Our Pastor’s Corner, June 22, 2014, The Most Holy Body and Blood

Jesus said to the Jewish crowds, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever. (John 6:51-58)

Today we celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi, the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn order to highlight the significance of this feast, we are reinstituting the traditional procession with the Eucharist at the end of select Masses. Historically, this feast emerged in the life of the church as a wonder-filled response to various Eucharistic miracles. Perhaps the most famous of these miracles occurred in the city of Lanciano, Italy, around 700.  There was a local monk, who had serious doubts about the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist. Amid these doubts, one day when he was celebrating Mass at the small Church of St. Legontian, as he said the words of consecration, “This is my body, This is my blood,” the bread changed into living flesh and the wine changed into blood before his eyes. Amazed and dismayed, he carefully reserved the host along with the precious blood, which are preserved and can be seen today.

courtesy: LifeTeen

courtesy: LifeTeen

Since 1574, various investigations have been conducted upon the miracle, the most recent of which was about 30 years ago, using modern tools of analysis. The results of these tests are quite astonishing.

First, the precious blood, which quickly coagulated into five irregular globules, is real, type AB blood (which is the same blood type as on the Shroud of Turin).

Second, although each globule varies in shape and size, each weighs the same as the others, and they always produce the same weight no matter which or how many globules are weighed. 

In other words, all five globules weigh the same as one, two weigh the same as three, etc. This is remarkable in light of our belief that, in the Eucharist, the whole Christ is present in even the smallest drop of the chalice or smallest piece of host. Third, the host is human-striated muscular tissue of the myocardium (the heart wall), also type AB, and is absolutely free of any agents used for preserving flesh. Moreover, it contains normally fractionated proteins that are present in the same ratio as those in normal fresh blood. In other words, not only is the host a piece of preserved heart tissue, it is living. Because of this and many other Eucharistic miracles, there was a movement from the faithful to celebrate the body and blood of Christ on a special day.

As we celebrate this feast, let us rejoice in the gift of the Eucharist. We know that as incredible as Eucharistic miracles can be, it is not because of such miracles that we believe. Miracles are not the cause of our faith. To those who believe no miracle is necessary.

Rather, such wonders confirm or witness to our belief. They rouse us and encourage us in living our faith. They quell doubts. So, like that monk of Lanciano, if the Eucharist is a difficult or doubtful part of your faith, you are not alone.

Remember that most of Jesus’ disciples left Him precisely because He said, “If you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you” (John 6:53). Yet, Jesus does not call his friends to “take and understand, but “take and eat.” When we come to Mass free from serious impediment and sin, let us be prepared to be nourished by His life-giving body and blood. In the Eucharist, Jesus feeds us, so that we can feed others. We receive what we believe so we can be what we receive.

~Fr. Michael Hurley, O.P.

Guest Post – Corpus Christi weekend!

Guest Post: Tara Clemens

The Eucharist is at the root of every form of holiness, and each of us is called to the fullness of life in the Holy Spirit. How many saints have advanced along the way of perfection thanks to their Eucharistic devotion…Holiness has always found its center in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. (Sacramentum Caritatis, 94)


Pope Urban IV with the Dominicans

Pope Urban IV with the Dominicans

The solemnity of Corpus Christi is specially associated with the Dominican Order. This feast was instituted for the Universal Church by Pope Urban IV in 1264 after it had first been celebrated in several dioceses of northern Europe. In his proclamation of the feast, Urban explained that while the institution of the Eucharist was commemorated as part of the liturgy of Holy Thursday, the tenor of that day in the setting of Holy Week was focused on Christ’s Passion. Therefore another Thursday, the second after Pentecost, was chosen for the new feast which would be dedicated exclusively to honor the great sacrament of Christ’s Body and Blood.

Pope Urban IV

Pope Urban IV

The proper texts for the liturgy (Mass and the Divine Office) were composed by St. Thomas Aquinas. Pope Urban admired the theological genius of the famous Dominican and trusted that he could capture the mystery of the Eucharist in words suited to the Church’s worship. Included in the works attributed to St. Thomas for this feast are several hymns as well as the sequence for the Mass. Portions of these hymns are used often in the Church under the titles “Tantum Ergo,” “O Salutaris Hostia,” and “Panis Angelicus.”

As Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia, we treasure these hymns of our brother Thomas. They are integral to our celebration of the Mass and Office of Corpus Christi. This day is also marked for us by a Eucharistic procession. At our Motherhouse we honor the Most Sacred Body and Blood of Jesus with a procession that includes triple Benediction. The sisters process outside from our chapel, with one of the stations for Benediction in our community cemetery. Hymns, prayers, candles, and incense accompany the Lord, as our bodies and senses are engaged in proclaiming the goodness of the Lord in His Presence among His people. The procession returns to our chapel for the final Benediction, after which Jesus is again reposed in the tabernacle.

courtesy: LifeTeen

courtesy: LifeTeen

While we all have the joy of the celebration of the Mass each day, the feast of Corpus Christi gives us an opportunity to renew our love of our Eucharistic Lord. We immerse our minds in consideration of the theological mystery while our bodies and senses also take part in giving due reverence to the Blessed Sacrament.

In his homily for the office of Corpus Christi, written at the request of Urban IV, St. Thomas Aquinas notes that:

(a)lthough on the day of the (Lord’s) Supper, when we know the Sacrament to have been instituted, a special mention is made of this fact in the solemn Mass, nevertheless, all the rest of the day’s services pertains to Christ’s Passion, which the Church is concerned to venerate at that time. In order that the faithful may once again honor the institution of so great a Sacrament with its own service, the Roman Pontiff Urban IV, moved by his devotion to It, piously decreed that the memory of this institution should be celebrated by all the faithful on the first Thursday after the Octave of Pentecost, so that we who make use of this Sacrament throughout the year unto our salvation, may specially honor Its institution at that time when the Holy Spirit taught the hearts of the disciples to know the mysteries thereof; for at the same time did the Sacrament begin to be frequented by the faithful.



 About our Guest Blogger, Tara Clemens:

Tara Clemens, aspirant for the Dominican  Contemplative Nuns, Corpus Christi Monastery, Menlo Park, CA

Tara Clemens, aspirant for the Dominican Contemplative Nuns, Corpus Christi Monastery, Menlo Park, CA

My heart’s desire is to offer myself, my gifts and talents, to Christ in the cloister of a Dominican monastery, Corpus Christi Monastery, in Menlo Park, California, in contemplation and prayer, for the salvation of souls. But before I can enter, I must eliminate my educational loans. To that end, I am part of the 2013 aspirant class of The Laboure Society, a non-profit organization that helps aspirants resolve their education loans so they are free to enter formation in the priesthood and religious life.

If you want to contact me directly with questions, comments, or prayer requests, you may reach me at tara [at] laboureaspirant [dot] org. Thank you for your prayerful support and God bless!

Young Adults Retreat – Reflections, part III

On May 16-18, the Young Adults had their annual retreat at the beautiful Camp Saint Joseph in the Russian River Valley.  Here is the third of four reflections from our retreat guests.

Holy Father Dominic, pray for us!



Have you ever found yourself worrying that you worry too much? I do. I am learning major lessons about unknowns right now. What should I do? Retreat? Yes.  I’m kind of a retreat enthusiast. I sought answers to my anxious questions on a fifth consecutive trip with the young adult group.

photo 1 (2)Retreat does not mean to give up. To retreat is to disengage from something difficult and to rest in a sanctuary. On the retreat, I was given a verse from Jeremiah to reflect on that reads, “When you look for me, you will find me. Yes, when you seek me with all your heart, I will let you find me and I will change your lot.” Sr. Miriam, a Dominican Sister of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist had passed verses around in a box and said not to worry about the verse we chose, it was meant for us by the Holy Spirit.

Upon reflection, I knew I was seeking God with a renewed heart. I had come to the retreat in a place of doubt about how much I loved myself. If I was not fully loving myself, then I could at least pray to want to love myself more. From Martin’s talk, I saw that in my past I had treated ‘loving’ myself as loving others first. Faith can be measured in small steps. Martin’s talk helped me tremendously. There is safety in having Faith. It provides Hope. And there, we find Love.

I had to remind my worrying mind that Jesus’ love is greater than my own love. During Adoration on Saturday night I asked God, “How can I hear you speak to me?” I felt so much fear in the silence. The idea occurred to me to write a letter to God. He provided the sacred space I needed, especially during Adoration, to ask Him anything. I’m not questioning as much anymore, and I’m taking small steps towards a whole heart and loving myself as God loves.

A Preacher’s Life – 12 Signs that you are probably a Dominican

I saw this on my Facebook feed the other day.  I had thought that the readership would enjoy this blog post from TJ Burdick’s blog.   What is funny still is that I have no idea who this guy is….

shield_prov474hThe coolest part is that there are two videos–TWO!–from the Western Dominican Province, one about an upcoming Philosophy Symposium at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology, and another video made by our own Brother Brad about the Divine Office.

It’s awfully cool to see that the work from the Western Dominican Province is making its way to the internet.

Holy Father Dominic, pray for us!

Our Pastor’s Corner, June 15, 2014, The Most Holy Trinity

God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. (John 3:16-18)

Any man may have a child. It takes someone special to be a father. 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn Trinity Sunday, we also commemorate Father’s Day. In remembering and honoring our fathers, we recognize that the vocation to be a father is divine. In fact, this is how God describes His relationship with us. When the disciples ask Jesus to teach them to pray, Jesus says, “Abba, Father.” Perhaps because we are so familiar with the 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.” (In Swedish, it is equivalent to “kitsch pop.”) For the Jewish people, the name of God is sacred and thus is seldom spoken or written, lest it be dishonored or used irreverently. 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 with his child.  

PewterKnotThis connects with our celebration of the Trinity. 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. 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). In this way, Jesus gives us insight into the inner life of God. The Holy Spirit that Christ sends at Pentecost is an extension of His own living presence, which echoes the eternal procession of love in the inner life of God. On this Sunday, we are invited to share in this life.

Last weekend, we hosted the Called and Gifted discernment retreat here at St. Dominic’s. called-and-gifted-flyer-1024x675What struck me about this retreat was the urgency of the mission to which Christ calls us. God calls us all to share the Gospel with others, and whether we know it or not, he gives us the gifts that we need to be successful. But let’s face it; we need to be reminded of the importance of this mission. As Fr. Emmanuel reminded us on Ascension Sunday, the last words Jesus speaks on earth are to commission His followers to make disciples of all nations.

This commissioning is a “Trinity moment” as Christ reveals God as Father, Son and Spirit. He says, “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…And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Mt. 28:18-20) 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 spiritual father, 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. As we celebrate and honor our own fathers this weekend, let us once again experience God’s love for us as we pray, Our Father

~Fr. Michael Hurley, O.P., holding an icon of
The Most Holy Trinity painted by Lucia Dugliss

Young Adults Retreat – Reflections, part II

On May 16-18, the Young Adults had their annual retreat at the beautiful Camp Saint Joseph in the Russian River Valley.  Here is the second of four reflections from our retreat guests.

Holy Father Dominic, pray for us!



photo 1 (2)This was my first year attending the St. Dominic’s YAG Retreat. Though the theme involved “learning to stop worrying and love myself,” the beginning of the experience actually made me start worrying. Registration closed before I could commit. That was eventually resolved, but then meetings at work ran late the first day, my carpool fell through, and I forgot a few things at home. My stress level continued to rise as I sat in traffic dreading being “that guy” who missed the registration deadline, showed up late, and generally ruined everything.

But, as it turned out, God had something else in mind for me. I found an alternate route through beautiful forests and rolling hills for the remainder of my journey. I arrived in the midst of a wine and cheese social with a picturesque view of the Russian River, and 20 other people had yet to arrive. Instead of feeling left out, I was asked to read at the first prayer service that night, and my nonchalant decision to bring my guitar, “just in case,” made me a de facto accompanist for Mass music. This gave me the pleasure of playing with our stellar choir and amazing pianist. The Lord provides, indeed.

I found myself immersed in a series of beautiful Masses and prayer services, small group discussions, early morning runs, challenging questions, heartfelt keynote talks, and late-night philosophical debates. Through all these experiences, I truly did learn about how to stop worrying so much. But what struck me most was the wonderfully rich community St. Dominic’s fosters. I connected with complete strangers, and we were all immediately willing to open up to each other about our struggles and deep-seated convictions. This is the sort of relationship I have been able to find nowhere else in San Francisco. And with that under my belt, when the next retreat comes around, my inevitable late arrival won’t worry me so much.

Guest Post: How Not to be a Missionary

Guest Post: Tricia Bolle

India-villageA few more years ago than I care to think about, I graduated from Stanford University with a degree that put Asia in my path.  At the time, I had a couple good job offers to move back East – something I was very tempted to do.  Yet my experience as a grad student in China and the great need that I saw there among other college students and young adults kept daring to pull me back to Asia.  I had gotten this crazy idea in my head that if I went back to Asia, I could help address the need that I saw there – psychological, emotional, spiritual, sometimes just offering hope and helping people find their way – and really make a difference in people’s lives. 

It wasn’t long before I started an educational nonprofit to do just that.  But I wasn’t a missionary.  On my last few dimes, I would head over to Asia, where I’d spend most of my time giving presentations and workshops helping college students and young adults discover their purpose in life, learn to deal with struggles and hardship, find hope in the midst of despair, and be a source of encouragement and support, offering help where I could.  But I wasn’t a missionary.

015 (1)In going to church I found spiritual sustenance, but found I wasn’t connecting at the level I wanted with the local people.  So I started going to Mass in the local language.  Suddenly, I was meeting people regularly who began to open up their lives to me and share their faith with me as I would with them.  And somewhere along the line, the Holy Spirit would give me the words I needed to offer them strength, hope and wisdom.  But I wasn’t a missionary.

Not long after I started going to Asia, the people I met around me would start inviting me into their homes and their Bible studies and to meals with them and their friends at their favorite local restaurants where we’d talk long into the night about faith and life and where God is leading each of us, before racing to make it home on the last bus or train.  But I wasn’t a missionary.

Pretty soon, people and pastors were asking me to get more involved in teaching and leading activities in faith formation and in learning important life skills.  I even began fielding requests to travel into the countryside to address other great needs there with education and training.  Almost always on a shoestring budget or lack thereof.  I know what it’s like to beg for $1.50 in a foreign tongue just to catch a bus to town and to sleep on a cold cement floor in the middle of winter completely jetlagged after having just come off a plane all because of some greater calling God was leading me to in a foreign culture.  But I wasn’t a missionary.

photoAs a Catholic, Christian missionaries came in three types:  priests, sisters and Protestants.  So I wasn’t a missionary.  Missionaries stand on street corners or soap boxes with a Bible in one hand and a megaphone or sheaf of pamphlets in the other.  So I wasn’t a missionary.  In some of the places I went in Asia, saying the name of God wasn’t even an option.  So I wasn’t a missionary.  I’m just a person God called to Asia to share the hope and love of Jesus Christ with all those I meet in whichever way the Holy Spirit provides.  So I’m just Tricia, a young woman who has opened herself up to God’s will for her life… to be a foreign lay missionary in Asia.

As Christians, we are all called by Jesus to be missionaries of the Gospel.  What kind of missionary are you?

Tricia Bølle is the founder of the St. Francis Xavier Lay Missionary Society, dedicated to the formation, sending and support of Catholic lay missionaries to share the love of Jesus Christ with others in Asia.  To support this ministry or learn how to become involved, please visit www.laymissionary.org or contact Tricia at tricia@laymissionary.org.  Thanks and God bless.

Tricia will be presenting on the Church in China on Wednesday, June 11, 2014, at the Young Adults Group meeting.

Our Pastor’s Corner, June 8, 2014, Pentecost Sunday

h “What gift do you want?” Before my 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?”

Hurley_close_Pentecost_finalToday 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. 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 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. Agriculturally, Pentecost (or Shavu’ot) commemorates the time when first fruits of the harvest were brought to the Temple to be dedicated to God. In this way, it is akin to our Thanksgiving. Historically and theologically, Pentecost celebrates the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. Seven weeks after escaping from slavery in Egypt, God frees Israel from spiritual bondage with the gift of a special covenant. Fifty days after ascending the mount, Moses descended Sinai with the 10 commandments. The gift of the 10 commandments constituted God’s covenant by which the Israelites were formed to be a special people. Thus at Pentecost, the nation of Israel was born.

credit: inspirebee.com

credit: inspirebee.com

Pentecost morning found Jesus’ disciples gathered to celebrate this gift of covenant and wait for the Spirit Jesus had promised. 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.

Seven-Gifts-Holy-SpiritOn this birthday of the Church, the Holy Spirit is eager to give us gifts. Bishop’s Kenny’s question on my Confirmation day applies to all of us, “What gift do you want?” Perhaps, like me, your initial response to this question is, “I’m not sure.” If so, 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 June 13-14 (see details inside). The goal of the workshop is 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 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.

This Pentecost Sunday, 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., 

Music for the Birthday of the Church

simonberryGuest Post: Simon Berry

Continuing their work with Scotland’s most prominent living composer, and lay Dominican, James MacMillan, O.P., the Schola Cantorum present the third of his Strathclyde Motets on Pentecost Sunday.

The Schola’s uniquely warm and graceful sound is well-suited to MacMillan’s creative persona and he has here presented them with something which tests not so much their collective virtuosity as their most profound musical instincts.

James MacMillan has always shown a flair for dramatic portrayals of spiritual conflict: light against dark, anxiety and despair against consolation. It is blazingly evident in these choral pieces, which conjure astonishing sounds and also at times a distinctly folk-like flavor. Technically they often pose huge demands, especially the slithering descents and chromatic shifts of Ascension Sunday’s motet.

Never forsaking the ancient in pursuit of the modern, the Schola Cantorum also present Monteverdi’s stunningMass In Four Voices and Victoria’s luminescent motet Dum Complerentur.

11:30 am Solemn Mass, every Sunday of the year.  See you there! 

Young Adults Retreat – Reflections, part I

In mid-May, the Young Adults had their annual retreat at the beautiful Camp Saint Joseph in the Russian River Valley.  I had asked one of the members of the YAG Leadership Team to ask retreatants to share their experiences.  As June rolls on, we will hear from four of our retreat guests.

Holy Father Dominic, pray for us!


Barreling across the Golden Gate Bridge, I shared in the collective hope of a group of people who yearned to learn to love themselves. I shared also in the weight of guilt and regret and sin and worry. In short, the topic of the retreat appealed to me.

photo 1 (2)For me, the weekend was truly enlivening. In some sense, I can’t untangle the solace and inspiration I felt from the names of the people I spent time with: my recent conversion to Catholicism was affirmed by Ashley’s enthusiasm, my fear about relationships was healed by the visible love between Bill and Nicole, my anxiety was diminished by Christian’s empathy, my joy revealed again and again by Tessa, Katy, Dan, Martin, and Chinelo, and my faith was fortified by time spent alone in prayer.

Before the retreat, I felt that my mind had become overgrown with trees of despair and doubt, and my only comfort was that perhaps no one would find me lost in that forest. As the weekend began, the retreat started opened my eyes, but all I saw was men as trees, walking. By the end of the retreat, as I careened back down the mountain toward my home, I was relieved to have found that the light of love lives in the men and women of St. Dominic’s. To learn to love myself, I needed only to see the love that a group of near strangers offered to me. For your love and encouragement, I am extremely grateful.

God’s blessing!