It likely passed unnoticed, but last Wednesday marked a Dominican anniversary. As of November 27th, it is now fourteen years since ten Dominican nuns journeyed to the mountains of southwest British Columbia to found a new monastic community. Nestled in the Tantalus Mountain Range along the Squamish River, Queen of Peace Monastery was completed just a year and a half ago, and is home to fifteen contemplative Dominicans nuns, twelve of whom are fully professed.
Christmas time is almost here… and so is the winter issue of Dominicana print journal! The journal makes a great gift for a family member, a friend, or a treat for you!
The winter issue, Dominicana 56:2, is the second of two issues celebrating the Year of Faith that focused on the two “watch-words” of the Second Vatican Council: ressourcement and aggiornamento. This issue is dedicated to aggiornamento.
In the most recent issue of the Dominicana print journal, I wrote an article about how the Second Vatican Council called for a ressourcement—a return to the sources—regarding the Church’s liturgical music. At the same time, the Council also called for aggiornamento—a bringing up to date or renewal. Our new album, In Medio Ecclesiae—which makes a great Christmas gift for family and friends alike—is our contribution to the fulfillment of both principles, in the authentic spirit of Vatican II.
Upon the hand of him who holds no things,
A gracious dove may perch on empty palm.
But mind the man who grasps the wealth of kings,
By him ne’er shall be heard her grateful song.
Today, as folks would say back home in Tennessee, is a travelin’ day. Today, airports are packed with parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins on their way to visit children and grandchildren and nieces and nephews and cousins, while highways are jammed with college students caravanning home for the extra-long weekend.
Here an obvious analogy could be made: just as today people are making the journey to be with the ones whom they love and who love them, so our very life is a journey towards the One whom we love and who loves us first. This is true and profound, but let’s admit it—the life-as-journey paradigm has become a little cliché.
At 67, insight trumps muscles.
So I thought to myself as I watched Escape Plan the other night. The two action movie paragons, Schwarzenegger and Stallone, shared the screen in this film about an escape from a perfectly designed prison. Without pretending to review the movie or its artistic merits—as an incorrigible fan of cheesy action movies, I am rather blind to their faults—there is an element worth noting here.
All kings, in their different ways, have power over life and death. In the case of absolute monarchs and tyrants, this power is made manifest very clearly. A thumbs-down or a single phone call could result in the death of a troublesome subject. In these governments, the king is the cause of great fear and a sense of dependence in his people. In other places, the power over life and death is more subtle. We can imagine a medieval king who, through negligence of his duties, can cause the death of many. Without wise and prudent policies for knights and farmers alike, his kingdom will eventually collapse and death will come upon his people. His subjects may not be as consciously aware of it, but they too are dependent on the king for life.
Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul. —Proverbs 22:24
Not by warriors’ hands the tyrant fell; not giants smote him, not heroes of the old time barred his path; it was Judith, Merari’s daughter, Judith’s fair face that was his undoing. —Judith 16:8
“Another round, Bill!” Coady had cash. Single, 23, and rich as a movie star—well, rich as a movie star who makes around $90,000 a year, relaxing in Manning, North Dakota. Manning? Just a little town north of Dickinson, south of Williston: Oil Country. What used to be a bar for farmers to get a drink on the weekend now has become the hub for young oil workers looking for a good time. They come from all over, setting out for the black-gold rush on the prairie. The blizzards and wind are enough to drive a guy crazy, but unlike the 49ers of old, the 09ers are guaranteed a paycheck and enough cash to leave whenever the land wins out. But sometimes the greatest storms they have to weather are more subtle.
Few doctrines are more widely misunderstood than the Catholic teaching on purgatory. One of the most common misconceptions is that this doctrine denies the efficacy of the redemption by requiring that we be punished despite Christ’s death on the cross. We can get a better sense of the true nature of purgatory with a little help from an early nineteenth-century Anglican curate who early in his life didn’t even believe in the doctrine.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI refers to his collection of books as his “old friends,” and in this, many friars preachers will surely sympathize with him. Ever since the earliest days of the Order, Dominicans have sought out books to feed the life of the mind and give grist for their preaching. The first friars were enjoined to read constantly, so that through their study, they may share the things contemplated for the salvation of souls. Since Dominicans were sent to preach and teach in universities across Europe, they had to grapple with the best minds and the most persuasive ideas of the day. What’s the use of a preacher if he can’t reach the minds, hearts, and souls of those he preaches to?