A few words from Fr. Reginald Martin, O.P.
LOURDES AND REPENTANCE
At first glance, Lourdes and Ash Wednesday might not appear to be likely companions. This year, however, Mary's feast falls the day after Ash Wednesday, so the feast is a good time to reflect on Mary's urging Bernadette to call her peers to "Repent!"
This is the same call our Holy Father repeats in his Apostolic Letter on the Year of Mercy, which is once again the subject of our Light and Life reflection. Pope Francis could not be more clear in his urging the faithful to avail themselves of the mercy God extends in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and lest anyone doubt his sincerity, he reminds confessors they are the servants of this sacrament. I have no idea whether our Pontiff wished to inject humor into his letter, but his admonishing priests to avoid asking useless questions in the confessional caused me to smile - and it should cause the reluctant penitent to heave a sigh of relief.
A MILESTONE ANNIVERSARY
Last April we had the good fortune to celebrate Fr. Paul Duffner's one hundredth birthday. Last month we had the honor to celebrate the seventy-fifth anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood. Fr. Duffner is the eldest member of the Western Dominican Province, and his three-quarters of a century of priestly ministry stand as a remarkable tribute.
The Western Province extends from Anchorage, Alaska to Mexicali, Mexico. For a number of years, however, Dominicans served a mission in Chiapas, the southernmost state of Mexico, bordering on Guatemala. Fr. Duffner is one of the few Western Dominicans to have the distinction of serving in both these locations.
But he is probably best known for the years he served as the Western Province's novice master - and the two decades he directed the ministry of the Rosary Center. When our superiors asked whether he would be willing to leave his assignment in San Francisco to assume responsibility as pastor in Portland, Oregon, his one question was whether he might bring the Rosary Confraternity with him.
The Rosary apostolate thrived under Fr. Duffner's care, and Dominicans and their friends are astounded to learn the destinations the Rosary Center supplies with Rosaries. At the tender age of one hundred, Fr. Duffner is, perhaps, no longer the agile athlete whose ability to jump fences so impressed his novices in 1948, but he still comes to the Rosary Center each day, and lends a hand with the Center's affairs. In 2004, when our superiors asked me to assume the Director's responsibilities, I realized I had very large shoes to fill. Nothing has happened in the intervening eleven years to change my mind.
This past autumn I received an email from Fr. Don Calloway, a priest I did not know, asking whether I would read a volume on the Rosary he had just completed. In addition, he asked, would I be willing to add a comment or two to those of other Dominicans whose opinions he had sought. Why not, thought I, so I agreed, and downloaded his text. Along the way, I found comments from the "other Dominicans" he had mentioned. They included Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, Archbishop of Vienna, and Archbishop Augustine di Noia, Secretary for the Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship! Needless to say, I'd not expected to find myself in such exalted company - but then, I'd not expected to find Fr. Calloway's book, Champions of the Rosary, so riveting. Here is what I wrote
This is the most carefully researched volume on the Rosary I have ever encountered. At the same time, it is remarkably accessible, and invites the reader to experience the author's own growth in Christ's love through embracing the example of Mary's loving surrender.
The great Dominican, Thomas Aquinas, observed, "...even as it is better to enlighten than merely to shine, so it is better to give to others the fruits of one's contemplation than merely to contemplate." The historical examples in these pages provide the tools we need to become Champions of the Rosary for our own, longing world.
The book is not a "quick read," but it is well worth the time one invests in meditating upon its two hundred or so pages. I look forward to its publication - and to sharing it with you when it is available.
Dominican historian, Fr. Augustine Thompson, published a well-received biography of St. Francis, which has recently appeared in a paperback edition. This biography has been embraced by religious and secular experts alike, and many Franciscan superiors have said they will not be without it. The book portrays an engaging and sympathetic individual, but does not sentimentalize Francis, or attempt to gloss over his many challenges.
Popular theologian Mark Shea (whom Fr. Reginald knew when he served as pastor of the Dominican parish in Seattle, Washington), offers a new edition of a remarkable work, Mary, Mother of the Son. Originally published in three volumes, the work is now available in a single volume, and Fr. Reginald says it is hard to put down.
Volume one considers popular misunderstandings about Mary, the second treats Mary's virginity, Immaculate Conception and Assumption, and the third, which Rosary devotees may find most engaging, studies Marian devotions, including the Rosary. The volumes formed a part of Fr. Reginald's spiritual reading for many early mornings before the Blessed Sacrament; he urges the friends of the Rosary Center to share his enriching experience.
A NOTE TO OUR CANADIAN FRIENDS
If you send your gift to the Rosary Center in Canadian funds, your generosity is considerably reduced by the time the bank makes adjustments for differences in exchange rates and - especially - levies a transaction fee to convert your gift into American funds. To protect the value of your gift, please use a credit card or International Money Order.
2 Novenas of Masses in honor of
The Rosary Center
PO Box 3617
Portland, OR 97208 USA