Category Archives: Pastor’s Corner

Father Christopher’s Last Pastor’s Corner

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Grace to you and peace. This weekend we welcome
our new pastor, Fr. Daniel Syverstad, O.P.! Fr. Daniel
and I are good friends, and I can’t tell you how happy I
am for him and for our church and school. I’m excited
about the future and I look forward to witnessing from
not-too-far-away in Oakland the wonderful ways in
which the Spirit of God manifests himself in the prayer
and work you enjoy together, as you grow more
deeply in faith, hope, and love, radiating the joy of the
Gospel from St. Raymond Parish.

Fr. Daniel was provincial (the guy in charge) of our
Western Dominican Province when I entered the
Order of Preachers in 2002. I had entered once in
1997, but left the Order after about six months, and
almost five years later, it was Fr. Daniel who allowed
me to return. I’ve always admired Fr. Daniel’s abilities
as a leader, and I’ve always been inspired by the selfsacrificing
character of his priesthood. He’s a true
servant of the people of God.

As a “student brother”—a young(ish!) man studying to
become a priest and a preacher—I had the privilege in
2006 of ministering with Fr. Daniel for a year at
Blessed Sacrament, our parish in Seattle, where he
was pastor. He became a mentor to me, and a few
years later, I also spent a summer as a deacon with
him. Fr. Daniel honored me with the request to serve
as his associate in Seattle after my ordination to
priesthood. I gladly accepted his offer. I asked Fr.
Daniel to preach at the very first Mass I celebrated as
a priest, and then I joined him for three years in
Seattle before I arrived at St. Raymond as your pastor
in 2013.

If I have done any good as a pastor, I attribute it to
God and his grace, to Fr. Daniel as a mentor, and to
you and your joyful support of my efforts. For my
shortcomings, big and small, I of course accept
responsibility. It has been an amazing four years for
me—the experience of a lifetime. I’m immensely
grateful to our devoted and hard-working parish staff,
past and present, and to the dedicated and generous
members of councils and committees with whom I’ve
had the great blessing to serve. I’m profoundly
beholden to all of you in our St. Raymond family.
Thank you!

Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord!

Fr. Christopher, O.P.

Pastor’s Corner

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Grace to you and peace. On this feast of the Baptism of the Lord with which the Christmas season comes to an end, it seems appropriate to reflect on our own Baptism. What is Baptism all about? “Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit, and the door which gives access to the other sacraments.” So says the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Baptism sounds like an important sacrament. What is a sacrament?

A sacrament is an outward sign instituted by Christ to give grace. An outward sign is something you see or hear, smell, taste, or touch, that points to a person, an idea, or another thing. When I say your name, this is something that is heard that points to you, that picks you out from other people. Your name is a sign for you and we say it signifies you. The important difference between most signs and a sacrament is that a sacrament has the power to do what it signifies. I can say your name a thousand times and it will never make you appear out of thin air. But by God’s power a sacrament not only points to something, it makes something happen. A sacrament is a visible sign of an invisible reality, a sign so powerful it brings about the spiritual reality it signifies.

The sacraments were instituted by Jesus Christ. Jesus himself ‘invented” the sacraments. He established the sacraments and they have power because God freely and lovingly chooses to do his work through them. The “work” he does is sharing his life. The divine life shared among Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is what is given to us in the sacraments and we call this share in God’s life “grace.”

Grace is a free and undeserved gift that God gives to us because he loves us. In Baptism God the Father chose you to receive his grace so that in time you could respond fully to his call to be his adopted daughter or son, the brother or sister of his Son Jesus Christ, and a temple of his Holy Spirit.

Here is another definition of sacrament from the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “Asacrament is an efficacious sign of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us through the work of the Holy Spirit.” “Efficacious” means that the sign has an effect— the sign does something.

What does Baptism do? Baptism is a sacrament which cleanses us from original sin, makes us Christians, children of God, and heirs of heaven. In Baptism, water is an outward sign that you see and feel. The words, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” are an outward sign that you hear. Together they are a sign of being cleansed of sin, a sign of being born again in Christ—given a new life— by the power of the Holy Spirit. But the difference between this water and these words and other signs is that the words and the water together actually do what they signify. The words and the water aren’t just a sign of cleansing and rebirth; God

actually uses the words and the water to free us from sin and give us a share in his divine life. Sharing in God’s life among other things means having a share in the mission he has given us as his Church to share his life with the whole world.

Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord!

Fr. Christopher, O.P.

Pastor’s Corner for the week of January 3, 2016

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Grace to you and peace. Have you ever heard of Dwight
Moody, or D.L. Moody, as he’s commonly known? He was a
nineteenth-century Christian evangelist and businessman who
founded the Chicago Evangelization Society, which later
became the famous Moody Bible Institute. I frequently recall a
funny story I heard about D. L. Moody. A lady criticized him
for the way he talked to people about Jesus. He said, “I agree.
I don’t like the way I talk to people about Jesus either. Maybe
you can help me. How do you talk to people about Jesus?” “I
don’t,” she said. He replied, “Well, I may not like the way I
talk to people about Jesus, but I like the way I do better than the
way you don’t.”
We talk a lot in the Church today about the “New
Evangelization.” We Dominicans are especially blessed by
God as the Order of Preachers to aid the Church in her mission
to evangelize, that is, to proclaim Jesus Christ and his Gospel.
As an Order, we are celebrating our 800th anniversary this year,
but we hope we’re never getting stale! Our life of community,
prayer, and study as brothers is meant always to breathe new
life into the preaching for which we exist as a brotherhood.
We’re so happy to be with you at St. Raymond, not to preach at
you, but to preach with you. All of us baptized disciples of
Jesus are called by the Lord to profess his holy name and
announce the mercy he offers in his Catholic Church. The task
of the New Evangelization for us together is to renew our zeal
for this call from Jesus by renewing our relationship with him
and discovering fresh ways to herald our joy.
It was Pope Saint John Paul the Second who first used the
expression “New Evangelization” back in 1979 in a homily in
Poland soon after his election to the papacy. He spoke of a
wooden Cross that had recently been erected not far from where
he was preaching. He said: “Where the Cross is raised, there is
raised the sign that that place has now been reached by the
Good News of Man’s salvation through Love. […] With it we
[are] given a sign that on the threshold of the new millennium,
in these new times, these new conditions of life, the Gospel is
again being proclaimed. A new evangelization has begun…”
Just a few years later, he described the New Evangelization in
Latin America as the proclamation of Christ to the world with a
new enthusiasm, and new methods and expressions.
The New Evangelization is the courage to forge new paths in
responding to the changing circumstances and conditions facing
the Church in her call to proclaim the Gospel today. One such
changing circumstance would seem to be that few people will
come to us these days. Rather, like Jesus’ first disciples, we
must go to the people. We must go to them to talk about Jesus
Christ. Like D.L. Moody, perhaps we’ll find we don’t like
much the way we talk to people about Jesus. But, however we
do it, we’ve got to learn to prefer the way we talk about Jesus to
the way we don’t. How can we do this? Let’s begin the
conversation.
Worldwide Marriage Encounter Weekend
To attend a Worldwide Marriage Encounter Weekend,
call David & Karen at 650-350-1469 or go to
www.sanfranciscowwme.org.
We’ll be having some “town hall” meetings in the parish
center next Sunday on January 10th, after the 8 a.m. and 10
a.m. Masses. Our parish Pastoral Council and I hope you’ll
join us—we’d love to hear from you as we continue to grow as
a parish family!

Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord!

Fr. Christopher, O.P

Pastor’s Corner

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Grace to you and peace. I wish you a Merry Christmas as the season of Christmas begins! I love to ask children after Christmas Day, December 25th, “Did you know it’s still Christmas?” Yes, Christmas is a season, not just a day. Many kids think I must be pulling their legs. But Christmas is indeed a season, and even though just about all of us probably went to a lot of Christmas parties between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, the season of Christmas had not yet really begun. It was Christmas Eve that started this special season, when we first celebrated the Nativity of Our Lord. If Christmas Eve is the start of Christmas, when does it end? The Christmas season ends on the evening of the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. When is that, you say? Well, now, that’s a bit complicated…

The Baptism of the Lord is usually celebrated on the Sunday after January 6th, so that’s the end of Christmas. However, in most countries and dioceses, as in ours, the celebration of Epiphany, which is on the calendar as January 6th, is transferred to the Sunday between January 2nd and January 8th. So in the odd year when the celebration of Epiphany is transferred to January 7th or January 8th, the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord is transferred to the next day (Monday, January 8th or 9th). At this point, you’re probably just thinking: how about telling me when that is this year? The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord this year is on January 10th. So our Christmas season ends on the evening of January 10th. Don’t take those decorations down yet!

The Christmas season is a time to wonder. I wonder about the first time Mary kissed the face of her little baby and realized she was kissing the face of God. I wonder about the first moment Jesus opened his infant eyes and gazed on his mother, Mary, and the world around him. What was it like for God to look through human eyes? Think about it. How’s your mind? Blown? Yet it remains true that God has seen—and in his resurrected body, Jesus continues to see even now—the world through our eyes.

In the person of Jesus, God peers at us through human eyes. He sees the world the way we do. Just as incredible is the fact that it works both ways. Because Jesus shares in our humanity, we can share in his divinity. Because God in Jesus Christ observes his creation just as we do, we can in turn observe the world just as our Creator does. Mind blown again. In a very real, human way, we can relate to God through the gaze he enjoyed on Christmas night when he opened his eyes for the first time, through the gaze he enjoyed in the course of a lifetime, and through the gaze he enjoys right now. He sees like we see, and so we can look out together with God upon the world.

And how does God look upon the world? With love. As Pope Benedict XVI once put it, God’s sign of love for us is the little child. God’s sign is that he makes himself small for us. He makes himself poor and weak. As powerful as he is, he does not come to us in a show of power. He does not want to overwhelm us with his strength and the richness of his majesty.

He takes away our fear of his greatness. He asks for our love: so he makes himself a child. He wants nothing from us other than our love. Who couldn’t love a little child? Through the Infant Child Jesus we spontaneously enter into God’s feelings, his thoughts, and his will. We begin to see as God sees.

In this way God teaches us to love the weak. In this way he teaches us to love the poor. In this way he teaches us to love all the little ones. At Christmas, God sees the world through our poor, weak, little eyes. And he loves us. And he loves this world.

Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord!

Fr. Christopher, O.P.

Pastor’s Corner

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Grace to you and peace. Today is Gaudete Sunday—“Gaudete”
is Latin for “Rejoice.” For those of you into grammar,
“Gaudete” is in the imperative form. That is, it’s a command,
an order given to us: exclamation point! Being joyful isn’t just
a pleasant idea, it’s the law. And the law isn’t simply to
rejoice, but to rejoice always, as St. Paul tells us in First
Thessalonians, our second reading at Mass.
How can this be? How can we be ordered to be joyful? We
can’t make ourselves experience joy, can we? A command to
rejoice just sounds odd. For many, this is far from a joyful time
of year. If your life is in turmoil from financial challenges or
serious health problems, or your family is torn apart, or
someone you love is far away, perhaps in the military and you
fear for his or her life, or you’ve lost someone you love,
particularly at this time of year—you may not feel like
rejoicing. It seems as if we feel joy when things are going our
way and sadness when they’re not, and there’s just too much
that doesn’t go our way for us to be rejoicing all the time.
I think we can begin to understand the command to be joyful
and the possibility of joy even in the midst of suffering by
considering the close relationship between joy and love. St.
Thomas Aquinas speaks of joy this way: he says joy is the
emotion we experience every time we find ourselves in the
presence of the person or thing we love. For example, when
we’re among good friends. This is what we call natural joy or
emotional joy. We’re joyful when we’re conscious of being in
the presence of someone we love. But natural joy doesn’t stop
there. Even if we can’t enjoy the presence of a loved one—if
we’re separated by a great distance, for example—we can
experience joy, simply in knowing that the person we love is
well. Parents rejoice in their children when they’re well, even
if they live far away.
St. Thomas thinks we can understand joy better when we
consider the opposite emotion, namely, sadness. We
experience sadness when the thing or the person loved is
missing or absent. The lover suffers heartache in the absence of
the beloved. Yet even if the person we love is present, we can
be sad, if that person is not well. If a parent’s daughter or son is
at home, but has some serious problems, then the parent suffers,
because his or her child is not well.
So, in what does joy consist? In the presence of the person we
love and in the fact that the person we love is well. Based on
these intuitions, we can better understand why we aren’t more
joyful. Why aren’t we more joyful? Maybe we’ve made joy
our first goal rather than love. But our first goal shouldn’t be
our own joy. Rather it should be love of others and their wellbeing.
Aim first for love and joy will follow.
And love is not only a feeling, but much more importantly, a
choice. A choice to do what is good for others so they can truly
be said to be well. If we would be joyful, we must—perhaps
Pro-Life Interests  If you have an interest in pro-life causes from abortion to
euthanasia, please get in touch with Fr. Augustine at 650-
323-1755 or ahilander@straymondmp.org. We are
preparing for two items this year: the Walk for Life in
January and the 40 Days for Life this coming Lent.
with some paradox—set aside joy as a goal and instead seek to
love. Joy will come when we do what’s good for others and
see them flourish. In other words, joy is a fruit of love.
This is why joy has its place even in the midst of suffering.
Because not only can we love others in the midst of
suffering—theirs or ours—it’s precisely in the midst of
suffering that love shows itself and wields its greatest power.
And hence the fruit of love—joy—can in time be most
abundant. It turns out that the command to rejoice is, in a
sense, yet another way God has given us during Advent to say:
love one another.

Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord!

Fr. Christopher, O.P.

Pastor’s Corner

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Grace to you and peace. Pope Francis has composed a special
prayer for the Jubilee Year of Mercy that begins December 8th,
2015, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, and ends
November 20th, 2016, the feast of Christ the King. In the
prayer, the Holy Father entreats the Lord to make the Jubilee of
Mercy a year of grace so that the Church, “with renewed
enthusiasm, may bring good news to the poor, proclaim liberty
to captives and the oppressed, and restore sight to the blind.”
Lord Jesus Christ,
you have taught us to be merciful like the heavenly Father,
and have told us that whoever sees you sees Him.
Show us your face and we will be saved.
Your loving gaze freed Zacchaeus and Matthew from being
enslaved by money;
the adulteress and Magdalene from seeking happiness only in
created things;
made Peter weep after his betrayal,
and assured Paradise to the repentant thief.
Let us hear, as if addressed to each one of us, the words that
you spoke to the Samaritan woman:
“If you knew the gift of God!”
You are the visible face of the invisible Father,
of the God who manifests his power above all by forgiveness
and mercy:
let the Church be your visible face in the world, its Lord risen
and glorified.
You willed that your ministers would also be clothed in
weakness
in order that they may feel compassion for those in ignorance
and error:
let everyone who approaches them feel sought after, loved,
and forgiven by God.
Send your Spirit and consecrate every one of us with its
anointing,
so that the Jubilee of Mercy may be a year of grace from the
Lord,
and your Church, with renewed enthusiasm, may bring good
news to the poor,
proclaim liberty to captives and the oppressed,
and restore sight to the blind.
We ask this through the intercession of Mary, Mother of
Mercy,
you who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit for
ever and ever.
Amen.

We are asked during the Year of Mercy to make a special effort
at the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. The corporal
works of mercy are: feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty,
clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, visit the imprisoned,
visit the sick, and bury the dead. The spiritual works of mercy
are: admonish the sinner, instruct the ignorant, counsel the
doubtful, comfort the sorrowful, bear wrongs patiently, forgive
all injuries, and pray for the living and the dead.
We are also encouraged during the Year of Mercy to go to
Confession. We hear Confessions at St. Raymond every
Saturday at 4 p.m., every Sunday 30 minutes prior to each
Mass, and by appointment. Why not come see me or Fr.
Augustine, talk it out, unburden yourself, and experience the
powerful mercy of God? It doesn’t matter if you don’t quite
know what to do or say. We’re here to help.
You can find out more about the corporal and spiritual works
of mercy, Confession, and much more at
www.iubilaeummisericordiae.va. I pray the Jubilee Year of
Mercy brings you many blessings.

Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord!

Fr. Christopher, O.P.

Pastor’s Corner from November 29, 2015

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Grace to you and peace. As we enter into the season of Advent—our preparation for the coming of the Lord Jesus at Christmas—we light the candles of our Advent wreath with fire, and perhaps at home in the evening, as the weather grows colder, we warm ourselves by the fire.

Fire. We’re told as kids never to play with it. It fascinates and frightens us. It’s both delightful and destructive. When the Lord comes, the Gospel says, “he baptizes with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” Fire is very often associated in the Scriptures with God and with his action in the world and in the lives of his people. God sometimes manifests his presence by fire, such as the bush that burned but was not consumed when God spoke to Moses (Exodus 3:2). Fire symbolizes God’s glory (Ezekiel 1:4, 13), his protective presence (2 Kings 6:17), his holiness (Deuteronomy. 4:24), his righteous judgment (Zechariah 13:9), and his wrath against sin (Isaiah 66:15-16). Fire is an image of God’s Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:11 and Acts 2:3).

In the Old Testament, God is compared to a refiner’s fire. He’s not like a forest fire, or like an incinerator’s fire. It says he’s like a refiner’s fire. A forest fire destroys indiscriminately. An incinerator consumes completely. The Lord comes to us as a refiner’s fire, and that makes all the difference. A refiner’s fire doesn’t destroy indiscriminately. A refiner’s fire doesn’t consume completely. The refiner’s fire purifies. It melts down silver or gold, separates out the impurities that ruin their value, burns them up, and leaves the precious metal intact and pure. God is like a refiner’s fire.

How might we encounter this refiner’s fire during Advent as we prepare for the coming of Jesus? I suggest the sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation. In Confession, God takes what’s precious to him and he purifies it. In other words, he makes us holy.

Now we are talking about FIRE. There’s always a proper “fear and trembling” in the process of becoming holy. It’s not something we can play with. It fascinates and frightens us. It’s both delightful and destructive. Holiness can be a dreadful thing. Our sin becomes so much a part of who we are that it can only be painful to have it taken away. Perhaps I’m no liar, and it’s easy not to lie. Perhaps I’m no thief, and it’s easy not to steal. Perhaps I’m no killer, and it’s easy not to kill. But then there’s my sin. I know it. God knows it. There’s a sin— or a number of sins—that seems so much a part of me that it would change my life just too much to let it go, kill me to leave it behind. Yet that is precisely what I must do. It burns. But the fire of God is a refining fire. And therefore this is not merely a word of warning, but a tremendous word of hope.

Hope is the virtue that characterizes Advent. Our shared hope is in this truth: You and I are so precious in God’s eyes that he will not leave us with our impurities. He knows that our sin is our unhappiness. And he knows that the fire of his love can

burn away that sin and leave us as the gleaming treasure he created us to be forever. The heart of the Gospel is the message that Jesus Christ saves us from sin and death. This is the message we hear and preach at Advent.

Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord!

Fr. Christopher, O.P.

Pastor’s Corner

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Grace to you and peace. On the 15th of November, we celebrate
the feast day of the amazing Dominican saint, Albert the Great.
He was known as the “teacher of everything there is to know.”
What a title! St. Albert was a scientist long before the age of
science. He loved the adventure of exploring creation with the
God-given powers of the human mind. To this day he is the
patron saint of natural scientists. In his own day, he was even
considered a wizard and magician. In a remarkable meeting of
two great men, St. Albert became the teacher and mentor of a
young man we now know as St. Thomas Aquinas.
I love this description of Albert and Thomas from the book
New Wine of Dominican Spirituality: A Drink Called
Happiness, by Fr. Paul Murray, O.P.: The age in which Albert
the Great and Thomas Aquinas carried out the mission handed
on to them by Dominic and the first generation of preachers—
the mid-thirteenth century—has been described as enjoying an
“intellectual inebriation” deeper and even more revolutionary
than that of the Renaissance. “It was not a revelation of plastic
beauty in the realm of imagination and sensibility; it was a
revelation of nature, of its truth, its being, in the realm of
intelligence.” Like a first Adam on earth, St. Albert was to
write at the time: “The whole world is theology for us, because
the heavens proclaim the glory of God.”

St. Albert the Great was a “Renaissance man” a hundred years
before the Renaissance—before it was cool. He was born in
Lauingen on the Danube, near Ulm, Germany; his father was a
military lord in the army of Emperor Frederick II. As a young
man, Albert studied at the University of Padua and there fell
under the spell of Blessed Jordan of Saxony, the Dominican
who made the rounds of the universities of Europe drawing the
best young men of the universities into the Order of Preachers.

After several teaching assignments in the Order, Albert came in
1241 to the University of Paris, where he lectured in theology.
While teaching in Paris, he was assigned in 1248 to set up a
house of studies for the Dominicans in Cologne. In Paris, he
had gathered around him a small band of budding theologians,
the chief of whom was Thomas Aquinas, who accompanied
him to Cologne and became his greatest pupil.
In 1260, Albert was appointed bishop of Regensberg; when he
resigned after three years, he was called to be an advisor to the
pope and was sent on several diplomatic missions. In his later
years, he resided in Cologne, took part in the Council of Lyons
in 1274, and in his old age traveled to Paris to defend the
teaching of his student, Thomas Aquinas.
It was in Cologne that Albert’s reputation as a scientist grew.
He carried on experiments in chemistry and physics in his
makeshift laboratory and built up a collection of plants, insects,
and chemical compounds that gave substance to his reputation.
When Cologne decided to build a new cathedral, he was
consulted about the design. He was friend and counselor to
popes, bishops, kings, and statesmen and made his own unique
contribution to the learning of his age.
He died a very old man in Cologne on November 15th, 1280,
and is buried in St. Andrea’s Church in that city. He was
canonized and declared a Doctor of the Church in 1931 by
Pope Pius XI. His writings are remarkable for their exact
scientific knowledge, and for that reason he has been made the
patron saint of scientists.
St. Albert the Great was convinced that all creation spoke of
God and that the tiniest piece of scientific knowledge told us
something about Him. Along with the Bible, God has given us
the book of creation revealing something of His wisdom and
power. In creation, together with St. Albert, we see the
wonderful hand of God.

Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord!

Fr. Christopher, O.P.

Parts of the above are adapted from The One Y ear Book of
Saints, by Fr. Clifford Stevens.

Pastor’s Corner

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Grace to you and peace. “Sent to Preach the Gospel!” This is
the theme that will unite Dominicans and friends of the
Dominicans all over the world from November 7th, 2015, to
January 21st, 2017, as we celebrate together a Jubilee of the
800th anniversary of the Order of Preachers, approved by Pope
Honorius III in 1216.
In the early 1200’s, a joyful Spaniard named Dominic de
Guzman heard God’s call to become an itinerant preacher.
Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Dominic founded the Order of
Preachers, and for 800 years we have continued Saint
Dominic’s mission—to preach for the salvation of souls. The
Order of Preachers has proclaimed the Gospel in every corner
of the world. We do this for one simple reason: that every
human being may come to know and love Jesus Christ.
It was for this reason that Dominic founded the Order of
Preachers in 1216. Traveling through Spain and southern
France with his bishop, Diego, St. Dominic encountered many
confused people who had lost their Catholic faith and had come
to the strange and sad belief that the physical world in which
we live is evil and created by an evil god. Dominic saw the
need for good preachers who could explain the truth of the
Catholic faith and by grace reconcile those who had fallen away
from the God of love. The content may have changed, but there
are still many strange and sad beliefs in the world that ensnare
the minds and hearts of good people.
As members of the Order of Preachers, Fr. Augustine and I, and
the six other friars with whom we live, are called to follow in
the footsteps of St. Dominic, imitating his joy and mercy, and
preaching the Gospel to make disciples of Jesus Christ by
knowledge and by love. Our life in common as brothers, along
with our time in study and at prayer, allows us to contemplate
and to share the fruits of our contemplation in a bold
proclamation of the Good News to every land and nation.
The Jubilee of our 800th anniversary as the Order of Preachers
is meant to be a time of renewal. Each of us—as individuals
and as communities—is invited to rediscover the meaning and
value of the Dominican charism both in our lives and for the
world. St. Dominic saw the need for well-educated, joyful
preachers who could compassionately engage their
contemporaries and their cultures, sharing the Good News of
salvation and reconciling those who have lost their way.
We Dominicans commit ourselves to meeting this need, as real
today as it was 800 years ago. But we cannot do it alone. And
we never have. We can meet this need only if all of us—you
and I, the entire St. Raymond family—continue to radiate the
joy of the Gospel from the heart of Menlo Park. I hope this
Jubilee year helps us to grow even closer to one another and
learn from one another as we share this challenging mission. In
that spirit, I invite you to join me in the official prayer of the
Jubilee:
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 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
Christ our Lord. Amen.

Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord!

Fr. Christopher, O.P.

Pastor’s Corner

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Grace to you and peace. We pray in our Creed every Sunday, “I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.” In the month of November, it’s our tradition as Catholics to remind ourselves here on earth that the Church extends far beyond the visible world in which we live. Those who have gone before us in death marked with the sign of faith are invisible to us but they are very much alive! Although we Christians may be physically separated from each other by death, we nonetheless remain united in one Church, and we support each other in prayer. Here below we are the Church Militant—those who continue to “fight the good fight of the faith” (1 Timothy 6:12). On All Saints Day, November 1st, we call to mind the Church Triumphant—all the holy ones who have gone before us, who see God face to face, and who pray for us always. On November 2nd, All Souls Day, we recall the Church Penitent— all those in Purgatory who depend on our prayers for them as God invites us to work with him in his plan of salvation.

Celebrating All Saints this Sunday, I think of the French poet, Charles Peguy, who said, “Life holds only one tragedy ultimately: not to have been a saint.” Poverty, mourning, hunger, thirst, insult, persecution. It can seem as if the Beatitudes we hear proclaimed in the Gospel today provide a laundry list of life’s tragedies. But it isn’t so. In the end there really is only one tragedy: the tragedy of finally rejecting the promise of Jesus that he will make us happy, the catastrophe in our suffering of letting faith, hope, and love slip completely through our fingers forever.

No doubt life has its unspeakable pains and sorrows. We often call them tragedies. I readily recall meeting a father a few years ago who had three children. One died at birth, one died in a snowboarding accident, and the last had just died of cancer. This man and his wife brought three children into the world and lost every single one. I’ll never forget what he told me. He said that what happened to him would either draw him closer to God or he would turn his back on God forever. He said he had to make a choice. The choice was that stark. He insisted on seeing his terrible suffering as an opportunity for blessing. He simply insisted on it. What a remarkable act of faith!

And it was faith. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says faith is the agreement of our intellect with divine truth, an agreement commanded by our will moved by God’s grace. In other words, faith is the act of choosing, choosing by the grace of God, to personally adhere to God and believe what he reveals to us. Moved by God’s grace, the father who had lost all three of his children made a choice against everything his gut-level emotions were telling him—he chose to believe. He chose to believe in God—that is, to trust him—and he chose to believe God—that is, to accept what God says about suffering and blessing in the Gospel today. What a saintly act!

that we will be blessed even in our suffering. Jesus Christ took upon himself our suffering, our miseries, and even our sins, and was the first to follow the narrow path of the Beatitudes to the Kingdom of Heaven. He will lead us through suffering to happiness. He will lead us to saintliness. The only tragedy is not to follow him.

Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord!

Fr. Christopher, O.P.