Sunday, May 7, 2017

Vocation Discernment Weekend

Please feel free to download this poster and spread it around (pdf file available here).

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

A JOURNEY THROUGH LENT - SPEAK LORD, YOUR SERVANT IS LISTENING


We are a little late in putting up our Lenten reflections but we trust that they may still be helpful for those who read this blog.  We are united with the whole Church as we journey through this Lenten season towards Easter..





It is that time again, LENT. Like anyone who is bothering to read this blog I am thinking about what I should do for Lent this year. The thought occurs to me that if I rephrase the question I might come up with a more fruitful answer. So I ask myself what do I want Lent to do for me? By the time Easter arrives what would I like to be different about me? How can I make that happen?
The season of Lent is God’s gift to us to renew our lives in holiness. By the end of Lent I want to be more aware of God’s love for me and in response to that love to love God more and to reveal his love to others.
The word Lent comes from an old English word lencten meaning ‘springtime’. Spring cleaning is a term we are all familiar with. Once the days begin to lengthen and get brighter we get an itch to empty cupboards and wash curtains, to get into corners where dust, grime and dirt may have gathered without our noticing it during the dark days of winter. This image might not be very vivid in our time when electricity provides us with light twenty four hours a day . But think back to a time of candle light and gas lamps. Light that focused on one area and left the rest in shadow and it becomes quite a powerful image for the season of Lent. There is so much one does not see in the dark. What a fail-safe programme for Lent- to spend time allowing CHRIST OUR LIGHT to light up all that is hidden in the dark corners of our hearts, so that we may remove the accumulation of sin  that we may not have been even aware of. ‘Purify me then I shall be clean, wash me I shall be whiter than snow’ is the clarion call of Lent as we encounter ourselves. Jesus is our Saviour. During Lent we learn how much we are in need of Him.
Our parents and grandparents depending on our age, observed Lent  with rigorous physical penances and severe austere fasting from food. In some respects we seem to be getting off lightly. But while Vatican 11 eased the severe bodily discipline, it was in order to change our focus during Lent, encouraging us to make it ‘a period of closer attention to the Word of God and more ardent prayer’.
I can think of no more powerful programme for Lent than to make a commitment to spend time each day reflecting on the Word of God, in the readings at Mass, allowing God to speak to us of his love and mercy and bringing his Word to bear on our lives.
I invite you to join with us in being faithful to this commitment. Let us journey together, supporting one another with prayer.

Mary, temple of the Trinity, Mother of the Word made flesh, teach us how to ponder the Word in our hearts and to respond as you did, ‘Be it done unto me according to you will’.


ASH WEDNESDAY

READINGS: Joel 2:12-18, Psalm 50, 2Cor 5:20-6:2, Matthew 6:1-6,16-18
Turn to the Lord again, for he is all tenderness and compassions slow to anger, rich in graciousness and ready to relent.
Two little words in the first reading from the prophet Joel became the focus of my reflection, again and ready. ‘Turn to the Lord again’. God knows we have wandered off. There is no need for us to be afraid. That little word assures us that he is aware of our predicament. No matter how often we have strayed or where we have strayed to, he is inviting us back yet again. He welcomes us, encourages us. “I’m here waiting, ready to relent, watching for your return. My heart is full of tenderness and compassion. Come my beloved, come.”
Who could not respond to someone who makes it so easy for us to return? While we are still a long way off, He sees us. I picture Him coming, rushing out to meet me with outstretched arms, embracing me and then putting his arm across my shoulder and leading back into His House. I have returned home.
Now I am going to remain in his company, allowing Him to speak to me of His Love. 


Thursday after Ash Wednesday.

Readings: Deut. 30:15-20, ps.1, Luke 9:22-25

Happy indeed is the one
whose delight is the Law of the Lord
 and who ponders his law day and night.
He is like a tree that is planted
beside flowing water
that yields its fruit in due season
and whose leaves will never fade
The Gospel for today speaks of renouncing myself and taking up my Cross. It all sounds a bit daunting. It is easy to feel a certain dread. I want to draw back from the inevitable cost. This Word seems more death dealing than life giving. My death to myself and my comforts.  I resist.
 But then I remember my prayer time yesterday, and God’s longing for my return to Him and I think not of what I am giving up but of Who I am giving it up for. I am  being asked to let go of my way in order to remain in His company. There will be hard choices, yes, because I am selfish and I need to take on the responsibility of facing myself. Self indulgence, self centrednes, self will,  all these need to be purified but I see Him standing at a fork in the road, beckoning me to take His path, to remain in His presence, to journey with Him. The psalm puts it so beautifully, in choosing Jesus way over my own will, I am choosing happiness and fruitfulness and He will be with me to guard my way. I do not journey alone. Every step on the journey to Calvary is a step nearer to the Resurrection. In each little death the seed of God’s life becomes more deeply rooted in me.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

WHAT COULD INSPIRE A WOMAN TO BE A NUN ??? - A Family Conundrum


This is by way of a personal ‘speculation’ for want of a better word.

I think at times in a nun’s life, she not infrequently stops and ‘takes stock’ of what has led her to be where she is, and why she continues and perseveres in her calling – apart from the obvious answer,
which is a ‘Who’ rather than a ‘why’ or a ‘what’ – because obviously Jesus is the answer!

Where does the Gift have its roots?
For many of us, the gift of our vocation is deeply rooted in our families, even though when it comes to the point, it is the family which is the most perplexed by our decision.  They can be the most upset and feel more than anyone else, a sense of ‘loss’ at a daughter’s or sister’s or niece’s departure from them – almost as if she is abandoning them in choosing God before them.

And yet, we find on entering, that when our hearts are moved to thank the Lord for what He has done in our lives; how He has been so lavish in His gift to us of His very self; and how we have felt the wonder that He could choose us for such a life of deep intimacy with Him, as this life is – that the first ‘thing’ we thank Him for is our family.  That is where the journey began, and the further we walk along the road that will hopefully lead us to heaven, the more sure we are that it is our families which have shaped and moulded us and led us to be open to receive and to welcome the gift that this life is.  They are the first people we pray for, when we come before the Lord in prayer and adoration; and the ones we carry constantly in our hearts.

So, how do you ‘break the news’ to the people who love you most?
With difficulty!

But with profound gratitude, too.  Life is a gift, completely unmerited, and filled with wonder, if we would but take the time to think.  We have been given so much; and for the much some of us are given, the only way we can express our gratitude to the Lord for all He has given, is to give our selves to Him, to offer our lives to Him – for Himself and for those whom we love.

We don’t all have ‘the same inspiration’ in responding to the Lord’s invitation – but the family is certainly one.  May the Lord bless all our families, and may they know the loving protection and intercession of our Blessed Mother and St Joseph.

Those who are interested in learning more about our Dominican way of life are welcome to join us for the weekend of the 10th - 12th March, (details can be found here).

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.