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The Feast of Saint Patrick

03/17/2018 - 6:00pm

On today’s episode of Word to Life, Fr. John Maria Devaney, O.P., welcomes Fr. Charles Connor to the show. Fr. Charles is the author of, “Pioneer Priests and Makeshift Altars: A History of Catholicism in the Thirteen Colonies.” Our hosts discuss this Sundays lectionary readings and the Feast of Saint Patrick.

You can listen to the broadcast here.

Image: Province of Saint Joseph Archives ©

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Priesthood Ordinations

03/12/2018 - 11:50am

The Dominican Friars of the Province of St. Joseph

joyfully announce the Ordination of their Brothers

Humbert Kilanowski, O.P.
Pier Giorgio Dengler, O.P.
Leo Joseph Camurati, O.P.
Timothy Danaher, O.P.
Aquinas Beale, O.P.
Mannes Matous, O.P.
Henry Stephan, O.P.
Peter Joseph Gautsch, O.P.
Isaac Augustine Morales, O.P.

to the Priesthood of Jesus Christ
through the Imposition of Hands
and Prayer of Ordination by

The Most Reverend Timothy Cardinal Dolan,
Archbishop of New York

Saturday, May 19, 2018 at 9:30 am

The Upper Church of the Basilica of the
National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

400 Michigan Ave N.E.
Washington, D.C.

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Diaconate Ordination

03/12/2018 - 11:45am

On Saturday, March 10, 2018, six brothers were ordained to the diaconate at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception: Antoninus Maria Samy, O.P., John Paul Kern, O.P., Joseph Martin Hagan, O.P., Norbert Keliher, O.P., John Mark Solitario, O.P., and Paul Mary Clarke, O.P. The Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, Archbishop for the Military Services, celebrated the ordination Mass. Photographs of the ordination may be viewed here. Please keep our brothers in prayer as they begin their preaching and liturgical ministries as deacons and continue to prepare for ordination to the priesthood.

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The Mercy of God: Part II

03/10/2018 - 6:02pm

On Word to Life, Fr. John Maria Devaney, O.P. & Fr. Augustine Dada continue their mini-series on the mercy of God by discussing the Sacrament of Reconciliation & the Decalogue.

You can listen to the podcast here.

Image: The Sacred Heart of Jesus

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Divine Wisdom in Teaching and Learning

03/07/2018 - 4:52pm

At the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum) in Rome, the Dominican friars celebrate the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas on March 7 each year in order to celebrate their patron during the academic term. On March 7, 2018, Archbishop Augustine Di Noia, O.P. gave the following homily at the Angelicum:

Who of us—whether student or professor—has not marveled at the fact that St. Thomas intends his Summa theologiae as a work for beginners in theology—ad eruditionem incipientium? To be sure, St. Thomas is not thinking of beginners simply speaking, for he would have presupposed in his readers a grounding in the humanities and in Sacred Scripture. But he wants to exclude useless questions and needless repetition in favor of a disciplined ordering of topics that arises from the inner logic of the subject matter itself and the sequence in which the truths of the Christian faith can best be absorbed by  students at the beginning of their study of theology or sacra doctrina.

The confidence on St. Thomas’s part that this complex and learned work could function as a text for beginners rests on a conviction about the profound intelligibility of truths of the faith. I prayed and prudence was given me; I pleaded and the spirit of Wisdom came to me. Divine wisdom comes to us only as a gift. As granted to us in Baptism, it is radically unitary because the triune God who is at its center is one in being and in activity, and comprehends in one act of omniscience the fullness of his truth and wisdom. Through the infused gift of faith—thus called a theological virtue—the believer is rendered capable of a participation in this divine wisdom, but always and only according to human ways of knowing. We truly know God, but not in the way that he knows himself. According to Aquinas, the human form that divine wisdom takes in our knowledge and understanding is necessarily plural and in a true sense scientific in its structure.

When expounded in an orderly manner by a qualified teacher, the doctrines of the Christian faith can be seen and to a certain extent understood in their intelligibility and communicability even by the beginning student.

St. Thomas explains this relationship between the teacher and student of divine wisdom in his Inaugural Lecture at the University of Paris in 1256. He draws upon a verse from psalm 104: You water the mountains from your chambers; from the fruit of your labor the earth abounds (Ps 104:13)—rigans  montes de superioribus suis de fructu operum tuorum satiabitur terra, (Vulgate Ps 103:13). Accordingly, he states in the opening words of his address, “The king of the heavens, the Lord, established this law from all eternity, that the gifts of his providence should reach what is lowest by way of things that are in between” (Rigans montes, c. 1).

Thus, Aquinas says,  the minds of teachers can be likened to the mountains upon which the rain falls. Like the mountains, they are watered by the wisdom of God that is above and it is by their ministry that the light of divine wisdom flows down into the minds of the students who are likened to the fertile earth. In order for this transmission of divine wisdom to be effective, the teachers must be innocent, intelligent, fervent and obedient, while the students must be docile, able to assess what they hear, and have the capacity to discover things. Because the fruit of the mountains is not ascribed to teachers but to God,  they can communicate divine wisdom only in a ministerial or instrumental role. Although no one is equal to this ministry by himself and from his own resources, he can hope that God will grant him the proficiency needed to communicate to others the divine wisdom he has received from God.

St. Thomas maintained this profoundly contemplative understanding of nature of theological teaching and learning throughout his life. In the inaugural address, theology involves a participation in the divine wisdom, and it is the mission of the theologian to transmit this wisdom to others. Ten years later, as he begins working on the Summa theologiae, he describes sacra doctrina as “an imprint on us of God’s own knowledge”—velut   quaedam impressio divinae scientiae (1a. 3 ad 2um)—and later in the Summa describes his work as “contemplata aliis tradere”, deriving preaching and teaching from “the fullness of contemplation” (2a2ae, 188, 6).

But what is truly remarkable about this contemplative understanding of theology are its underlying convictions about the intelligibility and communicability of the divine wisdom that is it object. Notwithstanding the radical transcendence of divine wisdom—its essential incomprehensibility and ineffability—with respect to human cognitive capacities, it can be taught and learned. The limits here are on the human side: the problem is not that divine wisdom is opaque but that it is too dazzlingly bright for the human mind. In his astonishing love for us, God grants us a participation in the divine wisdom by the grace of faith. But  because this faith cannot fail to plumb the mysteries of divine wisdom, as fides quaerens intellectum it devotes itself diligently to understanding what is endlessly intelligible but not beyond its ken.  I preferred [wisdom] to scepter and throne, and deemed riches nothing in comparison to her….Beyond health and beauty I loved her, and chose to have her rather than the light, because her radiance never ceases.

Furthermore, although before the depths of divine wisdom, silence is sometimes the only appropriate response, there are also times when we must speak. Now God grant I speak suitably and value these endowments at their worth: for he is the guide of wisdom and the director of the wise. As we have seen, according to Aquinas, this is the teacher’s basic prayer. About what he has learned of the divine wisdom, he cannot remain silent.

Surely this applies not only to the masters of theology, but also to the preaching friars who are commissioned to preach the Gospel. Among the students of Aquinas throughout his lifetime of teaching, there would have been many preaching friars. In his inaugural address, St. Thomas says that an indication that someone has truly learned what a master has to teach is that the knowledge he has newly acquired becomes fruitful. Because it is infinitely intelligible,  the divine wisdom can be understood by the student—whether as a future teacher or as a future preacher—who therefore must be enabled to communicate it to others. This involves not simply understanding that what the teacher says is true but understanding why it is true.  It is for this reason above all that Aquinas insists that sacra doctrina is a proper form of scientia. In this way, both the intelligibility and the communicability of the divine wisdom can be insured. The more sacra doctrina approaches scientia, the more firmly and fruitfully does it implant itself in the student’s mind, and the more surely can he bring the Christian faith to life in hearts and minds of his hearers, whether his audience be a classroom full of students or a church full of the faithful.

St. Thomas’s insistence on the scientific character of sacra doctrina does not reflect a concession to philosophical or secular standards of rationality but arises from the logical coherence and inner intelligibility of divine wisdom itself. The body of Christian doctrines—that is, the formulation of divine wisdom according to human ways of knowing—thus demands and sustains a scientific exposition grounded in reasoning and argument. What is at stake is the very possibility of the assimilation and communication of truth of the Gospel. Consecrate them in the truth, Our Lord prays, “Your word is truth. As you sent them into the world, so I sent them into the world. And I consecrate myself for them, so that they also may be consecrated in truth.  In this light, St. Thomas’s concern to demonstrate the scientific character of sacra doctrina reveals itself as pastoral and evangelical, not simply scholarly and academic. In the end, the solicitude of this saintly teacher for the advanced scholar no less than for the beginning student of theology is a passionate solicitude for the divine wisdom. Beyond health and beauty I loved her, and chose to have her rather than the light, because her radiance never ceases.


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The Ten Commandments

03/02/2018 - 7:22pm

On this episode of Word to Life, Fr. John Maria Devaney, O.P. welcomes Catholic priest & musician, Fr. Kevin McGoldrick to the show to discuss the 10 Commandments.

You can listen to the broadcast here.

Image: Medieval Torah (Vatican Library)

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Penance for Preaching: Hunger for God and for Souls

03/01/2018 - 11:43am

Fr. Raymund Snyder, O.P., preached the following homily at a Vocations Weekend Mass at the Dominican House of Studies on February 18, 2018.

Here at the Dominican House of Studies the preacher at the conventual Mass ordinarily addresses the brethren during the week and our guests and visitors on Sundays. However, given that this is a vocation weekend, I would like to specifically direct my homily towards our vocation guests visiting here for the “Come and See” weekend.

Here at the beginning Lent, on this First Sunday of Lent, I think it is fitting to consider how our Dominican way of life is, in fact, a penitential life. Penance is one aspect of our life that may be somewhat hard to notice from the outside. We do not list it at the top of the vocation brochures: “Come do penance with us!” It is true, it is not the primary lens through which to see our life, but is a very important one, one that cannot be neglected.

When we think of penance, we typically think of a single action. We think, “I’m taking on this penance for Lent,” or “I’m giving up this out of penance.” As Dominicans, we of course do this. We do have specific penances and some even just for Lent, but there is a broader notion too. People do not always have the best connotation to the word penance. They think of it as a temporary sacrifice one makes to atone for sin and that is certainly true. It is likely something unpleasant, something we would rather not do. If our notion of penance remains here, we might think, “Why would someone want to lead a whole life of penance?”

How is Dominican life penitential? The most important penance is to be found in the totality, in the comprehensiveness of our life. Our constitutions say: “Religious consecration and the apostolic calling impel the brothers more than the rest of the faithful to practice self-denial. By taking up their cross and carrying in their own body and soul the sufferings of Jesus, they earn the glory of the resurrection for themselves and for others. Imitating Saint Dominic . . . the brothers should practice the virtue of penance especially by observing faithfully all that belongs to our life.”

I think this is important to consider this in the time of discernment. There can be a tendency to place too much emphasis on one or two external observances. You might focus on just one or two visible penances as the true litmus test of whether a religious order is worth joining. But considering a vocation is about considering the whole and for a lifetime: we are in it for the long haul! Our life is not just a few practices put together. Rather, our life is meant to be a harmonious ensemble of elements. Dominican life is also more than the mere sum of its practices and parts. Our life carries with it a unique grace, the charism of St. Dominic, the grace of preaching.

We can learn from early days of the Order. Blessed Jordan of Saxony, St. Dominic’s successor, and his friend Henry entered the order at a symbolic time. In his biography of St. Dominic, the Libellus on the Beginnings of the Order of Preachers, Blessed Jordan writes: “When the day came on which the imposition of ashes reminds the faithful of their creation from the dust and their return to dust, we decided it was a suitable occasion for us to begin our life of penance, and to fulfill what we had promised to the Lord.” When someone asked where they were going, Brother Henry responded: “I am going to Bethany”, that is, “the House of Obedience”. So it is a good time to be here on a vocation weekend, that is, at the beginning of Lent!

This story illustrates the critical connection between penance and Dominican life. Virtually everything in Dominican life can be seen under the aspect of penance: Study, Preaching, Prayer, Common life, Regular observance. Hopefully many of these elements appear attractive to you. You might be thinking, “Study, I like to study. Bring on the books!” Well, you can ask the student brothers whether they always find study a pure joy. Wait until finals week and “paper month.” You might also think, “I love the habit. How could wearing the habit ever be a penitential practice?” Wait until you’ve slammed your rosary in the car door several times or been marred by marinara!

The purpose of penance is not merely to endure things that are unpleasant. That would be a bit to superficial. It helps us to think of penance from a more metaphysical view. Penance opens us up for God. Penitential practices, or practices undertaken in a spirit of penance, dispose us to the Lord’s gifts. Actually, we should be precise and assign the initiative to God: Penance is one of the things God uses to open us up to himself. He uses penances to create spaces in our hearts for him.

On the first Sunday of Lent, the Church always directs our attention to Our Lord’s time in the desert and his temptations. This year we have Mark’s Gospel, which is very concise. However, Matthew and Luke both have a curious line, which we are all familiar with: “He fasted forty days and forty nights and afterwards he was hungry.” What a remarkable understatement! We were probably already hungry by 4 pm on Ash Wednesday! This statement conveys a consequence of Jesus being truly man: he felt hunger. This line also has a lesson for us: Lenten penances—and penances taken more broadly—are meant to make us hungry! They increase our yearning for the things of God, they open up space for his action within us.

I think it may help us to see the shape of religious life if we connect the three forms of penance—prayer, fasting and almsgiving—to the three evangelical counsels—poverty, chastity and obedience. There is a clear connection between almsgiving and poverty. To disposess oneself entirely is kind of further actualization of almsgiving. One authority St. Thomas cites says “it is a good thing to give one’s property to the poor little by little, but it is better still to give all at once in order to follow Christ.” Chastity and fasting are also related. Chastity is a perpetual fast from the goods of marriage and family.

Finally—and the connection I want to emphasis—obedience is closely connected with prayer. We might think of obedience only in connection to the explicit command of a superior, but it is much more comprehensive than that. We vow obedience to a superior according to a specific form of life. That form of life has many requirements, but the most important and pervasive of its requirements is the obligation to pray. Our obedience is renewed each day and many time each day by adhering faithful to all the aspects of our life, first and foremost to prayer and contemplation. We frequently stop our work (study, teaching, writing or whatever) to pray, even though the work may itself be very important and very absorbing and even though pausing goes contrary to our inertial tendency to continue with the matter at hand. Prayer is the first penance of our life, the most constant and all-encompassing task in our “house of obedience.”

That makes sense for the vows all religious take, but you can understand Dominican life as a life of penance according to a specific modality. It opens up space in our hearts for God, but that space has a special shape. Our life imparts a deep hunger for God. It stimulates our appetite for the things of God. We live the way we do so we can desire God more and so we can possess him more. One need only look at Thomas Aquinas’s response when Christ, in a vision, offered him everything: Non, nisi te Domine: Nothing but yourself Lord. Or consider Catherine of Siena’s hunger for the Eucharist. She nagged her spiritual director, “feed me”, “give my soul it’s food!”

But there is another deep and profound hunger that flows from this one: a hunger for souls. This is a deep concern and solicitude for the eternal destiny of others. One need only think of St. Dominic keeping Vigil in the Church, beseeching the Lord to save sinners, pleading to him on their behalf. Or again of St. Catherine, who described her own desire as a kind of hunger: “the soul begins to hunger for the honor of the Eternal God, and for the food of the salvation of other souls, and being hungry, she eats, that is to say, nourishes herself with love of her neighbor, which causes her hunger and desire, for the love of the neighbor is a food which never satiates him who feeds on it, the eater being insatiable and always remains hungry.”

We must be clear about our purpose: The Order of preachers was established for preaching and the salvation of souls, specifically. Through St. Dominic, the Holy Spirit established means suited to this purpose. The ensemble of means that is our form of life is what the Lord uses to create space for his grace in us, the grace Dominicans need. In so many words, we may say: Our life of penance opens us up to the grace of preaching.

The Spirit drove Jesus into the desert. If we are to flourish in our fast, the Spirit must drive us, must draw us, to attract us to the things of God. As far as discernment goes, know that the Holy Spirit tends to make himself abundantly clear, albeit according to his own timeline. His clarity brings peace even if it seems slow in coming. Let him drive you, let him dispose you. May Lent be a time of opening up to God, a time to increase your appetite for the things of God, your hunger for God and for souls.

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CST Corner: Thoughts on Gun Violence

03/01/2018 - 11:31am

In this Catholic Social Teaching column, Fr. Francis Belanger, O.P. reflects on gun violence and the common good.

The senseless shooting in Parkland Florida has brought the issue of gun violence back into the forefront of public consciousness. As debates about gun control rage again, one might ponder whether there is a “Catholic position” on the matter. In one way there is not, since the matter admits of prudential differences of opinion. But, in another way, Christian principles shed light and steer us towards clear-headed solutions, not always appreciated in the public debate. Moral conversion, society’s duty to protect the innocent, and the common good are three pertinent tenets of Catholic Social Teaching when it comes to guns.

One thing the shooting shows again is the presence of a moral sickness in our country. How depraved and foolish a person is to shoot and kill innocent young people. Again and again we hear of such crimes and we almost, Heaven forbid, become inured to them. Children, who are perhaps too often raised in a context of media saturation, must instead be loved and taught right from wrong. The breakdown of the family in many places undoubtedly contributes to the problem of violence among the young. Our society needs to be brought back to a loving God and the natural law.

But it is insufficient to speak merely about the need for moral conversion. According to Catholic Social Teaching, the duty of the government is to protect the innocent from the unconverted. (Cf. Pope Benedict XVI’s address to the United Nations, 18 April 2008) Government bans or restricts all kinds of things that, although morally neutral in themselves, are too susceptible to misuse or harmfulness – e.g., prescription drugs, automatic weapons (as opposed to the semi-automatic weapon used in Florida), various pesticides, used batteries, etc. Given that the United States has both the highest rate of gun ownership and the highest rate of gun violence in the developed world, it seems legitimate to ask whether the government is failing to protect the innocent as well as it can.

The individual rights of gun owners are a factor in the debate. But rights must be balanced by the oft-neglected principle of the common good. When it is the case that parents are legitimately frightened to send their children to school, or that at ecclesiastical gatherings – as is the case in Baltimore where I live – Church officials must talk about what to do in case of an “active shooter” at Sunday Mass, the common good is already harmed. There is a sufficiently grave problem to indicate that action must take place. Regardless of what the Second Amendment actually means, the natural law takes precedence. Catholics know that from other Constitutional arguments concerning human life.

In recent years an argument has taken hold in some quarters that the solution to gun violence is that more people should be armed – even teachers at schools. This is frightening and ridiculous – as if violent action movies could be made a pattern in real life. One can only imagine the potential harm in such a culture of vigilanteism. No one would benefit except the manufacturers of firearms. Instead, Catholics should work towards a culture of life. When it comes to gun use, that means moral conversion, insisting our leaders make laws that protect us, and working towards the common good of a safe and just society.

Fr. Francis Belanger, O.P.
Promoter of Social Justice
Pastor, SS. Philip and James Parish in Baltimore

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The Mercy of God: A Mini-Series

02/28/2018 - 3:38pm

On this special edition of Word to Life, Fr. John Maria Devaney, O.P. & Fr. Augustine Dada inaugurate a mini-series centered on the mercy of God. Fr. John and Fr. Augustine are both Missionaries of Mercy, which corresponded to the Jubilee Year of Mercy from 2015 — 2016. During the broadcast, our hosts discuss Pope Francis’ Lenten letter and the mercy we receive in the Sacrament of Confession.

You can listen to the broadcast here.

Image: Fra Angelico — Madonna of Mercy with Kneeling Friars

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Search for Provincial Director of Health Services (RN)

02/20/2018 - 9:52am

The Dominican Friars of the Province of St. Joseph are seeking a Director of Health Services (RN) to manage, facilitate, assess and evaluate the ongoing care for our friars. The ideal candidate will possess knowledge of Catholic religious communities of men and a willingness to understand and support the mission, values, customs and traditions of the Dominican Friars of the Province of St. Joseph. The Director of Health Services must possess the competencies and experience required to perform and evaluate holistic health assessments, and a Master’s Degree in Nursing and 10 years’ experience in caring for the sick and elderly in multiple settings is required.

To read the complete position description, click here.


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Into The Desert

02/17/2018 - 9:14pm

On this episode of Word to Life, Fr. John Maria Devaney, O.P. highlights the liturgical changes that have occurred now that we’ve entered the season of Lent.

You can listen to the broadcast here.

Image: Ivan Kramskoi — “Christ in the Desert

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The Grace to Be a Priest

02/14/2018 - 5:05pm

Fr. Romanus Cessario, O.P. recently published a volume of reflections on the priesthood. The Grace to Be a Priest represents the fruit of one Dominican’s service as a priest of Jesus Christ. For more than thirty-five years, Romanus Cessario has taught and advised candidates for the priesthood. In this text, Father Cessario explains how the vocation to the priesthood comes to a man as both gift and mystery. God chooses priests to serve as both instruments of his will and spiritual fathers for his people. Drawing on the riches of the Dominican tradition as well as the general principles of Catholic theology, Father Cessario richly illuminates the nature of the priesthood with insights that will instruct priests, seminarians, and laypeople alike.

To learn more and to order the volume, visit Cluny Media or

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Diaconate Ordination 2018

02/14/2018 - 5:00pm

The Dominican Friars of the Province of St. Joseph

joyfully announce the Ordination of their Brothers

Antoninus Maria Samy, O.P.
John Paul Kern, O.P.
Joseph Martin Hagan, O.P.
Norbert Keliher, O.P.
John Mark Solitario, O.P.
Paul Mary Clarke, O.P.

to the Order of Deacons through the Imposition of Hands and Prayer of Ordination by

The Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio,
Archbishop for the Military Services

Saturday, March 10, 2018 at 9:30 am

The Upper Church of the Basilica of the
National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

400 Michigan Ave N.E.
Washington, D.C.

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Solemn Vows Liturgy and Reception

02/14/2018 - 4:48pm

On Saturday, February 10, 2018, thirteen friars made their Solemn Vows as members of the Order of Preachers: Justin Mary Bolger, O.P., John Paul Kern, O.P., Joseph Martin Hagan, O.P., Jordan Zajac, O.P., Irenaeus Maria Dunlevy, O.P., Jonah Mary Teller, O.P., Ephrem Maria Reese, O.P., John Mark Solitario, O.P., Paul Mary Clarke, O.P., Hyacinth Grubb, O.P., Ambrose Arralde, O.P., Albert Thomas Dempsey, O.P., and Anthony Michael VanBerkum, O.P. The ceremony took place in the Upper Church of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC, and was presided over by the Very Rev. Kenneth Letoile, O.P., Prior Provincial of the Province of St. Joseph. To view an album of photos from the ceremony, click here.

After the Profession Mass, the friars and their families had a celebration at the Dominican House of Studies, which included performances by a Jazz ensemble made up of Dominican friars as well as the Hillbilly Thomists.

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Lent Is For Lovers

02/14/2018 - 1:08pm

The Dominican Friars of St. Gertrude Parish in Cincinnati, OH have developed a unique preaching program for the season of Lent: Lent Is For Lovers. Drawing on the coincidence of Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day falling on the same day, the program includes both daily Lenten reflections posted on YouTube as well as several talks and a Parish Mission drawing on the theme of how prayer, fasting, and almsgiving grows out of love.

On February 13, Fr. Gabriel Torretta, O.P. was interviewed by the Cincinnati Evening News on ABC9 about the program:

Visit the Lent Is For Lovers website to sign up for daily emails and to learn more about the program.

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Be Made Clean

02/10/2018 - 4:04pm

Fr. John Maria Devaney, O.P. welcomes Mr. Joseph Campo to Word to Life. Joseph is the Co-Founder of Grassroots Films, and the Director of the film “Outcasts“. The two reflect on the readings for the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time and the work of the Grassroots Film company.

You can listen to the podcast here.

Image: William Blake — Christ Giving Sight to Bartimaeus

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The Divine Physician

02/02/2018 - 6:28pm

On this episode of Word to Life, Fr. John Maria Devaney, O.P. welcomes Officer Charlie Carroll of the NYPD, who is also a candidate for the permanent diaconate in the Archdiocese of New York. The two discuss the readings for the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time and the role of the deacon in the Church today.

You can listen to the podcast here.

Image: Christ Pantocrator

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New Dominican Community in Philadelphia

01/29/2018 - 9:19pm

In July 2018, the Dominican Friars of the Province of St. Joseph will begin a new Dominican community in Philadelphia. The Province has a long history of service to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, with friars having served in the past at Holy Name of Jesus Parish and on the faculties of various institutions of higher learning in the Philadelphia area. On July 1, four Dominican friars will begin ministry in Philadelphia, with two serving as Pastor and Parochial Vicar of St. Patrick’s Parish near Rittenhouse Square, one joining the faculty of an Archdiocesan high school and a fourth assisting with various ministries.

The Prior Provincial, Very Reverend Kenneth Letoile, OP, made the following statement about the new apostolate: “We are delighted to accept Archbishop Chaput’s gracious invitation to establish a new Dominican community in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. It comes at a providential moment for us: vocations to our Dominican province have been increasing over recent years, and we have long wanted to return to Philadelphia in order to serve the vibrant local church there. The Dominican Order was founded over 800 years ago as the Order of Preachers, and ever since, Dominicans have been dedicated to the work of preaching and teaching the faith. We are therefore very happy to be able to minister in the Archdiocese by accepting the pastoral care for Saint Patrick’s Church in Rittenhouse Square, which offers a rectory with sufficient space for a full Dominican community of priests and brothers, and a pastoral setting congruent with our charism.”

Photos from and PhillyChurchProject.

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Conference on Thomas Aquinas and the Greek Fathers

01/29/2018 - 9:18pm

In January 2018, thirteen Dominican friars joined scholars from around the world to examine the relationship of Thomas Aquinas and the Greek Fathers at a conference in Ave Maria, FL cosponsored by the Aquinas Center for Theological Renewal at Ave Maria University and the Thomistic Institute.

Fr. Andrew Hofer, OP of the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, DC, served as co-organizer of the conference and gave a paper titled “Aquinas and the Greek Fathers for Renewing Theology Today.” Four other professors from the Dominican House of Studies gave presentations: Fr. John Baptist Ku, OP spoke on “St. Gregory of Nazianzus and St. Thomas Aquinas on God the Father”; Fr. Dominic Langevin, OP, spoke on “The Eucharist as Medicine in the Greek Fathers and St. Thomas Aquinas”; Fr. Dominic Legge, OP, spoke on “Trinity and Christology in the Transfiguration: Aquinas and the Greek Fathers”; and Fr. Thomas Joseph White, OP spoke about “Beauty as a divine attribute: from Dionysius to Aquinas.”

Five other friars of the Province of St. Joseph gave papers: Fr. Peter Totleben, OP spoke on “Maximus the Confessor and Thomas Aquinas on Free Choice in Christ”; Fr. Austin Dominic Litke, OP, spoke on “Thomas Aquinas on Nestorianism”; Fr. Reginald Lynch, OP, spoke about “Trinitarian Procession in Thomas Aquinas and Manuel Calecas”; Fr. Raymund Snyder, OP, spoke on “Aquinas’s Adaptation of the Neoplatonic Triad of Being, Life, and Intellect: Proclus, Pseudo-Dionysius, and the Essential Perfections”; and Fr. Innocent Smith, OP, spoke about “Pseudo-Dionysius and the Liturgical Theology of Thomas Aquinas”

They were joined by three other Dominican friars . Fr. Bernhard Blankenhorn, OP, a professor at the Angelicum, delivered a paper on “The Christo-centric Mystical Theologies of Maximos the Confessor and Thomas Aquinas”. Br. Gregory Augustine Liu, OP, of the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology in Berkeley, spoke on “The Greek Patristic Heritage in the Trinitarian Theologies of Thomas Aquinas and Gregory Palamas.” Fr. Sylvain Detoc, OP, of the Catholic University of Lyon, France, delivered a paper on “The theologia philosophorum of Irenaeus compared with that of Thomas Aquinas.”

The variety of topics covered by the Dominican speakers alone reveals the breadth of Thomas Aquinas’s connections with the Greek theological tradition. The conference, which included an array of Catholic and Orthodox speakers, was a profound experience of shared inquiry into the deep connections between the Western and Eastern Christian traditions.

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Wisdom, Cosmos, and Cultus in the Book of Sirach

01/29/2018 - 8:56pm

Fr. Jordan Schmidt, OP recently completed his doctorate in Biblical Studies at the Catholic University of America, defending a Ph.D. dissertation titled “Wisdom, Cosmos, and Cultus in the Book of Sirach.”

Fr. Jordan grew up in North Dakota and received a Bachelor’s degree in English and East Asian Studies from St. John’s University in Collegeville, MN in May 2002. After serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in rural China, he entered the seminary, studying for the diocese of Bismarck at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis, MO from 2004-2006. He joined the Province of St. Joseph in the summer of 2006. After his ordination to the priesthood in 2012, he served as associate pastor to St. Mary’s parish in New Haven, CT.  In the Fall of 2013, he returned to Washington to pursue a doctorate in Biblical Studies at The Catholic University of America. During his time at The Catholic University of America, Fr. Jordan has served as a teaching assistant and teaching fellow in addition to taking on various posts in the School of Theology and Religious Studies student association.

Fr. Jordan describes the focus of his dissertation as follows:

“Despite the attention that has already been paid to the theme of creation in the book of Sirach, scholarship has yet to provide a comprehensive analysis of Ben Sira’s instruction regarding the cosmic order and its role in the divine bestowal of wisdom upon human beings. In particular, a detailed analysis of Ben Sira’s understanding of the place of human beings within the created order remains a desideratum of Sirach studies. A crucial question for examination is how, concretely does Ben Sira view the relationship between human beings and the cosmic order in which God has placed them?” To learn more about Fr. Jordan’s dissertation, click here. To hear a recent talk by Fr. Jordan titled “Who Reads the Bible?”, click here.

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