Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy Christmas


“God made Himself small
so that we could understand Him,
welcome Him and love Him” Pope Benedict XVI
We send all our readers our greetings and best wishes for Christmas and the coming New Year.  Remembering you in our prayer.

Christmas Reflection

“The people that walked in darkness
has seen a great light;
on those who live in a land of deep shadow
a light has shone…….
For there is a child born for us
a son given to us”  (Isaiah Ch 9).

This theme of ‘light dispelling darkness’ is like a silver thread woven into the Advent and Christmas liturgies.  As we look around our world we become aware of a great darkness – a lack of faith and hope as is evidenced by the violence and corruption, poverty and hunger, sickness and suicides – so many people wandering aimlessly searching for happiness which always eludes them.  No doubt we need go no further than our own heart to become aware of the darkness – after all the heart is the battleground between darkness and the light and to the extent that the light triumphs in the hearts of individual men and women there will be light in our world at large.

Tonight we celebrate the breaking onto our world of darkness of a Light which is eternal as we sing at the Day Mass “Today a great light has shone down upon the earth.” The “glory of the Lord” shone around the shepherds when the angel brought them “news of great joy – a joy to be share with all the people”

Our God who is Love and who lives in “inaccessible light” has broken into our world – the Word who is the “radiant light of the God’s glory” (Heb 1:3) has taken on our human nature, sin excepted, and has become a little baby “for us and for our salvation” revealing to us the inner life of God – a life of love beyond all our imagining and we are all invited to participate in this life – a life so totally other from our small, selfish, self-absorbed world - the life which is the light of humankind (cf Jn1:4).  “To all who did accept him he gave power to become children of God” (Jn 1:12)

Pope Benedict reminds us that faith in Jesus is our doorway into this life of communion with God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit and “to enter through this door is to set out on a journey which lasts for a lifetime.”  Each celebration of Christmas is an invitation to expose our hearts ever more fully to the light of God’s love and allow ourselves to be shaped by His transforming grace. (cf Pope Benedict XVI: Porta Fidei).  Our celebration of Christmas ought to be a foretaste of the joy which will be ours when we shall see the Lord face to face, when it will never be night again because the Lord God will be shining on us and we shall live through love in His Presence in endless Day.

Until that day it is our faith which sustains us - faith in God’s Word which assures us that darkness c annot overpower this light (Jn 1:5) which has broken into our world because this light is the fire of love and “Love is a blazing fire, fiercer than any flame which cannot be quenched by any flood.” (cf S of S 8:6,7).

We ask Mary our mother, who was always firm in faith, to intercede for us during this Year of Faith that we may be a people of this light, faithful to her Son that we may bring His life to a waiting world.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

"O Emmanuel ..." - Reflection for 23rd December

O Emmanuel, our King and lawgiver – the nations are waiting for you their Saviour.
Come and save us Lord, our God.

In this final ‘O’ Antiphon we reach the climax when we address our Lord as Emmanuel, a name which means “God – is – with – us”.

In the following quotation from St. Augustine, he expresses what “God – with – us” means for us, in a way I never could:.

“For who is Christ unless that which ‘in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God’? This Word of God ‘became flesh and dwelt among us’: for in himself he was incapable of dying for us, unless he had assumed mortal flesh from us. In this way the immortal one was able to die, in this way he wished to give life to mortals; he would later make them sharers in himself, since he had first shared in what was theirs. For of ourselves we did not have the ability to live, as of himself he did not have the ability to die.

Accordingly he carried out a wonderful transaction with us through our mutual sharing: he died from what was ours, we will live from what is his.”

What joy and hope these words give us – was joy and hope ever so much needed as in our world today? We need a Saviour – the world is crying out for a Saviour whether it knows it or not. So in the words of our Antiphon we cry out with Mary who gave birth to Jesus, our Saviour:

“O Emmanuel, our King and lawgiver – the nations are waiting for you their Saviour. Come and save us Lord, our God”.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

O King - the 22nd December

O King of the nations, and their desire,
the cornerstone who makes both one.

Come and save mankind whom you formed of clay.

Today’s liturgy gives us two possible ways of entering into Mary’s soul. At Mass we heard her beautiful song of faith:

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord
And my spirit exults in God my Saviour” (Lk 1:46)

While the O Antiphon proclaims the poverty, the emptiness, the desire and the waiting, the Magnificat manifests the fullness, fulfilment, joy and thanksgiving for salvation. The Incarnation is God’s answer to the longing of human hearts. But Augustine says: "What does it avail me that this birth is happening, if it does not happen in me?”
“So you must be silent, then God will be born in you, utter his word in you and you shall hear it; but be very sure that if you speak, the word will have to be silent. If you go out He will most surely come in; as much as you go out for him He will come in to you; - no more, no less….

When shall we find and know this birth of God within us?

Only when we concentrate all our faculties within us and direct them all towards God.

Then He will be born in us and make Himself our very own.

He will give Himself to us as our own, more completely our own,  than anything we have ever called our own” (John Tauler).
The Kingdom of God is at hand……

The Kingdom of God is within you …(Lk 17:21)

Be glad, find  joy there, gather together and be present to Him who dwells within, since He is so close to you. Desire Him there, adore Him there and do not go off looking for Him elsewhere.

The Kingdom of God is a home for your soul.

We think of the Kingdom in the same way as the Israelites did. Like them we expect it to be a time of plenty. But the Kingdom comes to us in our poverty as we acknowledge truly and freely that we are sinners, in need of a Saviour and as we pray “Lord have mercy on me – I am a sinner!”

Jesus’ power is the power of grace and grace gives us freedom – freedom not from but for God, for life, - for life directed by the truth. Freedom to be different, more compassionate and understanding. Freedom to be more empty so that we may receive His present, His gracious gift to us which is His own very Presence.

Come Lord Jesus

Come into my emptiness that emptiness may be filled.

Come into my wilderness that the clay may bloom.

Come into my heart that I may live.

O King whom that peoples desire
O come and save us whom you made from clay.

Friday, December 21, 2012

O Rising Sun – 21st December

O Rising Sun, you are the splendour of eternal light and the sun of justice, O come and enlighten those who sit in the darkness and in the shadow of death.

Through the loving mercy of our God the Rising Sun has come to visit us.  Daily the sun rises.  All peoples everywhere, take that for granted.  Very few lie down at night wondering if the dawn will come.  In a world of few certainties and much doubt people are still confident, sure that tomorrow the sun will rise again, there will be a new day.

The Word of God tells us that Christ’s coming is as certain as that dawn.  Are we in fact as certain that He is coming, as we are that in the morning the sun will rise?  Is that the kind of confident hope we give to our world – a word to cheer the hearts of all peoples and disperse the gloomy shades of night?

How do we become people who are absolutely sure of Jesus and who speak about Him with authority and power – a power, a conviction that changes lives.

Today’s ‘O Antiphon’ five lines long, gives us I think a very profound insight and practical help as we grapple with this question.  In these short five lines, six Scripture passages are quoted.  This prayer is the fruit of someone living deeply with the Word of God and eventually perhaps even unconsciously, returning prayer to God in God’s own Words.  So deeply is his consciousness formed and transformed by God’s Word.

There are so many voices in our world today all clamouring for attention.  People are being formed by the T.V., the internet, the media, advertisements, popular opinion, their own selfish whims – a whole secular culture that has ceased listening to God’s Word and is lost in a labyrinth of confusion, racing this way and that, seeking happiness and meaning where it cannot be found.  So many minds are darkened, lacking vision their judgement is clouded.  They cannot see the light because they are looking in the wrong direction.

Our Antiphon today calls us to be people who look toward the East – that is in the right direction of the coming of Christ, the dayspring, the rising sun who dawns upon us from on high, to give light to those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death.  He is the splendour of Eternal Light, the brightness of God’s glory and the figure of His substance.  He reveals the face of God.  He tells from whence we have come and to where we are going.  He brings clarity.  In His light we see light.  Our faltering steps that have been fumbling about in the darkness, stumbling , are given a spring.  We can march forward in confidence because His Word lights up our way.  We know where we are going and how to get there.  He is the way.

The music of today’s antiphon conveys this so beautifully.  Today’s ‘O Antiphon’ departs from the familiar pattern of the last four days.  Up until now the ‘Veni’ has come from the depths sung on ‘doh, fa, me’, but today our ‘Veni’ has a certitude, a note of triumph, the beginning of jubilation.   It is as if the first rays of the dayspring are already illuminating our eyes.   Today our cry ‘Veni’ is sung on ‘la so’, right after the musical summit of the whole antiphon – this is not a tentative cry of wishful thinking but the cry from some one who has already seen the light, of one who knows His coming is certain as the dawn.

Mary, our Mother, intercede for us.

Loose the bonds that bind us, lost in sins own blindness.
God’s own light, Jesus our Saviour, may guide us.

"O Key of David" - Reflection for 20th December

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.

Today we address Christ as “Key”. We are made in the image and likeness of God, but that likeness has been marred by the effects of sin. Christ shows us a man who is the perfect image and likeness of God and so gives us an example to follow. Christ is the key that unlocks our lives and frees us from sin and death. He is the key to our salvation. When we live in Christ, when we put on “the mind of Christ” (1Cor 2:16), then we are made capable of living life as it should be lived, a life in union with God.

But a key only works because of its distinctive shape. We have a tendency to make God in our own image, to ignore the hard sayings: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you” (Jn 6:53 ESV); and “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person.” (Mt 15:19-20 ESV). How many of us pay no attention to this statement of Christ’s, and, for example, slander others. But without these hard sayings the Christ that is left to us is watery and shapeless and no longer the Key of salvation. We must come to know and love the Christ of the Gospels so that he can be the Key that frees us from our captivity to sin.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

"O Root of Jesse" - Reflection for 19th December

O Root of Jesse set up as a sign to the peoples come to save us and delay no more.

This is the third ‘O Antiphon’ during this time of preparation for the Christmas celebration. Four of the seven Antiphons call upon God to ‘come and save us’, whilst the other three call on him to ‘liberate us’, ‘to enlighten us’ and ‘to teach us’.

Today we call upon God to save us and to delay no more – this theme is very prominent in all the liturgy of this season. People through the ages right up to the present day either explicitly or implicitly have called on God to save them – but the marvellous TRUTH is that our loving Father in Heaven wants it infinitely more than we could ever conceive in our finite minds and hearts. So much does he thirst for all peoples to be with him for all eternity, that he sent his only begotten Son into the world to be our Saviour and Redeemer.

In the letter to the Hebrews (10:5-10) we are told: this is what Christ said coming into the world: ‘you took no pleasure in sacrifice for sin – then I said, God, here I am! I am coming to obey your Will’. This is the stupendous and wonderful mystery we will be celebrating in a spirit of deep inner joy in just a few days. The great love of Jesus for his Father continues, and will continue, to the end of time.

The 33 years of Jesus’ earthly life did not suffice. As Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity has expressed it so beautifully and profoundly – ‘From each of us he demands another humanity’ – he says: ‘My child, give me your heart, that in you and through you in a life of union, the Father may be loved ardently – give me your mind, your heart, your hands, your eyes, your whole being, so that I may live a continuation of my life on earth’.

We are called to be his instruments, to give him absolute freedom to act in and through us for the salvation of all people.

How alert, how aware we must be, of his desire to work in and through us,his peace and healing, his compassion, and above all his loving forgiveness to our needy world. To this end, perhaps we could reflect and pray in the words of the well loved Prayer of Blessed John Henry Newman:

Beloved Jesus
help me to spread your fragrance everywhere I go.
Flood my soul with your Spirit and your Life.
Possess and penetrate my whole being so utterly
that all my life may only be a radiance of yours.
Be in me and so shine through me, that every one
I come in contact with, may feel your Presence in my soul;
Let them look up and see no longer me,
but only you, my Jesus.
Abide in me then I shall begin to shine as you shine;
so to shine as to be a light to others.
The light, O Jesus, will be all from you,
none of it will be mine – no merit to me.
It will be you who shine through me on others.
Give light to all those around me as well as to me.
Let me find you shining also in them.
Teach us to show forth your Praise, your Truth, your Will. Amen.
O Root of Jesse, come to save us and delay no more.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

O Adonai - 18th December

Today we address our awaited Saviour as “Adonai and Leader who appeared to Moses in the burning bush and gave him the Law on Sinai” as we implore him to “come and save us with outstretched arm.”

When God appeared to Moses in the burning bush, Moses was not seeking God – he was just going about his daily business, looking after the flock – it was God who took the initiative and broke into Moses’ life – and not just for Moses’ sake but for the sake of the Israelite people who were held in the bondage of slavery in Egypt: “I have seen the misery of my people in Egypt …I am well aware of their sufferings and I have come down to rescue them and bring them out from the clutches of Egypt to a country rich and broad.” (cf Ex 3: 7-8)

It is this same God who takes the initiative with Mary and Joseph – He announces to Joseph in a dream that the child whom Mary is carrying is the Saviour and is to be called ‘Jesus’ because he will save his people from their sins”   He is “Emmanuel” God-with-us – our Saviour whom we await and to whom we cry out in the words of the Roman Missal, pleading with Him to come and deliver us from the bondage of our sin: “Grant, we pray, Almighty God that we who are weighed down from of old by slavery beneath the yoke of sin  may be set free by the newness of the long-awaited birth of your only begotten Son.”

We have only to look into our own hearts and in the world around us to realise how much we are enslaved by sin and the tendency to sin.  We desperately need freedom but unfortunately we often have false perceptions of what true freedom is. 

 In the first Exodus Moses led the Israelites from slavery to freedom so that they could worship God on Mt Sinai.  They were forged into a people in the desert and given a law by which to live.    Jesus our Saviour is the new Moses who leads us from the bondage of sin to the freedom of the children of God; makes us a royal priesthood – united with our High Priest through, with and in Whom we can offer the true worship in spirit and truth.  He does not set us free from afar – He is God-with-us – for Christ is not just a way to follow – “He is the very path we tread through the wilderness, the spiritual spring that quenches our thirst and the bread that nourishes us in his body” (cf Jean Corbon- Path to Freedom).   Like the Israelites of old we too are forged into a new People of God in the Body of the Risen Christ.  He is the path that leads us out of our isolation and self absorption into communion with our sisters and brothers.  As long as we remain locked in our own self-sufficiency we continue being slaves – we only become free to the extent that we open up in communion with others.  “The spontaneity of love is our true autonomy.” (Jean Corbon)

O Adonai and Leader of the house of Israel who appeared to Moses in the burning bush and gave him the law on Sinai, come and save us with your outstretched arm.
See also posts for 18th December 2011, 2010

Monday, December 17, 2012

"O Wisdom" - Reflection for 17th December

It was Kipling who spoke of “waiting and not being tired by waiting”.

The season of Advent is all about WAITING. We wait in expectant hope and prayer all through Advent. But in the final seven or eight days of the season this ardent desire and longing is intensified and deepened as we draw nearer the liturgical celebration of the Birth of Christ.
Yesterday, we began our nine-day novena for the great feast of the Birth of Christ and for the next seven days, beginning today, we accentuate that longing which finds its expression most beautifully in the great Vespers antiphons for the Magnificat, called the “O” Antiphons, because they all begin with “O”. These antiphons will be used each evening before and after the Magnificat, and as the Gospel acclamation at Mass. Repetition helps us keep the antiphon in mind so that we can reflect on it and let it keep reverberating in our hearts.

In a few moments now, we will sing the first “O” antiphon in Latin. “O Sapientia” which translated means

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 to teach us the way of truth.

It is an antiphon almost self explanatory.

O Wisdom which comes out from the mouth of the most High ….

The Wisdom book of the Old testament contains many, many passages in praise of Wisdom : Wisdom proceeding from God,….. as being begotten by Him, …. as the breath of His power. Wisdom is the beloved daughter who, at the beginning of creation, stood before God, assisting in the creation of the visible universe. From the concept of Wisdom there later developed the doctrine of the LOGOS, the WORD in St John’s Gospels (chap. 1 : 1-18) :

“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” We all know the Prologue of St John by heart : “The Word was made flesh, he lived among us, and we saw his glory, the glory that is his as the only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

And in St John, chapter 14, Jesus declares : “ I am the Truth.”

St Paul says : “Christ is the wisdom of God – He is our Wisdom – in Him are contained all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

In John 17, Jesus prays : “Grant that they may know you the only true God and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”

So, in the second half of the “O” antiphon, we cry out from our hearts:
“O come and teach us the truth !”

Teach us about Jesus, the Word and Wisdom of God, and how to live with the spirit of Jesus inspiring our everyday life.

We ask Mary – seat of Wisdom – and Mother of the Word incarnate, to put into our hearts in this Wisdom.

Veni - Come !
Teach us Wisdom,
Teach us LOVE.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Reflection on the Readings for the 3rd Sunday of Advent

One cannot miss the sheer explosion of joy in today’s liturgy especially in the first and second Mass Readings.

‘Shout for joy daughter of Sion,
Rejoice exult with all your heart.
The Lord your God is in your midst -
he will exult for joy over you. He will
renew you by his love’. Zeph.3

This is the real Good News, coming at a timely moment when dark clouds are hovering over our country.

‘Even though the rain hides the stars,
Even though the mist swirls the hills,
Even when clouds veil the sky
God is by my side’.
(The Cloud’s Veil – Liam Lawton)

Yes, indeed, not just our poets but the Word of God tells us ‘fear not little flock, you are worth more than hundreds of sparrows, it has pleased my Father to give you the Kingdom’ Lk.12

And the wonder is that through the grace of Baptism, we have him not ‘just in our midst’ but actually dwelling within us. Jesus pleads with us ‘make your home in me as I make mine in you’. Jn.15 This abiding in Jesus is a cry from the depths of his heart because he knows that this abiding is the source of everything. It is a call to enter into the innermost life of the Trinity – into the ‘ocean of peace’ as St. Catherine called him, where nothing can disturb us, nothing frighten us, no one can rob us of our joy.

“We can please him best of all by wisely and truly believing this truth of our relationship with him and rejoicing with him and in him. For as truly as we shall be in the bliss of God without end praising and thanking him, so truly have we been in God’s pre-vision, loved and known in his endless purpose from without beginning. In this love without beginning he created us, and in the same love he protects us, and never allows us to be hurt, by which our bliss might be decreased. And therefore, when the judgement is given, and we are all brought up above, we shall then clearly see in God the mysteries which are now hidden from us. And then shall none of us be moved to say in any matter, ‘Lord, if it had been so, it would have been well’. But we shall all say with one voice: ‘Lord, blessed may you be, because it is so, it is well; and now we see truly that everything is done as it was ordained by you before anything was made”. (Bl.Julian of Norwich 85).

No wonder Paul could write to the Philippians: ‘Friends, I want you to be happy, always happy in the Lord. I repeat what I want is your happiness’. Phil.4

Come Lord, and do not delay.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

2nd Sunday of Advent


“The Lord has done great things for us
We are filled with joy” (Psalm 125)

By directing our attention away from ourselves to focus instead on what God has done and is doing in the Church and in each of our lives, today’s Mass readings provide a wonderful message of hope:

 It is the Holy One who ‘remembers’ us and comes to us in the wilderness of our lives and  makes us ‘jubilant’ as He came of old to the Israelites in their exile and as he came to John in the wilderness.  So it is in the wilderness of our lives - with it pain and heart break, its anxieties and preoccupations - that we hear the Word of the Lord inviting us to repent of our sinful and all too human outlook and to prepare  a way for His coming. 

 In the first reading the prophet Baruch invites us to take off the “dress of sorrow and distress” – whatever enslaves us -  and “put on the beauty of the glory of God and to wrap the cloak of the integrity of God around us.”  For us Christians we know that the 'cloak of integrity' is nothing other than our being “in Christ” through our Baptism. In Christ Jesus we are all “sons of God through faith - when we were baptised we were clothed with Christ” (Gal 3:26,27) who has become “our wisdom, our virtue, our holiness and our freedom” (1Cor 1:30).  Each of us can say “it is not I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”(Gal 2:10).

 In the second reading St Paul suggests that it is our mutual love for each other which helps us become “pure and blameless for the Day of the Lord when we reach the perfect goodness which Jesus Christ produces in us for the glory and praise of God.”   It is not so much a matter of our own effort – rather it is all the work of God within us – our part is to believe and trust that His power is at work in our lives and can achieve more than we can ever ask for or imagine but we need to give Him a free hand.

I often reflect on how disappointed I’ll be when I meet the Lord face to face and come to realise that not only has He been walking at my side but has been the very source of life and all too  often I do not recognise Him.  Advent is a time to renew our attentiveness to His abiding presence in our lives, to hear Him say: “behold I stand at the door and knock” waiting for our response to open and invite Him in.

 As we journey through this advent of 2012 we pray that God may guide us as He guided Israel “in joy by the light of His glory with His mercy and integrity for escort.” (Bar 5:9) and may the valleys of our hearts be filled and the mountains laid low and the winding ways be straightened and the rough roads made smooth so that through us the salvation of our God may become more manifest to a broken and thirsting world.  (cf Lk 3)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Good News of Profession in New Year

We are very happy to announce that Sr M Cathy will make first Profession early in the New Year.

The following is a reflection given at our community meeting at which she was accepted for first Profession.

It is a happy co-incidence that we have gathered to vote on accepting you, Sr M Cathy, for profession, on the eve of the beautiful feast of Christ the Universal King during this special Year of Faith as we continue our novena of years to the 800th anniversary of the Order in 1216.  The coming year beginning on the first Sunday of Advent is dedicated to ‘Mary: Contemplation and Preaching the Word’ – ‘Do unto me according to your Word’ – a very fitting theme for the year when you will make your profession.

Pope Benedict continually reminds us that faith is neither a philosophy of life, nor a moral code nor a set of dogmas to be believed.  Rather faith is a dynamic and life-giving encounter with the living God - the Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit – who invites us into a relationship with Him.  The Son of God, the Word, through Whom we and all creation have come into existence, has come among us in the Person of Jesus Christ – He has revealed the Father to us and continues to walk with us through the wilderness of this life as we journey to our homeland in heaven – ‘Lo, I am with you always’.  “Faith is a personal encounter with Jesus Christ, making oneself his disciple.”

Religious Profession is basically an act of radical faith in the One who invites us to intimacy with Himself – it is like signing a blank cheque with all the risks which this involves.  We do not know what lies in the future but we can be certain that the One who calls us is always faithful and will not allow us to be tempted beyond our strength.  We can be certain that He will be at our side and provide for all our needs as the refrain to Psalm 22 says: ‘His goodness shall follow me always – to the end of my days.’

In proclaiming the Year of Faith, Benedict XVI wrote that: “we enter the ‘door of faith’ when the ‘heart allows itself to be shaped and transformed by grace.” And again he says: “To enter through that door is to set out on a journey that lasts a lifetime” – a journey which begins at Baptism and continues until we at last find rest in the heart of the Trinity.  This journey of faith leads us through the wilderness of this life to the joys of heaven; it is a journey from slavery to sin and selfishness to the freedom of the children of God.  Through our profession we freely commit ourselves to take on a way of life according to our Constitutions – to an outsider this may appear that we are taking on burdensome rules and regulations but we know that if we respond generously and faithfully while lovingly keeping our gaze fixed on the One “who loves us and has washed away our sins with his blood” (Rev 1:6) we are setting out on a path to true freedom. 

In his homily at the shrine of Loreto before the opening of the Year of Faith Pope Benedict spoke about this true liberty in relation to Mary's complete ‘yes’ to her God:

“As we contemplate Mary we must ask if we too wish to be open to the Lord, if we wish to offer our life as his dwelling place; or if we are afraid that the presence of God may somehow place limits on our freedom, or if we wish to set aside a part of our life in such a way that it belongs only to us.  Yet it is precisely God who liberates our liberty, he frees it from being closed in on itself, from the thirst for power, possessions, and dominations; he opens it up to the dimension which completely fulfils it: the gift of self, of love which in turn becomes service and sharing.” (4th Oct 12)

The heart of our contemplative life is to bear witness to the reality of God; to be present to the Presence; listening to the voice of the Beloved (all who are on the side of truth listen to my voice – Gospel tomorrow – Jh 18); allowing ourselves to be transformed into Christ, sharing in his priesthood (second reading) as He takes us into himself and offers us to the Father for the salvation of the world.

To quote Pope Benedict again:
“Faith commits every one of us to become a living sign of the presence of the Risen Lord in the world. What the world is in particular need of today is the credible witness of people enlightened in mind and heart by the word of the lord, and capable of opening the hearts and minds of many to the desire for God and for true life, life without end.” (PF 15)
The Greek word for witness is the same as that for martyr.  We may or may not ever suffer personally for our love of Jesus Christ but we’re all called to be witnesses – we are all called to martyrdom.

Let us all join with Sr M Cathy in preparing for her Profession day by renewing our own fidelity to our contemplative way of life during the coming weeks.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

First Sunday of Advent

‘Watch yourselves or your hearts will be coarsened with debauchery and drunkenness and the cares of life and that day will spring on you like a trap.’Lk 21:34

Debauchery drunkenness and the cares of life- all placed together in one sentence by Jesus, all presented to us by him as being equally destructive, coarsening our hearts and preventing us from being aware of, and ready for, his coming, his many comings through out each day and consequently unprepared for his final coming.

There we have it---the cares of life are placed right alongside drunkenness and debauchery ---and with no escaping it as it comes straight from our Lord’s own lips. Do we really take this seriously enough or have our hearts indeed become coarsened, dulled and insensitive to the delicacy of our loved One’s touch so that we are no longer even conscious of the subtle movements of grace, the voice of the spirit calling us gently to deeper union and greater self giving. It is so easy to become comfortable with my selfishness, to allow my petty self concern pass unnoticed, to be untroubled by the negative movements of my own spirit- nothing as glaringly obvious as drunkenness and debauchery- but perhaps more insidious and dangerous because more easily overlooked or excused.

What are the cares of life? Are they not the thoughts and actions that draw our hearts away from Jesus? What preoccupies me? What thoughts are running round in my head when I stop and become aware of myself? In the past hour where have I been? Where does my mind go when it is not occupied with the task in hand?  Is even the task in hand perhaps a care of life?. Something necessary, yes, and perhaps even noble in its self but how much honesty and integrity do I bring to it? Have I invested more care, more time more energy in it that is needful? And to what end, for what reason- to impress, to make myself acceptable to God, to others, to justify myself, to keep in control. Have I been too concerned about its success because any hint of failure makes me feel vulnerable? And so it goes on….

Then there are the good things….our concern for one another; our anxiety for the sick; our worry over those hurting; our heartache over the Church and the world? Can these also become the cares of life? Are there not times when our anxiety exhausts us, numbing us, preventing us concentrating, preventing us praying. Can we not become fixated on our worries, responding with an intensity and distress to life’s dramas big and small, within and outside ourselves that perhaps stems from a lack of trust in God’s loving care for us and his mercy for our world?

As we journey through this Advent, it can be different. God’s word is alive and active, offering liberation. ‘Our liberation is at hand’. That seems to imply that we do not ourselves set our hearts free- Freedom is given to us. Liberation comes to us and it comes in the moment when we realise our need for it and humbly acknowledge our helplessness.

That is why we are told to watch ourselves. The ancient monastic practise of vigilance makes it possible for our thoughts to tell us where our hearts are, our anxieties to tell us where our trust truly is.

These things that menace us, that bewilder us both within ourselves and outside ourselves can become moments wherein the Son of Man reveals his power and his glory.

Stand erect hold your heads high for the Lord, your liberator, is your integrity.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Feast of Christ the King

From all eternity , O Lord, you are Ps.92.

Our Responsorial Psalm in today’s Liturgy gives us an insight into the depth and origin – although He has no origin – of this Person, this One in Three, whom we call our God, our King – the one St. Teresa of Avila, affectionately addressed as “Your Majesty”-. “The world you made firm from of old – yes, from all eternity, you are’.

During the past week, a few other passages from our daily Scripture, helped me to fathom a little deeper this line: ‘From all eternity, O Lord, you are’.

Amos, the prophet, tells us:
‘He it was who formed the mountains, created the wind –
he made the Pleiades and Orion,
and turns the dusk to dawn and the day to darkest night.
He has built his high place in the heavens,
and supported his vault on the earth. Amos 4:5,9.

And this is only a brief glimpse into the mystery and wonder of it all.

We have only to read what our Scientists tell about the origins of our mountains and streams, our stars and planets, created billions of years ago – our minds boggle at the whole geographic scene, and yet this same mighty God is He who comes to us in a wafer of bread, and a drop of wine – his Body and Blood consecrated by the Priest at every Mass. As Cardinal John Henry Newman prayed: “You are now, though in Heaven, just the same as you were on earth; the mighty God and yet the little child – the all holy yet all sensitive one” – our Lord and King inviting us into His Kingdom. Only by faith can we even dimly comprehend this mystery – this love story.

‘Jesus, my King, whom I look at shrouded here below,
I beseech you send me what I long for so,
Some day to gaze on you face to face in light,
And be blest forever with your glory’s sight.
St. Thomas Aquinas O.P.

And now, your Majesty, I make one last prayer in the words of Jesus, your Son:

"Father, I want these you have given me to be with me where I am – so that they may always see the glory you have given me because you loved me before the foundations of the world" Jn:24.17.

Yes, indeed Father, may your Kingdom come to every one of your children.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Meeting of the International Commission of Dominican Nuns


Our community was privileged to host the annual meeting of the International Commission of Dominican Nuns from the 6th to the 13th October 2012.

The International Commission comprises eleven nuns who represent the eleven 'regions' into which the Domincan Nuns are divided.  They meet each year with the promoter for the nuns - presently Fr Brian Pierce OP hold this position.  The commission cannot legislate for the nuns but they are an important organ of communication between the Master of the Order and the nuns and also foster communication among the nuns themselves. 

It was a great joy for us to welcome these sisters, some of whom came from as far away as the Phillipines, South Africa, Peru, Mexico and USA while others came from countries nearer home - Italy, Czech Republic, Spain and Switzerland.  Fr Pablo Condrac OP joined them for a few days. All the meetings are conducted in English/Spanish - this year a Lay Dominican, Monica Maher who works in South America did the necessary translation from Spanish to English and English to Spanish.  The Eucharist, Lauds and Vespers were celebrated in Spanish on two days during the week. 

The members of the commission work very hard during this annual meeting but this did  not prevent them from joining our community on two evenings for the evening meal and recreation in our community room.  Mid week they took a day off and visited Glendalough - a few of our community accompanied them - unfortunately it was the one day that week which rained all day!! Later in the day we visited the Dominican Sisters in Wicklow who warmly welcomed us and told us about their work in the ecology centre. On our return jouney we joined our Domincan brothers in St Saviour's Priory for Vespers and supper where again we received a very warm welcome.

One of the highlights of the week was a cultural evening of song and dance - our photos do not fully capture the atmosphere of joy which pervaded our time together - however, we share them with you in order to give a little glimpseof what was a very happy and joyful evening.









Visit to Glendalough



Reflection on the Gospel - 31st Sunday of Ordinary Time

In today’s Gospel, we see an anxious Scribe asking Jesus, ‘which is the first of all the commandments?’ Jesus replied. ‘This is the first: Listen, Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord, and you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength’ – heart –soul – mind, strength, these are extremely strong words; if we stop to ponder them deeply, each contains a great depth of meaning, a call to give our love totally to God with every fibre of our being. Most of us are familiar with these words of Jesus. For myself, it is loving God with all my heart and soul and strength, that has always struck me forcibly, but reflecting anew on this Gospel text, it was the word ‘mind’ which drew my attention today.
What does it mean to love God with all my mind? At first sight it sounds very intellectual and even calculating, though we do speak of a person having a beautiful mind, or of someone asking us to be mindful of them in our prayer or in some other way. Our minds are indeed a very precious gift from God.

But it is the heart which is known world-wide as a symbol of love - we hear people say ‘I love this or that person with all my heart, but I have never yet heard anyone say, I love you with all my mind, there would surely be a few raised eyebrows, to say the least!

It is interesting to note that the Scribe who asked Jesus this question responded by saying: ‘Well spoken, Master; ……to love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and strength….this is far more important than any holocaust or sacrifice’. He uses the word ‘understanding’ instead of ‘mind’ and this gives us the insight we need to ponder and reflect upon.

St. Paul enlightens us further when in his letter to the Philippians 2;1-6 he says; ‘ If in Christ there is anything to move you, any incentive to love….I appeal to you, make my joy complete by being of single mind, one in love, one in heart and one in mind. Make your own the mind of Christ’, he entreats us, ‘who being in the form of God, did not count equality with God something to be grasped but he emptied himself.’ To be called to make our own the mind of Christ is indeed a profound, even fearful, challenge.

St. Paul throws further light on this call to love God with our minds as well as our hearts ,when in his letter to the Romans 12:1-2 he pleads with us ‘I implore you by God’s mercy to offer your very selves to God – a living sacrifice….the worship offered by mind and heart’. Further on in the same letter he again exhorts us ‘let your minds be re-made and your whole nature thus transformed. Then, and only then, will you be able to discern the will of God and to know what is good, acceptable and perfect’.
For those of us called to the Dominican way of life, our Rule reminds us the first reason for which we are gathered together in community is to live in harmony having one mind and heart in God.

In this year of Faith which our Holy Father Pope Benedict has inaugurated, he says in his Apostolic letter: ‘ever since the start of my ministry as Successor of Peter, I have spoken of the need to rediscover the journey of faith so as to shed ever clearer light on the joy and renewed enthusiasm of the encounter with Christ’… he goes on to say ‘we must rediscover a taste for feeding ourselves on the Word of God…and on the Bread of life. What the world is in particular need of today is the credible witness of people enlightened in mind and heart, by the Word of the Lord, and capable of opening the hearts and minds of many to the desire for God and for true life, life without end’.

Pope Benedict ends his Apostolic letter by inviting us to ‘entrust this time of Grace to the Mother of God, proclaimed ‘blessed because she believed’. (Lk:1.45)

Responding generously to the appeal of Pope Benedict, with the help of God’s ever present Grace, we will truly be responding to today’s Gospel passage i.e. to ‘to love God with every fibre of our being , heart, soul, mind and strength’ as Mary did.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Mission Sunday - 29th Sunday of Year – Year B


The phrase which caught my attention in today’s Mass readings was: “offer his life” – we find it in the first reading – if the servant offers his life all will be well for him.

In the Gospel Jesus speaks about “offering his life as a ransom” and invites his disciples to follow his example.  This attitude of self offering implies a forgetfulness of self and a radical confidence in the One to Whom we surrender – the One who supplies all our needs and who makes up for our limitations and deficiencies.

Perhaps we can better identify with James and John who approached Jesus to ask for secure and prodigious seats in the kingdom.  But Jesus points out that true greatness lies in serving each other in love - emptying ourselves to become slaves.  Surely this is very contrary to our modern mentality! perhaps frightening also? but the Letter to the Hebrews reminds us that we have a high priest, Jesus, who understands our weakness and assures us of mercy and grace when we are in need of help.

 Today on Mission Sunday, as we reflect on our calling and responsibility as Christians to spread the Good News of Jesus, these readings both challenge and encourage us. We do not need to go to far away places in order to be missionary.  We are missionary to the extent that we live our lives in and through Jesus who shares with us his very relationship with the Father in the Spirit. When we freely surrender to the One who has loved us so much that He lay down His life for us and allow Him to use us as He wishes we can be confident that He will act in and through us – often without our knowing it – to bring about His kingdom in our world. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Meeting of Dominican Nuns in Krakow

From the 5th to the 10th of September Dominican nuns from the region of Europe which is outside Italy, France and Spain met at a Vincentian retreat centre at Krzeszowice near Krakow.  We came from the monasteries of Poland, Germany, Czech Republic, Vilnius, Oslo, Austria, Switzerland, Portugal (Fatima) and Srs Mairead and Breda from our community in Drogheda.  fr Brian Pierce OP the promoter for the Dominican  nuns was present throughout the meeting.  fr Viktor Hofstetter OP, a former promoter gave some of the conferences and fr Józef Zborzil, Promotor of the Nuns in Poland, fr Krzysztof Popławski, the Polish Provincial were present as invited guests and for the last two days we were privileged to have fr Bruno Cadoré, the Master of the Order with us - we greatly appreciated the fact that fr Bruno interrupted his work in S Sabina, Rome in order to come to share these days with us.

This is the third such meeting in recent years - the first being in Prague in 2005 and the second in Sthrhlfeld, Germany in 2008. Our biggest problem in this region is the language barrier but we had an excellent group of Dominican brothers and sisters who provided us with simultaneous translation.  One sister suggested that we spoke four languages - Polish, English, German and the language of the heart!  The liturgy was celebrated in a different language each day and we ended the day with a silent Eucharistic Hour.

Nodoubt this beautifully refurbished retreat centre was an ideal setting for our meeting - with the possiblity for walks on the grounds and in a nearby wooded park and along a river bank.  Of course the beatiful sunshine and warm weather was an added bonus for us coming from Ireland where we have been waiting for summer since last June but it never arrived!!!
The theme of the meeting was 'Obedience and Freedom'- we were fortunate that all the conferences were in English.  fr Bruno's input was encouraging and inspiring as he presented his vision of the place of the nuns at the heart of the Order - a life centred on the Word of God - a life given for the mission of the Order - to preach and bear witness to the coming down among us of God's Son to the people He loves.
We had discussions in language groups with some plenary sessions as well as informal gatherings during free time. We spoke about how we can care for our elderly sisters and how to provide a good formation for the young women who join us. It is encouraging that while a number of monasteries in our region have closed in recent years others are receiving vocations again after a gap of several years. 
On Saturday evening we were treated to a festive supper followed by song and dance and lots of fun.
After lunch on Sunday we went by bus to the shrine of Divine Mercy and afterwards to the Dominican Priory where we received a most interesting talk about the history of the Domincans in this very house for almost 800 years - we then joined the brothers for Vespers followed by supper. The following morning it was time to say our good-byes promising to keep in contact with each other.



Saturday, September 15, 2012

Congratulations to our Dominican Brothers

Our congratulations, prayers and best wishes to the five men who were accepted into the Order yesterday (September 14th is the feast of the Triumph of the Cross and is also the feast day of the Irish Dominican Province). Also to the two Brothers who made First Profession today. May God continue to bless you all in your formation as Friars Preaachers.

(Images from www.irishdominicanvocations.blogspot.ie)
Br Ronan O Dubhghaill, Br Philip Mulryne, Fr Stephen Hutchinson OP (novice master), Br Jesse Maingot, Br Adam Conroy and Br Matthew Farrell - after the five novices were clothed in the habit of the Dominican Order and began their novitiate in Cork

Fr Gregory Carroll OP (prior provincial), Br Kevin O Reilly OP, Br Murchadh O Madagain OP and Fr Philip McShane OP (outgoing novice master) after the first profession of the two brothers.

With the first profession of our two brothers today and the reception of our five new novices yesterday, the Irish Dominican friars now have 22 in formation at various stages. Please pray for them and those considering joining the Order and the friars who assist them.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary- 8th September

Athough it is a  little late we feel it is worth while offering you this homily preached by our brother Brian Pierce, (promoter of the Dominican nuns) during a regional meeting of Dominican nuns which took place over the past week in Krakow, Poland.  We will be sharing with you some highlights of this meeting in due course.

 Gospel: Mt 1:1-16, 18-23

·        Novels and short stories are two of the most popular kinds of literature. The gospel we have just heard is certainly not a short story!  In fact, it’s a very long novel-like story – one that is still being written and lived today.

·        If we read carefully, we will see that this very loooong story has a colorful list of characters in it.  There’s a lot of brokenness and sin woven through that long list of names … but there is a lot of grace, too.  It is Joseph’s story, but because of God’s mysterious plan, it is also Mary’s story.  And that means it is also our story, too.

·        Today we celebrate Mary’s birth.  But our gospel begins long before her birth. Not even Dostoevsky could write a story with so much drama and mystery and passion and pain – and love!

·        God’s story is a profound story.  Hundreds of years, thousands of years flowed into a single moment in history: the boy named Joseph grew up to be a man who met the lovely girl named Mary.  God was so patient, so creative.  So many people played a part in this love story.  Abraham married Sarah. Boaz – the son of Rahab – married the Moabite woman, Ruth.  And Ruth – not even an Israelite – became the great-grandmother of King David!  What a story!  What a mystery!  It’s Joseph and Mary’s story, and Jesus’ story.

·        And it is our story, too!  Do we realize what that means?  Do we realize that God has guided this whole journey with love and mercy and forgiveness and grace?  Do we realize that God knew us before we were born?  Are we aware of that river of grace and love that flows through us, that molds us and transforms us?

·        As the Psalmist sings:  “Lord, I praise you, so wonderfully you made me; wonderful are your works! … When I was being made in secret, fashioned in the depths of the earth, your eyes foresaw my actions … my days were shaped, before one came to be.  How precious to me are your designs, O God; how vast the sum of them (139: 13-17)!

·        God is not in a hurry.  It’s a long story, and we’ve been invited to be part of it, to walk and to dream, to laugh and to have doubts, to love and be forgiven. 

·        We will make mistakes – just like they did.  Just like King David did.  We will be confused – just like Joseph was.  But we will also say “yes.”  We will have moments of clarity and trust and we will say, “Here I am, Lord.  Send me.”

·        God is in no hurry.  Grace is like a good cup of tea.  It needs time to steep.  It takes many days and years and generations for God to tell his story.  

·        Today we celebrate Mary’s birth.  Holy Mary.  St. Mary.  She was once a little baby – but that was a long time ago.  When she was born, she had no idea what life would bring.  None of us do.  All we are asked to do is let God write the story into our hearts and minds and into our hands and our feet.  Where the story will take us we do not know.  Our task is to say “yes” and keep on walking.  Mary said “yes.”  And Joseph – after a very long and dark night of tears and struggle – also said “yes”.  And Dominic said “yes”.

·         And now it is our turn to say “yes”.  Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us, sinners, now and at the hour of our death.  Amen.