This summer, five Central Province Dominican student brothers participated in the Lands of Dominic Pilgrimage in celebration of the Order’s 800th Jubilee. Along the way through France, Spain and Italy, they documented the trip on a GoPro Hero 3+. Enjoy the video here! Special thanks to Br. Samuel Hakeem, OP, Drew Anderson, Br. James Peter Trares, OP, Br. Raphael Christianson, and Br. Vincent Davila, OP.
Recent events have challenged us to live out the Word of God as we hear it read and preached at Mass on Sunday. In particular, the readings from the 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time in which we hear the story of the Good Samaritan force us to ask, “Who is my neighbor?”
The following submissions come from Dominican Friars throughout the Central Province.
Fr. Ed Riley, OP
One day, Chukwu was standing with a friend waiting for a bus, and his friend was trying to console him because Chukwu’s brother was killed the day before by a Hausa man during a riot in which Hausas and Igbos were fighting each other. Chukwu is an Igbo.
As they were waiting, a Hausa beggar came and asked Chukwu for help. Chukwu smiled and gave him some money.
As they were getting on the bus, his friend said, “Why did you give him money? They’re the ones who killed your brother”.
Chukwu said, “Was he the one who killed my brother?”
I think that most prejudice is caused because people confuse the part with the whole. They jump from the particular (or the singular) to the universal.
We pray that the Lord will give us the grace to bind up our country’s wounds, and we pray that Jesus, the Good Samaritan ‘par excellence’, will heal us of our prejudices and enable us to act with love and compassion.
Fr. Patrick Baikauskas, OP (St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Center at Purdue University-West Lafayette, Indiana)
Fr. Chuck Dahm, OP (St. Pius V Parish-Chicago, Illinois)
These readings are very appropriate to help us reflect on the incredible events that happened in the US this past week.
In the Gospel Jesus teaches us how to be compassionate by helping someone unknown to us, someone different from us. Jesus answers the disingenuous question about who is our neighbor with a story. A man is attacked, beaten and robbed. A priest and Levite pass by and avoid him. They won’t lend a hand most probably because they did not want to soil their hands with blood, which was forbidden by the law.
A Samaritan on a journey through Jewish territory does stop and help. It is important to understand who the Samaritans were and how they were despised by the Jews. They were considered foreigners and heretics. The Jews were forbidden to have any contact with them, not even speak to them. Jesus presents the Samaritan as a hero, the one who gets it right, understands how to be compassionate. He binds up his wounds, carries him to an inn and pays for his care. Religious law and ethnicity were irrelevant to him. The wounded man was a human being and in need of attention and that motivated the Samaritan.
As in the first reading, the law of God is written in our hearts, even in the hearts of those who are different from us, non-Christians, Muslims, Jews, even non-believers. The Samaritan found it in his heart to be compassionate.
Why are these readings appropriate?
Because this week, we heard and saw the news of the shootings of two Afro American men by white police officers. The incidents are under investigation so we don’t know all the details of the events. But it appears to be once again examples of the use of excessive force by police against African Americans. These are two more cases of this kind of behavior that regrettably we have seen repeated time and time again this past year.
But then there was a horrendous angry response in Dallas, where a Black man shot and killed five white police officers and wounded approximately seven more. How horrible. It is a perfect example how violence generates more violence.
These incidents reflect just the opposite teaching of Jesus. In the Gospel Jesus explains how someone can help someone else who is totally unknown and different, while in these incidents we see people hurting and even killing others they do not know and see as different.
But in all this inhuman response we can still find the Good Samaritan.
On a TV news report on Friday night an Afro American man and his 15-year son were interviewed. The man recounted how he and his son were protesting in Dallas when shots rang out. They hit a police officer nearby. They hit the ground and another police officer shielded them, he was white. He did not look back at where the shots originated but faced them and covered them with this body. He was not protecting his own life but ours, the man said. I can tell you, he said, that if it were not for that white police officer, I would not be here talking to you now. I and my son would be dead. So when people say that “Black Lives Matter”, I say let’s change that to “All Lives Matter.” All lives matter.
This is the kind of response that inspires us all to be Good Samaritans. They are around us. You will recall several weeks ago when a young man was raping a student on the campus of Stanford University. Two male students passed by and saw what was happening. They yelled at the perpetrator who jumped up and ran. The two students gave pursuit and caught him. They wanted to protect the woman and obtain justice for the perpetrator. They were Good Samaritans too.
One mother was interviewed in Dallas because she was caught up in the protest, and when shots rang out, she pushed three of her children to run while she fell with her 15-year old son; she covered him with her body. A bullet hit her in the leg and she was hospitalized. She too was a Good Samaritan but she was protecting her son, her family. Jesus goes beyond that and teaches us that we have to love our neighbors, even those unknown to us and different from us.
Not everyone is capable of being a Good Samaritan. Several weeks ago a woman was assaulted on a train platform in Chicago. There were other passengers on the platform but absolutely no one stepped forward to help her. A few weeks ago a 4-year boy was shot in the early evening in a drive-by shooting on Chicago’s south side. He was paralyzed by the bullet that penetrated his spine. Neighbors were outside on the street and witnessed the shooting. But no one would come forward to help the police identify the shooter. The boy’s father pleaded and offered a $5000 reward for any evidence leading to the arrest of the shooter. No one came forward. People are too afraid to be Good Samaritans.
Are we able to be Good Samaritans? Would we risk our lives or injury to help someone? Would we even go out of our way to help someone we don’t know or who looks different from us? Think of yourself in a grocery store checkout line where you see a mother slap her small child. Would you say something to protect that child? If we hear screams from a neighbor’s house or see someone brandishing a gun, what would we do?
Brothers and sisters, Jesus spoke up to defend the poor and oppressed, and today he calls us to be like the Good Samaritan in his story. May we have the courage to be like our brother, Jesus. May he help us join together to defend and protect one another no matter if we are different and unknown to one another, because as Jesus says, we are all neighbors and we must love our neighbors as ourselves.
Fr. Dennis Woerter, OP (St. Robert Bellamine-Chicago, Illinois)
I was in Adrian, MI a couple weeks ago attending a conference with high school students. The big news in Adrian the Sunday we were there was that there had been a murder in Adrian overnight.
This sort of thing just doesn’t happen there.
Well, I thought to myself, “There have been 12 shootings since Friday night in Chicago.”
I really shouldn’t be so cynical, but it seems segments of our society have become numb to all the violence that occurs. As we are just beginning to get over the mass shooting in Orlando, we witness one man taking the law into his own hands and gunning down law enforcement officers in Dallas.
The most law enforcement deaths in a single incident since 9/11.
Have we become numb?
Have we become cynical?
Is this the way things are meant to be?
As Christians, the answer to all three questions must be, “No.”
In response to the shootings in Dallas, President Obama said, “We are better than this.”
As Christians, we say the same: we are better than this.
Today’s gospel presents us with what may very well be the most well-known parable in all the gospels: the Good Samaritan. Jesus tells this story in response to a simple question. A scholar asks, “Who is my neighbor?”
Jesus’ parables are meant to shock. They are meant to challenge one’s worldview. They are meant to force the audience to reflect on their relationships and their commitment to following Jesus.
Samaritans during the time of Jesus were meant to be avoided. They were not considered to be good and faithful Jews. There is a long history here, but Jesus’ audience – especially this scholar of the law – would not expect the Samaritan to be the hero.
Samaria was a place to be avoided.
Samaritans had no role in society.
Samaritans were shunned.
Strictly because of the way they practiced Judaism.
But the Samaritan in the story is the hero. He is the one who takes care of the man who was beaten and robbed. Both the priest and the Levite avoid the victim. Actually, they observe a strict interpretation of the law, in that they do not touch what is impure – in this case the injured and bloody victim.
They follow the law as they interpret it, but they do not do the right thing.
The Samaritan is expected to not do anything, but he does the right thing. He takes care of the victim. He pays for his care. He makes sure the victim is somewhere he can heal. He shows mercy.
Notice the end of this story. Jesus asks, “Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?”
The scholar answers, “The one who treated him with mercy.
Jesus says, “Go and do likewise.”
This is a story about mercy.
And we are given the opportunity to reflect on this not only in the context of shootings and other types of violence, but in the context of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. Pope Francis says that we as Christians must be the face of God’s mercy to the world.
What does this mean for us?
How do we put this into practice?
We might think that events that occur in such places as Orlando and Dallas do not affect us, but they do. We must remind ourselves that we are not only members of one Christian family; we are members of one human family. We rejoice together. We grieve together. We must have a collective desire to change things and to make things better.
So we return to the parable of the Good Samaritan. Jesus takes us through a reflection on the necessity to be merciful. At all times. This applies to us all, but it also affects those we encounter. This parable breaks down barriers. It basically says that it does not matter who we are. It does not matter who we encounter. We must be merciful. At all times. And we must actively work to promote and more merciful and loving society.
Sometimes this is uncomfortable. Pope Francis has said this from the first days of this pontificate. Following Jesus is sometimes messy and makes us uncomfortable. Jesus never says that following him is easy. But he does say it is possible.
The priest and the Levite saw the bloodied victim lying on the side of the road and they moved to the other side. They protected themselves and did not get dirty.
The Samaritan, on the other hand, approached the victim and took care of him. He cleansed his wounds. He picked him up and got him to a place where he could heal. He took his own money to make sure he had the proper care.
He did all this despite the fact that members of the society in which he lived openly said he was not a good person. It was assumed he could do no good at all. He and his people were shunned and not seen to be valuable members of the community. They were isolated because of who they were.
The Samaritan got himself dirty and showed mercy to the victim.
We may not think we can have much of an effect. But we can. The gospel constantly challenges us to be better. The foundational message of the gospel is: love one another.
And Jesus shows us what love can do.
The Good Samaritan showed mercy.
For him this meant getting dirty. Touching wounds. Cleansing wounds. Making sure the person was healed.
Sometimes being merciful means getting dirty. We can think about another story and recall that Thomas needed to touch the wounds of Jesus in order to believe in the resurrection.
The Samaritan needed to touch the wounds of the bloodied victim in order to ensure his own salvation and the healing of the one he encountered on the side of the road.
Fr. Brendan Curran, OP (Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish-Milwaukee, Wisconsin)
We all know so well the story of the Good Samaritan…but something troubled me this week as I re read the passage from Luke with CNN news coverage of Dallas in the background….
Reading of Luke –
Doctor trapping Jesus
Proving his worthiness
Love god with your whole heart, being strength and mind….
Love your neighbor as yourself!
The doctor says, “ AND WHO IS MY NEIGHBOR?”
JESUS responds with the story of the Good Samaritan:
3 passed on road from Jerusalem to Jericho
Priest and Levite – ignored the man…in fact, they went to the other side of the road. But, the third, the Samaritan – cleaned his wounds, wrapped them, took to care, inn
WE KNOW THE STORY …. AND WHO IS MY NEIGHBOR????
How often do we want to be like the doctor… what is good enough to earn eternal life…
How are we actually like the priest and the Levite?
Instead walking towards the wounded man …we choose to walk away… WE CHOOSE TO CROSS THE STREET?
There it is…. I had hardly noticed in the many times I have read this passage…
I often thought the wounded man was on the other side of the street. The wounded man was right in front of them…. It was they who made a choice… to cross the street to purposely avoid the wounded man…. Purposely…
That is it …that is the struggle that describes the awkwardness of this week……. Who of us did not shriek in horror of the events of these past days?
How tempting is it for us to turn away…to walk to the other side of the street… and ignore the pain, anger, horror of Minnesota, Louisiana and Dallas …
not to mention St Louis and Georgia or Ferguson and Baltimore of before…
In light of the African-american killed by an officer in Minnesota, another killed by an officer in Louisiana, the 12 officers shot in Dallas, the officer shot in the neck in St. Louis, and one officer shot in Georgia, over these past days, amidst years of burning tensions from Ferguson and Baltimore, we can see this call for love and nonviolence is not always heeded.
Why do we cross the street?
We cross to avoid the messiness.
We too often see it as a disruption.
We prefer to mind our own business. Not my people. Not my problem.
Some cross the street every day out of real fear as well…
immigrants fear calling police out of fear of being reported to ICE
African-americans choose to cross the street out of fear of retaliation or prejudice that officers may have already have in their mind.
Just to name a few reasons…..
But, Why do you cross the street???
I’m challenged by Jesus’ teachings about the Good Samaritan. He asks us to be a people who not only know the right answers, but live them out as well. We are called to be people who see those who are suffering as their neighbors, and have the courage to resist crossing the street to avoid doing the Christian thing to do.
If I seek to serve my neighbors, I first need to learn to see them, an important first step in becoming a more loving Christian neighbor to those who live right next door.
Diana Hayes, an African American theologian at Georgetown University wrote in one of her essays,
“St. Augustine wrote centuries ago: “Hope has two beautiful daughters, anger and courage; anger at the way things are, and courage to work to make things other than they are.”
Do we have the courage to release the fire of hope, which despite its anger, or precisely because of it, will lay the path for a fruitful and common journey for us all?
This is our calling as Christian people today: to be the heroes and sheroes of our children, of whatever race, class, or gender they may be, to be the bearers of hope and the instillers of a faith that can move mountains in our young who see a world that has turned away from them…
We must take a stand… going against the grain, against the complacency, against the status quo that fosters injustice; it must be nonviolent; and it must embody love.
A priest friend I admire who works in the heart of the struggle of violence in the Auburn-Gresham neighborhood of Chicago has a message on his cellphone that I am reminded of today:
In his message he says, “Martin Luther King Jr says,“our lives begin to end the day we fall silent about the things that matter”
That is the spirit of Jesus in his example in the Gospel today…
Let us restart our dialogue on race and police-community tensions.
Let us dare to live our Christian call to truly love our neighbor and not just fall silent. In doing so I fear we will once again be like the priest and Levite in today’s gospel, we will be choosing to cross the street!
By: Fr. Andrew Carl Wisdom, OP
I don’t think I’m being paranoid (of course, paranoid people never think they are being paranoid), but I think I’m being followed.
As a Dominican, I’m on the road a lot in my vocations and fundraising ministries asking people for either their money or their life. Well not quite like that…I’m not an old gunslinger from Dodge City. But lately, no matter what priory or rectory or hotel I stay in around the country, the same commercial comes on the T.V. for some restaurant I’ve never heard of called The Golden Corral. Yes, I’m being followed by a commercial! After an appetizing, sumptuous spread of mouthwatering foods, it’s seductive, sound bite suggests: “Help Yourself to Happiness.”
That advertising tagline, “Help yourself to Happiness,” could be a summary slogan for this season of Lent. Now at first glance, what this liturgical season brings to the table doesn’t strike one as very appetizing or alluring. First we are smeared with ashes and reminded we begin as a pile of dust and will end as a pile of dust. We’re told to fast; to confront petty preoccupations, jealousies and judgments, our superficial attachments; to repent of sinful and selfish ways. Let’s be honest: are we having fun yet?! However, in our Eucharist Preface we pray: “Each year you give us this joyful season.” Come again? Did I hear that right? The clue to this conundrum is a few lines later: “As we recall the great events that gave us new life in Christ, you bring the image of your Son to perfection within us.” Lent is an annual call to re-embrace the life of the Risen Christ in us as the definitive gift of God’s friendship to us and to renew that friendship as our deepest joy, our greatest happiness. After all, we are told from the very beginning from the inspired Word itself, from the book of Genesis that we are the very image of God Himself. This is not then, a dour season of gloom and doom. This is not a season to beat up on ourselves or anyone else for that matter. It is a time to receive from the always outstretched hand of God that which will really quench our deepest thirst and satiate our abiding hunger. It is a time to reexamine how we pursue happiness in our words, choices and actions and redirect our efforts from so many things, to the one Someone that really matters!
Our first reading is the precursor to those great events. Israel’s ritual remembrance is a celebration of all “God’s doing” on their behalf. Yes, the gift of a land of abundance, and certainly, the Exodus; the arduous 40 year journey from slavery to freedom, spiritually, every bit as geographically. But even more significant, the graced realization for Israel of who they are before God, their identity as a chosen people, a beloved nation, not through any of “their doings,” but “God’s faithful doing.” Moses’ instruction functions as a vehicle for the people to acknowledge the gratitude owed to Yahweh for His past fidelity; a vehicle, if you will, with shiny rear view mirrors. You see, it was only in looking back that Israel came to know in her heart that “objects in the mirror are closer then they appear.” Israel saw how near God was when He appeared to be the most distant. Isn’t it so often the same with us? We look back through the rear view mirror of our lives and see a Divine Friend unwavering in his faithfulness to us. Lent hits the “liturgical pause button,” serving as our yearly ritual of remembrance so that, like Israel, we’re reminded of God’s fidelity even amid our infidelity and gratefully, consciously, recover our original identity as the beloved of God, as the cherished friend of God.
As it says in our Opening Prayer, “you formed man from the clay of the earth and breathed into him the Spirit of life.” What an original picture that paints! One spiritual author vividly places us at the scene of what he calls “the pristine moment of creation” where we “find God, his hands still smeared with clay, hovering over us, breathing into us his own divine life, smiling to see in us a reflection of Himself.” It is the task of recovering that original identity of ourselves before God as a mirror reflection of the “Divine Doing” and embracing its implications for our lives that is the joyful task of Lent. By God’s doing we know who we are, yet we are relentlessly tempted to construct who we are out of our own doing. This is the inner spiritual warfare portrayed in today’s gospel. “Help yourself to happiness,” after all, could also be Satan’s slick slogan!
Beginning with the reassuring words “Filled with the Holy Spirit” Luke seems to lull an unsuspecting audience (you and I) into a psychological ambush: The same Spirit, who just affirmingly, majestically descended on Jesus at His baptism, is now leading him into the dry, dark, dangerous desert to a confrontation with Satan. Interestingly enough, while Matthew in his gospel parallels Luke’s comforting opening of the Spirit leading Jesus into the desert, Mark declares in stark terms: “the Spirit drove Jesus into the desert.” Friends, the Spirit of God sometimes leads, sometimes drives us into that place we don’t want to go, but must go if we are to wake-up to our true happiness: the daunting desert of our own demons; extremely tough because we live in a society that is determined to pursue pleasure and avoid pain at all costs, even if it kills us spiritually. But we go into that inner desert this Lent with the courageous example of Our Lord, trusting that the same Spirit who protected Jesus is there to protect us.
Just as Adam and Eve’s fall to temptation challenged not simply God’s authority, but God’s intended role for human beings, so we see the same classic dynamic in the three temptations Satan puts before Jesus; the temptation to immediate gratification, letting one’s momentary appetites rule rather then wait on God to provide, the temptation to self-glory: to make a name for himself with his wonder-working; the temptation to personal power: demanding proofs of God’s promises by testing His fidelity. All are variations on the same theme; different colored apples with the same inner core: the temptation for Jesus and for us, is to create our own program for happiness rather then trust and obey God’s program for us. Notice, Satan never questions Jesus’ calling as Messiah, but tempts him to live it out in a way differently then God has precisely planned, a way that circumvents the cross that will lead to new life for him and for us.
Jesus’ struggle with temptation and ours is not meant to be suffering for the sake of suffering, but a radically different answer to the question that has kept philosophers employed since time memorial: What is the nature of true happiness and how do people achieve it? People want to be happy…how they hope to get it is an ongoing debate. Jesus, in rejecting Satan’s slick suggestions is rejecting today’s standards for pursuing success and happiness: immediate gratification, self-aggrandizement and personal power; as spiritually, a dead-end.
Lent’s ultimate meaning is not merely to give something up or do something additional, but to rediscover Someone. It is to shock our system; to sober us up; to challenge us to take stock of how we are helping ourselves to happiness and if that path to happiness is real or the wasting of our precious life. If the latter, Lent is the time to just stop, and decisively turn it around. As the philosopher Kierkegaard said: “So much is written about wasted lives, but only that person’s life is wasted who never …in the deepest sense receives an impression that there is a God and that they themselves stand in this Gods’ presence.”
So if you want to help yourself to happiness…, no problem. But will it be of your creation or of God’s creation?
When Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, we may face several questions: What are you giving up for Lent? Why don’t you eat meat on Fridays? Do you have dirt on your forehead?
We may even have questions of our own: Why are we supposed to give something up for Lent? Where did these ashes come from?
Take a few minutes to watch the VIDEO below, in which Fr. Andy McAlpin, OP answers some of the most commonly asked Lenten questions.
Catholics are called to spend the next several weeks focused on prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Learn more about these three focal points of the Lenten season here.
What should you give up for Lent? Or is that the wrong question? As we approach Ash Wednesday and Lent, Central Province Vocations Promoter, Fr. Andy McAlpin, OP discusses what (if anything) you should give for Lent.
As we enter this new liturgical moment we call Lent, let me share a few thoughts inspired by a conversation with my 19 year-old nephew, Alex.
I asked Alex what he was going to give up for Lent. He replied without hesitating, “Oh Uncle Andy, I don’t want to go the negative route, but do something more.”
A common and increasingly fashionable misinterpretation as we enter these forty days of Lent is that the traditional practice of “giving something up” is a negative approach. Nothing could be farther from the truth!
This season is not about doing more, but doing less; not about addition, but subtraction. Its spirit goes against a relentless cultural conditioning that promotes the idea that we are all better off the more we have, the more we do, the more we achieve, the more we are known. This season teaches us to say “No” again to the kind of societal brainwashing that suggests we have too little and to reassert our freedom in the Christian message of “Yes” to having more than enough in Christ.
We specifically give things up to exercise our freedom and practice our “no” to those compulsory attachments to things, people and activities that we unthinkingly turn to instead of the one thing necessary: loving God and each other as God’s own son and daughter.
Now Lent does ask something more of us: to fast, pray and gives alms to the poor without fanfare. This is “the more” of Lent we need to concern ourselves with, the built-in scriptural additions. But to remember to eat more moderately, pray more consistently and give to the poor (not just materially, but emotionally, spiritually or socially), we need “a daily trigger,” as it were; a reminder that this time is not like any other time of the year. It can be as simple as taking that routine, daily cup of coffee without sugar or cream these 40 days or without both. Or is can be as challenging as saying no to certain favorite T.V. programs or to T.V. altogether during Lent. But this is only the beginning of our Lenten effort. The trigger is for the real work of Lent: turning to God in our hunger instead of the next cookie, turning to God for conversation instead of our cellphone, next text or Facebook update; turning to God disguised as our impoverished brother and sister, rather than saying, “not my responsibility” or “I shouldn’t get involved.”
So far from being negative, the season of Lent is always about the positive: the positive retrieval of our God-given freedom to choose what really fills us and to detach ourselves from the superfluous pursuits that leave us in the long run increasingly unfree and imprisoned.
A blessed and fruitful Lent,
Fr. Andrew Carl Wisdom, O.P.,
Director of the Society for Vocational Support &
Vicar for Mission Advancement
By. Fr. Andrew Carl Wisdom, OP
You came alive spiritually at the moment of your baptism. Your parents made that decision for your spiritual well-being as they made so many other decisions for your physical, mental and spiritual well-being. That decision was confirmed by you. Lent is a time to renew what both of those moments were really all about: Developing the most important relationship in your life–even more important than a wife husband or friend–your intimate friendship with Christ. How can you develop any relationship if you don’t talk to the person on a regular basis? How can you develop a relationship with someone you don’t listen to, who may speak to us through other human voices or the intuitions of our hearts or our feelings?
Fasting involves knowing the difference between needs and wants. We live in a society and a contemporary culture that is excess-oriented—we can never get enough and this is what the advertisers want us to think. Have you seen the advertising for Sprite: Obey your Thirst? Lent is all about stepping back and reflecting for a moment on whether or not I am rewarding my deepest curiosity or obeying my deepest thirst. O lord, our hearts were mad for you and will only rest when they rest in you! That is the meaning of life. That is the deepest meaning of your identity; you made by God sent here to do a specific unique work that no one else can do but you and one day you will return to God and say this is what I did with the life gifts and talents you gave me to make the world a better place. You see, we do have to account to God for what he has give us, but not like going to an IRS representative and accounting for each fault committed, but like going to a parent or teacher and saying this is what I did with what you taught me, the values you gave me the challenges you offered me along the way.
As Dominicans we follow the Rule of St. Augustine as a way to govern our religious life. It’s the set of the ideals we always want to live by as community members committed to Jesus’ mission in today’s’ world. As far back as the 4th century, St. Augustine prayed: “Oh, God, you have made us for yourself and our hearts will not rest until they rest in you.” After a long journey to God with a lot of mistakes along the way, Augustine realized that what he really wanted deep down was God. He was looking, like the old song goes, for love in all the wrongs places. If he wanted to know God the way one knows and loves a close friend, like a soul mate, he would have to start doing something different in his life, something that would put that friendship front and center. He sold what he had and gave it to the poor, began to pray every day and fasted not so much from food like we may think of it but from all those impulses in his life that took him away from the one thing he wanted more then anything; to know God as his intimate friend.
Jesus offers us that same map that will lead to an intimate relationship with God. He says when you gives alms, an old fashioned way of saying when you give to the poor, do it not for your self by showing off and bragging about it, but as a measure of your desire to love God. And go to your room and pray, knowing that God hears and treasures every word of yours. And finally, fast. But do so cheerfully, not with gloomy faces. What worth is a gift that is given begrudgingly? What does this mean for us today in the 21st century: Are there not those poor among us in shelters and soups kitchens and out on the streets, some obviously without all the material things we have. Perhaps, more important are those who are emotionally poor among us, who we know struggle with difficult relationships with their parents, or some physical liability—how do we treat them?
Continue to follow the white habit throughout Lent. Send us your questions, and share this series with your friends and family.
God bless you!
Fr. Andrew Carl Wisdom, OP
Fr. Chuck Dahm, O.P., Archdiocese of Chicago Director of Domestic Violence Outreach explains our role in addressing domestic violence.
The Catholic Response to Domestic Violence
Homily on Domestic Violence
By: Br. Patrick Hyde, O.P.
The wood of the desk is the wood of the Cross.
One of the brothers told me this Dominican maxim when I came on a Come and See weekend. As a teacher and lover of learning, this was a particularly enticing and intriguing way of looking at the spiritual side of study.
Study as the spirituality of a religious community might seem odd, even counter-intuitive. How can we be contemplative, sacramental, liturgical, prayerful, poor, chaste, and obedient when our noses are stuck in books? The answer is simple: We study God. We plumb the depths of his inspired words in Scripture. We carefully study the Sacred Tradition and Magisterium of the Church. We root ourselves in medio ecclesiae and explore the riches of the Sacred Sciences, theology and philosophy.
As a Dominican student brother, I, and my fellow student brothers, take seriously the model of study exhibited by St. Thomas Aquinas. Thus, we go about our studies in order to use our reason and faith to explore, understand, and explain the divine truths revealed to all men by God that are necessary for the salvation of souls.
Our study leads us deeper in the life of contemplative prayer, community, and preaching that we, as Friars Preachers, are called to live.
As a student, I have had the opportunity to study ancient Greek and, with the guidance of professors at Aquinas Institute, I have used that study to broaden and deepen my understanding of Scripture and the Church Fathers. In turn, this study has led me to know and love God in newer and more profound ways.
The wooden cross of Christ opened the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers. My wooden desk opens my heart, mind, and soul to know and love my Savior all the more.
Before joining the Dominican Order, Br. Joe Trout, O.P. spent a year and a half teaching middle school math in rural Indiana. Several of his students had special needs and others came from very difficult socioeconomic backgrounds. Some had parents in jail. Often his biggest challenge was convincing 7th and 8th graders that math mattered in their lives.
In many public schools, teachers aren’t allowed to bring up religion. But if students ask any questions, teachers are free to answer. When Br. Trout left a rosary or a bible out on his desk, questions would often arise and conversations would follow.
Fast forward to this fall. Now solemnly professed in the Order of Preachers, Br. Trout is teaching freshman and sophomore Theology at Fenwick High School (Oak Park, IL), one of the most prestigious Catholic college prep schools in the country. He reads a Scripture passage from the Book of Genesis, chapter four. Within minutes, more than half of his students eagerly raise their hands. One student connects the reading to a discussion of John Steinbeck’s novel, East of Eden. The book is barely visible on Br. Trout’s desk.
Students attend Fenwick for an excellent education, a safe environment and a warm community. But even Br. Trout admits many of them are not interested in faith, whatsoever. In one of his classes, at least a third of the students aren’t Catholic and a good number aren’t Christian. Some are agnostic or atheist, and others are actively questioning what they should believe. But they aren’t being graded on their faith. Rather, students are graded on their ability to discuss faith, speak intelligently about what they believe, and have a conversation with someone else rather than simply being reactive—and the non-Catholic students challenge both their teacher and fellow students.
“You can’t take the approach you can in other subjects where you say we all believe this matters. We can’t begin on that assumption,” Br. Trout said.
Theology is a required course at Fenwick, like math was in his previous teaching role. While his current students are highly motivated by good grades, Br. Trout is still working to help students see why the classroom content matters outside Fenwick’s stone walls.
“No matter where you stand on these topics, these are some of the most important questions you’ll ask in your life,” Br. Trout said. “Is there something out there? Is there life after death? Is there something you can have a relationship with? What is the point of life?”
“The students are more interested, in some ways, than I was expecting,” Br. Trout said. “They have big questions and they are very honest about them.”
“Having students who are wondering and asking questions adds something enjoyable to my classroom,” Br. Trout added. “Sometimes the students with less religious backgrounds have more probing questions because it’s new to them. It adds something dynamic to the room. The Catholic students can’t give as simple of answers all the time because they’re aware that other people in the room don’t agree with them. You can’t just say, I believe this so that’s the way it is.”
Students in 9th and 10th grade seem more open and curious about their place in the world. They care about their faith and they want to know more. At Fenwick, students are challenged to intellectually engage their faith in the true spirit of the Dominican Order, as friars dressed in the traditional white habit provide a visible witness to religious life in the hallways and beyond.
“We have a whole different experience of the world that filters into everything we do,” Br. Trout said. “A number of us teach Theology, but some are teaching in different settings. Seeing us in different lights gives students a glimpse into the breadth of what it means to be a religious in the Church or a Christian, in a sense.”
Also on staff in Fenwick’s Theology department, Fr. Doug Greer, O.P. and Fr. Nick Monco, O.P. represent the crop of recently ordained friars. But, Dominicans do much more than teach Theology. The school’s president is Fr. Rick Peddicord, O.P., who taught Br. Trout while he was in graduate studies at the Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis. In Institutional Advancement, Fr. Richard LaPata, O.P. has served Fenwick for years. Brother Paul Byrd, O.P. teaches English and Fr. Mike Winkels, O.P. teaches Art, and is the school’s Technology Director, as well as assistant hockey coach. Central Province Vocations Director, Fr. Andy McAlpin, O.P. coaches baseball, and Fenwick Campus Ministry Director, Fr. Dennis Woerter, O.P., also coaches soccer. In total, there are nine Dominican Friars having an impact at Fenwick, making it likely one of the largest religious faculty and staff of any Catholic secondary school in the country.
To learn more about Fenwick High School, visit www.FenwickFriars.org