The blog of the Dominican student brothers at Blackfriars, Oxford.

Built on the four pillars of our Dominican life – preaching, prayer, study, and community – Godzdogz offers many resources for exploring the Catholic Faith today.
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August 15 - The Assumption of Our Lady

Thursday, August 14, 2008
Revelation 11:19a; 12:1-6a, 10ab; Psalm 45; 1 Corinthians 15:20-27; Luke 1:39-56 Read more

A-Z of Paul: Newness

Sunday, August 10, 2008
The whole of the Bible can be viewed as an epic of new creation. Very early on in the narrative God’s pristine creation is marred by the ugliness of sin and its effects. But although it has its ups and downs the story told throughout the Bible is one of redemption. The Lord makes something new out of the mess that human beings have made and re-establishes his covenantal relationship with them. This reaching by God to heal the wounds of sin and division reaches its climax in the life, death and resurrection of Our Lord Jesus where those who follow Christ are given a newly created dignity, bought with the price of his blood on the Cross, that of children of God, members of Christ’s mystical body.

For Paul this motif of newness takes pride of place. He says in 2 Cor. 5:17 : “Wherefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature: the old things are passed away; behold, they are become new.” In this passage St. Paul is trying to get across that the message of Our Lord requires us, and the gift of the Spirit enables us, to be transformed from our old worldly ways of being and acting. Our Lord Jesus tells us that we must be like little children of we are to enter into the kingdom of heaven. Little children?! Many of the people whom Paul was preaching to in Corinth were well educated, well-paid professionals and academics who had worked hard to get to the position they had reached. They had tried very hard to remove themselves form the status of children, who, let us not forget, had no legal rights in the Roman Empire. To them this preaching of newness and the message of Our Lord that a child-like trust in God was required must have seemed bizzare and totally unrealistic. It is a testament to the work of the Holy Spirit enflaming Paul and his companions that so many of the Corinthians became believers and established a thriving Christian community in Corinth. For St. Paul the newness that God gives to us is never ending, we are to be refreshed again and again, converted again and again, continually brought back to his love.
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August 9th - St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein)

Thursday, August 07, 2008
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August 6th - The Feast of the Transfiguration

Monday, August 04, 2008
Living the life of faith is often hard when things are not going well in our spiritual lives. We sit and pray, yet no nice feelings of peace or warmth seem to come. It becomes just plain boring to spend time with the Lord, to the extent that when our time for regular prayer comes, even the most unimportant thing that we have been putting off for months becomes the most urgent task! Or we drag ourselves off to Church, or to our room and just sit there, wishing that time would pass..... Anyone who has ever made some sort of attempt to pray will have experienced the closeness of God - a mini Transfiguration moment, if you like, when God seemed very real and present to us. These kind of experiences are a gift, but often few and far between. When things seem less exciting, what should we do?

Well, there is much to learn from today's Gospel (Matthew 17:1-9). Once the disciples have experienced the presence of the Lord, in all its wonder and terror, they are told to rise, and it is all over. They wanted a moment that would last forever, but they have to get up, be on their way.... after all, there are things to do. But of course, this does not mean that they have to leave the presence of God. The appearance of Moses and Elijah with Jesus - the Law and the Prophets side by side with the one who fulfills both - serves as a reminder to them (and to us) of how God is continually present. For us it is a reminder of God's special presence in the scriptures and in the sacraments, which reveal Christ and offer him to us. So we need not tie God's loving care of us to feelings and emotions, but trust that through our prayer, our reading of the Bible and our participation in the liturgical life of the Church, we continue to receive Christ in our lives, and be transformed by him.... transformed so that we can go into the world and make him known.
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A-Z of Paul: Marriage

Saturday, August 02, 2008
In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul says it is good for a man not to touch a woman; yet to avoid immorality every man should have his own wife and every woman her own husband.

From this, one might suppose that St Paul had a rather negative view of marriage; it is tempting to think he saw marriage as the lesser of two evils. On this basis, some people even attempt to analyze St Paul’s psychological makeup and come to very unflattering conclusions.
Marriage of the Virgin to St Joseph
However, in interpreting what St Paul says on marriage, we need to understand the circumstances in which he was writing. There is little evidence to suggest that sexual immorality was common amongst the Corinthians. Yes there was the case of incest mentioned in 1 Cor 5, but in the wider context of the letter to the Corinthians, Paul is concerned with those who claimed to have a superior knowledge of God. The inability to deal with a particular case of sexual immorality was just an example to show how empty the Corinthians’ claim to superior knowledge was.

St Paul, in writing to the Corinthians about marriage was trying to heal a split in the community. Reading between the lines, it is likely that Paul was addressing a group of Corinthians who were not only celibate, but who also disapproved of any sexual activity, even within marriage. St Paul in mentioning “it is good for a man not to touch a woman” could be quoting a Corinthian slogan, a slogan which he agrees with to the extent that it forbids incestuous relationships or sexual intercourse with prostitutes, but to the extent that it forbids marriage or enforces sexual abstinence within marriage, he does not agree. St Paul does recognise celibacy as a gift, but he rejects the Corinthians’ attempt to make one particular expression of the spiritual life binding on all believers. So he does not see sex within marriage as sinful, but he advises believers to marry in holiness and honour.

Being married is no obstacle to living a holy life which is pleasing to God, but St Paul goes further than this. In the letter to the Ephesians, St Paul describes Christian marriage as mirroring the relationship Christ has with the Church. Husbands are commanded to love their wives as Christ also loved the Church. Therefore marriage is a sign of the mysterious union of Christ with the Church, and the sign of marriage is a way in which this union with Christ can be actually realised by the individual, a way of participating in God’s divine life. Thus St Paul’s letter to the Ephesians helps us appreciate the great importance of Christian marriage and helps us understand why it is a sacrament.
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