dominican feast day, St Catherine is the patron of the Catherine of Siena Institute, of which the Called and Gifted stems from, and Tricia herself is a zealous lay woman trying to ignite the lay faithful to a deeper sense of mission.  Not to say that Tricia is a “new Catherine” but in some way, it all fits.

Anyway, we were invited by one of the friars to come celebrate with the Dominican community.  Thing is, we had no idea what kind of celebration it was.

 

The previous afternoon, I called up the provincial of the Holy Rosary Province.

“Hello Father,” I said, “this is Isaiah Mary Molano of the Holy Name Province in the United States.”

“Hello!” he responded, “I can’t hear you very well.  I was told that you were coming.  Do you need a room in Macau?”

“No, actually, I’m fine—I’m in Sai Kung and…”

“Are you coming to Rosaryhill for the celebration?”

I exclaimed, “Yes!  What time is it?  What is the celebration of?”

“Ah yes,” he said, “We are celebrating St Catherine, of course, at Rosaryhill.”

“What time?”

“In the evening.”

“Can you be more specific?”

“Well, brother, I really cannot hear you, so I will see you tomorrow!”

 

So here we are, Tricia and myself, sitting outside the Chancery of the Diocese of Hong Kong, desiring to see the brethren at their (/our/my) house. Yet we didn’t know what the celebration is, nor at what time.

…typical Dominican.  The only thing we know for certain is that there is going to be food.

I remember looking at the ground, feeling the deadweight of jet lag.  My forehead felt like a lead headband pressing against my eyes and ears.  I remembered—in the bad way—of the time when I sat in the middle of the Catholic Cathedral in London…feeling rather tired, and a little alone.   As Tricia had said once, I was living off of fumes and the Holy Spirit.

Please allow me to be clear.  I wanted to celebrate St Catherine with other Dominicans—I just didn’t know what kind of celebration we were having. In my fatigue, I was having a waking nightmare of myself singing “Take on me” by A-HA into a karaoke mic.

Our taxi ride to Rosaryhill could have been more fun if I had more energy.  It kinda reminded me of that one time when I went on that roller coaster called “The Hulk” at Universal Studios in Orlando.  Only this taxi ride had more 360s.

 

2015-04-29 20.21.43Once we made it to Rosaryhill, Tricia—the superhero that she is—found out what our celebration was.  I think she used telepathy.  Or prayed and Jesus told her exactly what was going on.  Or read it on a bulletin board.

“Okay,” she said, “at six, the friars and the laity are having a Mass to celebrate St Catherine.”

“Oh—wait—what?” I said.  “When does the Mass begin?”

“In ten minutes.”  She bit her lip.

Groan.

I mean, we didn’t even know where the chapel was.  In retrospect, I had trouble locating the front door.

Till present, I fanaticized what this was going to look like.

2015-04-29 17.48.30I imagined having a calm walk into the chapel at Rosaryhill, shaking hands with the provincial and the prior, sitting down with the other brothers.  Opening our hymnals, praying to St Catherine to bless this priory and bless XLMS’ mission to renew the Church.

I had imagined meeting the brothers in a nice room and having a simple, elegant dinner, comparing provinces and our formation process, sharing stories and email addresses.

I had imagined a large group of friars chanting the Salve Regina and O Lumen to celebrate St Catherine, remembering our vows and our mission as members of the Order of Friars Preachers.

What I didn’t imagine was running up a set of stairs just to run into another set of stairs and then into an elevator where a middle aged Chinese woman with this oversized shirt saying “Amen Alleluia” over her chest looking and Tricia and me as though we just got out of the cab and into her quiet world (which, let’s be honest, we did) and then, bypassing her, opening a door and finding a cavern of a room with a mosaic at one end of the Blessed Mother giving the rosary to Holy Father Dominic and stumbling into a large chapel as 60 people patiently and calmly and quietly waited for our liturgy to begin, with this friar (me) from some unknown province and a lay missionary (Tricia) walking in looking as lost as a pair of Americans in the middle of Hong Kong, with the priests and deacons in the back of the chapel with stoles on, looking around, and seeing me, asking, “Oh, are you Isaiah?” and me stuttering, “Uh hi, yes, Holy Name Province, I can sit with the laity if that is okay—I had already said Mass” then being handed a stole and being shoved into the procession while everyone was singing and me noticing about 14 friars sitting on one side of the chapel with one brother playing an electronic keyboard and another with a guitar and about thirty people, mostly women, with large scapulars with the Dominican shield emblazoned on the front and then a priest turning to me and saying, “You know that this Mass in Cantonese, yes?” and me saying, “It’s in who?” because I really didn’t hear him and then walking up to the Altar and almost tripping because I didn’t see the step—and feeling like Jennifer Lawrence except the…except, the well, everything Jennifer-Lawrence-y…and then ending up sitting right next to the main celebrant which is on a rise so that I am about four feet above everyone else—no I didn’t imagine that one at all, thank you very, very much.

…and then the celebrant began the Mass.  In Cantonese.

JesusFacepalmAndThusTheLordI looked at Tricia.  And she looked at me.  And it was understood.  I was dying of embarrassment.

Groan.

Now, the short is that the Mass went well….though in Cantonese and some English.  But anyway, this post is getting long.  I’ll tell you all about the dinner in a just a few.

 

Holy Father Dominic, pray for us!

Our Pastor’s Corner, May 24, 2015, Pentecost Sunday

052415_PastosCorner“What gift do you want?”  In preparation for Confirmation, my whole class gathered with Bishop Michael Kenny in an informal “meet and greet.” Since he was visiting from Juneau, Alaska, he wanted to meet us before the Confirmation and I remember that he was very personable.  He told a few jokes and even shared stories about himself.  Then he asked us a very pointed question: “What gift do you want?” I have to admit that my first thoughts were about the family reception following the Mass and the cards and presents which I would receive.  So the Bishop continued: “The Holy Spirit is eager to give you a personal gift at Confirmation, but you have to be ready.  So, what gift do you want?”

On Pentecost Sunday, we celebrate the gift of the Spirit in our lives.  In fact, in many ways, Pentecost is the birthday of the Church.  Just as Christmas commemorates the birth of Christ, the Feast of Pentecost celebrates the moment when the Holy Spirit came to birth in the lives of Jesus’ disciples.  Though the Gospel had been conceived in their hearts during Christ’s three years of preaching and healing, after the Ascension, the disciples found themselves unsteady and unsure of how to continue Jesus’ work.  Gathered in the Upper Room of the Last Supper for nine days of prayers, the disciples prepared for the Jewish feast of Pentecost.  Historically and theologically, Pentecost (or Shavu’ot) celebrates the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai.  God frees Israel from spiritual bondage with the gift of a special covenant, seven weeks after escaping slavery in Egypt.  Fifty days after ascending the mount, Moses descended Sinai with the 10 commandments.  The gift of the 10 commandments was not simply a list of rules to follow, but constituted the covenant of which formed the Israelites to be a special people.  Thus at Pentecost, the nation of Israel was born.

Pentecost morning found Jesus’ disciples gathered to celebrate this gift of covenant and wait for the Spirit whom Jesus had promised.  And just as Moses ascended Mount

Sinai in order to descend with the Torah, so, too, Christ ascended into heaven in order to send his Spirit of covenant.  The Spirit’s fierce fiery flames forge the followers of Christ, forming them into a powerhouse of preaching.  Ecstatically emboldened, Peter witnesses to the Gospel empowered with the gift of tongues.  Speaking the “language of the Spirit,” all those who were gathered for the feast of Pentecost from difference places in the world were enlightened as the Spirit was enkindled in their hearts.  The five thousand who were baptized on that day are the first of those who now tally more than 1.2 billion strong. Thus at Pentecost, the Church is born.

wrapped-gifts-ornamentsOn this birthday of the Church, the Holy Spirit is eager to give us gifts.  Bishop Kenny’s question to me applies to all of us: “What gift do you want?”  Perhaps, like me, your initial response to this question is: “I’m not sure.”  And if it is, the challenge is to discover how we are called and gifted by the Spirit to make a difference in the world.  For this reason, I invite you to attend our Called and Gifted Workshop, which takes place on June 19-20 (see inside for more details).  The goal of the workshop is to be able to recognize that God has graced each one of us with unique spiritual gifts.  When we name these gifts, we can share them with our family and friends, our workplace and community.  Come learn how the Spirit works in our lives and be prepared to have the Spirit enliven your life. After this weekend, you will be able to answer the question “What gift do you want?” and be empowered to put it into practice.

burning_candles_in_church_209033Today, we reconnect with the moment of our Confirmation, to live from the Spirit within us; to speak a word of wisdom and counsel, understanding and encouragement. Just as the seven-fold gifts of the Spirit were conceived in the minds and hearts of the disciples at Pentecost, we ask the Spirit to come alive in our lives. Today, we pray to be born anew from the fire of the Spirit whose flame is kindled within us.

~ Fr. Michael Hurley, O.P.