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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Dominican Study Week: "A Vision for Life", 6-10th July

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Young adult readers of this blog are invited to attend this Summer's study week, "A Vision for Life", which will take place from 6th until 10th July 2015 at Buckfast Abbey.  Read more

Catholic Voices Training Day

Wednesday, June 04, 2014
On Saturday the Oxford community were joined by the Novices from Cambridge for a "Catholic Voices" media training day. The event was a great success! Valuable skills of effective communication were enhanced through the insights and practical exercises offered to us by the founders of Catholic Voices, Austen Ivereigh and Jack Valero.  Read more

Dominican Study Week: 7th-11th July 2014, Buckfast Abbey

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Credo exhibition in Paderborn

Sunday, November 24, 2013
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Credo: The Christianisation of Medieval Europe

Aquinas Lecture, 2013: Matthew Levering - 'Aquinas & the Gospel'

Thursday, January 31, 2013
On 30th January Blackfriars held its annual Aquinas Lecture. This year the speaker was Matthew Levering, Professor of Religious Studies at Dayton University, USA. He spoke to a packed hall on the subject of ‘Aquinas and the Gospel’, specifically ‘The Pauline Gospel According to Aquinas’. His major source was the commentary by St Thomas on the letter to the Romans, and he focused on the detailed commentary made by Aquinas on the first three verses of the letter. Read more


Friday, June 01, 2012
In our series so far, we have seen how the Sacraments give shape to our Christian lives, both as individuals and as the Church, the Body of Christ, by bestowing upon us God's grace, which enables us to live that life. Read more

Aquinas Institute/Templeton Lectures – Nicholas Lombardo OP

Thursday, May 10, 2012
Last week the Aquinas Institute at Blackfriars, supported by the Templeton Foundation, was privileged to host two open lectures by Dr Nicholas Lombardo OP, professor at the Catholic University of America. Read more

Dominican Theology Summer School at Buckfast Abbey: June 25th-29th

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

What would St Thomas make of Pleasantville?

Monday, January 30, 2012
I recently saw the film Pleasantville for the first time. It's about two 1990's teenagers, David and Jennifer, who are magically transported into a 1950's sitcom called Pleasantville where they are forced to play the characters Bud and Mary Sue. In Pleasantville, everyone is pleasant to each other, it never rains, and the school basketball team never lose a game. But there's a catch. Pleasantville is very dull. It's literally in black and white. There's no art, no books, no sex, no creativity. That is, until David (Bud) and Jennifer (Mary Sue) are transported into this world.

Now the film has some very positive aspects. The film is beautifully made; as colour, joy and passion comes into this world, it really draws our attention to the beauty of creation, and to how we so often fail to recognise this beauty. Surely St Thomas would appreciate this aspect of the film. But what I think St Thomas would strongly object to is the attempt to retell the Adam and Eve story. Before David (Bud) and Jennifer (Mary Sue) were transported into Pleasantville, it was an ordered world of innocence, dull but nice. There are enough hints to suggest that this is how we are to think of the Garden of Eden.

At one point, a beautiful girl offers Bud (David) a nice red apple, and it is at this moment he realises that all this beauty and colour that is beginning to come into this world cannot coexist without evil. What is happening is a kind of felix culpa, a happy fault. Now for St Thomas, this retelling of the Genesis story just wouldn't hang together. St Thomas believed that before the Fall, the garden would have been very beautiful, Adam and Eve would have had passions, they would have had sex, and in fact, their joy and appreciation of creation would have been much more intense than it is now:
sensible delight would have been the greater in proportion to the greater purity of nature and the greater sensibility of the body (ST 1a,q98 a.2)
When this foreign element of sin came into their world, it dulled their senses, they became repressed and the world became a less delightful place. The Fall of Man wasn't a happy fault because it brought colour into our world, but because it merited such and so great a Redeemer. Read more

Scripture Study Day in Leeds

Thursday, January 26, 2012
Earlier this month Fr. Richard Ounsworth OP and I were invited by the Leeds Cathedral Young Adults Group to lead them in a study day on scripture. I enjoyed the day immensely, it was a pleasure to get to know this lively group of young Catholics and good to see such enthusiasm for the faith. Over the course of quite a full programme, which included an exploration of some of the various 'types' of Christ found in the Old Testament and an introduction to the theology of St.Paul, one of the particpants expressed his surprise and delight to discover that 'the Bible is Catholic.'

I thought this was an interesting and revealing comment. Perhaps in the past there has been a tendency to separate scripture and tradition. Perhaps there has even been a slight suspicion of the scriptures, an anxiety that they are a bit 'Protestant' and opposed to Catholic sacraments and liturgy. One of the objectives of the Second Vatican Council was to allay such fears and draw Catholics attention back to the scriptural foundations of the Church's teaching and life. This, it was hoped, would facilitate a spiritual and evangelical renewal of the Body of Christ.

Fr Richard speaking in Leeds

For the Council, neglect of our scriptures means the neglect of our own Tradition (in the fullest sense) and the neglect of our mission. This scriptural outlook of Vatican II was interestingly anticipated by Bede Jarrett OP, the founder of Blackfriars Oxford and Provincial of the English Province between 1916-1932. In 1908 Fr. Bede wrote to congratulate a Brother who was to be assigned to the Ecole Biblique in Jerusalem for higher studies declaring: 'Scripture is the study above all others that appeals to the religious side of the English character.'

This, it seems to me, is as true now as it was then, and perhaps the English fascination with the Bible is not as distinctive or unusual as Bede Jarrett implies. If we are to preach effectively to societies that have lost touch with their Christian roots then we must preach with words that 'seem to come from God' (1 Peter 4: 11). Studying and meditating upon the word of God would seem to be an excellent preperation for such preaching. The increased interest of young Catholics in scripture must therefore be a tremendous sign of hope for the future.  Read more
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