Monday, January 28, 2013

Vocation Weekends 2013

Single young women attracted to our Dominican Contemplative way of life are very welcome to attend any of the following vocation weekends in 2103
15 - 17 February
8 - 10 March
26 - 28 April
17 - 19 May
13 - 15 September
25 - 27 October
or at other times by arrangement
Please contact Sr Mairead OP
Monastery of St Catherine of Siena
The Twenties, Drogheda, Co Louth


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Feast of the Baptism of the Lord


For the past 6 weeks we have been reflecting on the coming among us of the Son of God – the Word was made flesh and pitched his tent among us (Jn1)  The Eternal Word of the God took on our human nature in all its beauty and frailty - sin excepted – in Mary’s womb and was born as a baby.

 Today we meet Jesus, the fully grown man, at prayer after having been baptised by John the Baptist.  John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance – the people who came to him acknowledged their sins and were baptised as a sign of their repentance.  Jesus, the sinless and all holy One, did not need baptism – yet he accepts John’s baptism as a sign of his solidarity with sinful men and women.  This act of humility - of total self-emptying – caused heaven to open and the Holy Spirit to descend and the voice of the Father declares: “You are my Son, the Beloved, my favour rests on you.”  Here we have a great mystery: that at the very moment when Jesus stands in solidarity with sinners the Father should declare him as his beloved Son on whom rests His favour – (and by inclusion all of us) - and we have the revelation of the Holy Trinity.  As St Paul tells us in today second reading: “When the kindness and love of God our saviour for humankind were revealed, it was not because he was concerned with any righteous actions we might have done ourselves; it was for no reason except his own compassion that he saved us by means of the cleansing waters of the Holy Spirit.” (Titus 3:4)

In the waters of the Jordan, Jesus stands in solidarity with sinful humankind while in the waters of Baptism we are incorporated into Him and the voice of the Father addressed to Him is also addressed to each of us: “You are my Son, the Beloved, my favour rests on you.” 

As Jesus experienced the opening of heaven when he had fully embraced the poverty of sinful humanity and was at prayer – so too for us – in prayer we become aware of the depths of our own poverty and wretched sinfulness.  Somehow in direct proportion to our honesty and humility we grow in awareness of God’s great merciful love and of our true identity in Christ – beloved children of God and brothers and sisters of each other and of Jesus our Brother.  When we are really present in the depths of our heart, God cannot resist us for He says through the Prophet Isaiah “My eyes are drawn to the one of humbled and contrite spirit” (Is 66:2)

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

1st January - Solemnity of the Mother of God

As I reflected today on the idea of New Year’s Day, what came to me was an image of a DOOR – something similar to a door opening into a beautiful Castle or an old Country Home or the magnificent Concert Hall in Vienna where the Concert was held this morning viewed on T.V. – a world of wonder, beauty and art at its best.

So starting a New Year is something like that today and in the days ahead. We are opening a door on a whole new world – a world of joys and sorrows, surprises, and disappointments etc.

In the bigger world out there, there are huge Financial problems like the Fiscal Cliff the United States is facing at the moment – here at home in Ireland the aftermath of the Austerity Budget, new taxes, house tax, water tax, car tax increase and insurance also, cuts in children’s allowance and in Carer’s allowance, etc. All very real and very difficult for many or most families. So with all these pre-occupations, it is important that we look at the very deepest part of ourselves as we move into the unknown space of this New Year of 2013.

As I said above, the image that came to me was the door and I thought of that famous and most beautiful picture of Holman Hunt’s' painting of “The Light of the World”. It is the ideal picture to view at the beginning of the year – the time when we are called and invited to open our door, and step forward into a new meeting with Christ.

When this picture was first shown to the public, the Artist’s attention was drawn to a serious flaw. There was no handle on the door. This was very deliberate because it represented the reality. The door is the door of the human heart and there is no handle on the outside. Jesus cannot enter unless I open the door and invite Him in. “I stand at the door and knock and if anyone opens the door I will come in and sit down and share his meal” (Rev.3:20).

The Feast we celebrate today – Mary, the Mother of God, is a great example and model for all of us to open up to the Lord and let Him in. As St. Bernard so beautifully put it in a homily – “Open, O Blessed Virgin, your heart to faith – open your lips to speak – open your bosom to your Maker – Behold the desired of all nations is outside knocking at your Door” and Mary said, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me according to your word”. If only I, and indeed all of us, could imitate Mary and say the same and live it for the coming year.

Because Mary said ‘Yes’ we now have Jesus with us, among us, one of us, as God made man. He is in us at all times to help us each day of 2013, if only we call on Him.

The beautiful lines of Louise Haskins, which many of us are familiar with, says this more beautifully than ever I could:

And I said to the man
who stood at the gate of the year
“Give me a light
that I may tread safely
into the unknown”

And he replied,
“Go out into the darkness and
put your hand into the hand of God.
That will be to you better than light,
And safer than a known way”.

So I went forth
and found the hand of God,
and trod gladly into the light.
He led me toward the hills
And the breaking of the day
in the East.

So heart, be still!
What need our life to know
If God hath comprehension?
In all the dizzy strife of things
both high and low,
God hideth his intention.

We ask Mary, our Mother in one of the Collects for today’s Feast to intercede for us:

Father, source of light in every age,
the virgin conceived and bore your Son
who is called Wonderful God, Prince of peace.
May her prayer, the gift of a mother’s love,
be your people’s joy through all ages.
May her response, born of a humble heart,
draw your Spirit to rest on your people.
Grant this through Christ our Lord.