Recent Posts

Friday, February 20, 2009

Hate Mail

Today is a day I am just venting.

One of the unfortunate drawbacks in our electronic information age is the cover of anonymity often abused by armchair "experts" that tend to be insulting, adolescent and non-constructive.

Fr. Maximos Mcintyre is one such person having to deal with such childish behavior. Fr. Maximos is a very Godly man and a very good friend of mine (we'll forgive him for being Orthodox <grin>). He maintains a wonderful blog, The Orthodox Voice, showing great wisdom and piety at a young age.

He has recently been the target of many messages he modestly refers to as "hate mail." Having seen some examples, these venomous missives I can see why he calls them as such.

It is expected that those of different faiths, of course, have different spiritual understandings and/or interpretations as to how a faith is formally practiced. To simply spout unprovoced verbal mistreatment not only shows immaturity and lack of Christian behaviour (for the other Christians that is - some of it has been puerile anti-Christian rant) , but also proof they do not have much faith in their own beliefs to uphold in any mature discourse or open dialogue.

How have been Fr. Maximos' responses? Nothing but spiritually and emotionally mature rejoinders. He serves as a great example of what once was said by the Eastern Orthodox St. Seraphim of Sarov, "Maintain a spirit of peace and you will save a thousand souls."

How's that for putting the hate mailers to shame?

Blessed Christopher of Milan

Today is the memorial of Bl. Christopher in the current General Calendar.
His memorial is March 1 on the Traditional calendar.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Blessed Alvarez of Cordova

Born at Zamora, Spain, towards the middle of the fourteenth century, Blessed Alvarez entered the Order in 1368. He preached throughout Spain and Italy and established the priory of Scala Caeli at Cordova where he promoted the regular life. By his preaching and contemplation of the Lord's Passion he spread the practice of the Way of the Cross throughout the West. He died on February 19, about the year 1430.
Many miraculous events are attributed to him, such as:
  • Angels are reported to have helped built Escalaceli, a Dominican house of strict observance he founded, moving stone and wooden building materials to the site during the night, placing them where workmen could easily get them during the day.
  • Once when the entire food stocks for the house consisted of a single head of lettuce, he gathered all the brothers at table, gave thanks for the meal, and sent the porter to the door; the porter found a stranger leading a mule loaded with food. After unloading the mule, the stranger and the animal disappeared.
  • Alvarez once found a beggar dying alone in the street. He wrapped the poor man in his own cloak, and carried him back to Escalaceli. When he arrived at the house and unwrapped the cloak, instead of man, he found a crucifix. It still hangs in Escalaceli.
  • A bell in the chapel with Alvarez's relics rings by itself just before the death of anyone in the house.
  • Attempts were made to move Alvarez's relics to Cordova, but each try led to violent storms that kept the travelers bottled up until they gave up their task, leave the bones where they are.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Blessed John of Fiesole, a.k.a. Fra Angelico

Today we remember the great artist of the Order, the Church and Western Civilization, Fra Angelico!

Instead of reinventing the wheel, here's a blurb about him from the Dominican Ordo:

Guido of Vicchio was born in the region of Tuscany in 1386 or 1387 and studied art in Florence while still a young man. Feeling drawn to religious life he entered the Order at the convent of San Domenico in Fiesole. This convent had recently been established as a house of regular observance by Blessed John Dominic whose name he took when he entered. He served as superior of San Domenico, promoted regular observance and handed on the fruits of his contemplation through his paintings for the altars at Fiesole and for the convent of San Marco in Florence. He was called to Rome by Pope Eugene IV to decorate two chapels, one in the Basilica of St. Paul and one in the Vatican. Pope Nicholas V also commissioned him to decorate his private chapel at the Vatican. His work is also found the convent of San Domenico in Cortona and the Cathedral at Orvieto. Pope Eugene IV wished to appoint him archbishop of Florence, but he declined in favor of Saint Antoninus. On February 18, 1455, he died in Rome at Santa Maria sopra Minerva and was buried there. The special quality of his painting earned him the title “Fra Angelico.”


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Dominican Habit

As it is the traditional memorial day for Blessed Reginald, a special mention of the Dominican habit is apropos.

It has been often mentioned how striking and beautiful the habit of the Order of Preachers is. I have to agree and fully admit bias.

As the well known history goes, Bl. Reginald was showed the habit the order should wear in a vision from the Blessed Virgin. Until that time, the habit of the Canons Regular of Osma was worn as that was the original order of St. Dominic.

These excellent pages from the Australian Province demonstrate the distinct parts of the habit and the prayers said while being donned. Enjoy the pictures below showing off the habit.

Vision of the Dominican Habit by Fra Angelico
The Vision of the Dominican Habit

Dominicans wearing capello romano
Dominican friars wearing the capella romano with their habits

Contemporary friars (from the official US OP site)

Dominican sisters in Krakow
Dominican sister from Krakow (from their site)

Blessed Reginald

This day is the memorial of Bl. Reginald in the traditional calendar
It has been written, very often, that Bl. Reginald is the most mentioned of the early members of the order. He is one of the most distinguished of St. Dominic's early disciples, highly praised by Bl. Jordon of Saxony. From what has been passed down to us, this praise is deserved.

Blessed Reginald was born c. 1180. He was a great student at the University of Paris and became a Doctor of Canon Law. He was held in high esteem. He had a great love for the poor and pronounced humility. Despite these traits and his personal distate of ambition, he became a religious of note when recommended for the post of dean for the canons at Saint Aignan's in Orleans. As Dean he showed himself as a great Christian Model.

In his desire to better emulate the Apostles, he sought out St. Dominic when both happened to be in Rome to seek out the life he wanted with the new order being formed.

It was during this meeting in Rome when the well known incident of Bl. Reginal becoming seriously ill and receiving his vision of the Blessed Mother and direction for the new order's habit. After recovering from the illness, he immediatly received the habit from St. Dominic.

From his reception of the habit, his great light seemed to shine so bright as if to burn itself out quickly. He is recorded as being an incredible preacher. St. Dominc sent him to Bologna; when Bl. Reginald arrived, the entire city was flocking to hear him preach! The effect of his preaching in Bologna is said to have reformed hardened sinners and change the entire moral tone of the city. He was noted for his preaching during the day and his fervent prayer at night. It was in a mere 9 months the Order there swelled in size thanks to his great example.

Bl. Reginald's appeal drew all aspects of men: clergy, everyday citizens, students and professors. His success in Bologna was repeated when going back to Paris. It's been stated that Bl. Reginald would have succeeded St. Dominic as Master General of the Order if he had outlived the founder. Bl. Reginald was a mere two years with the new Order when he died in A. D. 1220.

Bl. Reginald serves as relevant an example of the Order and its mission today as when he walked in this world - he fully encompased prayer, study, communtiy and apostlate.

O Beate Reginalde
Summo Regi grains valde,
Qaem amans Regina cœlomm
Proprium visitans thorum,
Ab omni febris languore
Miro euravit dnlcore,
Habitnm dans Prædicatorum,
Expelle febres peccatornm.
Tuis precnm incrementis
Sana febres nostras mentis,
Ut cum coetn supernornm
Cernamus regem angelorum.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Blessed Nicholas Paglia

Today is his memorial in the current General Calendar

Blessed Nicholas was born at iovinazzo, near Bari, Italy, in 1197. While pursuing studies at Bologna, he was drawn to the Order by a sermon of Saint Dominic who personally gave him the habit and made him one of his travelling ompanions. e was well-known for his preaching throughout the Roman Province and compiled a concordance of sacred cripture. He died at Perugia in 1256.

Blessed Bernard Scammacca, OP

Today is his memorial on Traditional Calendar
11 January is his memorial on the current General Calendar

Born in Catania, Sicily; died 1486; cultus approved 1825. Born of wealthy and pious parents, Bernard was given a good education. In spite of this good training, he spent a careless youth. Only after he was badly injured in a duel was he brought back to his senses. His long convalescence gave him plenty of time to think, and once he was able to go out of the house, he went to the Dominican convent of Catania and begged to be admitted to the order.

Bernard, as a religious, was the exact opposite of what he had been as a young man. Now he made no effort to obtain the things he had valued all his life, but spent his time in prayer, solitude, and continual penance. There is little recorded of his life, except that he kept the rule meticulously, and that he was particularly kind to sinners in the confessional. Apparently, he did not attain fame as a preacher, but was content to spend his time in the work of the confessional and the private direction of souls.

One legend pictures Bernard as having great power over birds and animals. When he walked outside in the gardens, praying, the birds would flutter down around him, singing; but as soon as he went into ecstasy, they kept still, for fear they would disturb him. Once, the porter was sent to Bernard's room to call him, and saw a bright light shining under the door. Peeking through the keyhole, he saw a beautiful child shining with light and holding a book, from which Bernard was reading. He hurried to get the prior to see the marvel.

Bernard had the gift of prophecy, which he used on several occasions to try warning people to amend their lives. He prophesied his own death. Fifteen years after his death, he appeared to the prior, telling his to transfer his remains to the Rosary chapel. During this translation, a man was cured of paralysis by touching the relics (Benedictines, Dorcy).
From St. Patrick's, Washington, DC

An interesting mention of his relics is mentioned in The Corpse, A History by Christine Quigley:
The Blessed Bernard Scammacca prevented the burglary of his own incorrupt corpse. A nobleman and his companions entered the monastery where the body was enshrined, hoping to remove it. As they tried to life the relic, it suddenly became heady, and they were caught in the act by the awakened friars.

O God who didst bring back Blessed Bernard from the vices of the world and didst lead him into the way of perfection grant through his merits and intercession that we likewise may bewail our sins and may be converted with pure minds to Thee Through Christ our Lord Amen

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Dominican Sunday!

We're off for the day to join the other brothers and sisters in our chapter for our monthly liturgy and meeting as a community. The drive to spend the day at the monastery is well worth it!

Monestary of the Mother of God

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Saint Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day, which is properly SAINT Valentine's Day for Catholics, is predominantly now associated with expensive gifts, roses and sweet cards for the romantically involved and bitter diatribes against the customs for the single people.

The name of the day comes from a Roman Catholic priest, St. Valentine, although three particular men named Valentine figure into Catholic history.

Some may think it trivial, but the name of the day is important, especially for those of us who are Catholic. I do not have a personal problem or conflict with the secular celebrations attributed to the saint or the day; they are relatively harmless and come from much, much later folk traditions that do not profane or contradict the memory of any ancient saint of that name. But it is named after a saint. Despite this day being reduced from feast to commemoration by Pope Pius XII in 1955, and it's full removal from the current General Calendar in 1969, we still have a holy man that remains in the Roman Martyrology from the 5th century to the present. Therefore, he continues as an ancient witness to the faith. For Catholics, this also serves as example to the myriad of daily reminders of how central the faith is to our daily lives. (An interesting note is that the St. Valentine's feast day in the Eastern Church is July 4).

Take away the Saint and you take away the reminder and do an injustice to one of the many that paid the ultimate price to retain the belief in the gift to be handed down to us!