Miscellaneous Retreat Notes

1. The Dominican Ideal "Remember, Man, you are dust...

When St. Dominic lay dying, he was not afraid. Now, he was at the threshold of that for which he had labored: Heaven. His adult life was spent in trying to win Heaven for others. He cried when he thought of those who would not save their souls. Does this not tell us something about the Dominican vocation? Aquinas teaches - how well he teaches! - that the end-in-view shapes the actions directed toward that end. This means that the end must be chosen carefully and kept before the eyes of the mind. More, the end must be well-defined. What is the end of life? To know God as he is in himself! How marvelous a Thomistic understanding. Our happiness is, that which is outside of ourselves. Our happiness is of the mind! To know! It is not of the will or the emotions-tho these are satisfied as a consequence of happiness. (Remember Catherine of Sienna returning to her senses: "Oh, I am so unhappy!") Still, in this life, it is our loves, rather than our knowledge, that completes us: Thus, we must love heaven. Margaret of Metola: "I want to go to heaven." "I want to see God."

2. The Church

The Church exists to lead us to heaven. Which is to say, Jesus lived, died, and rose from the dead to bring us with him to paradise. Everything else follows as a consequence - everything the Church is, everything it does. Wonderful, that we changed the liturgy of Christian burial from black to white. It is the Church's moment of triumph. Everything is geared toward bur heavenly homecoming! But! So much in the contemporary Church is alien to this purpose. So much that is "humanistic" arguing that we must find our fulfillment even now, e.g., the virtual abolition of sin in some quarters. But sin is an obstacle to our union with God, e.g., the loss of the sense of the Sacred (and the supernatural). Replacement of it with the "mundane," strictly so-called. Indeed, the "celebration" of the worldly, e.g., the diminution of commitment - marriage; religious profession; holy orders. We must love the Church because it is the Body of Christ - through which alone Jesus fulfills his purpose in us: to bring us to where he is.

3. Lent

Lent is a very special time for those who are homeward bound. It ends with the promise of everlasting life. We are preparing to celebrate that promise! But we are also preparing to celebrate the life that is promised. But Lent is a solemn reminder that we must pass through death to life. Throughout these 40 days, the reminders are everywhere. Most of us must confront death. An agony for most of us. A moment of subdued joy for the saintly, even if still painful. In fact, Lent brings us back to sobriety - to the sober realization that we are preparing to die. "That dying we might live, we must live so as to die." (Repeat: Words of John Paul 11) I am delighted to spend these few Lenten days with you. I hope that, even despite my poor efforts, the Love of Heaven may be deepened in each of us. Jordan/Diana: "merely, may we meet in heaven."

4. March 14 Homily - on Love, Human & Divine

Cite Pope John Paul II - Lenten Message paragraph 4: "Lent is a time of truth, which, as in the case of the Good Samaritan, makes us pause. . ." Divine Love is a creative force. We must not think of the Father as the great watcher who sits in his heaven to observe us and then to respond, with love or rejection, to our deeds . . ." for he causes his sun to rise on bad men as well as good, and his rain to fall on honest and dishonest men alike" (today's gospel). Thus God loves the sinner. If you realize this, suddenly you know a great deal about God, about the sinner, and perhaps a great deal about yourself. We can all say: "I love the sinner, tho' I reject his sin." And we can all say: "I love the sinner," meaning those in general for whom Christ died. But how many of us can say that we genuinely love the person who offends us? Yes, we can all say, "There are those whom I dislike, humanly speaking, but I love them in Christ," meaning I want them to save their souls. But this is facile. We are to love - even with tenderness - those whom we find offensive, repugnant, unattractive. Only by so doing, do we emulate the Father's love. Be ye perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. As a ceiling light shines evenly on all in the room, our love must radiate evenly to all with whom we live. That is the first test of love. Of course, affection cannot be spread about evenly. Jesus had special affection of some. So, too, did Dominic. We can - we should - have intimate friends. But balance, so difficult to achieve, is required here. Toward all, we must be courteous, patient, consoling, compassionate, helpful. Jesus reserved his sternness only for the hypocrites. Yet his stern words were directed toward them only as a group. Individually, he treated them with personal respect. Remember his host, Simon, on the occasion when Magdalene washed his feet? Even in the monastery, you have two of the four classes of the disadvantaged of which Pope John Paul speaks! ... the sick ... the aged."

5. Second Sunday in Lent - Homily - The Transfiguration

Introduction: Everyone needs a motive - an inner moving force - to dictate his actions and omissions. "Why did you do that?" The distraught mother says to her child. Meaning, "What possible motive could you have had?"

Love is the best motive - the most enduring, the most stabilizing, the most forceful. If you deeply love someone, there is nothing you will not attempt in their regard. The love of Jesus Christ is the motive force of the Christian life. But you cannot love someone whom you do not know. Or: You love someone only the degree that you know him. Now, the Transfiguration, as an event, was designed to give the apostles a new insight into - new knowledge of - the man whom they had not come to know very well! Jesus had become popular - and the apostolic leaders had become important. They were the ones who decided who was to get close to Jesus, etc. But they really had not understood his mission, and they were refusing to accept the idea that he was to die a criminal's death. So Jesus was transfigured - both to give them a new insight and to re-enforce them for the upcoming events at Jerusalem. Notice that he takes the apostles away from the crowds. Everyone needs peace and quite to know Jesus. A time apart, meditation. You cannot love someone whom you do not know.

6. The Indwelling: God the Holy Spirit

"I tell you the truth, it is expedient for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Paraclete will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you." What will the Paraclete do for us that Jesus cannot do? Why must Jesus first depart, before the Paraclete can come? When we speak of someone as 'spirited," we mean that she has great inward energy that pours outward into vital actions. So, Pentecost. An infusion of divine energy. Transformed from within, the apostles break into activity. Earlier, Jesus had said: "He that believes in me, as the scripture says, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." Now this he said of the Spirit which they would receive who believed in him. There are two missions of the Holy Trinity -- Jesus, who teaches us the truth, and the Spirit who captivates us with his love. Both are required because they mutually complete one another.

There are those who know what Christ taught but remain interiorly unconvinced. Mortimer Adler. The proposal of truth to the ears and eyes - yes, even to the mind - is not enough. Something else is required. Hence, the answer to the first question: What can the Spirit accomplish that Jesus could not? But not the second question: Why did Jesus have to depart before the Spirit could come? To answer this question, one must understand those mysteries which we are preparing to celebrate at Lent's end. The Cross of Jesus - his crucifixion does not terminate in the tomb, or even in his resurrection, or even in his ascension. Why? Union with God is fully expressed in sacrifice: oblation; God enters into the victim; offerers share in victim to share what God has taken to himself. So, Pentecost completes the crucifixion. Not now proposing truth from without, but instilling it from within. Christ offers us truth so that our minds can take possession of it. The spirit comes so that truth can take possession of the mind. Thus, our recreation is completed. The rest is up to us, i.e., to develop an interior life - friendship with God who dwells in us. No! That isn't true. There is more.

The Fruits of the Spirit: 1) Love is the source of these, their ultimate principle. 2) Joy - selfless joy of the lover rejoicing in the loveliness of the beloved. It endures even in heartbreak. 3) Peace. 4) Patience - taking the long view, leaving the results on one's labors to the God who dwells inwardly. Patience without own feebleness and frailties. Patience at prayer. 5) Gentleness and affability. 6) Kindness. 7) Goodness, i.e., not artificial, not a sham, not showy; solid, genuine. 8) Faithfulness - that is, fidelity; determination to see something through to the end. 9) Longanimity - long drawn effort that accepts toil and tears. 10) Modestia (moderation, balance). 11) Continence. 12) Chastity.

All expressions of personal freedom and, at the same time, the flowering of the Spirit over the flesh. With artless strokes, I have tried to draw a picture of "sanctifying grace" - of our sharing in God's life. In fact, by the Indwelling Spirit, we are caught up into the very life of God. He takes us into himself. We do not have to wait for heaven to share that life. Heaven will only confirm, fasten eternally, what has already begun. I live, now not I, but Christ lives in me.

Sermons and Lectures by Damian Fandal, O.P.

Back Index Next