Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Choose Life Prayer

Choose Life: Prayer for the Child in the Womb

Lord Jesus, you are the source and lover of life.
Reawaken in us respect for every human life.

Help us to see in each child the marvellous work of our Creator.
Open our hearts to welcome every child as a unique and wonderful gift.

Guide the work of doctors, nurses and midwives.
May the life of a mother and her baby in the womb be equally cherished and respected.

Help those who make our laws to uphold the uniqueness and sacredness of every human life, from the first moment of conception to natural death.

Give us wisdom and generosity to build a society that cares for all.

Together with Mary, your Mother, in whose womb you took on our human nature, Help us to choose life in every decision we take.

We ask this in the joyful hope of eternal life with you, and in the communion of the Blessed Trinity.

Our Lady of Knock, pray for us.
All the Saints of Ireland, pray for us.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Year of Faith: World Day Celebrating Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life)

Pope Francis' homily at the Mass this morning is excellent - we have taken it from the Vatican web site and share with our readers here: 
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

            This celebration has a very beautiful name: “Evangelium Vitae”, the Gospel of Life. In this Eucharist, in the Year of Faith, let us thank the Lord for the gift of life in all its forms, and at the same time let us proclaim the Gospel of Life.

            On the basis of the word of God which we have heard, I would like to offer you three simple points of meditation for our faith: first, the Bible reveals to us the Living God, the God who is life and the source of life; second, Jesus Christ bestows life and the Holy Spirit maintains us in life; and third, following God’s way leads to life, whereas following idols leads to death.

1. The first reading, taken from the Second Book of Samuel, speaks to us of life and death. King David wants to hide the act of adultery which he committed with the wife of Uriah the Hittite, a soldier in his army. To do so, he gives the order that Uriah be placed on the front lines and so be killed in battle. The Bible shows us the human drama in all its reality: good and evil, passion, sin and its consequences. Whenever we want to assert ourselves, when we become wrapped up in our own selfishness and put ourselves in the place of God, we end up spawning death. King David’s adultery is one example of this. Selfishness leads to lies, as we attempt to deceive ourselves and those around us. But God cannot be deceived. We heard how the prophet says to David: “Why have you done evil in the Lord’s sight? (cf. 2 Sam 12:9). The King is forced to face his deadly deeds; he recognizes them and he begs forgiveness: “I have sinned against the Lord!” (v. 13). The God of mercy, who desires life, then forgives David, restores him to life. The prophet tells him: “The Lord has put away your sin; you shall not die”.

What is the image we have of God? Perhaps he appears to us as a severe judge, as someone who curtails our freedom and the way we live our lives. But the Scriptures everywhere tell us that God is the Living One, the one who bestows life and points the way to fullness of life. I think of the beginning of the Book of Genesis: God fashions man out of the dust of the earth; he breathes in his nostrils the breath of life, and man becomes a living being (cf. 2:7).  God is the source of life; thanks to his breath, man has life. God’s breath sustains the entire journey of our life on earth. I also think of the calling of Moses, where the Lord says that he is the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob, the God of the living. When he sends Moses to Pharaoh to set his people free, he reveals his name: “I am who I am”, the God who enters into our history, sets us free from slavery and death, and brings life to his people because he is the Living One. I also think of the gift of the Ten Commandments: a path God points out to us towards a life which is truly free and fulfilling. The commandments are not a litany of prohibitions, but a great “Yes!”: a yes to God, to Love, to life. Dear friends, our lives are fulfilled in God alone. He is the Living One!

2. Today’s Gospel brings us another step forward. Jesus allows a woman who was a sinner to approach him during a meal in the house of a Pharisee, scandalizing those present. Not only does he let the woman approach but he even forgives her sins, saying: “Her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little” (Lk 7:47). Jesus is the incarnation of the Living God, the one who brings life amid deeds of death, sin, selfishness and self-absorption. Jesus accepts, loves, uplifts, encourages, forgives, restores the ability to walk, gives back life. Throughout the Gospels we see how Jesus by his words and actions brings the transforming life of God. This was the experience of the woman who anointed the feet of the Lord with ointment: she felt understood, loved, and she responded by a gesture of love: she let herself be touched by God’s mercy, she obtained forgiveness and she started a new life.

            This was also the experience of the Apostle Paul, as we heard in the second reading: “The life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20). What is this life? It is God’s own life. And who brings us this life? It is the Holy Spirit, the gift of the risen Christ. The Spirit leads us into the divine life as true children of God, as sons and daughters in the only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Are we open to the Holy Spirit? Do we let ourselves be guided by him? Christians are “spiritual”. This does not mean that we are people who live “in the clouds”, far removed from real life, as if it were some kind of mirage. No! The Christian is someone who thinks and acts in everyday life according to God’s will, someone who allows his or her life to be guided and nourished by the Holy Spirit, to be a full life, a life worthy of true sons and daughters. And this entails realism and fruitfulness. Those who let themselves be led by the Holy Spirit are realists, they know how to survey and assess reality. They are also fruitful; their lives bring new life to birth all around them.

3. God is the Living One; Jesus brings us the life of God; the Holy Spirit gives and keeps us in our new life as true sons and daughters of God. But all too often, people do not choose life, they do not accept the “Gospel of Life” but let themselves be led by ideologies and ways of thinking that block life, that do not respect life, because they are dictated by selfishness, self-interest, profit, power and pleasure, and not by love, by concern for the good of others. It is the eternal dream of wanting to build the city of man without God, without God’s life and love – a new Tower of Babel. It is the idea that rejecting God, the message of Christ, the Gospel of Life, will somehow lead to freedom, to complete human fulfilment. As a result, the Living God is replaced by fleeting human idols which offer the intoxication of a flash of freedom, but in the end bring new forms of slavery and death. The wisdom of the Psalmist says: “The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes” (Ps 19:8).

            Dear brothers and sisters, let us look to God as the God of Life, let us look to his law, to the Gospel message, as the way to freedom and life. The Living God sets us free! Let us say “Yes” to love and not selfishness. Let us say “Yes” to life and not death. Let us say “Yes” to freedom and not enslavement to the many idols of our time. In a word, let us say “Yes” to the God who is love, life and freedom, and who never disappoints (cf. 1 Jn 4:8; Jn 11:2; Jn 8:32). Only faith in the Living God saves us: in the God who in Jesus Christ has given us his own life, and by the gift of the Holy Spirit has enabled us to live as true sons and daughters of God. This faith brings us freedom and happiness. Let us ask Mary, Mother of Life, to help us receive and bear constant witness to the “Gospel of Life”.

Reflection on the Gospel for the 11th Sunday of Ordinary Time

I was deeply struck by the audacity of the woman in today’s Gospel and found myself asking how did she come by such inner freedom? What inner force made it possible for her to act so spontaneously and uninhibitedly?
Perhaps I am way out, but I venture to say this was not her first encounter with Jesus. This is not a chance meeting. She is deliberately going to Simon’s house because Jesus is there and she brings ointment with her because she knows what she wants to do when she gets there. This woman knew who she was going to and was sure of the response she would receive because she had already been a recipient of Jesus love and knew herself to be loved and forgiven.  She knew that Jesus was aware of the purity and sincerity of her love for him. At some time this woman of ill repute, very familiar with all that can masquerade as love and it many caricatures, had recognised the real thing when she encountered it in Jesus and it had changed her. Now she really is in love and knows herself to be loved perhaps for the first time.
A woman whose self image was so poor that she allowed herself to be used to gratify others is suddenly sure of herself and is undaunted in the presence of men who belittle and despise her. This is the power love has. When we know we are loved fear falls away. Instead her sole focus is on Jesus. She has heard he is here at Simon’s house and she arrives complete with ointment with only one thought in mind to minister to her beloved.  With total disregard to how others would react, this would be prostitute interrupts the all male gathering and proceeds to kiss Jesus, wash his feet with her tears, dry them with her hair, and massage the with ointment brought specially with her for that purpose. What has wrought such a transformation? Jesus tells us himself: I tell you, he says to Simon ‘her sins her many sins, must have been forgiven her, or she would not have shown such great love’. Nothing prompts a response of love like the awareness of being forgiven. That is why great sinners often become great saints.
Simon and his companions look on and judge: judge her and judge Jesus. In both cases their judgement is erroneous. Jesus does know what kind of a woman is before him, a repentant sinner who loves him very much. He can read her in a glance as expected of a prophet, but as a true prophet his vision is clear. He sees what actually is. He sees her present not her past. All her gestures may have similarities to her past mode of activity but to Jesus who sees the heart, they are an expression of pure love, a love so overwhelming and so grateful that it needs must express itself extravagantly.
Jesus is utterly comfortable in the presence of such love. He is not embarrassed by it. In fact when he speaks he supports the woman and commends her actions, indicating that he prefers her demonstrativeness to Simon’s propriety which he finds wanting.
Simon on the other hand, because he is blinded by her past and who he thinks she is, is unable or unwilling to see her present. He is wrong about her and perhaps because he is so focused on her and all that is wrong with her, he fails in self-knowledge and Jesus has to confront him with his own behaviour, making him see what his actions are revealing about himself. He had in fact shown very little love and his omissions were supplied by this very woman whom he was condemning.
Jesus turns to the woman and just as her sins have been matter for public knowledge, so now he makes her forgiveness public. What she already knows, he makes known to others, leaving no doubt about her standing in his eyes.
I ask myself
  1. Do I really believe in the transforming power of Jesus love for myself and others
  2. Am I open to seeing that love changing others or do I hold them to their past.
  3. Do I impede or assist this process

Summer Nuns

A few sunny photos from the recent spell of good weather:

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Gospel of Life

· Year of Faith: World Day Celebrating Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life)
Bishops ask the faithful to offer their prayerful support at home and in the parishes of Ireland for an important initiative being led by Pope Francis this weekend in Rome which celebrates the sanctity of human life.
Evangelium vitae (The Gospel of Life) is an encyclical of Blessed Pope Paul John II, published on 25 March 1995, which expresses the teaching of the Catholic Church on the value and inviolability of human life. This weekend in the Vatican 15-16 June Pope Francis will celebrate the encyclical in a special event entitled, ‘Believing, May They Have Life’. This will be a key event for the Year of Faith which the Universal Church is celebrating during 2013. The chosen theme reflects the Church’s commitment to the promotion, respect, and dignity of human life. 
This Saturday 15 June at 8.30pm (Rome time) a silent, candle-lit procession will be held along Rome’s Via della Conciliazone in order to call attention to the theme of human life and its intangible value. It will be supported by pro-life people from around the world and the procession will conclude in Saint Peter’s Square. The following morning Pope Francis will preside at Sunday Mass at 10.30am with the entire ‘people of life’ to address his message and to show his care. 
Statement from the Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference 

Friday, June 14, 2013

An eventful Month

We have had quite an eventful month.
First we had a visit from Cardinal Brady:

Then on the 24th of May Fr Viktor Hoffstetter OP came to preach our annual 8-day Retreat. Immediately after that Sr Barbara Beaumond OP came to give us a week of lectures on the history of the first Dominican Nuns. Below are some photos from our Community celebration with Fr Viktor and Sr Barbara on Corpus Christi Sunday:
with Fr Viktor (left)

with Sr Barbara (right)


Monday, June 10, 2013

Credo Series - 5 to 7

Our brothers' series on the Creed, continued:

This fifth talk looks at the phrase: "and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary and became man."

This sixth talk deals with Christ's crucifixion: "for our sake He was crucified under Pontius Pilate. He suffered death and was buried."

 This seventh talk looks at the Resurrection: "and rose again on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures."

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Credo Video Series - 1 to 4

Our Dominican brothers have prepared a very good series of talks on the Creed. They are well worth watching.

This first talk gives a brief history of the Creed.

This second talks looks at the first article of the creed: "I believe in one God, the Father almighty".

This third talk looks at God as "maker of heaven and earth".

This fourth talk looks at the article on Christ: "I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages. God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father."

Monday, June 3, 2013

Corpus Christi - 2013

Corpus Christi, (Year C) 

‘Jesus made the crowds welcome …

… we are in a lonely place here.’ (Lk (:11-17)

It seems strange to put those words together: to speak of welcome and loneliness almost in the same breath.  JESUS in the midst of it all. 

And so, what can it mean?

Loneliness is a peculiar ‘friend’ – always somewhere on the horizon and sometimes much more nearly present to us.  When  we are small we can be too busy learning and growing to be conscious of it.  But then life begins to settle down … into ‘maturity’ and we discover that we are a mystery to ourselves; that we misunderstand and are in turn misunderstood, and thus we are exposed to this loneliness – never far away and often too too close to bear.

JESUS.  Yesterday was the feast of the Body and Blood of JESUS.  The Feast of thanksgiving to our bounteous Father and His co-eternal Son, for leaving us this gift.  Strange that it should call to mind welcome and loneliness.  JESUS gives Himself to us in a lonely place.  He welcomes us here to loneliness.  Seems strange … what is it that He wants us to see?

In St Matthew’s Gospel, while on the Cross, we read that JESUS ‘yielded up his spirit:’ in the loneliness of the Cross, having surrendered everything to the Father in love, He even had to give up, surrender His very breath, the Holy Spirit – so that it might be ours.

We are never alone.  Loneliness after all is a divine gift that we are invited to welcome.  What happens when we cannot?  It seems as though the consequences are potentially destructive.  By denying or trying to run away from this reality, I cut myself off from others; I become isolated; I become the centre of my own existence and there ceases to be any space in me to welcome others; my thoughts torment me and deceive me into believing that nobody knows me, nobody cares, nobody understands.  What happens?  I persuade myself that nobody experiences this emptiness that is at the core of my being .. this is a lonely place .. and now … I have become alone in it. I cannot face the loneliness, cannot accept it, but .. neither can I fill it – no matter how hard I try.

But JESUS wants us to see that here in this ‘lonely place’ He has preceded us; it is a place where He is … waiting to feed us with His very flesh and blood … welcoming us to be here.  We are not alone.  There is One who knows us intimately; knows how fearful a place this is, because we cannot see Him. … But.  … is it a fearful place?  Maybe after all, … it is a place of purity – a place of truth.  If JESUS is already there before us, waiting there to welcome us … and JESUS is Love … then this ‘lonely place’ is a place of love … and unconditional acceptance.

The feast of the Body and Blood of JESUS:  JESUS is our very life: it cost Him His own life and breath that you might truly and freely live; truly and freely love.  Do not be afraid.  Every time you come to Him to receive the gift of His life and His love in the Eucharist – then: every time .. He reaches and touches that loneliness within you, gently speaking to your heart:

‘I know you;

I love you;

Let me walk with you;

I am only longing to show you the way;

My precious, most beloved child …

Do not be afraid.’

St Thomas wrote of this Blessed Sacrament that ‘it was the greatest of the miracles he worked; and he left it as a unique consolation to those who were desolate at his departure.’  Remember in your moments of loneliness and desolation to come to Him here, and feast on His life, who is our strength and our song.