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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What I did in the summer - Visit to Cairo

Monday, October 29, 2012
From the 15th of July to the 17th of August I visited the IDEO (the Dominican Institute for Oriental Studies: www.ideo-cairo.org) in Cairo. Apart from holidays in the place of the birth of History, the other reason for my visit was to understand the life of Christian missions in majority Muslim countries. In the beginning I wanted to go to Iraq (I love the unequaled poetry and wisdom of Iraq) but the situation there and the fact that our Dominican houses have been living under constant threats dampened my enthusiasm a little bit.

From right to left: Frs René-Vincent, Jean, Adrien and Gustave

For the whole month, during a heat wave (38°C to 42°C), I managed to visit many Christian and Muslim quarters of Cairo, and I also visited some areas outside Cairo. I visited the Islamic Cairo (a couple of kilometres from the IDEO), entered beautiful mosques that reflect the genius of the Egyptian building skills in the Middle Ages, saw the remarkable and vast Coptic churches of Moqattamcarved in the rock (some beneath others), went to the pyramids, the Sphinx and the Solar Boat at Giza, visited some of the world’s most renowned museums (The Egyptian Museum, the Museum of Islamic Art and the Coptic Museum), entered overwhelming mausoleums and madrassas of the Fatimid period and went to the four monasteries of Wadi El-Natrun in the desert.

Gustave near Bab El-Nasr in the Islamic Cairo
Posing with a guide with his camel

One of the four monastries of Wadi El-Natrun

One of the churches of Moqattam
After spending days visiting highly different suburbs of Cairo, I came to realise that life there is more complex than I imagined, and so are people’s mindsets. I got different ideas of Cairo, moving from the postmodern houses of Smart Village to the City of the Dead (where families actually live in tombs), from the quiet and hyper clean streets of Az-zamalek to the noisy Sharia Ramsi’s or Sharia El Ghaysh, from the Sushi restaurants of El Ma’adi to the world’s largest recycling hub Moqattam (the ‘garbage city’), from the enormous futuristic shopping mall of Sun City to the more traditional (and more attractive) market of Khan Al Khalilli.

Aerial view of Moqattam, the 'garbage city'

Sun City from above

Children playing in the City of the Dead

Smart Village in Cairo

After ten formal interviews and countless long chats with people, Muslims and Christians, I came to understand that religious tensions in Egypt usually arise when an Imam speaks negatively of Christians or a Christian priest tries to undermine Islam. The killings generally start after a small incident: when I was there, an entire community started a fight in Dahshur because a Christian tailor had burnt a shirt belonging to a Muslim client while trying to iron it. As I visited Cairo during the month of Ramadan, I witnessed the highest level of Islamic spirituality, devotion and charitable works. Many times I was invited to the Iftar (the meal taken every evening by Muslims at sunset during the fasting of the month of Ramadan), sometimes by Muslims and many times by Christian friends who grew up in that tradition. I also spent hours reading books from the IDEO’s rich library, especially on the origins of the Christian-Muslim dialogue.

Inside the IDEO's library
Iftar with Christian friends and an Egyptian Dominican friar in Cairo

Inside the Dominican Chapel in Cairo

As I cannot yet make public the findings of my research, that being part of an academic work in progress, I only can say that I learnt that our ways to relate to our neighbours from a different religious tradition, depend much on how and where we grew up, but also on how we choose to live with them. I am currently learning Arabic, hoping to re-visit Cairo sometime in the near future and one day to see the mythical Baghdad.
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Councils of Faith: Nicaea I (325)

Thursday, October 25, 2012
Some time before the year 322, a dispute arose in the Church of Alexandria over the preaching of the presbyter Arius, whose account of the relationship between God the Father and the Son had been condemned by his bishop: what particularly attracted censure was the assertion that the Son’s existence was not co-eternal with the Father’s, but that, in the catchphrase which the Council picked out for an anathema, ‘there was a time when he was not’. Read more

Denis Geraghty OP RIP (1929-2012)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Please join us in praying for our brother Denis Geraghty OP, who died last night at our priory in London. He was born on 26th April 1929, growing up in Manchester and training and working a nurse before entering the Order, where he made Profession on 14th December 1976. He was ordained priest on 28th June 1980, and lived and worked in several houses of the Province, including London, where he was prior, and Oxford, where he was Student Master. A few years ago he moved back to London, and continued to play his part in the life of the community and parish, faithfully attending the Conventual Office and Mass right up to the day he died. After a deterioration of general health and mobility in recent months, he died peacefully in his sleep. May he rest in peace. Read more

Councils of Faith: Introduction - 2

Sunday, October 21, 2012
What is an ecumenical Council? Why are there 21 Ecumenical or General Councils? Read more

Councils of Faith: Introduction - 1

Wednesday, October 17, 2012
What is an ecumenical Council? Why are there 21 Ecumenical or General Councils?  Read more

Dominican Vocations Open Day: 27th October, Blackfriars Oxford

Monday, October 15, 2012

YEAR OF FAITH, 11th October 2012 – 24th November, 2013.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Feast of St Francis of Assisi

Saturday, October 06, 2012
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Spode Music Week 2012

Tuesday, October 02, 2012
It's not only in the liturgy that you would associate Dominicans with music. Readers of Godzdogz will know that fr. Robert Verrill has been a regular feature of Oxford University Philharmonia concerts over the last few years; and last year, I joined the same orchestra on flute. Of course, some members of the orchestra were initially startled to see two Dominican habits in their midst and may have wondered if this was some kind of conspiracy! Read more
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