Today is the Feast of St. Martin de Porres

St. Martin de Porres in one of the tapestries at the Cathedral in Los Angeles

Today is the Feast of our Dominican Brother, Saint Martin de Porres (December 9, 1579 – November 3, 1639). He is known for his care for the poor and vulnerable, and care of the sick. Many are the reports of his gift of healing, and he was skilled in the art of healing herbs. Animals loved Martin, and he they; they were comfortable in one another’s presence.

Though the priests of the Order were far more educated then he, Martin continually taught his brothers through example how Jesus taught us to value one another.

It was recalled by his prior that once when Martin was punished for picking up a destitute elderly beggar and placing him in his own bed at the monastery, Saint Martin went humbly to his superior and asked for forgiveness. He said that he didn’t know that obedience took precedence over charity.

He said, “Compassion is preferable to cleanliness. Reflect that with a little soap I can easily clean my bed covers, but even with a torrent of tears I would never wash from my soul the stain that my harshness toward the unfortunate would create.”

Saint Martin is one whose life was a preaching, and when necessary, he could add the right words.

All Souls Day

Is there not a beautiful thought connected with prayer for the dead? Were it not sad to feel that when our loved ones pass away, they are wholly separated from us? Through prayer we may still hold communion with them; by the spirit of prayer we may gather the inspiration and clothe ourselves with the mantle they were clothed with. In blessing them we receive their blessing….

– Andrew Barrett, The Shakers

Mother Justin Barry visits the grave of Sister Dominica Arguello, remembered in California history as Dominica Arguello, who is often mentioned in the early history of California. Photo taken, circa 1955.

Mother Justin was the Prioress General of the Dominican Sisters of Sister of San Rafael from 1953 to 1965.  Sister Dominica was the first woman to enter a convent in California.

Taking Jesus Seriously

A few years ago I read a book entitled, Taking Jesus Seriously, by John Cowan. I recall agreeing with the author that we tend to rationalize away many of the things that Jesus said, and thus don’t really take him seriously. Just pay attention, what are the things that many religious people (we) wave their (our) arms about? Then ask yourself, did Jesus talk about these things? And then look at the overwhelming social needs in our country and world. Then ask yourself, what did Jesus say about this?

Today’s Gospel reading from Luke left me wondering.

On a sabbath Jesus went to dine at the home of one of the leading Pharisees. He said to the host who invited him, “When you hold a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or sisters or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors, in case they may invite you back and you have repayment. Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to  repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

So, if I pay attention to my life, and the banquets and dinners I attend, I see tables of plenty. Then I ask myself, “Who is missing?” How do the guest lists match up with Jesus’ guest list, without my trying to rationalize it with giving time or money to a homeless shelter?

What will it cost me to really take Jesus’ words seriously? And how can we encourage one another to really do just that?

Table of Plenty - Set for Whom?

Finding the Cure in a Pumpkin Patch

pumpkin, pumpkin patch, Presentation Center, Los Gatos
Pumpkin patch in garden at Presentation Center, Los Gatos

The only cure is love, by Helen Caldicot

I just walked around my garden. It is a sunny, fall day and white fleecy clouds are scudding across a clear, blue sky.
The air is fresh and clear with no taint of chemical smells, and the mountains in the distance are ringed by shining silver clouds.
Earlier I picked a pan full of ripe cherry guavas to make jam, and the house is filling with the delicate aroma of simmering guavas.
Figs are ripening on the trees and developing that gorgeous deep, red glow at the apex of the fruit.
Huge, orange-colored lemons hang from the citrus trees, and lettuce, beet-roots, and cabbage are growing in the vegetable garden….

It is clear to me that unless we connect directly with the Earth, we will not have the faintest clue why we should save it.

Source: If You Love This Planet

Preacher of Wonder

Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder.

E.B. White
Charlotte’s Web

weed, descanso gardens
Weed preaching the presence of wonder.

Every morning I receive a daily quote from After reading today’s, I knew there were many images that easily preach the presence of wonder. Are we listening?

Everybody is Unique

Everybody is unique.
Do not compare yourself
with anybody else
lest you spoil God’s curriculum.

– Baal Shem Tov

Koala at L.A. Zoo
One of God's unique critters at the L.A. Zoo. He's too busy to compare himself with others.

Being at Peace

We are not at peace with others because we are not at peace with ourselves, and we are not at peace with ourselves because we are not at peace with God.

-Thomas Merton

Daisy, peace
Daisy . . . being at peace.

Creation Gives Thanks

Deer on bluff at Bolinas
We will find this truth naturally inheres in all creatures who, even though unable to speak, offer better thanks to their benefactors through action than we humans do in word


It is so thoughtful and commendable to thank those who do us favors that if we glance around, we see that when earth is regaled by heaven’s waters and sunlight, it sends forth grass and flowers in grateful payment for the gift. Very tenderly the gardener cares for the trees so that, having grown quite tall, they bend down their fruit…to pick, almost as if to say: “Take this fruit in return for your kind care.”

– Reading from Tuesday’s Psalter: Francisco de Osuna, The Third Spiritual Alphabet

Bent Over with a Burden

In today’s Gospel reading (Lk 13:10-17), Jesus heals a woman whose back is so bent and deformed, she cannot stand. There are many today who have burdens that keep them from standing and walking freely. How are we working to free and heal them?

woman, el salvador, cane
This woman is not bent over, but her poverty is truly a burden that keeps her from standing and walking as freely as we do.

God’s Viewpoint on Immigration

From today’s first reading:

Thus says the LORD:
“You shall not molest or oppress an alien,
for you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt.
You shall not wrong any widow or orphan.
If ever you wrong them and they cry out to me,
I will surely hear their cry.

Exodus 22:21-23

Santo Torribio, Saint Torribio, patron of immigrants, Juarez, Mexico
Children place banner of Santo Torribio Romo on the back of a truck at prayer service for justice in immigration law. Picture by Lyn Kirkconnell.

The Bible states it very clearly in Exodus and elsewhere that we are to be just with those who cross our borders, because once we were aliens in the land. And with the exception of our Native People, all of us are either immigrants or children of immigrants. Let us be just.

Surely God does hear the cry of the immigrant as they are misused at job sites, deported before they receive their paychecks, and separated from their families. Santo Toribio Romo has been known to appear to immigrants crossing the hot, barren, dry Sonoran desert, and lead them to safety. We can pray for the intercession of Santo Toribio on behalf on immigrants who are in danger at this moment.

Please join the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael in working for just immigration reform. Our corporate stance can be found on our website.