Thursday, December 24, 2009

December 24th/25th - CHRISTMAS

On Christmas Eve we began the Divine Office with the antiphon
Know today that the Lord will come: in the morning your will see his glory

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could live each day with the conviction that yes, the Lord will come - that He will come is as sure as the dawn!
During the past four weeks of Advent we have been waiting for His coming and we have reflected on His three comings:
1) His coming at the end of time
2) His coming on the first Christmas at Bethlehem
3) His coming in grace to each individual

While we remember and celebrate His coming on the first Christmas night when the angels brought the shepherds "the news of great joy that today a Saviour has been born" we can also look on our celebration of Christmas as a foretaste of that moment when that same Saviour will bring us through the gates of death to eternal life and then we shall see His glory! what our joy will be on that day we will never grasp until we experience it!
Therefore each celebration of the Christmas mystery deepens our joy and our hope and unites us with our loved ones who have gone before us and who await us to share in the great banquet of our heavenly home.

We wish all our readers a grace-filled Christmas.

The following is a reflection given by one of the our sisters at First Vespers of Christmas which we would like to share with you


This year marked the 30th Anniversary of Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s death. He was given this title “The World’s Preacher” because he had an audience of millions for his T.V. shows and radio broadcasts – up to 30 million viewers per week in the 1930’s, 40’s & 50’s. His TV show was called ‘Life is Worth Living’ and his message is as relevant today as it was 60 years ago – if not more so.

At his anniversary Mass in New York, two weeks ago Archbishop Dolan said that the key message of the ‘World’s Preacher’ was “He wanted to get to Heaven; and he wanted to bring the whole world with him”- a mission very similar to that of our Dominican Order which was founded by St Dominic “for preaching and the salvation of souls”.

Archbishop Dolan continued to say in his homily that “Fulton Sheen’s pivotal insight, central to revelation, was that Jesus Christ was the way to heaven, the truth about how to get there, the life we hope to share for all eternity. For him this Jesus was alive, still active, still powerful, still teaching, still healing, still praying, still leading us to heaven, because you see the Incarnation was still going on: The Word was still taking flesh; God was still becoming man”. The great mystery of the Incarnation continues if we allow the Word to become flesh in us. In preface III of Christmas, we read these wonderful and astonishing words:

Today in Jesus Christ a new light has dawned upon the world:
God has become one with man,
and man has become one again with God.

It is God who has achieved for us this unity with him. Our communion with God is emphasised also in the prayer over the gifts in Mass tonight (Midnight Mass) as it says:

‘Lord, accept our gifts on this joyful feast of our salvation. By our communion with God made man, may we become more like him, who joins our lives to yours, for he is Lord for ever and ever. Amen’

Our union with Christ is sustained and nourished through the Eucharist and the other sacraments, through the celebration of the Liturgical Hours, through private prayer, through doing good deeds, through loving others. Love and loving are central. Pope Benedict said recently that “the secret of true joy does not consist in having a lot of things, but in feeling loved by the Lord, in making oneself a gift for others, in loving.”

It struck me that Fulton Sheen’s preaching combined very powerfully the three comings of Christ with particular emphasis on the third coming which, if lost sight of, distorts the quality of our living to the full, diminishing it in some way. Like Cassian’s first Conference it is helpful for us to have the goal of the monastic life always in view, which is the Kingdom of God – Heaven Itself, while being aware that the way to reach it, is living deliberately, in purity of heart, in deep love of God and neighbour.

Being aware of the tensions between the past, present and future comings of Christ and keeping them in correct balance, sustains us in our life of prayer, amid personal, Church, country and global darkness and crises. Jesus still invites us to come to Him for peace, meaning, purpose, for salvation, and eventually to come with him forever to Heaven, as Preface II of Christmas says:

“Christ has come to lift up all things to himself,
to restore unity to creation,
and to lead mankind from exile into your heavenly kingdom.

I will end with the second opening prayer of the Mass tonight which beautifully illustrates these three comings of Christ and the joy which will be ours in eternity at the final coming of Christ, while being given a foretaste of this joy now on our journey on earth.

Let us pray
‘Lord our God, with the birth of your Son, your glory breaks on the world.

Through the night hours of the darkened earth we your people watch for the coming of
your promised Son. (1st Coming)

As we wait, give us a foretaste of the joy (2nd coming in grace) that you will grant us when the fullness of his glory has filled the earth, (Final coming) who lives and reigns with you for ever and ever. Amen.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

23rd December - O Emmanuel

O Emmanuel, You are our king and judge, the One whom the people await and their Saviour. O come and save us, Lord our God.

Today we have the 7th and last 'O Antiphon' - it is a cry from the heart to our Saviour to come and save us. It is also a cry of hope because we know that He will come and will save us - so we prepare our hearts to welcome His coming as we pray:
Almighty God,
now that the birthday of your Son as man is drawing near,
we pray that your eternal Word,
who took flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary,
and came to dwell among us,
will show your unworthy people the greatness of His love and mercy,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirt
God, for ever and ever.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

22nd December - O King

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

Like the other O antiphons which we have sung during the past few days this antiphon is a cry from the heart to our Saviour to come to save us.
Today we address Him as King whom all peoples desire – yes we greatly desire Him because as St Augustine reminds: “He has made us for Himself and our hearts are restless until they rest in Him.”

Man is described as “made from clay” reminding us of our origins in the Book of Genesis – God shaped man from the soil of the ground and blew the breath of life into his nostrils and man became a living being. In some ancient cultures the king because of his royal office was referred to as an ‘image of God' but the biblical writer tells us that every human being is a royal image of the living God.

However human beings had disfigured that image by wanting to be independent, to be God, refusing to be the fragile, yet beautiful creatures, moulded from the clay of the earth and held in God’s hand, breathing with His very breath.

The prophets – especially Isaiah and Jeremiah – constantly reminded Israel of its relationship to God as the clay to the potter – as the clay is in the potter’s hand –so you are in mine, house of Israel – but you would not listen.

Jesus is the one who restores in us the image of God be taking on our human nature. He makes all one by uniting us to Himself and drawing us into the heart of the Trinity as He prayed:
Father may they all be one just as you are in me and I am in Your so that they also may be one in us” (Jn 17)

And so we pray:
O King whom all the peoples desire, you are the cornerstone which makes all one – O come and save man whom you made from the clay

21st December - O Rising Sun

O Rising Sun You are the splendour of eternal light and the Sun of Justice. O come and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death!

Today the shortest day of the year when the sun reaches its lowest point in the sky (for us in the northern hemisphere at any rate!) and darkness seems to envelop us it is very appropriate that the Church puts on our lips the beautiful antiphon which cries out to our true Light to come and enlighten us.

O Rising Sun You are the splendour of eternal light and the Sun of Justice. O come and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death!

However let us not forget that our true light has already come into our world in the person of Jesus Christ, the Word Incarnate – as St John tells us in the Prologue of his Gospel. The Word was the real light that gives light to everyone – He was coming into the world – He was in the world that had come into being through Him and the world did not recognise Him.

2000 years later as we look around at our world surrounded as we are by so much sin and darkness within our own hearts, in the Church and society we can be blinded to the Presence of the true Light shining in our midst.

God is Light – in Him there is no darkness – Jesus says: “I am the light of the world – whoever follows Me will have the light of life”.

Many people who have ‘after death experiences’ speak of a gentle beckoning light welcoming them to approach and in this light they are able to look truthfully at their past lives.

There is something very gentle in the rising sun – dawn breaks very gradually almost imperceptibly. It does not happen all at once – but very gradually. So too our letting go of our attachment to sin and all that blinds us to God’s Presence is a gradual process. God is Light but He is also Love. In the words of one of our Advent hymns: “your love shall be our light Emmanuel Lord”. In these last days of Advent we pray that His love will soften and heal our hearts and gradually open our eyes to recognise the light of His Presence – Emmanuel – God with us’ and may we in our turn bring His light and love to all those with whom we come in contact and those for whom we pray.

20th December - O Key of David

Today, the fourth Sunday of Advent, we light the fouth candle on the Advent wreath - and our Readings at Mass today focus on Mary - her faith and love.

1st Reading: Micah 5:1-4
Psalm 79
2nd Reading: Heb 10:5-10
Gospel: Luke 1:39-44


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 to lead the captive from prison; free those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.

Another translation of this antiphon as found in the Daily Missal reads as follows:
Key of David who open the gates of the eternal kingdom, come to liberate from prison the captive who lives in darkness

The concept of keys in the Bible usually denotes power being bestowed on someone. Jesus is the One on whom “all authority in heaven and on earth is bestowed” (Mt 28:19) and Who opens the gates of the eternal kingdom to us. When we sing this antiphon what does this mean to us today?

Can we look at the many keys which Jesus uses to open the Kingdom of heaven to us. Just to spotlight a few:

the key of Baptism by which we become children of God, brothers and sisters of Jesus – sharing in the life of the Trinity

the keys of Eucharist and of the Sacrament of Reconciliation which nourish this life within us.

the keys of the other sacraments which provide us with special graces.

the keys of Faith, Hope and Love which open up an inner source of wonder and reality.

Jesus left us a very precious key in the heart of His mother when with His dying breath on the Cross He said: “Woman behold your son – son behold your mother!” (Jn 19) If we turn this key and enter in what wonders we will find there. Remember she pondered in her heart on all that happened.

In today’s Gospel Mary is praised for her faith – “Blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled”

There are many other keys – the list is endless………..

And what of us? Have we a tiny key we can offer to Jesus on Christmas night?
Can we once again offer Him the key of our hearts? – giving our unconditional consent to all that He asks of us in all the circumstances of our life no matter how lowly or insignificant? He stands at the door of our heart waiting for us to open – he waits on our ‘yes’ – the wonder!! And we so easily ignore Him.

We see Him waiting on Mary’s ‘yes’ at the Annunciation as St Bernard so beautifully expresses in a homily read at the Office of Readings today:
Open, O Blessed Virgin, your heart to faith; open your lips to speak; open your bosom to your Maker. Behold! The Desired of all nations is outside, knocking at your door. Oh! If by your delay he should pass by and again in sorrow you should have to begin to seek for him whom your soul loves! Arise then, run and open. Arise by faith, run by the devotion of your heart, open by your word. ‘And Mary said: Behold the handmaid of the Lord: be it done to me according to your word.”
May she obtain for us the grace to say our ‘yes’ to the Lord each day of our lives.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

19th December - O Root of Jesse

O Root of Jesse, You stand as a signal for the nations; kings fall silent before You whom the peoples acclaim. O come to deliver us, and delay no longer.

Like all the other ‘O Antiphons’ this one too is steeped in Old Testament imagery. (See Isaiah chapter 11 and 12). Jesse, who was David’s father and one of Jesus’ great ancestors, is mentioned in St Matthew’s genealogy. Because of infidelity to the covenant, David’s royal line is dethroned at the time of the exile to Babylon and became shrouded in oblivion but the Prophet Isaiah prophesies that from the stump or root of Jesse a new twig will spring forth – a twig that becomes a branch for all the nations. It is clear that the prophet is speaking of the Messiah.

Reflecting on this antiphon and Chapter 11 and 12 of Isaiah brings us hope in our present situation in the Irish Church. Throughout history we have ample proof and documentation of the sinful and evil lives of clerical and lay members of Christ’s Church – we have all sinned and fallen short, have betrayed our God in whom we profess our faith and our fellow pilgrims to whom we owe love and respect. Yet the Church (Christ’s Mystical Body) never ceases to renew itself through the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ promise - to be with His people always until the end of time - gives us hope and quiet confidence even in the midst of our present pain and bewilderment. It is the responsibility of each of us to live as He taught us while we pray that from the ashes of our shame He will again raise up saints who will show forth the true image of the Church by preaching the Good News to the poor, libery to captives, sight to the blind, and set the downtrodden free (cf Lk 4:18).

In today’s antiphon we call out: “O come and deliver us and delay no longer! – bring us the longed for healing and reconciliation; let us know your comforting Presence in our need; open our hearts to receive your love that we in our turn may be able to love.”

We remember St Catherine of Siena’s prayer:
O great and Eternal Trinity, as if intoxicated with love and gone mad over Your creature, seeing that since it was separated from You who are Life, it could produce only the fruit of death, You provided a remedy for it with the same love with which You created it and grafted Your divinity on to the dead tree of our humanity; O sweet and gentle grafting! You who are greatest sweetness deigned to unite Yourself to our littleness; You who are Brightness with darkness; You, Wisdom with foolishness; You Life with death; You Who are infinite with us who are finite. What constrained You to do this in order to restore us to life? ONLY LOVE!

Friday, December 18, 2009

18th December - O Adonai

O Adonai and leader of Israel, you appeared to Moses in the burning bush and you gave him the Law on Sinai. O come and save us with your outstretched arm.

This is a prayer made from a truly humble and trusting heart - one that knows its need of our heavenly Father to save us.

The theme of God’s outstretched arm to help His people is found frequently in the Scriptures and must surely touch us deeply. We read in Psalm 97 “His right hand and His holy arm have brought salvation”

There is something comforting in an arm outstretched towards us – we feel needed and loved which gives us an inner security.

In daily life, we often see a loving mother or father stretch out their arms to save their child from some danger or simply to swoop up the child to give it a hug.

When we return from a journey, after a long absence, what a joy it is to be welcomed at the airport or railway station by a loved one running to meet us with outstretched arms. It cannot be less with our Heavenly Father – He is always and everywhere stretching out His arms to welcome us and to save us. We have only to think of the parable in St Luke’s Gospel where the father runs with outstretched arms to meet his prodigal son. The Gospels are full of occasions where Jesus stretches out His arms to bring healing, life and salvation by His divine touch. How moving it is to meditate on His warm embrace of little children.

During this Advent season, as we prepare to celebrate our Saviour's birth, we are surely filled anew with wonder at the depths of love that led our Father with that same outstretched arm, to send us His Only Begotten Son - this Son who some 30 years later died on the Cross with outstretched arms to save us and thus prove His great love for us.

Such unconditional love means God is summoning us forth with the loudest of calls, stirring up our hidden being, which cannot help leaping at the sound of His voice deep in our hearts, asking us to return love for love. We can only truly love another, if we are certain that we ourselves are loved. Our Heavenly Father re-assures us for He has told us “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have drawn you to Myself”.

How right it is then that each night we place ourselves trustfully into those outstretched arms of our Father as we sing at Night Prayer: “Into your hands O Lord, I commend my spirit”

During these last days of Advent as we pray “O Ruler of the House of Israel, come and save us with outstretched arm” let us have confidence that our prayer will be heard for ourselves and all those whom we carry in our hearts.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Preparing for Christmas

Although the Novena for Christmas began yesterday, according to the liturgy the immediate preparation for Christmas begins today the 17th December.

The Daily Office begins with the invitatory antiphon: "The Lord is at hand: come let us adore Him" which is re-echoes in the Benedictus antiphon: "Know that the kingdom of God is at hand; be sure that he will not delay"

At Vespers today and during the coming days we sing the great 'O Antiphons' - each antiphon begins by addressing Christ the Word Incarnate by a messianic title - remembering God's presence and promises throughout the Old Testament the Church prays that He may come to save His people now. In our community we usually sing these antiphons in Gregorian chant as the music expresses very beautifully the prayer and cry of the human heart to its Creator.

We hope to post here a short reflection on each of these 'O Antiphons' in the coming days.


O Wisdom, you come forth from the mouth of the Most High. You fill the universe and hold all things together in a strong yet gentle manner. O come and teach us the way of truth

We are immediately reminded of the wonderful passages in the Old Testament which speak of Wisdom – there we read of Wisdom as proceeding from God, as being begotten by Him, as being the beloved who at the beginning stood beside Him, assisting at the creation – “ever at play in His Presence and delighting to be with the children of men.”

These passages concerning Wisdom can be applied to the Word who in the fullness of time took on our human nature and pitched His tent among us.

While in the Old Testament God’s wisdom was manifested by His governance of the created universe in a strong yet gentle manner, being lenient and merciful to all because He loves all that exists – it is in the crucified Christ on the Cross that we experience the full revelation of divine Wisdom, of God’s infinite love and mercy for us human beings. As St Paul tells us “God’s folly is wiser than human wisdom and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength". In Christ are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge and of His fullness we have all received. He has become our wisdom and our holiness.

O Eternal Wisdom come and teach us the way of truth – you who are truth itself who leads us to all Truth – the truth about ourselves, about our world, about the situations in which we find ourselves.

In spite of whatever pain and contradictions we experience in our own lives and in our broken wounded and violent world may we never lose faith in the fact that His strong yet gentle power is at work and can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine. To Him be glory for ever and ever. Amen

O wisdom – come and teach us the way of Truth.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Third Sunday of Advent

This 3rd Sunday of Advent is traditionally known as Gaudete Sunday - The Latin word 'Gaudete' means rejoice! On the Advent wreath the pink candle is lit - there is an air of expectancy that the Lord's coming is near.

The entrance antiphon for the Mass of this Sunday invites us:
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice! The Lord is near.

1st Reading - Zephaniah 3:14-18
Responsorial Psalm: Isaias 12:2-6
2nd Reading Philippians 4:4-7
Gospel: Luke10-18

Each week we, as a community share our reflections on the Sunday Mass Readings - having spent the whole week prayerfully reflecting on them during lectio divina - here we share two reflections from this evening:

Reflection 1

Last week John the Baptist had "proclaimed a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins" - This week we meet John again in the Gospel. Today there is a feeling of expectancy in the air as the people approach John and ask what they must do? nobody is excluded - all are invited to repent and to show their repentance by their lives i.e. share with the needy, act justly, no imtimidation, be content with our lot etc.

John points beyond himself to Jesus who is coming with His "winnowing-fan in his hand to clear his treshing-floor". When reflecting on these lines of the Gospel I was led to see my own heart as the 'threshing-floor' and the 'winnowing-fan' as the loving breath of the Holy Spirit. God stands at the door of my heart during these last days of Advent and waits for my reponse as He waited for Mary of Nazareth's reponse for His Word to take flesh in her womb. Mary's reponse was a whole-hearted 'Yes' - "Let it be done to me according to your word" and "the Word became flesh and He lived amng us"

In my reading during the past week I came across the following lovely quote from Caryll Houselander's The Reed of God
For what is conversion but the fiat of Our Lady echoed again and the conecption of Christ in yet another heart?

May this Advent be a time of true conversion for all of us.

Reflection 2

The words that were given to me from the first day of my lectio were ‘Be content’. I could not make much of these words at all, especially in the present climate of the Child Sexual Abuse Scandal in the Church. What was there to be content about? In the other Readings what was there to rejoice about?

There is most certainly nothing in our human behaviour to rejoice about but everything in ‘God’s Behaviour’ to rejoice over and so, after the whole week of struggling with the meaning of these words for me, I was led to focus on the Lord – on His Presence in the Readings, His nearness to us in our repentance and misery. This is a time of repentance not only because of the sins of others but because of our own sins too – for none of us can judge another, and all of us are implicated in these sins in one way or another - for are we not all part of the One Body Of Christ? Yet it says: ‘The Lord has repealed your sentence.’ God’s forgiveness is there for all of us, no matter what we have done – this is the only reason for rejoicing.

The passage at the end of the first Reading gives us a beautiful description of God’s Joy – a bit incredible that He could rejoice over us frail creatures. It is worth quoting:
The Lord your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior.
He will exult with joy over you,
He will renew you by his love;
He will dance with shouts of joy for you as on a day of festival.
( Zeph 3;16-18)

Personally I need the grace of the Holy Spirit to believe this and accept this truth of God’s personal love for me! May God help my lack of faith.

I am much more comfortable praying the lines in the Psalm :

Truly God is my salvation
He became my saviour

And I am also more comfortable praying the beautiful opening prayers – both of them but especially the second one, as it says:

Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
ever faithful to your promises
and ever close to your Church: ( even amid the scandals)
the earth rejoices in hope of the Saviour’s coming and looks forward
with longing to his return at the end of time.
Prepare our hearts and remove the sadness
that hinders us from feeling the joy and hope
which His presence will bestow,
for he is Lord for ever and ever. Amen

So I now see in these words: ‘Be content’ to mean for me – that I am to be content to continue to pray as is my vocation and as the 2nd Reading encourages us to do. I realise just that if one is really content to pray then one is not anxious or worried, as St. Paul says;

There is no need to worry; but if there is anything you need, pray for it, asking God for it with prayer and thanksgiving, and that peace of God, which is so much greater than we can understand, will guard your hearts and your thoughts, in Christ Jesus. ( Phil 4: 5-7)

The needs of the Church and of the world are great and are our responsibility as nuns of the Order of Preachers. May we all, accept this word from God and ‘be content to continue to pray’. Perhaps that is what John the Baptist would say to us were we to ask him:
What must we do?’ !

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Second Week of Advent

The readings for this Sunday are full of hope and enouragement - as we all know, we, Irish people are greatly in need of such hope in our present crises.
One can almost feel that these readings were selected specially for us!!!

The entrance antiphon which we sing in our community for the Mass of this Second Sunday of Advent expresses very well these sentiments of hope which God's loving providence provides:
People of Zion, the Lord will come to save all nations, and your hearts will exult to hear his majestic voice. The people of God will sing songs of joy, like songs in the night. They will have gladness of heart. People of Sion the Lord will come to save all nations and your hearts will exult to hear his majestic voice. On every high mountain streams will flow and there will be light - as you are healed by the Lord. Yes on every high mountain, streams will flow and there will be joy, for your are loved by the Lord

In the Gospel this Majestic voice - the Word of God - came to John the Baptist in the wilderness. So too with us God's word comes to us in the wilderness - in the ordinariness, of our own lives and in bewildering circumstances - if only we have an open ear and an open heart to listen and hear His message. John's message of repentance for the forgiveness of sins is one of hope. No matter how far we may have strayed from God, He is always there at our side - for we cannot escape His all seeing eye - waiting for us to return. Like the father in the parable of the prodigal son (Lk 15) our heavenly Father is always ready to embrace us once we repent of our sin and turn back to Him.

Recently I came across the following poem by Péguy - perhaps it may speak to you, our readers, as it did to me?
You may wonder, you may ask yourself: but how is it
That this fountain of Hope flows eternally,
Eternally young, eternally pure.
Eternally fresh, eternally flowing.
Eternally living.....
My good people, says God, it is not tricky....
If she wanted to make pure springs out of pure water
If she wanted to make springs of pure water,
Then she would never find enough of it in the whole of my creation.
Because there is not a whole lot of it.
But it is precisely with the impure water that she makes her springs of pure water.
And that is the reason she never runs out.
but that is also why she is Hope...
...and that is the most beautiful secret in the garden of the world!

And so we pray with St Paul in the second reading:
May our love for each other increase more and more and never stop improving our knowledge and deepening our perception so that we can always recognise what is best and so become pure and blameless and prepare us for the Day of Christ when we will reach the perfect goodness which Jesus Christ produces in us for the glory and praise of God.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


Advent is one of the most beautiful seasons of the Church's year. On this first Sunday of Advent we are united with the whole Church throughout the world in praying and longing for the coming of the Lord. We are familiar with the cry of the Prophet Isaias:
O that you would tear the heavens open and come down - you are our Father - we the clay, you the potter; we are all the work of Your Hand

Indeed for over a week now we have seen the heavens open and torrents of rain descend on many parts of our country. Those of us who go to daily Mass have been listening to the readings describing the horrors of the end times. In addition we have been all shocked, saddened and bewildered by the revelations of scandals in our Irish Church. No doubt we carry all this pain, anxiety and bewilderment in our hearts as we begin this season of Advent - which is a season of Hope as the Entrance Antiphon of the Mass for the first Sunday expresses so beautifully:
To you, my God, I lift my soul, I trust in you; let me never come to shame. Do not let my enemies laugh at me. No one who waits for you is ever put to shame.

In the Gospel Jesus warns us about "signs in the sun and moon and stars.... nations in agony, bewildered...... men dying of fear....for the powers of heaven will be shaken" but He does not leave us without hope for He adds that it is then that the Son of Man will come. He advises us: "When these things begin to take place, stand erect, hold your heads high, because your liberation is near at hand."

Advent celebrates three comings of the Lord
1) His first coming at Bethlehem
2) His final coming at the Parousia - the end of time
3) His coming in grace to each individual

Like a silver thread running through these thee great themes of Advent and uniting them is a cry of the heart from the depths of human poverty to the infinite God who alone can bring us wholeness and completeness.

The history of the Jewish people was one of longing for the coming of the Messiah who would deliver them from all their enemies.
The cry of the Church throughout the ages is "Come Lord Jesus, Maranatha" as she struggles amidst human sin and misery and persecution.
Again the deepest cry of the human heart is one of longing for God as St Augustine says: "You have made us for Youself O God and our hearts are restless until they rest in You."
Throughout the pages of history God seems to delight to be in the midst of His people - a Mighty Saviour - He rejoices over them with gladness and renews them in His love. The God of power and love can produce anything from nothing so long as people are sincere enough to acknowledge their need of Him and lean upon Him in truth.

Mary is our model of one who depended totally on the power of the Lord and surrendered herself unconditionally to Him. Her fiat: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to Your Word" was one of complete openness and trust in God. At every moment she met Him with whole-hearted surrender. This is what He asks of all of us on this first Sunday of Advent when we hear Jesus addressing us in the Gospel:
Watch yourselves or your hearts will be coarsened ....Stay awake, praying at all times for the strength to survive all that is going to happen and to stand with confidence before the Son of Man."

Sunday, November 15, 2009


The Readings for this Sunday’s Eucharist could be said to be difficult – difficult to understand and difficult to accept – at least the Reading from the Book of Daniel, and the Gospel from St Mark.

Here is just a little ‘piece of my mind’ that I would like to share, on the Gospel, as I tried to see a little more than what at first meets the eye.

I reminded myself that as I hear: ‘This is the Gospel of the Lord’ I must remember that this is a word of love - so if I can’t find the ‘love’, then I must take a closer look. As we were reminded here during the week, we must not only accept the words of Scripture which appeal to us – all Scripture, every syllable, is a communication of the love of God to each of us. So I looked again, and the words which caught my attention were there in the parable of the fig tree:

‘.. know that he is near; at the very gates’..

With the help of our community sharing on the readings for today, what came to me was the conviction and the promise of Jesus, that he is with us – always – to the end of time. The Gospel opens, giving an idea of the end of the world almost, a great depression, a great sense of hopelessness and of nothing to live for – even the stars and the sun and the moon will fail. But why are we told this, if not to be invited to keep our eyes open – ‘see these things happening’ and ‘know that he is near’. Don’t be afraid!

As one of our sisters reflected last night – at the foot of the cross, all these things did happen – Jesus, God himself gave up his life for us – ‘there was darkness over the whole land’ (Mk 15:33); ‘the earth quaked, the rocks were split..(Mt 27:51). All of his followers, his disciples and friends, all but his mother, a few women and the beloved disciple had deserted him in fear – what could be more hopeless?

Where is the word of love in all this? If I look again, the word ‘see’ catches my attention, and I remember that Jesus is constantly inviting me to follow him, to keep my heart set on him, to trust him and to love him. In all this he is asking me to seek HIM, and I remember the first words I noticed – ‘know that he is near; at the very gates’.

Jesus asked his own mother to wait with him at the foot of the cross – to watch her only son die – would you wish such pain on anyone? And she loved him enough to be there, to want nothing other than to be there where he needed her to be. There was Love – His first, because before she existed, He loved her; but hers too, Mary’s pure love – at the worst time you can imagine, the two greatest loves we will encounter, were there in the darkest darkness.

We people who hope in God, and who believe in Jesus Christ his only Son, our Lord and Redeemer, we need to keep our eyes open to Him always, and if we do – truly and with the humility to acknowledge that it is not always easy – if we call on Him when we are left with nothing, we will discover that he IS near – ‘at the very gates’.

Think about the gates too – things you pass through to get out of one place and through to another. Jesus – He is there, in the place you are leaving behind and already there where you are going – always waiting for you.

Always waiting for YOU.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Vocation Weekends

We are very sorry for neglecting this blog in recent weeks. We had been busy preparing our Dominican Family Calendar for 2010 - which will be available in our Dominican priories throughout Ireland.

In addition the vocation promoters of the Dominican Family Ireland (friars, sisters, nuns and lay) have been meeting here, in our monastery, to plan a joint vocations event next Spring. The date chosen is the 20th March - the venue (in Dublin) will be confirmed later.

Mid October we hosted a vocations weekend here in our monastery - which proved to be very helpful to those who attended. These weekends at regular intervals throughout the year are informative and informal in nature - some talks on our monastic contemplative life with time for questions, opportunity to participate in the celebration of the Liturgy and Eucharistic Adoration, time for personal prayer, reading and reflection. Meeting the young sisters and sharing vocation stories are always a welcome part of the weekend.

Our next weekend is scheduled for November 20th - 22nd.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

“Jesus looked steadily at him and loved him”

Last Sunday’s Gospel (the story of the rich young man, Mk ch 10) is a very rich one for vocation discernment. Every vocation grows from an awareness that, just as He did with the young man in the Gospel, Jesus is looking at me with love and saying, “come, follow me”. It is also important to see that a religious vocation is given to those who “lack” something – a religious vocation is not given to one who is holy but to one whom God wishes to make holy. Jesus looks at each one, just as we are, and loves us and calls us to follow him. It is out of that deep love that he says, “there is one thing you lack” – he loves us so much that he wants us to be complete and whole, loving God and our neighbour with our whole being. And so he calls us and says, “there is one thing you lack … come follow me”. Jesus is not saying we must be perfect to be called to religious life but He is calling us to religious life because He knows that this is the best way for us.

A vocation is not so much what we do for God as what God is doing for us. The particular vocation to which Jesus calls each one of us is intended to help us to overcome what we are ‘lacking’. Many people speak of the ‘feeling that something was missing’ in their everyday life before they discerned their vocation. For me personally I experienced this sense that something was ‘lacking’ during my discernment regarding where the Lord was leading me and which Order I should to enter. As I searched I kept feeling that there was something missing until I discovered this community of Dominican Nuns.

Jesus continues to guide us and to say, “there is one thing you lack”. We must be willing to listen to Jesus speaking in the depths of our hearts, helping us to see what we lack. And as we grow and become more open to God’s loving action in our lives we will see more clearly what Jesus is telling us and correct it with His help, until at last, in heaven, we will lack nothing.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Moniaibus - International Bulletin of Dominican Nuns

Monialibus is an international bulletin which is published twice a year- in January and July - by the international commission of Dominican Nuns. Its primary aim is to create links between the various monasteries of Dominican nuns worldwide and help us to become more aware of the joys, the difficulties and challenges facing our sisters in other regions of the world.

For those who wish to know more about how Dominican Nuns live in the various parts of the world you can read Monialibus here

Sunday, August 30, 2009

‘cups and pots and bronze dishes’

22nd Sunday in Ordinary time Yr B
Gospel from Mark 7:1-8;14-15;21-23

‘cups and pots and bronze dishes’

What are these before the Lord? … nothing …
and not only nothing, but empty.

Why do you hide behind them?
Why do you make them out to be so important?
Why won’t you follow Me?

You – not the cups and pots and bronze dishes – you are the one I want, not these empty, lifeless things. They are only useful for holding and carrying, but I want you to contain Me – I want to live and be alive in you.

We are invited to give up trying to control God, trying to make God out to be what we think He should be. But, we don’t believe in God so as to be able to force His hand, to have control over how He acts, to tell Him how to be God. God is not complicated, as we make Him out to be. He has given us His Son, who is the Way the Truth and the Life. He has given us everything, and still humbly asks us neither to ‘take from’ nor ‘add to’ what we have been given – don’t try to perfect Him who is already perfect, who is God.

When I come to the Lord, then, and don’t know what to do or say, and almost helplessly cry out ‘Lord, all I want is you’, I should remember and believe that they are the same words He speaks to me: ‘My child, My beloved, … all I want is you’.

So, shake off the fear of unworthiness and unclean-ness – or, at least, be an honest hypocrite before God. Give Him the fear, but give Him yourself as well, give Him yourself first, give Him your divided heart – and if you can’t ‘accept and submit to the word which has been planted in you and can save your souls’ – yet – humbly acknowledge it and ask for the grace to receive God in all the ways He wants to love you. …
and it will be yours.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Vocation Discernment Weekends

Our vocation discernment weekends, last February/March and May/June, proved very helpful to those who participated . We will host two more such weekends in October (23rd - 25th)and Novemeber 2009 (20th - 22nd). If you are discerning the Lord's call in your life and would like to know more about our Dominican contemplative way of life you will be welcome. During the weekend there are some conferences; opportunity to share in sung liturgy and Eucharistic Adoration; time for prayer and reflection.

These weekends offer an opportunity to meet with other young people who are also discerning as well as meet with our young sisters who, after a process of discernment, have committed themselves to this way of life.

In the event that the above dates are not convenient and you would like to avail of such an opportunity it is always possible to arrange for a visit or stay in our guest room or retreat house.

For further information contact Sr M Breda OP at or visit our web site.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Feast of St Dominic - 8th August

We share with you a homily which one of our sisters preached this evening at first Vespers of the feast of St Dominic:

During this 'Novena of Years' up to 2016, when we will then celebrate the 8th Centenary of the confirmation of our Order, a special theme has been allotted to each year, as a focus for our prayer, study and reflection. The theme for this year, 2009 is: ‘St. Dominic, Preacher of Grace’.

This theme has encouraged me to read up a little on ‘Grace’ and the recent course of lectures on grace have also been helpful and so, I share with you my particular reflection on this theme.

We know that grace is a participation in the life of God. It introduces us into the intimacy of Trinitarian Life ( CCC 1997; it is a created reality which sustains intimacy with the Divine Persons as our human nature is not strong enough to do this by itself. At one level we know this through the reasoning of our minds but do we really understand it fully and to the extent that we are enabled to live our lives out of this realisation? Speaking for myself, I know that I have not grasped it as fully as I would want to.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that sanctifying grace is an habitual gift, a stable and supernatural disposition that perfects the soul itself to enable it to live with God, to act by his love. This sanctifying grace is received in Baptism and it is, in us the source of the work of sanctification. (CCC 1999 , 2000)

All this is given freely to us by God who awaits our free response for He has created us in His image and likeness by conferring on us, along with freedom, the power to know Him and love Him. He has also placed in us a longing for truth and goodness that only He can satisfy – this is all part of grace – all gift. But again, are we grateful enough for, or appreciative enough of this invitation to receive so much ?

St. Dominic certainly was and his definite and affirmative response to this gift of God’s grace, as proven by his words, deeds, and whole life, - ‘by your fruits you shall know them’ (Mt. 7:20)- provides us with a great example to follow. Dominic first practised what he later preached and this made his preaching all the more authentic, powerful and fruitful. In the antiphon, ‘O Lumen’ that we sing at night we pray:
‘ Light of the Church, teacher of truth, rose of patience, ivory of chastity, you freely poured forth the waters of wisdom, preacher of grace, unite us to the Blessed.’
This title of ‘Preacher of Grace’ is attributed to him here as elsewhere.

Through grace we are given the capacity to know and love God and we learn in time and through experience that only God can satisfy our longing for truth and goodness. As our Constitutions say:
‘In Christ alone is true happiness to be found, here by grace and afterwards in glory’ (LCM 1.V)
This echoes Psalm 15: ‘Preserve me God, I take refuge in you, I say to the Lord: You are my God. My happiness lies in You alone.’

It seems to me that Dominic first needed to understand this gift of grace which he received in Baptism and by freely and deliberately accepting and co-operating with it became the remarkable person and saint that he was. The historian Fr. Guy Bedouelle OP in his book Saint Dominic The Grace of the Word, throws some light on this when he says:
‘Perhaps the secret of this preacher of grace can be found from the testimonies of several witnesses at the process of canonization, when they recalled that Dominic spoke only with God or about God. Dominic’s exterior bearing, the attraction of his sanctity had but one source: he lived totally and intensely in God’s Presence’. (page 98)

I pray that St. Dominic, true preacher of grace, may obtain for us a deeper understanding and awareness of the true supernatural nature and power of sanctifying grace that we have freely received in Baptism, and which enables us to live intimately with God and to act by His love.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Novena to St Dominic

Today we begin our Novena in preparation for the feast of our holy father Dominic on the 8th August. During the coming 9 days we invite our readers to join in prayer with us. Before Vespers each evening we sing the following – known in Latin as the O Spem – the equivalent of a national anthem for Dominicans!!

O wonderful hope which you gave to those who wept for you at the hour of your death, promising that after your death you would be helpful to your brothers and sisters;

Fulfil Father what you have said and help us by your prayer

You shone on the bodies of the sick by so many miracles, bring us the help of Christ to heal our sick souls;

Fulfil Father what you have said and help us by your prayer.

We offer here for your reflection the main points of a letter, which Fr Carlos Azpiroz Costa, Master of the Order sent, (Advent 2008), to all the members of the Order as we began another year of our 9 year Dominican Jubilee Pilgrimage which will culminate in 2016, with the celebration of the 8th Centenary of the confirmation of the Order by Pope Honorius III.
This year’s theme is: Dominic – Preacher of Grace.

Dear brothers and sisters in St. Dominic and St. Catherine:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…and the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn 1:1.14).

…….In these few words, the evangelist invites us into the fullness of the mystery of the Incarnation. This is not a spectacle that we contemplate from afar, for as the text says, the Word came to dwell “among us,” as one of us - … is the actual heart of the Christian faith”…………

For Dominic, too, the Word of God was present “in the beginning” of the miracle that gave birth to the Order of Preachers. His entire life, lived in intimate union with the Word, invites us into a profound contemplative listening to the Word and a bold commitment to preach that very same Word to the world today. In the Dialogue of our sister, Catherine of Siena, we read, “[Dominic] appeared as an apostle in the world, sowing the seed of my Word with great truth and luminosity, dissipating the darkness with the gift of light” (n. 158). The Word of God that became flesh and burned in the heart of Dominic was the very same Word which he preached with ardent zeal, setting Europe on fire with the love and tender mercy of Christ.

The Blessed Dominic had a great and burning thirst for the salvation of souls, for which he was an unequalled apostle. He gave himself to preaching with great fervour, and he exhorted and obliged his brothers to announce the Word of God by day and by night, in churches and in homes, in the fields and along the byways – in other words, in all places to speak only of God.

His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, in opening the Synod on the Word of God, reminds us that, “It is important that individual believers and communities enter into ever increasing intimacy with God’s Word…[for] to draw nourishment from the Word of God is [the Church’s] first and fundamental task.” Therefore, as part of our ongoing Jubilee pilgrimage that began with the celebration of the 800th anniversary of the founding of the community of Prouilhe, the whole Dominican Family is invited to pause and focus on the following theme throughout this year of 2009:

“In the beginning was the Word: Dominic, Preacher of Grace”.

With the help of this theme, we commit ourselves to sit with Dominic at the feet of Christ, and with him, “to draw nourishment from the Word of God.”

This is the heritage of grace which is shared by all of us – friars and nuns, apostolic sisters and lay Dominicans, young and old, rich and poor. And we well know that once we have been nourished by the Word, we face the other great challenge that St. Paul had to face, summed up in his apostolic cry: “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Cor 9:16). Therefore, following the example of Dominic, we make St. Paul´s cry our own, and we do so by making it the overall guiding theme for these years of Pilgrimage, from now until we reach the Jubilee celebration of 2016. To do this, though, we recognize the need to make one small, yet essential modification: as Dominicans we can only be true to our vocation if we cry out as a community:

“Woe to us if we do not preach the gospel!”

These words of St. Paul, said Pope Benedict in his opening address of the Synod, are, “a cry that becomes for every Christian a pressing invitation to serve Christ.” And so we take to heart these words, recognizing in them the very Gospel that gave birth to the preaching mission of our Holy Father St. Dominic who, carrying the Gospel of St. Matthew and the letters of St. Paul with him as he travelled, truly became God’s Preacher of Grace. Each time we sing the O Lumen we invoke Dominic under this title: Prædicator Gratiæ, (Preacher of Grace) for it is he, the preacher, the disciple of the Word, who promises to walk with us and renew in us the gratuitous out-pouring of the Word that was present when the first seeds of the Holy Preaching were sown in the fertile ground of southern Europe. May he unite us as a family gathered around the Word, and give us a contemplative, obedient heart, willing and ready to respond in freedom to the challenges of the Gospel in our day.

……….“Bethlehem” – the house of bread – is a reminder to us of two important realities. First, the Incarnate Word has come to nourish us. May we feed at his table of mercy and compassion each day……. And secondly, in a world that continues to face massive hunger and the ongoing scourge of war, let us look again to Christ, whose “words proclaim justice, instil courage to the disheartened and offer forgiveness to sinners” (Synod Message, IV, n.13). May His words become our words, so that we, too, might proclaim the gospel of peace in his name.

Brothers and sisters, we walk this pilgrimage of faith together, as a family, encouraging one another along the way. May the Holy Spirit anoint us as we journey forth in hope, and may St. Dominic bless us and inspire us to be ever faithful to the great heritage which he has left us.

Your brother in St. Dominic, Preacher of Grace, “

bro Carlos A. Azpiroz Costa, OP
Master of the Order

We invite you to join us in reciting the special jubilee prayer for the renewal of the Order, remembering especially the many young men and women who are in formation and the many others who are discerning their vocation to the Order throughout the world and indeed in our own Irish province.

Jubilee Prayer

God of Mercy,
In your eternal Wisdom, you called your servant Dominic to set off on a journey of faith as itinerant pilgrim and preacher of grace. With your Word of gentle Truth in his heart and on his lips, Dominic invited the first sisters and brothers to join him in a life of contemplative obedience in the service of the holy preaching.

As we commemorate this Jubilee, we ask you to breathe the Spirit of the risen Christ once again into our hearts and minds. Re-create us, so that we might faithfully and joyfully proclaim the gospel of peace, through the same Christ, our Lord.


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Resting in God

Last Sunday (16th Sunday Yr B) brought us a lovely invitation to “Come away …..and rest for a while.” (Mk 6:30-34)
This week Jesus re-issues the invitation when He says …to all who are “sitting ready” that He would give as much as was wanted. (Jn 6:1f) What is it like to “come way and rest awhile?” and to sit, waiting in emptiness and yet ready…???

You may say ‘rest’!!!! what can the Lord be possibly talking about? All I feel is toil and pain – not rest. When I try to follow His invitation, suffering and struggle beset me on all sides …if this is rest! I think it is an odd kind of rest ….
But hold on, there’s hope in the sitting and waiting….
Doesn’t Psalm 39 say:
“I waited, I waited for the Lord
And He stooped down to me”

Imagine the Lord stooping down to me! Can you really believe this? when you see your desires obscured and your mind blank? Be not afflicted by this but rather consider it a great happiness because that person is perfect in faith who can come to God in the utter dearth of his feelings and desires and without a glow or an aspiration, with the weight of failure and neglect and wandering forgetfulness and hear Him say:

Come then my love
My lovely one come
For see winter is past
The rains are over and gone
The season of glad songs has come
Come then my love
Show me your face – your heart
Let me hear your voice – your requests
For your voice is sweet
And your face beautiful…. (Cf Song of Songs)

Ah yes Lord – here I am – coming to You
“Breathe over my garden”

I wonder what G M Hopkins had in mind when he wrote:
… “and the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast
And with ah! Bright wings”

What wonders would He not work in our heart if only in our times of rest we would allow Him to brood over us as He did for Mary:

…. “and the Holy Spirit came upon her and the power of the Most High overshadowed her…… (Lk 1:35)

“Stand stoutly then in this work, ever more heaving up unto Him thy lovely consent in gladness of love”. Book of Privy Counsel

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Is Religious Life just ‘Hard Work’?

Please accept our apologies for our silence during the past few weeks!
In the meantime we have had a week's community's 'holidays' - during which work is reduced a minimum and there is time and space for each sister to relax and take some extra rest, engage in favourite hobbies, watch a video etc.

Last week was given over to a course of lectures on St Thomas and his theology of grace.

On Monday next we begin our annual retreat of 8 days - at the end of which we look forward to welcoming an aspirant for a month's 'live-in' experience. We ask your prayers for the light and guidance of the Holy Spirit for her and for the other young women who are discernimg their vocation to contemplative monastic life in our Dominican Order.

We offer you the following reflection:

Is Religious Life just ‘Hard Work’?

Recently I came across a mention on a blog I follow to the effect that some people felt that his presentation of the spiritual life seemed to be one of working our way toward God, almost an endurance test. That got me thinking, since it seems to be a difficulty many people have with the Religious Life – the idea that it is something hard. I remember when I decided to enter I received a number of comments suggesting that I was doing something very demanding, especially since so few are entering nowadays. This impression of Religious Life as a hard thing fails to take into account the fundamental factor involved in a religious vocation – love.

In the first place, from a purely natural point of view, anyone who is passionate about something, regards as nothing what others would see as difficult. To give an example, I would consider 3 hours music practise a day as ‘cruel and unusual punishment’ if I had to do it, but for a gifted pianist it is as vital as breathing, because she loves it and, on good days, she is most fully alive while playing. In the same way, my religious life is where I am most fully alive and, more importantly, most fully open to God and in tune with His plan for me – “the glory of God is man fully alive” (St Irenaeus) In fact, that is what Vocation Discernment is all about, discovering that God is asking me to be here, in this place, for Him.

But it can appear to others as just ‘doing things for God’ or attempting to ‘earn salvation’. This is where love comes in. Everyone needs to give, do things for those they love. Think about it - if you were married to someone could you come home from work everyday and watch TV, totally ignoring your husband/wife and never doing anything with or for him/her, except periodically saying (while engrossed in the TV show) ‘Yes, of course I love you, how can you doubt it’. You couldn’t do it. We need to do things to show our love. And the beauty and wonder of God is that He lets us, even encourages us to, do things for Him. We don’t think we’re earning anything, anymore than a 3 or 4 year old who ‘helps’ with the housework thinks that he’s earning anything.

God doesn’t need us to do things for Him but He knows that, for our own sake, we need to do things for Him. First, because we have no other way to express our love, and also because our outward acts form our inward selves i.e. the surest way to become loving is to act lovingly. So my monastic observance (i.e. Daily Mass, Divine Office, Lectio Divina, Adoration, regular prayer times, spiritual reading, charitable acts etc.) helps me become more and more conformed to God and grow in love of Him. Now, God sees our need to show our love by concrete acts, but he also knows that we’re not much good at this loving action and so He gives us His grace, which enables us to “act justly, love tenderly, and walk humbly with our God” (Mic 6:8). And this is the most important factor in any Religious Vocation – God’s grace/love. Each person’s vocation is God’s work, He calls us and He gives us the grace to be able to respond to His call - “He who called you is faithful and He will carry it out” (1Thess 5:24) It is in this grace that I live my monastic life and when I make my vows for life I will do so knowing that I can make this vow because God is faithful and in Him my vow rests secure. I do not rely on my own ability but on the strength of God’s grace upholding my efforts. But, and this is important, I must make the effort. To take an example from my own vocation discernment – initially I just prayed that I would discover my vocation and expected God to do everything else. I was waiting for the right Order to ‘appear’. But it was only by contacting Orders, visiting them and praying about my impressions that I discovered where God wanted me to be.

So Religious Life (or any Christian Life) does involve work and effort but it is work with God rather than work for God and so it is in no way hard work.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Feast of Corpus Christi

“Where do you want us to go …?” (Mk 14:12f)

In today’s Gospel, according to Mark, the disciples asked Jesus ‘where do You want us to go to make the preparations for You…?’ Jesus answers them ‘Go into the city…’ and further, when they do what he has told them, they will discover that everything is ‘all prepared’.

When I am in doubt about where the Lord wants me, wondering how it is that He wants me to love Him – how to follow Him – how to know Him – these are statements that it would be well for me to remember.

Where do You want me to go to prepare?
Go into the city. … all prepared

If I ask the Lord in faith for the gift of being able to listen to Him, I believe that somehow He will give me the answer I seek, because what I ask is only Him – I want Jesus, because in Jesus is everything. I want Him to show me the way, so I must have the humility to hear what He is saying to me, and the courage to accept His word.

He says to me – ‘go into the city’ – a bit difficult, because I’m here in a monastery, living as a nun, and I’ve left all things to follow Him, so how can I go into the city? But, maybe the ‘city’ is the place where I am, a city built on a hilltop - whose population is the sisters with whom I live and work and pray and learn to love and follow the Lord. And it’s a busy city. Busy enough at times to distract me from the remembrance of God, even to make me forget that here is where I know the Lord is most close to me. This is where He has invited me to be – to sit with Him and to pray for the life of the world, which is so very dear to Him.

How do I prepare? Especially when He reminds me that here, everything is ‘all prepared’? But my preparation must be within myself – I must prepare to accept this city as it is, because it is His city, which He has prepared. All He invites me to do is to see this city as His gift to me, the place where I will find Him – Him Whom I seek: the Life of my soul. It’s as easy as that! I don’t have to change the people around me, to make them what I think they should be – they are already the children of God, and in each of them He is pleased to make a home for Himself. I have only to prepare to be open to receiving such a gift.

And what happens when I say ‘yes’?

I hear Him say to me … “Take it, … this is my Body. … This is my Blood.”

Today is the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ – let us seek and find Him in the faces of all who cross our path today, and always.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Vocations Discernment Weekend

19th - 21st June

(Friday evening - Sunday after lunch)

Young women, interested in learning about our contemplative way of life, are invited to a weekend of prayer and reflection - with sung liturgy, Eucharistic Adoration, conferences and opportunity to meet with sisters.

There is still a place for anyone interested.
Contact Sr Breda OP at
More information on our main website at

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Vine and the branches

What does it mean for us to be God’s holy people, to sing the praises of Him who called us into His wonderful light?

We are led towards an answer in this Sunday’s Gospel of the Vine and the branches. Here we have the cry of Jesus, repeated over and over again in one short passage: “Abide in Me”. It is a cry from the depths of the Lord’s heart because He knows that this ‘abiding’ is the source of everything for us. It is a call to enter into the innermost life of the Blessed Trinity. Jesus is not simply the only One who can call us to this. He is the only Place where this invitation can find its fulfilment.

The Vine and the branches - we do not say:“This is not the vine, this is the branch.” As long as the branch lives in the vine, the branch is the vine. We are living in Him with His own life. He has made us one with Him by His own gift. And in Him, through the Spirit, we are one with the Father. Here, there is a mystery of union which is beyond our understanding and our conscious experience.

All things are on their way back to the Father, through Christ, in the Spirit. It is as if all things are being drawn towards a central point in the depths of Christ’s heart in the bosom of the Father. This ‘abide’ of Jesus is His longing to gather us up and return us to God. We hear His voice as a resonance in the depths of our being, as we become aware that in Him we are begotten by the Eternal Father.

“I am in my Father and you in Me and I in you.”
Here we are drawn into the never-ending exchange of love in the Persons of the Trinity, a love that is always new and present to every moment of our lives. It is the dance of God in which we were created and which calls to us without end: ‘As the Father has loved me so I have loved you. Abide in my love!’

Friday, May 8, 2009

Mary's month

Traditionally the month of May is know as 'Mary's month'. Today the 8th May the Dominican family honours her under the title of Patroness of our Order.

There is a lovely story told by Sr Cecilia (one of the first Dominican nuns of the monastery of San Sisto, Rome) who knew Dominic personally:

Once while Dominic was praying he was caught up in spirit before God and saw the Lord and the Blessed Virgin sitting at His right. It seemed to Blessed Dominic that Our Lady was wearing a cloak the colour of saphire.

As Blessed Dominic looked around, he could see religious of all the orders but his own before the throne of God. He began to weep bitterly and stood apart, not daring to approach the Lord and His Mother. Then Our Lady motioned for him to come near. But he would not dare, until the Lord Himself also called him.

Blessed Dominic cast himself down before them weeping bitterly. The Lord told him to rise and when he did, asked him "Why are your weeping so?" "I am weeping because I see all the other orders here but no sign of my own." The Lord said to him "Do you want to see your Order?" and he answered "Yes, Lord" Then the Blessed Virgin opended the cloak she was wearing and spread it out before Blessed Dominic to whom it seemed vast enough to cover the entire heaven, and under it he saw a large multitude of the brethren.

Then prostrating himself, Blessed Dominic gave thanks to God and to Blessed Mary His Mother, After that the vision disappeared and he came to himself just as the bell rang for Matins. When Matins were over, he called the brethren and gave them a long and beautiful talk, exhorting them to love and pay reverence to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The fact that this same story is related by many other religious Orders in relation to the their own founders, should not lead us to ignore the story or cast it aside as a 'fairy tale'. Rather these stories and legends convey a truth about Mary's loving care and protection for each of ther children - and it is this which we celebrate and for which we give thanks today.

We invite you to visit the reflections page of our website - reflection on the "Pondering Mother of God".

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Vocation Sunday

Here in Ireland, today - Vocation Sunday - marks the close of the special ‘Year of Vocation’ which commenced on Vocation Sunday 2008. Throughout the country there were various prayer services at monastic sites last evening while this evening the closing Mass for the Year of Vocation and Launch of Religious/Diocesan DVD was scheduled for 5.30 pm in Armagh Cathedral with Cardinal Sean Brady as celebrant. The Dominicans marked the close of the year at the 11.30 a.m. Mass in St Saviour’s church, Dublin.

As we come to the close of this special year which focused attention on the theme of vocation in the Church, Pope Benedict’s message for Vocation Sunday is an apt reminder to us to continually pray and entrust this urgent intention to the provident care of our loving God. Here I give a few highlights but the full message can be downloaded from the Vatican website.

Pope Benedict invites all of us to reflect on ‘Faith in the divine initiative - the human response’ and continues:

The exhortation of Jesus to his disciples: “Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest” (Mt 9:38) has a constant resonance in the Church. Pray! The urgent call of the Lord stresses that prayer for vocations should be continuous and trusting. The Christian community can only really “have ever greater faith and hope in God's providence” (Sacramentum Caritatis, 26) if it is enlivened by prayer......

Our first duty, therefore, is to keep alive in families and in parishes, in movements and in apostolic associations, in religious communities and in all the sectors of diocesan life this appeal to the divine initiative with unceasing prayer. We must pray that the whole Christian people grows in its trust in God, convinced that the “Lord of the harvest” does not cease to ask some to place their entire existence freely at his service so as to work with him more closely in the mission of salvation. What is asked of those who are called, for their part, is careful listening and prudent discernment, a generous and willing adherence to the divine plan, and a serious study of the reality that is proper to the priestly and religious vocations, so as to be able to respond responsibly and with conviction……..

To believe in the Lord and to accept his gift, therefore, leads us to entrust ourselves to Him with thankful hearts, adhering to his plan of salvation. When this does happen, the one who is “called” voluntarily leaves everything and submits himself to the teaching of the divine Master; hence a fruitful dialogue between God and man begins, a mysterious encounter between the love of the Lord who calls and the freedom of man who responds in love, hearing the words of Jesus echoing in his soul, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide” (Jn 15:16).......

Once more, Jesus is the model of complete and trusting adherence to the will of the Father, to whom every consecrated person must look. Attracted by him, from the very first centuries of Christianity, many men and women have left families, possessions, material riches and all that is humanly desirable in order to follow Christ generously and live the Gospel without compromise, which had become for them a school of deeply rooted holiness. Today too, many undertake this same demanding journey of evangelical perfection and realise their vocation in the profession of the evangelical counsels. The witness of these our brothers and sisters, in contemplative monasteries, religious institutes and congregations of apostolic life, reminds the people of God of “that mystery of the Kingdom of God is already at work in history, even as it awaits its full realization in heaven” (Vita Consecrata, 1)...

Dear friends, do not become discouraged in the face of difficulties and doubts; trust in God and follow Jesus faithfully and you will be witnesses of the joy that flows from intimate union with him. Imitating the Virgin Mary whom all generations proclaim as blessed because she believed (cf. Lk 1:48), commit yourselves with every spiritual energy, to realise the heavenly Father’s plan of salvation, cultivating in your heart, like her, the ability to be astonished and to adore him who is mighty and does “great things”, for Holy is his name (cf. Lk 1:49).

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

St Catherine of Siena - Novena Day 9

From a letter of St Catherine to Frate Tommaso dalla Fonte

….Dearest Father, I beg you to fulfil my longing to see you united with and transformed in God. But this is impossible unless we are one with His Will. Oh sweetest eternal Will, to have taught us how to discover your holy Will! If we were to ask that gentlest most loving young man and most merciful father, this is how he would answer us: “Dearest children, if you wish to discover and experience the effects of My will, dwell within the cell of your soul”. This cell is a well in which there is earth as well as water. In the earth we can recognise our own poverty: we see that we are not - for we are not. We see that our being is from God. Oh ineffable blazing charity! I see next that as we discover the earth we get to the living water, the very core of the knowledge of God’s true and gentle will which desires nothing else but that we be made holy. So let us enter into the depths of that well - for if we dwell there, we will necessarily come to know both ourselves and God’s goodness. In recognising that we are nothing we humble ourselves. And in humbling ourselves we enter that flaming, consumed heart, opened up like a window without shutters, never to be closed. As we focus there the eye of the free will God has given us, we see and know that His Will has become nothing other than our sanctification.

Love, sweet love! Open, open up our memory for us, so that we may receive, hold fast, and understand God’s great goodness! For as we understand, so we love, and when we love, we find ourselves united with and transformed in love, in this mother charity, having passed through and yet ever passing through the gate that is Christ crucified.

He said as much to His disciples: “I will come and make my dwelling place with you.” This is my desire: to see you in the dwelling, in this transformation. My soul longs for this – for you especially and for everyone else to. I beg you: be nailed fast to the cross.

Letter 41 – from Letters of St Catherine of Siena - Volume I, translated by Suzanne Noffke OP,

Monday, April 27, 2009

St Catherine of Siena - Novena Day 8

The Eternal Father speaks to Catherine:

I have told you how tears well up from the heart: The heart gathers them up from its burning desire and holds them out to the eyes. Just as green wood, when it is put into the fire, weeps tears of water in the heat because it is still green (for if it were dry it would not weep), so does the heart weep when it is made green again by the renewal of grace, after the desiccating dryness of selfishness has been drawn out of the soul. Thus are fire and tears made one in burning desire. And because desire has no end it cannot be satisfied in this life. Rather, the more it loves, the less it seems to itself to love. So love exerts a holy longing, and with that longing the eyes weep.

But once the soul is separated from the body and has reached Me, her final goal, she does not on that account give up her desire so as to no longer desire Me and the charity of her neighbours. For charity has entered into her like a great lady, bearing with her the fruit of all the other virtues. What has ended is suffering, because if she longs for Me she now possesses me in truth without any fear of being able to lose what she has so long desired. This is how she feeds the flame, for the more she hungers the more she is filled, and the more she is sated, the more she hungers. … So your desire is an infinite thing. Were it not, could I be served by any finite thing, no virtue would have value or life. For I, who am infinite God, want you to serve Me with what is infinite, and you have nothing infinite except your soul’s love and desire.

From the Dialogue of St Catherine of Siena – Chapter 92

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Jubilee Celebrations

Above left Sr Clare Marie with Sr Mairead, prioress and Sr Margaret, sub-prioress. Below Sr Clare Marie and Sr M Kathleen (who celebrated her golden jubilee of profession last November) enjoy a morning cup of tea in the novitiate.

On Friday the 24th April we rejoiced and celebrated with Sr Clare Marie, giving thanks to God for 50 years of religious profession. While we know that all her large family and extended family are united with her in spirit today, Sister decided on a quiet celebration with the community.

Fifty years ago Sr Clare Marie made religious profession as a Mercy sister and engaged in a very successful apostolate as a primary and later secondary school teacher. However in her mid 30's, once again the Lord called and she generously responded to follow His guiding Hand which led her to our community. At no little cost to herself and her beloved Mercy Congregation she dedicated herself to our Dominican contemplative way of life, making solemn profession in our community on the 1st of January 1978.

When we celebrate anniversaries of professions all of us are led to reflect on the meaning of our own profession. Our Dominican profession is a very simple rite, when placing our hands in the hands of the prioress we promise obedience according to our constitutions until death. Although we only mention obedience in the formula of profession we pledge fidelity to our whole Dominican contemplative way of life - implying the vows of chastity, voluntary poverty, obedience, community life, prayer, study etc. Celebrating 50 years of fidelity of a sister in her vocation encourages us all to serve the Lord with renewed enthusiasm, with joy and thanksgiving.

St Catherine of Siena - Novena Day 7

From a Letter of St Catherine to Giovanna dei Pazzi

…You will come to know eternal Truth by loving Him. And the only sign we can give of our love is to love everyone else in charity and to suffer with true and royal patience even to the point of death. We must not want to have times and places to our own liking but in God’s way – and God neither seeks nor wants anything but that we be made holy.

…So I want you to understand, my daughter, that whatever God grants or permits in this life, he does it either because we need it or for our salvation or for our progress in perfection. We should therefore bear it humbly and patiently. We should accept it with reverence, opening our mind’s eye to consider the great charity and blazing love with which God gives it to us. Once we realise that He gives it not out of hatred but out of love, we will accept it in love.

This virtue of patience is so essential for us that we must procure it if we don’t want to lose the fruit of our labours. … Where is it to be found? In Christ crucified. For His patience was such that no cry of complaint was heard from Him. The Jews cried, “Crucify!” And He cried, “Father, forgive those who are crucifying me, because they do not know what they are doing.”

…His blood has been made a drink for those who want it, and His Body food. For there is no way our appetite can be satisfied, no way our hunger and thirst can be relieved, except with His Blood. Even if we possessed the whole world, we could not be satisfied, because the things of the world are less than we are, and we cannot be satisfied by anything less than we are. Only the Blood can satisfy our hunger, because the Blood has been mixed and kneaded with the eternal Godhead, a nature infinitely greater than we. So there we can satisfy our desire – with the fire of charity, since it is for love that the Blood was shed!

Letter 87 from Vol. II of letters edited by S. Noffke O.P.

Friday, April 24, 2009

St Catherine of Siena - Novena Day 6

The Eternal Father speaks to Catherine about charity:

It is like a vessel that you fill at the fountain. If you take it out of the fountain to drink, the vessel is soon empty. But if you hold your vessel in the fountain while you drink, it will not get empty. Indeed it will always be full. So the love of your neighbour is meant to be drunk in Me without any self-interest.

I ask you to love Me with the same love with which I love you. But for Me you cannot do this, for I loved you without being loved. Whatever love you have for Me you owe Me, so you love Me, not gratuitously but out of duty, while I love you not out of duty, but gratuitously. So you cannot give me the kind of love I ask of you. This is why I have put you among your neighbours: so that you can do for them what you cannot do for Me - that is, love them wihtout any concern for thanks and without looking for any profit for yourself. And whatever you do for them I will consider done for me.

So your love should be sincere: You should love your neighbours with the same love with which you love Me. Do you know how you can tell when your spiritual love is not perfect? If you are distressed when it seems that those you love are not returning your love and not loving you as much as you think you love them. Or if you are distressed when it seems to you that you are being deprived of their company or comfort or that they love someone else more than you.

From these and from many other things you should be able to tell if your love for Me and for your neighbours is still imperfect and that you have been drinking from your vessel outside of the fountain, even though your love was drawn from Me. But it is becasue your love for Me is imperfect that you show it so imperfectly to those you love with a spiritual love.

From the Dialogue of St Catherine of Siena - Chapter64

Thursday, April 23, 2009

St Catherine of Siena - Novena Day 5

The Eternal Father speaks to Catherine:

Keep in mind that each of you has your own vineyard. But every one is joined to your neighbours' vineyards without any dividing lines. They are so joined together, in fact, that you cannot do good or evil for yourself without doing the same for your neighbours.

All of you together make up one common vineyeard, the whole Christian Assembly, and you are all united in the vineyard of the mystic body of holy Church from which you draw your life. In this vineyard is planted the vine, which is my Only-Begotten Son, into whom you must be engrafted.

It is charity that binds you to true humility - the humility that is found in knowing yourself and Me. See then that as workers I have sent you all. And now I am calling you again, because the world is failing fast. The thorns have so multiplied and have choked the seed so badly that it will produce no fruit of grace at all.

I want you, therefore, to be true workers. With deep concern help to till the souls in the mystic body of holy Church. I am calling you to this because I want to be merciful to the world as you have so earnestly begged Me.

From the Dialogue of St Catherine of Siena - Chapter 24

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

St Catherine of Siena - Novena Day 4

From a letter to Catherine's eldest brother, Benincasa, when he was living in Florence and had many financial difficulties.

In the name of Jesus Christ crucified and of gentle Mary.

Dearest brother in Christ Jesus,

I Catherine, comfort and bless you, and I invite you to a gentle, holy patience, without which we cannot please God. I beg you, therefore, to hold the weapon of patience firmly so that you may receive benefit from all your troubles. If it seems very difficult for you to cope with your many trials, there are three things which I suggest may help you to endure more patiently.

Firstly, I want you to think about the shortness of life, for you are not certain even of tomorrow. We can indeed say that we do not have our past troubles, nor those which are in the future; all we have is the moment of time in which we are now. Surely then we ought to endure patiently since time is short.

Secondly, consider the benefit we gain from our troubles, for St Paul says that there is no comparison between our difficulties and the fruit and reward of eternal glory (cf Rom 8:18.

Thirdly, reflect on the evil consequences of indulging in anger and impatience. these evil consequences are with us both here and hereafter. So I beg you dearest brother to bear all your troubles patiently.....
Remain in the holy, gentle love of God. Gentle Jesus, Jesus love.

From letter 18 in Letters of St Catherine of Siena,Volume I - translated by Suzanne Noffke OP,

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

St Catherine of Siena - Novena Day 3

Turst in God

The Eternal Father speaks to Catherine:

This is the sign that people's trust is in Me rather than in themselves: that they have no slavish fear. Those who trust in themselves are afraid of their own shadow; they expect both heaven and earth to let them down. This fear makes them so concerned about acquiring and holding on to temporal things that they seem to toss the spiritual behind their backs.

They forget that I am the One who provides for everything that may be needed for soul or body. In the measure that you put your trust in Me, in that measure will My Providence be meted out to you. So consider it useless to wear yourself out guarding you city unless it is guarded by Me. Every effort is useless for those who think they can guard their city by their own toil or concern, for I alone am the Guardian.

The only ones who are afraid are those who think they are alone, who trust in themselves and have no loving charity. They are afraid of every little thing because they are alone, deprived of Me. For it is I who give complete security to the soul who possesses me in love. My glorious loved ones experienced well that nothing could harm their souls because I responded to the love and faith and trust they had put in Me.

Taken from the Dialogue of St Catherine, Chapter 119.

Monday, April 20, 2009

St Catherine of Siena - Novena Day 2

The Eternal Father speaks to Catherine:

My Truth invited you to call out thus when He said: "Call and you will be answered; knock and it shall be opened to you; ask and it shall be given to you." So I am telling you what I want you to do. Never relax your desire to ask for My help. Never lower you voice in crying out to Me to be merciful to the world. Never stop knocking at the door of my Truth by following in His footsteps. Find your delight with Him on the cross by feeding on souls for the glory and praise of My Name, and with restless heart bewail the death of the human race which you see reduced to such misery.
Through this lamentation and crying out it is My Will to be merciful to the world. This is what I require of My servants and this will be a sign to Me that you love Me in truth.

Taken from Dialogue of St Catherine,(Chapter 107), Translated by Suzanne Noffke, Classics of Western Spirituality Series.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

St Catherine of Siena - Novena Day 1

From a letter to Frate Giusto di Giovanni da Volterra:

I long to see you eating and savouring souls. Take your lesson from gentle First Truth who in His restlessly yearning hunger and thirst for our salvation cried out from the wood of the most holy cross, "I thirst". It is as if He were saying: "I am more longingly thirsty for your salvatin than I can show you through this finite suffering." Yes, He is tortured with physical thirst, but that suffering is finite. It is the pain of holy desire, shown us in His thirst for the human race, that is infinite. Oh good and gentle Jesus, You let us know You are thirsty and at the same time You ask for a drink.

He gave His blood out of love and it is with this love that He asks us for a drink. I mean that Jesus, who loves, is asking to be loved and served. It is only right that the one who loves ought to be loved. This is how we give our Creator a drink: when we give Him love for love. But we cannot give it to Him through any service we can render Him; no we must give it to Him in the person of our neighbour.

(Taken from Letter 8 in Letters of St Catherine of Siena, Volume II translated by Suzanne Noffke OP,- published by Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies,2001)

St Catherine of Siena

Tomorrow the 20th of April we begin the novena of prayer in preparation for the feast of St Catherine of Siena. This is a very special feast for our community as our monastery is under the patronage of St Catherine.

Perhaps our readers would like to join us in this novena in praying for Pope Benedict XVI and the whole the Church, so dear to the heart of Catherine. We would also be grateful if you would pray for our community that we may be faithful to our vocation in the Church and for vocations to our community.

Each day, as a community we pray the following:

O glorious St Catherine, champion of the Church of Christ and of his vicar on earth, doctor rich in wisdom, peace-maker among peoples, friend and guide of souls, obtain for us the wisdom that will make us saints and for the wrold a lasting peace. Amen.

During the novena each evening before Vespers, a sister reads a short passage from Catherine writings - we will share these reflections with you on this blog for your own prayerful reflection

Let us pray:
Almighty God,
You made St Catherine of Siena
a contemplative lover of the Lord's sufferings
and an ardent servant of your Church.
grant through her prayer
that your people may be united to Christ in his mystery
and rejoice for ever in the revelation of his glory.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Catherine was born in Siena, Italy in 1347 and died in Rome in 1380. She lived at a time not too unlike our own when the Church and society were in turmoil- at one point there were even 3 Popes - each claiming to be the true successor of St Peter! She was greatly influenced by the Dominican friars of her native Siena and became a Lay Dominican. She fully imbibed the spirit of Dominic - above all his great love of God and zeal for the salvation of souls. A constant refrain in Catherine's writings - like a golden thread holding all together - is the invitation "to stand at the table of the Cross seeking only the glory and praise of God and the salvation of souls"

In 1970 Pope Paul VI declared her together with St Teresa of Avila as the first women doctors of the Church.

Divine Mercy Sunday

It is very fitting that the Church celebrates today - on the octave day of Easter - the wonderful mercy of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. At the Easter Vigil the Church burst in a prayer of praise and exultation calling on all creation to join in rejoicing:

Rejoice O earth, in shining splendour
Christ has conquered! Glory fills you
Darkness vanishes for ever! - Alleluia.

Rejoice O Mother Church! Exult in glory!
The Risen Saviour shines upon you!

The cause for this great joy is the fact that Christ has conquered sin and death. As we look around our world or, indeed, just look within our own hearts we can often be discouraged and feel overwhelmed by the darkness of sin and selfishness. But the great truth which we celebrate at Easter, and especially today on Divine Mercy Sunday, is that no matter how many sins weigh on our conscience we have only to turn to Jesus and mercy and forgiveness are ours - what a wonderful cause of joy and peace and thanksgiving!!

When the Risen Jesus appears to the apostles on Easter Sunday evening He breathes on them and says:

"Receive the Holy Spirit
for those whose sins you forgive
they are forgiven
for those whose sins you retain
they are retained" (Jn 20:19 - 31)

It is interesting that St John has Jesus appear to the disciples where they are locked away behind closed doors - terrified! Again this detail can be encouraging for us who sometimes feel too frightened to open the door of our heart to the Lord - He can come inside the locked doors of our insecurity and fear and obstinacy with His healing love and mercy.

At the renewal of our Baptismal vows at the Easter Vigil, among other questions we were asked "Do you believe in the forgiveness of sins?" and we answer "I do" - this is the cause of our joy for we are freed of the burden of sin and given a new life in Christ Jesus and are now called to extend the forgiveness which we have experienced in our own lives to our brothers and sisters as the letter to the Colosians reminds us:

You are the people of God; He loved you and chose you for His own. So then, you must put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Be helpful to one another, and forgive one another, whenever any of you has a complaint against someone else. You must gorgive each other in the same way that the Lord has forgiven you. And to all these add love, which binds all things together in perfect unity. And be thankful.

See also a reflection on the icon of the Merciful Christ, through the eyes of St Catherine of Siena - on the Reflections page of our main website -