Friday, 27 February 2009

Talks on St. Paul

For the readers of this blog in Dublin:
Beginning on Tuesday the 3rd of March 2009, a series of lenten talks will start on the Letters of Saint Paul, given by Fr John Harris OP. These talks will continue on each Tuesday of Lent.

The talks are held in St Catherine's Chapel in the Dominican Priory, the entrance is at Upper Dorset Street, and it will be from 8.00pm to 9.00pm.

It might be possible to make video recordings of this series of talks, and if so I will post them on this blog as soon as they are edited.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Frequency list of all the words in the letter to the Romans out of the Greek Bible

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 another Greek word frequency list I created and decided to share. As it is the year of St. Paul, I am studying Romans and therefore, I created a word list of the Greek bible (with frequency of the words occurring) in Romans so I can learn the specific vocabulary Saint Paul uses in Romans, specifically focused on the words he uses most often.

The link is:

Also, the link below is an example of the setup I use in Vocabwork for vocabulary practice. Put the file in the same directory as the file above, and it should give an idea on how to configure Vocabworks:

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Ash Wednesday (Mt 6:1-6,16-18)

I just thought it appropriate to do a small reflection on the start of Lent. We will now enter the forty day period, a period in the desert, and I was all set to write a reflection on this theme. However, when I looked up the Gospel of Ash Wednesday, I didn't find "The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days (Mar 1:12-13)" but something quite different...

The Gospel starts of with "Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven (Mat 6:1)". Kind of a different reading than I was expecting, but off course very relevant for this day when we start the fasting season...

Jesus tells us in a few examples that we should not attract attention to ourselves by what we are supposedly doing for God. If we do this, and try to show others how good or pious we are we achieve frankly exactly the opposite, we stimulate our pride, and that is not the reason for fasting or for praying. If the reason was only to get wordily gain, then it would be easy enough to come up with a thing or two that would be much more convenient then fasting/self denial. No, fasting is denying yourself something in order to gain more...

The essence is that what we do is not to gain merit from others, but that we do it to get closer to God. Fasting and prayer are things we do to get closer to God, and that is the only reason. Jesus stresses a few times that it is in the hidden, in the secret, and that it may "not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret[/hidden]; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you (Mat 6:18)".

We find God in the hidden, in the secret of our heart. It is in silence that we go to this place where we meet Him. Fasting is a help so we empty out ourselves, unite ourselves with our Lord as we make the journey towards Jerusalem, towards calvary. What however is probably the most difficult is the message of the hidden, the secret. It is much easier to do something when we see the result or feel the gain of it. Especially during lent it may seem that God is extremely hidden, or even completely away. However, this is exactly where the gain is, that we trust that He is always with us, even when He is hidden and secret!

"Indeed you love truth in the heart then in the secret of my heart teach me wisdom" (Ps 50(51)).

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Encounter the Word of God (Mk 2:1-12)

Like I try to do most weeks, I will briefly put out a few points which strike me at the gospel of today. I hope that these thoughts, which are not meant to be a talk/homily, give some food for thought for your own meditations...

In today's Gospel, coming from the second chapter of Mark, Jesus came back to Capernaum, he came home. Capernaum is the place were he lived as we know from Mat 4:13 and also Mat 17:27, where Peter pays the tax for himself and Jesus in Capernaum.

Anyway, as soon as he was home, word went out and the people from all over the town came to him. It says literally that Jesus "was speaking the Word to them". We read three weeks ago that Jesus being home in Capernaum "taught them as one who had authority". Jesus speaks the Word of God, and because He is the Word of God he has this authority. As soon as the people in the town heard he was back they didn't wait until he "He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath" but went straight to His house to hear him speak again and soon the house overflowed with people. They didn't wait until it was Sunday and had to go to mass, but rushed to him straight away...

Jesus speaks to us today in the same way as he did to them. We hear the Word of God proclaimed at mass, we hear an explanation of the teaching during the homily. But apart from that, we should read the bible and especially the New Testament ourselves as well, so we too rush towards him and don't delay. We will encounter the Word of God, and we too will come to his house and he will come to ours as he says... "If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. (John 14:23 RSV)"

An other short point I wanted to touch on is the charity of the four men who brought the paralytic to Jesus. Charity, which is love, is the core of our Christian lives. Here we see that Jesus seeing the faith of the four men said to the paralytic, "Child, your sins are forgiven."

Faith, Hope and Charity are coming linked up very closely together. Through the faith the four men had in Jesus ability to heal the paralytic, to forgive his sins (as pointed out last week of the link between sin and physical deceases), the man was healed. And so we should have faith while helping others, that through our faith they might be healed...

Finally, I was really touched by the last line, as it is really the experience I had when I first came to belief in God: "We never saw anything like this!"

Saturday, 14 February 2009

To approach Jesus in confession (Mk 1:40-45)

The Gospel of this Sunday tells us about a leper who comes to Jesus to be healed from his leprosy. This account shows the humility that the leper shows towards Jesus, when he beseeches him while kneeling before him and asks that "If you will, you can make me clean (Mar 1:40 RSV)". Sometimes I might find that I am more demanding from God that He does things, instead of humbly kneeling before him and to ask him to help me if He wants to.

However, I like to emphasise another aspect of this Gospel. The leper ask if Jesus can make him clean, so here there might be something deeper happening. Leprosy was, and is, a serious decease, and anybody who had leprosy was banned from the community. In the Jewish tradition leprosy is often associated with sin. For example we find Aaron and Miriam speaking out against Moses, and God punishes Miriam with leprosy (Num 12:1-10, Deut 24:9, also 2 Kings 5:27, 2 Kings 15:5 etc.).

So when the leper ask Jesus to clean him from the leprosy, we can also read that he asks forgiveness from his sins, the reason for his leprosy. Jesus has compassion on him, He was "
moved with pity (Mar 1:40 RSV)" , and so He is moved with pity towards all of us who are sinners (and all of us are). Jesus then stretched out His hand, and not only the leprosy left him, but he was also made clean... he was forgiven from the cause of this leprosy, his sins...

Jesus then sternly charges him and sent him away at once saying to him : "See that you say nothing to any one; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to the people (Mar 1:40 RSV)".

We can read that the leper ignores the bit that he should tell nobody, but I think that there might be a different, deeper interpretation for this as well. Jesus is very strong on this point, that the leper should go to the priest straight away. I don't think the fact that he shouldn't talk about it is that important, as the offering the healed leper is going to make to the priest is a proof to the people, so the story was going to come out anyway. He says "See that you say nothing to any one", in other words, do not delay!

I think the essence here is the foreshadow of confession, and the importance. It shows how important confession is, that it heals our body and soul, and that the priest is an important part of it. Jesus stretched out His hand, as does the priest in "persona Christi" during confession while giving absolution, and the leper is asked to make an offering, to do a penance, for his sins straight after he is cleansed.

Monday, 9 February 2009

Video of Religious in Dublin

Below a short movie which was made in our priory of St. Saviour's here in Dublin, showing elements of our contemplative, but also apostolic life:

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Vocation weekend and the Gospel (Mark 1:29-39)

This weekend we had a "live-in" weekend, in which young men who are interested in the Dominican Order live with us for the weekend to experience our way of life and talk to various brothers about the Dominican Vocation.

I would just briefly want to make the link between the weekend and the gospel of today, as it is very close to the heart of the Dominican Vocation (Mk 1:29-39).

"And in the morning, a great while before day, he rose and went out to a lonely place, and there he prayed. (Mk 1:35 RSV)".

Jesus went out early in the morning to pray. This shows us how important prayer is. Jesus, the second person of the trinity went out to a lonely place to pray! The Dominican vocation is a contemplative vocation, we are a contemplative order. The companions of St. Dominic always tell us that St. Dominic used to talk either of God or with God. In the evening, late and night and early in the morning he was praying, often moved to tears. Prayer is a very important part of our vocation, it is to get to know God, and then we bring the fruits of this conversation to others.

"And Simon and those who were with him pursued him, and they found him and said to him, 'Every one is searching for you.' (Mk 1:36-37 RSV)".

Everybody is searching for Him, as St. Peter says. This is a very true statement, as everybody in the whole world is looking for God. They might not know it, might search in the wrong place, but they all search Him deep down in their heart. "O God, you are my God, for you I long; for you my soul is thirsting" (Psalm 62), the soul of every human being is yearning for God as a deer for a running stream. We recognise the need to bring the Word of God to the world.

"And he said to them, 'Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also; for that is why I came out.' (Mar 1:38 RSV)".

And this is the apostolic side of the Dominican vocation, to preach the Word of God to others. We contemplate the Word, we study and make it in a way our own, and then go out to the world to bring the Word to them.

St. Dominic preached by day, carried the gospel of St. Matthew and the Epistles of St. Paul with him everywhere to study the Word and he prayer at night. These few verses sum up an important part of the Dominican vocation!

Monday, 2 February 2009

Summa word frequency list for Vocabworks

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 another quick post for people who are interest in learning Latin, and especially for who are interested in the Summa Theologia of St. Thomas Aquinas.

I found Vocabworks a very good tool for learning vocabulary, and have used it for almost a year to learn the vocabulary of the Greek New Testament and the vocabulary of Wheelocks Latin. I did a quickly analysis of all the words in the Prima Pars of the Summa, and after making a frequency list out of them and decline/congregate them put the roots of the Words into Vocabworks.

However, because I automated the process, it is possible that there are mistakes or unusual interpretations of certain word. Also the values for the frequency of the words are not correct but an relative indication as a result of the simple process I used.

For anybody interested, the vocab list can be downloaded from Rapidshare:

(Updated with a new Vocabulary set, as there were many mistakes in the previous one. One of the brothers was kind enough to correct the whole list and make sure the meaning are corresponding to the meaning in the Summa of St. Thomas Aquinas)


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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