The Catholic Bibles Blog is running a contest from not until Sunday, February the 23rd for a copy of the new Catholic Men’s Bible from Our Sunday Visitor. I’d highly recommend visiting the Catholic Bibles Blog for information on upcoming editions of Scriptures and also for information on various versions, study tools, and other issues about the Bible. The Catholic Men’s Bible is, as far as I know, the first Catholic version of Scriptures targeted directly for men and is based on the New American Bible Revised Edition and was produced by Fr. Larry Richards. You can also hear an interview Catholic Bibles Blog did with Fr. Richards at this link.
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We all know the story. God directed St Francis to rebuild his Church. Francis mistakenly thought that God was directing him to rebuild the fallen down church of San Damiano, and so he set out to rebuild the church of San Damiano stone by stone.
On 22 August, the Queenship of Mary, I was blessed with a marvelous task. my pastor gave me permission to “rebuild” an Adoration Chapel–with no budget and no directive other than to make it look “chapely.” Ok–no problem for a Dominican you may think. Well, guess again , . . The task involved a total redesign of what used to be a three season porch and the herculean task of patiently enduring the narrow vision of many parishioners who do not tolerate change easily. My task was, therefore, comprehensive in every aspect of what needed to happen–I had to raise funds for the renovation, win the hearts and minds of the unwilling, design a prayer space that was functional, comfortable, aesthetically pleasing, and above all, Catholic, and be prepared for long hours of renovation work since contracting the labor out was off the table,
How bad was bad? Well, the old space was completely dysfunctional. 1/3 of the total floor plan was dominated with closets that were relatively empty save a lot of junk and a built in bookcase that housed books on everything but Catholicism. The other 1/3 of the floor plan was taken up with an old tabernacle altar that was in alignment with the door. Then there was an old rusted out and molded air conditioning unit that made more noise than a jet engine and could not keep the room cool or warm. We would later discover that it also leaked and caused structural rot on the floor sill it was resting on. Throw in some burning hot fluorescent ceiling lights and the picture is complete as to how bad bad was.
First the closets were tore out. And a fierce some battle ensued over–of all things–silk flowers. One of the closets was apparently “promised” to a parishoner by a former parish employee to hold two large silk floral arrangements that were only ever used for a total of fours a year. Yes–for four hours a year there was a need to have a closet to hold two silk floral arrangements in what should have been space dedicated for prayer only. A space which the parish is in sore need of because our worship space is exactly that–worship space that is too large for personal prayer and not conducive to lighting or cooling feasibly at any hour of the day or night. People need a comfortable place to pray and that should not be impeded or limited to a worship space that is only open 8 hours during the daytime. The ability to pray is directly linked to the salvific mission of Jesus Christ–closets holding silk flowers are not.
We tore out the old lights and made a happy discovery that we had enough room in the ceiling to install can lights with LED retrofits. Then we took out a window and the old air conditioning unit replacing it with a much more efficient and whisper quiet new HVAC unit. Throw in some acccent lighting and sheet rock over a brick wall and we were well on our way to having a much more comfortable and Catholic prayer space–one that will eventually house the Blessed Sacrament permanently.
Everything we have done is nothing major–mostly just common sense reallocation of space and cosmetic design overhaul. Our spiritual lives are often not much different. Our venial sins are what clutter up the prayer space in our hearts and narrow our vision of what our lives in Christ could be and are meant to be. Like the silk flowers, we hold on to things that have no value for the salvation of our souls and then wonder why our faith has become something we only celebrate one hour a week at Sunday Mass. Is it work to make a fitting space for Christ in our hearts? Yes–no doubt about it. But the old saying holds true–a cluttered work space is the sign of a cluttered mind–or in this case, a cluttered heart.
Hopefully renovating our Adoration Chapel will in some ways help to rebuild a Church that has forgotten the thirst of our Lord in the Eucharist for people to spend time with him in the silence of prayer and adoration. To this end, sometimes being a Dominican means working like a Franciscan.
Progress so far
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Dominican Crosses and Pins have been ordered and have arrived. Scapulars–everyday small and Formal Dress–are sewn and ready to go. The Rule and Directory are copied and bound for distribution. Liturgy scripts have been copied and bound. Dry runs of the Rites have been gone over with the celebrant and the choir master, who is perfecting a composition based on the “O Lumen” to be sung at the Offertory. Pew copies of the Rites for Inquirers and Candidates are ready.
It would seem everything is in its place for the celebrating of the Dominican Rites. Which is a good thing because that gives us time to reflect to make sure we ourselves have everything in its place in our minds, hearts, and souls. The imperative to be prepared for the Rites is all the more intensified with the Gospel Reading for the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time. Christ calls us out to abandon everything to follow him–or does he?
The answer is the classic Catholic “both/and.” Christ’s disciples must abandon the world as a means to leave space for God to work in them so that God can work through them in the world. If God is not a priority in the life of the disciple, then God cannot work through them for the benefit of their neighbor. Is this not the core of Lay Dominican life with its clarion call for voluntary poverty? Does not Dominican life pivot on a strong drive for liturgical prayer simply because liturgical prayer takes us out of the world and keeps us in the Church? Are we not orientated at all times for mission to go out from the Church to the world preaching the salvation of souls and conversion of sinners through the actions of our lives and sometimes our words?
So much to think about–to study. So much to pray about–especially when the Dominican Rites collide with this extremely challenging Gospel Reading. Thank you, Holy Spirit!
I am not going to say I am ready. Many years ago, I had an Augustinian priest for a spiritual director and he taught me the value of Augustinian realism. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best. So I will say only that I am prepared. God will decide if I am ready.
T minus five days and counting . . .
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August can be a crazy month for Dominicans. We roll into the month with the Feast of the Transfiguration on the 6th immediately followed by the Patronal Solemnity of our father Dominic on the 8th. Then, a week later it’s the Assumption of the Blessed Mother, followed by the Queenship of Mary, St Rose of Lima, St Monica and finally, St Augustine! With celebrating all of these wonderful days, things can get a bit hectic. Throw into the mix the fact that many of us are making our yearly retreats and preparing for the celebration of the Dominican Rites in our Groups and Chapters and we can easily find ourselves “going off the rails on the crazy train!”
So how are we supposed to keep yourselves sane? Laugh. Seriously, it really is the best medicine. Find something to laugh at or someone with which to laugh. Did you know that in Latin America they celebrate St Dominic’s Day with a ten day festival? Yup. 10 days of pure mayhem. Here is a picture of one of the street revelers from Managua, Nicaragua.
Now if this doesn’t make you laugh, then what will? I say that next year we need to organize an eleven day provincial celebration for St Dominic’s Day—one day for every state in our province. Who is with me!
Permanent link to this article: http://laydomsouth.org/torchoftruth/one-crazy-month/