Friday, August 31, 2012

If I Were Pastor

Surfing the net, this morning.  Musing over a cup of coffee.  I came across this chart and planned my own parish.

What Parishes are most successful at:

1.       Managing parish finances                                                                90%
2.       Recruitment and retaining ministers/staff                                           89
3.       Communicating with parishioners                                                     89
4.       Educating parishioners in the faith                                                     86
5.       Welcoming new parishioners                                                            85
6.       Promoting ministry opportunities                                                       85
7.       Listening to parishioner concerns and input                                         83
8.       Effectively using committees and councils                                          79
9.       Providing social activities and programs                                             77
1.   Providing accessibility for persons with disabilities                               77
11.   Ministering to the elderly                                                                   76
12.   Ministering to families                                                                       75
13.   Ministering to those who are grieving                                                  75
14.   Ministering to those in financial need                                                   66
15.   Collaborating with other parishes                                                        61
16.   Providing cultural, ethnic, or national celebrations                                 59
17.   Celebrating cultural diversity                                                               56
18.   Providing Mass in preferred languages                                                 56
19.   Ministering to young adults                                                                 56
20.   Outreach to inactive Catholics                                                             43
21.   Ministering to recent immigrants                                                          35

   If I were Pastor I’d put # 15, first.  I figured I’d get more accomplished with others.  Yes, that might be more work, but the more people, the bigger the talent pool.  The first thing I’d do is publish and coordinate the Mass schedule and other sacraments.  The Mass Schedule would always be posted in my bulletin: if St. Joe’s has a 7:00 Mass, then I’d have a 7:30, and St. Mary’s would have an 8:00.  I definitely wouldn’t forget evening Masses.  One of us should have a Saturday Evening Mass, and another a Sunday Evening.  Confessions—likewise.

   Our Deacons would be involved in all of the above, especially the funerals of people who are Catholic, but don’t request a Mass.  I’ve been to a family funeral where the family were fallen away Catholics.  They weren’t anything.  Although if you asked them, they’d say, “Catholic.”  They were grieving.  But they would have been extremely uncomfortable if a priest ministered to them.  A Deacon was there and explained that he was “like” a priest, but he was married with children.  The family loved him.  He was perfect.  If there were a Mass, they wouldn’t have known what to do or how to act, and that would have just caused them more discomfort in a difficult time.  The Deacon was a godsend.

     The priest can’t do it all, but I think he can be perceived as doing it all.  CCD/religious ed for example: he should always make an appearance .  Five minutes out of a day to show up.  Sometimes it would be to greet the kids; sometimes it would be to say good-bye.  Even a walk through, is something.  For gosh sakes, wish the kids a “Merry Christmas”.  Just casting the priests’ shadows, now and then, is enough.

      I also think my priests should do likewise (make an appearance) at EVERY single event and group the parish runs.  That’s every sodality, Bible Study, prayer group, etc., cast a priestly shadow as you walk through.  Five minutes is all the time I’d ask.  The priests can alternate with the Deacons and parish administrators, or seminarians.  I’m after the perception that the parish administration cares.
Outside of # 18, lay people can coordinate all the efforts.  The priest would know what’s happening, because he’s casting his shadow everywhere, but I think all of the above can be coordinated by lay people.  Every week or two they’d be a team meeting where everybody would give an update on their ministries.

      I’d get rid of parish councils.  They are not representative of ALL the people.  Just by the fact that they’re chosen by vote tells you that it’s a popularity contest.  Newcomers, who should be welcomed and invited into ministries, don’t have any say on a parish council because they aren’t known enough to garner the necessary votes to get elected.  In fact, I’d bet the ranch, that most of the people on the parish council are elderly because they’ve been in the church the longest; therefore they know most of the people.  Next, I bet the rest of the parish council are Lectors, because they come out before Mass and introduce themselves!  No, parish councils will be out, and the Ministry Teams will replace them.

     The Ministry Teams definitely will meet no less often than bi-weekly.  For gosh sakes, parish councils only meet seasonally, at best—that tells you how necessary they are! 

     Since the laity is coordinating everything but the sacraments, the priests should have a better prayer life.  And pray in and with the people.  Join the Rosary before Mass.  Be seen praying in church—pray your Office in front of the Blessed Sacrament, pray in the sacristy with the altar servers, and no cop out excuse that the people keep interrupting your prayer.  What would John Vianney say about that?  Over a priest’s life span, someone asking for Confession, or help, during private prayer, doesn’t happen the majority of time.  Priests must be seen praying.  Perception is important.  Make the perception reality.

      The problem I’d always have is “money.”  As pastor, I am a priest first, not the financial executive officer of a corporation.  My parish would not be a business.  I’d need enough money to meet expenses, and the rest would be given away.  I’d pray that if I were ministering to my people well, they’d support the parish.  I’d do what I could; the rest is up to the Holy Spirit. 

      Such as it is, this is my model for pastoral leadership. I had fun planning my parish.  Surfing the internet this morning I was reminded of my mother, who’s been gone for over thirty years.  Somebody has her name on Facebook.  The name is an uncommon, old Lithuanian name.  I read her page and saw that she works for the Archdiocese of Boston.  She’s into Lay Ministry.  That’s how I came across the chart posted at the beginning of this article.  You’ll find everything you ever wanted to know on the web site of Emerging Models of Pastoral Leadership. 

Rest in Peace, Mom.  

Thursday, August 30, 2012

For the Birds

Haven't you ever seen birds in train stations and large stores like Home Depot and Lowe's and wonder how they get along?  How they got in is obvious--some door.  But are they now living in the store till they die?  How do they eat?

Well, we're not the only ones who think about such things.  The poet, R. T. Smith wrote the poem below.  It appeals to me because he takes an ordinary occurrence and bumps it up.  His ordinary language is just right for this particular poem.  You'll see.  He'll draw you in.

Hardware Sparrows

Out for a deadbolt, light bulbs
and two-by-fours, I find a flock
of sparrows safe from hawks

and weather under the roof                                                  
of Lowe's amazing discount
store.  They skitter from the racks

of stockpiled posts and hoses
to a spill of winter birdseed
on the concrete floor.  How

they know to forage here,
I can't guess, but the automatic
door is close enough,

and we've had a week
of storms.  They are, after all,
ubiquitous, though poor,

their only song an irritating
noise, and yet they soar
to offer, amid hardware, rope

and handyman brochures,
some relief, as if a flurry
of notes from Mozart swirled

from seed to ceiling, entreating
us to set aside our evening
chores and take grace where

we find it, saying it is possible,
even in this month of flood,
blackout and frustration,

to float once more on sheer
survival and the shadowy
bliss we exist to explore.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Swans, Snakes, Turtles, Oh My!

Today was such a beautiful day.  Hubby and I went biking.  There's a bike route known as the Upper Charles Trail.  We rode the length and stopped to picnic.  I took a couple of photos, too.  Since most of the area schools started today, only adults used the path.  There were plenty of dog walkers, some runners, a couple of roller bladers, and other bikers like us.

We had a picnic on Lake Louisa.  There was a family there fishing.  The kids were toddlers and their little tackle boxes were so cute.  I remember fishing as a child their age, myself.  My sister use to take me to the Spicket River.  We never caught anything because we never used bait.  She took a stick, tied a string to it.  On the end of the string, she tied a large safety pin.  I don't know why I never questioned her about it.  Kids nowadays are a lot smarter than I was, that's for sure.

I stopped to take a picture of a couple of swans and had a fright.  I tiptoed as quietly as I could across mud, roots, sticks, and leaves, down to the water's edge.  Then just as I was positioning myself to focus my camera, something darted across the lower part of my vision.  I inhaled a gasp.  A big, thick, water snake was coming at me.

I looked again.  It was awfully thick--the size of an arm.  The colors were tan, brown, and back.  What kind of water snake is that?  I noticed how long it was, and then I notice that it branched off.

It was a branch--more of a small log.  And all around it were small turtles sunning themselves.  I think I frightened some of the turtles, and their jumping off caused the movement that caught my eye.  Whew!

Let's pray for more days like this.  Amen.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

From the Mouth of Babes

 The other day it was my pleasure to pick up my little 25 month old granddaughter.  I had never done this before and was a little concerned how she would react.  I know she knows me, but not in the context of removing her from a familiar setting to go off with me.  But we had no choice.  Her mother, my daughter, was held up at work.

I worried needlessly.  Her reaction still has me smiling, and is also the subject of this post.

She looked at who was coming into the room, then her entire little body smiled with recognition.  Her eyes popped with glee.  Next she ran over to her little group of friends, (who were all looking at me), pointed to me, and said "Mine!"

That says it all, doesn't it?  Her limited vocabulary managed to articulate exactly everything that mattered to her, and her friends.  And they understood.

Amazing.  This level of communication works. Amazing.

And I understood too.  In fact, I thought of this two-year old interaction all day long.  So I used it for my meditation, today.  John 10:14  I know my sheep and they know me.

I know Jesus is going to brightened with recognition when I see Him.  I know He will point to me, and say, "Mine!"

And we'll go off together and live happily ever after.


Monday, August 27, 2012

Pre-burial Arrangements

remains St. Monica
In the beginning of this month, just before St. Dominic's Feast on Aug. 8, I was deploring the fact that St. Dominic's last wishes weren't adhered to.  Good grief!  The thought that the minute one's back is turned (so to speak), people do what they want.  It's very disconcerting.  Poor St. Dominic, who only wanted to be buried in ground under the feet of his brothers, was placed in such an elaborate tomb, that it's called an Ark!  And it took five centuries to build!

I thought of this when I read the Office of Readings for the Memorial of St. Monica.  Similar to St. Dominic, Monica said, "Bury my body wherever you will; let not care of it cause you any concern..." * I don't know what her children did with her body but I'm sure it wasn't placed in the casket, in the picture above, and placed in a local cemetery.

Why do we have pre-burial arrangements?  Paying for cremations, burials at sea, shipping remains back to the old country, pre-burial insurance...  Forget about it.

Concentrate on getting your soul to heaven.   "Remember man that you are dust, and to dust you will return."  **

* Confessions, Augustine
** cf Gn. 3:19

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Devil's Handiwork

Out of all the four pillars in our Lay Dominican life, community is the hardest, for us.  I've written about this before.  It seems that egos get in the way, especially if your chapter is mostly made up of males.

Prayer is what we do best.  We're always trying to perfect our prayer life.  I think we're pretty efficacious prayer warriors.

Apostolate is our life.  We as a chapter live as good Christian examples.  Individually, some have independent ministries.

Study is fun to us.  Right now we're discussing Augustine.

Community is the bugger.  It seems that everybody gets on everybody else's nerves.  Some are always looking around to see what others are doing, have, or not!  Perhaps it's just a matter of too much time on everyone's hands.  The devil makes work for idle hands.

Maybe if we had a big project that involved most of us, we'd pull together.  We'd be busy; everyone working for the same end.  Work is the answer.  

Saturday, August 25, 2012


The Readings for the Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time make me laugh--in a good way.  The first Reading has a list of reasons why the people choose to follow God.  But in the Gospel, Peter can't think of a single reason why he should choose Jesus.  Peter responds with a kind of "I dunno."

The First Reading is from the Book of Joshua 24: 1-2a, 15-17, 18b.  The Gospel is according to John 6: 60-69.

Now from the Book of Faith ;-)

The people give a list of reasons why they choose the Lord:
(1)  The Lord brought them up out of Egypt.
(2)  The Lord brought them out of slavery.
(3)  The Lord performed miracles that they acknowledged.
(4)  The Lord protected the people along the journey.
(5)  The Lord shielded the people from the enemies they passed.

Makes sense to me.

Now in the Gospel, many of the disciples had deserted.  They could not think of a single reason to stay.  Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, "Well?"

I picture Peter hesitating a nano-second, then looking straight into Jesus' eyes, and very gently, softly, and distinctly, affirming, "I will love You forever."

Friday, August 24, 2012

Ad Jesum per Mariam

Fr. Lataste
This is from the Confidences of Fr. Lataste at the moment of his death.

In the past, I had a very filial devotion for the Virgin Mary.  I would put in her hands all my actions of piety, my religious life, all obedience and charity, for her to administer according to her wisdom and predilections, and for me to obtain all the merits of the grace of God.  Little by little, this devotion was eclipsed a bit by another one, more radiant and more productive.  During my years of novitiate and ministry that God gave me, it was the Love of Our Lord that fed and filled my soul.

Now, all is erased by a unique thought that dominates my soul and which imposes itself with force; the thought only of God.  I see him, I feel him in my soul although in a confused and unconscious way, but I see him and feel him with an unshakable and burning certainty.  My soul is also going toward him by a continued act of love.  A bit vague, and a bit deaf, it is true, but stronger than myself.  There is in me a perpetual adoration of God, by a simple  act from my soul, always the same, always new, without beginning, without middle, without ending.  It is like a reflection  a glow from eternity.  It seems to me that God brings me down, and annihilates me before him to elevate me later and to hold me within himself by an infinite adherence, all power, all light, all love; and, by an absolute detachment of all that is not him.  I cannot anymore conceive a precise thought of him, not produce some acts of determined love as in the past; I have none but one thought that understands everything and which exhausts all the strengths of my soul: God.  None but a single act of love, so intense and so constant that I cannot anymore without a great effort, either increase its ardor or let it cease to make it begin again.  It seems to me that my soul and all that is within it, is thrown in the midst of God and that there is nothing left in it but God himself, penetrating it, vivifying it, illuminating it, embracing it, and divinizing it.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Perfect Excuse

My lack of posting is due to my being down the Cape, for a few days.  While there, I visited the Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve.  This sign was on their property.  What do you think?

I think it's the perfect excuse.

Monday, August 20, 2012


The Crypt


A pungent yet sweet smelling
waft of incense.  The worshipers
chant response.  Words loving
God rise up to heaven.

The monstrance sparkles in
the candle light.  A lone
voice intones Tantum ergo
sacramentum veneremur cernui.

The priest with a voice clear
and deep is singing Benediction.
The altar server tenderly
holds the priest's humeral veil.

Worshipers respond
to the everlasting Father
honor, blessings, glory,
endless praise and adoration.

A pungent yet sweet smelling
waft of incense.  Worshipers 
chant response.  Words loving
God rise up to heaven.

h/t The Preacher Poets 2009, p. 93.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Lectoring Teaches Self-knowledge

Being a "lector" has taught me 10 things I didn't know about myself.  
  • I have an accent.  In reading "harden not your hearts," a person from New Jersey told me that I have a Boston accent.  Imagine.  New Jersey?
  • I need to use a microphone.  My voice is low and soft.  Elderly can't hear me, even if I shout.  The pitch of my voice is too low, for them.  
  • Too many people come late.  I think some people think the Mass time means leave your house at that time.  It scares me to announce what Sunday this is, and then when I go to read the First Reading--WHOA!  Where did all the people come from? 
  • Check out the Prayers of the Faithful with the names in the bulletin.  Sometimes mistakes have been made.  
  • Occasionally, I'm drafted to be an altar server, too.  Pay attention.
  • Breath control.  Silence is powerful, knowing when to use it is even more so.
  • When I make a mistake, it's a blessing.  I need to be humble.
  • Dealing with doubt.  Like mistakes, God is keeping me humble.  I have to look at it as a grace.
  • Being close to the "action", is a great privilege.  My prayer is more intense.
  • I've become closer to St. Dominic, the founder of the Order of Preachers.  Praying for his intercession before reading is a great focusing tool.                                                                                                                                    St. Dominic open hearts and minds to hear and accept the Words, I proclaim.  

Friday, August 17, 2012

All Perceptions are Misperceptions

My friend and I were sitting next to each other, on the bus.  We were catching up on each other’s “doings.”  She mentioned that she had been to a funeral Mass, at my parish.  (My friend is a fallen away Catholic)  She proceeded to tell me how bleak, boring, and particularly tedious the Mass celebrant was.  She said the priest obviously never even made an effort to learn anything about the deceased.  ….yada…yada…yada

Instinctively, I rushed to his defense.  Of course he knew of the deceased.  Maybe not personally, but I’m sure he was told. 

I couldn’t convince my friend.  I just flamed her tirade.  Once, she was hurt by the church…not really, but that’s how she perceived it.  You see, she was in a situation where she turned to the church for help.  And what she was told, was not what she wanted to hear.  Ever since then, the church can’t do anything right.

So I sat beside her and listened to her berate my priest, my confessor, my spiritual father, my spiritual director, my pastor, the one whom I constantly pray for—and prays for me.

I felt like punching her in the mouth.

Instead, I prayed for her.

Early in my Lay Dominican formation, I was impressed by St. Catherine of Siena’s The Dialogue.  The Dialogue is the perfect book to read and reflect upon.  It’s applicable to our times, as well as it were to St. Catherine’s.  St. Catherine was adamant in defense of priests.  Then, as today, priests didn’t always behave as they should.  Scandals have been around since Abel and Cain. is my will that the sins of the clergy should not lessen your reverence for them,...Because the reverence you pay to them is not actually paid to them but to me, in virtue of the blood I have entrusted to their ministry...
   ...And just as the reverence is done to me, so also is the irreverence...
   For this reason no one has excuse to say, 'I am doing no harm, nor am I rebelling against holy Church.  I am simply acting against the sins of evil pastors.'  Such persons are deluded, blinded as they are by their own selfishness.  They see well enough, but they pretend not to see so as to blunt the prickling of conscience. ...  For I have said and I say it again: No one is to touch my christs.  It is my right to punish them, and no one else's.

And I prayed for my parish priests, and all priests.  They are alter Christi; in their indelible "likeness" to Christ, they are a sign of the constant love God has for us.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The U.S. has a new Basilica

Congratulations to St. John the Baptist Church in Ohio, being chosen as a minor basilica.  It is the oldest church in northeastern Ohio since 1823.

The title basilica was bestowed on June 19, 2012. The elevation liturgy will be celebrated November 25, 2012.

How did this happen?

"Four years ago, our Bishop, the Most Reverend George V. Murry, SJ,  asked each parish in the Diocese of Youngstown to think outside the box in regards to its viability to the community, city, county and diocese.  The question of applying for basilica status had been on the
table several times. Once we examined the criteria for being elevated to a minor basilica, we realized we met each condition, and with Bishop Murry’s approval and blessing, we made application through the Diocese of Youngstown, The United States Conference of Catholic
Bishops and the Holy See.   The original application was in Latin and had to be translated into English.  A document containing six pages of questions became a testament to our parish of over fifty plus pages.  We had a local historian offer some insight into our past, we hired (through the generosity of a parishioner) a professional photographer to thoroughly document our beautiful church building both inside and out, and we spent months finishing the basilica application.  The process took three years to gain approval.

The Honorary title of “Minor Basilica” is granted by the Holy See (Vatican) to certain churches
outside Rome because of their historical and architectural value as well as their contributions to the community.  Basilicas are expected to be centers of worship that are recognized
through the diocese.  They are to promote the teaching of the Holy See and the Holy Father,
to provide liturgical formation, to be exemplary centers of worship, especially in regards to
sacred music, and to make ample provisions for the celebration of Sacraments and various
approved devotions.

Bestowing the title “Basilica” on a church establishes a particular bond with the Holy Father.
Therefore, Basilicas have the responsibility to promote the study of the documents of the
Holy Father and the Holy See, especially those concerning the Sacred Liturgy.
Also, certain days in the liturgical year are to be celebrated with added solemnity.  The feast
of the Chair of Saint Peter (February 22), the Solemnity of the Apostles Saint Peter and Saint
Paul (June 29) and the anniversary of the election or installation of the Pope

Considered the pope’s church, the title Basilica carries with it both privileges and obligations.
Among the many primary privileges are the right to display, both inside and outside, the coat
of arms of the pope who designated the church as a basilica, and the display of the Basilica’s
own coat of arms, bearing the marks of the principal arms of the Lateran Basilica in Rome,
the Cathedral Church of the Pope. In addition, two additional symbols rooted in the papal court, the tintinnabulum and the ombrellino are proper to the church for use and display. The tintinnabulum is a bell which had the practical function of alerting the people to the approach of the Holy Father during papal processions through the streets of Rome.  The ombrellino is an elaborate umbrella which
would protect the Holy Father from inclement weather.  The panels of the ombrellino are
made of alternating red and yellow silk fabric (the papal colors).  It is always displayed half-way
open to signify that the church is ready to welcome the Holy Father!  These two symbols are
to be displayed in the sanctuary on a permanent basis."


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Lost Tomato

This morning's Gospel was the one about the lost sheep.  Matthew 18: 1-5, 10, 12-14

Hold that thought.

I was harvesting the tomatoes you see in the above picture, just before noon, today.  They're all over the place, rotting on the vine.  There's big boys, plums, and cherry.  I don't know what to do with them all.

They cherry tomatoes are particularly abundant.  It was hot.  I could feel the sun burning my neck, shoulders and back.  I felt buggy and sticky with perspiration.  One particularly, well formed, deep red, tomato, fell just as I touched it.  It tumbled to the ground, partially covered by all the vines, and leaves.

I thought of this morning's Gospel about going after the lost sheep and forgetting about the 99 others.  I looked at that the lost tomato.  Then I looked at my full basket of tomatoes.

I thought some more.

I'm not Jesus.

To hell, with that one tomato.  I've got more than 99.  

Monday, August 13, 2012

Falmouth Road Race

You've probably been wondering where I was.  I've been busy.  Three of my clan were running in the Falmouth Road Race.  Michael Johnson, a friend, was with them.  The town of Falmouth is packed during the Road Race weekend, so Michael stayed in our cottage.  My son Mark ran the 7 K in an hour and 8 min.  Cheryl and Jon stayed together and both finished in an hour and 12 min.  Michael followed in an hour and 13 min.

It's a fun race.  Just having the gumption to run proves that you're a winner.  Every one finished.  The start was at Woods Hole, around Captain Kids.  Cheryl and Jon were placed at that building with the ship sticking out of it.  Mark was near the Helix statue and Mike near the Aquarium.

Everybody's mind was playing tricks: "your eye is itchy, you have to pee, you've got a cramp, etc."  That's why some play music and sing while they run.  Cheryl stopped to use the porta potti, Jon walked, and somehow Cheryl caught up with him and they stayed together.  They finished before the other two, but when they crossed the finish line, they didn't check in, they went for water, and then checked in.  So their time is after Mark's, but they really were about 5 minutes before him.

The winner was a Kenyon, Stanley Blwott at 31 minutes.  The female winner was another Kenyon, Margaret Wangari at 36 minutes.  Jamba!!!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Jesus Slaps Down Peter

This morning gospel has Peter being praised by Jesus.  Then, later on, presumably on the same day, Jesus curses Peter, "Get behind me, Satan."  Matthw 16:13-23
    Father Damien said he was reassured by Peter, because we are good and sometimes we're not.  Can't we all identify with that?
    Well, I'm not reassured.  I'm not thinking of us sometimes being good or bad, I'm thinking of God.  It's pagan gods who were fickle and one never knew what mood they'd be in.
    But not the one true God!  Maybe this quote has more to it.  "...for thou dost not mind the things of God, but those of men."
    Well, of course Peter can't think like Jesus.  Let's look again.  Jesus is explaining what will happen in the future.  The poor disciples don't have a clue.  Who would?  Jesus is explaining what will happen in Jerusalem, His passion, and death.  Anyone's reaction would be, "Oh no! Not while I'm around."  In fact, isn't it Peter who slices off the ear of the soldier who was arresting Jesus?
Get behind me Satan;you're interfering with a divine plan.   
     That's why Jesus rebuked Peter.  I hope Peter wasn't too crushed.  Jesus needed to stress that He needed to be killed.  He had to die, to be raised.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

What God told Kit

God revealed to St. Catherine of Siena, "Your Father (St. Dominic) was a light that I gave to the world by means of Mary, and He does not wish His sons to apply themselves to anything but remaining at the table of the Cross to seek with the light of Science the glory and praise of My Name alone and the the salvation of souls.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Second Pentecost

Having just come from a pilgrimage to the Beatification of Pere Lataste, I know what it means to travel with people who have taken a vow of poverty.  So I felt like one of Dominic's followers, sent forth without any Euros, car, or cell phone.  It was an experience; a wonderful experience.  God is good.

On the feast of Our Lady's Assumption, 1217, St. Dominic, in his burning zeal for the spread of Truth, sent his sixteen followers on their missions in the same manner as the Apostles, without wallet and on foot.  Saints Peter and Paul had previously appeared to St. Dominic in a vision with the command to go and preach, "for unto this has God chosen thee."  Some have referred to this dispersion of the brethren as a second Pentecost.

From Pope Honorius III to Saint Dominic on December 22, 1216:

We considering that the brethren of your Order will be the champions of the faith and true lights of the world, do confirm the Order in all its lands and possessions, present and to come, and we take the Order itself, with all its goods and rights under our protection and government.

h/t Devotions to Saint Dominic, compiled by Rev. Bertrand Wilberforce, O.P.

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Arc of St. Dominic

Yesterday, I intended to post about the tomb of St. Dominic, but I was too busy. This morning, I awoke very early (3:36 AM) and couldn't get back to sleep.

After my Morning Prayer, I decided to post.  First, I googled "Arc of St. Dominic."  It is also called the Tomb of St. Dominic.  Wikipedia's article was very interesting.

Yesterday, I would have just told you about the Ark, but today I can embellish.

When St. Dominic died, people wanted to dress the corpse in fine silks and talked of elaborate head stones.  But the friars insisted that Dominic's wishes be adhered to, i.e., bury him under the feet of his brethren.

And so Dominic's body was placed in a simple wooden coffin and put in the ground.  But in 1267, a beautiful tomb, so large that it was called an "Ark," was begun.  The Ark was added to by various artists over the centuries, so that it wasn't completed until 1768.  You can visit and see it in the Basilica of San Domenico in Bologna, Italy. 

The sarcophagus

The sarcophagus is the middle part and also the oldest part of the shrine. It contains the remains of Saint Dominic in a cypress coffin, with the exception of his head (which is preserved in the reliquary at the back of the monument). Nicola Pisano, already famous for his pulpit in the Pisa Baptistery, was asked in 1264 to construct this sarcophagus. He was certainly responsible for the design, but left the brunt of the work to his workshop, since in 1265 he was already at work on a new commission (the pulpit for the Siena Cathedral).
The front side was done in his workshop, partially by Nicola Pisano himself but mostly by his assistant Lapo di Ricevuto. and another famous sculptorArnolfo di Cambio. The Dominican brother fra Guglielmo da Pisa (who also designed in 1270 a pulpit in San Giovanni Fuorcivitas in Pistoia) made a small contribution. According to Gnudi (see ref.) an anonymous Fifth Master was also involved. A collaboration of several sculptors on a such a large commission was normal practice in medieval sculpture.
"St. Dominic resurrects the young Napoleone Orsini" (detail).
The sarcophagus recounts the life and miracles of Saint Dominic in a series of six carved panels. The compositions are neatly filled with figures in organized rows, giving a single approach to space. The sarcophagus is flanked on each corner by statues in high-relief of the Four Doctors of the Church.
The scenes are arranged in following sequence from left to right and counterclockwise:
  • On the left corner stands Paul the Apostle.
  • St. Dominic resurrects the young Napoleone Orsini, after a fatal fall from his horse. The expressive face of Saint Dominic, so different from the blander faces in this front panel, is attributed to Arnolfo di Cambio.
  • In the middle: a high-relief of A Virgin and Child.
  • The Miracle of the Book rejected by Fire, acting out a story of Dominic’s preaching in Fanjeaux, southern France, against the Albigensian heresy.
  • on the right corner St. Dominic with the Book and the Scourge.
  • The Angels bring Bread to the Friars thanks to Dominic’s Intercession, representing one of the first miracles of the saint.
  • The back of the tomb gives two scenes (each with three episodes), divided by a statue of Christ the Redeemer.
    • On the left a scene of the life of Blessed Reginald of Orléans, founder of the monastery in Bologna; the Blessed promises St Dominic to enter the Orderthe Blessed falls illthe Virgin heals him and gives him the habit of the Preaching Friars
    • on the right: St. Dominic asks pope Innocent III to approve the Orderthe pope dreams of the Saint supporting the basilica of the Lateranthe pope approves the foundation of the Order.
  • In the corner on the right: a high-relief of St. Augustine, author of the Dominican Rule.
  • The last relief gives two more episodes: The Apostles Peter and Paul appear to Saint Dominic, while he was praying in the basilica of St. Peter, and give him the staff and the Book (symbols of the Apostolic mission); the Saint sends his followers out on their mission to preach in the world.
Work on the sarcophagus was finished in 1267. This sarcophagus, originally with its caryatid supports, was taken as model for other tombs: the shrine of St Peter Martyr in the basilica of San Eustorgio in Milan, the shrine of St Luke (1316) in the basilica of San Giustina in Padua and the tomb of Beato Bertrando (c. 1334-1350) in Udine.

The crowning

The elaborate spire.
The ambitious addition of a crowning to the sarcophagus was commissioned in 1469 to Niccolò da Bari to complete this funeral monument. Work at this elaborate spire continued till 1473. But it is not clear why Niccolò did not complete his contract, even if he did continue intermittently at it until his 1494.
On top of a candelabrum, rising from the cyma, stands the impressive statue of the Eternal Father. The candelabrum is held by two putti, symbols of the sky, and four dolphins, symbols of the sea, all covered with festoons with fruit, symbols of the earth.
On the cornice at its base is in the middle a small Pietà, flanked by two winged angels (the Angel of the Annunciation and the Angel of the Passion), while on the four corners stand the four Evangelists in oriental robes. The lower part of the cyma is surrounded by several free-standing figures, the Patron Saints of Bologna: Saint Francis of AssisiSan Petronio (began by Niccolò but finished by young Michelangelo in 1494), Saint Dominic andSaint Florian. On the back stand the statues St Anne, St John the Baptist (sculpted by Girolamo Cortellini in 1539), San Vitale and San Procolo (Michelangelo, 1494 – the resemblance and the posture of this statue shows that he had already his "David" in mind at that time).
San Proculo (by Michelangelo).
Niccolò also added the delicate Candlestick-holding Angel on the left side of the altar slab, below the sarcophagus, while the one on the right side with its youthful strength is by Michelangelo. Michelangelo was paid thirty ducats by his patron Francesco Aldovrandi.
Because of the admiration he received for this splendid masterpiece, he was renamed Niccolò dell'Arca. Art critics perceive in this masterpiece a blend of influences: Burgundian, Florentine and non-Tuscan (such as details in clothing). The way these statuettes express their emotions and the patterns in their dresses and hair evoke the style of Jacopo della Quercia

[edit]The step

The step, between the sarcophagus and the altar slab, was the third addition to the monument. It was sculpted in 1532 by Alfonso Lombardi (1497–1547). Again it depicts a number of episodes form the life of Saint Dominic.
  • front: (left) St Dominic’s birth; the young Dominic sleeping on the floor as a penanceSaint Dominic shows his charity by selling his valuable hand-glossed parchments to help the poor (while he was studying in Palencia)
  • front (middle part) The Adoration of the Magi (with the inscription: Alphonsus de Lombardis Ferraniensis F(ecit))
  • front (right) The Saint is taken to Heaven on a ladder supported by Christ and the Virgin.

[edit]The altar

The marble altar was the last addition to the Arca. It was designed by Mauro Tesi (1730–1766) and later built by Alessandro Salviolini in 1768. On the altar slab stand the two statuettes of the angels holding a candlestick; on the left by Niccolò dell'Arca, on the right by Michelangelo.
The reliquary.
The frontal was sculpted in G. Battista Boudard's workshop in Parma in 1768. It represents St. Dominic's Burial, as designed by Carlo Bianconi (1732–1802).

[edit]The reliquary

Behind the altar, under the sarcophagus is a small chapel, protected by a bronze grill, containing the precious reliquary with the head of Saint Dominic. This masterpiece of gold and silver is the work of the goldsmith Jacopo Roseto da Bologna (1383). Its octagonal base is adorned with elaborate enamelled panels, related to events in the life of the saint. The shaft consists of three levels. It stands in the middle of a circle with winged angels. The shaft supports an octagonal temple, containing the head. It is adorned with Gothic windows and small statuettes in niches. The silver bust of the Saint crowns the whole, but it was added in a later stage.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Dominican Chaplet

Traditionally, on the old calendar, today, August 4th, is the Feast of St. Dominic.  Now, however, we celebrate St. Dominic's Feast on August 8th.

One time, when I was a Postulant, I came across a book of chaplets.  Inside was a Dominican Chaplet.  I have never been able to find out any information regarding its origin, or even where to purchase one.  In fact, no one seems to know anything about it.  I even wrote to the book's publisher, and received no response.  Hence, I concluded that the authors made this chaplet up.

Even so, I like it.  The accompanying picture of chaplets, on the left, obviously are not to what I'm referring.  The Dominican Chaplet consists of 15 beads:

A Crucifix, then one white bead for the intentions of the Holy Father.  Then a scapular medallion, followed by:

5 blue beads for the Joys of Jesus and Mary,

5 black beads for the Sorrows of Jesus and Mary,

5 gold beads for the Glories of Jesus and Mary,

then you'll be back to the white bead.  This time say a prayer for the intentions of the Master General.


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Argonauta Picks

As usual, the Argonauta Book Club ate a gourmet brunch at Jayne's. Here are this year's picks:

The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman

The Hangman's Daughter by Oliver Patzsch

Wench by Dolen by Perkins-Valdez

A Thousand Mornings by Mary Oliver

the Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

Beyond the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo

The Dovekeeper by Alice Hoffman

Little Bee by Chris Cleave

I know the spelling is bad but we'll still be able to access the books.  Can't wait to read them!

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