Life with the Cloistered Domincan Nuns

Life with the Cloistered Domincan Nuns

Monday, November 11, 2019

Good Brothers - the Knight of Columbus

The Knights of Columbus have been watching over us for almost 40 years. They provide festive meals, honor guard when the Bishop comes for Mass for funerals and professions. And the individual Knights use their personal gifts and talents when we have special needs.

In October they truly went beyond the call of duty by presenting us with another very large check to help complete our Air Conditioning Project.

Prioress Sister Mary Margaret happily holds a check for $25,000 from our Local Knights of Columbus.

We are more than half-way finished with the Project. All the nuns have the individual units in their cells (private rooms). Now the workmen are replacing general units in the hall, plus a large one for our Chapter Hall (large meeting room for official ceremonies).

Friday, October 18, 2019

Prioral Feast Day

The rogue's gallery of our Masters General who have visited our Monastery.
The smaller picture to the right of the large one is our current Provincial.

Now that we have a new prioress, that means we will be celebrating a big feast on a different date. Sister Mary Margaret has usually celebrated her Feast Day on January 18 - the feast of St. Margaret of Hungary. St. Margaret was a Dominican Nun  in Hungary not long after the life of St. Dominic, our founder. But January is too close to all the festivities of Christmas and Epiphany, so we have chosen to celebrate her feast on October 16, the Memorial of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, whose feast she celebrated when she was a Springfield IL Dominican Sister.

We had a wonderful and joyous day, enjoying the company and talents of one another. In the morning we had various games and funny stories. One of the games was "Pictionary" as you can see below!

Anyone can play this game, even from a wheelchair.

We ate our festive dinner in the Community Room in order to talk and laugh. In the afternoon, we enjoyed "Punch & Presents".  Here you can see some of her handmade gift.

The gift table after everything was opened.

Sister Mary Giuse and one of the stuffed butterflies she made.

Sister Mary Christine holding an exquisite butterfly she "etched" out of styrofoam.

Sister Mary Margaret holding some animal and dogs made by Sister Irma Marie.

Sister showing off her new yarn. Sister Mary Margaret is a great crocheter!
Some of the Sisters learned that the prioress' favorite color is purple, so it was everywhere ...  as well as butterflies!

Then, in the evening some of our Sisters shared with us brand-new talents we had never seen before-Swimming, Tai-Chi, Linguistics, Tae-Kwan-Do, Jokes. We hope to see them again

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Dominican Laity Event

Today at our usual Saturday morning Mass, our local St. Thomas Aquinas Chapter of the Dominican Laity had some special events. First, Linda Robins pronounced her Temporary Promises for three years. Then, the new officers of the Chapter were installed by the past President.

As Linda makes her Promises to the former president, the incoming president looks on.
In the photo below we have the "officials" of the Chapter with their Religious Assistant and our Chaplain.

Left to right: Maria Burt-Treasurer, Dr. Matt Rowley-Secretary; Virginia Carlin-Vice President; Jesus Reyes Jr-President; and Fr. John Lydon, OP. 
Congratulations all! Let us grow daily in Holiness in our Dominican family!

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Fr. John Sica, OP

Recently, Fr. John Sica, OP, from the Eastern Dominican Province came by for an overnight visit. He is a young priest, only ordained in 2016. He will be living at the Southern Province's Holy Rosary Priory in Houston, Texas for 3-5 years working on his Ph.D. on St. Thomas at the Center for Thomistic Studies at the University of St. Thomas Aquinas. It is the only institution in the United States to offer a doctorate in Thomistic Studies. He has a wonderful sense of humor and we were laughing during most of the visit. Father is originally from Long Island, NY. After finishing high school he went to Providence College to study philosophy. It was there he met the Dominicans and entered the Order upon graduation. We hope he will come again soon for another visit.

Friday, August 9, 2019

St. Dominic is still with us!

Even though St. Dominic died almost 800 years ago, we still know he is with us; praying for us and supporting us. A friend paints "peg dolls", but they aren't just any peg dolls. They are saints! Below you can see a new St. Dominic and companion.

Have a Bless Day!

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Happy Feast Day of St. Dominic!

Today is the Feast - Solemnity - of our Father and Founder Saint Dominic de Guzman. He was born in Caleruega, Spain about 1170, and died in Bologna, Italy, on August 6, 1221.

Below is a photo of our lovely chapel this morning just after the celebration of the Mass. We had the entire Dominican Family present. Of chaplain, Fr. John Lydon represented the Friars, we were the Nuns, the Sisters were represented by the Sister    from Porto Rico who have been in our diocese for about five years, and also several members of the Dominican Laity were also present.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Historic Photo from Vietnam

Today we received via the Southern Province Facebook page a wonderful photograph of our new Master General, Father Gerard Timoner, OP surrounded by the four Dominican Provincials from the United States.

Pictured left to right: back row: Fr. Ken Letoile, Eastern Province based in New York City; the Master; Fr. Christopher Fadok, Western Province based in Oakland CA; front row: Fr. James Marchionda, OP, Central Province based in Chicago IL; and Fr. Tom Condon, OP, Southern Province based in New Orleans LA.

It is such a joy to be a member of the Dominican Family!

A first time

One never knows who or what is going to come to the Monastery!

Yesterday, we received a large leg of a pig that was roasted by our local Knights of Columbus. Sister is cutting it up for now and it looks like it will provide many future meals!

A few days before this, there was a dragonfly that spent the entire day clutching a branch by the Sister's door into our main building.

After the dragonfly was settled on the tip of the branch it would close its wings forward, as if to signal it was resting.

We have many of these critters that live down at the pond. During the summer they come up to the large grassy yard outside our refectory (dining room) to hunt for their own dinner. But then they are usually constantly flying around which is the only way they can catch their prey and eat it. This time we had a wonderful chance to really examine our insect-friend. In the second photo above, it almost looks like a person holding on to the twig, or maybe it's an "alien".

The Smithsonian Magazine has a fascinating article about these wondrous creatures. Here are a few nuggets:

Flying insects are usually annoying. Mosquitoes bite you, leaving itchy red welts. Bees and wasps sting. Flies are just disgusting. But there’s something magical about dragonflies.
1 ) Dragonflies were some of the first winged insects to evolve, some 300 million years ago.
3 ) There are more than 5,000 known species of dragonflies.
11 ) Dragonflies, which eat insects as adults, are a great control on the mosquito population. 
One thing we know is that this amazing creature is another sign of our constantly creative God!

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

New Master of the Dominican Order

Last Friday on July 13, the Dominican Friars gathered in their triennial General Chapter held in Vietnam elected the 87th successor of St. Dominic.

His name is Father Gerard Francisco Timoner, III, OP; and he is the first Asian to be elected Master of the Order! Father Timoner is the former Provincial of the Province of the Philippines. He also served as vice-chancellor of the University of Santo Tomas in Manila. Father was one of the chaplains for the Dominican monastery in Cainta outside of Manila. We hear he has a love for the nuns of the Order. Praise the Lord! Before being elected, he served as Socius (Assistant to the Master) for the Asia-Pacific region of the Order of Preachers.

We look forward to meeting him. Masters of the Order are supposed to meet with every Friar (that's 5,000) during their 9 year term.
Please join us in praying for Fr. Timoner as he begins his term as Master of the Order of Preachers! 

Friday, July 12, 2019

Habemus Prioram = We have a Prioress

Yesterday afternoon under the Presidency of our Bishop, Joseph Strickland of Tyler, TX, we elected a brand-new prioress: Sister Mary Margaret, OP.

Sister was born in Aurora IL and originally entered the Dominican Sisters of Springfield IL. Shortly before her final vows she discerned her vocation to the cloister and came to Lufkin in 1972. Previous to being elected prioress, Sister Mary Margaret was our Sub-Prioress and in charge of our Print Shop. Sister is very talented artistically, as well as practically and spatially (i.e., she would have been a good engineer). Sister is also our Liturgist and principal organist. So please pray for her, she has her hands full! And pray for us as well. The rest of the community now awaits their new work assignments for the next three years.

We want to also take this opportunity to express deep thanks to Sister Maria Guadalupe who concluded her six years of totally selfless service to our community. God reward you, Sister!

Sunday, July 7, 2019

General Chapter 2019

Every three years the Dominican Friars meet in "General Chapter" to consider the state of the Order, make or change laws, and on the 9th year elect a new head of the Order, the Master General. All Dominicans, and especially the Nuns, are praying for the guidance of the Holy Spirit

Today, the General Chapter opens in Vietnam! Our Friars will also elect a new Master of the Order on July 13. Below is the logo for this important meeting.

The meaning of the symbolism: the design above is a lotus blossom, the national flower of Vietnam, as well as a common flower throughout Asia. The black below it represents the Dominican cappa, or mantle. The words indicate, in Latin, the General Chapter, and the city where it is being held, Biên Hòa, Vietnam, near Saigon, in the south.

The Friars come from all over the world representing the thousands back home. Each Province sends the Provincial and a delegate. We will post news of important events as they happen. The General Chapter will continue for about a month, concluding on August 7.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Early Summer

Our Summer so far has not been as bad as it could be, weather-wise. It seems we've been having a little rain one or two days a week. The plants have really been thriving. So we have a few pictures where you can see some of our lovely flowers.

Above is a photo of our "Baby Jesus" Shrine. We call him that because the statue arrived on Christmas Eve. If you haven't had a chance to visit Him, He's on the far right side of our building.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

A Surprise from India

Recently we had a surprise visit from Father Peter Lobo, OP, who teaches at St. Charles Seminary in Nagpur, India. This is up in the north of the country, although he is originally from the southwest (Mumbai/Bombay).

Father first came to see us about 30 years ago. Although we have not seen him often, went do keep in contact by correspondence and he has sent us several of his books.

Father taught for a number of years at the Dominican Pontifical University in Rome. Many years ago, he founded an English-speaking periodical on Dominican spirituality. It ceased publishing for a few years while he was away from India. However, now that he has returned he has begun publishing Dominican Ashram again. Ashram is an Indian word for a spiritual hermitage, prayer community or monastery.

Father was able to visit us because he is in the United States visiting relatives in different parts of the country. A younger brother, Michael, is retired and lives in the Houston area. So, Michael and Fr. Peter came up to the Monastery for lunch and a good visit.

Fr. Peter Lobo, OP

Michael Lobo

Come back soon!

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

May Crowning 2019

At the end of May we celebrated our annual May crowning of Our Lady of the Pines.

Sr. Mary Therese crowns Our Lady.

We have not been able to post until now. But, you can follow some of events occurring here in the Monastery, by checking out our Facebook page HERE.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Our Annual 8-Day Retreat

St. Dominic on outside walk-way
Men and women who dedicate themselves to the Consecrated Life are encouraged to have a retreat once a year. This week, we are coming to the end of our annual retreat in a few days. Every year we have a preached retreat by a Dominican friar. It is a wonderful time to have space for extra rest and prayer. Although, depending upon our duties and work assignments, we may still be called upon to continue fulfilling them.

This year we are having wonderful weather. The time of year for our retreat varies, depending upon our schedule and that of the preacher. In the picture below you can see that it is not only the nuns who rest, but also the "animal" members of our monastery.

One of our many lizards sleeps contently on St. Dominic's arm

Monday, April 29, 2019

A Visitor from Trinidad

We have had the joy of a visit from Sister Ann, prioress of the Dominican Monastery in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad. She has been here about a week and will continue to be with us for a few more days.

In the photo above, Sister Ann is admiring our "Rock & Roll" Rose bush. Of course, she's used to many exotic tropical flowers in Trinidad. We have known Sister Ann and her community for over 40 years. It has been a wonderful sisterly experience. Please remember Sister's brother, Victor, who died Saturday, on Sister's Birthday. May he rest in God's peace.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Holy Saturday 2019

From a famous ancient Holy Saturday homily:

Something strange is happening--there is a great silence  on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. …

Jesus has died and been buried. We all know what it is like to lose someone we love. Everything in life seems empty and useless. Our lives as nuns revolves around the chapel. Now it is empty – empty of the One Who IS our life. Every Church in the world is empty - stark - bare - just a room, a building, that has lost its purpose for existing. And this is what our lives would be without Jesus.
On this day of emptiness and silence . . .
     let us renew our efforts to be faithful to our Baptismal and religious/marriage vows.
     let us renew our commitment to be faithful to Jesus Christ, our only Savior.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Good Friday 2019

Today is the most Solemn day of the year for Catholics. It is the day on which Jesus Christ gave His life to redeem all people from their sins. He poured out every drop of His blood to bring us to Heaven.

John 19:34 - But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. 

The piercing of Jesus' side is a most profound and meaningful mystery. Saint Thomas Aquinas speaks of it in his Commentary on the Gospel According to John.

Why does the Evangelist add, but when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs? ... We are told why they pierced his side, because when the soldiers saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs.
To make sure that Jesus was dead one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear. It deserves notice that he does not say "wounded" but "pierced," that is "opened," because in his side the door of eternal life is opened to us: "After this I looked, and lo, in heaven, an open door!" (Rev 4:1). This is the door in the side of the ark through which those animals entered who were not to perish in the flood (Gen 7).
This door is the cause of our salvation; and so, at once there came out blood and water. This is a remarkable miracle, that blood should flow from the body of a dead person where blood congeals. If someone says that this was because the body was still warm, the flow of the water cannot be explained without a miracle, since this was pure water. This outpouring of blood and water happened so that Christ might show that he was truly human. For human beings have a twofold composition: one from the elements and the other from the humors. One of these elements is water, and blood is the main humor.
Another reason why this happened was to show that by the passion of Christ we acquire a complete cleansing from our sins and stains. We are cleansed from our sins by his blood, which is the price of our redemption: "You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers, not with perishable things, such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot" (1 Pet 1:18). We are cleansed from our stains by the water, which is the bath of our rebirth: "I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses" (Ez 36:25); "On that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness" (Zech 13:1). So it is these two things which are especially associated with two sacraments: water with the sacrament of baptism, and blood with the Eucharist.
Or, both blood and water are associated with the Eucharist because in this sacrament water is mixed with wine, although water is not of the substance of the sacrament. This event was also prefigured: for just as from the side of Christ, sleeping on the cross, there flowed blood and water, which makes the Church holy, so from the side of the sleeping Adam there was formed the woman, who prefigured the Church.

Jesus teaches us the value of suffering with nobility and generosity. Whatever one's current state of suffering ... hold a crucifix in your hands, look at it closely, and try to understand that He endured all this out of love for all of us.
H.T:  at

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Holy Thursday 2019

Today is a day of LOVE, especially of Our Lord at the Last Supper, when He washes the feet of His Apostles, institutes the Sacrament of Holy Orders and the Sacrament of the Eucharist.

Peter is embarrassed to have Jesus wash his feet. But the Lord, tells Peter,  "What I am doing you do not know now, but afterward you will understand." Our guide this Lent, St. Thomas Aquinas, reflects upon this sentence. [The words in red are ours.]

In (v 7), we see the words of Christ, which show that this action is a mystery. Christ said to Peter: What I am doing you do not know now, but afterward you will understand. This action is both an example and a mystery. It is an example of humility to be practiced: "For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you" (v 15) And it is a mystery because it signifies an interior cleansing: "He who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet" (v 10).
So what Christ said can be understood in 2 ways.
     In one way, What I am doing you do not know now, that is, you do not now understand that what I am doing is an example; but afterward you will understand, when he explained it to them saying: "Do you know what I have done to you?" (v 12).
      In another way, What I am doing you do not know now; that is to say, this is a mystery and something hidden, and it signifies an interior cleansing which only I can accomplish, and which you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand, when you receive the Holy Spirit: "I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth" (16:12).

Today, Jesus gives us an example of humility and selfless charity. He also gives us HIMSELF.

"Jesus is fully present in every Catholic church around the world... He is fully present, and He patiently waits and hopes for us to arrive for a heartfelt visit."
H.T:  at

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Spy Wednesday 2019

Today is called "Spy Wednesday" because the Gospel from Matthew (26:14-25) recounts when Judas went to the high priests to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. Jesus forewarns the other Apostles that the betrayal will soon take place.

St. Thomas Aquinas, in his Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, makes some points about Judas.

Judas Iscariot ... Who betrayed him. Why is he listed? To give an example that dignity of rank does not make a person holy. Another reason is to remind us that it scarcely happens that in a large group someone is not evil. Therefore, he is listed to show that good persons are sometimes not without wicked ones: "As a lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters" (Song of Songs 2:2). Augustine: "My house is not better than the Lord's house." …

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Palm Sunday 2019

Today we begin our journey into the holiest week of the entire year. As with all the Sundays of Lent, we are still traveling with St. Thomas Aquinas. This day he comments on the cry of the Jews, which the Church has incorporated into the Holy, Holy, Holy, of the Mass.

The Evangelist says [the crowd in Jerusalem that first Palm Sunday morning went out to see Jesus and then] he mentions how they conducted themselves.

First of all, they took branches of palm trees.
Now the palm, since it retains its freshness, signifies victory. In antiquity it was conferred upon conquerors as a symbol of their victory. We read in Revelation (7:9) of the conquering martyrs that they held "palm branches in their hands." So the branches of palm trees were given as praise, signifying victory, because our Lord was to conquer death by dying and to triumph over Satan, the prince of death, by the victory of the cross. ... 
Then, the Evangelist mentions what they said:
they shouted out Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, the King of Israel!
Here they combine both petition and praise. There is petition when they say, Hosanna, which means, "Save us, I implore you." It is like saying: hosy, which means "save," and anna, which means "implore." According to Augustine, this is not a word, but rather an exclamation of one praying. And it is quite proper that they should ask the Lord Jesus for salvation, because we read in Isaiah (35:4): "Behold your God…He will come and save you"; "Stir up thy might, and come to save us!" (Ps 80:2).
They praise him for 2 things: for his coming and for the power of his reign or kingdom. 
They praise his coming when they say,
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
To bless is to speak good things. Now God blesses us in one way, and we bless God in another way. For when God blesses us he makes us good, since for God to speak is to do: "For he commanded [that is, spoke], and they were created" (Ps 148:5). But when we bless God, we profess his goodness: "We bless you from the house of the Lord" (Ps 118:26); "Blessed be everyone who blesses you!" (Gen 27:29). Therefore, Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, for Christ worked in the name of God, because everything he did he directed to the glory of God.
Now because both the Father and the Son are the Lord,
the phrase, in the name of the Lord,
can be understood in two ways.
In one way, Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, means blessed is he who comes in his own name, as Lord: "The Lord is our ruler" (Is 33:22). Moses did not come in the name of the Lord in this way, because he came as a servant: "Now Moses was faithful in all God's house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later" (Heb 3:5). According to Augustine, the better interpretation would be to say that in the name of the Lord means in the name of the Father. For Christ's words direct our minds to this: "I have come in my Father's name" (5:45). Further, there are two ways in which Christ is said to have come in the name of the Father. First, he came as the Son, which implies the Father; secondly, he came to manifest the Father: "I have manifested thy name to the men whom thou gave me" (17:6).
The people praise the power of his reign when they say, the King of Israel! Literally, the Jews believed that he had come to reign over them temporally, and ransom them from subjection to the Romans. That is why they hailed him as a king: "He shall reign as king and deal wisely" (Jer 23:5); "Behold, a king will reign in righteousness, and princes will rule in justice" (Is 32:1).

Sunday, April 7, 2019

5th Sunday of Lent 2019

Today's Gospel is from the Gospel of John 8 and the story of the woman caught in adultery. St. Thomas Aquinas had quite a number of insights on this famous passage in his Commentary of John. We will share some of his thoughts here, but if you would like to read more, click HERE.


1125 The Evangelist shows them proceeding with their test.
      First, they point out the woman's fault;
     secondly, they state the justice of the case according to the Law;
     thirdly, they ask him for his verdict.
1126 They point out the woman's fault when they say this woman has just now been caught in adultery. They detail her fault in three ways, calculated to deflect Christ from his gentle manner.
     First, they mention the freshness of her fault, saying just now; for an old fault does not affect us so much, because the person might have made amends.
     Secondly, they note its certainty, saying, caught, so that she could not excuse herself. 
     Thirdly, they point out that her fault is great, in adultery, which is a serious crime and the cause of many evils. "Every woman who is an adulterous will sin" (Sir 9), and first of all against the law of her God.
1127 They appeal to the justice contained in the Law when they remark, in the Law, that is, in Leviticus (20:10) and in Deuteronomy (22:21), Moses commanded us to stone such a woman.
1128 They ask Jesus for his verdict when they say, But what do you say? Their question is a trap, for they are saying in effect: If he decides that she should be let go, he will not be acting according to justice, yet he cannot condemn her because he came to seek and to save those who are lost: "God did not send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through him" (3:17). Now the Law could not command anything unjust. Thus, Jesus does not say, "Let her go," lest he seem to be acting in violation of the Law.
1129 The Evangelist reveals the malicious intention behind those who were questioning Jesus when he says, They said this to test him so that they could accuse him. For they thought that Christ would say that she should be let go, so as not to be acting contrary to his gentle manner; and then they would accuse him of acting in violation of the Law: "Let us not test Christ as they did" as we read in 1 Corinthians (10:9).
1130 Then, Jesus checks his enemies by his wisdom. The Pharisees were testing him on two points: his justice and his mercy. But Jesus preserved both in his answer.
     First, the Evangelist shows how Jesus kept to what was just
     secondly, that he did not abandon mercy (v 7). As to the first, he does two things: first, he mentions the sentence in accordance with justice; secondly the effect of this sentence (v 9). About the first he does three things: first, we see Jesus writing his sentence; then pronouncing it; and thirdly, continuing again to write it down.
1136 Then (v 10), he shows that Jesus did not abandon mercy, but gave a merciful sentence.
     First, Jesus questions the woman;
     then forgives her; 
     finally, cautions her.
1137 Jesus questioned her about her accusers; thus he says that Jesus rising up, that is, turning from the ground on which he was writing and looking at the woman, asked her, Woman, where are those who accuse you? He asks about her condemnation saying, Has no one condemned you? And she answers, No one, Lord.

1138 Jesus forgives her; and so it says, Then Jesus said: Nor will I condemn you, I who perhaps you feared would condemn you, because you saw that I was without sin. This should not surprise us for "God did not send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through him" (3:17); "I do not desire the death of the sinner" (Ez 18:23). And he forgave her sin without imposing any penance on her because since he made her inwardly just by outwardly forgiving her, he was well able to change her so much within by sufficient sorrow for her sins that she would be made free from any penance. This should not be taken as a precedent for anyone to forgive another without confession and the assigning of a penance on the ground of Christ's example, for Christ has power over the sacraments, and could confer the effect without the sacrament. No mere man can do this.

Thank You for Your Justice and Mercy, Lord

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Laetare Sunday - 4th Sunday of Lent

The Gospel for today is the parable of the Prodigal Son. Many preachers, homilists on the story want to change it to the "prodigal father". They justify this by explaining it is about God's lavish love. However, this is not the correct meaning of the word, Prodigal. As we have been doing this year in looking at the Sunday Lenten Scriptures, let us turn to St. Thomas Aquinas for some clarity.

St. Thomas Aquinas is one of the best theologians on the topic of virtues and vices. He learned much of this subject from the Greek philosopher Aristotle, whom he simply calls "the Philosopher".

According to Aristotle and St. Thomas prodigality, is NO virtue. In fact, it is a serious vice and can even be a sin. It is squandering one's, or other's, riches, especially for the sake of physical pleasure. It is uncontrolled and unbridled spending. That is exactly what the younger son did when he took some of the inheritance (which was not actually due to him, at that time among the Jews) and spent it all on pleasure.

St. Thomas writes in his Summa Theologica,  II-II, Q. 119, "The Philosopher says (Ethic. ii, 7; iv, 1) that prodigality is opposed to liberality."

St. Thomas continues, "Hence the Philosopher says (Ethic. iv, 1) "that many a prodigal ends in becoming intemperate." 

Prodigality implies EXCESS, by its very nature. The form of excess easily leads to sins of intemperance, which usually involve food, drink and sex. The excess of prodigality consists not in the amount spent, but in the amount over and above what should be given.

The father exercised the virtue of LIBERALITY, in that he gave freely of his possessions; but he was not prodigal.

In the Nicomachean Ethics (IV:1), Aristotle talks about the vice of prodigality, a vice that seems particularly dominant in today’s economic world, if not pretty much inescapable. If you’re spending money that you don’t have via a credit card, it could be argued that you’re already a prodigal, and most of us are doing that. Some professors are not even sure that most of us really see prodigality as a vice, although traditional societies all seem to have agreed on this point. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

The solemnity of the Annunciation

Today is the Solemnity of the Annunciation. There is an ancient monastic custom of having solemn meeting in honor of the two great feasts of the Incarnation -- Annunciation and Christmas.  This year our sermon was given by Sister Mary Therese. she has recently moved to live and work with the Solemnly Professed nuns as another step in her monastic journey. Sister spoke of the pivtoal moment of the Annunciation by the angel Gabriel when Mary said, "Yes".

Below, we have the text of Sister's sermon in honor of the Annunciation, 2019.

The Annunciation is one of the most important events in the story of Christ. It not only begins His life on earth, but also begins Mary’s life as an example to all Christians for how to respond to God’s call. Mary didn’t choose her life, she was chosen for it. The only thing she had control over, how she used her own will, was how she reacted to God’s will for her.
            Mary didn’t plan the life she ended up living. She was living her life as well as she could, being a dutiful daughter, devoted to God and trying to live her life as much in line with God’s will as she knew it to be. But she had no idea that she was specially chosen, and was probably planning on living a quiet life as a carpenter’s wife, still being free to guide her own life as much as most people are able. But then the Annunciation happened, and whatever plans she had for her life, however minor on the grand scale of things but they were important to her because they were her own, were derailed. God prepared her as much as He could for her vocation and certainly helped her along the way, but nothing could really prepare her for all that being the mother of the Messiah would entail. The decision was God’s, but all the suffering and sacrifice would have to be hers, and the only choice she had, was whether to accept.
            Everyone who is following their vocation has had their own annunciation, their own call to the life God has chosen for them. For some of us, the call was a surprise, more of an epiphany coming seemingly out of the blue, derailing our plans for our own life and calling us down a new, uncertain path. For some, the call came more gradually, growing so naturally out of our normal life experiences that it seemed more like our own idea than God’s. But however it happened, the call to the consecrated life was God’s own annunciation to each of us, and we’re all here because we followed Mary’s example in saying “yes” to letting God’s will be more important in our life than our own.
            When we enter consecrated life, we give up almost everything that we have: not just our material possessions, but also our time, our independence, our freedom to structure our own lives and make decisions for ourselves, almost everything that we once had to make us who we are and live our lives the way we want to. The most powerful thing any person has is her will, and even this we’re asked to surrender to serve God and for the common good. And we can never really give up our will, nor are we asked to; that would be too easy, and not entail the kind of struggle and growth we have to endure in order to grow in virtue to become closer to God. Instead, we still have our will, but we are continually being asked to give it up, to control it and redirect it away from what we want and instead toward what God wants.
            So in a way, consecrated life presents us with many little annunciations every day. Every time we’re asked to do something contrary to what we would have naturally chosen or wanted to do, we are reminded of our vow of obedience, that we chose to answer God’s call to give our entire life—our time, our energy, our will—to Him through community life. And every time, all of our little “yeses” support the big “yes” that we gave to God when we responded to the big call to consecrate our entire life to Him in the first place. And every time we say “yes”, we’re given that opportunity to mirror Mary’s first “yes”.
            Of course, sometimes the yes is harder than others, when we’re asked to do something we really don’t want to do or when it conflicts with something we did want to do. But was it easy for Mary to say yes? Was she happy about the Annunciation, or was she terrified? It was probably a confusing mixture of both. True, she experienced a joy and closeness to God that she never would have experienced otherwise, but she also suffered more than she ever thought she would. If it had been only her choice, would she rather have lived a quiet life as a carpenter’s wife, happily letting someone else experience the joy of being the mother of the savior if it meant that she wouldn’t have to suffer the agony of it either? Did Mary want to say yes? Does it matter? Obedience doesn’t come in liking or wanting to do what we’re being asked to do, but in turning our will away from what we want and doing what God wants us to do. So in consecrated life, every time we respond with obedience, we are saying to God, with Mary, “May it be done according to your word” (Lk 1:38).

Sunday, March 24, 2019

3rd Sunday of Lent 2019

אֶֽהְיֶ֑ה  אֲשֶׁ֣ר  אֶֽהְיֶ֖ה

When Moses asked our Lord: “If the children of Israel say to me: what is His name? What shall I say to them?” The Lord replied: “I AM WHO AM.... You shall say to the children of Israel: HE WHO IS has sent me to you” (Exodus 3:13, 14). 

Etienne Gilson, a great Catholic philosopher of the 20th century, wrote that this verse from Exodus 3:14 where God gives Moses His name, He Who Is, “the whole of Christian philosophy will be suspended.” It is the most ontological (philosophy of being) verse in the entire Bible. Medieval Scholastics identified the ehyeh (I AM) of 3:14b as the Divine name that expresses the most fundamental essence of God, which essence they identified as “subsistent being itself” (Latin “ipsum esse subsistens”). It means that God is Absolute Being, nothing exists outside of Him. St. Thomas quotes St. John Damascene as saying ehyeh (translated “He who is” from the Septuagint “ho on”) is the “most appropriate” of all divine names (De fide orth I.9). the words ehyeh asher ehyeh (above in Hebrew) are understood in Roman Catholicism to bear the meaning: “I Am He Whose Essence is expressed in the words “I am”; and he continues: “God is therefore purely and simply being. His Essence is Being”. Thus, Aquinas saw in it an allusion to God’s absolute and eternal being.

St. Thomas Aquinas also wrote about this verse from Exodus in his Summa Theologica I, 13, 11 and in his Summa Contra Gentiles, I, 22, 9-10.

For another article on this same theme, click HERE.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

2nd Sunday of Lent 2019

In his Summa Theologica (III, 45, 3), St. Thomas Aquinas asks the question, whether the witnesses of the transfiguration were fittingly chosen. His principal answer follows:
I answer that, Christ wished to be transfigured in order to show men His glory, and to arouse them to desire it. Now men are brought to the glory of eternal beatitude by Christ—not only those who lived after Him, but also those who preceded Him; therefore, when He was approaching His Passion, both "the multitude that followed" and those "that went before, cried saying: 'Hosanna,'" as related Mt. 21:9, beseeching Him, as it were, to save them. Consequently it was fitting that witnesses should be present from among those who preceded Him—namely, Moses and Elias—and from those who followed after Him—namely, Peter, James, and John—that "in the mouth of two or three witnesses" this word might stand.
By His transfiguration Christ manifested to His disciples the glory of His body, which belongs to men only. It was therefore fitting that He should choose men and not angels as witnesses.
St. Jerome says, on Mt. 17:3: "Observe that when the Scribes and Pharisees asked for a sign from heaven, He refused to give one; whereas here in order to increase the apostles' faith, He gives a sign from heaven, Elijah coming down from where he had ascended, and Moses arising from the nether world." This is not to be understood as though the soul of Moses was reunited to his body, but that his soul appeared through an assumed body, just as the angels do. But Elijah appeared in his own body, not that he was brought down from the empyrean heaven, but from some place on high where he was taken up in the fiery chariot.
St. John Chrysostom says, on Mt. 17:3: "Moses and Elijah are brought forward for many reasons." 1st, "because the multitude said He was Elijah or Jeremiah or one of the prophets, He brings the leaders of the prophets with Him; that hereby at least they might see the difference between the servants and their Lord." 2nd, " ... that Moses gave the Law ... while Elijah ... was jealous for the glory of God." Therefore by appearing together with Christ, they show how falsely the Jews "accused Him of transgressing the Law, and of blasphemously appropriating to Himself the glory of God." 3rd, "to show that He has the power of death and life, and that He is the judge of the dead and the living; by bringing with Him Moses who had died, and Elias who still lived." 4th, because, as Luke says (9:31), "they spoke" with Him "of His passage that He should accomplish in Jerusalem," i.e. of His Passion and death. Therefore, "in order to strengthen the hearts of His disciples with a view to this," He sets before them those who had exposed themselves to death for God's sake: since Moses braved death in opposing Pharaoh, and Elijah in opposing Ahab. 5th, that "He wished His disciples to imitate the meekness of Moses and the zeal of Elijah." St. Hilary of Poitier adds a 6th reason—namely, to signify that He had been foretold by the Law, which Moses gave them, and by the prophets, of whom Elijah was the principal.

Lofty mysteries should not be immediately explained to everyone, but should be handed down through superiors to others in their proper turn. Consequently, as Chrysostom says (on Mt. 17:3), "He took these three as being superior to the rest." For "Peter excelled in the love" he bore to Christ and in the power bestowed on him; John in the privilege of Christ's love for him on account of his virginity, and, again, on account of his being privileged to be an Evangelist; James on account of the privilege of martyrdom. Nevertheless He did not wish them to tell others what they had seen before His Resurrection; "lest," as Jerome says on Mt. 17:19, "such a wonderful thing should seem incredible to them; and lest, after hearing of so great glory, they should be scandalized at the Cross" that followed; or, again, "lest [the Cross] should be entirely hindered by the people" [*Bede, Hom. xviii; cf. Catena Aurea]; and "in order that they might then be witnesses of spiritual things when they should be filled with the Holy Ghost" [*Hilary, in Matth. xvii].

Let us keep to the Lenten Journey!