Wednesday, 31 December 2008

O God, you are my God, for you I long

While starting my morning prayer this morning I was really touched once more by Psalm 62:

O God, you are my God, for you I long;
for you my soul is thirsting.
My body pines for you
like a dry, weary land without water.
So I gaze on you in the sanctuary
to see your strength and your glory.

For your love is better than life,
my lips will speak your praise.
So I will bless you all my life,
in your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul shall be filled as with a banquet,
my mouth shall praise you with joy.

On my bed I remember you.
On you I muse through the night
for your have been my help;
in the shadow of your wings I rejoice.
My soul clings to you;
your right hand holds me fast.


I always feel that this psalm really sums up the yearning of our hearts for God...
... something beyond words!

Also, I would like to wish all the readers of this blog a very joyfull New Year!

Friday, 26 December 2008

First Vespers of Christmas

A recording of the first Vespers of Christmas in the Dominican Priory St. Saviours, Dublin, Ireland.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Happy Christmas

I just want to wish any reader of this blog a very happy Christmas!

My intention is to start to post at least on a weekly basis on this blog to give it a bit more life, and I do appoligy for the lack of activity in recent times.

The Youth 2000 retreat in Newbridge was a great success and over 500 young people participated in this great event. With a bit of luck, there will be some video footage available shortly.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Youth 2000 Christmas Retreat

For the people who visit my blog once and a while, I want to apology for the lack of activity... there are just a few small projects beside the study that take a bit of time...

I will try and take up the thread some time in the near future again!

Anyway, I just wanted to make a quick post to bring to attention the Youth 2000 Christmas retreat, which is held in Newbridge College coming weekend. As this is one of the biggest and most joyful annual Catholic youth gatherings it is a weekend to really look forward too!

Hopefully I will be able to post some impressions of the retreat afterwards!
For more information look on the Youth 2000 website!

Friday, 28 November 2008

Response to these signs

Every year, young and not so young men approach the Dominicans considering the possibility that they might be called to join in our work and mission.

If anybody feels to call to serve the Lord, possibly by the way of Dominic or any other way, it is strongly encouraged to come and see us in action in our daily lives.

This is organised generally by the director of vocations. It is through the experience of living our life of prayer and community that you will begin to understand our way of life. We warmly welcome those who are genuinely interested to share our life.

Each and every Dominican is called to invite people to come and join our way of life. With this in mind, you are encouraged to talk to any of the friars about the possibility of becoming a Dominican. They will in turn put you in contact with the director of vocations. He will be very happy to meet with you and help you with the discernment of your call or vocation.

Ultimately, the responsibility for your response to God’s call depends on you! In return, the Order, through the Vocations Director, will help in whatever way it can.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Signs of a Vocaton

Many people during their lives consider the possibility of priesthood or religious life and fail to do anything about it. Sometimes people feel inadequate or ill-equipped to take on the task of following God in this special way. This is quite normal!

Indeed, one does not have to be a theologian or philosopher or indeed to have reached the great spiritual heights. What is very important, though, is to be open to the call of God in your life. This means that, to be truly open to God’s call, those considering the Dominican way of life should be people of prayer and faith.

It is only when we are receptive of God’s word and action in our lives that we can begin to be open to His call to us. It is said of Saint Dominic that he always spoke to or about God during his life. This remarkable aspect of our founder’s life could be the springboard to understand God’s call in your life.

It is very important that we make an attempt at answering this call – and not just leave it to others, because you are called by God personally. Remember, you will have many reasons for join the Order, but it is vital to ensure that your reasons are grounded in prayer and faith

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

How do I know that I am called?

This is a difficult question to answer!
We are all familiar with the story of Saint Paul on the road to Damascus (Acts of the Apostles, chapter 9) where he encountered God and was called.

It is the story of a truly inspiring and dramatic calling, one that is out of the ordinary. And perhaps it is that word ‘ordinary’ that we should focus on here. Remember, when Jesus called the first disciples, they were ordinary men going about their ordinary business. But called by the Lord, they certainly were.

If you ask any Dominican, or indeed religious, how we were called you will find many different answers. But there is one common thread that links us together – the desire to preach the Word of God!

All through history, God has been calling ordinary people to do extraordinary things.
If you feel that you have a strong desire to share your faith with others, to open up the mystery of God for people, a willingness to be on the side of those who are oppressed and a passion for justice through preaching the Gospel, then perhaps God is inviting you to follow in the footsteps of Saint Dominic.

All of us are called to proclaim the Gospel by the nature of our baptism, but living it in faith and trust and mutual support of others who share that same ideal could prompt you to understand that God is calling you in a unique way – the Dominican way.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

The Dominican Vocation

The call to become a Dominican friar comes from God. People seek to serve the Lord in varied ways, but when a person is really passionate about the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and bringing people closer to God by spreading that same Gospel, then the question of serving as a Dominican becomes a real one.

When the Order was founded by Saint Dominic in the early thirteenth century, the Church gave a mandate to the newly established Order to preach and to save souls, and ths has been the concern of the generations of Dominicans since that time.

The Dominican vocation to preach leads members of the Order into many varied ministries. Around the world, the friars are preaching through the pulpit, through the mission and retreat apostolate, through the mass media and the printed word, through the arts, in solidarity with the poor, in parishes, chaplaincies to universities, hospitals and armies.

The Dominicans have been faithful to this call to preaching as well.
The Dominican vocation to save souls leads members of the Order to engage with people beyond formal preaching, at a ministerial level, through the sacraments of the Church. Dominican friars, ordained and non-ordained, are involved in preparing the people of God for the sacraments and are indeed ministers of God, bring His people close to him. The Irish Dominicans fulfil this obligation in diverse ways.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Video of the Reception of Habit

We had three men starting the noviciate with the Irish Dominicans on the 14th of September. On this day they received the habit, and the short video clip below is a summary of this event.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Out of my diary...

Well not strictly out of my diary, but I found the following notes in an old notepad, and decided to throw them on this blog. Not that there are anything special, but for me it was very touching to again read the notes...

10-01-2004:
Brian [who joined the Dominicans the September following] gave everybody an invitation at the Legion of Mary meeting on Tuesday to go up to the young people's retreat of the Marian Movement of Priest, held every 2nd weekend in January in Dublin. I was very tired through out the week, as it was very busy at work and with the Legion of Mary, but decided to go to this retreat on the last moment, even though it did go against energy levels, logic and time, and I was wondering why I was so mad...When we arrived in All Hollows, Dublin, I felt however straight away a great peace, and had the sense I was on the right place...

During the weekend I had a talk with Fr. Gerry McClosky and told him about my conversion to Catholicism and my baptism, confirmation and first holy communion during Easter just the past uear. As a result he asked me to give a short testimony during one of the talks given at the retreat, which caught me by surprise, but I tried to do my best to tell mt story

On the Saturday evening there was Eucharistic Adoration, and the thought of a vocation started to be very strongly roused up again in my heart. I decided to go to confession and also to ask for some spiritual direction in this matter. Brian mentioned earlier that some people are too focused on marriage and don't hear the call of God in their lives, and I was wondering if I was becoming one of them. I had a good chat with Fr. Gerry, and he said to me that he would never put somebody off the desernment of a vocation [even as I had a girlfriend at the time] and to pray about it.


So now the next step is that I have to pray and ask what the Lord wants me to do with my life.


This is now almost 5 years ago, and for me personally it was very strinking to read it back. It reminds and confirms that I have felt the call to serve God through the priesthood (and religious life) from the very start of being a Catholic, something I often forget...

I can remember that shortly after this retreat I contacted the Fr. Gerard Dunne OP, our Vocations Director, for the first time to talk about my vocation. After that I put the whole idea on ice for a while, and it would be almost three years before my next contact with him after that...

Friday, 17 October 2008

Dominican nuns on RTÉ

Two nuns from the enclosed Dominican monastery of St Catherine of Siena, near Drogheda town, were interviewed on RTÉ 1 television last Monday.

Srs Niamh and M. Teresa were interviewed by TV presenters Gràinne and Síle Seoige about their lives, families and religious vocations.

The full 40 minute Seoige programme can be viewed until 3rd November 2008 (within the island of Ireland only) at the web address below. The interview runs from 1 min 30 sec to 12 min. http://www.rte.ie/tv/seoige/av_20081013.html

Dominican Pilgrimage to Knock

Last Sunday was as mentioned the National Dominican Pilgramidge to Knock, co. Mayo in Ireland. Please find below some video footage of the day:

Friday, 10 October 2008

Dominican Pilgrimage to Knock

This weekend (12th November) is the national Dominican Pilgrimage to Knock Shrine, traditionally the last main pilgrimage of the season.

So I would like to invite everybody to join us during this day of prayer!

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

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Video of the professions

You find below the video summary of the 3 simple and 3 solemn profession which were made on the 15th of September in St. Mary's Priory in Tallaght, Ireland. It was a great day, hopefully the video will give a sense of this occasion:

Short reflection on last Sundays reading

All the readings last Sunday were centered around the idea of the Vintage. This image is often used in connection with the kingdom of God, and the tenants the people who take care of the vintage here on earth, in Jesus His time most often referred to the priest, scribes and Pharisees. In our time this could correspond with the priestly ministry and people in charge of formation etc. Actually, in a way it reveres to all Christians, as we are all apostolic by virtue of our baptism.

It can be very striking, and in a way scary, to read the readings with this kept in mind... and it allows us to look at our own lives and see if we try to life up to the expectations.

I want to make a short comment on the first reading (Isaiah 5:1-7), especially the first two lines:
My beloved had a vineyardon a very fertile hill. He digged it and cleared it of stones,and planted it with choice vines;he built a watchtower in the midst of it,and hewed out a wine vat in it;and he looked for it to yield grapes,but it yielded wild grapes.

I really shows the love God has for us, for each one of us. He chooses a very fertile plot of land, and does everything he can to make the choice vine (us, me) to grow and produce the best fruit. However, the result is not according to the love that went into the vine, and it only produced wild (or sour) grapes.

God does everything He can reasonably while respecting our free will, he makes everything perfect for us to blossom, but we don't live up to the expected result (not the result God expects, but the result you would reasonable expect looking at the virues given). We don't accept the love and care of God... the challenge here, or more the invitation in my eyes, is to embrace God's love. It is to accept and appreciate all the care God has for us, and to embrace Him, growing into the fullness of love with Him.

Coming back then to the responsibility of the tenders, and to reach out to bring others to God, we will not fail to do this with the love which comes from accepting all God's care. This will shine out from us. We are planted on the fertile soil and in this way will at the end produce choice grapes.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Domain names

Two days ago I discovered that I had two domain names registered to my name which are not in use any more (the original content was stored on a server which has gone offline).

The first domain name is http://www.witnesschrist.com, which I linked to this blog (on top of http://trustongod.blogspot.com which will still work as normal!).

The second is http://www.christianevidence.com, a website I created 5 years ago with articles regards the dialog between science and religion, mainly focusing to show God's existence through science. I just created an empty blog just to point the domain name to, but don't think I have time to build up the blog myself (except maybe putting some draft articles up).

So if there is anybody who by "accident" lands on my blog and would be interested in editing it, please let me know through posting a coment!!!

Friday, 3 October 2008

Video of the Homily of the Mass for the opening of the study year

We recorded the Mass that was said at the opening of the study year, here in our Dominican Priory, St. Saviour's in Dublin. Below is a recording of the homaly Fr. John Harris OP gave during the mass, with some footage on the background of the mass itself.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Gospel 26th Week in Ordinary time

Last Thursday I had a first look at today's Gospel (Mt 21:28-32) during the Slovak prayer meeting here in St. Saviour's Priory, Dublin. The biggest part of this meeting is focused on Lectio Devina, looking at the Gospel of the coming Sunday.

At that time I was struck by the second son who after being ask to go to the vineyard replies "I go sir", but he didn't go. It struck me that he gives a very formal reply to his father, but doesn't mean it, which makes it very cold. It also reminded me about myself often saying wanting to do things, and sometimes promising things to do, but at the end don't do it, or even from the start didn't really want to do it or having no intention to do it. In contrast the first son was very different. He didn't want to go, and said that. He didn't give a formal, political anwser, but a straight one face to face. He however then felt bad about it and changed his mind, and ended up doing the will of the father.

Since then I have been looking more into the text and more conscious noticed the word "vineyard". This Sunday is in Ireland specifically dedicated for awareness of vocations, and the vineyard can be easily connected to the labourers the Lord calls to work in His vineyard.

With this thought on the passage we see that the Lord is calling His laborers to work in His vineyard, and now the reaction of the second son is even more striking. He says "I go, sir", but he doesn't! The word used in Greek is κυριε, which can mean sir in addresses, but is most often used for Lord (the Vulgate uses the word Domine), and so the Father who asks him to work is God.

At the end of the gospel the Lord tells the chief priest and elders that they did not belief and followed John the Baptist when he came in the way of righteous. The tax collectors and prostitutes changed their way but they did not want to change their ways to the righteous one, doing the will of the Lord.

I see this as an address to myself, being a student with the Dominicans. I often do say "Yes, Lord, I go Lord", but do I keep my promises? Do I really do it, and do I life the way of righteous, or are they just empty words, like we often see Jesus pointing out about the Pharisees.

"Not every one who says to me, `Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven" (Mt 7:21) and "Why do you call me `Lord, Lord,' and not do what I tell you?" (Lk 6:46) .

It is important that we don't lose sight of ourselves, as the Lord so often warns us. That we start pointing fingers at others, and don't life the righteous life ourselves. That we make promises to the Lord, but because it is not to a physical person we soon forget about those promisses. I am looking here particularly to myself@

Finally let us pray for vocations, on this day specially dedicated to it in Ireland!

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Why revelation is necessary

We started our introduction on the Summa, and I intend to post a few of short thoughts on my blog now and then. The first is on Prima Pars, Question 1, Article 1 (I q1. a1). St. Thomas is arguing that the philosophical sciences are not enough to come to know God.

Although we can discover God through reason, as God is reason, St. Thomas argues that only with reason as a tool to come to know God it would proof very difficult for most people to find Him. Not all are skilled in the art of reason, and many might be deceived. Also, it would be only known to the few who can afford to spend the amount of time required to discovering God. Since the knowledge of God is essential for man's salvation it follows that philosophy alone in not enough.

Apart from helping us to find God revelation also makes it possible to make known things about God who we cannot otherwise know. One reason is that our reasoning is inferior to God, so we cannot understand everything that is Gods. The ancient philosophers had an understanding of "a god" that was supreme over all created things, but not on who or what this god is. Therefore revelation is required for us to understand more about this God, and to know him better even to the point that we can have a personal relation with Him.

It is important to keep in mind though, that with revelation comes faith, so what is revealed by God then must be accepted by faith! When we do this however and open our hearts to God, we start trusting Him and walk with Him, our lives are completely transformed as God reveals more and more of Himself to us!

Friday, 26 September 2008

Opening of the college year

Last Tuesday we celebrated the Mass for the Opening of the college year, and Wednesday we started our first classes. Fr. John Harris OP came into the first class to bless the classroom, and as part of the small ceremony used a piece of scripture of which the following is an abstract (1 Cor 1 if I remember correctly):

For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
For consider your call, brethren; not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth; but God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong, God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom, our righteousness and sanctification and redemption; therefore, as it is written, "Let him who boasts, boast of the Lord."


When this was read out it did strike me in a profound way. Particular the emphasis on the lack of the wisdom of our selves, but the grace that comes forth out of a true relationship with Christ. "God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise". It reminded me of St. Thomas Aquinas and his emphasis on prayer, it reminded me that theology is done on ones knees, in communion with God.

I think it was a very fitting reading as a reminder that we are doing everything for the greater glory of Christ, and not for our own glory. We do it to personally come closer to Christ. In the Dominican tradition, we contemplate Christ, and bring the fruits of this contemplation to others: contemplari et comtemplata aliis tradere.

It is hard to say why this piece of scripture made such a particular impression, something I cannot bring to words, but I know that I am really looking forward to this year of studies to deepening my understanding and relation with God, and I trust in His help during the year.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Three vestition and six professions in two days!

Three vestition and six professions in two days! It was a great weekend for the Irish Dominican Provence! Last Sunday we received three men into the noviciate with the clothing ceremony, in which the men get the habit of the Dominican order.

Then yesterday, Monday the 15th, six of us made our profession of obedience, poverty and chastity to the Irish Province. Three of us finished the noviciate and made our first 'simple' profession for a few years, and three brothers made their 'solemn' professions for the rest oft their lives.

I myself made profession for three years and afterwards moved to Dublin to start my studies! It was a great day a a great witness to hope for the (Irish) Catholic church! It shows there is real life in the church!

I hope to write some more about our profession day as soon as I am settled in into my new home! Some pictures about both days can be found on our website: http://www.dominicanfriars.ie/gallery/events.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Pictures of the Pilgramige

I uploaded some pictures of the pilgrimage to Picassa, so anyone interested can have a look. I didn't make that many however, as I always feel that I don't really get a good sense of a place if I am only making foto's...

http://picasaweb.google.com/luukajansen/DominicSCountry

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Trip to Dominics Country

I have been away from my computer for almost three weeks now!
What a blessing! I must say I didn't miss it at all...

Now a short post on our pilgrimage to places in the South of France and North of Spain where St. Dominic was born and started to preach the Gospel... hence we call it Dominic's country.
Our trip started by arriving by plane in Carcassonne after which we travelled and stayed in Prouille, visited Fanjeaux, Toulouse, Caleruega (Spain) and ended the 10 day trip in Lourdes.
It was very enjoyable to join in prayer with the Dominicans from all the different countries while visiting these places of pilgrimage.

The trip was a real spiritual journey I found. Although we did a lot of travelling, I found it very touching to walk on the same paths and stay in the same places where our holy father St. Dominic has been 800 years ago.

Especially Caleruega was very special in eyes. Here, the birthplace of St. Dominic, he has grown up, and learned to pray and grew in love of God. Then after his studies for the priesthood he lived for quite a long time a relatively sheltered and contemplative live as a Canon in the cathedral of Osma, which we visited. It was only then, after growing in knowledge and love of God through contemplation that he embarked on the preaching mission as he discovered the need for this on a mission with his bishop which guided them through the south of France.

Once more I really felt this as being the way I am called too. St. Dominic shared the fruit of his years of study and contemplation, and his intimate relation with, and love for God with others through his preaching. It is this love that radiated from him that made him such a powerful preacher. That is in my eyes the example, that not only we as Dominicans but all Christians, should have in front of us: we share the fruits of our contemplation, so that our contemplation might bear fruit in others!
If we are genuinely seeking God and spent time with Him, He will fill our hearts with His love and make our inner being yearn for Him like a dear yearns for a running stream! Deep down we will feel the peace of knowing Christ, and others around us in our daily lives, will notice this and will start to yearn for this as well! In this way the light of Christ will shine through us!

I truly loved being around these places, and would have loved to spent more time there!

Monday, 4 August 2008

Pilgrimage to France

The noviciate is going on Pilgrimage the the South of France and the north of Spain. We are going to visit the birthplace of the Dominican order, and the areas where St. Dominic first started with only a few followers to preach the Gospel.

I am really looking to seeing the first foundations and a deeper sense of St. Dominic's spirituality. As I might have mentioned before, I didn't join the Dominican order because I had a particular devotion to them or to the founder, St. Dominic, but just because that is where I was lead in my vocation. It was only after I decided to join and during this past year that I learned about St. Dominic, and I must say that it has been a real surprise how well the founders spirituality appeals to me.

St Dominic really had a very intimate relationship with the Lord, and was in particular devoted to St. Matthews Gospel which he was said always to carry with him. Through a quite contemplative life in the start, he discovered the need for preaching in the heresy struck South of France. Through a combination of Preaching, Study and Contemplation he lived the pure message of the Gospel with a very simple life style, and in this way was a beautiful witness to the love of Christ. Through night long vigils, followed by action during the day he did in a relative short time a lot of work in the vineyard of the Lord! St. Dominic, please pray for us!

---

Straight after we will be back we will be a week at Knockadoon Camp, for the Folk Liturgy week, so I am afraid there won't be much posting between know and 24th of August!!

Please keep our journeys in your prayers.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

The Gospel of Today: vijf loaves, two fishes and vijfthousand men

In the gospel of today we read the story in which Jesus gives five thousand with men to eat with five loaves and two fish and "they all ate and were satisfied". (Mt 14:13 - 21). This is one of many miracles which Jesus performs. It is also one of the stories where eyebrows are frequently raised. I have people hear speaking concerning this story who said that it is in fact a tale of sharing. That all people themselves had food with them, and that they shared everything together and then there was enough for everyone.

Now, I agree that sharing is an important aspect of this story, but then in sharing at the table of the Lord. This is foreshadowing of the Eucharist, the breaking of the bread, and the communion of all people together from the one source. By reducing this wonder to an ordinary picnic we miss the important message of sharing from the one source, the all giving God!

Also, I do not get why some people have problems with the fact that Jesus shares the five loaves and two fish with the five thousand? Don't we believe in one god, who has made the heaven and the earth? Where is the problem then that this God gives five thousand people to eat? This is the God who has made everything we see and keeps all things in being! If we raise our eyebrows at such a tale I think we should firstly question ourselves and see where we really believe in, and what our image of God is!

Finally I want to look at the first line: "Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a lonely place apart". Jesus heard that John the Baptist, His cousin, was decapitated because he preached the Truth, and He wanted to be alone to pray. We see him frequently going to pray (Mt 14:23, Mk 6:46, Lk 6:12) and we see here again that it is important to pray. That it is important find a place where we can be quiet so that God can speak in the silence of our heart. In this case we see that Jesus wants to be alone to accept the news, to get consolation through his prayer, his communication with the father, and to get the strength to continue and to proclaim the good news.

Thursday, 31 July 2008

The week after...

It is already nearing the end of the week after the Knock Youth Festival, but I still wanted to do a quick post. Yesterday and today the same gospel is read at daily mass as was at last Sunday which reminded me of the weekend: the parables about the treasure in the field and of the merchant looking for fine pearls (Mt 13:44-52)... it was a very suitable gospel for the weekend, and the bishop had a very enjoyable homily at the closing mass!

Although the retreat was a bit different than I am used to being organised by the Knock Youth Ministry the weekend was a great success. I must confess that I like the more Eucharistic centered approach of Youth 2000, but maybe that is because I become less young. From all over Ireland Young People gathered and there was a lot of joy in the air! Being there only for a bit of the festival I didn't get to most of the talks, but really enjoyed the parts I was able to attend!

It is always great to see a lot of friends at these gatherings. Moreover I once more like to say that this shows that there is a big interest in our Faith. Also there are people called to be ministers of the faith, to the priesthood and religious life, as I talked to a few of the young who inquired about religious life! Still young people find the fine peal and go off happy to sell everything they have to obtain the pearl!

Friday, 25 July 2008

Catholic Youth Festivals

As a lot of people in Ireland know, the Knock Youth Festival is on this weekend, or actually from yesterday, the 24th 2oo8 until Sunday. It is expected that there will be gathering over a 1000 young people during these 4 days in the National Shrine in Knock. Last year was really a time of grace and great joy! Hopefully there will be some video footage and pictures available soon for you who might not be able to make it there!

Also, on the 14th to the 17th of August the Youth 2000 Summer Festival is on, organised, as the name suggests, by Youth 2000 Ireland. This promises to be a great event also focused on deepening ones belief in God and bringing young people back to their faith through a few days of joyful emerging in Gods love! I would encourage anybody to go down if in any way possible!

Please keep these two events in your prayers also, as they are depending on providence and a lot of God's grace to make both weekends an success! "Unless the LORD builds the house,those who build it labor in vain.Unless the LORD watches over the city,the watchman stays awake in vain" (Ps 127)

Sunday, 20 July 2008

The darnels are allowed to grow among the wheat

Just a very short reflection on the Gospel today (Mt 13:24-34), in specific the parable of the wheat and the darnels:

Another parable he put before them, saying, "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the householder came and said to him, `Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then has it weeds?' He said to them, `An enemy has done this.' The servants said to him, `Then do you want us to go and gather them?' But he said, `No; lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.'" (Mt 13:24-30 from the RSV)

In the explanation of this parable we read that the Lord explains that the good seed are the subjects of the kingdom of God. The darnels, the bad seed, the subjects of the devil.
Most striking is however that Jesus, the Son of Man and sower of the good seed, says that his servants, the angels, are not allowed to root up the darnels, but must allow them to grow together with the wheat. Then at the time of the harvest they will be separated and the darnels, the subjects of the evil one, will be thrown in the blazing furnace. The subjects of the Kingdom of God on the other hand will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.

This is how it is in the world, good and evil are both allowed to persevere, God does not intervene as to root out evil. All are allowed to grow up together for fear that rooting out the darnels it might also damage the wheat. If all evil would be rooted up straight away, for a starters there would not be a possibility for people to turn from evil ways. But more important it will also influence the way the good people life. God stays in a way at a distance to allow His subjects to develop into grown wheat, and cannot disturb this process! These seeds can then bring forth "some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty" (Mt 13:8).

We all have free choice, and it is at the end of our lives that we make an account of our free choices. That is why God cannot intervene as that would take away our free choice. The reward is there however at the end, as is often made clear, and in this life we can have the joy of choosing freely to have a relation with God, and share in the joy of His love!

Learning to read the NT in Greek

As I noticed that my post about learning New Testament Greek with Word frequency is often visited I also wanted to mention that I found the following edition of the New Testament very helpful: "A Reader's Greek New Testament", published by Zondervan.


It is a UBS based Greek NT but has every word which is used less than 30 times translated into English at the bottom of the page. This is very helpful in starting to read the text.


Where interlinear can make one too lazy, this is a really good help. I am not a very quick learner of languages, and as such try to read every day the Gospel of the day in Greek to work on my Vocabulary, but fairly soon after starting to learn the words occurring more than 30 times it is possible to make sense out of the text!


The ISBN is 0-310-24888-4, and is available fom Amazone.

Update: I now have an iPhone/iPad/iTouch App in the AppStore, which makes it very easy to practice vocabulary. It includes Latin, Greek and Hebrew: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/idoms-vocab/id493804005?mt=8

Friday, 18 July 2008

Some thought out of the opening speech of WYD 2008

Just being back from my short visit to the Netherlands, I was reflecting on what it is to be a Catholic. I became only a Catholic very recent, and this makes me want to share this joy with others. But then some of my friends mentioned in conversation more or less that they don't mind people who believe, but they don't want to be disturbed by them...

This morning I had a quick read through the Popes opening address at the World Youth Day in Sydney. He said: "There are many today who claim that God should be left on the sidelines, and that religion and faith, while fine for individuals, should either be excluded from the public forum altogether or included only in the pursuit of limited pragmatic goals". This really hit a cord with me.

He continues to say something about a society where God is amiss: "When God is eclipsed, our ability to recognize the natural order, purpose, and the “good” begins to wane. What was ostensibly promoted as human ingenuity soon manifests itself as folly, greed and selfish exploitation". I think that we can also see this in our societies!

We live in a agnostic world so it seems, and in the Netherlands possibly a bit more than in Ireland. People do not care or do not want to know about God. They want to live their individual/own lives and not be bothered. The problem is however that society starts to fall apart if we start to loose or focus as the pope points out!

Pope Benedict XVI then said: "Our world has grown weary of greed, exploitation and division, of the tedium of false idols and piecemeal responses, and the pain of false promises. Our hearts and minds are yearning for a vision of life where love endures, where gifts are shared, where unity is built, where freedom finds meaning in truth, and where identity is found in respectful communion".

I do belief every human being is getting weary of this way of live, and are all yearning for love, for everything that is "true, good and beautiful" as the pope says it. But how to let them find it if they don't want to be bothered by the message? That is where I think we have to take a leafe out of the books of the early Christians. People saw the joy and love in the Christian community and wanted to join in. We have to become holy, we have to become one with Christ, and have His love and joy in our hearts, in our souls. Then this light will shine out of us and others will see it! They will see the joy and they will yearn for it themselves... then it is time to take the next step of actually helping them to find it!

(Quotes from the pope are coming from the vatican website)

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Mass @home

I just want to put short note on the blog this weekend, as I intent to write at least one post a week, where possible connected with the Sunday gospel.

However, this week I want to particularly ask for prayers for vocations in the Netherlands. I am home for a very short visit, and went to Sunday mass. Now, in the Netherlands this means that there is not always a priest available to say the mass, especially in the north as there is a real shortage of priests. In my local parish there is no priest either, and there is usually a Word and Communion service.

However, I travelled a bit of a distance to another city and decided to go to mass there. And indeed there were multiple priests there, but to my full surprise the mass was not celebrated. The service was not lead by a priest, which I assume was a ceremony of Word and Communion, while at least three priest were present in the congregation and choir! I must say that I do not have words for the disappointment of seeing this happening...

As most readers of this blog know I am a relatively recent convert and that I belief in the authentic teachings of the Catholic Church. I understand the strain certain parishes are under with the lack of priest, but I cannot understand why there is no mass celebrated when this is possible? The biggest gift our Lord left us is our anticipation in this sacrifice which is made present to us in the mass, while He gives us His sacred body and blood! What happened to the richness of this sacrament?

If it is said that young people are not interested in going to the Church here in the Netherlands then I experienced at least one reason why not, because I wouldn't go back. Sunday mass is not just a coming together, it is a solemn calibration of our faith. Nowadays young people don't come anymore because of habit, if they come they come because they find something genuine, and they know when it is genuine!

So sorry for this rand, but I just want to share these few thoughts! In this (Irish) year of vocations, set us pray for Holy and genuine priests... and for the brethren!

Blog in Dutch

Just a short remark that I also started a blog in Dutch. I intend to put a few articles on this blog and to see if there will be any visitors. So, if you are Dutch speaking, please leave a comment on this blog so I know it is worth putting more effort in it! The address: http://vertrouwopgod.blogspot.com/

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Why do so few people see the fullness of life?

We read in this Sundays gospel: "I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children" (Mt 11:25). This just struck me, especially as I am going home at the end of the week to visit my family in the Netherlands.

Since becoming a Catholic I am so often amazed, and dumbfounded, by the very very small amount of people who actually see the fullness of our faith and and live it! In my eyes it makes so much sense, and it is so clear that the teaching of the Church are not just rules to bind people but the roadmap to a happy life on this earth and happiness hereafter. And even better, it is not just a set of very good developed set of moral teachings to make us good neighbours, it is an offer of a relation with the one living God, the only one who can give us the fullness of life. To me this is all so clear now I am living it...

It is so often said to me, often by friends who do not belief, that the church is almost dead and every week churches are closed (that is in the Netherlands). To them it is obvious that belief in God is proven a hoax. I don't know any details about the statement of the churches being closed, and the reasons for that. But I often ask myself looking around our church here in Ireland and wonder how many people coming to the church do really belief and grasp the treasure of our faith. How many people do really have a real living and loving relationship with our Lord, who many really know Him face to face soto speak?

Maybe the gospel can help us here a bit, as it says that it is the mere children who grasp it, not the learned and the clever. It are not the people who have all the answers and think they know everything, can think they can explain everything, but the people who are mere children, who look around them and see and experience the beauty of God and who understand the mystery of our being in a more profound way than any learned man ever can.

I think it is more and more important that we start telling people about the treasures of our Catholic Faith. I read a small article about WYD in Sydney, and a interview about an Australian couple who gives instruction in marital and sexual relationships. Jonathan Doyle explained that he and his wife (Karen) will share personally about the real-life implications of theology of the body, and will draw from Karol Wojtyla's "Love and Responsibility." They will help young people to find what genuine love is, something they are yearning for...

This is what we need! Myself being a novice in the Dominican Order, and hopefully with God's grace will continue to be a priest, will have to play my small part as an ordained minister, but becoming much more important is the day-to-day witness of lay people who live a life with God every day, and life it to the full! That is what it is about, to have the joy of God in every moment of our day! This is a witness we as religious can not really give, as we for a start don't life in the world and don't have certain experiences and because it becomes more and more difficult to actually get in contact with people... it is the genuine witness, the genuine love of God that will shine out through his followers "are the light of the world" (Mt 5:14).

In the meanwhile I pray to the Lord: Let me be a little child Lord! That I may see you glory!
(Any comments are welcome!)

Monday, 30 June 2008

Legion of Mary Youth Conference

I am embarrassed again to see that it has been more than a month since my last post... also the event I have been intending to post about has already been over for more than a week...

Anyhow, I just want to make a short remark about the Legion of Mary Youth Conference in All Hallows lat weekend. I have attended this conference for the last few years, and every year come away with great joy. This year I was only able to be there on the Saturday, as we had a Dominican Ordination on Sunday down in county Wexford. It was great to see so many familiar faces, and there was hardly a time in the day that I wasn't trying to catch up with somebody or to make some new friends... really great to see so many young people together!

I just want to make a quick remark about the address Bishop Seamus Freeman from Ossory at the start of the conference, which is exactly in my street as he stressed the importance of prayer if we are talking about evangelising. He said it is very important that we pray together and are a community in that way, like we did when we started the day by praying the Rosary together.
Also he stressed that evangelising has be focused on the crisis in the family, and the "attach" the family is under these days. He said that if the family table is empty the Eucharistic table is empty as well.
Both those points, among other inspiring points, really resonated with me. First off all I am a very strong believer of the importance of prayer. I have seen it with the work I did with the Legion of Mary that if our prayer lives slack, the "result" of our works quickly follow. "Unless the Lord builds the house,those who build it labor in vain" (Psalm 127), so we better keep the Lord involved in building the house!
Also, the core of Christianity is the family. It is important that modern society realised that the family is the core of our society. The family is living in a way which is in some kind of way an imitation of the life of the Trinity. When the family breaks down eventually so will society, as I think we can start to see around us. We have to always stress the importance of the family, and this can be in any way of life we are living, at work, in college or with friends... Indeed I think the Bishop is right that we have to start to put more attention to promoting the family.
Evangelising is often seen as converting people by directly confronting people with the message of God, but it is also helping people to actually life the message, because it is only in living the message that we are really converted.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

The image of God

I just want to put up a quick thought that stroke me today while I was reading a book by Yves Congar OP, one of the leading theologians of the last century. It is the book "Jesus Christ" which was first published in 1965.

What truck me was that he very well describes the reaction of a lot of people who are against Christianity or who are not interested. It are reactions like "God - so what? I prefer ordinary men to church goers. Religion is just a flee from the real life etc. etc."

It being written more than 40 years ago, I was impressed how much the same the reaction is! (at least in my home country) The reason for this can be that although excuses are made, that those excuses are not the real reasons but that there is a deeper issue: they don't really want God... (Congar quotes 1 Sam 8:7, "they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them".

Why don't they want God? Well, my own thought on this was that they might see him as a king, but in a wrong way and not as the real God is. You don't want somebody if you don't like him, or think you don't like him. So if the perception of God is a bad one than a logical result is that they are not interested in knowing Him.

It puts me to think and if this is true, which seems very plausible in my eyes, it means that a lot of work has to be done in re-explaining who God is...

Just a thought...

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Baptism, confirmation and holy communion

We had a very joyful even today at mass as we received a young woman into the Church. I have been involved in the cathecetical preparations over the last few months, and it was a real joy to now finally receive her in our Church!

I also think it is a great witness for all of us if a young person chooses to be received into the Church. It is maybe often said that the Church is dead or dying, but those events show us that God is calling people to his flock, but that we only have to listen to His voice.

I can remember my own reception into the Church, and the indescribable joy and awe I felt

when I received the Eucharist the first time. My Lord really came to me, truly present in the form of the Eucharistic bread, to live in me, and to stay with me! I only had to accept Him!
This straight away reminds me that I, or indeed we, should never take to Mass and the Eucharist for granted, that it should never become a habit. It is special every time, every time Our Lord comes to us in the Eucharist. Every time he knocks on the door, it is up to me to open and let Him have a meal with me and not to let Him stand in the coldness of my lukewarm heart!

Also, my parents visited me here in Ireland last week. It was a very nice time, and I really enjoyed having them around. I was able to show them a small bit of the life I am living here, which I think was very important for them to understand better what I am doing, and also to see that I am in a good place.

During the visit they made a very interesting comment, which very nicely ties in with the above. They said that in the Netherlands people were encouraged to go and join a church congregation and so to improve their life. It was publicly acknowledged that people who are parts of a faith community find fellowship and have a aim in life. This helps then against depression, suicide etc.

However, the important aspect in my eyes is that a mainly secular society sees the positive effect of faith in people. They might not as yet acknowledge that it is because people start to know God, and that God is really and truly alive and among us, but there is a first recognition of something, even that in their eyes they put it to human/psychological reasons and (not yet) to supernatural.

This again is one sign that excites me, and I am really looking forward to the future! There is stir in the water...

Sunday, 20 April 2008

What is truth?

These days once more my reflections drift to the motto of the Dominican Order: Veritas!

I am wondering if we often enough think about about the Truth, talk about it and proclaim or preach it to others. Do we really think about "Truth" as something real? Do we live it? Do we belief in it?

Truth, we automatically There probably have been libraries written on this topic, but I just want to have a write a quick incoherent reflection on it myself as the reader of this blog are just to (the incoherent part I mean).
I think we, and maybe especially preachers - but then everybody is a preacher in his own environment, have to speak out about Truth again. We have to make it known again as something actual, something real. Society, at least as I see it, becomes more and more subjective, but truth is not subjective and knowledge of the Truth counteracts that. Truth is true, and truth is always true. Truth is not true for one person and not for another! This straight away points it beyond anything we know, as everything is this world passes away, everything changes. Thus, with maybe taking a few shortcuts, we can see that Truth points towards God, because only God is unchanging. So if we acknowledge God, and as a result are proclaiming the Truth to others, we again proclaim God to others.

The danger is through that we think or say that we proclaim the Truth, but that we really water it down and make is subjective to our own liking. This off course can happen on a unconscious level, but in my opinion this is done far too much deliberately, and first and foremost if it comes to explaining the Truth (eg God) to other people. Because we don't tell the Truth fully people don't get the benefits from the full Truth. The Truth gives us purpose and hope, and makes us part of the solid building of who Jesus Christ is the cornerstone.

In modern society there is not a lot of places where people can find solid ground, a solid point of focus for their lives. It is more needed than ever, solid hope, to stop God's children from running around from here to there because they are trying but cannot find a place of solid rest. By watering down the Turth we water down the foundation of this solid place of rest which is given to us, the solid rest of being in communion with God.

Back online

We haven't had internet for almost a month here in the priory. From Holy Saturday till now there have been technical problems, but I experienced that time as a real blessing! Nevertheless, with the connection restored, or at least working most of the time, I will put a quick post on this blog to keep it alive...

We are in the eighth month now of the noviciate. Spring has arrived, the summer is coming nearer! We can see it in nature but I also feel it in my life in the noviciate. There is a real sense of promise, of youth and of growth.

Over the last few years Easter has always be a big spiritual boost for me. Lent, and especially Holy week have been a experience of anticipation without really knowing what is going to happen. Off course we know, but I experience it as a time where everything seems unsure, not as fixed and certain as I thought it all was. Spiritually it really feels like a period in the desert, and there is the uncertainty if it will even end... however, the Resurrection came!

With now being more than seven months in the noviciate I think I really start to settle in God as it where. It seems to me that I have found a rock to stand on, and it helps me not to be as moved with the things around but to stay focused. It still means keeping the balance, as the rock is not terribly big, but it seems manageable. Disturbances during the day don't seem to throw me off balance as easy anymore. I really noiced that with the current problems in trying to find out the problem with the internet, an amount of patience that I didn't have before I think. Also I don't feel a need to "go out" or to "go away" and to "do something", but can be content with the present day, and what happens here and now.

I am sure the rock will become shaky at some time in the near future. I am very gratefull that we are given this time year of the noviciate to allow us to have time to spent in prayer, to have the time to establish a more profound relation with the Lord. I will cherish the time left this year to try in receiving a deeper understanding of and grow in a deeper comunion with our Lord . At present I enjoy the promise of its solid support and realise that it will be vital in the future!

This is just one of my own reflections, I hope it makes sense to you the reader as well!

Sunday, 16 March 2008

Past the half way mark

Last Friday was the half way mark of the noviciate, 6 months are gone by since the 14th of September, another 6 months now until the end of the noviciate.

The signs that it was coming up were already there a week earlier as I discovered that my mobile phone was not working anymore (as I didn’t top up for 6 months, so had to put new money in) and I realised that that was the day I went up to Limerick to start the retreat which is held before the start of the noviciate.

It is amazing how quick the time has gone by! I a way it seems like a long time since we started, and especially since I was home last, and I suppose 6 months is not nothing. On the other hand the time has really passed by very very quickly.

I now begin to appreciate what the noviciate is about, in my eyes, and what it could be. Slowly I begin to understand the importance of it, and begin to appreciate the advise from other Dominicans when they said to use “this special time, this once off opportunity” well. Such statements puzzled me a bit, and I decided from the start to really try and make the best out of it. However it is only now that I realise that it really is a year to learn to listen and to talk with God. A year to learn to be alone with God, to be alone in your room, to be alone in the church. Alone with yourself, and with God.

Now 6 months later I realise that I it is very easy to get distracted from this. I more and more begin to appreciate the importance of simplicity, of a simple life, of a life in which we are not dragged from one distraction into another. An example of this could be the internet or television but also other things one can flee to in order not to have to be alone in silence like going outside. The noviciate is a very blessed time in which we can try our vocation, and see if it is the way in which we want to live the rest of our lives. It is a time in which we have to discover if we are happy with this life, if we are happy with how it is now. How it is to be with God and if this is what we want to do, to see if we want to give everything to God, and trust on Him and be satisfied with living totally for Him.

It is very easy however to busy yourself with all kinds of things, and I probably very guilty of that. There are all kinds of things that seem important a good to do but which will prevent one from spending this time alone and to discover ourselves. I now realise that I have to make a bigger effort in trying to have more time for reading and silent prayer. The newness is now of the life, and I start to realise that there are aspects of the life in which I have to find my way. There are aspect of my personality I have to life and deal with, and areas where I have to undergo some painful, and sometimes indeed very painful, purification to I want to get any closer to being a saint (something we should all strive for).

It has been a very good experience however so far. Off course there have been times that you want to hit you head of the wall, and maybe more than a few times, but overall it has been a very blessed time, and I thank God and his Holy Mother for guiding me this far. Hopefully I will be able to focus a bit more on this year in the coming months. This year is the hopefully the foundation of the rest of my life, and I am determined to try and make it a foundation of rock and not of sand!

Well, I won't blab any longer, as I could probably write a whole book about this. I think however that atricles on a blog should be brief...

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Prayer and Work

My last post was almost a month ago (save a day). I am wondering if I should keep this blog open or close it, as I am not really a person of having a lot of "half" projects... we see how it goes in the coming months.

Anyway, there was a scripture passage that struck m during the week, and I just want to say a few words on that. During office psalm 126 (127) came up and the line "If the Lord does not build the house, in vain do its builders labour".

It does not matter what we do, what vocation we have, everybody has his own work. It is very clear praying the psalm that the Lord has to be in the work, and that without the Lord the work will never reach its full potential.

When I was working I always took this very serious, and always tried to include God in my work. Asking him to guide me, to help me and strengthen me to make right and honest discussions. I always tried to keep a healthy prayer life on the side as well, although this was not always easy. God blesses us in our work, and because we do our work, and I could notice that subsequently when doing apostolic work with the Legion of Mary.

If we don't take our work serious, or do it half heartedly then this wouldn't be really following Jesus, and while proclaiming to be a Christian it would be hypocritical. Now then, the job of a religious, the path which I am discerning now, is for a big part to pray. I think it is important that we take this very serious indeed. It is not that it is something new as we see it in the life of the Saints and in the life of Holy men and woman and they all told us. For religious praying is a big part of our job description, and not living up to this expectation might mean in a way that we are hypocritical.

I think that this thought helped me focus, and allowed me to reflect on the path I am choosing. Would I not be comfortable with prayer as my main job then it might be better for me to serve God in the married vocation, to try and be a good example in having a catholic family, and to do the Lord work full or part time on the side. With God the love would flow though the relations in the family in imitation of the trinity.

For me though, I am happy with my job to pray, and I am happy that I will through prayer have the Lord himself as my closest companion

Sunday, 3 February 2008

The lack of hope

I needed to write a short reflection on any topic and choose to take hope, and how we can see a lack of hope in our society. I will share some of my thoughts here:

In the recent encyclical "Spe Salvi", the pope speaks about hope.
With hope we have a future, with hope we have something to live for. However, without hope life can become very easy very dull, very grey. It seems all alright when things are going the right way, but it will be more difficult when things go wrong.
I think that generally in every persons live there are some moments in which one wonders what it is all about. Even when things are going well there is an emptiness, something missing. A proof of that is for example wealthy people who have enough money are either workaholic, so they don’t have time to think about life, or use temporal ways of stilling this unease within themselves. They can then often become addicted to for example drink or drugs, as we see with a lot of celebrities.

With hope I mean hope that lasts, hope for some fulfilling, and indeed hope for something lasting. This hope can only be found in meeting and knowing God and the pope makes the point that hope is really the same as faith. We look forward to meeting God after the hour of our death and the expectation of the afterlife. This brings purpose, this brings an aim, and gives reason to life. The least it does is it gives us a perspective, it gives us a goal and also a consolation when things are a bit harder in this world, but it can also give us joy and freedom.

I think that society in a lot of the western world have lost the sense of what hope actually is. Often then, as mentioned, this is replaced by temporal things, to fill the void or emptiness when meaning is taken away, and an uneasiness stays behind. There is no sense of real hope.

Also people might not know what to real hope is, or even understand that they do not have hope. I think this can be seen easier in the Dutch society than in the Irish society. In Ireland there is still a relative solid Christian and indeed often a Catholic base. Although this base might be eroding, generally most adults have a fair idea about what God is, what heaven is, and the promise of eternal life.

In the Netherlands however, I think this concept is much weaker, and often not really in the mind anymore. It is more important to life a happy life now, to live the moment, and don’t think too much about it.

It might even be the case that there is no real desire for hope of eternal life. This can come forth out of a lack of understanding about the afterlife, about Christianity and its promises. The promise of life eternal might not be perceived as a promise but as a curse. If eternal life is not understood, than there is no hope, as it would be coping with life as it is but then for eternity. Another fear might be that life eternal will be boring, and as such will not be a place of joy but indeed a place unbearable to live.

I think therefore that it is very important that we are not sitting idle, but find ways to bring people back to Christ. When they come back to Christ they will find meaning in their lives and hope. I also think that we must try and understand what hope is, explain it to each other, and try to make it an active, and not passive part of our life. God is alive, and we should try and make it known, so the fullness of life can really be experienced!

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Life with hope

I just want to write a small note on the fact that we are now 4 months in the noviciate. This means that we have about 1/3 of the whole year done... it is amazing how time passes by. Not that is seems like yesterday that we started, or that the time was empty, but it just seems to pass so quick!

I guess that this is a good sign. If time goes quick it is often an indication that one is enjoying it, and that is defiantly the case with me!

Being a Catholic for about 5 years now it strikes me over and over again how rich our belief is. This life, in my experience is definitely my way to life this belief, but more general I think it is just amazing the depth it has, the fullness, the fulfillment towards us being true human beings.

The popes encyclical "Spe Salvi" talks about hope, and the lack of hope in our modern society. The hope that is put in man made systems, and the expectations that are put on science and politics to make this world an utopia. The expectations to undo "the fall", to learn to control it.
He, the pope, points out that the only place where we find genuine hope is in the Church, through our faith, as he explains that hope is the same as faith. There is off course a lot more in the encyclical, and I encourage anybody to read it, but I I find this a striking point.

Before I became a catholic, I would have had put hope in things to come, in a career, in marriage, having a family. To the end of my studies I discovered that God existed, and found the fullness of hope in God. I figured out since that the hope that one can have in work, as I had a good job, and other earthly things are just ways, in my opinion, of comforting our inner unease we have with our lives. The current moment is often not what we expect, there is something missing. It is not as it used to be, or it is not as we expected. We experience some sort of restlessness, and try to find a way out of that. We try to find hope, and often look in the wrong place...

A lot of people nowadays put this hope on things like money, but they don't last. As we can see, rich people are often not happy people. They can buy anything they want, and have almost everything you can think of. They try to buy their happiness, their fulfillment but the more they try, the more they find out that they cannot buy it, and this might lead to despair. This despair might then in some extreem cases lead to the flight to drink, drugs, sex or other temporal means of seeking fulfillment.
For people who are not as well off it is almost the same, but their despair might be that they think they might be happy if they could buy everything like a rich person, but they cannot.

In both cases, hope and happiness are sought in earthly things, in material goods, in things we can control ourselves.This is not where we are going to find hope. Hope is faith, and faith is faith in God. God is where our heart rest, it is where we find the peace deep down in our being. It is not an ideal, not a flight from reality. No instead it is a full embrace of reality, a full embrace of the world. God gives us the wisdom to see the world, to see what it is about, to see the beauty in it, to see the beauty in our fellow humans., and also the beauty of the now and the current moment. Hope is a touch of Gods love in our hearts, a peaceful settlement.

Coming back to the fullness of our faith, I think it is so amazing that the knowledge of God is so long around, and that there are so little people who know it, and who life it as well. It is not a theory, it is a way of life. I am just so amazed that this fullness of life is know by so few, and not accepted. This included myself, I didn't know it, and it makes my heart wants to scream out to tell the world about the beauty they are missing. I want to see Gods love to come over people as a wave, taking them, and carrying them to life everlasting, and indeed also love everlasting.

Let us try and become people of God, let us try to be the light of the world, sings pointing towards Him. I know and realise myself, especially being in the noviciate, that this is a life long challenge, and a daily choice, something one has to work on every day. Trying to be a saint is not easy, and as for me, ask the brethren I life with how far off I am from anything near someone out of whom the light of God is shining. We have to try on a daily basis though, and not give up. There is hope there too, and with Gods help even I might get a bit nearer before the end of my life!

As for the noviciate, I thank God for every minute of it, even if I don't always feel like it! 2/3 of the year ahead, and we will see what happens after that... I life in hope!

Monday, 14 January 2008

Greek vocablist (with Word Frequency in NT)

I also created a vocabulary list according to the Word Frequency a word is found in the New Testament (words occurring more than 10 times). This list again works with Vocabworks.

The words are arranged in groups of 25 allowing for gradual learning, and the frequency filter can be used if required to filter on the amount of times the Greek word is used in the New Testament.

There are two version. One with all the words in the NT (as in the list, 5388 words). Also there is a version with all words occurring more than 5 times (as my old Windows 98 computer doesn't like 5000+ words) which is a total of 1859 words.

Set with all the words used in the New Testament
Set with words occurring more than 5 times

(I am using Rapidshare as it is an easy way to quickly share files. Just follow the procedures as explained, you don't have to register of pay, just pick the free option)

Update:
I have a link to an example configuration of Vocabwords included in my post on my word frequency list of Greek vocabulary for Romans: Please follow this link!

Update:
As I see that this post is often visited I just wanted to add that I found the following New Testament edition very helpful: "A Reader's Greek New Testament", published by Zondervan.

It is a UBS based Greek NT but has every word which is used less than 30 times translated into English at the bottom of the page. This is very helpful in starting to read the text. Where interlinear can make one to lazy, this is a really good help.

I am not a very quick learner of languages, and as such try to read every day the Gospel of the day in Greek to work on my Vocabulary, but fairly soon after starting to learn the words occurring more than 30 times it is possible to make sense out of the text!

The ISBN is 0-310-24888-4.

Update
I now have an iPhone/iPad/iTouch App in the AppStore, which makes it very easy to practice vocabulary. It includes Latin, Greek and Hebrew: iTunes App Store

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Wheelock's latin vocab lists

Update: I now have an iPhone/iPad/iTouch App in the AppStore, which makes it very easy to practice vocabulary. It includes Latin, Greek and Hebrew: iTunes App Store

Just a quick post for people who are using Wheelock's latin and are looking for a good way of practising their vocabulary. As I am trying to build my own vocabulary I came across Vocabworks and, although haven't used it a lot yet, think it is a good tool for practising.

I put the Wheelock's latin vocabulary (which I downloaded) into Vocabworks.
The vocab list can be downloaded from:
http://rapidshare.com/files/202793053/Wheelock.vcb

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Talking about the Church

Yesterday I was at a talk by Donald Cozzens. The title of the talk was "Faith that Dares to Speak - Love that Dares to Question". Fr. Cozzens has written a few books under which "Sacred silence" and "The changing face of the priesthood".

I don't want to give a summary of the talk, as I am sure there are a lot of people who can do a much better job than I can, but want to make an observation. Part of the lecture was about the futile system on which the Church operate, and in the way I perceived it, about the inadequacy of this system. That on itself is something that one can agree with or not, but I find sometimes that if these topics are brought up that we get a bit sensitive about words.
Often terms as 'vassals' and 'laity' are brought up, and it is pointed out that these refer to children, and uneducated/unlettered people. The fact that it was that way for centuries upon centuries, does that mean now that we have a much better educated western world that the church doesn't work because we use those words?

I understand that part of the scandals in the church are because of the system the church operates on. If there is one person responsible for many and makes a decision, and maybe a wrong decision, than it is very easy to point this out. However, does that mean that the system doesn't work? Because society has become more educated, does it mean that we have the change the whole church to suit it? Focusing then on the words used feels a bit like putting petrol on a fire, and isn't really needed, as it is common sense that 'laity' in the modern world doesn't mean uneducated. A good portion of the talk was based on this, and although I am sure there is some truth in the problems with positions of power, as we are all human, I am convince it is not the cause of a falling attendance at mass and less vocations to the priesthood.

In my opinion, I think that we shouldn't focus to much of our energy on giving out about the Church hierarchy, but should look on ways to actually proclaim the gospel to people. Changing the structure of the Church is not going to bring people back or convert them. It might make people who don't have any power now, and might have them maybe more happy, but the church is not a secular organisation!

It seems to me in my limited amount of time I am a Catholic that a lot of people are concerned about the state of the church, and often it is mentioned that young people are falling away and stop practicing their faith.

If this is the case, would it not be much better to focus on making our faith real, by living the gospel. By being an example to them, through the reverent celebration of the sacraments, and by the way we life our lives. Would it not be more beneficial to start (youth) prayer meeting to bring people with faith together, and to let them experience what it is to be a community, to share a common belief. Youth 2000 in Ireland is a good example of the need there is among the young!
Should we not focus our energy on proclaiming the gospel, maybe by means of organisations as the Legion of Mary. Young and old giving their spare time to reach out to other through for example house visitation and hostels.

I can agree that there is a things that have to be done inside the church, but instead of focusing our energy on trying to get rid of the hierarchy, could we not first start to build up the body of Christ by living and proclaiming the gospel? We need saints to be examples, not meetings to discuss our feeling about unfairness...

Monday, 7 January 2008

Ordinations

It has been a long time (almost a month) since my last post. The novitiate is going very well (at least from my perspective, don't know of course what others think!). This is the main reason I don't post as much as I like. I really want to try and make most of this year, and don't want to sending too much time on the internet!

More and more I see the challenges that are before me, and I realise more and more that there is a lot that I have to do and learn if I want to become a preacher. Especially on the side of my prayer life! Christmas has been great, and I really enjoyed the few quite days after Christmas, but also realise that we cannot life on chocolate all the time!

This realisation was given a lot of new life during the weekend when we had 3 of the brethren being ordained as deacons last Saturday: brothers Fergus Ryan, Declan Corish and David Rocks. Such a great occasion brings it really home to me that I have to become a man of prayer, and in that way others can see Christ in me. No need to say I have a lot of work to do! I think the Archbishop gave a good homely of encouragement to that respect.
It was the first time I was present at an ordination , and I really enjoyed it! Please have a look at the blog of our vocation director for more information: http://www.irishdominicanvocation.blogspot.com

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The Irish Dominicans have a website called Dominicans Interactive with online resources. We also have an iPhone/iPad App, which can be found in the iTunes App Store.


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