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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Art of the Redemption 7 - Icon of the Resurrection

Tuesday, May 31, 2011
In the Byzantine tradition, it is the custom to put out an icon of the feast of the day in the middle of the church, depicting the saint or the event being celebrated. So it is interesting to see what image is used in this tradition for Easter Day (and indeed on all Sundays throughout the year) when Christ’s Resurrection is the particular focus of our celebration. The icon is entitled ‘The Resurrection’, sometimes even ‘The Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ’, but what we see is not a scene at the tomb in the garden where the body of Jesus had been laid. It is possible, as we see in the West, to depict the risen Christ, the result of that moment of Resurrection, but the event itself, not witnessed by any human eye, is considered impossible to depict. Read more

Jonathan Fleetwood OP RIP

Monday, May 30, 2011

Columba Rabbett OP RIP

Saturday, May 28, 2011
Please join with us in praying for the eternal repose of our brother Columba Rabbett OP who died on 3rd May 2011. Here is the homily preached at his funeral by fr Colin Carr OP. The readings were Wisdom 3:1-9, Romans 6:3-8, and John 14:2-7. Read more

Art of Redemption 6 - Handel's Anthem for the Foundling Hospital

Friday, May 27, 2011
God created you without you, but he does not redeem you without you. Read more

The Biggest Match in Europe

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Feast of Saint Dominic 24th May

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sacraments: Marriage

Sunday, May 22, 2011
Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest is my beloved among the young men. I delight to sit in his shade, and his fruit is sweet to my taste (Song of Songs 2:3).

One of the most beautiful things that can happen to a human being is to love someone and being loved in return. It becomes even much more agreeable when both people choose to spend their lives together forever and to start a family. That is why, since the dawn of time, societies saw marriage as an important institution, not only for their survival, but also for their happiness.

Philippe Béguerie and Claude Ducheneau in their work How to Understand the Sacraments state that “[t]he church did not invent marriage. Marriage existed long before the church. And the first Christians married, like those around them, without needing a special religious ceremony. However, from the beginning marriage was considered important in the Christian community” (1991:137). Nevertheless, Canon 1055 §1 of the Code of Canon Law, tells us that “[t]he matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life and which is ordered by its nature to the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring, has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament between the baptized.” And it is “[f]or this reason [that] a valid matrimonial contract cannot exist between the baptized without it being by that fact a sacrament” (CIC 1055 §2).

Canon 1056 tells us that “[t]he essential properties of marriage are unity and indissolubility, which in Christian marriage obtain a special firmness by reason of the sacrament.” The firmness consists in the fact that God is the one to unite the spouses and no one should separate them (Mark 10:9). Thus, one could say that when God created a man and a woman it implied complementarity (Gen 2:18) which is more clearly expressed in the sacrament of matrimony. Thus, marriage, that union between a man and a woman, is part of God’s plan. The Catechism of the Catholic Church thus tells us that “[m]arriage is not a purely human institution despite the many variations it may have undergone through the centuries in different cultures, social structures, and spiritual attitudes. These differences should not cause us to forget its common and permanent characteristics” (CCC 1603).

Marriage leads to family. Blessed Pope John Paul II wrote in his letter to families, Gratissimam Sane, that “Christ … entrusted man to [the Church] as the 'way'of her mission and her ministry… Among these many paths, the family is the first and the most important. It is a path common to all, yet one which is particular, unique and un-repeatable, just as every individual is unrepeatable; it is a path from which man cannot withdraw” (1994: §1 – §2).

It is obvious that today the institution of the family suffers a lot. Many people no longer are born in torn families, in many countries children are born in deplorable situations that leave them orphaned, and hundreds of thousands of children grow in separated families or in child-headed households. It becomes even sadder when Christian families choose to end their relationship and opt for a separation. However, Christian families are not immune to the problems that tear down our society.

Where families are torn from the separation of the spouses, the Catechism of the Catholic Church gives us the reason saying that “[e]very man experiences evil around him and within himself. This experience makes itself felt in the relationships between man and woman. Their union has always been threatened by discord, a spirit of domination, infidelity, jealousy, and conflicts that can escalate into hatred and separation. This disorder can manifest itself more or less acutely, and can be more or less overcome according to the circumstances of cultures, eras, and individuals, but it does seem to have a universal character” (CCC 1606). A more compassionate approach towards current problems in families might assist in helping to solve them. It would be an enormous mistake and utterly wrong to start looking at marriage as a less important vocation. It is different from the calling to religious life but it has its own irreplaceable role to play in the building of the kingdom of God. But still, we need to find a solution to this persisting – maybe worsening – crisis in the institution of marriage.

We need to be continuously reminded that, as Herbert Vorgrimler puts it in his book Sacramental Theology, marriage being the symbol of the love of Christ for the Church, is an enduring sacrament [which] implies this continuing symbolic value and the ongoing state of being Church and building Church. From this fact alone results the indissolubility of the marriage of believing Christians and the unity (monogamy) of this marriage, things that cannot be made conclusive with purely rational arguments based on nature. The result of this theological reflection is that marriage – at least a marriage that is deliberately sacramental – cannot be built on a love that is primarily thought of as feeling, emotion, sympathy, or attraction […] love expresses itself not only in the decision made at the beginning, but above all in fidelity (1992:309 - 310).

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Walsingham 2011

Friday, May 20, 2011
This year's Dominican pilgrimage to Walsingham took place on the third Sunday of May, Good Shepherd Sunday. fr Benjamin Earl OP preached the homily at the Solemn Mass celebrated at the shrine. The William Byrd Choir sang at the Mass as part of the celebrations for the 950th anniversary of the establishment of the shrine. Read more

Art of the Redemption 5: The Mosaic of San Clemente

Thursday, May 19, 2011
One of the best-known representations of the Cross as the 'Tree of Life' is the 12th century mosiac in the Basilica of San Clemente, Rome. Where the Cross penetrates the earth a luxuriant tree bursts forth and sends its branches far and wide, covering the entire expanse of the apse. In doing so it reaches and enfolds all categories of people: teachers and preachers, chaplains and farmers, ladies and hunters, nobles and shepherds. All of human life is brought into contact with the life that flows from the Cross (John 12:32). Read more
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