Thursday, February 2, 2017

Poster & Prayer for our Vocation Discernment Weekend in March



The poster for our Vocation Discernment Weekend (10th-12th March) is finally available. 
Please feel free to download and spread it around (pdf file available here).

We would also ask our readers to with us in praying this special prayer for Vocations between now and then.


Father, send your spirit to renew us (the Dominican Nuns) through your Word. Help us (them) to live our (their) calling fully, as we ask you to draw young women to our (their) community. With us (the Sisters), may they seek you, find joy in your truth and reflect the unity and love of your life to the world in need. Grateful for one another (the Sisters) and for our (their) calling, we ask you to hear our prayer. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Dobbie and Star


Sometimes it is good to stand back and remember the high moments of a special occasion, say our Advent and Christmas Liturgies – but also to recall the homely and seemingly insignificant things that can speak so eloquently of the love God our Father, has for us, his children – He comes to us in so many ways to reveal the wonder of His Fatherhood, the wonder of Jesus’ life and death in order to save us sinners, the wonder of His creation,

St. Francis is one of the saints who was very conscious of the beauty of Creation and we are told that it was he who created the first Christmas Crib.

But Scripture too has much to tell us as have our poets.  Joseph Mary Plunket’s poem comes to mind:

“I see His Blood upon the Rose and in the stars the glory of His eyes, His body gleams amid eternal snows, His tears fall from the skies”

And Isaiah speaks of the peace that will come to the animal world.

“The wolf shall be the guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid.  The calf and the young lion shall browse together with a little child to lead them. Is.11.6.

During Christmas week, our homely Lord revealed His wonderful love and care for me through Dobbie and Star who are two homeless cats that wandered into our garden several years ago and decided to make their home with us.  Mother, and we think son, are not noted for their great affection for each other so the following episode was a surprise.

A basket had been left outside a door in a sheltered spot and one frosty morning Star was found sleeping peacefully in it.  A short while later, Dobbie was seen to have found her way right inside the basket beside Star and was carefully washing his face with an obvious maternal love!  The son was actually allowing this to happen.

Later again, I found Dobbie with her paw right round Star and both fast asleep – an amazing example of Reconciliation…!

A line from Psalm 90(91) came to mind: 
“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, and abides in the shade of the Almighty says to the Lord, “my refuge, my stronghold, my God in whom I trust”.

 Dobbie and Star’s new found friendship is not in contrast to God’s words to Jeremiah 31.3  “with an age old love I have loved you so I have my mercy for you” and again, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you came to birth I consecrated you” Jer. 1.5.

God’s love is not a passing love.  He sees all my waywardness  and fickleness yet his constant personal love for me never changes.  St. John expresses it so beautifully: “as the Father has loved me so I have loved you – remain in my love” Jn.15.9 .

But our two little friends had still more to teach us.  About a week after Christmas, the basket disappeared and the pussies have not yet returned to their sunny corner, and I really miss their delightful company – ‘Tis called – “Learning necessary detachment”  - but again the poet got my perspectives right –
“He who holds to himself a joy
doth the winge’d life destroy.
He who kisses a joy as it flies
dwells in Eternities’ Sunrise”.

But Dobbie and Star have one final word of advice for us:
Do we know that there is a silver lining to every disappointment and this story ends on a note of joy –

The basket is back and Dobbie lies enthroned!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Happy Christmas



We wish all our readers a grace-filled and peaceful Christmas and we share with you  a Christmas reflection:

Christmas Eve Reflection during Vespers
  
The theme of my reflection, on this Christmas Eve night, is ‘ Peace’. Conscious of the lack of peace in Syria, Iraq, Africa,  the Holy Land and in various other countries of the world and bearing in mind especially the lack of inner peace in ourselves at times  and so prevalent in people in general, I was led to ponder the title given to Jesus before his birth, that of Prince of Peace,  in the book of the prophet Isaiah, which will be read tonight at Mass:

            For there is a child born for us,
            a son given to us
            and dominion is laid on his shoulders;
            and this is the name they give him:
            Wonder – Counsellor, Mighty –God,
            Eternal- Father, Prince-of –Peace.
            Wide is his dominion
            In a peace that has no end.( Is. 9 )

We long so much for this peace that ‘has no end’. We long for it for ourselves, our families, our communities, our friends and for the world at large. We want Isaiah’s prophecy, which says;
            For all the footgear of battle,
            every cloak rolled in blood,
            is burnt,
            and consumed by fire

- we want that to be realised now, without further delay. The Gospel tonight further reinforces this message of peace when it says:

            And  suddenly with the angel there was a great throng of the heavenly host,
            praising God and singing:

 ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace to
                        men who enjoy his favour’

This theme of peace abounds everywhere in the Liturgy tonight and tomorrow. In the entrance antiphon, Jesus is personified as peace itself as it says:

            ‘ True peace has come down to us  from heaven’


On the very first weekday of Advent, and on all Mondays in Advent, I was very struck by the post communion prayer, again referring to peace; it said:

“Come, O Lord, visit us in peace, that we may rejoice before you with a blameless heart.”

In all these quotes humanity and God are linked together because peace is a gift bestowed on us by God  the Father, through and in his son Jesus Christ

The truth of Isaiah’s words come to mind:

     You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.
     Trust in the Lord for ever for the Lord God is an everlasting rock. ( Is.26)

             
This is really  to say that our peace, our inner peace is dependent on our relationship of trust in God. Peace is the fulfilment of our deepest needs. It is the fruit of a personal relationship with the Eternal. We are not alone. God, gentle and humble, is with us, watching over us and guiding us. As we learn to  relax and trust in love we become free of the walls and barriers that imprison us in fear, prejudice, hostility and guilt. We are filled with a new joy, a new life, the very life of love.

Sometimes when I feel my own inner  peace is disturbed I remind the Lord of his promise in St. John’s Gospel, when he says:

            Peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I give you.
            A peace the world cannot give, this is my gift to you.


In speaking about peace St. Thomas quotes St. Augustine in defining peace as the tranquillity of order. Peace consists in the calm and union of our desires and is twofold in that there is perfect peace and imperfect peace.

Perfect peace, he says, consists in the perfect enjoyment of God which causes all our desires and tendencies to be united and at rest in one. This perfect peace is only possible in Heaven.

Imperfect peace, on the other hand, is the peace  which we can have in this world. It is imperfect because, even though the soul’s principal movement is to rest in God, there still remain certain obstacles, both within and without, which disturb the soul’s peace. St. Thomas goes on to say that peace is the effect of charity since charity means that we love God with our whole heart by referring everything to him, all our desires become focused on loving God in Himself and we know that love is always a unifying force.

I have come to understand that ‘the peace which God gives is not a freedom from the storms and conflicts of life, but a mysterious strength and comfort amid the storms; not the removal of pain, but the bestowal of a precious gift. The gift is God himself, the comforter, the one who stands alongside us. However, receiving God’s peace is not automatic; it requires the work of faith.

Also peace is not just the work of governments or armies or diplomats but the task of each one of us. We can all become makers of peace. Peace  must begin with myself, within my own heart and from there radiate outwards. This is in fact possible because tonight we celebrate what God, in his infinite love for us, has done by sending Jesus, the Prince of Peace, to dwell among us and in our hearts, as the teacher and bestower of peace.

 The kingdom of God is within us but there, it has to grow and spread. In that process we may experience the apocalyptic chaos and disruption and the Messianic peace and harmony – and everything in between! Our lion may have to learn to  lie down with our lamb! And then after coping with my own lion what about coping with the lions in everyone else around me!?

 The following medieval verses recognised this inner world and the transformation Christ’s coming brings:

            You shall know him when he comes
            Not by any din of drums,
            Not by anything he wears,
            Nor by the vantage of his airs;
                        Not by his gown,
                        Nor by his crown,
            But his coming known shall be
            By the holy harmony
            That his presence makes in thee.

May all of us experience this holy harmony, this peace, fruit of the Holy Spirit, and true effect of charity, gift of God to be received by faith, as we celebrate  with thanksgiving the great mystery of Christ’s incarnation, of his coming among us and within us, as the Prince of  Peace. Amen

Thursday, December 22, 2016

O King - 22nd December

“O King,
whom all the peoples desire,
you are the cornerstone which makes all one.
O come, and save man
whom you made from clay.”

In today’s antiphon we address Christ as “King” the desire of “all the peoples.” Reflecting on this Antiphon, I wonder to what extent Christ is truly “king”  in my life. Is he “the cornerstone” of all I do and say?
Do my thoughts and decisions take account of his will for me at this moment, even if only by, as Frank Duff advises, glancing towards him and asking internally “what do you want me to do?” before making decisions.

This kingship in an individual’s life is very important because we are all members of the mystical body of Christ. Just as the holiness of one member benefits other members and the whole Church (CCC 1474-5), so also Christ’s kingship in my life is of benefit to and helps the growth of his universal kinship for the salvation of all human beings.


May God grant each of us the grace to welcome him this Christmas as “King”  and “cornerstone”  of our lives.

22nd December - 800th Anniversary of the Approval of our Order





Today we unite with all our Dominican brothers and sisters throughout the world in giving thanks for the life and example of our holy father, Dominic and for all his followers over the past 800 years.

On the 22nd December 1216 he obtained Papal approval for his vision of an Order of Preachers. May we his sons and daughters continue to bring the love, light, joy and hope of Christ to the people of our times.

More information on Order of Preacher and 800th Jubilee can be found here


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

O Rising Sun - 21st December 2016





O Rising Sun, you are the splendour of Eternal Light and the Sun of Justice.
O Come and enlighten those who sit in darkness; those who dwell in the shadow of death, Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus, come.

As I read this very beautiful O Antiphon, a memory comes to mind of long summer evenings spent in the high field – the moinin ard as we called it – sitting under a haystack just watching the breathtaking sight of the sun going down beyond the woods and bog lands of our farm in the West.

The silence was full, deep and quiet, except for the little birds on their way home to roost and the friendly crickets close by.  But as the last lights faded what a mystery it was to my child’s mind!
Where, oh where had the sun gone?!

No grown up’s explanations prepared me for what was always a fresh experience of another rising sun as it streamed through the trees – right into my room the next morning.  The chorus of birds as they flew again to the cornfields and the grass glittering with dew drops and diamonds to me.  Even then this scene had power to thrill me with anticipation of something I knew not what! - was it a foretaste of another Rising Sun still unknown to me?

What or who is this ‘Splendour of Eternal Light’ coming to enlighten those of us who sit in darkness – lost in our own little worlds?  It is the Lord Himself, majestic and glorious “wrapped in light as in a robe.”

Come then my Lord, my God, teach me where and how to find you – you who dwell in light inaccessible and I desire to come close to you, to be warmed by you.  Oh Fire of Love, I beg you, “lead kindly light amid the encircling gloom ...lead thou me on.” (Newman)

You are a Living Flame, always burning with love for me, for every person in the world.

Enter into us this Advent-tide and set our hearts on fire with love for you.  What is it that inspires you with such love for us - your poor children? What draws you to us?

In a few days time you will be born in a poor stable warmed only by your mother's loving care - just what draws you to us? – love is the answer.  Love alone impels you to come once again this Christmas night – not as I tasted you in your glory as a child, but as a tiny Babe – Oh you our Tremendous Lover – Maranatha.

The King shall come when morning dawns
And light triumphant breaks,
When beauty gilds the eastern hills
And life to joy awakes.

O brighter than the glorious morn
Shall this fair morning be,
When Christ our king in beauty comes
And we his face shall see.

The King shall come when morning dawns
And light and beauty brings,
Lord Jesus Christ, your people pray,

Come quickly, King of kings.  (John Brownlie)

O Key of David - 20th December 2016


O Key of David and sceptre of Israel, what you open no one else can close again, what you close no one can open, O come and lead the captive from prison; free those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.

This ‘O Antiphon’ that the Church sings this evening at the Magnificat, has its roots like all the other Antiphons in sacred scripture, in this case in Isaiah chapter 22 and in Luke chapter I.

Our Lord is addressed as Key of David – Jesus is Son of David through his foster father, St Joseph, who was of the house of David.  David was the most beloved and important King in Israel’s history – “a man after the Lord’s own heart” as it says in the Acts of the Apostles.  So Jesus in his human ancestry is truly one of us as he is truly Son of God in his divine nature “conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary by the Holy spirit. (Mt Ch 1)

A key is an indispensable instrument for opening and closing a door, so it is a very appropriate symbol with which to address our awaited Saviour. The Babe of Bethlehem, whom we await, did not die because he was born but He was born in order to die – the Crib and the Cross are closely associated.  By His obedience in suffering His Passion, death and Resurrection, Jesus opened the gates of heaven for the whole human race which our first parents had closed by their disobedience.  There is a lovely Icon called ‘the harrowing of hell’ where Jesus on Holy Saturday is seen in His descent into hell and taking  both Adam and Eve by the hand raised them up to come with Him into His Father’s House and all their posterity after them.

After that liberation is there any prison, darkness or death from which Jesus cannot free us? Yet we need another key – the key of faith which we receive at our Baptism to help us lay hold of the blessings Jesus is offering.  We join Bartimaeus, the blind man, at the side of the road, who, when he heard that Jesus, the Nazarene, was passing by, cried out: ‘Jesus, Son of David have  pity on me (cf Lk Ch 18).  We do it, not only in our own name but in the name of all who are captive in any way, in darkness and the shadow of death.  May we too, hear Jesus’ response: “Receive your sight, your faith has saved you.”