Archive for August, 2011

Gospel, Matthew 18:15-20  What do we do when someone offends us?  All too often we get self-righteous, hold a grudge, and feel vindictive.  We may refuse to have anything to do with the other person.  If we do have contact with the person, we may tell him or her off.  We may tell others how so-and-so wronged us to get sympathy from others or get people on our side.  Such ways of dealing with conflict do no one any good.  On the contrary, they only cause more pain and division.

Jesus’ way of dealing with such situations is quite different.  It is motivated by a desire for unity and healing of relationships.  He tells us to take the direct approach and go right to the person with the goal of reconciling with that person.  Others are brought into the picture only as needed to help the process of reconciliation.  When no reconciliation is possible, we are to treat the person as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.  That certainly begs the question of how we should treat Gentiles and tax collectors.  Jesus commands us to love even our enemies…no one is excluded.  We must treat everyone with love and respect, so there is never room in God’s plan for rejection and holding onto grudges or resentments. 

Reading 1, Ezekiel 33:7-9  Ezekiel was among the Jewish people deported to Babylonia in 597 B.C. a decade before the fall of Jerusalem and general exile in 587 B.C.  He received his prophetic calling there in Babylonia.  He was a contemporary of Jeremiah who prophesied at the time in Judah.  Chapters 3:22 through 24:27 contain oracles and visions against Jerusalem before the Babylonian siege.  The tone and content of these chapters are very similar to the prophecies of Jeremiah.  The oracles from chapters 25:1 through 32:2 are directed against other nations who had a part in or took advantage of Judah’s disaster.  Chapters 33 through 39 are a collection of oracles against Jerusalem during and after the siege and destruction of the city.  Here the prophet is reminded of his responsibility to warn the people.  If he should fail to do so, he would share in the responsibility for their downfall.  How important it is for us to speak out against evils, to encourage good, and to give clear guidance to those under our care.

Reading II, Romans 13:8-10  In the previous verses, Paul had written of our obligation to respect and obey civil authorities, to pay taxes and tolls as good citizens, based on the principle that their authority comes from God.  That principle of giving the government what is its just due extends also to each individual.  The “just due”, however, should not be determined merely according to the dictates of civil law, for we are also citizens of the Kingdom of God and subject to a higher law, the law of love which fulfills all laws.

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The bulletin for August 28, 2011 has been published and can be found here: http://churchofstdominic.org/cluster/bulletin

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“Listen!” is my word for today. 


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If anyone objects to having their picture on this website, leave a comment below and the offending picture will be removed.

The grounds:  Do you remember the old Burma Shave signs that used to appear along the highway?  Father Denmy has variations put up near the parking areas.  This one says “If you resist the pull” on the first sign, followed by “of temptation”, “you will reach”,”your destination”, “Jesus Saves.”  You are invited to compose your own and submit them to Father.







The choir:

The choir came out of summer retirement to perform at the Wednesday night service where Fr. O’Hotto spoke.  And on Saturday evening they were warming up in the lower level as my husband and I arrived.

The Mass: Fr. Denny Dempsey said the Mass.

The food:

The food was provided by the Knights of Columbus and Maria.  Tables were set up on the patio. (Since I didn’t want to bother people by asking their permission to put their picture on our blog, you will have to imagine tables set up in this area – the setting was beautiful as were the people who were there. I felt that the distance shot of people lined up for food was OK.

The entertainment:  DonB, a clown with a faith message performed in the church at 7 PM followed by singing by the vacation bible school children with a slide show of their activities.  Following that there was Bingo, a movie for the kids, and karaoke.

 There are some great shots of DonB in the church bulletin for August 21.  Here are some more pictures of DonB and his volunteers from the audience.

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Gospel, Matthew 16:21-27  In last week’s gospel, Peter responded to Jesus’ question “Who do you say that I am?” by proclaiming him as the Messiah.  Jesus noted that Peter’s answer came not as the result of his mental acuity but through his seeking God’s guidance.  That turning to God for direction and understanding was what Jesus wanted most in the person to whom, more than anyone else, he would entrust his mission, the rock on which he would build his church. 

By turning to God in prayer, Peter had discerned the ways of God.  As with Peter in that moment, we are all called to place ourselves humbly before God to discern God’s will.  Unfortunately, when we feel confident in our own personal knowledge and understanding, we can neglect to turn to God for direction.  That is what happened with Peter just moments after Jesus had entrusted him with a leadership role.  Perhaps taking some pride in his worldly wisdom and experience from years of running a fishing business and managing a staff of workers, he felt confident to advise Jesus on how to live and act as the messiah.  Peter neglected to consult with God and, as a result, unintentionally gave Jesus advice contrary to the will of the Father.  

Jesus, sharing our human nature, would have found it humanly appealing to take the easier route Peter had suggested.  He did not relish suffering.  Even in the Garden of Gethsemane he would pray that the cup of his impending suffering and death be taken away if at all possible.  To be the Messiah without the suffering and death was truly a temptation for him at this moment as it had been back in the days in the desert following his baptism.   There Satan had spoken directly with him, offering him an easier pathway.  Now the voice was that of his friend Peter.  Imagine how strong the temptation to consider what Peter had suggested must have been for Jesus to turn and call his friend a Satan, aware of the pain and sadness the well-intentioned Peter would feel on hearing those words directed at him. 

We can unintentionally be the voice of Satan as well if we trust too much in worldly wisdom and human logic and end up advising or encouraging others from that wisdom rather than turning to discern God’s will.

Reading 1, Jeremiah 20:7-9  The book of the prophet Jeremiah gives us a more personal look into the life of a prophet than any other work of the Old Testament.  After having received little support and a great deal of abuse for having accepted God’s call to be a prophet, Jeremiah decided he had had enough.  He put aside the prophet’s mantle and returned to being a vinedresser.  One can just imagine the comments from his old friends, “Welcome back, Jeremiah.  You finally came to your senses, eh?”  That’s what Jeremiah thought.  He just wanted to put the hassles of being God’s prophet in the past and get back to a more comfortable, less confrontational life.  It wasn’t to be, however, since God continued to move in Jeremiah’s heart.  He describes it as a fire like the molten lava of a volcano building up pressure within him.  It had to erupt.  Jeremiah knew that going back to being a prophet would once result in more abuse and rejection.  Nevertheless, he had to take his lead from God and not from his own personal preferences or the attitudes of the people around him. 

Reading II, Romans 12:1-2  Has there ever been a period in the history of the world when the predominant ethics and norms of society reflected God’s will…when followers of God could simply conform themselves to the present age?  Being a deeply committed Christian will always be counter-cultural to some extent.  It will always require going against the flow of worldly values and ways.  We are not to conform to the world around us but to be transformed into instruments of God…as Jesus put it (John 17:14-18), to be in the world but not of the world.  As we discern God’s will we must make carrying out that divine will our priority.  We need commitment to follow through regardless of the challenge, and discipline of one’s mind and body so as not to fall in times of temptation.

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The bulletin for August 21, 2011 has been published and can be found here: http://churchofstdominic.org/cluster/bulletin

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St. Dominic traces its origins to the year 1858 when the first Mass in the area was offered in a private home. In 1869 the first church was built and the parish received its first regular pastor. A brick Romanesque church was completed in 1914.

(from our church website: churchofstdominic.org)

Excerpts from A History of the Northfield and Dundas Churches by W. F. Schilling, pages 25 – 29, used with permission of the Northfield Historical Society:


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Gospel, Matthew 16:13-20  Caesarea Philippi is situated about 25 miles north of the Sea of Galilee on the southwest slope of Mt. Hermon.  Snowmelt from the mountain 9,230 feet above sea level collects into numerous small streams which join to form the upper reaches of the Jordan River.  Caesarea Philippi is not Jewish territory, so it seems likely that Jesus and the apostles are getting away for a time of retreat and reflection. 

During this time of reflection and retreat, Jesus gave Simon the nickname Peter (petros = rock) and designates him as the instrument Jesus would empower to lead the church after his death and resurrection.  Note that, in his selection of Peter, Jesus does not commend him for his intelligence or acute perception but, rather, his attention to God the Father.  This indicates that Peter sought the guidance of God in prayer, the most important quality which Jesus wanted in the person to whom he would entrust the leadership of his church.  Peter was a good selection from his work experience as well.  He seems to have been the leader of a fishing syndicate prior to his call to follow Jesus, a role in which he would have been responsible for directing a business with a minimum of 15 employees for night fishing and daytime cargo and passenger transport.

Peter took his responsibility seriously, even to the point of trying to advise Jesus on what he should do.  As illustrated in the text immediately following this week’s gospel selection (Matthew 16:22), this didn’t work very well.  Jesus told the apostles that he would suffer and be put to death.  Confident in his own wisdom, Peter tried to apply human reason in that moment and did not turn first to consult with God in prayer.  Peter takes Jesus aside and tries to convince him that suffering and death are not necessary to complete his mission.  Jesus knows otherwise and calls Peter a “satan” or adversary, a horrible thing to hear from the person you most love and respect.

This text provides the scriptural background for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  As you know, Protestant churches are more limited in their lists of sacraments, preferring to include only those with a clear verbal mandate from Jesus.  “Go, make disciples of all nations, baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19) is Jesus’ mandate for baptism.  “Do this in memory of me” (Luke 22:19) is the mandate for Eucharist.  Based on the text from today’s gospel reading, Martin Luther wanted to include Reconciliation as a third “dominical sacrament” but his followers, probably in reaction to theological misunderstandings and abuses, chose not to limit the list to Baptism and Eucharist.  The Catholic Church expands the list of sacraments beyond those explicitly commanded by Jesus to include other significant moments in life which received particular attention in Jesus’ ministry.   

Reading 1, Isaiah 22:19-23  Shebna was a scribe or the secretary of King Hezekiah who for a while was made master of the palace.  Eliakim, a person more to the liking of the prophet Isaiah, replaced him.  Hezekiah was a religious reformer and Isaiah had his ear.  It is possible that Isaiah, believing that Eliakim was more religiously motivated than Shebna, had put in a word for him during a meeting with the king.

Despite being replaced, Shebna retained a significant place in the king’s household.  When Sennacherib, king of Assyria, comes through the region on a military campaign, Hezekiah sends Eliakim and Shebna together to negotiate for him ( 2 Kings 18:18 and Isaiah 36:3).  There is no indication in these texts of any division or competition between the two.  We can see from this scene that being Master of the Palace carried some significant responsibilities including being an ambassador or spokesperson for the king. 

The role of these men serving as king’s steward or master of the palace gives light to the role Peter may have thought he was being invited to serve.

Reading II, Romans 11:33-36  Most Jews believed that God worked through them but not through other peoples.  Paul wrote these words while reflecting on, in his ministerial experience, he had come to see how God had used both Jews and Gentiles in the grand unfolding of his eternal plan…a much bigger and all-encompassing plan than anything he or anyone else would have dreamed of.   Since Paul’s time scientists have acquired a tremendous amount of knowledge and understanding of God’s creation.  There can be a certain pride that comes with knowledge…a temptation to think that talk of a divine plan is pre-scientific and we can now form and run the world without consulting God.  Jesus hinted at this when he said, “I praise you, Father, for what you have hidden from the learned and clever, you have revealed to the merest children (Mt. 11:25).”

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Curt Oleson’s father bought land adjacent to the Hazelwood church which was already there.   Hazelwood was a shared responsibility with St. Dominic’s for years.  (*See quote below.)   Curt remembers Fr. Meade who  served here for years. (See post on second church.)

Curt was one of nine children.  His  parents were not Catholic.   Curt became Catholic in 1948 when he married Helen Mulligan.  She had been a member of St. Dominic’s since 1946 – for a total of 65 years.


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