Friar Proof

Last March, in a post entitled “Putting Out Friars!“, we commented on the new springtime of vocations experienced by the St. Joseph province of the Dominican order. 

Now, courtesy of Creative Minority Report,  we’ve learned that the community has posted new photos of their novices, who typically receive their habit on August 8, St. Dominic’s feast day.

This photo shows the novices who just finished their novitiate together with those coming in. Please pray for them!

What the Assumption Means for Us

While today is the solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, it is not a holy day of obligation this year because it falls on a Monday. Still, it’s a special feast day and we do well to celebrate as much as our state in life allows.

The dogma that Our Lady was taken body and soul to heaven upon the completion of her earthly life was pronounced in an ex cathedra statement by Pope Pius XII in a 1950 bull entitled Munificentissimus Deus and is also found in paragraph 966 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

At the close of Munificentissimus Deus, Pope Pius XII tells us why this feast should matter to all of us:

“[T]his solemn proclamation and definition of the Assumption will contribute in no small way to the advantage of human society, since it redounds to the glory of the Most Blessed Trinity, to which the Blessed Mother of God was bound by such singular bonds. It is to be hoped that all the faithful will be stirred up to a stronger piety toward their heavenly Mother, and that the souls of all those who glory in the Christian name may be moved by the desire of sharing in the unity of Christ’s Mystical Body and of increasing their love for her who in all things shows her motherly heart to the members of [Christ’s] Body. . . . In this magnificent way, all may see clearly to what a lofty goal our bodies and souls are destined. Finally, it is our hope that belief in Mary’s bodily Assumption into heaven will make our belief in our own resurrection stronger and render it more effective.”

Rosary Hill Home

There was a wonderful story making the rounds last week concerning the work  of the Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne at the Rosary Hill Home, a facility in New York that provides palliative care to indigent cancer patients. 

The Hawthorne Dominicans were  founded at the turn of the last century by Rose Hawthorne, a daughter of New England novelist Nathaniel, author of The Scarlet Letter.

Mother Mary Alphonsa, as Rose Hawthorne was known, wanted to treat patients as family, “and put them up in our very best bedroom and give them comfort in what time they had left. In dressing their wounds, she was dressing the wounds of Our Lord,” according to Superior General Mother Mary Francis. Continue reading Rosary Hill Home

Camp Mater Dei

Forty girls recently participated in Camp Mater Dei, an annual two-day retreat camp for girls in sixth, seventh, and eighth grades who are discerning a religious vocation. The retreat was sponsored by the Office of Vocations for the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

The setting for the July 29-30 camp–the Dana Brown Overnight Center on the campus of the Shaw Nature Reserve in Gray Summit–provided a scenic backdrop of God’s creation as the girls had the chance to have one-on-one interactions with members of four religious communities. The retreat also included the Sacrament of Reconciliation, Eucharistic adoration and Mass.

This year’s represented communities included the Carmelite Sisters of the Divine Heart of Jesus, the Franciscan Sisters of the Martyr St. George, the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and the Missionary Sisters of St. Peter Claver.

For more, check out this article from the St. Louis Review.

The Church’s Treasures

Today is the feast of St. Lawrence of Rome, one of the most famous deacons in Church history. With the restoration of the permanent diaconate over the past forty years, St. Lawrence has come to serve as an important model and patron saint for the thousands of men now serving the Church as deacons.

Butler’s Lives of the Saints tells a beautiful story about Saint Lawrence that captures the essence of what it truly means to be a deacon. In the year 258, Lawrence was serving Pope Sixtus II as a deacon in Rome. The Holy Father was led out to martyrdom, and St. Lawrence stood by, weeping that he could not share his fate. “I was your minister,” he said, “when you consecrated the blood of Our Lord; why do you leave me behind now that you are about to shed your own?”

The holy Pope comforted him with the words, “Do not weep, my son; in three days you will follow me.” This prophecy came true.

The political ruler of the city knew the rich offerings which the Christians put into the hands of the clergy, and he demanded the treasures of the Roman Church from Lawrence, their guardian. The Saint promised, at the end of three days, to show him riches exceeding all the wealth of the empire, and set about collecting the poor, the infirm, and the religious who lived by the alms of the faithful. He then invited the official to “see the treasures of the Church.” 

Shortly after that, on August 10, 258, St. Lawrence was burned alive as a martyr for the Christian faith.

Deacons are members of the clergy, but they are not priests. Rather, they are ordained for service (diakonia), as living icons of Christ, who came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many (Mk. 10:45).

This episode from St. Lawrence’s life exemplifies the deacon’s call to look out for the needs of the poor and needy, not out of mere duty, but because they are the treasures of the Church.  May all of us learn to love and serve Christ by seeing Him in those around us who are most in need of His compassion right now.

EWTN Turns 30

It’s hard to believe that it’s now been thirty years since Mother Angelica started Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) in her monastery’s garage. How many people have been encouraged in their journey of faith by EWTN’s program? And how many religious and priestly vocations were in some way influenced by this apostolate?

For an uplifting story on EWTN’s development over the past thirty years, check out this post at

Bold Undertaking

Check out this entertaining article about some Benedictine monks who, to make ends meets in post-Katrina Louisiana, have gone into the business of using downed trees to manufacture simple, inexpensive caskets.

Some monks make brandy, others make coffee. Every religious community has to support itself somehow.

What makes the story interesting is that their new business led to the monks’ being threatened with jail time because of regulations that serve to protect a powerful industry cartel. So far, the monks have prevailed in the courts, but not without a fight. Read about it here.

Adoration and Reparation

As time permits, Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is translating into English some of the writings of Mother Mectilde du Saint-Sacrement (1614-98), the foundress of the Benedictines of the Perpetual Adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament.

In this recent post at Vultus Christi, he published a little more than half of the Preface to the Constitutions of her Institute. After each section he adds, in italics, a little commentary of his own.

I hope you enjoy Mother’s spiritual insights and Fr. Mark’s commentary.

Dominican Republic!

This has been a banner week for the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist.

On Monday, eighteen new novices received their religious habit and a new name. Yesterday, four sisters professed their final vows. And for good measure, seven sisters will profess their first vows on Thursday.

Later this month, the community will welcome sixteen new aspirants into the fold.

Some of you might recognize the young sister at the lower right-hand corner of the photo as my daughter, Mary Kate Suprenant. As of Monday, she is a Dominican novice, and her name is now Sr. Evangeline. God be praised!