750th Anniversary of the Dies Natalis of St. Thomas Aquinas and the 700th Anniversary of his Canonization

The Dominican Laity Immaculate Conception Fraternity has been invited to an event that the St. Dominic Priory is hosting at St. Dominic’s Church in DC. This celebration honors the 750th anniversary of the Dies natalis of St. Thomas Aquinas and the 700th anniversary of his canonization. This is our way of commemorating the Order’s Jubilee in honor of Aquinas (see the Master’s Letter for more information on that). 

The celebratory event will occur on March 6th, the vigil of the anniversary of Aquinas’s death, primarily consisting of a holy hour with preaching by Fr. Gregory Pine, concluding with Compline and blessings with relics of St. Thomas (we hope to have a Mass on the 7th too, but we’re awaiting permission to celebrate Aquinas’s feast on that day). Confessions will be available before and during the holy hour, and we will have a reception following the holy hour.

Please see the event poster. Here is a general explanation of the event and the indulgence it grants that you may be able to send in your own communications and social media:

St. Thomas Aquinas, Common Doctor of the Catholic Church, died on March 7, 1274 soon after receiving Christ in the Eucharist, to whom he made a final prayer. Join St. Dominic’s Church and Priory and the Thomistic Institute for the Solemn Jubilee Celebration of St. Thomas Aquinas with Eucharistic Adoration, preaching by Fr. Gregory Pine, O.P., and Compline at St. Dominic Church (501 6th Street SW, Washington, DC 20024) on Wednesday, March 6 at 7:00 p.m. Confession available beginning at 6:30 p.m. Individual blessings with relics and light refreshments follow Adoration.

The Apostolic Penitentiary, with the intention of heightening the devotion of the faithful and for the salvation of their souls, on the occasion of the solemn celebrations in honor of Saint Thomas Aquinas grants a plenary indulgence, which the truly penitent and charitable faithful can enjoy under the usual conditions, wherever they make a pilgrimage to a holy place connected with the Order of Friars Preachers, and there devoutly take part in the jubilee ceremonies.

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Dominican Jubilee in Toulouse

Why is the Province of Toulouse celebrating already in 2015?



Although the Jubilee of the Order of Preachers is not yet officially launched, in the South West of France in the Province of Toulouse celebrations are already well underway and the month of May has a particularly heavy schedule of events. It is not just that the friars here are impatient to start the festivities before everybody else, there are indeed sound historical reasons.

This year the feast of the translation of St Dominic’s relics coincides with Pentecost weekend, in the very month that marks the 800th anniversary of the beginnings of the first community of Preachers in Toulouse. It is important to remember that before the Order of Preachers was instituted for the universal Church by Pope Honorius III, there was a diocesan institute of preachers set up at the initiative of Foulque, Bishop of Toulouse with Dominic at its head. The official mission of these new preachers was “to eradicate heresy, eliminate vice, teach the rule of faith and inculcate sound morals.” This happened in May 1215, thus the current celebrations are most timely.

In fact, Dominic was becoming progressively more integrated into the diocesan Church of Toulouse, since his presumed return from Spain in 1211. Although his immediate priority at this point was to help the still sprouting monastic community at Prouilhe, for it was not until 1211-1212 that proper buildings were erected for the sisters, allowing all the nuns to be housed together in one place.

In 1214 Dominic held charge of the Christian community in Fanjeaux, and so in that sense he was the parish priest. At the end of this same year, there is evidence of Dominic in Toulouse as praedicationis minister. Around this same period, he was elected Bishop of Couserans, but declined to take up the post.

In January 1215 however, events took a different turn. Dominic received the gift of some properties in Toulouse, which made the setting up of a community of preachers a distinct possibility. The donor was Pierre Seilhan, well known to us through the still surviving “Maison Pierre Seilhan” in the Place du Parlement at Toulouse.

The transfer of the property was finalised on April 25th 1215, when the Seilhan inheritance was settled and property shared between the two brothers. In May Bishop Foulque formalised the arrangement, making Dominic’s community a permanent diocesan institution.

For the celebration of their Jubilee, the Province of Toulouse had series of events; exhibitions, concerts etc., and the grand celebration was held on Pentecost Sunday (May 24) at the Convent Church of St. Thomas Aquinas in Toulouse. These activities were well publicized on the web and on social media. They also launched a website on the history of the Order.


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(a very short catechism)

 Love is constructive; hate is destructive.

Absolute love is absolutely constructive.

Love is the Creator of all things.

Love is One. Love is Omnipotent.

Love is God.

God is Love.

God/Love made humans.

God/Love loves humans.

God/Love lovingly made humans.

God/Love made humans to share in His life of love.

Love cannot be constrained; cannot be commanded.

God made humans free to love or not to love Him.

The first humans transgressed the law of Love.

God was slighted.

Evil came into the world.

Love was affronted.

Love wants to forgive.

The affront is of the measure of the affronted.

Only God can redeem an affront to God.

God sent His only Son, Jesus, as God, to repair the affront.

Jesus is Love

As a human, Jesus repaired the affront in the name of humans.

Now humans can be redeemed, provided they become people of Love.

People of Love worship Love as Jesus/Love taught them.

People of Love have to live for a time with Evil.

How they deal with evil, people of Love show Love.

People of Love want to show Love they are His People.

People of Love want to protect those they Love from Evil.

Sacrificing for Love is the happy choice of people of Love,

As the God of Love sacrificed Himself for His people.

The Cross– the absolute Sacrifice – is the Sign of the true life of the people of Love.

People of Love accept their Crosses for the sake of Love.

The God of Love makes all crosses bearable to people of Love.

God/Love wants people of Love to trust Him through their sacrifice.

God/Love will provide.

God/Love will console.

God/Love will protect.

People of Love trust the providence of Love, the consolation of Love, the protection of Love.

People of Love trust Love even as they struggle with their evil within.

They do not stop asking Love to hone their sensibilities in finding the ways of Love in all they do.

Love can never be forced; Free will, the only gift to use as People of Love see fit.

People of Love thirst to enter the world of absolute Love.


                                                                        Dr. Jean-Francois Orsini, OP

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Video Tour of the Dominican Mother House at Santa Sabina

The Crown of the Aventine from Blackfriars Media.

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The Beatification of Giuseppe Girotti, OP

Giuseppe Girotti

On the 27th of March 2013, the Holy Father Pope Francis authorized Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to Promulgate the Decree on the Martyrdom of the Servant of God Giuseppe Girotti, a professed priest of the Order of Preachers. His beatification will take place on Saturday, 26th of April 2014 at Duomo di Alba in Cuneo, northern Italy, the city of his birth.

The solemn celebration will be presided over by the delegate of the Holy Father, Cardinal Giovanni Coppa. Also expected at the celebration are; Bishop Giacomo Lanzetti, Bishop of the Diocese of Alb with the priests, religious and faithful of the diocese and other bishops. The Master of the Order, Fr Bruno Cadoré will also be there, accompanied by a host of Dominican brothers, sisters and laity.

The entire preparation is a combined effort of the office of the Postulator General of the Order in Santa Sabina, the Organizing Committee of the Province of St Dominic in Italy (frs Lodovico Montoli, Igor Barbini and Massimo Rossi) and the Diocese of Alba. After the joint meeting of the group, the following were decided; the official image which will be used for posters and other souvenirs, a booklet of about 40 pages on his life and process, a documentary film on his life and testimonies about his life and a programme of events to create the necessary awareness.

Special thanks goes to fr Ludovico Montoli who laboured for 30 years on the cause of our brother Giuseppe Girotti. Thanks also goes to all other brothers, living and dead, who have contributed in one way or the other towards the cause. Not forgetting the other members of the Dominican family especially the Dominican Nuns who prayed earnestly for the beatification.

Come April 26, all roads will lead to Alba where we shall celebrate our communion as Dominicans in union with the Universal Church. For promotional materials, please contact, Convento S. Bartolomeo, Largo Belotti, 1, 24121 BG; assimoros@domenicanibg.it.

His Profile:

Fr Giuseppe Girotti was born in Alba, in the northern part of Italy on the 19th of July, 1905. He was born of a humble family that were esteemed for their hard work and godliness. At the age of 13, he was convinced of his aspiration for the priesthood which led him to enter the Dominican Seminary of Chieri (TO). He was a brilliant student, very lively and cheerful too. In 1923, he made his religious profession in “La Quercia”, near Viterbo and on August 3, 1930 he was ordained to the priesthood at Chieri.

He specialized in the interpretation of Scriptures at Angelicum, Rome and the Ècole Biblique of Jerusalem. At the Ècole Biblique, he was a student of the Servant of God Marie-Joseph Lagrange, OP and under him, he published his academic work, “Prolita in Sacra Scrittura” in 1934. He dedicated his life to the teaching of Scriptures at the Dominican Theological Seminary of Turin (S. Maria delle Rose). As a result of his extensive study of Scriptures, he published an extensive commentary on the Wisdom Books and the Prophet Isaiah.

Esteemed for his vast learning, he loved to exercise his priestly ministry among the poor and lonely especially at the hospice of the elderly which was close to his convent of S. Maria delle Rose, Turin. There came a period of trial and suffering for him, which he accepted in humility. He was deprived of further education and was transferred to the Convent of San Domenico in the historic centre of Turin. Despite this, he continued his research in Scriptures while intensifying the exercise of his priestly and charitable activities.

“Everything I do is for charity”, he candidly said once, indicating his continued growth in the virtue of charity.

After September 8, 1943, with the German occupation and the birth of the Italian Social Republic, Girotti began a centre for a vast network of support for Jews. His cultural affinity to Jews was nourished during his years of study in Jerusalem and further deepened by his actual study of Scriptures. It is in this sense that we understand his expressions “Carriers of the Word of God” and “Elder brothers” as referring to Jews. At this time, many of them, while facing persecution and much suffering, sought for safe havens and false documents for a new identity. Girotti was able to assist them in many ways.

His activities with Jews which were contrary to the Laws of the Fascist and Nazi led to his arrest on the 29th of August, 1944. He was betrayed by a spy who disguised as someone in need of help and he was taken to Villa Cavorette, the place where Girotti had hidden the Jewish Professor Joseph Diena. Girotti was subsequently arrested and imprisoned in the new prison at Turin. Despite the efforts of his prior to have him released, he was transferred first to San Vittore prison in Milan, then to the camp of Gries, Bozano and finally on the 5th of October 1944, he was taken to Dachau, Germany. According to Don Angelo Dalmasso, another priest with whom he was imprisoned, Girotti stood out for his generosity and openness toward the other inmates with whom he frequently shared the Word of God. He was imprisoned in Cabin 26 with a thousand other priests in a space that was originally meant for 180 inmates. Due to this condition, he became ill and was admitted at the infirmary.

On Easter Sunday, April 1, 1945, at barely 40years old, Girotti died. His death was probably aided by a lethal injection of gasoline as was the custom then. On his bunk, his fellow inmates wrote, “Here slept Saint Guiseppe Girotti”.

In 1988, the curia of Turin started the formal process for his canonization. On the 14th of February, 1995, 50years after his death, he received a posthumous medal as “Righteous Among the Nations”, a recognition from the State of Israel to all those who worked for the salvation of Jews during the Holocaust. His name is inscribed on the official list and a tree is planted in his honour at the Avenue of the Righteous at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. (The Postulator General of the Order)

(17 April 2014)

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Prayer for the Jubilee of the Order

Prayer for the Jubilee of the Order

The Order of Preachers is preparing for the Jubilee celebration on the occasion of the 800 years of its approval. As Dominicans, we know that prayer is essential to enter into the dynamics of renewal and metanoia to which the Jubilee celebration calls us. For this reason, we would like to invite all the Dominican family to join in the praying of the Jubilee prayer, which is translated in different languages on the Jubilee website. (http://www.op.org/en/jubilee/prayer).

God, Father of mercy,

who called your servant Dominic de Guzman

to set out in faith

as an itinerant pilgrim and a preacher of grace,

as we prepare to celebrate the Jubilee of the Order

we ask you to pour again into us

the Spirit of the Risen Christ,

that we might faithfully and joyfully proclaim

the Gospel of peace,

through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.


It would be ideal, if each convent, home, community and fraternity of the Order is in communion with the entire Dominican family around the world through a unified praying of this common prayer.

On the same page you can find a bookmark with the Jubilee prayer in the three official languages of the Order. The Dominican communities who would wish to download this bookmark and produce copies for all those who would like to join in are encouraged to do so.

In particular, we request the local promoters of the Jubilee to distribute this bookmark among the communities and invite the members of the Dominican family to share this prayer with others. Should your region speak another language, we welcome your translation of this prayer and we will very well appreciate to receive a copy to share on our website through our e-mail: iubileum2016@curia.op.org.

(25 March 2014)


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Lenten Reflection on Genesis

Genesis 2:7-9

7 then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.
8 And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed.
9 And out of the ground the LORD God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Genesis 3:1-7

1 Now the serpent was more subtle than any other wild creature that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, `You shall not eat of any tree of the garden’?”
2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden;
3 but God said, `You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'”
4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die.
5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, and he ate.
7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons.

On this past first Sunday of yet another Lent in our lives, the reading
from Genesis evoked the aching beauty, innocence and simplicity of God’s paradise in Eden. Then abruptly, we came upon the great temptation together with man’s fall from grace. The Gospel reading took us to a world putrid with original sin, as Satan insolently thrice tempted Christ.

In this first week of Lent, we find Jesus arriving at another garden, His
Gethsemane. Here, we bridge the abyss from sin to Christ as we encounter the enormity and mystery of God’s love for us – a love as terrifying as it is soaring. In many ways, it is a love that profoundly disturbs the conscience precisely because it is incomprehensible to fallen man to be loved without so passionately and without reservation. When grace is cast off, man remains jaundiced with worldly cynicism, rejecting the very concept of such an encompassing love. Precisely because he merits nothing and achieves nothing on his own, man distrusts love eternal as some sort of unreachable dream. What could possibly qualify him for his Divinity’s love, so pure and so ardent?  Would anyone indeed be willing to bridge the chasm caused by so much sin and evil?  For so long, man has possessed nothing, nothing but the struggle of life; how can he ever possess the love of God?

Man can do nothing on his own since surrendering his own innocence,
trading it for a scornful distrust of the good and the beautiful. In this trade,
man renounced everything childlike, particularly all childlike expectations
of authentic love. Now, he may well be able to fathom the tortures of the
damned, but he cannot grasp pure love without grave doubts and
paranoia.  Guilt-ridden and culpable, he finds everything complicated. He has made himself worldly-wise, checking the cost of everything, believing he must manipulate in order to receive.

Yet Lent calls us not to a reckoning but instead to our own redemption!
Christ is the bridge! In his very body,  Christ takes our blows and
lovingly invites jaded man back home. Jesus pays the cost for us.   He
kneels in this second garden, face tortured, eyes terrified, soul in
complete agony.  All have left Him. This shocking part of Christ’s Passion suspends even man’s skepticism. He watches breathless, seeing with childlike eyes, and shudders at his own brutality. Although he is still a mere spectator, not yet choosing to participate in Jesus’ passion, man at last tastes revulsion. In his horror, the man-child watches the God-man in this darkened Eden. At last he is able to see His God haunted by the ghastly sins committed by man, whom He loves so dearly.

Our Lord makes himself our ransom.  Despite our rejection, He loves us. It is incomprehensible, but undeniable. The sins man once thought small and justifiable now ricochet through the Body of Christ. Union and harmony are visibly shattered as Jesus shakes and convulses in Gethsemane. He accepts the impact of every sin in our stead. The man-child witnesses the force of unjustified evil, and he recoils at his own incalculable sins. Man at last sees how he has willfully, severely and ruthlessly battered the heart of Jesus. Now, as Christ shivers in the dark, the most Precious Blood pulsates through every pore of his body, seeping onto flowers, grass, and rocks in Gethsemane. Those with any wisdom, any humility, bathe in Christ’s blood.   They are made whole.

Ah, how the child now sees Christ’s Heart as the primordial source of
Jesus’ most awful pain. All else will be nothing compared to Our Lord’s
emotional and spiritual pain. Jesus endures His remaining Passion with a heart so broken, that it bleeds through his very skin. Jesus, the new
Adam, goes forth from this garden of redemption disconsolate but yearning to embrace the wood of the Cross. In that unfathomable agony of heart, Jesus endures the beatings, the mockery, the stabbings, the scourging, and the surrender of His life blood.  As if that were not enough, He must endure all of it under the tormented gaze of His beloved Mother, the new Eve. The greatest pain for Jesus always pierces Him when He sees us unwilling to return His simple love. Mary knows. Our Mother knows that each excruciating blow, so freely endured by her Son for us, cannot ever measure up to this original agony of His broken Heart. Lent focuses us on the woe of this beautiful loving Heart, smashed and pommeled by us.  Still, Jesus never ceases to love.

In the example of her Son, Mary offers love not retribution. This *Stabat
Mater* offers her hand to us, and guides us from Gethsemane to Paradise. Mary leads us forward, the guiding Star of every stormy Sea. In her, with her, through her very body, we will come to Easter if we but open to that magnificent Heart of her Son. Lent breaks us too, if we are willing.  Then we begin to understand that the constancy of unconditional love is found in the broken Heart of Jesus Christ — He who is unchanging love, limitless mercy, and unreserved fidelity. His is a love and a relationship rooted in paradox and mystery, but formed in everlasting love.  Lent takes us home.

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A Lenten Reflection: Be a Prophet for Our Times

Psalm 36
The malice of sinners and God?s goodness

No follower of mine wanders in the dark; he shall have the light of life (John 8:12).

Sin speaks to the sinner *
in the depths of his heart.
There is no fear of God *
before his eyes.

He so flatters himself in his mind *
that he knows not his guilt.
In his mouth are mischief and deceit. *
All wisdom is gone.

He plots the defeat of goodness *
as he lies on his bed.
He has set his foot on evil ways, *
he clings to what is evil.

[I can’t help but think of how relevant this is to our times. As Scott Hahn once said, the problem today when sharing with others the saving grace of our Lord, is that many no longer believe they have any need to be saved. More frightening is that our people have freely elected leaders that Psalm 36 describes – some more than once.]

Your love, Lord, reaches to heaven; *
your truth to the skies.
Your justice is like God?s mountain, *
your judgments like the deep.

To both man and beast you give protection. *
O Lord, how precious is your love.
My God, the sons of men *
find refuge in the shelter of your wings.

They feast on the riches of your house; *
they drink from the stream of your delight.
In you is the source of life *
and in your light we see light.

Keep on loving those who know you, *
doing justice for upright hearts.
Let the foot of the proud not crush me *
nor the hand of the wicked cast me out.
See how the evil-doers fall! *
Flung down, they shall never arise.

[But I am leery of identifying too easily with the Psalm writer. I, too, can rationalize or minimize the sins of which I’m most fond. If we Dominicans are to effectively preach to others, we must always examine ourselves and continually repent, lest we become hippocrits. Psalm 51 tells us that we must be restored to salvation and THEN teach transgressors God’s ways.]

Psalms 51: 3 – 4, 12 – 13
3        For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
4        Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in thy sight, so that thou art justified in thy sentence and blameless in thy judgment.
12       Restore to me the joy of thy salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.
13         Then I will teach transgressors thy ways, and sinners will return to thee.

[It is my personal belief that in our times, most leaders of democratic nations,  in order to gain and retain power, follow the masses, rather than lead the people. Their opinions are formed by polls rather than principle.

It follows then, that if we are to change national policy on life issues; if we are to build a just society that respects the dignity of all; if we wish to foster an economy that serves the poor, rather than incites greed; then we must become prophets of our time, just as Jonah did for Nin’even. Note that Jonah preached to the people first. Only then did the King repent of his ways.]

Jonah 3:

4         Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he cried, “Yet forty days, and Nin’eveh shall be overthrown!”
5         And the people of Nin’eveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them.
6         Then tidings reached the king of Nin’eveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, and covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.

From St Ephrem: “When the Lord commanded us to be vigilant, he meant vigilance in both parts of man: in the body, against the tendency to sleep; in the soul, against lethargy and timidity. As Scripture says: Wake up, you just, and I have risen, and am still with you; and again, Do not lose heart.”

What are your prayerful thoughts?


Steve Graves, O.P.
Director of Formation

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A Lenten Reflection on Hell

Eleven years ago, while in discernment for my vocation, a Dominican tertiary told me that the best reason for becoming Dominican was for the salvation of my own soul.

I was reminded in today’s reading how infrequently we hear homilies about the consequences of NOT accepting Christ and his love for us. In fact, I don’t recall hearing a sermon on hell even when hell is the subject of the Gospel reading. And hell is often the subject of the Gospel.

Hell is mentioned by name 13 times in scripture. Twelve of those citations are translated from the word Gehenna, meaning “the abode of the damned”. Jesus himself uses the word in eleven of the twelve instances.

Yes, Jesus died for many and he loves all who ever lived and will live – saints and sinners alike. But Christ died not for humanity but for individuals.

Jesus loves you so much that he would have freely gone to the cross for you even if you were the only sinner that ever lived from the beginning of time.

But true love is not imposed. It must be freely offered and freely accepted. There is no in-between. You either accept love or reject it. To ignore proffered love is the same as spurning it. This truth is so universal that unrequited love is the subject of most of the pop songs ever written and almost all country and western music.

Since God is love, to reject God’s love is to rebuff God – and to be separated from him. If we die in this freely chosen state of separation, we condemn ourselves to hell. Even during corporal life, to live without God is to create hell on earth. If you don’t believe it, read a newspaper.

Don’t take my word for it. Read what Jesus and the Bible has to say about hell – and about salvation.


Today’s Gospel Reading

Mathew 25:
When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. Then the King will say to those at his right hand, “Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”. . . Then he will say to those at his left hand, “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”. . . And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life. (Matt. 25:31-46)

You have heard that it was said to the men of old, “You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.” But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, “You fool!” shall be liable to the hell of fire. (Matt. 5:21-22)

Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few. (Matt. 7:13-14; see also Luke 13:23-24)

Not every one who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?” And then will I declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.” (Matt. 7:21-23)

Suffering: I tell you, many will come from east and west and sit at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth. (Matt. 8:11-12)

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matt. 10:28; see also Luke 12:5)

The Son of man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth. (Matt. 13:42)

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you traverse sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves. (Matt. 23:15)

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, saying, “If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.” Thus you witness against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? (Matt. 23:29-33)

If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched. (Mark 9:43-48; see also Matt. 5:29-30; 18:8-9)

He who believes in the Son has eternal life; he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God rests upon him. (John 3:36)

The tongue is an unrighteous world among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the cycle of nature, and set on fire by hell” (Jas. 3:6).

. . . God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell . . .” (2 Pet. 2:4).

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor sexual perverts, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Cor. 6:9-10)

Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (Gal. 5:19-21)

For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction. (Phil. 3:18-19)

For he will render to every man according to his works: To those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are factious and do not obey the truth, but obey wickedness, there will be wrath and fury. (Rom. 2:6-8)

Those who do not know God and those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus] shall suffer the punishment of eternal destruction and exclusion from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might. (2 Thess. 1:8-9)

And the smoke of their torment goes up for ever and ever; and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name. Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. (Rev. 14:11-12; see also 19:1-3)


The catechism confirms that the ancient teaching of the Church on the afterlife has not been abandoned.

The affirmations of Sacred Scripture and the teachings of the Church on the subject of hell are a call to the responsibility incumbent upon man to make use of his freedom in view of his eternal destiny. They are at the same time an urgent call to conversion . . . Since we know neither the day nor the hour, we should follow the advice of the Lord and watch constantly so that, when the single course of our earthly life is completed, we may merit to enter with him into the marriage feast and be numbered among the blessed, and not, like the wicked and slothful servants, be ordered to depart into the eternal fire, into the outer darkness where men will weep and gnash their teeth. (CCC 1036)


To avoid hell, we must accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. The scriptures tell us what we must do to be saved:

We must persevere:

Mathew 10:22 You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.

Romans 11:16-23 If the first piece of dough is holy, the lump is also; and if the root is holy, the branches are too. 17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the [a]rich root of the olive tree, 18 do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you. 19 You will say then, ?Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.? 20 Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear; 21 for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either. 22 Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God?s kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off. 23 And they also, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.

We must hope for salvation:

Romans 8:24 For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees?

We must Love:

Corinthians 13:13 But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.

We must repent:

2 Corinthians 5:20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

James 5:16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective [a]prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.

We must believe:

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

We must be baptized:

Mark 16: 16 He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.

And we must trust in God. We must trust and acknowledge that it is grace given that saves us, that empowers our faith and gives us the strength to persevere. Salvation is given, not earned.

It is not theology that saves us but a person – our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Each of us has our own love story. Let us go forth and share it.

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Lenten Reflection on Forgiveness

 Mathew 6, 7-15

7 “And in praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8               Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9 Pray then like this: Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.  10     Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. 11                Give us this day our daily bread; 12  And forgive us our debts, As we also have forgiven our debtors; 13 And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil. 14                For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; 15 but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

In our reflection yesterday, we noted several actions specified in scripture that are requirements for salvation.  It would be easy to deduce others. But that could lead to pharisaic parsing. In Luke 10, Jesus summarized the requirement for salvation in the Great Commandment:

25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read?”27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered right; do this, and you will live.”

Jesus then went on to present the Parable of the Good Samaritan.  Jesus’ public life was a continuous practical demonstration and explanation of what it means to love.  One theme he repeated man times in different ways is the requirement to forgive those who sin against us, if we wish to be forgiven. ( See Mt: 6:14, today’s Gospel)

In Luke 6:37, Jesus tells again that we will be given what we give, also cautioning us not to judge others.

37 “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven;38 give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”

In Marc 11, Jesus repeats the admonition:

25 And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against any one; so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.

In Mt7 Jesus warns us not that we should not even judge the morality of the actions of others.

1 “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church warns us against imputing sinful motivations to our brothers and sisters:

“To avoid rash judgment, everyone should be careful to interpret insofar as possible his neighbor’s thoughts, words, and deeds in a favorable way: “Every good Christian ought to be more ready to give a favorable interpretation to another’s statement than to condemn it. But if he cannot do so, let him ask how the other understands it. And if the latter understands it badly, let the former correct him with love. If that does not suffice, let the Christian try all suitable ways to bring the other to a correct interpretation so that he may be saved.” (C.C.C. # 2478)

But wait! In Mathew 5,  Jesus not only wants us to forgive those who have offended us but he also wants us to be proactive and reconcile with those we may have  offended or are angry with us. Jesus goes so far as to tell us not to bother going to Church (temple) until we are reconciled:

21 “You have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.’22 But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother[b] shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults[c] his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be liable to the hell[d] of fire. 23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Make friends quickly with your accuser, while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison; 26 truly, I say to you, you will never get out till you have paid the last penny.

But what if our brother or sister continually offends us? In Mt 18, Jesus provides additional instructions for reconciling and correcting our brothers and sisters. Immediately after,  “Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?”

In the Hebrew Bible, the law stipulated we were to forgive only three times. Peter’s question shows that he is learning about love and mercy from our Lord. The number 7 being the perfect number, Peter assumes that would be the perfect number of times to forgive. But our Lord goes even further: 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.

What are your thoughts on forgiveness?

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