Our Pastor’s Corner, November 30, 2014, First Sunday of Advent

Jesus said to his disciples: “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come. It is like a man traveling abroad. He leaves home and places his servants in charge, each with his own work, and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch. Watch, therefore; you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning. May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to all, ‘Watch!’ ” (Mk 13:33-36)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWelcome to the season of great expectations. This Thanksgiving weekend, it is estimated that 141 million people will do some form of holiday shopping. From Black Friday to Cyber Monday, many stores are enticing consumers with the expectation of finding the latest gadget at discount prices. In some places, long lines are formed around retailers eagerly awaiting their opening in anticipation of finding value bargains. Last year, I recall seeing an interview with a young man who was the last one to purchase the newest technology before it sold out. The joy that radiated from his face glowed as he described his adventure to procure his treasure, and how he resisted offers to sell it at double the price. He arrived early, kept his focus and rejoiced in his success.

advent-candlesThe season of Advent is also a time of great expectation. When we think about Advent expectations, we instinctively consider the historical nativity of the Word made flesh in a cave at Bethlehem. However, the expectation of Advent is twofold.  First, we anticipate the parousia (Greek for “advent”), the second coming of Christ in glory to judge the world. In the Gospel, Jesus says, “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come.” (Mk 13:33-36) Jesus’ admonition to be alert to his second coming is the basis of our belief in Him as our King and the foundation of our Advent joy.

Second, between the historical and future comings, there is the preparing for the coming of Christ in our minds and hearts in a personal way. In the first reading, Isaiah prophesies the advent of the promised Messiah. This promise shaped (and continues to shape) the core of the Jewish faith: God’s promise of a Redeemer directs and focuses all Jewish worship, ritual and covenant. This is why the Old Testament (or Hebrew Scriptures) is still relevant for us as Catholics. Just as Moses and the prophets yearned to see the day of the Messiah, so too, we eagerly wait for the coming of Christ both now and in the future. By looking to the heroes and saints of the past, we learn how to live in the present and prepare for the future. This expectation opens our hearts to receive the gifts God has for us. For this reason, Isaiah says, “No ear has ever heard, no eye ever seen, any God but you doing such deeds for those who wait for him.” (Is 64:3)

Open-HandsAs we begin our Advent journey together, we are invited to consider our expectations. If we’re not expecting Christ to come to us this season, chances are we’ll miss out on His presence in the midst of the hustle and bustle of these holidays. One practical way to cultivate a sense of Advent expectation is to make use of the Advent booklets that we offer here at St. Dominic’s. By taking six minutes a day in prayerful reflection, our hearts and minds are open and ready to receive the gift of Christ’s presence in our lives. May this Advent season be a time of great expectation as Christ comes to birth in our lives.

 

~ Fr. Michael Hurley, O.P.

 

How to keep a Good Advent

simonberryFrom Simon Berry

 

How to keep a Good Advent

Try to put the brakes on the commercial Christmas Machine without being The Grinch.

Keep an Advent Wreath at home, lighting at meals during the season.

Start decorating with a Crèche.  Keep the manger empty;  put the figures in various places in your home and gradually move advent-candlesthem closer.  The Shepherds and sheep first, followed by Mary and Joseph on December 24 and finally the Wise Men (not before The Epiphany!

If you have a Christmas tree early in the season, try to hold off on decorations.  Then add Advent colors first (purple and blue); add other colors after December 20 and the lights on December 24.

Allow each member of the family some time for quiet reflection.

Surreptitious gift buying is a great way to acknowledge that Christmas is coming;  especially if the gifts are hidden away till as late as possible.

Giving to those in need is the perfect way of remembering the humble birth of Our Lord.  Donate food to a food pantry or to those in need.  Remember our Giving Tree which helps so many families.

By slowing down our celebrations we allow time for them to have real meaning.

Lessons & Carols, Sunday November 30, 7:30 pm

simonberry

 

Guest post: Simon C. Berry

 

Dear Friends:

St. Dominic’s Catholic Church, San Francisco, CA invites you to its annual service of Advent Lessons and Carols, Sunday, November 30, 7:30 p.m.

burning_candles_in_church_209033This service begins with a candlelight procession.

The Schola Cantorum will sing motets by the living composers James MacMillan, and former Music Director, David Schofield (Creator of the Stars of Light) by Praetorius and Mendelssohn.   Also included for meditation and prayer are organ chorale preludes by Bach and Brahms.

The great Advent hymns – O Come O Come Emmanuel; Let all Mortal flesh Keep Silence; On Jordan’s Bemmauelank; Savior of the Nations, Come, are also included for everyone to sing.

Our lectors will read the seven traditional Lessons from scriptures of the Prophets, St. Paul and Mark.

We hope to see you at this beautiful service that helps usher us in to the seasons of Advent and Christmas.

Our Pastor’s Corner, November 23, 2014, Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

 Jesus said to his disciples: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ (Matt 25:31-41)

Christ_in_GloryThe Christ in Glory window is one of the signature features of St. Dominic’s Church. On a bright sunny day, the window radiates with rich red and yellow hues announcing the belief that we profess every Sunday: “he will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.” Our magnificent window shines in continuity with the early Church tradition that sees the prospect of Christ’s return in glory as the decisive moment of our life. In fact, it became customary to depict the Lord returning as a king at the east end of the Church so that, as the faithful left the Church, they might carry this image with them as they went out to resume their daily routine. From the writings of St. Peter and St. Paul, the anticipation of Christ’s return as King has influenced Christians in their daily living as a criterion by which to order their present life, as a summons to their conscience, and at the same time as hope in God’s justice. On this last Sunday of the liturgical year, we celebrate Christ as King in order to remind ourselves that, in the end, we will all come face to face with Christ to give an account of our lives.

Reflecting on the end of the world, particularly the idea of the Final Judgment, often evokes frightening images of terror and fear. Yet, the Gospel we hear this weekend offers us a heartening, if challenging, perspective of Judgment. Christ the King will judge our lives not based simply on our good or bad intentions, but upon what we did for the least among us. By identifying himself with the poor and needy, Christ the King gives us clear direction for our lives. To the extent that we live lives simply for ourselves and to meet our needs, our hearts will be closed to God’s love and Judgment will be a fearful moment. On the other hand, to the extent that we open our hearts to give to those in need, Judgment is the ultimate moment of hope, for this is the moment we inherit the eternal kingdom prepared for us.

Here at St. Dominic’s, I am edified by all the ways that we reach out to Christ in the least among us. This year through our Community Services, lead by our beloved Sister Anne, we will provide a Thanksgiving meal and groceries for 260 families. Many thanks to all who helped this become a reality. From the grocery bags donated by Trader Joes, Cal Mart and Mollie Stone to the food donations given by Safeway Marina and La Boulange, we are grateful for the local business which extend a helping hand. Also, a great big thank you to David Joy and Thanksgiving Once-a-Month. Finally, to all those parishioners who donated food during our Food Drive, to those who helped organize and gave their time so that those in need might have a brighter Thanksgiving, may Christ our King dwell in our hearts and give us the joy of his presence!

~ Fr. Michael Hurley, O.P.

A Preacher’s Life – Priory Room Blessings

photoOn November 8th, the Commemoration of All Souls of the Order of Preachers, the Priory of Saint Dominic held a room blessing ceremony for the entire house.  Thanks to the Novitiate, every year, the house is a new community.  Thus, this year, we held a room blessings for each of our rooms.

It was a beautiful event.  We started with Adoration, a bit of preaching, and then the blessings, then Night Prayer.

Fr Steve, our prior, gave a beautiful homily about our common life and the history of the house.  The one point that rang true to me was the fact that good, holy men have inhabited this house since 1873.  “One of your rooms was my room when I was first assigned here as a parochial vicar here at St Dominic’s,” he said.  “One of your rooms was Fr Isaiah’s, Fr Emmanuel’s, those guys who are at the House of Studies right now.  Imagine the men who prayed and studied and discerned the vocation in which you are discerning.”

I remember being a novice.  Staring down at the “Jesus is Lord” Church across the street from the Priory.  So many times that year, I would be brushing my teeth, overlooking that little Church, wondering, “How in the world am I going to do this Dominican thing?”  How am I going to last the novitiate year?  Fulfill this calling?  Be a Dominican?  Dream the grand dream?

Am I ready for this?  I am the youngest of the class, I would say to myself.  What am I doing here?  Can’t I just get a job, and, y’know…live a life before I give my life away?

Yet here we have eight young yahoos wearing the habit of the Order of Preachers, these men who, like me (not too long ago) wondering and praying the same things that I have.

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Novices leading the procession into the Novitiate Wing for the room blessings

Chanting the Salve Regina, we processed from the main Church and into the Priory, with Fr Steve at the end, hoisting the Savior in the Monstrance.   Starting on the third floor, we entered the Novitiate wing.  Each novice wrote a prayer for their room, calling to mind God’s mercy and love for them.  Each invoked their patron saints and asked God to give clarity to their vocation and discernment through the Novice Year.  Then we would have a common prayer, then the Prior would bless the room with the Monstrance.  We did this for all of the bedrooms.  We did this for the offices and refectory as well, but with a lot less panache.

Room blessings

Room blessings

Now, think of this.  We did this nineteen times.  The room blessing lasted a really long time.  But we weren’t even done yet.

After the refectory, we gently processed upstairs and back into the Church, where we held Compline in common…a natural thing for Dominicans.  Praying the simplest and most elegant prayer that we can, ending a night overflowing with blessings.

Days later, I’m still thinking of my Prior preached.  Who were the men that had lived, prayed, and slept in my room.  Who were the men that clashed spiritual swords with the Lord of Lies?  Who else sat in my cell, praying about homilies, about couples that they are preparing for marriage, thinking about recent confessions and people whom they have anointed and sent to our Heavenly Paradise?  …what of them?

November is the month in which we remember who have gone before us, those men and women of Christian example.  Those brothers and sisters still in need of our prayers.  Let us remember those before us, so that we can, one day, see them face to face.

Holy Father Dominic, pray for us!

Our Pastor’s Corner, November 16, 2014, Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jesus told his disciples this parable: “A man going on a journey called in his stewards and 110914_FrMichael_pastors_corner_adjustentrusted his possessions to them. To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one–to each according to his ability. Then he went away. After a long time the master of those stewards came back and settled accounts with them. The one who had received five talents came forward bringing the additional five. He said, ‘Master, you gave me five talents. See, I have made five more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.’” (Matthew 25:14-15, 19-21)

Stewardship is an idea we instinctively associate with financial giving. Growing up Catholic, whenever the pastor would bring up stewardship, it was in reference to some financial appeal or project that needed monetary support. Yet, if we examine the Scriptures, we see that stewardship is more than just a principle for financial giving. In fact, in our Gospel this weekend, Jesus’ parable of the talents reveals the spiritual foundation of stewardship. In reflecting on this passage, three aspects of stewardship emerge.

First, stewardship reminds us that everything we have is a gift. A man going on a journey called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them. Cultivating the virtue of stewardship means that we recognize and appreciate that God has gifted us generously. Sometimes, we do not consider the ways that God has blessed us, or do not fully appreciate the gifts and talents we’ve been given. When I was in Catholic school, I remember being taught, “Don’t let a day go by without counting your blessings.” This simple advice has been very helpful as a healthy spiritual practice. Naming our talents and blessings opens our heart to the power of God who gifts us. Appreciating the gift connects us to the giver.

giftSecond, we have a responsibility to cultivate and develop the gifts we’ve been given. Consider that in the parable, the master does not micromanage his stewards, but simple gives them the freedom to invest their talents wisely. When God gifts us, He does not compel or force us to use them responsibly. Rather, he entrusts them to us in the hope that we develop them for the good of others. Notice also that the Master in the parable is patient; he does not demand an accounting right away, but gives ample time to his stewards. After a long time the master of those stewards came back and settled accounts with them. God’s patience is one of the primary gifts we’ve been given. Though we can often fail to use the gifts we been given or are focused on the five talents of our neighbor instead of the two we’ve been given, God never fails to give us ample opportunity to grow in virtue and charity. The unfaithful steward fails not because he loses the talent, but because he buries it. God doesn’t give up on us if we fail, but we fail if we stop striving to use and share the gifts we’ve been given.

Third, stewardship activates the joy of generosity. When the faithful stewards offer their increased talents back to the Master, they are eager to give back what they’ve been given. We too are called not simply to grow in virtue as if we’re engaged in a private spiritual exercise, but to share what we’ve been given with others. If we are growing in virtue, it should be a blessing to others as well. A sign of this is joy. Upon receiving the steward’s talents the Master invites them to come, share your master’s joy. If we are in any doubt as to how or where we are called to use our gifts, we might ask “where do we find joy?” For wherever there is joy, we can be sure that God’s gifts are alive. We are called this weekend to be faithful stewards, to receive God’s gifts, to develop them patiently, and to share them with joy!

~ Fr. Michael Hurley, O.P.

A Preacher’s Life – Entrance Day

entrance-picOn All Saints Day, I was part of an entourage of friends and Dominicans witnessing something a long time coming.  My good friend, Tara Clemens, fulfilled her 4-year goal of paying back her student loans so that she can finally answer Jesus’ call to be his bride.  At the time of this writing, she is a postulant at the Dominican Monastery of Corpus Christi in Menlo Park, CA.  I was so joyful and proud to be part of her life at that moment.

(You can read about Tara’s excitement about her last day outside the cloister by reading her blog.)

What annoys me sometimes about the friars is that we are so guyish about things.  Now, when we enter the friars, we simply ring the doorbell, and Fr. Anthony, our novice master, greets us tells us where our novice cell is.  And that’s basically it.  No trumpets of grandeur.  No incense.  No letters from the Holy See or from our International Headquarters at Santa Sabina.  No, just a “Hey, what’s up?” and a “Your room’s over there.”  And most likely, a cup of coffee or tea for mom…I think.

But no, with the sisters, our dearest contemplative nuns, they know how to welcome the newest into the community.

And it’s for a good reason.  With the friars, the world will see us again, granting, in a very different context.  (And besides, our big entrance hoopla is Vestition.)  But Corpus Christi is a monastery—cloistered. Dying to the world.  Disappearing from Facebook and Twitter and blogs and television and radio. A life exclusively devoted to adoring God and praying for poor shmucks like me and you.  Spending their lives in fasting, praying, studying the Word of God, contemplating Him in the Blessed Sacrament, kneeling while praying the rosary, living in a community of fellow sisters, all focused on the contemplation and the salvation of the world.  Praying for us friars and our preaching, and devoting their lives as a holocaust to the Father.

In comparison, my life is rather dull.

So what is entrance like?  What did Tara experience when she actually, and physically, entered the Cloister?

Tara (right) in the parlor with some of the Dominican Nuns (Waaaay before her entrance day)

Tara (right) in the parlor with some of the Dominican Nuns (Waaaay before her entrance day)

There is a large parlor in the monastery where we friends gathered on one side, and the nuns on the other.  Tara was dressed in a white button up shirt, a black belt, long skirt, and simple black shoes.  We sing a hymn, then a short prayer over Tara.  Then we follow Tara over to the cloister door, a large wooden door that has a Gondorian feel, heavy and ancient.  The door opens and the prioress says to Tara, “Welcome, Tara, to your new life.”

Tara enters and she embraces the prioress, novice mistress and some other nuns.

Then she is given a black vest and a short, white veil.  As the door closes we hear the nuns chanting Psalm 122,

I rejoiced when I heard them say
’let us go to God’s house’
and now our feet are standing
within your gates, O Jerusalem.

Indeed, for Tara, we do rejoice because we enter into the heart of the heart of the Church, into that New Jerusalem, a place where we are called to contemplate the face of God and be glad that He has called her His own.

Her entourage then arrive to the chapel and meet the nuns.

The prioress says, “Dear Sister, today in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament as you enter the cloister, we present you with the Rosary of Our Lady.  May Jesus in the Eucharist, Mary our Mother, and Dominic our Father, be your present companions and guides in the life journey you now begun.”

With Tara in front of her friends and sisters, she is called Sister Tara, and given the 15-decade rosary of the Order.

The final prayer of blessings is thus.  I invite you all to pray this with me:

Lord God,
we ask you blessing on Sister Tara as she begins a new way of life in your service in this monastery.  Give her peace and courage and joy in her vocation.
We also ask you abundant blessings on her dear family.
Lord, prosper them with all the graces they need for a full and happy life on this earth and eternal union with you in Heaven.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
One God, forever and ever.

After this prayer, Sister Tara gives the sign of peace to the nuns, and then, to us.  I and another Dominican priest bestowed a blessing upon her after a quick “Welcome home” and hug.

As I blessed her, these words escaped my mouth,
“May the Spirit of Blessing and Wisdom come down upon you.
May you be an instrument of God’s love, compassion and peace.
May Almighty God bless you, Father, Son and Holy Spirit..”

Now, I’ve known Sister Tara since 2009 when I was a deacon in Anchorage.  I was privileged to be with her as she worked hard at defeating her student loans, the one obstacle towards her entrance.  Working with the Labore Society, they helped her raise money and offer development tips in order to allow her to fulfill her vocation.

She is in a new beginning.  There won’t be any random text messages or a Facebook ping.  But a confidence that there is one more nun in the middle of Silicon Valley praying for the sorry soul that writes these words.

Compared to hers, my life is so amazingly boring.

Pray with me for her perseverance and deepening love of God.

(If you would like to like Corpus Christi Monastery on Facebook, go ahead and click here.)

Holy Father Dominic, pray for us!

Our Pastor’s Corner: Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome

110914_FrMichael_pastors_corner_adjustSince the Passover of the Jews was near, Jesus went up to Jerusalem.  He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves, as well as the money-changers seated there.  He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables, and to those who sold doves he said, “Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.”  His disciples recalled the words of Scripture: Zeal for your house will consume me. (Jn. 2:13-18)

From the dawn of time, man has built altars for sacrifice.  From ancient pagans to the Jewish patriarchs, erecting sacred structures on high places reveals the natural instinct to worship.  Today we celebrate the Feast of the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome.  While many think of St. Peter’s as the Pope’s main church, St. John Lateran is in fact the cathedral of the Diocese of Rome.  Receiving a land from the wealthy Lateran family in the fourth century, Emperor Constantine built the original Basilica as a grand edifice worthy of worship. Through the years, St. John’s was torched by fire, shaken by earthquakes and battered by the ravages of war, and yet, it remains as the Pope’s cathedral.  The present Church was reconstructed in 1646, and since I have not had the opportunity to visit, I decided to take a virtual tour.  The Lateran’s towering facade is crowned with 15 colossal statues of Christ, John the Baptist, John the Evangelist and 12 doctors of the Church. Beneath its high altar rest the remains of the small wooden table on which tradition holds St. Peter himself celebrated Mass.  My virtual tour awakened a desire to visit in person someday!

In this weekend’s Gospel, Jesus reinforces the importance of places for worship.  Flashing anger, Jesus casts out the money changers from the Temple, declaring it to be his Father’s house.”  Here Jesus reveals that the reason we celebrated feasts for church’s such as the Basilica of St. John’s is not simply because they are beautiful buildings of historic value, but precisely because they are places of worship where, united with Christ, we connect with our Father.

193One of the joys of bring pastor here at St. Dominic’s is the privilege of celebrating Mass daily either in the intimacy of the Lady Chapel or at the main altar in all of its grandeur.  Though I admit a bit of bias, I consider St. Dominic’s to be one of the most beautiful Churches in the City.  I am grateful that we have been gifted with such a precious treasure.  Like the Lateran, St. Dominic’s has its own storied history.   In 1873, the first St. Dominic’s Church was a wooden structure built by shipbuilders who constructed it entirely without nails! Quickly outgrowing this space, a second church was built in 1883.  Destroyed in the earthquake and fires of 1906, construction of the present Church commenced in 1923 and was completely in 1928.  More recently, after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, the Church was damaged and was in need of structural reinforcement.  Through the efforts of our dear Fr. Martin, efforts to Save God’s House were initiated.  The idea was to construct a “ring of steel” supported by flying buttresses which would encircle and stabilize the Church.  In the following years, these efforts continued and through the vision of Fr. Xavier included the restoration of the stain glass windows and other refurbishments.  Though most of this work is finished, because of insufficient funds at the time, there remains a final piece to complete.  Though steel reinforcements support the nave, apse and sanctuary, it is not connected at the front of the Church around the Christ in Glory window.

As pastor, I consider it to be a priority to finish this work, and so, even though the cost of completing this project has increased, and we still are still in need of funding, construction will commence under the continued direction of Cahill contractors beginning in January.  Though the idea of completing this project is exciting, it will mean some inconvenience as scaffold is erected in the choir loft and the window is boarded up for its protection.  I ask for your patience understanding as we complete this crucial project to preserve our beloved Church.  My hope is for construction to be complete for the celebration of St. Dominic’s Month in August.  As we gather to worship this weekend, we give thanks to God for the gift of this place where we can come week after week to celebrate God’s blessings and presence in our lives.

~ Fr. Michael Hurley, O.P.

“When you wish upon a star….”

You would think that I spent my entire time away in Universal Studios’ Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  Believe it or not…I spent some time in Walt Disney World as well.

When my friends and I arrived at the front entrance of Magic Kingdom, we heard that well-known song from Pinnochio, When you wish upon a Star.

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Confession: till recently, I rolled my eyes every time I heard that song.  Part of it was because I didn’t think it Christian, really, to wish upon stars.  It sounded so…wonky.  At the time, it sounded like a song about dreamers dreaming dreams and not doing anything.  Like the girl who is sitting outside her balcony window waiting for her prince despite the fact that no one knows that she is event there.  I’ve never been one to be content with complacency, and I felt, for a very long time, that this song promoted such things.

Now, I’m not saying that I’ve converted.  I don’t see myself throwing a smoking thurible filled with incense at Mickey anytime soon.  However…this is not a song about being complacent.  Actually, it’s a song about hope.

The song is about hoping against hope about the greatest dreams that we have.  For pinocchio_by_ireprincess-d4hni8vPinocchio, it’s becoming a real boy.  But for any of us, it’s about sainthood. My ultimate dream is getting myself a stained-glass window.  With me dressed in my habit, Nikes, and my Hogwarts schoolrobes. (Okay, maybe not the Nikes.)

Perhaps a better way to say it is that we can always wish (pray) upon the DayStar that we may obtain our ultimate dream of becoming the saints that we are called to be.

I’ve thought of something else while walking around Magic Kingdom.  Between Space Mountain and Cinderella’s Castle, it occurred to me that it is easy for us to wish upon our stars and leave it at that.  So many times, we would say in our hearts, “Oh, I want a job promotion” or “I want to get married” or “I want success”.  But we don’t do anything about it.  We talk about.  Whine about it.  Complain.  Yet do nothing.

When you wish upon a star, you are not simply wishing that someone else will do the work for you. Eventually, we have to investigate and ask what it takes to get a promotion.  It means screwing up the courage to ask someone out on a date.  It means emulating the successful and see how it can apply to our daily lives.  Though our sanctification is a gift, it is a gift that would taste better if we did works of charity, utilized our charisms and got involved in our life with Christ.

Cannot say that I am a fan of the song.  But it teaches us to hope, to dream, to follow the DayStar towards greater and amazing things.

Holy Father Dominic, pray for us!

Our Pastor’s Corner, November 2, 2014, Commemoration of All Souls

Jesus said to the crowds,“Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and I will not reject anyone who comes to me, because I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me. And this is the will of the one who sent me that I should not lose anything of what he gave me, but that I should raise it on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him on the last day.”(John 6:37-40)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs we set our clocks back to standard time, we enter the season of All Saints and All Souls. These twin celebrations remind us of the connective power of our faith. On All Saints Day, we ask for divine intercession from those who have arrived at their eternal reward and yet are not officially recognized as canonized saints. These “hidden” saints whom we encounter in our life can be a powerful source of inspiration and encouragement. For example, my deceased grandfather was particularly handy when it came to household tasks. Lacking this skill myself, I often ask for his inspiration when faced with a similar situation, “Grandpa, is it ‘righty tighty, lefty loosey’?” Christ’s Gospel promise that he should not lose anything of what his Father gives him ensures us that the familial and fraternal relationships that we forge in life continue beyond the grave.

IMG_1782This brings us to consider why we pray for our deceased. Flowing from their Jewish traditions, the early Christians gathered to worship in catacombs and places of burial as a visible sign of the connection they shared with those who had died. On All Souls day, the worldwide Church is encouraged to specifically pray for those who continue their journey towards their eternal reward. The Catechism says, “Our prayers for [our beloved departed] are capable not only of helping them, but also of making their intercession for us effective.” (CCC 958) This means that we can both pray for and pray to those who have gone before us. For them, life is changed not ended and so death does not sever our relationship with them. We can still make a difference in their lives, and when we do, they can make a difference in ours.

memorialwallHere at St. Dominic’s we have many ways to remember our beloved departed all year round, e.g., through offering a Mass or lighting candles. One of the unique features of our church is that we have a Columbarium, a prayerful resting place for deceased parishioners. Every day the earliest Mass is offered for the repose of their souls. During this month of November, there are particular ways to connect with those who have gone before us. In a special way, you are invited to fill out envelopes for your loved ones which will be placed on our altar and be remembered at all of our Masses this month. Also, I encourage you to visit the Holy Souls Altar and to inscribe the names of deceased loved ones in our Book of the Dead.

During this month of November, let’s resolve to pray for all the dead, and not just our family members and friends. If you are not sure what or how to pray for them, I suggest the traditional prayer:

“Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord.
And let the perpetual light shine upon them.
And may the souls of all the faithful departed,
through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.”

~ Fr. Michael Hurley, O.P.