Contemplata aliis Tradere

A meagre contribution to the mission and work of the Order of Preachers: my reflections, thoughts, ideas and the occasional rant on matters mainly theological, philosophical and ecclesiastical, drawn primarily from my reading and experience of life and the world. Striving to be always Catholic, firmly Christian and essentially Dominican, flavoured with dashes of Von Balthasar.

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Location: Oxford, United Kingdom

A son of the English Province of the Order of Friars Preachers (Dominicans); born in Malaysia but have lived in the USA, Singapore, the UK & the Philippines for varying durations. A pilgrim and way-farer, a searcher for Truth on the journey of Life... "Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine, There’s always laughter and good red wine. At least I’ve always found it so. Benedicamus Domino!" - Hilaire Belloc

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Catholic Filial Piety

The Decalogue enjoins us to honour our parents and today, the Dominican Family fulfills this commandment in a beautiful and rather touching manner. In today's Liturgy, the Order of Preachers "make a common commemoration of those of our parents who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith and now sleep in peace. In this way our Dominican family joins together to express its piety towards our parents in death as in life, for in Christ they gave us birth and always taught us to follow Him".

This kind of filial piety is something familiar to me; Chinese culture traditionally has a high regard for one's elders and parents especially and venerates them in life as in death. It is a misnomer to call this 'ancestor worship'; rather one remembers one's parents in death and Chinese households would gather once a year to visit the ancestral graves, to pray for their happy repose and to share a family meal. This too happens in Hispanic cultures on All Souls' Day, so at the heart of things, there is nothing alien in the traditional Chinese practices; it is something Catholicism encourages, in accordance with the Fourth Commandment.

Today's commemoration in the Order is a wonderful example of filial piety. I am blessed that my parents and grandparents are still with me in this world, but I am privileged to pray for the deceased parents of my brothers and sisters in the Dominican Family as this reminds us that when we join the Order, we don't do so in isolation, but in a some sense our families come with us...

An increasing number of us in religious life will also have parents or families who do not share our faith in Jesus Christ; it can be difficult to preach and evangelize those closest to us, especially those to whom we looked for guidance in our infancy and youth. Today's commemoration reminds us of the need to pray for those closest to us and to strive for their salvation. Indeed, the Second Reading appointed for the Office of Readings today is from a letter written by St Catherine of Siena to her mother. In it, St Catherine exhorts her mother be joyful in the Lord, to rejoice in Catherine's gift of self to God in the Order and to look to Christ Crucified for her own salvation.

With such thoughts, I pray the Collect for today:

"Almighty God,
You have commanded us to honour father and mother.
Have mercy on our deceased parents,
And forgive them their sins.
May we come to see them in the joy of eternal light.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen."

The above photo was taken in the Philippines and is of a poor Filipino family in the parish where I worked; a wonderful image of filial love and piety.


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