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.