29 August 2014

Dominican Vocation Retreat

 The Dominican Experience Weekend   

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Who?: Young men interested in learning more about Dominican life.

What?: A weekend to come and learn more about what it means to be a Dominican friar. There is no cost to participants. For more information check us out on Facebook - www.fb.com/opsouthvocations

When?: October 17 – 19, 2014.

Where?: St. Anthony of Padua Priory, New Orleans, Louisiana.

How?: Send email to Fr. Charles Johnson, O.P. at  vocations@opsouth.org

Why?: Because Christ calls men to be friars preachers and the world needs to hear His message.

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27 August 2014

Hypocrisy is vicious

St. Monica
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
Notre Dame Seminary, NOLA

Our Lord is on a tear! Or rather, he's still on a tear. He's ripping into the Pharisees and scribes b/c their hypocrisy is making of God's children heirs to Gehenna. Calling down upon them the final Two Woes, our Lord breaks into their hearts – those white-washed tombs – and sees there the bones of dead men and “every kind of filth.” Bones and filth that nourish the rank hypocrisy of men who “strain at gnats and swallow camels,” who neglect “the weightier things of the law [like] judgment and mercy and fidelity,” and obstruct the way back to God. Jesus is angry. But his anger is righteous. And not simply b/c he's the Messiah but b/c those charged with making the way back to God straight and smooth are – out of their own need for glory – making God's way crooked and dangerous. All the while presenting themselves as pristine examples of holiness. Look at us. Listen to us. Follow us. We know the way. Imitate us. Jesus says of their hypocrisy, “You brood of vipers. . .you bear witness against yourselves.” Hypocrisy is not a uniquely Christian vice; however, our vow to bear witness to Christ and him alone makes Christian hypocrisy particularly vicious. 
Take a moment to just bask in the raw righteousness of Jesus' anger. Now take another moment to give God thanks that you are not like other men – those who pile up burdens on their people; those who create obstacles on the way back to God; those who demand obedience but rarely give it. Take a moment to praise God that you spend your days and nights bearing up under the gentle of yoke of Christ, gently but firmly preaching and teaching the Good News. Give thanks that your heart and your tongue never disagree. That your mind and your hands never fumble together. That your every thought, word, and deed plant in this world another seed of the Word. And pray that no one – especially Christ – may never rightly condemn you by saying, “You viper. . .you bear witness against yourself.” Why all this thanksgiving, prayer, and praise? B/c as men being made ready to show God's people the Way, you do not want to be credibly accused of hypocrisy, of bearing witness against yourself. 
Look at Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy. Paul tells the church in Thessalonica how the followers of Christ properly bear witness to Christ: “For you know how one must imitate us. . .in toil and drudgery, night and day we worked, so as not to burden any of you. . .we wanted to present ourselves as a model for you, so that you might imitate us.” Those who lead God's people along the Way do not pile up burdens on others nor neglect the hard work of service nor put themselves first to be seen and applauded and praised. For the Christian, especially the Christian pastor, the surest way to avoid hypocrisy is to make sure that the only witness you bear is your witness to Christ. Act and give him praise. Speak and give him thanks. Think and make your thoughts a prayer. And never fail to grant to all the gift you yourself have received: God's mercy. There is no better way to bear witness against yourself than to refuse to another that which you have gratefully received from God.

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26 August 2014

Thanks (again). . .

I rec'd The Portal of Beauty today from the Wish List.

No name or return address. . .so, Thank You, Anonymous Benefactor!

I will be sharing this with the seminarians.


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25 August 2014


Rec'd Wm. A. Dyrness' Poetic Theology in the mail today from the Wish List.

No name or return address for my benefactor. . .

Regardless: Thank You!

And thanks to all of you who have been browsing the WL this week and sending me books. 

P.S. The book had a pop quiz tucked inside from the student who used it last.

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Good dream. . .

First Day of Class! Very excited!

I have my pencil box and erasers and a new pack of wide-ruled paper and two bottles of Elmer's and a pencil sharpener. . .

Then. . .I wake up and remember that I'm the teacher.



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24 August 2014

And so, we are never forsaken. . .

NB. Con-celebrating Mass at the seminary this morning. Here's another 2008 Roman homily that I've yet to preach. . .

21st Sunday OT
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP

Convento SS. Domenico e Sisto, Roma
We say to the Lord this morning: “Lord, your love is eternal; do not forsake the work of your hands.” We do not say this because we believe that the Lord might forsake us. We do not say this because we doubt that we are the Lord’s handiwork. Nor do we say this because we believe that the Lord’s love is limited by the timepieces of His creation. We say “Lord, your love is eternal” because—though we know that this is true—we must hear it said with our own tongues for only by tasting the words will we come to live the truth that we speak! We beg the Lord, “Lord, do not forsake the work of your hands”—though we know He would never forsake His promise to us—we beg because we must feel the steel of His promise in our mouths, the cold, metallic resolve of the ordering Word, the First Breath, the finality of our Lord’s enduring guarantee. What we know, we pray: “We give thanks to you, O Lord, with all our heart, for you have heard the Words of our mouths”—the Word You Yourself placed on our tongues “because of Your kindness and your truth!” What we know, we pray: “When he opens, no one shall shut; when he shuts, no one shall open.” Peter opens his mouth to say, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” and when he shuts his mouth, the Lord opens his own to say, “Blessed are you…whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” And so, we are loved forever. And so, we are never forsaken.

We should celebrate on this twenty-first Sunday of Ordinary Time, the teaching office of the Church, embodied in and employed by he who sits in Peter’s Chair. After all, our Lord says to Peter that he is the rock of the Church, the foundation stone of the Body that will grow into history and produce the great saints (and sinners!) of our western civilization. Our Lord is not speaking metaphorically or symbolically when he says that he will be with us always. His promise to abide with us to the end is best understood as a promise to found, concretely and in perpetuity, a living organism; a breathing, growing entity capable of bringing to it constituent members the stuff of everlasting life, all that which nourishes, cherishes, and sustains holiness and hope. At the head of this Mystical Body is Christ himself, drawing all parts and pieces of creation to him, elements known to the Body and some unknown, seducing and attracting any and all who will perk up an ear to hear the gospel of mercy, or blink open a blearied eye to peek at the glory Christ reveals—the invitation to come to the feasting table is a broadcast not a telegraph, made on an open-mic not a secured line, directed to the milling crowds and not just the favored few, to bring all who will come and not only those who fit.

And all those who come in answer to our Lord’s open-handed, open-hearted broadcast of “come-one, come-all” flavor the Body with a distinctive diversity, an exciting assortment of faces, tongues, customs, rhythms, textures, and for this catholicity we are deeply grateful. As we watch the Lord’s face multiply in his Church, we see him come more sharply into focus as he reveals himself through his creatures. Each beautiful face exposes Beauty Himself. So, it is no wonder at all that we are tempted to celebrate this abundant diversity as a good end in itself, to raise up this bounty of variety and make it the point of the Church, the purpose of Christ’s Body in the world. But if we succumb to this temptation—to glorify the human diversity of the Church for the sake of diversity—we overlook entirely that which attracts and binds the diversity of the Church: the emphatic YES of each beautiful face, each rhythmic tongue, each soul, seduced and delivered to the perfecting love of Christ. It is the commitment of our YES to Christ that unites us as a Church, not the variety of our packaging, not the impermanent assortment of skin and hair and speech but our willed participation in the permanent unity of love, Love Himself.

How difficult would it be for us as creatures of body and soul to live together in the unity of Love Himself without a Body to ground our common spirit? In other words, given what we know to be the case about ourselves as sinful persons, how difficult would it be for us to live together without a concrete expression of God’s love for us? Surely, we have the historical events of the Passion and the empty tomb of Easter Sunday. But none of us now were there then. We have the witness of scripture, the eyewitness accounts of what happened at the moment when the Father revealed His enduring love for us on the cross. Yes, of course, and surely scripture lives with us, but it with US that scripture lives. Our committed YES to the love of Christ is certainly given the gravity of history and the excitement of scripture, but concretely how do we live day-to-day with our YES? How do we make history now? How do we make scripture alive now? If our history is to be more than tall-tales and our scripture more than those tall-tales written down, there must be a living tradition, that is, a breathing, growing body of “that which is handed on.” That Body is the Church and the Church is where our committed YES is held in trust, unpacked in its fullness, suited up, put to work, and elaborated to be handed-on to the next set of beautiful faces and rhythmic tongues.

In handing Peter the keys to the kingdom, Christ not only makes Peter and his successors stewards of the heavenly household, he also founds the rock-bottom slab of the Church, the Body to be energized at Pentecost with the coming of the Holy Spirit. Christ establishes, institutes; he plants and provides nourishment and care for his emerging Body. At the proclamation made by Peter that Jesus is the only Son of the Living God, Christ reveals that the Father Himself has made Peter privy to what has until now been a secret. And now that the disciples know, and now that Peter has been confirmed in his office, Jesus assures his friends that “the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against [my church]. Do you hear the psalmist singing, “Lord, your love is eternal”? Do you hear Isaiah prophesying, “When he opens, no one shall shut; when he shuts, no one shall open”?

Christ’s promise to be with us forever is not a symbol or a sign or a metaphor. His promise is a Church. Founded on Peter and the revelation the Father Himself gave to Peter. Binding and loosing, the Church, through the office of Peter, teaches the faith; that is, what it is to believe and what we are to believe. We know our God’s love is everlasting. And so, we are loved forever. And so, we are never forsaken.

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