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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Pilgrim Profiles: Susie Divald

Friday, August 12, 2011
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Pilgrimage Patron: St. Vincent Ferrer

Friday, August 12, 2011
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Stations of the Cross: Jesus is Nailed to the Cross

Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Br. Robert Verrill OP gives a reflection on the Eleventh Station of the Cross-Jesus is nailed to the cross- in a video specially pre-recorded for Godzdogz.

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Stations of the Cross: Simon Of Cyrene Carries the Cross

Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Br. Mark Davoren OP gives a reflection on the Fifth Station of the Cross-Simon of Cyrene Carries the Cross- in a video specially pre-recorded for Godzdogz. Read more

Stations of the Cross: Jesus Takes Up His Cross

Monday, April 18, 2011

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'My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?'

Saturday, April 16, 2011
Today’s readings: Matthew 21:1-11; Isaiah 50:4-7; Psalm 22:8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24; Philippians 2:6-11; Matthew 26:14—27:66 or 27:11-54 Read more

Fifth Sunday of Lent

Sunday, April 10, 2011
At some point all of us have to face death in some form: the loss of a loved one, a relative, a friend, or the recognition of our own mortality in the face of sickness or old age. We have all spoken words of comfort to those who mourn and, no doubt, felt that such words do not really do justice to the situation. Sometimes as we utter such condolences, we can feel the presence of a contradiction arising between what we see: death and grief, and what we profess to believe: the resurrection and eternal life.

Feeling helpless in the face of death should not surprise us, indeed, feeling a gulf between the unseen life eternal and the visible, tangible reality of death is no uncommon reaction. The grief that such separation brings is very real and we see clearly that painful reality in today's Gospel. Lazarus, a close friend of Jesus, is dead and Mary and Martha are mourning the loss of their brother as they face an uncertain future. Jesus enters into their grief and is moved by their plight, in fact he is deeply troubled by the outward reality that is death. What He does in the face of this death is quite astonishing and in raising Lazarus He gives the people a great sign by which they might know that He is the Christ.

But it is not simply in the action of restoring Lazarus to bodily life that we see the glory of God at work, it is in the way that he clearly shows the women and his disciples that He is the bridge between the seen and unseen, the visible and the invisible. He is the very real and true link by which our apparent contradiction in grief is removed. “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.”

Much of what we see in life is fleeting, we catch glimpses of events and people but the reality of what underpins these moments is much more precious. We can see two people talking or laughing together but the friendship or love which binds them to one another is much more compelling than the surface impression, it is something altogether greater and more powerful. We have to lift our eyes and raise our minds to appreciate such things, we have to try to see beyond what is fleeting to what is eternal. Christ helps us to do this in His very person as He did with the mourners at Bethany. Indeed, through His subsequent passion and death, He reveals to us all the reality of that which we cannot see without the eyes of faith. If we allow Him to show us the truth of unseen things, then the perceived contradictions between that seen and that professed , even in the midst of suffering and death, will be resolved in Him. Like Martha we will be able to answer; “Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.”  Read more

Fourth Sunday of Lent

Sunday, April 03, 2011
Today's readings: 1 Samuel 16:1,6-7,10-13; Psalm 22; Ephesians 5:8-14; John 9:1-41

Saint John, throughout his gospel, makes great use of the images of darkness and light. In today's gospel this is manifested in Jesus' encounter with a blind man, a man who lived in darkness (Isaiah 9:2, Matthew 4:16). This man's physical disability is used by John to represent the spiritual blindness of Israel and indeed of the whole of humanity. We walked in darkness, unable to see God, until Jesus, the light of the world gave us sight (John 9:5).

The early Church associated this illumination, this enlightenment, with baptism. Indeed, today's gospel was often used in the instruction of catechumens to illustrate this very idea. Just as the Blind Man receives the gift of physical sight after he is anointed by Jesus (John 9:6) and sent to wash in a pool of water (John 9:7), so the Christian receives the gift of spiritual sight, of faith, when he or she comes up out of the waters of baptism.

But it seems that whilst this healed man - and by implication also the newly baptized Christian - is able to 'see' the light after he comes up out of the waters, he does not immediately understand the gift that he has received, or indeed the true identity of the giver of that gift. Our formerly blind man is able to tell his neighbours that Jesus has healed him, but he cannot tell them where Jesus is. A process of deepening must take place if his relationship with Christ is to mature. This deepening occurs in the midst of his interrogation by the Pharisees, by the testing of the Pharisees.

Here we have an interesting parallel with Jesus' forty day fast in the desert. It is often suggested that Jesus in his humanity came to understand his mission in his confrontation with Satan in the wilderness. The testing of Satan deepens Jesus' understanding of how he must carry out God's will. Similarly, in today's gospel it is the questioning, tempting, testing of the Pharisees that leads the healed man to delve further into the mystery of the Incarnation.

First, in response to the confused questioning of the Pharisees, he declares that Jesus is a prophet (John 9:17); next, when the questioning gets more aggressive, his spirited defence of his healer leads him to declare that Jesus is 'from God' (John 9:23); finally, when the Pharisees throw him out, Jesus comes to find him and reveals that he is the Christ, the Messiah. The Blind Man bows down and worships (John 9: 38). We see in the Blind Man, then, an allegory of a spiritual journey. The once Blind Man faithfully witnesses to what he has seen. As a result his gift of sight, given by cleansing waters, matures into a recognition of Jesus' true identity.

We too are on a spiritual journey. We come from God, and are on our way back to God. Our baptism marks not the end of the journey but a new beginning. It is a gift that must be unpacked over a lifetime. Yet often we only come to understand how precious our baptism is, how precious is our gift of faith, when that gift is threatened. During Lent we follow Christ into the desert to be tested. This testing is to help us refocus our priorities. We more easily recognize what is truly important when it seems like we have nothing. Read more

Third Sunday of Lent: A Rock and a Hard Place

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Second Sunday of Lent

Sunday, March 20, 2011
Today's readings: Genesis 12:1-4a; Psalm 32; 2 Timothy 1:8-10; Matthew 17:1-9 Read more
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