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Our Patron, St. Dominic

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In 2021, we celebrate the 800th year in commemoration of the death of St. Dominic de Guzman, our parish patron. 

St. Dominic lived during the same time as St. Francis of Assisi. They actually met each other in Rome. Where the followers of St. Francis emphasize charity and works of mercy, St. Dominic lamented the poor preparation priests had in defending the faith. He felt that through good preaching of Catholic principles, a strong faith could be established. This strong faith would help combat Catholic heresies which had surfaced in the church in the Middle Ages.  Both St. Francis and St. Dominic began church reform from the bottom up. The Dominican order claims great teachers such as St. Thomas Aquinas, great mystics such as St Catherine of Sienna, St. Rose of Lima, patron saint of Latin America and the Philippines, and Bartolomé de Las Casas, who worked against oppression of the indigenous people being exploited by the Spanish in Central America. Even St. Ignatius, founder of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), first turned towards God when, during his recuperation from injury, he became devoted to St. Dominic after reading a book by a Dominican friar.

Dominican spirituality consisted of four pillars: prayer - to allow ourselves the milieu to be open to God’s word, study - which includes searching for understanding of truth, all to help our neighbor, preaching- taking the Word of God and incorporating its message into our everyday life, and community- to both embrace the diversity of gifts God gives, but also to muster strength and avoid discouragement. Our parish honors a great saint who in turn honors us with his legacy.

 

Fear and Trust

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In 2014, my son went backpacking in Alaska. He had a satellite device that periodically sent me text messages saying, “Everything is fine in Alaska, wish you were here,” and gave his location so I could follow his progress on a map.

The first evening of his hike I attended Cor Jesu at St. Robert where I turned off my phone. After Mass we went for a bite to eat. I got home about 11:00 PM and turned on my phone. To my horror, it said, “Something’s gone wrong in Alaska, call for help.” The message was an hour old and I felt  like I had let him down by turning my phone off. My heart started to race.

I called and found a rescue party was on the way but It would be hours before we would know anything. I was terrified. My heart was pounding as I sat in front of my computer looking at the map of their hike. They had tried to cross the Teklanika River several times, but each time they returned to shore. What had gone wrong? Had someone been swept downstream? I tried to pray but I couldn’t. My fears overcame my prayer and I returned to the computer screen.

Eventually, I realized there was nothing I could do, and I again tried to pray. My prayer was different this time. It wasn’t just for the welfare of my son, it was also for strength and courage to deal with whatever I would have to deal with. Peace came over me, and I was actually able to sleep for a few hours. 

When I awoke, I found out that a rescue party had found them and they were on their way out, but their condition was still unknown. A few more hours of waiting were in store for me, but now I had the strength and faith that God would be there for us no matter what the outcome.

That night, God taught me that faith can and will win out over fear. This is the lesson Job learns in the first reading today and the lesson the disciples learn, or are at least taught, in the Gospel. Jesus is always with us, just like he was in that boat, and so we need not fear. What he asks is for us to have faith and trust in him. That doesn’t mean the result will always be what we are hoping for, but it does ensure that God will go with us each step of the way, providing all the strength, courage, and hope we will need to carry on. For me, the story ended happily, but I know had it not, God would have carried me through whatever had happened.

Posted by Kurt Peot
in Prayer

Praying Through Music

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I was sitting in a hotel ballroom, staring up at a myriad of fancy stage lighting and three projector screens, the center displaying a fake cathedral type image, and I thought to myself, “what did I get myself into?” This worry and dread grew when the band started up and people all around me started to sing along and raise their hands in the air. I thought, “shoot, what sort of non-denominational Praise and Worship (P&W) music fest did I get myself into?” Then I turned to the person who had invited me on this retreat/training conference, the Life Teen Catholic Youth Ministry Convention, looking puzzled, and realizing how perturbed I was, he mouthed, “Just have an open mind.”

I had a bias against P&W music, because when I was a teen, a friend invited me to her youth group, where there was a projector screen, neon up-lights, and a not very talented band playing songs about a God I wasn’t yet sure I believed in. When I became Catholic, I loved the reverence for God, the focus on the cross, the prayerfulness with which we approach the Eucharist and communion. I thought P&W music couldn’t possibly fit into that. I was wrong. Through the 4-day conference, God opened my heart to this type of prayer in a variety of ways I never thought possible. Even if you are a skeptic, here are some reasons this type of prayer is so powerful for me, and some ways to make it powerful in your own life.

One of the reasons P&W music has been powerful for me is that when we take the words to heart they can transform us. With lyrics like, “You are a good, good father, it’s who you are, and I am loved by you,” the song “Good, Good Father” pushed me to ponder the perfect fatherhood of God. Through singing out loud and wrestling with the words, it pushed me to internalize and believe a truth which my head knew, but my heart struggled to believe. Songs, just like prayer books and written devotions, are vehicles for our relationship with God when we internally experience the words. Lyrics are there to help guide you, challenge you, help you remember God’s goodness, seek out His mercy, or sing His praises.

Another way P&W music transformed my prayer was by adding an emotional energy.  It may be hard to think of prayer as having energy, but I think St. Therese of Lisieux illuminates this need when she says, “Prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy.” I don’t know about you, but music has always made my heart soar and my voice cry out. P&W music is a vehicle for our hearts to surge towards God. Finding songs that hit you, in the genre you like (Praise music comes in all genres!) can be a way to link the surge of emotions that we all experience through music to God.

If this is still foreign to you, because you like the traditional music sung at Mass, or you don’t like to sing along at all, I still suggest giving it a try with an open mind. Listen to P&W music on your own through the radio station KLove, or find a worship playlist on YouTube or Spotify to avoid the pressure of being with others. Focus on it like you would prayer, start with the sign of the cross, and be focused on a crucifix as this will help you direct the words and your praise to God. Maybe attend a Teen Mass, Surrender, XLT, or Arise Saturday night to experience P&W music in person in a Catholic setting. 

Say you give all that a try and it still doesn’t “hit you.” That’s ok. Different people like different prayer. However, I would still challenge you to continue to encounter P&W with an open mind. Try a different prayer posture, hold your hands out in praise, or leave them open at your sides to receive and embrace the discomfort. Some of the most worthwhile experiences in our lives are uncomfortable, and usually it’s because the Holy Spirit is transforming us for His Glory.

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