Friday, June 29, 2007

Catholic Answers Live!

On July 3 from 4-6PM, Jerry Usher will be broadcasting Catholic Answers Live from the Queen of Peace Room (parish office) at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Boise. There will be a reception after at 6:30 at the home of Bill and MaryLou Molitor, who would like an RSVP for a head count.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A hidden life

Today’s reading reminded me of Mary’s “hidden life,” and of the life of Janet O’Leary OPL.

Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D.

"In order to make myself like You, who on the altar are obedient to every priest, good or bad, I will obey promptly and will put myself in the hands of my superiors as a victim to be immolated, so that dying to all my own wishes, inclinations, passions, and repugnances, I can be disposed of by my superiors as they see fit, without showing any repugnance. And as Your life in the Blessed Sacrament is completely hidden from the eyes of creatures, who see nothing but the poor appearance of the bread, so I shall strive, for love of You, to live so hidden that I shall always be veiled under the ashes of humility, loving to be despised, and rejoicing to appear the poorest and most abject of all."
-St. Margaret Mary

From the Divine Office today, some thoughts.

Ps 102, II

You will arise and have mercy on Zion [heavenly kingdom, city of God, new Jerusalem, the Church]:
for this is the time to have mercy;
yes, the time appointed has come
for your servants [those who love you, Lord, and obey you] love her very stones [those, O Lord, who do not love you, possessing hearts of stone, for whom you died none the less, commanding us to love them as You do],
are moved with pity even for her dust [dust you are, and to dust you shall return, O carnal, earthly man; lift up your heart to the Lord, we beg the Lord assist you].

the Lord shall build up Zion again,
and appear in all his glory.
Then he will turn to the prayers of the helpless [no man in a state of grace is helpless, but rather the one who stands outside of God's grace];
he will not despise their prayers [even the fallen man, without grace, is still drawn inexorably to truth and goodness, seeking it by nature, the Holy Spirit praying for him as he knows not how].

Let this be written for ages to come
that a people yet unborn [not yet baptized] may praise the Lord;
that he might hear the groans of the prisoners [captive in sin]
and free those condemned to die [the unregenerated].

But you neither change, nor have an end. [Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow]

Monday, June 25, 2007

A profound week, deo gratia

On the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I began an eight day journey with Paul O'Leary OPL, and his mother Janet O'Leary OPL, in the room with Janet, Paul, and family, the evening when she left us to be with our Lord. Paul had just commented that many in the family did not understand that in being born to eternal life, she not only would not be suffering any more, but that she would be of greater benefit to them than in her present state. I related to Paul that at the death of St. Dominic, he said to his friars, "Why are you weeping, where I am going I will be of far more use to you than I am here." I had the distinct impression that she heard Paul and I and that was the moment she stopped breathing and her pulse gently faded away. We commended her soul to the Lord Jesus who died to redeem her. Arrangements were planned and by Paul with the assistance of Stephanie Dennino OPL; and one week later we honored Janet at St. Johns Cathedral with a rosary vigil, graciously led by Deacon Jack Pelowitz, and with music provided by the Schola Cantorum led by Maria Turner, wife of Mike Turner OPL. Janet's mortal remains stayed in the church overnight and the funeral on Saturday morning was beautiful. The choir of the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist was outstanding; Paul Navarro sang to solos, opening with Schubert's Ave Maria, and closing with an exquisite requium which I still do not know the name of. Father John Legerski honored Janet with a beautiful funeral, and a homily inspired by the many facets of her life of service to Christ, a life lived with profound humility and devotion, in immitation of Mary. The interment at the Chapter House cemetery brings to three the number of members of our chapter who have made their exit in the Lord and left their mortal remains in our care. We closed the interment with the Dominican Salve Regina, beautifully sung by the chapter members led by Anita Moore OPL. Bonnie Fitzpatrick OPL had put together a wonderful repast afterwards, expecting around 20 to stay, but it was more like 50.

I am lost for the words of gratitude for Fr. Legerski, Deacon Pelowitz, all the members of the chapter, and friends of Janet who rose to the occasion to put all of this together, including the intercession of Bl. Margaret of Castello to help Gayle Boyer OPL find someone with a backhoe to open the grave.

As I watched and listened during the interment, the following words entered my mind:

But about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing, and he saith to them: Why stand you here all the day idle? They say to him: Because no man hath hired us. He saith to them: Go ye also into my vineyard. (Mt. 20:6-7)
What struck me for the first time is that they did not respond "Because we just got here" but that no one has hired us; the implication being that they had been there all along, but had been passed over. As someone who in school days was always passed over in the choosing up of teams, and now is passed over again, it gave me pause to wonder about future labors at this time that many might think is fast approching the eleventh hour. From the example of the service and humility of Janet O'Leary, to the sterling apostolic sanctity of St. Turibius, we pray the Lord, send forth laborers into your vineyard.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints" Psalm 116:15

St. Claire of Assisi

Janet Claire O'Leary, OPL, our dear sister in Christ, died the

evening of 16 June 2007 to be with Our Lord. Requisat in pace.

If you wish to have a Holy Mass said for the repose of the soul of Janet O'Leary, OPL, please forward a small stipend to:

Fr. Bart de la Torre, O.P. c/o Western Dominican Province
5877 Birch Court, Oakland, CA 94618-1626

The Stipend will be spent directly on the poor in Mexicali, Mexico where Fr. de la Torre serves. And, Truthfully, you could not place such in better hands for the care of the extreme impoverished in Mexicali.

Obit with vigil and funeral times here

In consideration of the efforts involved in the funeral of our dear sister Janet, the regularly scheduled chapter meeting of Sunday, June 24 has been canceled. The next meeting will be July 15, and it will be held in Caldwell at Our Lady of the Valley. Time and details will follow.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

We Wish You Well, Collette.

The Idaho Lay Dominicans to Collette Cowman:

You are retiring from the editorial staff of the Idaho Register, diocesean paper of the Diocese of Boise effective 13 June 2007 (Feast of St. Anthony of Padua). There is joy in retiring and taking on new tasks in life, but please remember that there are many people who will miss you and appreciate your kindness and attention to details. We wish you well, we pray for your new time with family and friends, and your walk in the Faith. Thank you for your dedicated service!

Peace and faith,

The Idaho Lay Dominicans.

BISHOP THOMAS TO GIULIANI: "Preposterous position."

My R.S.V.P. to Rudy Giuliani
Bishop Thomas J. Tobin, Bishop of Providence Rhode Island
May 31, 2007

Rhode Island Catholic
I probably would have written this article anyhow, so distressed was I. But then I received an nvitation to attend a fundraising luncheon for presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani, and that absolutely confirmed my decision.

The fundraiser is scheduled for Providence next week. For $500, I could attend a reception with the former New York City Mayor. For $1,500 I could attend a reception with a photo-op.

The first thought that came to my mind is that I’m not charging enough for my Confirmation photos! Nevertheless, and more to the point, I have no idea why I received an invitation to Giuliani’s fundraiser. I don’t know the mayor; I’ve never met him. I try to avoid partisan politics. Heck, I’m not even a Republican. But most of all, I would never support a candidate who supports legalized abortion.

Rudy’s public proclamations on abortion are pathetic and confusing. Even worse, they’re hypocritical.

Now, this is what we get from Rudy as he attempted to explain his ambiguous position on abortion in a speech at Houston Baptist College earlier this month: “Here are the two strong beliefs that I have, here are the two pillars of my thinking . . . One is, I believe abortion is wrong. I think it is morally wrong . . . The second pillar that guides my thinking . . . where [people of good faith] come to different conclusions about this, about something so very, very personal, I believe you have to respect their viewpoint. You give them a level of choice here . . . I’ve always believed both of these things.”

What? This drivel from the man who received high marks, and properly so, for his clear vision and personal courage in healing New York City, and by extension the nation, after the horrific terrorist attacks of September 11?

Rudy mentions the two pillars of his position. But you know what happens if you sit on a stool with two legs? Yep, it collapses. And so does Rudy’s position, and along with it his integrity and reputation.

Rudy’s explanation is a classic expression of the position on abortion we’ve heard from weakkneed politicians so frequently in recent years: “I’m personally opposed to but don’t want to impose my views on other people.” The incongruity of that position has been exposed many times now. As I’ve asked previously, would we let any politician get away with the same pathetic cop-out on other issues: “I’m personally opposed to . . . racial discrimination, sexual abuse, prostitution, drug abuse, polygamy, incest . . . but don’t want to impose my beliefs on others?” Why is it that when I hear someone explaining this position, I think of the sad figure of Pontius Pilate in the Gospels, who personally found no guilt in Jesus, but for fear of the crowd, washed his hands of the whole affair and handed Jesus over to be crucified. I can just hear Pilate saying, “You know, I’m personally opposed to crucifixion but I don’t want to impose my belief on others.”

Okay, let’s ask Mayor Giuliani to think about his position for a minute.

Hey Rudy, you say that you believe abortion is morally wrong. Why do you say that, Rudy; why do you believe that abortion is wrong? Is abortion the killing of an innocent child? Is it an offense against human dignity? Is it a cruel and violent act? Does it harm the woman who has the abortion? And if your answer to any of these questions is yes, Rudy, why would you permit people to . . . kill an innocent child, offend human dignity, commit a cruel and violent act or do harm to the mother? This is in the name of choice? Huh?

Rudy’s preposterous position is compounded by the fact that he professes to be a Catholic. As Catholics, we are called, indeed required, to be pro-life, to cherish and protect human life as a precious gift of God from the moment of conception until the time of natural death. As a leader, as a public official, Rudy Giuliani has a special obligation in that regard.

In The Gospel of Life, Pope John Paul made the obligation to defend human life very explicit: “This task is the particular responsibility of civil leaders . . . No one can ever renounce this responsibility, especially when he or she has a legislative or decision-making mandate.” And more recently, the Bishops of the United States wrote: “If a Catholic in his or her personal or professional life were knowingly and obstinately to repudiate [the Church’s] definitive teaching on moral issues, he or she would seriously diminish his or her communion with the Church.”

(Happy Are Those Who Are Called to His Supper, p. 11) Rudy’s defection from the Catholic Faith on this moral issue is not unique, of course. Catholic politicians of both parties, nationwide, have followed a similar path in abandoning the Faith for the sake of political expediency: Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, Pat Leahy, Nancy Pelosi, and Joe Biden come quickly to mind. And on a local level, of course, Congressman Patrick Kennedy and Senator Jack Reed. How these intelligent men and women will someday stand before the judgment seat of God and explain why they legitimized the death of countless innocent children in the sin of abortion is beyond me. (But God, really, I was personally opposed to it, but just couldn’t do anything about it.”)

Oh well, as you can see by now, I won’t be attending the fundraiser for Rudy Giuliani. If Rudy wants to see me, he’ll have to arrange an appointment at my office. We’ll talk about his position on abortion. And if he wants a photo, it will cost him $1,500 as a donation for the pro-life work of the Church.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Who do the people say that I am?

Today's Divine Office has St. Ignatius of Antioch's Letter to the Romans (written in transit to Rome for execution), in which he says:

Our task is not one of producing persuasive propaganda;
Christianity shows it's greatness when it is hated by the world.
To this, I will add a brief excerpt from an article by Fr. James Schall (The culture of modernity and Catholicism, James Schall, Homiletic and Pastoral Review, June 2007), an article which is based on a review of Culture and the Thomist Tradition: After Vatican II (Tracy Rowland, 2003).

"What Chesterton understood was that it was precisely one of the great graces of the Catholic Church," Rowland observed,

that she makes it possible for people, poor as well as rich, to transcend their cultural limitations, to rise above their cultural poverty and be citizens, or rather subjects, of an eternal city. The effect of the Church on the culture of the world, and in particular on the life of 'common man,' ought to be ennobling, ought to be affirming of an aristocratic status as a child of God, as a member of a royal priesthood, a people set apart. This does not happen when mass culture is 'baptized' by its use in the liturgy or when its idioms are taken to wrap the Church's doctrines. Contrary to the rationale behind such pastoral projects, their ultimate effect is not to make the Church relevant to the modern world, but to make it indistinguishable from the modern world, and this in turn makes it completely irrelevant.

OK, so that was a quote of a quote of a quote. The writing of GKC is worth the effort. I will add yet one more thought, but I won't quote this time. In the section of Amerio's Iota Unum in which he discusses Catholics and politics, he makes what I found to be a startling claim; that Catholic involvement in politics ended at Vatican II. My first reaction when I read this was not one of recognition or agreement, but stay with me and let me do my best to explain what I understand that he meant by such a claim.

From the time of Leo XIII, Catholic involvement in politics was notable for being engaged on many fronts, from Catholic Action to national Catholic political parties. It was distinguished by one thing: it's aims and goals were the aims and goals of the Catholic Church. With Vatican II, these organizations were renamed, their Catholic identity diluted or abandoned wholesale. There are today many organizations involved in politics that are Catholic in name, but they are, as Chesterton pointed out so succintly, indistinguishable from the world and hence irrelevant.

In my mind, this is the question which the next post, John Keenan's essay on Social Justice, is meant to examine.

Sunday, June 10, 2007


Social Justice Issues

In Vol. 18, No. 5 [4], p. 6 of the March-April (2007) issue of Christ In the World edition [], the article on Peace and Justice was interesting. The article had a timely and well-formed comment on Lenten fasting, forgiveness, and almsgiving. At the forefront of the article, a Dominican student friar’s reflection was quoted stating that the “North American Dominican Justice Promoters are too political.” The source of that statement is unknown, but it is a general concern that should be addressed. That observation should be of concern.

In the article, the authoritative “Doctrinal Note on Some Questions Regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life,” dated November 22, 2002, issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the time Pope Benedict XVI was prefect of that congregation, was quoted, which follows:

By fulfilling their civic duties, guided by a Christian conscience, in conformity with its values, the lay faithful exercise their proper task of infusing the temporal order with Christian values.

Article I. 1, Para. 3. This document encourages participation in the political order, but sheds further light on the nature and priority of certain issues—and the centrality of the human person in the discussion involving key issues, where the document further explains,

The consequence of this fundamental teaching of the Second Vatican Council is that the lay faithful are never to relinquish their participation in ‘public life’, that is, in the many different economic, social, legislative, administrative and cultural areas, which are intended to promote organically and institutionally the common good». This would include the promotion and defence [sic] of goods such as public order and peace, freedom and equality, respect for human life and for the environment, justice and solidarity.

Article I, 1, Para. 3 (footnotes omitted). Guadiam et Spes was also quoted where the Council stated, “Since [the laity] have an active role to play in the whole life of the Church, laymen are not only bound to penetrate the world with a Christian spirit, but are also called to be witnesses to Christ in all things in the midst of human society.” Guadiam et Spes, No. 43 (emphasis added). This is true.

Of course, lay people involved in the formal institutes of the Order are not simply lay folk acting alone or with civil private associations, political parties, or societies. Lay people are encouraged, if not admonished, to be involved in culture, society, and politics individually and in free association with other individuals; however, the Order’s organized committees—as well as all lay members—in the lay Order of Preachers, face an entirely different issue. When speaking on behalf of lay Dominicans, we belong to a province and an institute, a lay religious institute of the Lay Fraternities of St. Dominic, that bears the mantle and authority of the Order itself, as well as the Church and her Magisterium—not the endeavors of private persons or private associations.

It seems reasonable that this fact alone would lead us, as lay members of a lay ecclesial institute to responsibly review each social and political issue very carefully so that it reflects the moral order, conscience, issues and efforts so dear and close to the Church--not the whim of ideology and political ideas that benefit from currency or fancy.

This is a heavy responsibility.

When certain worldly issues are confronted by members of the lay Fraternities of the Order of Preachers, certain guideposts exist outside of political agendas or social causes celebre. These guideposts include with certainty the Holy Scriptures and Tradition. Also, encyclicals and other documents are authoritative. John Paul II said, “It is the special function of the laity to seek the kingdom of God in dealing with temporal affairs and ordering them as God wishes.” John Paul II, Religious and Human Promotion, April 1978, no. 28 (emphasis here).

To amplify this point further, as taught by the Vatican Council II, “Laymen should also know that it is generally the function of their well-formed Christian conscience to see that the divine law is inscribed in the life of the earthly city….” Guadiam et Spes, No. 43 (emphasis here).

It is appropriate here to expound on the main point with clarity. Upon review of the materials from the lay, religious, and general Dominican websites, Dominican links, including other Orders, and religious and other links, as well as national websites concerning peace and justice, it cannot be ignored the prominent peace and social justice issues at both at the national and at the international level, are largely liberal in nature and often are not based upon natural law or supernatural principles.

It cannot be denied that there are legitimate issues that the promoters, religious, and others are thankfully pursuing at national and international levels. However, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the social justice movement has been deeply impacted by a liberal agenda. As Dominicans we must be truthful in our review of this material.

This conclusion may shock or cause reactions of guffaws. As Dominicans who seek the Truth, it cannot be ignored. The social justice movement cannot move in a new direction whether to the right, middle, left, or with a new ideology. The real move must not be grounded in a political or social ideology. Any social justice action must be based on natural and supernatural principles, Godly in its origin and in its faith and practice and on “divine law [that] is inscribed in the life of the earthly city.” Guadiam et Spes, No. 43. As Dominicans, especially as members of the Lay Dominican Family of the Order of Preachers, we need to preach the Gospel. At home. At school. At work. In the town square. At all levels of government. At the courtrooms, the hallways of Congress, the halls of academia, at businesses, corporations, and the like, we need to preach the Gospel. It is the Church that teaches, that preaches, that is the source and fountain of eternal life through its Head, Jesus Christ.

Some examples of concern are appropriate at this point.

Before detailing any examples, among the examples below, there are legitimate issues that should be dealt with by honest men and women of good will who seek the truth who may necessarily come from opposing political views. However, one point is simple: these views often represent a political point of view, not necessarily a religious viewpoint.

Below are words and phrases gleaned from various religious and laity Dominican internet websites. These websites mention these terms. These terms were “lifted” from the websites and inserted below between quotation marks. The phrases listed here are in no particular order:

The “environmental and ecology,” “environmental sustainability,” “HIV-AIDs in Africa,” “eco-feminism,” “feminism,” “greenhouse gases,” “militarism,” “sexism,” “globalism,” “anti-racism,” “global warming,” “death penalty,” “universal health care,” “public dissent in the civic and ecclesial arenas,” “School of the Americas,” “disarmament,” “Earth Charter,” “Columbia,” “partnering with planet earth,” “reverencing the earth,” “collaborating for systemic change,” “disarmament,” “the war in Iraq,” “earth is sacred and interconnected,” “human dignity,” “the conflict in Israel and Palestine,” “human trafficking,” “heresies of local and global domination,” “ravage earth,” “ecological crisis,” “ecologically sustainable design models,” “multicultural and biological diversity,” “non-violent peacemaking,” “right relationships with Earth community,” “social service agencies,” “helping the poor,” “people of Columbia,” “Iraq,” “genetically engineered food,” “land ethic,” “heresy of dualism,” “commit to actions that safeguard Earth,” “unjust structures,” “world water day,” “UN Millennium Declaration,” “Dominican Ecology Project,” “economic globalization,” “Dominicans at the United Nations,” “pledge of non-violence,” “wrap the world in prayer for peace,” “alternative investments,” “immigration and migration,” “labor,” “fair trade,” “United Nations,” “human trafficking,” “Darfur,” “Zimbabwe,” “biodiversity,” “globalization,” “reality of limit,” “new cosmology,” “listen to Earth, and to rethink cosmology,” “human rights,” “homosexual rights,” “nuclear weapons,” “nuclear power,” “nuclear disarmament,” and on and on.[i]

Among the various Dominican websites, there were links to secular “women’s spiritualism,” “feminist theology,” “political websites,” environmental websites such as Public Citizen on the issue of socialized water, Sierra Club, and the Women’s Environmental Institute, and “peace and justice” sites and linked to a common thread of issues that are included above.

The list cited above is not exhaustive. It is simply a general sampling of what was discovered on the internet involving religious and lay Dominican sites and links listed on those sites.

It should be clarified that the purpose here is not to accuse but to expand the horizons and open the minds of many of the Dominicans when it comes to these issues. The issues listed above have a tendency to be from a liberal perspective, and there are legitimate opposing points of view from other men and women that can be expressed from a moral perspective. It is not all one sided. There are other voices that are not being expressed.

This general tendency in our Order of Preachers is alarming—and should be to any Dominican. As Catholics, we should not be controlled by any political issue from either a liberal or a conservative basis or other single political perspective. We should be concerned about social justice issues that reflect on the faith and morals of Catholic teaching.

One may argue that the liberal issues are the important issues. Of course, that cannot be from a Catholic perspective—and that is precisely the problem that is confronting the social justice movement presently.

This point requires discernment and honesty. It is for that reason that the Lay Provincial Council and each provincial chapter should seriously consider the direction these issues have taken over time and face the reality that many of the issues and actions taken have missed the true mark of a genuine religious concern. This problem cannot be ignored without causing great harm not only to the Province but to the whole Order.

Many of the issues stated above have little to do with primary Catholic moral and social teachings about domestic family life, life issues, just laws, faith and morals, and the like, but have more to do with socialist solutions to social problems as well as a liberal ideology and related political ‘doctrine’.

As Dominicans, what should we do?

We gather first as Dominicans. While many of us may be politically involved, and may respectively be socialists, Republicans, Democrats, libertarians, progressive, capitalists, and on and on, our present business together involves the Order of Preachers and not worldly politics. If we participate individually in secular social movements, it is responsible that we take good moral positions. However, as Dominican people, we should focus on vital ecclesial issues which rely upon a crucial moral and theological foundation.

To do so requires the lay Dominicans to face tough contemporary issues that will form the World in His image. Anything less, the World will form the Order in the its image.

As an illustration, let’s examine the tragic issue of abortion.

This issue is primary. The social justice issues mentioned at large often reflect on a disenfranchised, a deprived, a weak and a poor constituency. Yet, nowhere in the world is there a more weak, choice-less, poor, blind, and voiceless constituency than the preborn child. Outside a brief oblique reference at a few Dominican websites, there was no mention of this modern savagery of killing innocent children.

On the other hand, an issue widely mentioned at Dominican websites is the death penalty. Pope John Paul II voiced a growing social opposition to the death penalty. The reality is that modern social systems have an alternative to the death penalty. [ii] However, the issue is not that the death penalty is always morally wrong, but where society has an alternative to protect the public, the better option is to avoid the death penalty. See, footnote ii. Appropriately, John Paul II gave a strong admonition especially in modern societies against imposing the death penalty. However, when it comes to killing innocent life, the Commandment against murder is invoked.[iii] “In effect, the absolute inviolability of innocent human life is a moral truth clearly taught by Sacred Scripture, constantly upheld in the Church's Tradition and consistently proposed by her Magisterium.” Evangelium Vitae, para. 57. As Pope John Paul II taught in his famous encyclical, “I confirm that the direct and voluntary killing of an innocent human being is always gravely immoral.”

After reviewing the issue of life, it is clear that the killing of all innocent life—whether a child in the womb or not—is gravely immoral. However, the Church has long understood that the death penalty is the state’s right to defend society, but when it can provide for a just punishment without further taking of life, then the dignity of the human person requires that the death penalty be avoided.

Where Evangelium Vitae and the Catechism do not forbid the death penalty outright, this matter is a relative and secondary obligation, while in contrast defending the life of an innocent person is an absolute and therefore a prior responsibility.

There is a dearth of information on the killing of innocent persons on the Dominican websites quoted above, that includes the killing of children in the womb.

It is difficult to say that men and women of good will are able to debate in truth the moral rightness of abortion. There is no right to commit an abortion. That is a political proposition—not a religious or moral principle. Many persons believe and are full of hope, that if society can be corrected about abortion, many ills of society will be righted.

There are other issues that could be included in this discussion. These issues include married life, religious freedom, euthanasia, pornography, and moral theology.[iv]

As lay members of the Order of Preachers, what great good can be done! We can teach children about moral conduct, about sex, fulfilling promises, working, family life, and marriage. We can preach to young and old alike about a Godly life.

This includes the teaching of children by lay people and religious about moral and right conduct, about sex, fulfilling promises, working, family life, marriage, and about preaching to young and old adults alike about right living and moral conduct—a Godly life.

These are not political issues. These are moral standards that are pillars of right conduct that can change forever the hearts and minds of men and women.

The irony is that all the political and social activity in the world, if not based on Christ and on right living and morals, is only that: busy activity. This is precisely where the magnificence of the Order of Preachers steps in and is so desperately needed at the pulpit and on the streets today: we need to preach the Gospel of Truth with the power of God. The Gospel helps people to live rightly, which promotes a culture of life, and helps people to make right decisions at every level of society including the family, community, and national levels.

As lay folk in the Order of Preachers, we have a duty to uphold and preach the natural law in contra to our contemporary society that upholds the “decadence and disintegration of reason and the principles of the natural moral law.” Often politics and its culture brings with it a legitimacy of pluralistic ethics where tolerance of wrongs and rights becomes a civic virtue, where “citizens claim complete autonomy with regard to their moral choices, and lawmakers maintain that they are respecting this freedom of choice by enacting laws which ignore the principles of natural ethics” and yield to temporal cultural and moral trends as if every outlook was of equal value. The Participation of Catholics in the Moral Life, para. II.2., Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect, (2002)(Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith).

Where people are taught right from wrong; they will do right at a personal, social, and governmental level. Critical to this mission are education and preaching that leads to changed hearts.

The final point is simply this. We are lay people in a Catholic religious order. We are not social or political leaders (unless otherwise in our private lives). As members of the Lay Fraternities of the Order of Preachers, we are to preach the Gospel in and to our various secular areas but not to proclaim the particular political and temporal ideologies themselves. To change the world, we need to preach the true Gospel of Jesus Christ, not the ‘good’ news of political agendas.

The Idaho Lay Dominicans kindly ask that the Lay Provincial Council to carefully review the issues raised in this letter. We believe they are of genuine concern. Our Dominican lives need a renewal based on the documents of Vatican Council II, where we are urged to return to the original charisms of our founding father, St. Dominic, where preaching, study, and prayer are fundamental to our mission of salvation and the changing of the hearts and minds of people.

In this way, we truly speak to God and of God and reflect on Him through our preaching charism. As you know, Christ focused on humankind, not the social and governmental structures of the world. When men and women convert and change their personal lives and reform their minds, they will change the world.

Saturday, June 09, 2007, The Idaho Lay Dominicans.

[i] [i]. See, attached Bibliography. The list of websites on the bibliography is not exhaustive.

[ii][ii]. Evangelium Vitae, Para. 27. "If bloodless means are sufficient to defend human lives against an aggressor and to protect public order and the safety of persons, public authority must limit itself to such means, because they better correspond to the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person". Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 2267.

[iii][iii]. Evangelium Vitae, Para. 57. “If such great care must be taken to respect every life, even that of criminals and unjust aggressors, the commandment ‘You shall not kill’ has absolute value when it refers to the innocent person.”

[iv] [iv]. Other vital issues include not only moral theology but the rights and wrongs involving marriage and domestic life in general; sexual mores; private property and the respect for it at a personal and social level; economic and political freedom; legal plunder; the economic and social mechanisms for helping the poor to be fed, clothed, educated, and raised in dignity, and other issues.

Additional issues involve the United Nations. The “Dominicans at the United Nations” website shows that the Order of Preachers is involved in many vital issues, including the issue of human trafficking, the war in Iraq, the war in Darfur, etc. However, at that website [], there was no reference or mention with regard to the international abortion rights movement. There are valid questions, complaints and observations about the United Nations, its legitimacy and its bureaucracy. From a review of the documents at that website, it appears that at the United Nations, the Dominicans have failed to challenge the pro-abortion structures at the United Nations as well as the UN’s and NGOs’ (nongovernmental organizations’) complicity with that issue. Most recently, in the name of women’s rights, it was noted by the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) (an NGO at the United Nations) and displayed at their website, that “the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to health has made a dedicated effort to show governments that reproductive and sexual rights are fundamental elements of the right to health.” As you know, “reproductive and sexual rights” are nothing less than a euphemism for abortion rights. []. While many Dominicans have focused on the nation of Columbia and the war on drugs, international groups such as the CRR have been promoting abortion rights in the United Nations and internationally, and most recently with legal success in the City of Mexico.

In a recent seminal decision, the Columbia Supreme Court quoted resolutions made under cover of the UN in legalizing limited abortions. Did the Dominicans at the United Nations help pro-life forces to confront this travesty? This is unknown. However if the website at is reviewed, it does not appear as there was any such involvement.

Another issue mentioned on the websites list on page 4 above is “universal health care.” This is socialized medicine whereby the state takes control of health care, including price controls, health care delivery, and the payment of health care through a state-sponsored tax. There is much honest and legitimate debate over the efficacy of government-sponsored medicine. Men and women of good will on all sides of this issue should debate this issue in truth and reason.

The key issue is whether universal health care is the proper vehicle for change in the health care industry and for providing health care. That is why it is improper for members on behalf of the Order within the context as lay members or religious, to promote or endorse universal health care because there are legitimate and opposing sides to this debate. For many, universal health care would be disastrous for the poor in particular and society at large. There is a wealth of economic, political, and social evidence that universal health care is a worldwide and profound failure, and that governments should deregulate the health care marketplace rather than take it over.



I. Source Material.

The Participation of Catholics in the Moral Life, para. II.2., Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect, (2002)(Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith).

Conversion of Culture, Homiletic & Pastoral Review, Vol. CVII, No. 9, June 2007, p. 26.

The culture of modernity and Catholicism, Homiletic & Pastoral Review, Vol. CVII, No. 9, June 2007, p. 8.

Evangelium Vitae, John Paul II,

Doctrinal Note on Some Questions Regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life,” dated November 22, 2002, issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Religious and Human Promotion, April 1978, no. 28, John Paul II. cscrlife_doc_12081980_religious-and-human-promotion_en.html

Guadiam et Spes

John Paul II, Religious and Human Promotion, April 1978, no. 28

Adaptation and Renewal of Religious Truth (Perfectae Caritatis), Vatican Council II, October 28, 1965, Para. 2, b.

II. Websites --

The websites cited below are not exhaustive and do not necessarily include all of the list of terms found in the document on Social Justice. A ‘google’ search will reveal other cites and sources.

Grand Rapids Dominicans

Dominicans – St. Catharine

Dominican Alliance’s Eco-Justice Committee

Global Concern, Dominican Effort

School of the Americas

The Death Penalty

Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility

The Death Penalty

Non-cooperation with the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act

Legislation that protects the civil rights of homosexuals

acknowledge and seek forgiveness for the racism and ethnocentrism within and among us who are descendants of the European immigrants in the Americas

Iraq, Africa, Columbia, Immigrant and Migrant Worker Rights, Genetically Modified Organism, Trafficking in Human Persons

Dominican Sisters of Blauvelt

Social Justice

Land Ethic

promote reverence and justice for the environment

Dominican Earth Council

Bill of Rights Defense Committee

The Death Penalty

The Trafficking in Human Persons

Just treatment of the Irish in North Ireland

Promote Fair Trade

Support of the rights of homeless people, exploited workers, immigrants, people with AIDS and especially women and children through our service, prayer and political action

Heresy of dualism

rights of women and children, immigrants, unjust structures, care of the earth, human rights

help create an economic system in which the basic needs of all are met

Adrian Dominican Sisters

Ecologically Sustainable Policy

Nuclear Disarmament

Death Penalty

Human Cost of War in Iraq

Iraq Public Statement

Preaching as Peacemaking

Genetically Engineered Seeds

Chlorine-free Paper

Genetically Modified Organisms



Death Penalty


Human Rights


Peace and Justice



Corporate Responsibility

Dominican Leadership Conference;

Justice and Peace Commission of the English Dominican Province

Justice and Peace Commission

Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist

Dominicans at the United Nations

Dominican Central Province (United States of America)

reference to Pro-Life link.

Thursday, June 07, 2007


I discovered that there is a singing group who goes by this name.

too bad. It's a good acronym for


When another's words disturb our peace

The reading in the Divine Office on Monday was from St. Dorotheus. This reading had an important point to make. That is, that there are times when the words of another have no impact on our peace, and there are times when the impact is very strong. The Saint wishes us to consider that a strong reaction to another's words comes from a root cause, that we do not examine our own conscience and accuse ourself. To explain; the words of another that upset us, reveal more to us about ourselves than they do about the other, for if we really were at peace, another's words would not disturb our peace; that we are disturbed, should indicate to ourselves that we were deluding ourselves, and that we are not at peace as we thought we were. Thus, the one who disturbs us is doing us a wonderful favor, one without which we would fail to grow in our spiritual life. We should be grateful that the Lord in His Providence sends us these (often unpleasant) helps.

the full text of the reading is here

We are commanded to love our neighbor; it must be remembered that our neighbor is the person we will spend eternity with in heaven, should we get there. This is a truth which, combined with the above, should strengthen our peace.

George Dyson's Magnificat in D

I found a free download recording of this lovely piece, enjoy:

we also sing Dyson's Nunc Dimitis which is also quite lovely (click channel guide and select Nunc Dimitis).

Corpus Christi, today or Sunday?

I was reading the DIVINE INTIMACY meditation on Corpus Christi this morning, and will post from it. Yet, on the US Calendar, the solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi) is listed as Sunday, June 10. I see at Overheard in the Sacristy that the Mass of Corpus Christi, presided over by Pope Benedict XVI, will be broadcast today on EWTN. I will assume that means that the solemnity has been moved in the US ostensibly for the convenience of us pre-judged as lazy folks who don’t want to be troubled by a week-day religious observance, rather than the calendar of the universal Church? Eh?

From DIVINE INTIMACY, by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D.

Thursday after the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity

-The eternal tide flows hid in living bread.
That with its heavenly life too be fed
… (St. John of the Cross, Poems).

The solemnity of the Corpus Christi is not just the simple memorial of an historical event which took place almost tow thousand years ago at the Last Supper; rather, it recalls us to the ever-present reality of Jesus always living in our midst. We can say, in truth that He has not “left us orphans,” but has willed to remain permanently with us, in the integrity of His Person in the fullness of His humanity and His divinity. “There is no other nation so great,” the Divine Office enthusiastically sings, “as to have its gods so near as our God is present to us.” In the Eucharist, Jesus is really Emmanuel, God with us.

O inextinguishable love! O love of Christ! O love of the human race! What a true furnace of love! O Jesus, You already saw the death which awaited You; the sorrows and atrocious tortures of the Passion were already breaking Your Heart, and yet You offered Yourself to Your executioners, and permitted them, by means of this Sacrament, to possess You forever as an eternal gift, O You, whose delights are to be with the children of men.

O my soul, how can you refrain from plunging yourself ever deeper and deeper into the love of Christ, who did not forget you in life or in death, but who willed to give Himself wholly to you, and to unite you to Himself forever?”
(St. Angela of Foligno).

Anita, thanks for the link!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

music and then some

This afternoon the Renaissance Chancel Choir practiced George Dyson’s Magnificat and Edward Bairstow’s Save us O Lord; it was a wonderful balm for the soul. One of the men read a poem he had found in his mother’s belongings; she has passed on, and he, who is 74, said that he found this poem in some things of hers that indicate to him that she had obtained it before his birth. Hope you enjoy it.


--Written and posted on the bulletin board in the choir room by a junior chorister.

On another note

GK Chesterton, turning worldly wisdom upside down, as usual, said that

“If something is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.”

It can be argued that the parish which uses OCP music attempts to prove this weekly, but I shouldn’t go there. Rather, I have an observation to make about the Pentacost mass where, for a variety of reasons, the music provided by the fledgling Schola Cantorum, ahem, might be said to have crashed and burned. Personally, I think it was salvaged from what amounted to sabotage rather nicely, all things considered, but the period of guilt and recrimination must be attended to. The point I would like to address is a comment from a liturgeist who has complained that singing in Latin makes “active participation” impossible.

To this individual, I would ask that he consider carefully the following. When the music is provided by the guidelines and contents of the OCP, with a mic’d and amplified operatic female crooner aka cantor belts out the selections, virtually no one sings along, because it is impossible. Yet somehow this does not prevent active participation? You, dear fellow, also are pushing for New-Age skank-dance aka liturgical-dance; please tell me how this allows me to “actively participate?” Perhaps your worry about lack of “active participation” is misdirected? Consider, on the other hand, that the document of Vatican II on the sacred liturgy (SACROSANCTUM CONCILIUM), which brought us the term “active participation,” says absolutely, and I repeat, absolutely nothing about abandoning Latin in the liturgy of the Latin Rite; so I would suggest that if the Vatican Council fathers believed that active participation is possible in a mass said and sung entirely in Latin, and demanded it be so, then if you are correct that this active participation is not possible, I submit that by your argument you are saying that active participation is simply not possible under any circumstances, for that is the necessary conclusion of your statement. You claim to be a supporter and follower of Vatican II. Please, let us together do so in actual fact rather than in name only.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


A term used (coined?) by Amerio in Iota Unum to describe work of dialog (I don't know and you don't know and together we will pretend to search to know), the post VII child of the twin errors of Phyrronism (nothing can be known with certainty) and Mobilism (nothing is static, not even God, the only thing that is unchanging is change).

Discussionism: the flight from individual responsibility by delegation to collegial committees.

Monday, June 04, 2007

The end of dialogue

Romano Amerio, Iota Unum
154. The end of dialogue, Paul VI

From the Catholic’s point of view, the end of dialogue cannot be heuristic, since he is in possession of religious truth, not in search of it. Nor can it be eristic, that is, aimed at winning the argument for its own sake, since its motive and goal is charity. True dialogue is aimed at demonstrating a truth, at producing a conviction in another person, and ultimately at conversion. This was clearly taught by Paul VI in his speech of 27 June 1968: “It is not enough to draw close to others, to talk to them, to assure them of our trust and to seek their good. One must also take steps to convert them. One must preach to get them to come back. One must try to incorporate them into the divine plan, that is one and unique.” This is a very important papal utterance, because the Pope was expressly talking about ecumenical dialogue.

Trinity in Unity, Credo in unum deum

Morning Prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours for Sunday, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, had a responsory that caught my attention:

Let us adore the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit;
-let us praise and exalt God above all forever.
Since the response is a direct quote of the repeating refrain in Dan 3:57-88, which is read for Morning Prayer on the first and third Monday of the four week Psalter, the “change” in the usual rendering struck an odd note, like fingernails on the blackboard. To change one word in “let us praise and exalt him above all forever,” usually makes me suspicious of the work of the inclusive language sentiments, but this time instead was a different thought entirely. Since it was Trinity Sunday, the impact was the observation that the Trinity, a mystery of three Persons in one God, is reflected in that regardless of whether the word “God” or “Him” appears, both choices are singular, because there is only one God, although there are three persons.

Thus, going back to an earlier discussion on the Credo, when it is said by the Church that the translation of the creed at mass will say “I believe…” the Holy Trinity gives us an insight into why this is so, for although there are many persons who make up the body, there is only one mystical body of Christ.

And just as there is no way that the finite intellect can plumb the infinite depths of the mystery Trinity, but can respond to the invitation to:

adore the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit;
-let us praise and exalt Him above all forever.
I find it sufficient to my understanding, that the Church has said this is how Credo in unum deum is to be understood, although we are free to plumb the depths of the mystery of the mystical body of Christ.

Liturgiam authenticam,

65. By means of the Creed (Symbolum) or profession of faith, the whole gathered people of God respond to the word of God proclaimed in the Sacred Scriptures and expounded in the homily, recalling and confessing the great mysteries of the faith by means of a formula approved for liturgical use.[42] The Creed is to be translated according to the precise wording that the tradition of the Latin Church has bestowed upon it, including the use of the first person singular, by which is clearly made manifest that “the confession of faith is handed down in the Creed, as it were, as coming from the person of the whole Church, united by means of the Faith.”[43]

I will confess, however, that the responsory above entails a bit of sorrow every first and third Sunday morning when I read Dan 3:57-88,

57. Bless the Lord, all you works of the Lord, praise and exalt him above all forever.

Apparently the Liturgy of the Hours editors thought the repetition of “praise and exalt him above all forever” was too much repetition, or too boring, or something else, and they dropped it off. Whatever the reason, this always sorrows me a bit because the motto of the Order is “To Praise, to Bless, and to Preach” – and one place where God Himself has taught us how to sing His praise, someone thought it better not to use His own words…