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April 18, 2014

“Friday of the Passion of the Lord”stripped sanctuary

”Click” here to read about Good Friday.

Scripture Readings for today's Liturgy:

Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12

Psalm 31

Hebrews 4:14-15, 5:7-9

John 18:1 – 19:42

crucifixionThere is no Mass –per se – today but the origins of this Liturgy date back to the beginning of the Christian era and evenAdoration of cross pre-date the celebration of Christmas by several centuries. Our celebration, today, begins in silence and so much of what we are ordinarily used to seeing and doing is stripped away. The altar is bare. There is no greeting and a prayer leads directly into the Liturgy of the Word in which we will hear the Passion according to St. John. I think the intention of the Church is to jar us out of the familiar where it’s too easy for us to just cruise through the Liturgy on “Auto Pilot.” The simplicity of today’s Liturgy forces us to pay attention and realize and come to a deeper understanding of the essence of our believing in Jesus as our Redeemer and Savior. It might even help if you just closed your eyes during the reading of the Passion in order to let the words evoke thoughts and images in your mind.

St. DominicCrossAfter the praying of the “Solemn Prayers” the Cross is unveiled and presented for veneration by the faithful. This part of the liturgy parallels the way the Paschal Candle is presented at the beginning of the Easter Vigil: in three, gradually increasing tones. All of us have to be careful to hold on to the solemnity of this part of the liturgy. This veneration of the Cross is meant to touch us at the deepest level of our spirituality and so I hope that you will be able to realize this and not get caught up in expediency. Then, after Holy Communion, the liturgy ends abruptly and the congregation leaves in silence. Again, to help jar us loose from what is normally done in order to realize more fully the gift that we have been given. This image of St. Dominic embracing the Cross of Christ parallels the words of St. Paul in Galatians 6:14, “God forbid that I should glory except in the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ!”

Tomorrow, Holy Saturday, is another unusual and quiet day and there is no Mass until the evening Mass of the Easter Vigil. It’s a chance for us to allow the great and wonderful mysteries of these days of Holy Week to sink in. Take some time to reflect on what you have experienced. Amen!

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April 17, 2014

Holy Thursdaywashing feet

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Scripture Readings for today's Holy Liturgy:

Exodus 12:1 … 14

Psalm 116

1st Corinthians 11:23-26

John 13:1-15 

priesthoodMany Catholics of my era were brought up thinking that today’s Liturgy was solely focused on the commemoration of the institution of the Eucharist and the Sacerdotal Priesthood. But the appointed Holy Gospel is the account of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples (John 13:1-15) and ends with, “If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you   a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”

Washing another person’s feet is the second most difficult task that any of us can do for another person. Yet this isclothing the naked what Jesus commands us to do. I’m sure our beloved, Pope Francis, will put serious focus on this liturgy as he seeks to bring the church back to its primary mission: service and love of all, especially the poor and marginalized people of the world. This stance is not to downplay the wonder and beauty of the Eucharist but, rather, to help us understand that it’s the Eucharist that gives us the ability to step out of our comfort zones in service to one another. The Eucharist isn’t given to us to make us feel warm and cozy with Jesus. It is the bread that gives life to our following of Jesus. And this life that Jesus gives us has to be a life of service. And this “service” is made possible because of the “institutional priesthood.” But this “command” doesn’t let the rest of us off the hook. The closing words of today’s Holy Gospel are addressed to all of us: “You call me “teacher” and “master,” and rightly so… you ought to wash one another’s feet.”

hands reachingTake a moment to think about this new commandment: what do you have to do in order to wash someone’s feet? You have to get down on your knees at their feet in an attitude of complete vulnerability. And a lot of people have ugly, nasty looking feet! Jesus could have asked us to wash each other’s heads but that wouldn’t have reminded us of the sense of “service” that we must give to each other. But we can’t turn this around thinking, “now I’ve done my ‘service thing’ and I’ve got that behind me. Now I’ll get on with my life.”

We know what happened after this event: Jesus went across to Gethsemane where he experiences His total aloneness and where His trustedagony in the garden 2 diciples fell asleep or wandered off. Whenever we receive some blessing from God, it’s always there to drive us forward into service. Not into the shadows but into the market place. But Jesus knew all about our human weakness. Just look at Peter in the garden of the house of the Chief Priest: “Who, me?” I don’t even know him!” “Cock-a-doodle-doo!” Yet, it ends up that Peter is the one called “Rock” and upon whom Jesus builds His Church. But it doesn’t happen right away. The church has to “come of age” and that doesn’t happen until they have experienced Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit. That’s when they are “re-created” and “born again,” But born into a church that has service as it’s goal. And we’re all back on our knees washing feet.! Amen!

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April 15, 2014

Tuesday in Holy WeekLast Supper table

Scripture Readings for today's Liturgy:

Isaiah 49:1-6

Psalm 71

John 13:21 … 38

“Jesus said, ‘Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. … and God will glorify him at once.’” (John 13:31)

Picture this: Jesus has gathered His twelve closest disciples to celebrate Passover. They are all (reclining) at table and they have already had Judas Jesus Johnseveral ritual drinks of the Passover wine and the conversations overlap each other as Jesus talks about not being with them much longer. It might be helpful for us to get away from Leonardo ad Vinci’s portrayal of the Last Supper and get the more authentic scene which, at the time of Jesus, would have had three tables arranged in the shape of the letter “n”. This was done to facilitate serving the meal. And if Jesus was in the center of the middle table – with the “beloved disciple” leaning on His chest, it is most likely that Judas was sitting next to Jesus on the other side in order for Jesus to be able to pass the “morsel” to him. We usually like to think of Judas farther away from Jesus and just about ready to Judas gives back the moneyleave to accomplish is dastardly deed. But isn’t it interesting that it was most likely these two – the “lover” and the “traitor” who were closest to Jesus?  Even as a youngster, I wondered why Judas wasn’t a “saint” since he seems to be the one who opened the door allowing Jesus to be arrested, which ultimately led to His crucifixion – to pay the price for our redemption. I used to think, “someone had to do it” and shouldn’t we all be thankful for that? But, of course, I was just a youngster.  I think what changes this is the fact that Judas almost got it right: he realized that he had done something dastardly and even went so far as to give the money back to the chief priests and leaders. However, instead of coming back to Jesus and asking for forgiveness … he despaired and went and hung himself.

Jesus  Good ThiefWe’ll get a closer insight into this on Good Friday when we hear the Passion Story again. At the very end, as Jesus is hanging there between two thieves, they have this conversation: the one – almost in a spiteful tone – asks Jesus, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us as well.” (Luke 23:39) The other thief – often call “good,” says, “we’re getting what we deserved because of our dastardly deeds but Jesus has done nothing wrong”. Then, looking at Jesus he says his now famous line, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom!”(Luke 23:42)asking forgiveness

If Judas had come back to Jesus instead of falling into despair he would be “Saint Judas.” He almost did it but he said he was sorry to the wrong person – the chief priests - and not to Jesus. In the picture at the top of the page, as I have suggested,  Jesus is between Judas and John which is done to remind us that we are always that close to both loving Jesus and going our own way.  But the opportunity to seek forgiveness is always available up to the last moment of our lives. That's something that we should never  forget. Amen!

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April 16, 2014

Wednesday in Holy Weekagony-garden

Click here to read why today is called, "Spy Wednesday."

Scripture Readings for today's Liturgy:

Isaiah 50:4-9

Psalm 69

Matthew 26:14-25

“Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me. Deeply distressed at this, they began to say to him and to one after another, ‘Surely it is not I, Lord?” (Matthew 26:22)

Judas MoneyIf we take the two words, “Spy” and “Betray” and let the various forms of those words roll around in our minds we’ll get a sense of what was happening to Jesus in these last days of his life on earth. Jesus who said, “I am the light of the world” came to dispel the darkness that surrounds all of us at various times in our lives. A “spy” always needs to have the protection of darkness. The Gospel even tells us, “And it was night.” On the other hand, “Betrayal” denotes a trust that has been given in order to bestow on us something good and wonderful. Jerks and no-goods aren’t the ones who betray. It’s those of us who have been invited in to the possibility of discovering something wonderful that makes “betrayal” painful. Judas went out – ostensibly to get things that were needed for the Passover Supper. And it was night. Who meIt’s the same night when Peter is warming himself at the fire in the courtyard of the High Priest’s house. Peter, who is also called, “Rock” will turn to jelly when “pushed to shove” by the questions of the serving girl. Fear, by way of association, will always do us in. I remember a time years ago, when I was a young brother. I had just parked the car and was fumbling with coins at the parking meter when a street person came up to me and said, “Hello, Father, I’m a Catholic and was just wondering if you had any spare change …” I was dressed all in black with the little white collar and, in an effort to get out of having to give him some money I blurted out, “Oh! I’m not Catholic. I’m a Luthern” or something like that.

The man walked away and I was left standing there feeling like Peter. I’ve never forgotten that single incident that happened so many years Judas Despairsago. But, more like Peter, I later had the opportunity to hear Jesus ask me, “Daniel do you love me?” Three times! “Yes, youPeter do you love me know Lord that I love you even though fear of commitment sometimes weakens me.” That’s the difference between a “spy” and a “betrayer.” A “spy” always has to stay in the dark. A betrayer can more easily come out in the open and return to the good that is being given. As we move through these days of Holy Week let us see ourselves in all the ways we fit into this picture of the disciples and followers of Jesus. We’re the “everyone person” in this drama so none of us is left out. Scripture tells us, “All have fallen short of the Glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) That’s a given. What we have to be able to do is come back to Him. “Jesus, Lord Jesus, savior of the world have mercy on me.” Let this “Jesus Prayer” be your prayer during the next few days. Amen!

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April 14, 2014

Monday in Holy Weekpeople in darknessJesus frees prisonersJesus-blindness

“Click” here to read about: Holy Week

Scripture Readings for today's Liturgy:

Isaiah 42:1-7

Psalm 27

John 12:1-11

“Here is my servant whom I uphold …[that He might] open the eyes of the blind, bring out prisoners from confinement, and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness. (Isaiah 42:6-7)

I love Holy Scripture readings from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah because it’s so easy to see that Jesus, himself, was well versed in His Jewish upbringing. When He began His public ministry in Capernaum He was handed the Scroll of Isaiah where He could say, “Today this scripture is being fulfilled in your hearing.” (Isaiah 61:1-2) In the section that we are hearing today it’s so easy to see that Jesus based so much of his teaching – especially the “Beatitudes” – on these holy words of Isaiah.

coming back to GodToday’s Responsorial Psalm begins with the refrain, “The Lord is my light and my salvation…” and ends with, “Wait for the Lord with courage…” This prompts me to ask myself: “Is the Lord truly my light? Do I wait for the Lord with courage? Or, do I hide this light under a bushel basket? Isn’t there a “saying,” “If you don’t stand for something you’ll fall for everything?”   In today’s Holy Gospel we’re taken back to the home of Lazarus and his sisters, Martha and Mary. The setting is after Lazarus was raised from the dead and it’s interesting that he doesn’t even get a “walk on” part in this section of the Holy Gospel. But that might be a deliberate move on the part of those who put together these Holy Gospels so that we could see that – even as amazing as that miracle was - it’s not the same as the resurrection of Jesus that will bring us the gift of eternal life and, ultimately our own resurrections.

The interchange between Jesus and Judas over the wasting of money is important for all of us to hear. I’m sure Pope Francis has some goodGood thief thoughts about this and all of us need to make sure we are using the gifts and bounty that comes to us in ways to build up “the Kingdom” and not to line our pockets with things that can’t be taken with us when we die. The Gospel writers make a clear point that Judas was upset – not because he cared for the poor – but that he was a thief. Maybe this was put in to remind us that even a “thief” – if he comes to his senses before the last moment of life – still has the ability to share in salvation. At Calvary, the “good thief” cries out, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” We would call this a “deathbed conversion” but you’ve got to admit that many of us will be very surprised when we see who greets us at the “pearly gates.” Another reminder that Jesus didn’t come to offer salvation only to the good people but to draw in the poor, the sick, the blind and the lame. Today’s Holy Gospel ends with, “And the chief priests plotted to kill Lazarus, too, because many of the Jews were turning away and believing in Jesus because of him.”(John 12:11)

Another chance for us to remember, “Blowing out someone else’s’ candle doesn’t make our’s any brighter!” Amen. A good reminder that we need to look for ways to build people up rather than pushing them down. In these early days of Holy Week why don’t you try to find a way to bring light into the darkness of someone’s life. Amen.

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The General Curia

The church and convent of Santa Sabina on the Aventine hill in Rome have been home to the Order of Preachers (Dominicans) since the 13th century. At that time the church and associated buildings formed part of the holdings of the Savelli family. A Savelli Pope, Honorius III, approved the Order in 1216. Read more...

Province of St. Joseph

The Dominican friars of the Province of St. Joseph were founded in 1806 by Edward Dominic Fenwick, O.P., an American who had joined the English Province of the Order as a young man during its exile in Belgium. Fenwick eventually returned to the United States with the dream of establishing the Order in his native land. Read more...


The Third Order of St Dominic

The Third Order of Saint Dominic consists of men and women, singles and couples living a Christian life with a Dominican spirituality in a secular world. Read more...


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