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 - www.dominicnnuns.ie

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Monastic Retreat House

After being closed for all of last year for renovation work, our retreat house is now up and running again and we are happy to be able to provide this facility for those who wish to come apart for some quiet time. For the Easter Triduum all four rooms were engaged.

Those who come are welcome to join us in the main chapel for liturgy and Eucharistic Adoration. In addition there is a small oratory in the retreat house.

The retreat house is self catering - with a fully equipped kitchen. To facilitate those who desire greater solitude two of the rooms have individual kitchenettes. .

During February and March we were also able to resume hosting our vocation discernment weekends - which proved helpful to those who attended.

Our next vocation discernment weekends are 8th - 10th May and again 19th - 21st June.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Holy Saturday - Silent Hope

The following quote from Pope Benedict's Angelus message during the week expresses very well the mystery we celebrate these days.

Every year, placing ourselves in silence before Jesus nailed to the wood of the cross, we realize how full of love were the words he pronounced on the eve, in the course of the Last Supper. "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many" (Mark 14:24). Jesus willed to offer his life in sacrifice for the remission of humanity's sins. Just as before the Eucharist, so before the Passion and Death of Jesus on the cross, the mystery is unfathomable to reason. We are placed before something that humanly might seem absurd: a God who not only is made man, with all man's needs, not only suffers to save man, burdening himself with all the tragedy of humanity, but dies for man.
Christ's death recalls the accumulation of sorrows and evils that beset humanity of all times: the crushing weight of our dying, the hatred and violence that again today bloody the earth. The Lord's Passion continues in the suffering of men. As Blaise Pascal correctly writes, "Jesus will be in agony until the end of the world; one must not sleep during this time" (Pensées, 553). If Good Friday is a day full of sadness, and hence at the same time, all the more propitious a day to reawaken our faith, to strengthen our hope and courage so that each one of us will carry his cross with humility, trust and abandonment in God, certain of his support and victory. The liturgy of this day sings: "O Crux, ave, spes unica" (Hail, O cross, our only hope)."

This hope is nourished in the great silence of Holy Saturday, awaiting the resurrection of Jesus. On this day the Churches are stripped and no particular liturgical rites are provided. The Church watches in prayer like Mary, and together with Mary, sharing the same feelings of sorrow and trust in God.

An ancient Holy Saturday homily which was read at the Office Of Readings this morning captures the mood of this day:

"What is happening? Today there is a great silence over the earth, a great silcnce and stillness, a great silence becase the King sleeps....

Today he goes to seek out our first parents like a lost sheep; he wishes to visit those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death....

The Lord goes to them holding his victorious weapon, his cross....grasping Adam's hand He raises him up saying 'I command you: Awake, sleeper, I have not made you to be held a prisoner in the underworld. Arise from the dead; I am the life of the dead. Arise, O man, work of my hands, arise, you who were fashioned in my image. Rise, let us go hence; for you in me and I in you, together we are one undivided person."

Pope Benedict concludes:
The recollection and silence of Holy Saturday lead us at night to the solemn Easter Vigil, "mother of all vigils," when the singing of the joy of the resurrection of Christ will erupt in all the churches and communities. Proclaimed once again will be the victory of light over darkness, of life over death, and the Church will rejoice in the encounter with her Lord. We will thus enter into the climate of the Easter of Resurrection

Happy Easter to all our readers

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Cross and Veritas

There is a very close link between the Cross and Veritas (Truth) - the motto of the Dominican Order. “The Cross verifies the truth about God and the truth about humankind”- (Pope Benedict)
The truth about God: When we look at the Cross we are left in no doubt of God’s infinite love – the Cross is the epiphany of God's infinite love for us sinful creatures - at the very moment when we are turned away from Him and lost in our own selfishness He turned as it were against himself in order to raise us up and save us. This is how God loves.
The truth about humans: the Cross reveals the dignity of every person – how precious we are in God’s sight that He should die for us!

But the Cross does not rob us of joy – the contrary is true as we sing in the liturgy: “through the Cross joy has come into the whole world” and with it freedom. Jesus has taken the burden of our sin on Himself and has already achieved our eternal salvation. Our task lies not in anxious striving to achieve our own perfection but in opening ourselves to receive the gift. “At the very moment when he identifies with our sin, ‘abandoned’ by the Father, Jesus ‘abandons’ himself into the hands of the Father”.(Pope John Paul II, Novo Millennio Ineunte 26). We in our turn can abandon ourselves and those we carry in our hearts to the loving mercy of our God in the sure hope that “all will be well”.

Watch and Pray

This week in his Wednesday Angelus address Pope Benedict focused on the importance of Holy Week for us Christians:

“Holy Week, which for us Christians is the most important week of the year, offers us the opportunity to be immersed in the central events of Redemption, to relive the Paschal Mystery, the great mystery of the faith. Beginning tomorrow afternoon, with the Mass "In Coena Domini," the solemn liturgical rites will help us to meditate in a more lively manner on the Passion, Death and Resurrection of the Lord in the days of the Holy Paschal Triduum, fulcrum of the entire liturgical year. May divine grace open our hearts to comprehend the inestimable gift that salvation is, obtained for us by Christ's sacrifice.”

While we celebrate these days as a Church and in union with the whole Church throughout the world, yet as we read and reflect on the Gospels Jesus has a personal message for each of us if we open our hearts to listen to His word of love addressed to each of us. Above all it is an invitation to watch and pray with him – the same invitation extended to the apostles in the garden: “wait here and stay awake” and “stay awake and pray not to be put to the test” (Mt 26).

This is the heart of our Dominican contemplative vocation – to watch and pray – always seeking the glory of God and the salvation of all our brothers and sisters.

The following quotation from Jean Corbon challenged me when I first read it:

“The Cross of his Son is the place from which God seems most absent but in which He in fact gives Himself most completely. The place where His Christ is crucified is the place where His compassion is poured out, for it is the place where man is most deeply wounded by death. People today are surprised at the deep silence of God, but who is willing to enter into the silence of the compassion of Jesus, to follow him that far? It is only a stone’s throw between the slumber of the disciples and the agony of their Lord – to cross that space is to enter the struggle of prayer, intercession and compassion.” (Jean Corbon, The Wellspring of Worship, pg 247)

I asked myself how often do I stay comfortably in slumber heedless of the Lord’s invitation to cross the boundary line and engage in the struggle – for we do not come apart only to find a space of peace and quiet for contemplation, but in order to engage in the “struggle of prayer, intercession and compassion” –and thus to “perpetuate that singular gift which St Dominic had of bearing sinners, the down trodden and the afflicted in the inmost sanctuary of his compassion.” As we struggle with our own weakness, sinfulness and wounds of sin we are united in a more profound manner with our brothers and sisters wherever they may be. As our hearts ache while we helplessly watch so many lose faith and walk away from the Church we feel the pressing need to seek solutions. Yet our vocation does not lie in engaging in apostolic works.

Contemplation of the Cross teaches us that Jesus conquered sin by becoming sin for us. “He lived the reality of the other to the point where he carries the whole ‘baggage’ of the other”. (Thomas J Norris, Living a Spirituality of Communion, pg 81) In the cloister perhaps, we today are called to experience the “loneliness, meaninglessness, abandonment, anguish and despair” of our contemporaries to the point of the darkness and forsakenness of the Cross. We need to encourage each other not to be afraid to go to that forsaken place within our own heart and there wait for the Lord’s mercy and healing for ourselves and others.

It is when we have the courage to make this journey into silence, to the lonely place of our heart where we experience our own poverty and sinfulness, that we are most profoundly united to our brothers and sisters. It is here too that we experience the Risen Jesus calling us by name and we can say with Paul: “I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:20) - our prayer becomes the prayer of Christ before the Father asking that all be gathered into unity: “Father may they be one in us”.(Jn 17:21)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Dare to Believe

Then she knows the truth about me the eternal Father: that in love I have created her to give her eternal life. This is the truth, and I have revealed it to her in the blood of Christ crucified. Once the soul has come to know this, she loves it, and she shows her love by genuinely loving what I love and hating what I hate. …
… So the memory, all imperfection past, is filled … because it has remembered and held within itself my blessings.
… Understanding receives the light. Gazing into the memory it comes to know the truth, and shedding the blindness of selfish love it remains in the sunlight of Christ crucified in whom it knows both God and humanity. … Then the will, which follows understanding, united itself in a most perfect and burning love. And if anyone should ask me what this soul is, I would say: She is another me, made so by the union of love.
[Dialogue, ch.96]

These are words spoken by God, our eternal Father, to St Catherine of Siena, whose feastday occurs at the end of this month. She had an astounding love for the Lord, uncontainable, and it pours out in the words of the ‘Dialogue’. The words quoted above caught my attention, and then on re-reading them, caught my attention still more, and in these last few days, even hours, of Lent – they are quite powerful when you sit with them. St.Catherine’s ‘Dialogue’ is demanding that way, you can’t read too much at a time, because it contains so much.

St.Catherine was passionate about the Lord, and she was passionate about people – all of us, who were created in His image and likeness – and she longed for everyone to know how precious we are in our Father’s sight; how infinite is His love for us, and what dignity is ours as His children.

And we can come to know this too, if especially in these days – we allow ourselves to be open to the ‘possibility’ that even we – even you – are just that precious to God … no matter what. In times when it is so easy to feel that nothing is ‘going right’, when the point of any of our efforts is beyond us; no work, no hope, and our worth as people is lost – the words of our Father to Catherine are vital. Read them again, and let yourself be amazed at how amazing you are.


God’s words to Catherine are His words to you – if you let yourself come to Him, just as you are, and sit with Him, watch Him, and ask to be drawn to know Him a little bit better – what you will discover is that in every moment of your life, in your every breath – your Father is watching you with eyes that love you infinitely; with a love that does not judge you as you judge yourself; and with mercy that is deeper than anything you could grasp.

The Lord carried you, as a man carries his child, all along the road you travelled
Deut 1:31b

Thursday, April 2, 2009

He Leadeth Me

In recent months we have received many heart-breaking requests for prayers for those who have lost their jobs or are in serious financial difficulty. We carry them all -as well as the countless others who are suffering from the present economic crisis - in our hearts as we come before the Lord daily for the celebration of the liturgy and Eucharistic Adoration.

Reflective Meditation for the unemployed

Father, in those hours when You invite me to come closer to your Son, Jesus - who was despised, the most abject of men, and yet a Man whose vision was filled with the light of the invisible - help me during these weeks and maybe months of unemployment to look into Your eyes and see nothing but love and kindness, nothing but a desire to stretch me beyond myself into the arms of my Lord and God.

Lead, Lead kindly Light beyond this seemingly impenetrable darkness where things no longer make sense, and ends do not meet - where all that is left are long rows of men and women seeking and longing for employment.

You call to me to leave the pots of gold—the god and goddesses of my own creating. You say: “leave them there – do not look back at them—do not fear, am I not greater than many riches? And I will fill the void in My own way—in My own time. It is for you to be still, to trust blindly in My power to lead you on to a deeper trust and hope. You are anxious and I understand, you have a wife and little ones to feed, but give me yourself—all that you hold dear and ultimately you can be sure that I will see that all is well again”.

Father, through my tears, through my sweat and weakness and the pain in which I find myself I say YES to your will for me, Father; no longer do I want to hold the helm of my life - TOTUS TUUS now and forever more. Lead Thou me on.

And yet Father what do you say to me—nothing? everything?
“Little one I thank you for giving Me your trust, it shall not be betrayed in time or in eternity. May My peace and joy be yours”.

Father I know no greater peace and joy than this glad and full surrender of all that is mine - this touching of Your life with mine—

Lead thou me on.
I do not ask to see the distant scene
One step enough for me.