Sunday, August 28, 2016

Pilgrim Rosary - Dominican Nuns celebrate the Jubilee

What is the Pilgrim Rosary:

On the opening day of the Jubilee, the Master of the Order blessed a number of "pilgrim rosaries" (which had been made by Nuns in different monasteries around the world) that were then sent to each Dominican monastery in the world. These are a symbol of communion for the entire Dominican family in prayer. Also, the schedule of the Jubilee gives two days at each monastery to invite the local Dominican Family it to pray the Holy Rosary, so we form a continuous chain of prayer throughout the Jubilee Year (7 Nov 2015 – 21 Jan 2017). The monastery becomes, during those 48 hours, the centre of the Dominican worldwide Rosary.

The Pilgrim Rosary in Drogheda:

The days assigned to our monastery are Monday the 5th and Tuesday the 6th of September. As part of our celebration of the Pilgrim Rosary we are having special Rosary Holy Hours over three days:

·        Sunday 4th, 7.30p.m. – 8.30p.m: Holy Hour - Healing Service (Followed by Compline)

·        Monday 5th and Tuesday 6th , 5.30p.m. – 6.30p.m: Meditative Rosary, with Reflections (Followed by Vespers).

Poster available for download, here.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Sr M Breidge is clothed in Dominican habit

Our joy on the celebration of the feast of our holy Father, St Dominic (8th August) this year was enhanced by the reception of the habit of the Order by Sr M Breidge on the previous Saturday - feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord.  Here we share with you some photos from the day and the homily preached by our prioress, Sr Mairead at the clothing ceremony:

Homily at Clothing Ceremony
On this special feast day of the Transfiguration of the Lord, Breidge will receive the habit, adding immensely to the joy of this day.

 I realise that instead of trying to speak about this great and beautiful Mystery of the Transfiguration, one would gain much more by entering into the mystery through prayer, and in silence and solitude, allowing it on the contrary, to speak to us in the depths of our hearts.

However, as a few words are probably expected, I will attempt to be brief and focus mainly on the importance of prayer in the life of Jesus and its transformative power in our lives as contemplatives.

Luke says that the aspect of  Jesus’ face changed and his clothing became as brilliant as lightning, while Jesus was at prayer. Prayer– this intimate personal relationship with Jesus leading to union with Him and communion with the Blessed Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is in fact the goal of everyone’s life, though sadly, so few are truly aware of it.

Prayer, communion with the Blessed Trinity is given great emphasis in our own constitutions. As early as number 1 in the Fundamental Constitutions ( 1:IV) of the Nuns, bearing witness as it does to the transforming power of prayer, and reminding us at the same time, of the transfiguration of the Lord, it says:

“ Persevering in prayer with Mary the Mother of Jesus, the nuns ardently long for the fullness of the Holy Spirit, so that with unveiled face they may reflect the glory of the Lord and be transformed into his image from splendour to splendour by the Spirit of the Lord (cf 2 Cor. 3:18).”

This scripture quotation( 2 Cor:3:18) is in fact one of the Readings in the minor hours of the Office for this feast.

Gregory Palamas ( 1296 -1359), one of the Fathers of the Church said that it was in prayer that Jesus shone like this, in the company of Elijah and Moses, to show that that blessed vision was the fruit of prayer. The essential events of Jesus’ activity proceeded from the core of his personality and this core was his dialogue with the Father, in other words his prayer.

 The Church arises out of participation in the prayer of Jesus (LK 9:18-20; Mt 16; 13 -20). The mountain is always the realm of prayer, of being with the Father. The Transfiguration only renders visible what is actually taking place in Jesus’ prayer; he is sharing in God the Father’s radiance, he is in communion with his  Father. When Jesus revealed his glory, giving the disciples a small glimpse of his divine nature- he let them see God dwelling within Him- in order to strengthen them for the forthcoming scandal of the cross.

We may ask have we an example of this transformation/transfiguration through prayer in our own day?I believe we have one in a young Italian teenager, named Chiara Luce ( for light) Badano, who died in 1990 at the age of 18, and who was beatified in 2010.She had been a member of Focolare, and heroically accepted her cancer suffering for love of Jesus forsaken, refusing to take morphine during her last days. Her dedication to prayer and her relationship with Jesus grew progressively stronger and stronger during the two years of her illness, giving her a radiance, remarked on by all who came in contact with her. Everyone loved to be in her company because she radiated peace, joy, and love.She radiated the presence of Jesus within her. Chiara Lubick, founder of Focolare gave her the name ‘Luce’( light) because she was always radiant. She told her that her luminous face showed her love for Jesus.

We pray every grace and blessing on you Breidge as you begin your novitiate and may you radiate peace, joy and love through the grace of the Blessed Trinity dwelling within you. Amen.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Reflection on St Dominic (9)

On preparing this reflection, it struck me that all the Readings at Mass this morning, (19th Sunday of the Year, Cycle C) including the psalm, could be applied to the person of Dominic and the mission and foundation of the Order.

The first Reading from the Book of Wisdom is about trusting God and joyfully having the courage to do what God asks, enduring the dangers and hardships as well as the blessings that this work of God might entail. Dominic had a tremendous trust in God. He realised the power of the Scriptures, the word/Word of God in transforming lives and the need for preaching the truth regardless of danger and opposition from heretics. He was passionately concerned with the salvation of  all people. Dominic had this tremendous, genuine love for people – he cared deeply for them. We are told that “his heart was full of an extraordinary, almost incredible, yearning for the salvation of everyone”. ( Libellus 34)

We know he was steeped in Sacred Scripture and had the Gospel of Matthew and the letters of St Paul almost off by heart, so well did he know them and preach them. To emphasise this, one of our antiphons at the Office of Readings reads:

“Proclaim the word, convince, rebuke, encourage with patience in teaching; put up with hardship and do the work of an evangelist.”

Among many instances recorded in the life of Dominic, the story is told of St. Dominic and his companions being purposely led astray by a heretic, whom they thought was a Catholic. On enquiring of him the directions to the place where a debate was to be held with the heretics, he led them or more correctly misled them (barefoot as they were) through thorns and brambles so that their feet and ankles were covered with blood after a short time. Dominic bore all of this with unruffled patience, breaking forth joyfully at times into the divine praises and exhorting his companions to do the same. “Be of good cheer, dear brethren”, he would say, “put all your trust in God, for our sins have now been all wiped out in our blood, and the victory will surely be ours.”  The victory was theirs indeed as the heretic seeing Dominic’s marvellous endurance, and the joyful forbearance of the whole company, had a change of heart and confessed his deceit.

As the commentary in today’s Sunday Newsletter states, ‘Saints take risks, They put their hands into the hand of Jesus of Nazareth whom they believe has called them to new missions in the Church. They are open to whatever might unfold, and to its consequences. Like Abraham in the second Reading, Dominic was called to leave his homeland in Spain and follow the Lord step by step so that he was gradually called  to found monasteries in Prouilhe, Rome, Madrid and Bologna and priories in theses same places as well as Paris, - founding a preaching Order which was unique at the time, as up until then only bishops had the authority to preach.

Finally, all the instructions given in today’s Gospel, were practised by Dominic. For example we are instructed to ‘sell our possessions and give alms’. Dominic does exactly this while a student – selling his beloved books (when books were so scarce and expensive) in a time of famine so that he could buy food for the poor. Our 2nd Antiphon over the psalms tomorrow evening reads;

“Moved by compassion and love, Dominic sold his books and possessions and gave the money to the poor.”

It is remarkable how one of our hymns in St. Dominic’s Mass, depicting the attributes of St. Dominic uses phrases from this particular Gospel passage. I refer to the passage:
 “What sort of steward, then, is faithful and wise enough for the Master to place him over his household to give them their allowance of food at the proper time.”

Dominic certainly was this faithful and wise steward of the Lord’s who responded to the promptings of the Holy Spirit his whole life long and had a profound love for Christ, a deep faith and a sure hope that entrusted the future to the love and great mercy of God.

I pray, through the intercession of St. Dominic, that all of us may be given the grace to grow ever more deeply in love with our Saviour, Jesus Christ, grow in faith, hope and love, and respond generously to the daily promptings of the Holy Spirit, to the glory of God and the salvation of all people. Amen

Reflections on St Dominic (8) - The Transfiguration and the Cross

In the various Gospel accounts of the Transfiguration we read, ‘As he prayed the aspect of Jesus face changed’. Then again, ‘In their presence he was transfigured, his face shone like the sun and his clothes became as white as light’ and yet again ‘The desciples saw his glory’. The Magnificat magazine gives the following introduction to the mass for this Feast. It says

Christ’s tabor radiance is a kind of mirror in which we glimpse the glory that God wills to give his friends. The resplendence of the Transfiguration reveals the fullness of life destined to be ours. The transfiguration invites us to configuration. As we peer into the glory that pours from every pore of the transfigured Christ, we cast off everything unworthy of our personal relationship with the infinite, and we take on the luster of the Son of God. Jesus gazes back at us with a luminous look of love that makes us desire to live his transparent beauty- to be luminaries. Silently from Tabor’s splendor the savior begs “Become what you behold.”

In Dominic we see someone who wholeheartedly responded to this invitation of Jesus. We read in the Libellis, “far more impressive and splendid than all Dominic’s miracles were the exceptional integrity of his character and the extraordinary energy of divine zeal which carried him along. These proved beyond doubt that he was a vessel of honour and grace. His face was always radiant with a cheerfulness which bore witness to the good conscience he bore within him. By his cheerfulness he easily won the love of everybody. Without difficulty he found his way into people’s hearts as soon as they saw him.’ One could easily imagine people in Dominic’s company echoing the words of the three disciples on Tabor. “It is good for us to be here, Dominic. In your presence we experience God loving us. We are in touch with God. Your radiance is not of this earth,  grace has transfigured you into Christ. We feel loved and a response in love is awakened in us.” This is the greatest form of preaching, when others encounter God when they spend time in our company, when we reveal the face of God.

The three disciples were given a glimpse of glory and they wanted it to last. They wanted to stay in that awesome place. It is wonderful for us to be here,let us make three tents. That could not be. They could not live in the resurrection, because Jesus had not yet procured that gift for them. The spirit of the Risen Jesus had not yet been given. They saw his glory, the glory that is his as the only son of the Father but they did not know they lengths Jesus would go to so that they, and we, could enter into glory with Him.

Dominic knew better. Fra Angelico depicts Dominic not on the top of a mountain, in transports of delight as he gazed on Jesus in a blaze of glory, no rather, he paints Dominic literally clinging to the Cross. As Dominic hugs the Cross, as if he cannot be torn away from it, we can almost hear him saying “it is good Lord for me to be here. Let me build a tent, let me stay here with you and make this place my home.” Dominic was configured to Christ not by an experience with the transfigured Jesus on Tabor where God’s glory was revealed but by living in the presence of the disfigured Christ on Calvary where God is concealed, as St Thomas said, ‘On the Cross thy God head made no sign to men.’  It is here at the foot of the Cross that Dominic is taught the lesson of love. It is here that the heart of God is laid bare. It is here that the depth of God’s desire for humanity, for us, is revealed. Gazing long and loving on the crucified, Dominic came to resemble his Lord. As he peered into the MERCY that pours from every pour of the disfigured Christ, he became a vessel of that mercy and compassion. It was in this place that his love for souls was born. Here he learned to echo the cry of his beloved Jesus, “Father what will become of sinners”.  May that cry continue to resound in the hearts of those who follow him.

Reflections on St Dominic (7) - His concern for Others

Continuing our reflection on St. Dominic, I have been struck this year by his passionate concern for those who had gone, or were going, astray from God. He didn’t ignore them, or think ‘the little that I can do will make no difference’ but took action. He founded his Order for “preaching and the salvation of souls.”
This message of the importance of persevering in doing what one can, and trusting in God for the rest, is particularly evident in his time in Languedoc, where, for years, he preached with little or no discernible results. Obviously, we nuns can’t go off on preaching  missions, but the message of perseverance applies just as much to the other manner in which Dominic expressed his concern and care for those going astray – his continuous prayer for them; something in which we are  called to imitate him.

 May God awaken in our hearts the same passionate concern for others and a spirit of ceaseless prayer for them.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Reflections on St Dominic (6) - The Dominican Family

Through the window of our refectory I saw how our youngest Sister has planted a variety of flowers in the shape of 800, and it is exactly what we are as we celebrate our 800 Anniversary as Dominicans. Each Sister and Brother whom God has called to our family has shaped our Order day by day by their lives.

Dominic  placed so much trust and confidence in his companions. He was profoundly a man of God, convinced that the hand of God lay upon everything and everyone. His own vocation as a preacher he discovered from being attentive to the needs of others. He was so open to listen to God speaking to him through the lives of others.

Dominic knew that those who came to join him were called by the Lord and that the Lord was speaking to them. If others were called to join Dominic in his dream then some system had to be devised which respected both the freedom of God to speak as He wishes and the freedom of each to express their understanding of what God was saying to each personally. 

Dominic’s vision, his inspiration is communicated to his brethren in such a way that it becomes the creation of all. He inspired others by sharing his vision and allowing it to take root and mature in them in such a manner that it seems to come as much from them as from him.

In his family everyone becomes a builder, everyone must share in the task of construction, and is encouraged to offer his/her own personal contribution.

Dominic never put himself in the centre, he emptied himself, and that emptiness   invites Christ to be a centre of his own life and the life of his community. 

When Dominic had only sixteen brothers, he sent them to Paris, Spain and Rome. In human eyes it seemed that he was tearing down what he had laboriously built, destroying the Order he had just founded. But he had the supernatural prudence that comes from the Holy Spirit ‘Seed rots when it is hoarded, bears fruit when it is sown.’  Dominicans were for the Church. Our lives are shaped by the Church’s needs.

The following quotation from Becoming Human by Jean Vainer is relevant here: 
A place of mediation is that place where we are and can search for truth together, where we find healing for our hearts that are incapable of relating to others in a healthy way, where we can learn not to be locked up in our own needs and desires, but welcome others as they are, accept that they are important and have value. The place of mediation helps us to discover that we are part of something much bigger, that together we can do something beautiful.

Our awareness that we are loved and accepted by our God, that truth is what allows us to be preachers of God’s Mercy and Compassion. And we first learn it in our communities and then share it with the whole world.

When fr.Bruno our Master last week was in Krakow on the WYD, he was asked the question: What do Dominicans have to preach today for the Youth? He answered that we first need to listen to them and after, to preach and to share with them our experience of life. To think together, how to build a better world today - not individual world but a world where we can BE together.  Church – He  said - is our common home 

Reflections on St Dominic (5) - "The Light of Learning"

As we continue our Novena to St Dominic. I thought it would be nice to reflect on St. Dominic with St. Catherine, as revealed to here by God the Father in “The Dialogue.”
 And look at the ship of your father Dominic, my beloved son. He governed it with a perfect rule, asking [his followers] to be attentive only to my honor and the salvation of souls with the light of learning. He wished to build his foundation on this light, while not for all that giving up true and voluntary poverty …
But for his more proper object he took the light of learning in order to stamp out the errors that were rising up at that time. He took up the task of the Word, my only-begotten Son. Clearly he appeared as an apostle in the world, with such truth and light did he sow my word, dispelling the darkness and giving light. He was a light that I offered the world through Mary and sent into the mystic body of holy Church as an uprooter of heresies. Why did I say “through Mary”? Because Mary gave him the habit – a task my goodness entrusted to her.
Where would he have his children eat by the light of learning? At the table of the cross. On that cross is set the table of holy desire where one eats souls for love of me. He wanted his children to do nothing else but stand at this table by the light of learning to seek only the glory and praise of my name and the salvation of souls. And so that they might attend to nothing else, he relieved them of worry about temporal things and wanted them to be poor. Was he lacking in faith or did he fear they would not be provided for? Certainly not, for he was clothed in faith and trusted firmly in my providence. …

So Dominic set his ship in order by rigging it with three strong ropes: obedience, continence, and true poverty. He made it thoroughly royal by not tying it to the guilt of deadly sin. Enlightened by me, the true light, he was providing for those who were less perfect. For, though all who observe the rule are perfect, still even in [this way of] life one is more perfect than another, and both the perfect and the not-so-perfect fare well on this ship. Dominic allied himself with my Truth by showing that he did not want the sinner to die but rather to be converted and live. He made his ship very spacious, gladsome, and fragrant, a most delightful garden.