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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Popular Piety: Litanies and Novenae

Wednesday, January 22, 2014
“When you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words” (Matthew 6:7). These words of Our Lord are often cited by opponents of the traditional practices of Novenae—which involve the repetition of set prayers on nine consecutive days—and Litanies—with their repeated invocations and responses. These forms of prayer are inherently repetitious and predictable; they are often caricatured as monotonous and lengthy (‘litany’, for example, has passed into idiomatic secular English: “the customary litany of complaints having duly been received…”).  Read more

Popular Piety: The Sacred Heart of Jesus

Monday, January 20, 2014
The Sacred Heart of Jesus is an image etched deeply in the minds of many Catholics. The devotion emphasises the perfect, redeeming love of Jesus, and the living water which flows from His heart (cf Jn 7:37-39).
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Popular Piety: Scapulars and Medals

Sunday, January 19, 2014
 “… I suppose they try to make you believe an awful lot of nonsense?” Read more

Popular Piety: Processions

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

In the Catholic Church processions are part of the liturgy and they have a religious character. They are public acts of homage to God, to give honour to Him, or to the Mother of God or to the saints. The word 'procession' comes from the Latin word 'procedere' which means to go forth or to proceed. In this case it emphasizes the dynamic character of the liturgy which in turn reflects the dynamic nature of our faith. Processions express the physical and spiritual condition of human beings who are pilgrims on this earth and who are always on the way.

Liturgical processions have some important Biblical precedents. For example, 1 Chronicles 15 and 2 Samuel 6 describe the procession with the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem, carried by the people with music, dancing and shouts of joy. The Psalmist sings of a  procession to the Sanctuary of the Altar with the singers, the musicians and the congregation. Not all Biblical processions were joyful. We also find references to funeral processions, for example Luke 7. All four Gospels describe a procession forming as Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey.

There are two Biblical processions that have a particularly deep significance. The first was when Israel went out from Egypt and God led them to the promised land for forty years. The second is the Way of Cross when Jesus went to the place where he was crucified.

Processions are also part of the Eucharist. There is a procession at the beginning of the Mass, with the Book of the Gospels, and another when people bring the gifts before the offertory. During the liturgical year there are a few processions. The best known is the procession on the solemnity of Corpus Christi. There are also processions on Palm Sunday and after the Easter Vigil to announce the Resurrection of Christ. There may also be processions ordered on special occasions, for example the feast of the dedication of a church, processions with relics because of the feasts of saints, as well as thanksgiving or penitential processions.
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Popular Piety: Christmas Customs in Poland

Friday, December 27, 2013

Popular Piety in Advent: facts, threats and opportunities.

Friday, November 29, 2013
Advent is the opening liturgical season of the Church’s year. It has its own distinct character and popular piety should be informed by it, and lead towards it. In some ways popular piety can be seen as a bridge between the things of God and the things of the world, suffusing the world with Christian truth and values, and lifting the world to God, in praise, offering and an exchange of blessing. As a specific liturgical time, there are forms of popular piety that are specific to Advent, and others that take on a particular hue and mood in Advent. It is a time of waiting, conversion and hope. We wait to celebrate Christmas, the first coming of the Lord in human flesh, while assessing the way in which we wait for his return in glory at the end of time. The former leads us to focus on the past and the memory of salvation history, the latter leads us to focus on hope, if also vigilance and generosity, aware of a coming so glorious it can scarcely be imagined. Conversion, including almsgiving and penance and a focus on simplicity, is how we prepare for the coming of the Lord, be it now or in the future. Read more

Popular Piety: Icons and Images

Friday, November 22, 2013
Liturgical icons can be found not only in Catholic Churches; in our homes also we can find a lot of images depicting the saints, the Mother of God or Jesus Christ. We might ask why and for what purpose we need them? What is their role in our faith? Probably many of us keep photos of our families member in our wallet or have a family album at home. We do this, because we love these people and we would like to have something to remind us of them especially if they are far away. Read more

Popular Piety: Relics

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

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Popular Piety: the Dead

Saturday, November 02, 2013
Why do we pray for the dead or “Holy Souls”, as they are sometimes called?  In brief terms, we pray for the dead because we believe in the immortality of the soul; we believe that nobody can be received into heaven without having first been purified of the consequences of their sins in purgatory; and, we believe that God hears the prayers of his children whether those prayers are offered for themselves or for others.  So, we pray for the Holy Souls in purgatory with confidence that God hears us.  And the reason that we do this is simply because we love them, and wish them to be in heaven. Read more

Popular Piety: Marian Devotions

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

I remember hearing my grandmother tell a story of the terrible two nights during the Clydebank Blitz, when the German Luftwaffe launched a bombing raid in March 1941. My grandmother, along with relatives and neighbours, sought refuge in an Anderson shelter, which was designed to withstand anything except a direct hit. As a devout Catholic, she prayed the Rosary repetitively through the night, to pray for protection and survival through the Blitz. When she had finished one of the mysteries of the Rosary, with the sound of bombs falling nearby, her protestant neighbour who was beside her in the shelter asked “can you start saying those prayers again?”
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