Godzdogz

Godzdogz

The blog of the Dominican student brothers at Blackfriars, Oxford.

Built on the four pillars of our Dominican life – preaching, prayer, study, and community – Godzdogz offers many resources for exploring the Catholic Faith today.
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Characters of Advent - Zechariah

Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Zechariah, do not be afraid, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth is to bear you a son and you shall name him John. He will be your joy and delight and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord; he must drink no wine, no strong drink; even from his mother's womb he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, and he will bring back many of the Israelites to the Lord their God (Luke 1:13-16). Read more

Saints in Advent - St John of the Cross

Monday, December 14, 2009
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Third Sunday of Advent - Rejoice

Sunday, December 13, 2009
Last year I attended a non-religious crematorium service of a relative who had died. After a rather depressing eulogy, we left the building with a recording of 'Always look on the bright side of life' piping away in the background. Sometimes it can be difficult to find words of comfort, and this song is an ironic reminder of how ridiculous it could sound if we tried too hard. Still, we have to be careful not to fall into the trap of believing there are never any words that can be used to console people.

Today is Gaudete Sunday, a day in which we are exhorted to rejoice, and it is a reminder that words are not always cheap and superficial. Words can cut deep into us. John the Baptist called the multitudes who came to be baptized 'a brood of vipers' – hardly words that are consoling, but these words sunk deep into his listeners. They were shaken out of their complacency and they woke up to something that deep down they already knew – their relationship with other people is important. It is important that people should share, that they shouldn't exploit each other or make false accusations. Such rules are essential for a community to flourish. But this isn't all there is to John's message. It is only a preparation for something far greater.

In Philippians, we are told to rejoice in the Lord always. Rejoicing is not optional or dependent on our mood. It's essential to our being; it's the reason why we exist. When we rejoice, it is not something we do on our own - we rejoice as a community. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we become a community that can rejoice in the Lord, a community that is the visible presence of the Lord in the world. As an individual, we might not always feel joyful, but our membership of Christ's body, the Church, is a sign of great joy. In telling us to rejoice in the Lord, Paul is not using empty words; these words have substance, they are embodied in Christ.
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Characters of Advent - Elizabeth

Saturday, December 12, 2009
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Characters of Advent - Isaiah

Friday, December 11, 2009
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Characters of Advent: John the Baptist

Friday, December 11, 2009
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Prophecy and its Fulfillment

Wednesday, December 09, 2009
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Characters of Advent - Mary: Ave gratia plena!

Monday, December 07, 2009
Annunciation Read more

Second Sunday of Advent - Make His Paths Straight

Sunday, December 06, 2009
Readings: Baruch 5:1-9, Philippians 1:3-6, 8-11, Luke 3:1-6

In Advent we are called to enter a period of joyful expectation and preparation and the readings for this second Sunday really reflect this. In different ways they radiate a sense of joy, hope and praise. It is true but sad that our world can often seem a hard, dark and lonely place. At different points on our journey the painful truth of just how vulnerable, weak and limited human beings are is brought home to us. While very often we like to think of ourselves as powerful and strong, circumstances will often shatter this illusion and bring us down to earth with a bang. Bereavement, suffering, selfishness, arrogant pride too often mark our human experience. The current recession has been yet another painful reminder of this when we see that those who greedily chased after wealth and power without any regard for the greater good, and seemed like the gods of a new age of human progress, have now been exposed as sadly misguided and not so almighty after all. Global warming also reminds us that we are not masters of all we survey.

Advent is a time to accept this reality of our weakness, our vulnerability and our sinfulness. For we are waiting for the moment when the eternal, creating Word who has clothed himself in our frail human flesh will join us to himself forever. It is by his grace we are transformed into an extraordinary new identity as children of God. The new reality of our vocation is to allow ourselves to be filled with the perfect, healing love of God and to radiate that love to a world that is too often darkened, cynical and hopeless. Baruch, in our first reading, speaking from exile in Babylon, entreats his people not to despair and be sorrowful but to "put on the beauty of the glory of God for ever, wrap the cloak of the integrity of God around you" (Bar 5:1-2). For God has remembered them and is going to transform them. St Paul speaks of our human vocation not in terms of power or wealth or sinfulness but as reaching "the perfect goodness which Jesus Christ produces in us for the glory and praise of God" (Phil 1:11).

But we have our part to play through the life giving, transforming grace of Christ. We must allow ourselves to be completely vulnerable before our loving God, to acknowledge where we have gone wrong in our lives and need forgiveness, and to begin, with God's grace, to put things right and be healed by the transforming power of Christ. As the Baptist cries out to each of us in today's gospel reading: "prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight" (Luke 3:4). Walking together as Christians this Advent, let us try to give our inner house a thorough cleaning and so make it a fit dwelling for the Lord who will come at Christmas.

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Saints in Advent - St Ambrose, a saint for our age

Sunday, December 06, 2009
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