A Lonely Place

 A LONELY PLACE, a Parishioner Testimonial for St. Dominic’s Grief Support

The Lord is close to the broken heated: let us give Him thanks and praise! – Psalm 34

The suicide of Robin Williams hit me like a bomb.  My first thought was “no one understood or knew how to help him in his time of distress.”  The reason I want to address this tragedy is because there are so many people who carry burdens of which others are not aware and if they were, would not know how to be of assistance or the person suffering and feeling vulnerable, is willing to share. I speak from experience.

This is the 3rd year in a row that I have experienced deep sadness and depression among other feelings, all around about the same time and for different reasons.  Three years ago I felt as though my heart was broken and I wanted nothing more than to be dead and gone from this world and to be with the Lord.  Trying to understand some situations was beyond me and then I was among people who did not agree with my spirituality but I had to keep on smiling.   It was only the Lord Jesus who got me through those tough times. I just couldn’t imagine life without my Lord.   Since 3 is my favorite # because of the Trinity – I am happy.

I wear my heart on my sleeve and have to learn to throw my heart “over the wall” and have my emotions follow. Being misunderstood is so easily done and leaves me feeling worse than before. The desire then is to stay away from people believing that I will be poor company when in fact they are the ones I need the most. I shared with a friend in New Zealand about this difficult time and was surprised when she shared with me of her own depression, with which she has struggled all her life – and I NEVER KNEW!!  We share a wonderful friendship encouraging each other in the Lord.

I finally came to the conclusion that this is a grace and that I should consider this a blessing for the Lord to use and also to thank Him in all things.   Here is the most awesome part.  When I consider the pain Jesus experienced for all the sins of the world – I also realize that in His great love for us He promises never to give us more than we can bear and then gives us the strength to overcome. It is only through personal experience that I am able to understand another’s plight and the crosses they bear and then can bring them the comfort that we were given by our precious Savior.  “Praised be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation!  He comforts us in all our afflictions and thus enables us to comfort those who are in trouble, with the same consolation we have received from Him………..”  2 Corinthians 1:3-7

Our Church is filled with many people who carry their crosses of which we are blissfully unaware, most of the time.   How many are so desirous of some comfort?   We are in the best place in the whole world; in the Church, where we can support and pray for one another if only we are aware of their travail. Since I am not, I have decided that I will support in prayer  all who are suffering and are heavy laden – that the Lord will comfort and guide them and to direct me to be a friend in need.   “Be patient in suffering, be constant in prayer” – Romans 12:12

The Grief Support group is just such a place.   Last year I accompanied 2 friends, one who had lost her husband and the other who had lost her father.   Speaking about our losses is therapeutic especially when in the company of like minded people where it is a safe place and expression of thoughts are welcomed.   One thing I have learned, even when I don’t feel like it, to Praise Him anyway!  Praise chases the gloom!

I highly recommend attending a Grief Support session or calling a Priest when the need is urgent.    I will try and smile more often even when I am feeling low and unknowingly then encourage someone else who could be in pain.    

I remember the words of a Priest “I am a unique creation of God” when being introduced to someone. That is what each of us is to God.  Think about it, each and every snowflake which is different as we are, and we are very much more loved than snowflakes.   Our self esteem comes from God alone.  What an awesome God we serve!

“To God, the darkest depths of the human heart are as clear as the page of a book lying open in the sunlight.  He knows us through and through-and loves us as deeply as He knows us!   Rather than hide from Him, let us put our life in the hands that fashioned us and allow Him to lead us in the path of life eternal……….” – Read Psalm 139

Loving Father, You watch over each one of us in our trials and our troubles.  Help us to understand what Your will is, to trust You, and to stay close to You.  Through Christ our Lord , Amen.

ILONA HELMHOLZ

August 28, 2014

St. Augustine!



Knights of Columbus Scholarship Essay- Nora Fey

Nora Fey is a young lady of 15 currently attending St. Patrick’s / St. Vincent’s High School.  She is the daughter of Duane and Tricia Fey who are devout and devoted members of our parish and its ministries.  Nora just won the Knights of Columbus Fr. McGivney Columbian Award for her academic and extracurricular achievements, including an essay about how she’s sees her practice of the faith in today’s church.  With her permission we thought we’d publish that essay here for your edification.  With young people like Nora, the Church’s future is in great hands!

How Do I See Myself Practicing and Witnessing to My Faith in Today’s World?

by Nora Fey, St. Patrick’s / St. Vincent’s Class of 2017

Knights Scholarship Recipient

Fr. McGivney Columbian High School Award Recipient, Nora Fey

Ever since I can remember, Jesus has been a huge part of my life.  I was not aware of my Baptism, but I am thankful my parents made it happen.  I have been privileged to attend Catholic school my entire life.  This is where my Catholic faith has grown on a daily basis.  Jesus is my mentor, and my best friend.  It is comforting to know I can talk to him and turn to him whenever I need him.  I lean on him not only in bad times, but in good as well.  I talk to him daily and try to live as he would want me to.  This includes treating others the way I would like to be treated, and looking out for others.  It brings me joy when I am able to make someone else’s life brighter.  Jesus’ kind heart and aspiration to serve others inspires me to live the same lifestyle.

Jesus has given me many gifts.  The ultimate gift is my life.  I am thankful for all the blessings he has given me, which include my health, the ability to see his beautiful creation, and to live a life dedicated to him.  I am able to shine my light on those in need.  One of my best assets is the ability to read others.  I tend to zoom in on those who are in need of love.  I give them special attention and openly listen to what they have to say.  On the other hand, one of my favorite things is to listen to the homily every Sunday at mass.  I feel like this is Jesus’ way to communicate with me.  This is my way to relate the gospel with my everyday life, and to put the Word of God into action in my own life.

I tend to remind myself every day how blessed I am to have my faith.  It is a major factor that shapes me into the person I am today.  I highly encourage others to practice their faith.  I have become a better person with it in my life.

Next year, I will have the privilege to be a member of the Retreat Team at St. Patrick – St. Vincent High School.  This will enable me to put my faith into action.  My role is to lead spiritual retreats in order to help fellow students come closer to God.  I am really excited about this opportunity.  One of the reasons why is because I was able to find myself and become closer to God when I went on retreats this year and last year.  The members were so nice to me and encouraged me to reach out to God.  Because of my own experience I want to give back.  I want to make others feel the love, and see the light like I did.  I do believe this a calling from God.  I also believe I need to reach out to others to share God’s message, love, and light.  It will be an honor to do it and I cannot wait for what lies ahead.



RCIA Testimonial

It’s Never Too Late

Sisters and Brothers in Faith, The Divine Mercy Chaplet Makes a House Call

My current RCIA journey is directly related to the manifestation of my now deceased husband’s, Prem’s, three year sojourn with the diagnosis of carcinoma of the liver bile duct (cancerous tumor).  Prem was originally given a six month prognosis, but by the grace of God, our merciful Lord, Jesus Christ, and the presence of the Holy Spirit, we were provided for through God’s servant, Dr. Kenneth Benmoeller, a gifted, humble physician who flew in to California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco on 11 different occasions to perform stent procedures for Prem.  My husband was able to “outlive his prognosis” by almost three years.  During my husband’s illness I lived “frozen by fear” of the uncertainty of each day and the horror of my husband’s physical demise.  These factors hastened my becoming totally dependent on God’s love and mercy to truly live on a day-to-day basis.

During this trial God sent members of the Catholic community to our home to bring us comfort and support with His “good news.”

In the last year of my husband’s illness, his best friends of more than thirty years, Pat and Ilona Helmholz, who have attended St. Dominic’s for many years and are members of the Dominican Laity, had just returned from three years in Africa as Maryknoll missionaries.  In Prem’s last year they, Pat and Ilona, made weekly visits to our home to pray with us, frequently bringing flower bouquets to cheer us. Sharing their faith with us, they walked with us and supported us during that difficult time, our journey “through the shadow of the valley of death.”

 Additionally, during the last year of my husband’s life, two friends of ours, Linda Perkins and Chuck Prejean, and two of their friends, Lena and Rudy D’ Antonio, all of whom are parishioners at St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church in Vallejo, frequently came to pray with us.  Through these devoted Christians we were introduced to the Divine Mercy Chaplet.  When fear plagued me, St. Faustina’s Divine Mercy Chaplet calmed me steadily increasing my trust in the love and mercy of The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit.  Subsequent to my husband’s death, I continued to experience an amazing depth of relationship with The Trinity through the Divine Mercy Chaplet.  As I navigated the loss of my husband, I was very lonely, but not alone because of my ongoing relationship with the source of my strength, our Heavenly Father, His Son Our Lord and the constant, subtle voice of the Holy Spirit.  I had truly learned to trust in the Lord during my husband’s illness, and now in my loss, I trusted in and relied on the Lord to guide me forward on a daily basis as I ventured alone.

Saint Faustina, the conduit of the Divine Mercy Chaplet, made a house call through those Catholics who introduced me to her works.  Subsequently having read The Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska and having committed myself to the chaplet, it was apparent to me that she would be my patron saint because of the peace the chaplet, which attested to her intimate relationship with God,  had provided me during my husband’s illness and death.

Although as an infant and youth, I had been baptized and confirmed in the Methodist church, and I was subsequently married and confirmed in the Episcopal Church, the depth of my relationship with the Trinity was never significantly tested until my husband’s illness and death.   The Catholics came to my rescue at the time when my spiritual needs were the greatest.  While one of my sister’s converted to the Episcopal faith as I had, two of my sisters had previously converted to Catholicism many years ago, so I was aware and somewhat familiar with the teachings of the Catholic Church and the beauty and depth of the Catholic mass.  In the 1970’s I had taken an Inquiry class in Catholicism, but did not join the church.  During my husband’s illness and upon his death, I was called to Catholicism through the ministrations of these friends, previously noted, as well as by the Holy Spirit and Saint Faustina.  I began to walk in faith and by attending midnight mass at St. Dominic’s on Christmas Eve after Prem’s passing, I was greeted by Shannon Carter and Gaye Rose, who so generously share their faith by serving others.  Although I was attending regular grief counseling through Kaiser Permanente for what would ultimately be for a year, I also began to attend the grief group at St. Dominic’s led by Shannon.  Then, I attended the series Catholic’s Returning Home (although I was not a Catholic) also led by Shannon, Gaye, and Teresa Schneider.  When RCIA began in the late summer, I was hungry to know more about Catholicism.  Shannon, Kelley Curtis, Gaye, Fr. Corwin, and Dr. Marco Roman along with my sponsors, Ilona Helmholz and Rose Usura, were consistent shepherds leading me in the ways of Catholicism. 

During the year of my RCIA journey, initially all was smooth sailing as I continued to learn and share with my fellow journeyers.  Our text, The United States Catholic Catechism, provided the intellectual knowledge I desired to begin to cognitively understand Catholicism while Bible readings reinforced “the heart and spirit” of faith.  The spiritual aspect of the cognitive pursuit of Catholicism was extended by the outreach of the leaders, sponsors, fellow RCIA inquirers, and the presence of the Holy Spirit, who like the parable of the lost sheep, never let us wander too far off course.  As the Tuesday night meetings progressed, my faith found a spiritual home.  Attending the 5:30pm mass on Sundays provided me hope and gave me direction for the coming week.  I felt like I had been swimming underwater a bit too long during the week, and surfaced for a much needed breath of air during Sunday the mass.  The mass continues to surprise me each week as I increase my level of understanding and involvement of the liturgy, symbolism, and the Lord’s word as I drink from His well.

One of the highlights of the RCIA journey came in early February when we attended the overnight retreat at Villombrosa in Menlo Park.  The serene garden surroundings and spiritual events designed for the growth of our faith, individually and collectively, are a gift I will always treasure.   The stained glass and religious appointments in the Church of the Nativity was especially inspiring, as was attending Vespers at the convent of the cloistered Dominican Nuns.  Quietly walking the Stations of the Cross at night with the moon and stars witnessing from Heaven was ethereal and touching.  Fr. Corwin provided an inspirational activity which encouraged us to write down any personal obstacles which might cause us resistance to our RCIA journey toward confirmation.  During a special mass we presented our “obstacles” for God’s grace on the chapel’s alter.  Afterward the mass these “obstacles” were collectively burned providing many of us a feeling of cleansing and release.

Having said that, I must admit that I was seized by two weeks of debilitating uncertainty about converting to Catholicism just prior to the Rite of Sending and the Rite of Election.  It was Shannon and Gaye who calmed my troubled waters, reminded me that all humans are all sinners, and that I was worthy of God’s mercy, grace, and love.  Gaye and I celebrated when my doubts ceased by attending the Chrism Mass in Sacramento at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament where the very chrism which would be used in the RCIA members’ baptisms and/or confirmations was blessed by Bishop Soto, who through the Holy Spirit, breathed faith and life into the sacred oil. 

My intense personal self-reflection of about two weeks prior to my first confession was much more agonizing than the actuality of the sacrament of reconciliation with Fr. David.  I will never forget how I felt God’s mercy through confession to Fr. David.  To receive the feeling of forgiveness was humbling and freeing and mystical. 

Another humbling experience was when Fr. Jerome washed our feet during the Mass of the Lord’s Supper.  This act of love and humility was welcoming in a way that words cannot express.  God’s touch was manifested by Fr. Jerome’s hands.  This ceremony was so intense that it helped me to better understand how the Eucharist is consecrated by the priest.

The most overwhelming experience of my RCIA journey was totally unexpected with the Veneration of the Cross.  The quiet, solemn procession of parishioners kneeling before the Cross and kissing the Cross one-by-one as it was held by Fr. Corwin in the candlelit church touched my very soul with the Passion of our Lord in a way I never expected!  I felt a heartbreak that was so real I could not hold back my tears.

By the night of Confirmation, the Vigil Mass, Saturday, April 4, 2015, I had no feelings of trepidation or uncertainty, instead feelings of peace and joy prevailed.   The sacraments of baptism, confirmation, and first communion honestly did feel like a “marriage” to God and to the Catholic Church.  True to “marriage-like” form, during the mass and sacraments, time seemed distorted as if time itself was surreal like time lapse photography being quick and slow at the same time…like a dream.

I had not really given particular thought to the charismatic evangelists’ concept of the “born again” phenomenon, but I certainly understand the experience now since my RCIA journey which culminated in my conversion to Catholicism through the sacraments of confession, communion, and  confirmation.  At sixty-four years of age, I do feel “born again” in Christ Jesus!

I am unable to adequately thank all who have been so self-less and instrumental in my RCIA journey:  RCIA leaders, Shannon Carter and Kelley Curtis, Fr. Jerome, Fr. Corwin, Fr. David, Fr. Vic, Dr. Marco Roman, Deacon Flanagan, and my sponsors, Rose Ursua and Ilona Helmholz, as well as all the sponsors who shared in and contributed to our confirmation experience!  Your commitment and support during my/our RCIA journey has been AMAZING!

Thank you to the entire active community of faith at St. Dominic’s Church for your support and welcome.

Yours in Christ Jesus,

Katherine “Faustina” Jefferies Dhawan



From the Choir Stall- Fr. Corwin on the Sign of Peace

Fr. Corwin explains the Sign of Peace

April 19th, 2015
 
Many of you approached me this past weekend thanking me for giving catechetical instruction on the Sign of Peace. I thank you for this. All of us priests here at St. Dominic appreciate your feedback, even if it critical, because it helps us to adapt our message to you. We Dominicans sometimes have an awfully heady approach to theology, which is one of the reasons we have historically spent so much time teaching at universities. However we do try and make our points as accessible as possible. That said; if something we say in our homilies doesn’t make sense, then by all means, let us know and we’ll try and clarify.Peace be with you

Do not forget that most of our homilies, along with tons of other fantastic resources, are available to download on our parish website. And this particular homily is already posted and available (I checked). So if you happened to be traveling and could not be here, or if you just want to hear it again, you can find it, along with others, at:

https://www.stdombenicia.org/sermons/

Regarding the document I mentioned regarding the Sign of Peace (as approved and signed by His Holiness Pope Francis via the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments), its title is the Circular Letter on the Ritual Expression of the Gift of Peace at Mass. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has also published a document on how we, as Americans, should interpret and understand this letter in light of our own culture. Both can be found in their newsletter at the following address:

http://bit.ly/1J79QrS

We often find rules and regulations regarding our actions to be stifling, particular ones that govern our liturgy. That’s understandable because knowledge is always one generation away from extinction, given our life spans. It’s frustrating when we’re asked to do something without some sort of explanation of why. However, if we spend the time understanding their historical development as well as their theological symbolism, then we see how important they can be in our worship. Our actions are not just beautiful; they are meaningful.

God, on his part, has no need for our worship. He is perfect and lacks nothing. But we do it because it is fitting that we do it. And if we’re disposed to this worship, then it elevates us and brings us closer to Him. Who wouldn’t want that?
 
~Fr. Corwin Low, O.P.

 



Answered Prayers and Intercessions

Parishioner Story- The Carpenter’s Intercession

Jesus Saves! I’ve seen those flashing signs and wondered why people wasted the neon. But this time Jesus really did save the day, as the expression goes. It all started when I agreed to do some property management for someone who was going to be out of town. I expected paper work, rent collecting, and consequently, some human relations work. Those expectations were all fulfilled!Jesus Saves Home Decor Display Neon Light Sign

But then, out of nowhere, in one of the apartments, someone stepped on a bathroom tile between the tub and the toilet and the floor fell out under foot. Sure enough, water, rot, and time had conspired against the structural integrity of the plywood in the sub-floor making every trip to the toilet a precarious adventure. Unfortunately, the tenant in that apartment is wheelchair bound with limited upper-body dexterity. Needless to say, I was very concerned, ok, ok, downright worried about the guy. 

I had jury-rigged a patch under the broken tile so that it would hold for a couple of days until I could get a professional in to take care of the job. Well, one thing led to another and five days later cancellations and missed appointments put me back at square one with the floor still full of rot and my stomach in a knot every time I thought of the guy having to go into his bathroom. And, still, no one could find the time to get this one job taken care of.

I couldn’t wait any longer. Tuesday night I decided I would have to figure out some way to brace the floor. I didn’t have any construction background, but I did have Google “How-to” sites and YouTube. Something had to be done and I was the only one available. I didn’t like it much. I told my ‘boss’ so.  I also poured my heart out in prayer. I prayed differently Tuesday night than I usually do. I spoke to Jesus directly. Usually, I address the “Father”, or I speak to my “Lord”.On Tuesday I spoke to Jesus, “Jesus, I need your help! You were the son of a carpenter. You did carpentry. You know how to do this. I don’t know what I’m doing and I can’t afford to mess this up because I don’t want anyone tjm_200_NT1.pd-P7.tiffo get hurt.”  (For the record I did also ask St. Joseph to give me some directions and tell me what to do too.) As I finished talking to Jesus I felt peace. I knew I had been heard and I slept well.

The next morning “stuff” interrupted my intended schedule, but it did not bother me as much as it usually does. I finally got to the apartment, and despite my trepidation, was able to dismantle the toilet and do the demolition on only the section of the floor that was in dire need of repair. I took measure of what I needed to do the bracing and headed to Home Depot for the 2×4 and necessary hardware.

As I approached the cashier, lumber on my shoulder, cash in hand, purse-strap tangled in my hair, juggling screws, a jug of glue, a new toilet flange, and some of that black PVC piping stuff, a friend spotted me, stopped to say hello and asked if I was now getting into the carpentry business. No longer experiencing any of the peace I had felt the night before, I said no and explained the situation. Appalled, he asked for the address of the apartment and told me to head back over there and “stay put.”

“I’ve got three guys working on the house I’m renovating,” he said, “I’ll bring one of them over there to help you finish up this afternoon.”

Extremely relieved I thanked him and said I would look forward to seeing him whenever he was able to get there. I paid for my supplies and headed back to work. It seemed only 30 seconds later that my friend’s truck pulled up. He got out, as did a guy with a tool bag. My smile stretched from my heart to my fingertips when my friend introduced the guy:

“This is Jesus,” he said, “He’s going to help you finish that little project of yours.”

All right, in the interest of full disclosure he did pronounce the name “Hey-Soos” But that didn’t bother me at all. Jesus helped me – actually he totally took over – to finish the job. 

I am at peace again. I have no worries of anyone falling though that section of flooring. I am thankful for friends, for help, and for God’s perfect and miraculous timing. And, I have an awesome Jesus story. … Not to mention a new contact number if I ever need help again. Thank you Jesus!
 
Anonymous St. Dominic’s Parishioner


Why we skip the Alleluia during Lent

From the Choir Stall by Fr. Corwin Low, O.P.
allelulia blog post image

 

For the entire season of Lent the Church has banished the use of the word Alleluia from its public liturgies (e.g., Mass). Alleluia (Halleluja as spelt in older uses of English) is a Hebrew word that means, literally, “Praise to God.” This praise has a joyful overtone to it and we use it especially during happy celebrations. And while we do praise God all year round, during Lent we withhold a bit of our joy and happiness because of the season’s penitential and sorrowful character. After all, we are anticipating Jesus’ very passion and death.

Throughout the year, before the proclamation of the gospel we sing an Alleluia. We sing our joy because Jesus Christ gave us the gospels, the Word of God, containing his good news—our instruction manual for salvation. But during Lent, we dial-down that quality. And while we still praise God before the Gospel, we reserve the word Alleluia, the highest form of praise, for happier times.

Of course, Easter Sunday has arrived and it is indeed a happier time. Not only has Jesus’ passion and death passed, but he has also been resurrected. And it is through this resurrection that we can be assured of salvation, of everlasting life. So how do we express our joy? Not only do we bring the Alleluia back, we bring it back in triples. For the entire Easter octave (Easter lasts 8 full days from Easter Sunday through the following Sunday), at the end of Mass, we sing a very special, Alleluia—3 times.

In various Semitic languages doubling of a word draws attention to its meaning and amplifies it. This is why when Jesus says, “Amen, Amen, I say to you…”, the doubling of the word Amen, which means “let it be done” is not just a suggestion, it’s practically a commandment. So if you think that doubling a word increases its significance, can you image what tripling a word implies? So while the tripling of the Alleluia ends after the Easter octave, we still continue to use Alleluia a whole lot more than during other times of the year.

We tend to take the word Alleluia for granted. We hear it so often that it tends to lose its meaning. This is why the Church removes its use for the 40 days of Lent. By removing it, we miss it. And when we miss it, we tend to long for it. And we long for it, when it comes back we rejoice—bringing its significance back into full force. Listen for it! And rejoice.

Christ is Risen! He is Risen, indeed! Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!

~Fr. Corwin

 

 



From the Choir Stall- Fr. Corwin March 1st, 2015

From the Choir Stall, by Fr. Corwin

Part 1

 
Some of you might have wondered why our Universal Prayer at Sunday Mass has changed. Still others might ask, “What’s a Universal Prayer?” That’s a good question because our Church has a myriad of terms in common, liturgical, and theological “speak.” So it’s best if we know that we’re talking about the same things before we launch into a discussion about them.
 
In any case, the Universal Prayer is just the term for the intercessory prayers that are prayed at Mass immediately following the Creed and just before the Liturgy of the Eucharist. It is also sometimes called the Prayers of the Faithful or General Intercessions. They are the individual intercessions that we address to God the Father. Note that they are addressed to that person of the Holy Trinity and not the Son nor the Holy Spirit. Why? It’s because we petition God as our Father and address him in loving mercy as his children. Addressing him this way automatically shows our deference to him and acknowledges him in his omnipotence. It is similar to what we do in the Lord’s Prayer when we start off with,“Our Father…”.
 
But back to the change that was made earlier this year. Previously there was a practice here at St. Dominic’s for the reader to announce, “and those prayers that we now mention out loud.” At this point, various people in the congregation would announce their particular intentions—out loud and all at once. After a short pause the reader said, “Let us pray to the Lord.” Of course there is always the need to bring our prayers to the Lord. It is even better to include the support of our friends, family, neighbors, and fellow parishioners. But this practice arose out of celebrations of a handful of people, not a congregation of several hundred. And with anything more than, say a dozen people, the prayers become a cacophony of unintelligible sounds—unmanageable and often distracting—thus taking away the “moment” of our collective cry, “Lord, hear our prayer.”

 

Realizing the need for us to bring our personal intentions to the Lord within the context of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the reader will thus announce, “And for the intentions that we hold in the silence of our hearts:” followed a few seconds later by, “Lord, hear our prayer.” By doing so it still allows us to address our most critical needs without disrupting the ambience of contemplation where we find and hear the Lord most clearly. Our goal is to bring our petitions to Our Heavenly Father in the most humble way possible. It is in our humility that God hears us best. By focusing our attentions on a few important ones, ones that help us reflect on the gospel readings, we do just that.
Lord hear our prayer,
 
Fr. Corwin

 



Tribute to Francesca Simonsen

In Memory of Francesca Simonsen, St. Dominic’s Organist for 34 years

 
As many of you know, last month the St. Dominic Community in Benicia lost a special member, Francesa Simonsen. Francesca was the Organist here for over 34 years, accompanying the 11AM Choir. Her loving nature and dedication is highlighted in this sweet poem written by her husband Ed.
 
For over 34 years Francesca has played for the 11 O’Clock Choir
To add a musical accompaniment to the Mass was her desire
She didn’t play for fame, self recognition or for glory
She offered up her gifted talent to Jesus to tell His story
Her playing was a musical reverent prayer, to heaven on high
The angels surely must have been moved, as I swear I could hear them sigh
Though quiet in voice and small in stature, she gave her organ a mighty voice.
To share her gifts with us, the Holy Spirit gave her no other choice
For the 34 plus years she played for us she didn’t miss a beat
Now in Heaven she is playing divinely God’s holy Organ-filling a long vacant seat.
 
Rest in Peace Francesa you are missed.
 
 


Fr. Jerome on Lent

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

This Wednesday is Ash Wednesday and the start of the 2015 Lenten season.  The diocese sent out an email reminding the faithful of the Lenten practices that assist us in our spiritually during Lent so as to worthily prepare for our Lord’s Resurrection at Easter.  Here is what the email stated:

Lent prepares the faithful to celebrate the Paschal Mystery of Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection. It is a time for reflection and spiritual renewal, a time to examine one’s relationships with God and with others. The Church also calls Catholics to a spirit of penance, above all to practice the “Acts of Religion”: fasting, prayer and almsgiving, “which express conversion in relation to oneself, to God, and to others.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos.1969 and 1434).

I. FAST AND ABSTINENCE (self-denial)   

To foster the spirit of penance and of reparation for sin, to encourage self-denial, and to guide us in the footsteps of Jesus, Church law requires the observance of fast and abstinence (CCC, nos. 1249-1253).Lent_SElfDenial

1. Abstinence: All persons who have already celebrated their 14th birthday are bound to abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and all Fridays of Lent.

2. Fasting: Everyone, from the celebration of their 18th birthday to their 59th birthday, is bound to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Voluntary fasting on other weekdays of Lent, especially on Wednesdays and Fridays, is highly recommended. Fasting is generally understood to mean eating one full meal each day. Two other partial meals, sufficient to maintain strength, may be taken; but together they should not equal another full meal. Eating between meals is not permitted, but liquids are allowed. Other forms of “fasting,” especially regarding alcoholic drinks, needless television, video games, the internet and social entertainment, is of true spiritual value and is strongly encouraged. When health or ability to work would be seriously affected, neither the law of fasting nor the law of abstinence obliges. If in doubt, one’s parish priest or confessor may be consulted. Airport workers, travelers, and others while on board ships or airplanes are dispensed from the laws of fast and abstinence for the duration of their journey (except on Good Friday). It is desirable that they perform some other pious act instead.

II. PRAYER

In order to deepen one’s love for Christ, Catholics are urged to read and pray over sacred Scripture; to study the Catechism of the Catholic Church; to participate in devotions offered by the parish; and to pray more fervently — individually, as families, and in common with others. The faithful are exhorted to pray the rosary, to make private visits to the Blessed Sacrament, and to pray especially for vocations to the priesthood and the religious life, for world peace, and for an ongoing implementation of the pastoral initiatives of the Third Diocesan Synod.

1. Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation: Lent_RepentenceLent is a privileged time for celebrating this sacrament. Parishes generally make readily available the Sacrament of Penance, including its communal celebration. (In this way, the social and ecclesial aspects of sin and reconciliation, as well as one’s personal reconciliation with God may be underscored.) At communal celebrations of reconciliation, however, general absolution is not permitted. People should attend also to reconciliation in every aspect of human life — personal, familial, societal, and ecclesial. During the Lenten and Easter time, Catholics are reminded that they are obliged to celebrate the Sacrament of Penance at least once a year.

2. Lenten Mass Schedule: Daily Masses during Lent are so scheduled so as to facilitate the attendance and spiritual growth of the faithful. The faithful are urged to attend Mass on weekdays as often as possible.

3. The Stations of the Cross are celebrated publicly in each parish on Fridays during the Lenten season. Parishioners are urged to participate.

4. Day of penance and prayer, Wednesday, March 11: “A day of penance for negative attitudes and discrimination toward people of differing cultures, ethnicity and race; and prayer for unity in our diversity, for equality, mutual respect and peace among all peoples – the second Wednesday in March…” (Diocesan Statute no. 123, §3c.)

5. Easter Duty: All Catholics who have been initiated into the Holy Eucharist are bound to receive Holy Communion worthily at least once during the Easter Season: Easter Sunday, April 5 through Pentecost, May 24. (In the United States, the Easter duty may be fulfilled through Trinity Sunday, May 31) Catholics are encouraged to receive Communion as often as possible, not only during Eastertide, but throughout the liturgical year. However, “Anyone conscious of a grave sin must receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation before coming to Communion.” (CCC, no. 1385)

III. ALMSGIVINGLent_Almsgiving

The act of giving to the poor, in the most ancient tradition of the Church, is an expression of penance, a form of piety, a witness of fraternal charity and an expression of Lenten conversion. Therefore, all Catholics are urged to support generously the charitable works of the Church, including ordinary the poor and the vulnerable through Catholic Charities, education of seminarians and children in Catholic schools, and local parish social service ministries. People are also encouraged to assist the sick, the aged, the needy and the imprisoned in other ways. Fasting and abstinence together with works of charity help Catholics live in solidarity with the crucified Christ reflected in the image of our brothers and sisters who suffer.

God bless you,
 
Fr. Jerome Cudden, O.P. 
Pastor


Walk for Life West Coast

By Marco Roman, PhD. Director of Catechesis & Evangelization at St. Dominic’s

Lidia and I had the great pleasure of participating in the 2015 West Coast Walk for Life along with approximately 50,000 other pro-life defenders, both Christian and secular. We began the day by attending the Mass celebrated by Archbishop Cordilione, the Archbishop of San Francisco at the Cathedral only a few blocks away from where the Walk for Life rally was held.  We walked from Civic center plaza down Market Street and concluded approximately two miles at the Embarcadero.  It was an awe-inspiring and sobering walk as we marched with countless young people from around the Bay Area and across our great country stretching from East coast to West.  walkforlifewc

 It is truly hopeful to be united with so many people who are willing to make a public testimony for the culture of life in the midst of a society which still seems to ignore, misrepresent and distort the truth regarding the horror of abortion and its wide-ranging effects. It’s sad to learn of the lasting effects abortions have on the women and men including struggle with sorrow, loss and deep regret for the decision they have made, many of whom shared their stories at the Walk for Life.

It is clear and undeniable that the civil rights issue of today is justice and equality for the most vulnerable; those who wait in their mother’s womb to be born into a world were the most basic law for any civil society is upheld and preserved for all: Do not kill. It is no wonder the lack of dignity of life is spreading its error and evil and is infecting and eroding other fundamental beliefs, particularly the truths regarding marriage, human sexuality and family life.  Every time I attend a weekday Mass at St. Dominic’s and see the many young and innocent faces of our children I become very emotional, knowing the prevailing secular culture they face is constantly attempting to indoctrinate them in an illusory and false gospel. We live in a time when courageous Catholicism is needed to take back virtue from vice and to build a culture of life and civilization of love built on the truths of God’s commandments. The promises of Jesus’ presence in the Church must be our constant hope and inspiration as we build the kingdom of God and a culture of compassion, without compromising the truth of the Gospel. 

For more information and pictures of this annual event, I encourage you to visit. http://www.walkforlifewc.com/
 
To hear Fr. Jerome’s Homily on this subject click here