Light of Truth – 19

The scriptures occupy a central role in our Christian lives. Through the scriptures God speaks to us, and makes known to us the plan of salvation. At many times during this radio show the scriptures come to the fore as a central aspect in deepening our relationship with God through listening to His Word.

This week we will look at the Bible and how God is revealing Himself to us through the books we find within it. Fr. Terence Crotty OP and Fr. Luuk OP have a look at the bible as a whole and then with a focus on the beginning and the book of Genesis.

The radio program ‘The Light of Truth’ is a weekly Dominican radio program on Radio Maria Ireland. Please join us every Wednesday live at 14:00 GMT on Radio Maria – you can listen to the program on DAB in Dublin or Cork and online using the Radio Maria App or on the website: http://www.radiomaria.ie.

 

Mass for Feast of St Thomas Aquinas 2015

This a video of the mass celebrated in St Saviours church, Dublin on the Feast of St Thomas Aquinas 2015 by the Papal Nuncio Archbishop Charles Brown and members of the Dominican community.

St Saviour’s Symposium: Renewing Higher Education

On Sunday 16 December, Dr Susan Hegarty, a lecturer in Geography in St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra, spoke to the St Saviour’s Symposium about the challenges facing Higher Education in Ireland today, and offered some suggestions as to the creative roles Catholics can play in education.

In Persona Christi

This weekend the Irish Dominican Province joyfully anticipates the ordination to the priesthood of our brother Matthew Martinez in his native Trinidad. It is the culmination of a month of celebration for us. At the beginning of July, brothers Colm Mannion and Luuk Jansen were ordained priests. We Dominicans have a lot to be thankful for.

It is appropriate therefore that on the Sunday of brother Matthew’s ordination we find Jesus in the company of a multitude of hungry people. The Eucharistic connotations associated with the miraculous feeding of so many people are unmistakable. We are told that Jesus took the bread, raised His eyes to Heaven and said the blessing, broke the bread and distributed it (Matthew 14:19). Our own brother Matthew has spent the past number of years preparing for this very ministry. Fr. Matthew is now being entrusted with that power to make Christ present to people in the celebration of Holy Mass. He will act in the very person of Christ to feed a starving world with the Word of God and the Eucharist.

Commenting on this miraculous multiplication, St. Jerome believes that when the Lord reaps a harvest there is also at the same time a sowing of food for “had the loaves been whole and not broken into fragments, they could not have fed so great a multitude.” It is a little bit like this in our student house in Dublin at the moment.

In the past month the Lord has been reaping a harvest from the studentate. The number of students has decreased because three of our brothers will soon leave to take up their priestly duties. Yet today’s Gospel teaches that it is in this divine division that our contribution to the mission of the Church is being advanced. For those of us still in the studentate, the Lord sows in our hearts the desire to persevere with our studies. It is encouraging for us when we see our brothers being ordained. This miraculous multiplication is true not only of the life of a clerical student but for the Church as a whole. Love grows the more it is shared.

“They all ate as much as they wanted” (Matthew 14:20). The groans of satisfaction from the stomachs of 5,000 men, not to mention those of women and children, must have resounded about that lonely place in a chorus of thanksgiving to God. In the same way the brothers in the studentate here in Ireland will be raising a choir in our hearts this weekend, praying in thanksgiving to God for the gift of Fr. Matthew’s priesthood.

Gospel Reflection for the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year A (Matthew 14:13-21)

 

Our brokenness, an invitation for Divine Mercy

 

Rejoice Jerusalem” are the opening words we will hear this Sunday at Mass. This call to rejoice may seem strange when for the Church Lent is a time of spiritual ‘combat’ and painful self-denial against the many forces that clamour for our heart, or entice us away from God. Nevertheless the liturgy invites us to rejoice. The Gospel gives us the reason for our joy.  Basically it is God and more specifically his kindness and mercy to us in our sufferings and struggles. Joy then is not contrary to suffering and renunciation. Instead our mortifications and trials of life are concrete opportunities to see God’s hand in our life and to experience His grace and love. Therefore, Lent is precisely the time when we renew our sense of joy because in our ‘combat’ we experience the delight of God’s merciful friendship.

 

We know this to be true because of sacred revelation. We see this clearly in the Gospel this Sunday. St. John tells us that Jesus sees and approaches a “man who has been blinded from birth,” and of his own free will Jesus restores the man’s sight (Jn 9:1). Without the man even imploring Jesus’s help, he receives mercy and healing. We can quickly gloss over this moment as a trivial detail but this would be to miss the deepest truth of Christianity; we are redeemed because God took pity on us and in Christ Jesus came to save us. In his mercy he ‘touched’ us to remove our ‘blindness’ of sin and all that follows in its steps. It was not the man’s faith that summoned the Lord but rather it was the Lord who came to him on seeing his adversity.

 

 Amazingly Jesus says the blind man was kept in his infirmity in order that “the works of God might be displayed in him” (Jn 9:2). These works are the work of mercy, Jesus healing and restoring sight. It is within this framework that we ought to consider our lives, open to God’s saving touch. The Gospel emphasises that we should rejoice as Christians because like the blind man our brokenness and limitations can be the opportunities for God’s mercy in our lives. Our poverty allows God to be merciful to us.

 

We may feel uneasy or bothered by the fact that God allowed this man to suffer for such a length of time  without his sight so God could perform his works in him. Imagine how shunned he was by others in society who thought his blindness was a sign of his sinfulness. Faced with these realities people often conclude there is no God or if there is a God he cannot be a good God. Yet Jesus points us to the answer of their puzzlement. He wants us to grasp one of the greatest mysteries of our faith that it is precisely  in our sufferings and brokenness that we can experience God’s love in the most powerful of ways. It is from our places of shame and sinfulness that we can be the most transformed.

 

From this Sunday’s Gospel we can see how God can use the sadness and suffering of this world as his opportunity to heal us. God in healing our infirmities acts mercifully which is the highest expression of love. God permitted us to fall in our freedom since he knew that his mercy can heal all suffering. What a mystery!

 

 Our joy as Christians resides in the fact that our imperfections and failures are not obstacles to God’s love and saving action. This Lent as we discover our limitations as we struggle with our penances and mortifications we should not become discouraged but rejoice that we are drawing closer to God since  he comes closer to us through his merciful help.

 

The Fourth Sunday of Lent Year A (John 9:1-41)

The Messianic Banquet

FoodJesus’ style of teaching in today’s Gospel is challenging. He begins each teaching by saying something like ‘you have heard how it was said’…‘but I say to you.’ This kind of formula has a twofold structure. It initially recalls the common wisdom for the minimalist right ordering of society before proposing a higher standard aimed at something more than merely obeying the law. It is the difference between existing and living; enduring and flourishing. In the God-fearing society of Jesus’ time He could rightly draw upon examples from Scripture, especially the Ten Commandments, and because the people were familiar with them they could have understood Him. In our modern post-Christian society such examples would mean very little yet our message is the same. We have to encourage people to aim higher and to grasp hold of the prize for which they are made.

Imagine what a similar style of teaching might look like in our time. Perhaps you have heard how it is said ‘we are here for a good time, not a long time’ but I say to you ‘is it not a miracle that we have any time at all?’ Or maybe you have heard how it is said ‘I do no harm to anybody; I live a good life and pay my taxes’ but I say to you ‘surely life is more than taxes and the absence of harm to others.’ Or again you have undoubtedly heard how it is said ‘I am spiritual but I don’t go to Mass; sure most religions say the same thing anyway’ but I say to you ‘not all religions speak of God becoming human, being crucified, dying and rising from the dead.’

There is a certain minimalism that too often pervades our thinking about life. We are sometimes like kids at Christmas, enthralled by the wrapping paper and indifferent towards the gift. We are like a foolish person at a fancy restaurant settling for bread and filling up on it before the main course arrives. What Jesus proposed to His hearers, we need to propose to our contemporaries – the kingdom of heaven. Jesus is not rejecting the minimal standard but setting it in its proper relation to the kingdom. Like that bread in the restaurant the Law is but a first step, a starter. Of course with Jesus we Catholics go the whole way, dessert and all!

Today we are asked to think about what we have heard said. That means which ideologies, which cultural trends, which television programmes or newspaper columnists have we heard and ultimately, amid all those cluttering voices, what is it that we have heard Jesus say? What are the things that shape the way we live and how do they relate to the kingdom, if at all? The invitation to the Banquet demands a response.

Gospel Reflection for the 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year A (Matthew 5:17-37)

 

 

Symposium: Dante’s Ulysses

Last month’s Symposium in Saint Saviour’s Priory in Dublin was given by Prof Corinna Salvadori Lonergan, Professor Emeritus of Italian at Trinity College Dublin. Her truly memorable lecture was entitled ‘Dante’s Ulysses: ‘Beyond the utmost bounds of human thought’. The text of the relevant portion of the Inferno is given below (in Italian and English translation) along with some pictures to which Prof Salvadori Lonergan refers in her talk.

 

[audio http://dominicansinteractive.idoms.org/media/16644/audio.mp3]

 

«O voi che siete due dentro ad un foco,
s’io meritai di voi mentre ch’io vissi,
s’io meritai di voi assai o poco

quando nel mondo li alti versi scrissi,Picture4
non vi movete; ma l’un di voi dica
dove, per lui, perduto a morir gissi».

Lo maggior corno de la fiamma antica
cominciò a crollarsi mormorando,
pur come quella cui vento affatica;

indi la cima qua e là menando,
come fosse la lingua che parlasse,
gittò voce di fuori e disse: «Quando

mi diparti’ da Circe, che sottrasse
me più d’un anno là presso a Gaeta,
prima che sì Enëa la nomasse,

né dolcezza di figlio, né la pieta
del vecchio padre, né ‘l debito amore
lo qual dovea Penelopè far lieta,

vincer potero dentro a me l’ardore
ch’i’ ebbi a divenir del mondo esperto
e de li vizi umani e del valore;

ma misi me per l’alto mare aperto
sol con un legno e con quella compagna
picciola da la qual non fui diserto.

L’un lito e l’altro vidi infin la Spagna,
fin nel Morrocco, e l’isola d’i Sardi,
e l’altre che quel mare intorno bagna.

Io e ‘ compagni eravam vecchi e tardi
quando venimmo a quella foce stretta
dov’ Ercule segnò li suoi riguardi

acciò che l’uom più oltre non si metta;
da la man destra mi lasciai Sibilia,
da l’altra già m’avea lasciata Setta.

“O frati”, dissi, “che per cento milia
perigli siete giunti a l’occidente,
a questa tanto picciola vigilia

d’i nostri sensi ch’è del rimanente
non vogliate negar l’esperïenza,
di retro al sol, del mondo sanza gente.

Considerate la vostra semenza:
fatti non foste a viver come bruti,
ma per seguir virtute e canoscenza”.

Li miei compagni fec’ io sì aguti,
con questa orazion picciola, al cammino,
che a pena poscia li avrei ritenuti;

e volta nostra poppa nel mattino,
de’ remi facemmo ali al folle volo,
sempre acquistando dal lato mancino.

Tutte le stelle già de l’altro polo
vedea la notte, e ‘l nostro tanto basso,
che non surgëa fuor del marin suolo.

Cinque volte racceso e tante cassoPicture2
lo lume era di sotto da la luna,
poi che ‘ntrati eravam ne l’alto passo,

quando n’apparve una montagna, bruna
per la distanza, e parvemi alta tanto
quanto veduta non avëa alcuna.

Noi ci allegrammo, e tosto tornò in pianto;
ché de la nova terra un turbo nacque
e percosse del legno il primo canto.

Tre volte il fé girar con tutte l’acque;
a la quarta levar la poppa in suso
e la prora ire in giù, com’ altrui piacque,

infin che ‘l mar fu sovra noi richiuso».

Inferno 26.79-142

 

“O you who dwell together in one flame,
if I deserved your honor while I lived,
if I deserved but little or a lot

when in the world I wrote my lofty verse,
do not depart; let one of you now tell
where he, being lost, proceeded to his death.”

The greater horn atop the ancient flame
began to shake itself and start to murmur,
like a flame that’s wearied by the wind.

Then waving back and forth its very tip,
as if it were the tongue of fire that spoke
it flung a sound outside and uttered: “When

I took my leave of Circe, who detained
me near Gaeta longer than a year,
before Aeneas gave that name to it,

not fondness for a son, nor duty to
an aging father, nor the love I owed
Penelope that would have made her glad,

could overcome the zeal that I possessed
to gain experience of the world and learn
about the vices and the worth of man.

So I set forth upon the open sea
with just a single ship and with that little
crew of men who had not left my side.

I saw the shores on either side as far
as Spain and as Morocco, and the isle
Sardinia, and others that the sea embraces.

I and my shipmates had grown old and slow
by the time we came upon the narrow strait
where Hercules marked off the boundary

to designate that none should pass beyond.
Upon my right I left behind Seville,
already on my left I’d passed Ceuta.

‘O brothers,” I said, ‘you who have experienced
a hundred thousand perils and now have reachedPicture3
the west, to such a brief duration of

the senses as remains for us to have,
do not refuse to gain experience
of lands beyond the sun where no one lives.

Consider well your seed and origin:
You were not made to live the life of brutes,
but to seek after knowledge and the good.’

I made my shipmates with my little speech
so passionate to undertake the journey
that I scarcely could have held them back.

And having turned our rear end toward the sun,
we used our oars as wings for the mad flight,
gaining always on the left-hand side.

Now night was showing all the stars that fill
the other pole, and ours was sunk so low
it did not rise above the ocean floor.

Five times the light upon the lower half
of the moon was kindled and was spent
since we had voyaged out upon the deep,

when there  before us rose a mountain, dim
because it was remote, that seemed so high
that I had never seen another higher.

We then rejoiced, but soon joy turned to grief
for from the new land rose a whirlwind
that struck our ship upon its foremost flank.

Three times it spun her round with all the waves,
and on the fourth it raised the stern up high
and made the bow descend, as pleased Another,

 

until the ocean closed itself on us.

 

– tr. Richard Lansing

 

 

Blessed Moneta of Cremona

The Grace of Preaching

St DominicBlessed Moneta of Cremona was a contemporary of St Dominic and is famous for two things; loaning our Holy Father a bed to die on and giving him a tunic to be buried in. Being very much esteemed as a professor at the University of Bologna, we are told of his resentment and envy at the success of Master Reginald of Orleans in recruiting students from the University for the rapidly growing Order of Friars Preachers. After warning his students not to go to listen to Reginald, Moneta tried his utmost to avoid any occasion where he might encounter Master Reginald’s preaching. His students after heeding his words and attending his class instead of going to listen to Reginald, begged him to accompany them to the Cathedral the next day. Moneta giving way to their pleas went to the Cathedral with his students on the Feast of St Stephen, and finding the Cathedral full, remained at the door.  Reginald, reading the Gospel describing St Stephen’s experience of a theophany, told the crowded Cathedral to lift their gaze heavenward like St Stephen who “seeing the heaven’s opened” beheld his savior. This was the moment when grace ignited the flame in Moneta’s heart and lifting his gaze heavenward he decided to follow his Lord. Moneta falling at the knees of Reginald begged to receive the Habit of St Dominic.

        The grace of Christ can penetrate the most obstinate heart. Christ thirsts for us and will go to great lengths to enlist us in His service and to call us to intimate friendship with Him. What Blessed Moneta’s story highlights for us is the power of God’s Word to effect change in a person’s life; a power that enables one to turn from the preoccupations of the world and fix their gaze heavenward upon Him who alone can satisfy the human heart. This Word is incisive; “it is alive and active, sharper than any double edged sword,” (Hebrews 4:12) and when it finds a home in us its transforming power opens for us the treasures of heaven and the life of grace is offered to us. Like Blessed Moneta many are being invited to enter into relationship with our Lord, but maybe the grace that is moving them towards Him is being smothered by the cares of this world. Let us not resist His advances but take a moment to listen to that “still small voice”  (1 Kings 19: 12) that calls us out from beyond the confines of our selfish desires and assures us that in the gift of oneself we find true freedom.

Blessed Moneta of Cremona died in 1235 in the convent of Bologna. He, whose eyes were opened anew on that St Stephen’s Day suffered from blindness in the eve of his life, teaching others by the example of his holiness of life and joyful resignation in the face of suffering. This ‘athlete of the faith’ and ‘well-known miracle worker’ highlights for us the irresistibility of God’s grace when one cultivates the disposition to receive it, and the power of His Word when preached in the Holy Spirit.

The Presentation of the Lord

Giotto_di_Bondone_-_Presentation_of_Christ_in_the_Temple_-_WGA09082This Sunday we read St Luke’s account of the Presentation of the Lord. St Luke begins by giving the reasons for the Lord’s presentation. It was written in the Law of Moses that every first born male should be consecrated to the Lord. When we contemplate this event in the Gospel, it is easy to think about the idea of giving oneself to the Lord. I am reminded of Samuel who was confused when the Lord called him, Samuel had thought it his master Eli was calling Him. (1 Samuel: Chapter 3) Eli told Samuel to say “Here I am Lord”. When Jesus is presented in the Temple, He is in effect saying the same thing to His Father, “Here I am, Father”. This “Here I am” is the response that we all hope to give when the Lord calls us. Within the feast of the Lord’s presentation we can see the inspiration of our own vocations. Nonetheless, the feast and the Gospel account contain in one sense the whole mystery of salvation and much can be learned from contemplating this Sunday’s Gospel.

When we contemplate the unspoken “Here I am”, of Jesus in the temple, our minds and hearts are drawn to the cross. The presentation of Jesus to His Father cannot be thought about without recalling that it was the Father’s will that Jesus die on the cross. It is the Father’s will that humanity was to be redeemed by the sacrifice of the cross. This is why Simeon is able to say: “my eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared for all nations”. (Luke 2:30-31) When Jesus is presented to the Lord in the Temple, it is the salvation of Humanity that is being prophesied by Simeon. The “Here I am” which is not spoken by the baby Jesus, is an anticipation of His words in the Garden of Gethsemane, “not My will, but Thy will”. (Matthew 26:39) In the time of Jesus, the presentation of the first-born in the temple would have been a joyous affair, yet for us who understand that the presentation is an anticipation of the Cross, the feast is tinged with sadness. This was especially true for our Lady.

We can place ourselves in the shoes of Mary, who heard Simeon’s words: “A sword of sorrow will pierce your own soul”. The feast of the presentation is one of Our Lady’s seven sorrows, and in the list it is called the prophesy of Simeon. This sword of sorrow is the cross, and St Luke is reminding us of Our Lady’s presence at the Crucifixion. When I think about the fact that Our Lady was present at the Crucifixion, I am struck by the fact that Our Lord permitted her to be there. A son who loves his mother, does not want her to see him suffer terribly. It is one thing to want one’s mother when one is slightly ill, but when one is suffering terribly as Jesus did on the cross, I do not think that Jesus as a man wanted to see his mother’s heart break to see Him hurt so. As God, He could have arranged things providentially, in such a way that He would have spared her the sight of His sufferings. I think that the very fact that Jesus’ did die in the presence of His mother, meant that there was a good reason for this. The reason can be seen in some of Jesus’ last actions on the Cross.

“When Jesus then saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son!”Then He said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” From that hour the disciple took her into his own household.” (John 19: 26-27) A simple reading of these words, we could conclude that Jesus is merely asking the disciple to look after His mother. However, His words are addressed to all disciples: “behold your mother”. In this we can see the plan of the Lord for His mother, she is to become the mother of all disciples. So when we hear this Sunday’s Gospel, let us be reminded of the reality of the cross which is present in this feast and think about the words of Simeon addressed to Mary. Let us also remember the sorrows of the Mother of God and the fact that she is Our Mother also.

Promise or Chance?

2nd-sunday-adventImagine a person watching television intently as the lottery balls are being drawn. The person is fortunate enough to see the first number drawn matches the numbers on their ticket. There is no real excitement yet since there is a long way to go and the dream of winning the fortune barely registers as a realistic possibility. Then the second number too is a match. This sees a little bit more interest but the jackpot is still a long shot. Next the third number matches; now there’s a wee bit of shifting about on the sofa as the heart rate speeds up a little. Amazingly, the fourth number matches as well! This is starting to get a little surreal. The person dares to hope in the impossible and can perhaps already taste the sangria as they imagine themselves relaxing on a Mediterranean beach, if only the last two numbers match.

John’s disciples had a ‘ticket’ as well and they were hungry for the prize. The promise of the Holy Scriptures was the ticket they hoped would lead them to the jackpot – union with God. Schooled wisely by John, they are sent to Jesus to check out if He is the unique combination that can make real the promises of the Scriptures. It is interesting to note how Jesus answers their question of whether or not He is the One on whom they should pin all their hopes.

Like the lottery numbers being drawn one by one, Jesus describes how the blind see, the deaf hear and the dead are raised up. He shows that He is the living embodiment of the Scriptures; the actualisation of the ‘ticket’. Just like the person watching the lottery, John’s disciples gradually begin to see their hopes fulfilled with each proof that falls from Jesus’ lips. They realise that the Scriptures find their completion in Him. No more detail is given here about their return journey to John but it perhaps might have been something like that of the disciples on the road back to Jerusalem from Emmaus. During the encounter with the risen Lord their hearts had burned within them as He explained the Scriptures (Luke 24:32).

There is a significant difference between those who cross their fingers, hoping in blind chance and those who have a sure hope in the Cross of Jesus. The joyful hope of Advent is sustained by the promise of the Saviour’s coming. Is there room for him in our inn? If not, we need to consider letting go of those other occupants in our hearts that push Him to the periphery.

Gospel Reflection for 3rd Sunday of Advent – Year A (Matthew 11:2-11)