Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Solemnity of the Holy Mother of God

115. On New Year's Day, the octave day of Christmas, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Holy Mother of God. The divine and virginal motherhood of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a singular salvific event: for Our Lady it was the foretaste and cause of her extraordinary glory; for us it is a source of grace and salvation because "through her we have received the Author of life"(127).

The solemnity of the 1 January, an eminently Marian feast, presents an excellent opportunity for liturgical piety to encounter popular piety: the first celebrates this event in a manner proper to it; the second, when duly catechised, lends joy and happiness to the various expressions of praise offered to Our Lady on the birth of her divine Son, to deepen our understanding of many prayers, beginning with that which says: "Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us, sinners".

116. In the West, 1 January is an inaugural day marking the beginning of the civil year. The faithful are also involved in the celebrations for the beginning of the new year and exchange "new year" greetings. However, they should try to lend a Christian understanding to this custom making of these greetings an expression of popular piety. The faithful, naturally, realise that the "new year" is placed under the patronage of the Lord, and in exchanging new year greetings they implicitly and explicitly place the New Year under the Lord's dominion, since to him belongs all time (cf. Ap 1, 8; 22,13)(128).

A connection between this consciousness and the popular custom of singing the Veni Creator Spiritus can easily be made so that on 1 January the faithful can pray that the Spirit may direct their thoughts and actions, and those of the community during the course of the year(129).

117. New year greetings also include an expression of hope for a peaceful New Year. This has profound biblical, Christological and incarnational origins. The "quality of peace" has always been invoked throughout history by all men, and especially during violent and destructive times of war.

The Holy See shares the profound aspirations of man for peace. Since 1967, 1 January has been designated "world day for peace".

Popular piety has not been oblivious to this initiative of the Holy See. In the light of the new born Prince of Peace, it reserves this day for intense prayer for peace, education towards peace and those value inextricably linked with it, such as liberty, fraternal solidarity, the dignity of the human person, respect for nature, the right to work, the sacredness of human life, and the denunciation of injustices which trouble the conscience of man and threaten peace.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

December 8th Feast Day - Immaculate Conception

Development of the Doctrine:

Because of the doctrine of Original Sin, some in the West began to believe that Mary could not have been sinless unless she had been saved from Original Sin at the moment of her conception (thus making the conception "immaculate"). Others, however, including St. Thomas Aquinas, argued that Mary could not have been redeemed if she had not been subject to sin—at least, to Original Sin.

The answer to St. Thomas Aquinas's objection, as Blessed John Duns Scotus (d. 1308) showed, was that God had sanctified Mary at the moment of her conception in His foreknowledge that the Blessed Virgin would consent to bear Christ. In other words, she too had been redeemed—her redemption had simply been accomplished at the moment of her conception, rather than (as with all other Christians) in Baptism.

Spread of the Feast in the West:

After Duns Scotus's defense of the Immaculate Conception, the feast spread throughout the West, though it was still often celebrated at the Feast of the Conception of Saint Anne. On February 28, 1476, however, Pope Sixtus IV extended the feast to the entire Western Church, and in 1483 threatened with excommunication those who opposed the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. By the middle of the 17th century, all opposition to the doctrine had died out in the Catholic Church.

Promulgation of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception:

On December 8, 1854, Pope Pius IX officially declared the Immaculate Conception a dogma of the Church, which means that all Christians are bound to accept it as true. As the Holy Father wrote in the Apostolic Constitution Ineffabilis Deus, "We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful."

Sunday, November 13, 2011

St. Gertrude The Great - Prayer for poor souls in Purgatory

Prayer of
St. Gertrude the Great

Our Lord dictated the following prayer to St. Gertrude the Great to release 1,000 Souls from Purgatory each time it is said.

"Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the masses said throughout the world today, for all the holy souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal church, those in my own home and within my family. Amen."

St. Gertrude's life was the mystic life of the Cloister a Benedictine nun. She meditated on the Passion of Christ, which many times brought a flood of tears to her eyes. She did many penances and Our Lord appeared to her many times. She had a tender love for the Blessed Virgin and was very devoted to the suffering souls in Purgatory. She died in 1334. Her feast day is November 16th.

Friday, October 21, 2011

VATICAN CITY, 21 OCT 2011 (VIS) - This morning in the Holy See Press Office, a press conference was held to present an international congress dedicated to St. Catherine, Doctor of the Church and co-patron of Europe. The congress will be held in Rome and Siena from 27 to 29 October.The congress has as its title "'Virgo digna Coelo'. Catherine and her heritage on the 550th anniversary of her canonisation" and has been organised by the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences in collaboration with the Dominican Order, the archdiocese of Siena and the St. Catherine International Study Centre. Today's press conference was presented by Fr. Bernard Ardura O. Praem., president of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences; Umberto Utro, curator of the Christian antiquities section of the Vatican Museums, and Fr. Bernardino Prella O.P., assistant for Malta and Italy of the Master of the Order of Friars Preachers.Fr. Ardura pointed out that "the figure of St. Catherine extends far beyond her own earthly existence and takes on a powerful symbolic value which, as we approach the Year of Faith, serves to remind us of the unshakeable faith which she possessed and which made her spiritual mother to so many Christians". He went on to explain that the forthcoming congress will be divided into four sessions "to facilitate a more profound examination of the life and influence of the saint" who, he said, "also enjoyed great recognition among theologians, to the point that on 4 October 1970 Paul VI declared her a Doctor of the Church, for her exalted theology and her influence in the renewal of that discipline".The first session of the congress will see a contribution from Cardinal Angelo Amato S.D.B, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. The second session will be dedicated to the cause of canonisation of St. Catherine, including an examination of its documents and a review of models of female sanctity between 1300 and 1400. The third session will focus on the relationship between St. Catherine and the religious orders of her day. "In the fourth session", Fr. Ardura continued, "we will see how it is possible to study and celebrate St. Catherine today, because her memory has remained alive among Christians and her influence has never ceased to enrich the Church, mainly though hagiographies and literary culture, and in particular thanks to her magnificent Letters".On its last day the congress will move to Siena for the inauguration of an exhibition entitled "Catherine of Siena and the process of canonisation". It will also hold its last session there, dedicated to "St. Catherine in art". Professor Utro explained that the session will take place in the chapter house of the convent of St. Dominic in Siena, and will be presided by Paolo Nardi, prior general of the International St. Catherine Association and curator of the exhibition. Other art historians will also participate, including Diega Giunta, the leading specialist on artistic representations of St. Catherine.In his remarks Fr. Prella explained how, "in her writings, ... St. Catherine uses lively and audacious images to communicate the Truth that is Jesus Christ, freely addressing herself to everyone, to the humble and the great of the earth and of the Church. She firmly denounced the sins of the laity - and even more so those of monks, clergy and prelates - yet always offering everyone the hope of infinite divine mercy".COM-SH/ VIS 20111021 (580)

Friday, October 7, 2011

Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary

 This feast was instituted by the great Dominican pope, St. Pius V, on the anniversary of the naval victory by the Christian fleet under command of Don Juan of Austria over the Turks at Lepanto.  The victory was attributed to the help of Our Lady whose aid was invoked through the prayer of the rosary.  The battle itself has been immortalized in the classic poem Lepanto by G.K. Chesterton.   

New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia Entry
Lepanto by G.K. Chesterton (A YouTube Poetry Reading)

Ave Maria, Gratia Plena!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Of Gods and Men

This is an excellent film which examines the clash of Christian and Islamic ideologies from a different angle - within the gates of a Trappist monastery in a small village in Algeria.   The monks, who provide for the medical and spiritual needs of a nearby village, are confronted with the violence of an emerging civil war.  They must choose to flee or stay and face the violence.  The story is based on real world events in Algeria during the early 1990's.  It draws specifically from John Kizer's The Monks of Tibhirine: Faith, Love, and Terror in Algeria (St. Martins Press, 2002).

The pace of the film, which highlights the monastic life, makes for a very introspective diversion from the typical Hollywood feature.  From a Catholic perspective, the film addresses many issues regarding the strength of faith and love in this violent world.

The film is rated PG-13 for some violence and is available in English subtitles.  More complete information is available at the IMDB here.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Our Lady of Sorrows

Our Lady of Sorrows

This feast dates back to the 12th century. It was especially promoted by the Cistercians and the Servites, so much so that in the 14th and 15th centuries it was widely celebrated throughout the Catholic Church. In 1482 the feast was added to the Missal under the title of "Our Lady of Compassion." Pope Benedict XIII added it to the Roman Calendar in 1727 on the Friday before Palm Sunday. In 1913, Pope Pius X fixed the date on September 15. The title "Our Lady of Sorrows" focuses on Mary's intense suffering during the passion and death of Christ. "The Seven Dolors," the title by which it was celebrated in the 17th century, referred to the seven swords that pierced the Heart of Mary. The feast is like an octave for the birthday of Our Lady on September 8th. — Excerpted from Our Lady of Sorrows by Fr. Paul Haffner (Inside the Vatican, September 2004)

This feast is dedicated to the spiritual martyrdom of Mary, Mother of God, and her compassion with the sufferings of her Divine Son, Jesus. In her suffering as co-redeemer, she reminds us of the tremendous evil of sin and shows us the way of true repentance. May the numerous tears of the Mother of God be conducive to our salvation; with which tears Thou, O God, art able to wash away the sins of the whole world.

As Mary stood at the foot of the Cross on which Jesus hung, the sword of sorrow Simeon had foretold pierced her soul. Below are the seven sorrows of Mary:

  1. The prophecy of Simeon (Luke 2:25-35)
  2. The flight into Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15)
  3. Loss of the Child Jesus for three days (Luke 2:41-50)
  4. Mary meets Jesus on his way to Calvary (Luke 23:27-31; John 19:17)
  5. Crucifixion and Death of Jesus (John 19:25-30)
  6. The body of Jesus being taken from the Cross (Psalm 130; Luke 23:50-54; John 19:31-37)
  7. The burial of Jesus (Isaiah 53:8; Luke 23:50-56; John 19:38-42; Mark 15:40-47)

Symbols: heart pierced with a sword; heart pierced by seven swords; winged heart pierced with a sword; flowers: red rose, iris (meaning: "sword-lily"), cyclamen.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Admitted, Professed, Hallelujah!

Lay Dominicans del Espiritu Santo

On September 8, 2011, the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a Mass and Solemn Rite of Admission and Profession was held at the Co-Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Tallahassee, Florida.  The Mass was celebrated by Monsignor Michael Tugwell, rector of the Co-Cathedral and con-celebrated by Fr. Viet Huynh of St. Margaret Parish in Monticello.  Col. Jo Ann Cotterman, O.P.  Provincial President of the Southern Dominican Province, officiated over the Rite of Admission and Profession.  Also in attendance were Ms. Donna Woods, O.P. and Br. Richard Bontempo, O.P.  Seven members took temporary promises and one candidate was admitted.  Mr. William O'Meara took permanent promises.  

The group as pictured above:
(L to R): Mr. Jody Finklea, O.P.; Mr. Mark Dunn, O.P.; Mrs. Ann Salancy, O.P.; Mr. Fred Salancy, O.P.; Mrs. Norma O'Meara, O.P.; Mr. William O'Meara, O.P.,  Mr. Lee Bowersox, Candidate; and Mr. Michael Pearson, O.P. 

Friday, September 2, 2011

Sister Rose's Passion

It is not often you find a film featuring a Dominican nun, much less a film as good as Sister Rose's Passion.  It profiles Sister Rose Thering, who became an outspoken critic of the Church's educational publications regarding Jews.  Her doctoral dissertation was used as scholarly reference for Nostra Aetate in which the Second Vatican Council rectified centuries of faulty teachings regarding people of the Jewish faith. 

This is a documentary short film (39 mins) and the DVD contains several bonus features, including interviews with Sister Rose and her fellow sisters not featured in the film.  It was nominated for an Academy Award and won the Best Documentary Short at the Tribeca Film Festival.   For more information, consult the Internet Movie Database link here: 


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Blessings upon this Blog

Blessings upon this blog in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ. May He wash over it with His Most Precious Blood, and may our Mother Mary cover it with the mantle of her love. All for you Jesus, through Mary, in union with St. Joseph, St. Michael, St. Raphael, St. Gabriel, St. Dominic, St. Catherine of Sienna, St. Catherine de Ricci, St. Martin de Pores, St. Rose of Lima, all the Dominican saints, and all the angels and saints, for the Glory of God the Father, by the Power of the Holy Spirit and in the Divine Will we act and pray. Amen

Monday, August 22, 2011

Queenship of Mary

August 22nd, 2011

The Queenship of Mary
is a Marian feast day in the liturgical calendar of the Roman Catholic Church, created by Pope Pius XII. On 11 October 1954, the Pontiff pronounced the new feast in his encyclical Ad caeli reginam. The feast was celebrated on May 31, the last day of the Marian month. In 1969, Pope Paul VI moved the feast day to August 22.

From Pope PiusXII - Ad caeli reginam
51. By this Encyclical Letter We are instituting a feast so that all may recognize more clearly and venerate more devoutly the merciful and maternal sway of the Mother of God. We are convinced that this feast will help to preserve, strengthen and prolong that peace among nations which daily is almost destroyed by recurring crises. Is she not a rainbow in the clouds reaching towards God, the pledge of a covenant of peace?[62] "Look upon the rainbow, and bless Him that made it; surely it is beautiful in its brightness. It encompasses the heaven about with the circle of its glory, the hands of the Most High have displayed it."[63] Whoever, therefore, reverences the Queen of heaven and earth - and let no one consider himself exempt from this tribute of a grateful and loving soul - let him invoke the most effective of Queens, the Mediatrix of peace; let him respect and preserve peace, which is not wickedness unpunished nor freedom without restraint, but a well-ordered harmony under the rule of the will of God; to its safeguarding and growth the gentle urgings and commands of the Virgin Mary impel us.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

August 20th - St. Bernard of Clairvaux

As we honor this holy Saint we remember a special prayer attributed to him.

The Memorare
St. Bernard of Clairvaux composed the famous prayer to the Most Blessed Virgin Mary known as The Memorare.

REMEMBER, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother; to thee do I come; before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.

MEMORARE, O piissima Virgo Maria, non esse auditum a saeculo, quemquam ad tua currentem praesidia, tua implorantem auxilia, tua petentem suffragia, esse derelictum. Ego tali animatus confidentia, ad te, Virgo Virginum, Mater, curro, ad te venio, coram te gemens peccator assisto. Noli, Mater Verbi, verba mea despicere; sed audi propitia et exaudi. Amen.

The Writing from St. Bernard on Blessed Virgin Mary.

"In dangers, in doubts, in difficulties, think of Mary, call upon Mary. Let not her name depart from your lips, never suffer it to leave your heart. And that you may more surely obtain the assistance of her prayer, neglect not to walk in her footsteps. With her for (your) guide, you shall never go astray; while invoking her, you shall never lose heart; So long as she is in your mind, you are safe from deception; while she holds your hand, you cannot fall; under her protection you have nothing to fear; if she walks before you, you shall not grow weary; if she shows you favor, you shall reach the goal."

Friday, August 12, 2011

August 15th - Feast of the Assumption of Mary


Munificentissimus Deus
Apostolic Constitution of Pope Pius XII issued November 1, 1950
On November 1, 1950, Pope Pius XII, exercising papal infallibility, declared in "Munificentissimus Deus" that it is a dogma of the Church "that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory." As a dogma, the Assumption is a required belief of all Catholics; anyone who publicly dissents from the dogma, Pope Pius declared, "has fallen away completely from the divine and Catholic Faith."

Monday, August 8, 2011

O Lumen

Light of the Church,
teacher of truth,
rose of patience,
ivory of chastity,
you freely poured forth the waters of wisdom;
preacher of grace, unite us
with the blessed.

V.Blessed Father, Dominic, pray for us.
R.That we may be worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray:
Grant we beseech you, almighty God, that we who are weighed down by the burden of our sins, may be relieved through the patronage of the blessed Dominic, your confessor and our father. Through Christ, our Lord.
R. Amen.

The Last Will and Testament of St. Dominic

“My dearest children, I have no earthly goods to leave you, because, as you know well, I have renounced all things; but I leave you something of greater worth, that is to say, the blessing of God and my own. I pray you, and as far as possible, command you to love one another and to remain always united having your hearts and wills conformable to that which Our Savior has taught you and which our Holy Rule imposes upon you and of which our Constitutions remind you. Do not allow yourselves to be made vain by any grace whatsoever God may bestow on you, whether temporal or spiritual, but with profound humility seek to recognize the obligation under which His benefits place you, which with the same humility you should endeavor to preserve…
The goods which I leave you, oh my children, are not gold and silver, treasures or other temporal wealth. They are the treasures of eternal salvation; the wealth of heaven; divine merchandise and an inheritance which ends not at death.

I leave you first, Charity, the eldest daughter of the grace of God. With this gift, you will be zealous in the service of God, ardent in promoting the salvation of your neighbor, and never among yourselves will discords and dissensions arise. Charity will unite you to God, and you will receive there from those favors which the true friends of God are accustomed to enjoy. In persecutions you will be intrepid, and many of you will not hesitate to shed your blood for the faith.

I leave you, secondly, Humility. She is so pleasing to God that for her He descended to earth and enclosed Himself in the Virgin’s womb, beholding “the humility of His handmaiden.” With this gift, if it continues with you, you shall be well pleasing to God and He will bestow on you His grace. By this virtue you will endear yourselves also to those around you, who, seeing in you that gentleness and patience which are the fruits of humility and considering the many services that you render them, will, in return, be unable to do less than love and assist you. Humility will remove from your heart all false pretension, free from all proud ambitions and relieve them of the heavy weight of temporal dignities. Through her you will become receptive of much divine light whereby to obtain a true understanding of the Holy Scriptures and great freedom and finally, you will enjoy great tranquility and peace, since he who is humble performs more willingly the will of another than his own. Cultivate, therefore, this holy virtue.

Lastly, I leave you Voluntary Poverty, that which, although she may indeed appear less comely outwardly, yet is the more fair and precious interiorly and well endowed with spiritual wealth, since it is certain that her merit cannot be paid with the price of this earth, and therefore is the Kingdom of Heaven assigned as her reward. By this virtue you will be liberated from all the entanglements of worldly interests and set loose towards all cares of this earth and towards all temporal affections. By her aid you will be exemplary in preaching and in the ministry of the Church. By her will you be loosed from earth and tend upward toward the sky. Be not disturbed if through poverty you shall find yourselves in manifest necessities, because the Heavenly Father, Who loves you more than any father whatsoever, will soon provide with generous hand nor will He who feeds the humblest beast of the earth suffer them to die of hunger who faithfully serve Him.

In closing, I remind you of your obedience to the Roman Church and to the Vicar of Christ, whom both, all you and those who shall succeed you are to love, honor and obey.” So ends my Testament.

Editor’s Note: Critical evaluation of the early documents of the Order do not include the Last Will and Testament of St. Dominic. Authorities have conflicting views on the authenticity, attribution, and utility of the document. We believe that its contents are worthy of reflection. This testament is taken from a manuscript in the Dominican Monastery of San Tomaso, Porta S. Angelo, Perugia, Italy.
Used with permission of the Dominican Province of St. Joseph.

Feast of St. Dominic - Our Inaugural Posting

Greetings on the feast day of the father of our Order, St. Dominic Guzman.  St. Dominic continues to be a spiritual giant who guides our way.  What better day to begin a major undertaking than on his day?

Thus, this is the inaugural posting on the new blog for the Lay Dominicans del Espiritu Santo in Tallahassee, Florida.  Please subscribe to our blog and follow us using the provided link in the column to the right.  We will endeavor to make your time reading our work stimulating.

For general information on St. Dominic (including notes about the star and dog in most images), please navigate to these sites:

Let us pray: May the Blessed Virgin Mary, all the Dominican saints, and most especially St. Dominic pray for the success of our efforts on this blog, for it is done to glorify Our Lord through the Dominican tradition of preaching.  Through their intercessions, may the blessings of the Lord come to rest upon our works.  For it is in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ that we pray, as he lives and reigns with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, one god, forever and ever. Amen.