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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Saint Lucia

Monday, December 13, 2010
The feast of Saint Lucia is a popular event in the region that I come from, the Scandinavian countries. Dressed up in white with candles in their hands, children go in procession early in the morning this day singing the Lucia hymn and handing out Lucy-cakes. Read more

Third Sunday of Advent: The One Who Is To Come

Sunday, December 12, 2010
The familiar figure of John the Baptist, embodying our Advent hope, greets us again in this Sunday’s gospel. However, we find a man whose circumstances are much changed. The figure of hope seems to have become rather a pathetic figure, the great preacher and prophet languishes alone in a prison cell, awaiting his fate. To compound this unfortunate state of affairs it seems that the Baptist has also come to question the deeds of the one they call the Christ – the Anointed One – the one he was sent to prepare the way for. Indeed, he has come to question whether Jesus is such a Messianic figure at all.

Today’s Gospel is then, a question of identity. For John, disconnected from the community he loved, alone in a world filled with uncertainty, the identity of the Anointed One is paramount, and so he sends his disciples to ask; “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” It may seem a rather odd question, after all, if he has heard of the deeds, why then ask the question? The answer to this would appear to be that the identity of ‘the One who is to come’ was very different from the One that the Baptist expected. Indeed, the figure of Jesus had fulfilled none of John’s eschatological promises. John had preached that; “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in his hand. He will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” In an age when such a Messiah was expected to overturn the social and political status quo, John’s question does seem more reasonable. Should we look for another, or perhaps read differently, should we be looking for another of a different kind? Read in this manner we can see that although John’s expectations of Jesus’ role as judge were correct, he was unaware of the mission Jesus first had to fulfill on earth.

John is for us, a very human figure, his certainties have turned to questions, and he seems to waver between a man of prophecy and a man uncertain of the future. But where is the hope? Well, difficulties and questions do not equal despair: where would we all be if such were the case? On the contrary John provides the opportunity for Jesus to make clear the situation concerning his identity. In replying to John’s question Jesus marries his deeds with a patchwork of prophetic promises in Isaiah (29:18-19, 35:5-6, 61:1); "the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them. And blessed is the one who takes no offence at me.” Jesus makes clear the fruits of his ministry and lastly proclaims blessed those who do not see his actions, unexpected though they may be, as a stumbling block to faith.

Whilst the question of identity is not cleared up with a simple Yes or No the answer couldn’t be clearer, and the message we can take from this should be heartening as we journey onward through Advent. We may all have times when we question, when our expectations in faith are not fulfilled, but we must draw upon what we see and hear, upon word and deed. We are surrounded by numerous examples of Christ’s love for us and nourished by the words of scripture. Indeed, our principal source of comfort and solace, even when we feel we are languishing alone and afraid, is Christ himself, given to us in the Eucharist. His identity is certain, but are we this Advent, able to recognise Him? “Are you the One who is to come.”

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Advent reflections from across the Irish Sea

Saturday, December 11, 2010
Reason for the Season,  Read more

Friday - Second Week of Advent

Friday, December 10, 2010
Readings: Isaiah 48: 17-19 Psalm 1 Matthew 11: 11-16

One of the features of our post-enlightenment culture is a somewhat ambiguous attitude to authority. On the one hand our politically correct consciousness recoils at the slightest hint that we are imposing our values on others, and at the same time we aggressively reject any perceived infringements of our own autonomy. Simultaneously, however, the dizzying speed of technological development and a trend towards ever increasing specification has left us more and more dependent on 'experts', authorities in narrow subdivisions of human knowledge in fields such as medicine, economics, computing, and science, whose expertise seems to be beyond the criticism of common sense. If knowledge is power, then, we are in an age of mini-empires, with numerous sub-disciplines of thinkers and practitioners claiming an absolute authority over very specific areas of our lives.

It is very easy to think of the Church in these terms, as just another authority with expertise in that sphere of our life that we label 'religious' or 'spiritual'. Yet the Church is only handing on the revelation it received in Christ, the Word of God. This God, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, is omnipotent and omniscient, all powerful and all knowing. His authority then, and his teaching, are not meant for a part of our life but for all of it.

In today's Gospel, we hear Jesus parodying his contemporaries, for 'John came neither eating nor drinking and they say, "He has a demon"; the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say: "Behold, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners"' Then, as now, God's prophet and his Son were rejected because they had broken out of the mental categories in which people had tried to imprison them. Jesus' contemporaries were prepared to offer obedience to God only in a qualified sense, perhaps because they misunderstood the nature of God's authority.

In the first reading Isaiah presents God not as an authoritarian despot but as a teacher whose instructions guide us to a peace that is 'like a river'. Similarly the psalmist proclaims blessings to those who 'delight in the law of the Lord'. This is the peace, the blessing, of being true to one's nature. Freedom is not found in resisting the authority of God. Freedom comes through obedience, through listening, to the one who made and sustains us. God is not the enemy of our freedom, in fact He creates our freedom; and as our maker and sustainer, the God who knows us better than we know ourselves, He guides and teaches us as to how best to use this great gift of being free. Advent, then, is an ideal time to resolve to deepen our attentiveness to the Word of God, in order that we may be led into a deeper embrace of the Incarnation.  Read more

The Master's Advent Message

Thursday, December 09, 2010
Advent message  Read more

The Immaculate Conception

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Homily at fr Austin Milner's Funeral, 3 December 2010

Tuesday, December 07, 2010
This is the homily preached by Fr David Sanders at the funeral of Fr Austin Milner. The readings of the Mass were Isaiah 25 6-10, Roman 8:2-10 and Mathew 11:25-30  Read more

Monday - Second Week of Advent

Monday, December 06, 2010

John Orme Mills OP RIP (1930-2010)

Monday, December 06, 2010
Please pray for our brother John Orme Mills OP of the Cambridge community who died this afternoon. He was born on 25th September 1930. He worked for some years as a journalist before joining the Order and made his profession on 2nd April 1971. He was ordained to the priesthood on 26th June 1976. He lived in the communities at Oxford, London, Newcastle and Cambridge as well as serving for some years as an assistant to the Master of the Order at Santa Sabina, Rome. He was editor of New Blackfriars for many years, was the 'London correspondent' of Doctrine & Life, and was involved in editing a number of books on faith and social justice. He was an active member of the Eckhart Society, and once again placed his editorial skills at its disposal, as editor of The Eckhart Review. We ask you to join us in praying for the happy repose of his soul. Read more

Second Sunday of Advent:-Viva La Revolution

Sunday, December 05, 2010
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