Sunday, July 1, 2018

'Who touched me?' - A reflection on today's Gospel

“Who touched me?” (Mk  5:31)
Seeing this wonderful cross in the sky above our monastery reminded me of these thoughts in Pope Benedict’s ‘Spe Salvi’ (par. 27-28):

Whoever is touched by love begins to perceive what “life” really is. He begins to perceive the meaning of the word of hope that we encountered in the Baptismal Rite: from faith I await “eternal life”—the true life which, whole and unthreatened, in all its fullness, is simply life. Jesus, who said that he had come so that we might have life and have it in its fullness, in abundance (cf. Jn 10:10), has also explained to us what “life” means: “this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (Jn 17:3). Life in its true sense is not something we have exclusively in or from ourselves: it is a relationship. And life in its totality is a relationship with him who is the source of life. If we are in relation with him who does not die, who is Life itself and Love itself, then we are in life. Then we “live”.

Yet now the question arises: are we not in this way falling back once again into an individualistic understanding of salvation, into hope for myself alone, which is not true hope since it forgets and overlooks others? Indeed we are not! Our relationship with God is established through communion with Jesus—we cannot achieve it alone or from our own resources alone. The relationship with Jesus, however, is a relationship with the one who gave himself as a ransom for all (cf. 1 Tim 2:6). Being in communion with Jesus Christ draws us into his “being for all”; it makes it our own way of being. He commits us to live for others, but only through communion with him does it become possible truly to be there for others, for the whole.  

Friday, June 1, 2018

The Visitation of Our Lady to St Elizabeth - 31st May

Today is the Feastday of two of the most courageous women who have ever lived.
Today is the feast of the inviolable dignity of motherhood.
Today is a feast of the celebration of the beauty and the gift of womanhood – and all that it can be.
Today, in the Church, we rejoice and share in the joy of the whole host of heaven, at the visitation of Our Lady to St Elizabeth.

Picture it:
A young girl and an old woman: both of whom are offered and accept the gift of motherhood in the most extraordinary and incredible circumstances.  Who could believe that it should be God’s will to allow these two – Mary and Elizabeth – to be subjected to the scorn and derision of neighbours and community who may well have been scandalized at what had happened to them.  And all for the sake of His glory?

Behold, Mary.
Until this point in her life, she had been a precious and beloved child of her parents.  They trusted her implicitly; delighted in her goodness; were impressed by the depth of her faith and the way that her friendship with God guided all her actions – so much so that even defined her.  It was a joy and a privilege for Saints Joachim and Anne to be her parents.  She was truly a gift to them from God.
And now this.
A child – little more than a child – with a plan and a dream for her life, in an instant taken from her.  What will people say?  How they will talk!  And when they hear how it happened … … …

Behold, Elizabeth.
An old woman.  Her dream all her married life; her hope and that of Zechariah was that their love and fidelity to each other and to God, would bear fruit in parenthood.  To be given the chance of bringing a child into the world and to share with that child the beauty of faith.  And it never happened.  Through years of disappointed hope, they had at last accepted their fate and were now too old even to wish or to believe.
And now this.
Old enough to be grandparents!  And to have to begin: to be entrusted with the care of a life so new and so dependent.  What will people say?  How they will talk!  And when they hear how it happened … … …

In the chaos and complexity of emotions they must have experienced, they nevertheless knew and understood the joy of the truth.  God had extended to these two women, and to Joseph and Zechariah – an invitation to consent to His will and to be sharers in His divine joy, by accepting the invitation and gift.  They trusted in His mercy: trusted that He was the source of the grace they would need – and the courage and love they would need.
And the world was made new.

At the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth, two women found in one another the word of hope and comfort and of strength they needed to hear.  They found understanding, support and consolation and renewed faith in the Lord’s words, ‘Do not be afraid.’  They were not alone. 
The LORD is my strength and my song.

As we draw near to the solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, this feast of the Visitation seems to have an even more powerful message for us, who have been baptised and have received the sacrament of the Eucharist. 
When we were presented to the Lord to be baptised, it was almost as though we were being offered to the Lord as bodies that would be His very own.  This is my body, offered for you.  We were offered to the Lord to receive the gift of faith – and in so doing we, as it were, gave ourselves to Him in order that He might be able to claim us for Himself, and say of us ‘This is my Body.’ 
The wonder of our faith is that in being claimed by God, we did not lose our identity: we did not cease to be ourselves.  Our baptism incorporates us into the body of Christ, as ourselves, so that it is as you and as me that we are made to be a place for Christ to call ‘home.’

Do we dare to believe?  Do we have the courage and insight to be able to say with Mary, that ‘He who is mighty has done great things for me?’  Dare we even imagine the truth that we have within our grasp, the ability to say ‘yes’ to the invitation to believe that our very presence in the world has within it the seeds of enhancing its beauty?

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Through the Window of a Dominican Monastery

Last month there was a little reflection on the beginning of our Constitutions.  A further word on it this month seems like a good idea and given the way the world is turning so rapidly from faith and from God – it seems even necessary to pose a question or two about the same article.

We are called to ‘live in harmony …’

The question is:           Do we in fact know how to live? 
Do you know how to live?
Do you have a desire to actually live rather than merely exist?

Entering a monastery is a real ‘shock to the system’ – especially in today’s world (which sounds a bit like a cliché).  Nevertheless, so it is.  No iPhones, or smart-phones or ready access to social media … no radio or television except occasionally.

What are the benefits of that?  It’s a very relevant question for people who spend so many hours a day tuned into what people are saying ‘socially’ or ‘virtually.’

What do you discover when you turn off the noise; and stop filling your head with technological, non-stop communication?  What might happen?
Maybe … and in fact it is something that we here would all agree on.  TRUTH.  If there’s one thing you can be sure of, when you give yourself to the Lord in quiet and seeming emptiness (remember it actually isn’t emptiness) the truth bubbles up and speaks to you.

We are nuns of the Order of Truth – Veritas is our motto – so we bear witness in our silence and by our lives that TRUTH MATTERS.  More than that, it can be known and lived.  You can live the truth.  And the invitation is that you neither have to, nor are you expected to live that truth alone. 

What did the Lord promise His disciples before His ascension?  He said to them:
“Know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.”

KNOW – so it’s not simply a question of feeling.  He invites us to use our heads and our intelligence.  Know the truth.

I am with you.  There again are the famous words which for the Jews were too holy to be spoken, because they expressed God’s very name:  I AM.
And ‘with you’ remember, is what the Angel Gabriel told Mary was the meaning of Jesus’ name:  Emmanuel – a name which means, ‘God is with us.’

And He said, ‘always.’  That simple sentence is absolutely loaded with meaning.  And when the chaos around us seems to be too much to bear, He reminds us that He is ‘always’ with us. 

Do you have the courage to believe Him???

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.