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!

Our Dominican Corner, SEPTEMBER 6, 2015, TWENTY-THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

Again Jesus left the district of Tyre and went by way of Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, into the district of the Decapolis. And people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment and begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him off by himself away from the crowd. He put his finger into the man’s ears and, spitting, touched his tongue; then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him, “Ephphatha!”— that is, “Be opened!” — And immediately the man’s ears were opened, his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly. He ordered them not to tell anyone. But the more he ordered them not to, the more they proclaimed it. They were exceedingly astonished and they said, “He has done all things well. He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.” (Mark 7:31-37)

 

In preparation for his visit to the United States, Pope Francis held a virtual audience for high school students in Chicago, homeless in Los Angeles, and immigrants in a small border town in Texas. During the course of the hour, Pope Francis exuded the joyful mercy which has formed the heart of his preaching. In turns he praised a single mom for her sacrifice in seeking a better life for her child, supported the vocation and ministry of religious nuns, and encouraged immigrants who face daunting challenges. Perhaps the most memorable and moving moment came when 17-year-old Valerie Herrera wept as she recalled the bullying she faced because of her affliction with a rare skin condition. When she described how she sought refuge and comfort in music, the Pope asked her to sing something for him. Shocked by this impromptu request, she hesitated, frozen in bundle of emotion. With a wide smile, Pope Francis gently rallied her, “Be courageous.” As she began to sing the sweet tune, “By you, Mary,” her fears and nerves dissipated into resonate calm. It was a moment of healing. In this encounter, God’s presence came alive and all gathered witnessed the hope of our faith.

 

In our Gospel this Sunday, Jesus heals a deaf man with a speech impediment. This miracle is not simply a physical cure, but a healing which transforms the man’s relationship with God and others. Cut off from the community by illness, Jesus’ word Ephphatha, “Be opened,” restores the whole of the man’s senses and enables him to interact with the world afresh. For this reason, our tradition interprets this encounter in baptismal terms. In the baptismal ritual, the clergy imitates Christ’s gestures of touching ears, eyes and mouth, invoking God’s healing presence to restore and vivify His creation through grace. Through our baptism, we are called to be open and to witness to the joyful presence of God in our midst.

 

2014 Novices Close webLast weekend, the eight novices who lived here at St. Dominic’s last year, made simple vows at St. Albert’s Priory in Oakland. Their vows to live the Dominican life witness to all of us both God’s generous blessing and the need for the healing preaching of the Gospel. Join me in keeping these young Dominicans in your prayers as they continue in their formation. From my own experience, the prayers of this community supported me in my own formation for which I am grateful. Inspired by Jesus’ Gospel example, encouraged by Pope Francis and edified by our novices, this week we renew our own commitment and resolve to bring Christ’s healing presence alive through our joyful witness to God’s love in our lives.

~Fr. Michael Hurley, O.P.

Hunger Banquet – Guest Blogger Deacon Dan Rosen

From Deacon Dan:

 

Hunger banquet? I have been to New Year’s banquets, wedding banquets, retirement banquets, but never a Hanger Banquet. Last week I attend the one at St. Dominic’s.  There was a wonderfully “Special” table in the center of the hall; other sparse tables and two rows of chairs in the back. We entered and drew a small ticket from a box.  Mine was green, my wife’s was white.

As the evening began I was invited to the small beautiful table in the center of the room, my wife left behind, at least for a while. Other lucky green ticket holder joined me.  One said she felt guilty, I didn’t.

Lucky for my wife, she was invited to join me. A simple reminder of the “feminization of poverty” where too many women find themselves denied access the “Special” table.

Before the meal began we learned that few people in the world eat at the “Special” table, many eat simply and some struggle for food.  And even in SF the number of people who struggle to eat properly is higher than anyone thinks. Many school children receive good meals as part of their education.

As we at the “Special” table ate a wonderfully cooked meal, those at the sparse table received rice and beans, while those on the chairs waited, and waited. They finally lined up soup kitchen like and received their “cup of noodles”.

The hunger banquet pointed out quite graphically the inequality of food distribution that occurs in our world. We who shop at supermarkets with aisles filled with food often forget this fact as we “struggle” to decide which brand to buy.

Those who attended the Hunger Banquet have a better idea of why we have organizations like Bread for the World and the World Food Program.  Pause as you say your grace before meals to remember those who aren’t as blessed as we are with our daily bread.

Our Pastor’s Corner, AUGUST 30, 2015, TWENTY-SECOND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

FRmPeopleDearest brothers and sisters: All good giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no alteration or shadow caused by change. He willed to give us birth by the word of truth that we may be a kind of first fruits of his creatures. Humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you and is able to save your souls. Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained by the world. (James 1:17-27)

dom crucifix 2For many, it’s back-to-school week. This is the season to sharpen pencils, sort fresh syllabus and lay out new school attire. The languor of summer is over; the full force of fall is upon us. Here at the parish, we conclude our St Dominic’s month of celebrations. One of the primary highlights of the past month was the completion of the seismic strengthening of the Church building that was initiated 25 years ago after the devastation of the Loma Prieta earthquake. With the scaffolding removed from the inside of the Church, the Christ in Glory window once again warms with radiant light. In recognition of this historic moment, our docents led a Grand Tour of the Church windows and statuary that was a wonderful success (we anticipate our next tour at 10:00 a.m. on Sept. 19). Also thanks to Zanna de Sant’Anna & Scott Moyer, the Photo Gallery on our website shines with the vibrant color of past events. In addition, I am grateful to all who made the celebrations of this past month come to life. The musical concerts, the lecture series and the festive culmination at our parish picnic: there was something for everyone as we honored our founder and patron.

Entering into fall, we look forward to new beginnings. RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) begins again this Tuesday. If you or someone you know is interested in entering more fully into the Church or this particular community, know that you are most welcome. Even if you have received all the sacraments, but simply want to renew your faith, join us at 7:00 p.m. in the Parish Hall. Our Wednesday Women’s Bible Study resumes, along with a parallel group on Tuesday evening open to all in the parish as we study the prophet Isaiah. Our religious education for children and families resumes as well, with a pancake breakfast this Sunday morning!

Dom headFinally, this year will be the 800th Jubilee of the Dominican Order. St. Dominic established the Order of Preachers in 1216 to proclaim the Gospel for the salvation of souls, and for the past 800 years, his Order has endeavored to radiate the joy of the Gospel around the world. As a parish, we will celebrate with events both local and international. The launch of this Jubilee involves two dates which I invite you to save on your calendar. First, on Saturday, Oct. 31, Fr. Bruno Cadoré, O.P., the Master of the Dominican Order, will be here to celebrate the opening Mass for the Jubilee year. Worldwide, there are many options which would be an appropriate venue for such an event: Rome, Paris, London, or Bologna. Yet, he has chosen to come to San Francisco in order to usher in the 800th anniversary. All are invited to join Dominicans from far and wide to celebrate with us. The next Saturday, November 1, the former president of our Dominican School, Fr. Michael Sweeney, O.P., will be the keynote speaker for a powerful day of prayer, conferences and commissioning as we launch this jubilee as a parish. I will keep you informed of the details of each of these historic days as the plans continue to take shape. St. Paul reminds us this weekend that in the midst of new beginnings, we are called to be doers of the word and not hearers only. May this Jubilee Year be a moment of renewal as we radiate the joy of the Gospel from the heart of the City.

~Fr. Michael Hurley, O.P.

Our Pastor’s Corner, AUGUST 23, 2015, TWENTY-FIRST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

Brothers and Sisters: Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord. As the church is subordinate to Christ, so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her to sanctify her. So also husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. (Ephesians 5: 21-32)

 

katy-lance-fr-michael cropWhen faced with these words of St. Paul, the preacher’s initial instinct can be to either avoid or omit (by choosing an optional, abbreviated version). When the lector proclaims the verse, “Wives be subordinate to your husbands,” there is often a moment of awkwardness that leads the preacher to page quickly to the Gospel, hoping that Christ’s words will quickly dissipate any discomfort. The general attitude towards this passage is that, at best, even if St. Paul himself is not sexist, he is expressing a cultural misogyny which was normative of his time.

The first time I encountered this Gospel as preacher, this was my general reaction. So I was surprised when circumstances forced me to engage this reading and discover the power and beauty of St. Paul’s words. In the course of preparing a couple for marriage, I asked them to choose their Mass Scripture readings that best expressed the meaning of their wedding vows. Because Scripture is filled with spousal imagery and rich love language in both the Old and New Testaments, discussing their choices helps both to encourage the couple to think about the virtue and values of their relationship and to personalize the homily. So when the couple chose this passage from Ephesians, I thought that they were joking. “You really want the words “wives be subordinate to your husbands” to ring out on your wedding day…or maybe you want me to wear a flak jacket at the ambo to avoid any projectiles of opprobrium.” But they were serious. Not only did they want this passage to be read, they wanted me to make it the central focus of the homily and the “theme” of the Mass. So I naturally asked them what this passage meant to them and why they felt so strongly about having it shape their wedding readings. Their response made me appreciate this passage and see it from a fresh perspective.

ringsThis is what they told me: Love is the gift of self. In saying, “I do” to one another, they wanted to entrust themselves to each other completely. Their sorrow and joys, hopes and dreams, the destiny of their lives were now intrinsically and intimately entwined together. So when St. Paul says, “Wives be subordinate to your husbands,” this is merely one side his general challenge to, “Be subordinate to one another.” This is why St Paul continues, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her to sanctify her. So also husbands should love their wives as their own bodies.” As the couple explained, love can only exist when we make ourselves utterly vulnerable to the other person. They did not see their relationship as a means of self fulfillment or a way to meet their needs, but an intimate commitment whereby they could mutually “subordinate” their own desires for the sake of the other. In other words, real love is sacrificial. It imitates Christ’s own loving sacrifice for us. This is at the heart of St. Paul’s vision for marriage and my couple wanted to celebrate the shocking beauty of this profound, if oft misunderstood, Scripture.

dom crucifix 2Faced with such insight and passion, I couldn’t refuse their request. In fact, it inspired me to delve deeper into the context and commentary of St. Paul’s words and I discovered that, even in his own time, his words were shocking. Not to women, but to men, insofar as he challenges them to lay their life on the line for their wives. In the ancient world, this was not a normative attitude. Further, St. Paul’s vision for marriage is sacramental. The relationship of husband and wife is both a reflection of Christ’s love for his Church, but the very means by which God’s love comes into the world in a new way. Sacraments create. They bring the presence of God alive in the world in a new way. This week, St. Paul’s shocking words ought not to embarrass us, or force us to turn the page. They are a challenge to inspire us to live the love that is the gift of self. For when we see our relationships not as a means to personal fulfillment, but as the opportunity for sacrifice, God’s creative love is born anew.

~Fr. Michael Hurley, O.P.

A Life of Faith

The Charism of Faith is crazy.

Taking a page from the Called and Gifted Workshop of the Catherine of Siena Institute, I am speaking of the charism of faith, not the virtue of faith.  

Faith, as a theological virtue, is “by which we believe in God and believe all that he has said and revealed to us, and that Holy Church proposes for our belief, because he is truth itself. By faith “man freely commits his entire self to God.” For this reason the believer seeks to know and do God’s will. “The righteous shall live by faith.” Living faith “work[s] through charity”.” (CCC 1814).  

The virtue of faith is the virtue of belief; at the core of our being, we know that Jesus is the Incarnate Son of God—that the entire revelation of God’s Truth and Love is perfectly found in Jesus Christ of Nazareth.  The virtue of faith informs us that Jesus is God.

The Called and Gifted Workshop teach that the Charism of Faith is a Lifestyle Charism, which informs all other charisms.

The Called and Gifted Workshop teaches that the Charism of Faith is a Lifestyle Charism, which informs all other charisms.

By contrast, the charism of faith is…well, crazy. Nicknamed the Crazy Charism, faith is the rare gift that resonates at the core of a person’s being that God, who is the Grand Provider and Protector, will conquer any sort of adversity for the sake of His beloved.  It is the belief that, knowing that there is an insurmountable adversity, God will allow His Will to be done.

For instance, when Saint Dominic’s band of preachers was approved by the Church, he charged them to go out into the world and preach the Gospel everywhere–just like the Twelve–especially where the Universities were just starting to grow.  

It was reckless and impractical, but his charism of faith informed him that this was the best way to develop the new band of preachers into what it is today.  

Dominican Shield

To have this kind of faith–to purposely put yourself out there and fall into providence in such a way that looks unwise and idiotic.  And the thing is, Saint Dominic did this often–so many times he would throw his hands into prayer and beg for God’s providence  For most, we think that this kind of thing does not happen anymore.  As though these kinds of things are legends of fancy.

Funny enough, I see something this crazy, and this admirable, on a regular basis. I think this is one the reasons why I keep my seat with Tricia Bǿlle and her St. Francis Xavier Lay Missionaries

From the May trip to Hong Kong

From the May trip to Hong Kong

Just recently, the Society had acquired Tricia a number two.  This Assistant will be in charge of a number of things within the Society’s structure, on the front and back end.  She will be assisting Tricia on a number of aspects of XLMS’ life, from databases to Bible Studies.  Yet, after the deal was signed, there was still one detail to be determined: the Assistant’s housing.   

You see, the Assistant just graduated from college and her family lives on the other side of the world.  So yeah…she kinda needed a place to stay.

Tricia didn’t think this much of a problem: “Oh, yeah, there’s got to be someone out there—Chinese Catholic or otherwise—that has a spare room willing to offer it for God’s purpose.  I mean, look how many empty nesters there are in the area.”

“Um,” I responded, “I mean, we have two months to figure this out.  You sure we can find someone?  With our budget, we can barely afford pizza for the Executive Board, much less–“

“—it’ll be fine.”  

Ever have that one conversation with a friend and the friend, firmly yet politely, says that the conversation is over?  Yeah…that.  

The next seven weeks were stressful.  Tricia would call and email several communities and families about housing her Assistant.  Though some houses were open, the conditions of the stay were insurmountable—rent was too high (remember how ridiculous amounts of cash studios go for in San Francisco) , the commute unrealistic, or something else.

***

Over a cup of coffee, I said, “Okay, we’ve tried about five families in that community, we have to start looking at studios in Mountain View.”

She grimaced.  “Please do, but I’m going to keep on praying and talking to people.”

“Aren’t you worried about this?” I asked, flummoxed.

She looked indignant.  “Of course I am.  But God is going to be amazing.  Just watch.”

I willed my eye from rolling.  “Watch.”

***

A few weeks later, I ran across a place that seemed ideal, though it was on the other side of the Bay.  “It looks good and you know some of the people involved.”

She sighed.  “…yeah, but…I don’t know, I think we have to wait.”

“I’m done waiting, Tricia,” I announced, gripping my cell phone.  I felt like I was choking it.

“Just wait and pray with me, okay?  We’ll be okay,” she said.

“You don’t sound convinced.”

She didn’t respond.

  ***

Tricia and I ran into roadblocks, Dobermans, not to mention electric fences.  I sent letters to my personal prayer network—laity, nuns, other priests—all asking them to pray that we find housing for Tricia’s Assistant.  Many of Tricia’s contacts fell on false hopes.  Time ran short.  Both of us lost sleep, thinking and praying for options, looking at apartment prices and housing options.  

 

A few days before Tricia’s Assistant arrived, a fellow Board member had lunch with Tricia and a mutual friend.  The friend mentioned, “Sure—my husband and I can house her for like…I don’t know, a week?”  

Tricia said, “We’ll take it.”  

A few hours later, on the phone, my response was, “Okay, so we have one week down, what about the other fifty-one?”  

I felt thankful that I had said this over the phone; I wasn’t in the mood for Tricia’s scowl.  

***

Four days after the Assistant arrived, Tricia received an email from our Board member’s friend who had offered the short-term temporary housing.  It read:

“We talked it over and we would like to house [the Assistant] for the remainder of her ministry service.”

When I had heard this, I growled.  

“Aww, what you’re you thinking?” she said.  You could hear her smile.

“Nothing….nothing.”  

“Fr Isaiah Mary Molano, of the Order of Preachers,” she said.  I felt like my mom was calling me downstairs for a spanking.

“Nothing, I-I-I…” I stuttered, looking over Bush Street.  

“Uh-hunh,” she said.  

faith“Stupid crazy charism—I cannot believe this!” I growled, shaking my head.  “I mean, Jesus could have given us a little more leeway.”

“Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  I knew it!  I knew that would bother you!”  she laughed at me. “You, dear friar, don’t trust God enough.”  

I exclaimed. “How do you do this?!”

“The Charism of Faith is annoying that way,” she surmised. “It’s beautiful in that it assures me that Jesus is there with you and will always bring things together in accordance with his will.  In this sense, it allows me to regularly step out in faith in a way that might seem imprudent to others.  But,” she said, pausing, “it doesn’t at all mean you don’t stress out about these things.”  She sighed, laughing.  

“I can’t believe this,” I responded, kicking some trash.  “How much will they charge for rent?”  

She told me.

“Oy—are you serious?”  

She laughed again.  

I sighed, looking up at the cloudy, San Francisco summer sky.  “Well, Jesus, have it your way.”

Tricia laughed, brighter this time.  “Exactly.”

Dominican Shield

The charism of faith.  That gift that reminds the Body of Christ that Jesus really is in control despite us.  With Saint Dominic, it was the confidence he had in those first few years of knowing that Jesus was calling him to found an Order that lived and operated in a way that revitalized the Church.  For XLMS, it is that charism informing Tricia that Jesus wants this work to persevere, and will bring down any obstacles in his own time…despite the skeptics that hang out across the table.  

Tricia-thar-desert-253x190I am honored to be part of the fledgling XLMS.  So many times in the past eight years, there have been those times in which Tricia could have—and in some cases, should have—walked away and gone after a secular job, giving her an opportunity in which she could obtain more proper housing, a more predictable paycheck, and other things she very much wants.  Yet here is this young woman, throwing her lot with the unpredictable, always providential, Father, ardent in her faith and love.  O God, what a life!

It looks foolish, though, to put things off, not move on opportunities because it doesn’t seem right, whatever.  But then again, we also know that Blessed Teresa of Calcutta rarely, if ever, fundraised and let God’s work through her ministry speak for itself.  Yet…how many people on the street could identify Blessed Teresa, as opposed to any of the richest Americans today?

The Letter to the Hebrew teaches, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (10:31).  That’s just another way of saying that living on the graces of the provident God is an awesome adventure.

Holy Father Dominic, pray for us!

Dom head

 

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