Sunday, April 22, 2018

Vocations Sunday

Happy Vocations Sunday!

Here we are again, thinking about
the Lord and how He draws people
like us – or people like you??? – to
desire to do as He did, Who laid
down His life for His sheep. 

So, today is ‘Vocations Sunday.’
Everyone knows what that means,
though admittedly sometimes hearing
people speak about their vocations as somehow feeling ‘called,’ can be a little perplexing, especially if you don’t quite know how to make sense of that kind of statement.
On the other hand, you might hear people speak of an experience of love that was overwhelming and irresistible. 

Against these statements, we encounter – and very frequently – people of tremendous knowledge and intelligence and rationality, for whom a ‘call’ is too fantastic and ridiculous to be credible.

Feelings come and go, and we know that we cannot root our identity in how we feel about things or people, or even ourselves.  There must be something more, something that can transcend even our emotions, so that we can depend on it and trust in it, somehow.

So what is the beauty of a vocation?  How can a ‘call’ be irresistible to all kinds of everyone?

I think the answer must be that when God is calling/ inviting someone to a religious vocation, He is inviting you to believe in His love not only on an emotional level, but fundamentally and lastingly on an intellectual level.  Like God who is Trinity, He appeals to our heart, mind, and will – the three are inter-dependent and complementary.  He knows us better than we know ourselves and it is only at His invitation that we can be ‘called.’

So, what is a vocation?
An invitation from the Lord of Love – from a Person to a person – a very particular call, which none but you can respond to.  And it is up to you to make the choice – He won’t force a decision, or you wouldn’t be free.
The question is, do you have the courage to explore the possibility, or even to dare to say yes???

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

A Window into our life

Welcome to a new ‘feature’ on our web-site …
We shall call it a ‘Window into the Life of a Dominican Nun,’ in a rather loose way. 

Through this ‘window,’ we hope to give you an idea of what the life of a contemplative nun of the Order of Preachers consists in; to offer some food for thought; maybe also help you to encounter God in a more personal way; and to help any young women who might be discerning a vocation, to understand better who we are and whether how we live, is how they also seek to live, for the glory of God and the salvation of souls.

The beginning of our Constitutions shows how we are so closely connected to our brothers and sisters in the Dominican Family:
            “… the first reason for which we are gathered together in community
            is to live in harmony, having one mind and heart in God. 
            This unity transcends the limits of the monastery and attains its fullness in
            communion with the Order and with the whole Church of Christ.

One mind and one heart in God.  It is a rare, rare gift, to live in a community where everyone is intent on loving the Lord with every fibre of their being, especially in a world in which He is for the most part ‘an inconvenience’ and unwelcome.  But here we are, with like-minded and like-hearted sisters, and we each share the same fundamental and consuming desire:
That the Lord may be loved; and that everyone on earth might come to know Him and the immensity of His love for them.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Preparing our Paschal Candle

The Paschal Candle: The Light of Christ
During the Easter Vigil, the Church reads the account of creation as a prophecy. In the resurrection, we see the most sublime fulfilment of what this text describes as the beginning of all things. God says once again: ‘Let there be light!’ The resurrection of Jesus is an eruption of light. Death is conquered, the tomb is thrown open. The Risen One himself is Light, the Light of the world. With the resurrection, the Lord’s day enters the nights of history. Beginning with the resurrection, God’s light spreads throughout the world and throughout history. Day dawns. This Light alone – Jesus Christ – is the true light, something more than the physical phenomenon of light. He is pure Light: God himself, who causes a new creation to be born in the midst of the old, transforming chaos into cosmos. (Pope Benedict XVI)

11)    The Cross – “The cross was the first Christian altar, where the first sacrifice was made” (Pope Francis)
Christ yesterday and today; the Beginning and the End
Many of us today do not know God and cannot find him in the crucified Christ. Many are in search for a love, or a liberty, that excludes God. Let us open our hearts to him, Jesus is the truth that makes us free to love.
On the cross the Redeemer has restored to us the dignity that belonged to us, has made us adoptive sons and daughters of God whom he has created in his image and likeness.

  2)    Fear Not!
The Alpha and Omega
The paschal candle represents our Risen Lord.
The Greek letters Apha above the cross and Omega below – the first and the last letters of the greek alphabet – show that Christ is in truth the beginning and the end of our salvation.
“To each person, whatever his condition, even if it were the most complicated and dramatic, the Risen One repeats: ‘Fear Not! I died on the cross but now I am alive for evermore. I am the first and the last, and the living one’ (Rev 1:17) (Pope John Paul II)

  3)    2018– It’s always Easter!
All time belongs to him, and all the ages. To him be glory and power, through every age and for ever.
Between the arms of the cross the numerals of the current year are inscribed.
In Jesus Christ in his incarnation, in his Cross and resurrection, the face of God has been revealed, that in Him God is present in our midst; he unites us and leads us towards our goal, towards eternal love.

Rejoice my soul. It is always Easter, for the Risen Christ is our Resurrection! (Sylvan of Mount Athos)

The completed Paschal Candle

Monday, March 26, 2018

Visit of the Master of the Order

Some photos from the recent visit of the Master of the Order, Fr. Bruno Cadoré, to our monastery during his visitation of the Irish Dominican Province. He was accompanied by Fr Alain Arnould OP and Fr Gerard Dunne OP, the vicar of the Master for our Monastery.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Rosary for Life and Faith

Holy Hour on Sunday the 18th of March here, in union with all those praying the Rosary at Mass Rocks and Monastic Sites throughout Ireland for Life and Faith.

5:15 pm- 6:15 pm

Followed by Vespers at 6:30pm

All very welcome

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

4th Sunday of Lent: Laetare Sunday

“If I forget you, Jerusalem, let my right hand wither. …”
“We are God’s work of art, created in Christ Jesus to live the good life, which from the beginning He had meant us to live it.”
“… but the man who lives by the truth comes out into the light,
so that it may be plainly seen that what he does is done in God.”

Our Lenten journey has arrived at its half-way point and today, we have been invited to rejoice. 
To rejoice, obviously, in the Lord, Who is the source of all our good and of all the goodness around us.
To rejoice, possibly, in the fact that there are only three more weeks left of Lent – with St Patrick and St Joseph to look forward to, who will enable us to break the journey for a while, and thus help us to persevere … …

There may yet be something else in which we are invited to rejoice, possibly less obvious, maybe even unexpected.  But today’s readings, and indeed most of the liturgy we have been celebrating since Lent began, seem to be calling us to rejoice even in ourselves.

St Paul reminds us that “We are God’s work of art, created in Christ Jesus to live the good life, which from the beginning He had meant us to live it.”  And during the week we were commanded by Jesus Himself to love our neighbour as ourselves. …
It is easy to understand such a command to mean that we must love others as much as, or in the same way and to the same degree as we love ourselves.  But could it also dare us to love others as OURSELVES? – that is, is who we know ourselves to be?  And if this is so, is the commandment not then, even more challenging?  For we are now required to first discover who we truly are, in order that we may indeed love our neighbour as ourselves?  We are dared to set out on a quest for authenticity – not to spend all our time self-absorbed by any means – but, nevertheless, to have that desire: to be true.

All the saints throughout history have understood that abiding in God: attending to His Word; immersing themselves in His love, has opened their eyes to the truth about who they themselves were.  And the world has been a better place because of them.

We could perceive this season of Lent to be a time when we set ourselves to giving things up; to restraining ourselves from indulging in habits that aren’t really good for us anyway.  A comfortable way to reassure ourselves that we are making an effort, perhaps???

Maybe, after all, Lent is more fundamentally a time for us to be more intent on knowing, on discovering the truth, about who we really are, in order for us to truly be who we are. … … …
And what might we discover if we dare to travel along that path???

            That you are God’s work of art;
            That He delights in loving you;
            That He has created you for goodness, for joy, for Himself;
            That He is waiting to be gracious to you, if you will only take the time to welcome Him into yourself and allow Him to speak to your heart (Who, after all, is the only One who truly understands all that you have to bear – the good and the difficult, and sometimes the bad and the awful)
            Allow yourself to believe in all that He has in His heart for you.

Abiding in this truth enables you to see truly, for His love is a radiant light and you are a child of that same Divine Light.  By embracing that truth and living from it … the world becomes a better place, because you are in it. 

What a very much more wonderful world it would be, if we only dared to believe.

A Hymn for Lent, by Richard Baxter (1615 – 1691)
            Lord, it belongs not to my care
            Whether I die or live;
            To love and serve thee is my share,
            And this thy grace must give.

            If life be long, I will be glad
            That I may long obey;
            If short, yet why should I be sad
            To soar to endless day?

            Christ leads me through no darker rooms
            Than He went through before;
            He that into God’s kingdom comes
            Must enter by this door.

            Come, Lord, when grace has made me meet
            Thy blessed face to see;
            For if thy work on earth be sweet,
            What will thy glory be?

            My knowledge of that life is small,
            The eye of faith is dim;
            But ‘tis enough that Christ knows all
            And I shall be with Him.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Homily preached at Sr M Cathy's Solemn Profession

In the old vocations booklet for the Irish province from the 1950s the photographs go through the various stages of the formation of novices and students. By the second last page one arrives at pictures of the priest’s ordination and first Mass, turning the page, the final picture on the last page was of the graveyard in Tallaght. As if to say once you were ordained then the next major moment in one’s life was the grave. I am not saying today is the last big day in the life of Sr. Mary Cathy and the next stop is the community graveyard on the Chord Road. Or am I? For today you will use those stark words: I promise obedience until death.

At the end of today’s Gospel, we read: When they had done everything the Law of the Lord required, they went back to their own town where the child grew to maturity and he was filled with wisdom: and God’s favour was with him.

And we hear nothing more of him for 30 years, except for the episode in the Temple when he was 12 -  the hidden years of prayer and silent work. We call them the hidden years but also from a human standpoint formative years, years in which in his sacred humanity he grew in maturity.

 Today marks a phenomenal flowering, a maturing of Sr. Mary Cathy’s journey of faith. Today Sr. Cathy offers herself totally to Christ. This one sentence of eight words sums up the Thomistic understanding of solemn profession. Today Sr. Cathy offers herself totally to Christ. Today is the triumph of grace in the life of our sister. She is giving herself, consecrating herself in a public act of worship in the Church, for the Church, to Christ.

The prayers of the blessing of the veil and the blessing of the profession ring focus us on the interior reality of today’s solemn profession.  

 The prayer of blessing of the veil says that the veil is a public sign of her consecration, her giving of herself totally to Christ making her a house of prayer and a temple of intercession for all people. The ring is said also to be a sign of consecration and fidelity pledged to God.  Both are signs of her consecration.

The ring she receives today is a gift to her from her friends, a sign that religious vocations are truly ecclesial, they are never simply between the person making profession and her God, it is the activity of God’s grace in the midst of the Christian community. At her simple profession I spoke of how Cathy’s journey had begun on the day Imelda and John brought her to the church to be baptised, today we all hold Cathy’s beloved mother Imelda in our hearts, we all know how proud she was of Cathy’s decision to become a nun, how often during the months of her final illness did Imelda say she was delighted for Cathy.  Cathy was nourished both spiritually and humanly by her friends in the Legion of Mary, friends who today give her the ring of profession, a faith that has grown and matured here in this community of Siena. We are all part of the story of Cathy’s consecration.

But as Dominicans how do we understand this act of consecration – for us it is always to be consecrated to the truth. This is made concrete in the inscription in the ring she will receive: “Do whatever he tells you” - These words come from the last words spoken by Our Blessed Lady in St. John’s Gospel, at the wedding feast of Cana. These words speak to Cathy of what her consecration as a Dominican means. To be consecrated in the truth means that one will always endeavour to do whatever he tells you, in a word obedience. It commits you to a life of listening, lived in silence in the enclosure always striving to do his will. Knowing that in his will is our peace. This is what you are consecrating yourself to today Sr. Mary Cathy. You are giving yourself over freely to do whatever the Lord tells you.

In the formula of our Dominican profession there is none of the flowery language of other profession formulae, there is the simple giving of yourself to God, to Blessed Mary and to Blessed Dominic and to this religious community in obedience.

For us Dominicans, obedience is not a giving away of our intelligence, it is not a fight between two opposing wills, you and the prioress, or the community or your spiritual directors. – I am sure that Fr. Eamon McCarthy will agree with me, he who was the first priest to help her on her spiritual journey, that our lives would have been a lot easier if someone had told her “do whatever he tells you”, that’s not our Cathy. Cathy may be obedient but never subservient.

Obedience for us Dominicans is not a servile struggle between my freedom and someone else’s authority. It is not a stunting of our giftedness from God rather it is an openness to the truth of the Lord in the midst of the Church, in this community, spoken through the voice of the prioress and the community and indeed the Order with its long history. It is not a subjection of the intellect - rather it is a loving embracing of the truth discovered in Christ. All of us are at the service of this truth, the Master of the Order, his vicar, the prioress, the conventual chapter, the individual obedient religious, all of us are consecrated to the truth, to doing whatever Our Blessed Lord asks of us. Religious Obedience for us Dominicans is not a struggle of wills but an acceptance of God’s truth in ones’ life. A truth that challenges us to mature and grow in wisdom as did the Lord when he went back to Galilee, to his own town of Nazareth.  

For the rest of your life Sr. Mary Cathy, until death, you, by your act of profession, give yourself over to doing whatever he tells you, in this community. You together with your community will endeavour to listen deeply to the voice of the Lord in order to do whatever he tells you, as a community and each of us in her own personal responses.  This common search for the truth is what marks our Dominican obedience out from other forms of obedience. Ours is always a searching after the truth, the truth in this particular situation in the life of the individual religious in the midst of a religious community which together search for the truth. Obedience can never be reduced to a war of wills but a common listening to the promptings of the Spirit after the model of Our Blessed Mother, to whom you also make profession, to do whatever the tells you.

This beautiful image of our Heavenly Mother encouraging you to do whatever he tells us should always be the atmosphere in which we Dominicans live out our lives of obedience with creative resourcefulness. It challenges us to a new maturity, not a childish wanting of my own way. Cardinal Ratzinger explains to us what this mature faith entails: An "adult" faith is not a faith that follows the trends of fashion and the latest novelty; a mature adult faith is deeply rooted in friendship with Christ. It is this friendship that opens us up to all that is good and gives us a criterion by which to distinguish the true from the false, and deceit from truth… as this friendship with Jesus matures the more our true freedom develops and our joy in being redeemed flourishes[1].

Today Sr. Mary Cathy you consecrate yourself to a life of Obedience lived as a mature woman. Your offering of yourself in obedience to the truth doesn’t reduce you in an act of humiliation but rather allows you to flourish into a mature Christian during these years of your life hidden, here in Siena Monastery.  

The words of St. Paul to the Ephesians sum up my prayer for today Sr. Mary Cathy: that you grow in maturity to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ… speaking the truth in love, that you grow up in every way into him, who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every joint with which it is supplied, when each part is working properly, makes bodily growth and upbuilds itself in love.

What you do today will be worked out in the years ahead, these hidden years, until they come to light in the fullness of time. Until then may you grow to maturity and be filled with wisdom and may God’s favour be with you. 

[1] From the homily at the election of a pope in 2005