Saturday, December 24, 2016

Happy Christmas

We wish all our readers a grace-filled and peaceful Christmas and we share with you  a Christmas reflection:

Christmas Eve Reflection during Vespers
The theme of my reflection, on this Christmas Eve night, is ‘ Peace’. Conscious of the lack of peace in Syria, Iraq, Africa,  the Holy Land and in various other countries of the world and bearing in mind especially the lack of inner peace in ourselves at times  and so prevalent in people in general, I was led to ponder the title given to Jesus before his birth, that of Prince of Peace,  in the book of the prophet Isaiah, which will be read tonight at Mass:

            For there is a child born for us,
            a son given to us
            and dominion is laid on his shoulders;
            and this is the name they give him:
            Wonder – Counsellor, Mighty –God,
            Eternal- Father, Prince-of –Peace.
            Wide is his dominion
            In a peace that has no end.( Is. 9 )

We long so much for this peace that ‘has no end’. We long for it for ourselves, our families, our communities, our friends and for the world at large. We want Isaiah’s prophecy, which says;
            For all the footgear of battle,
            every cloak rolled in blood,
            is burnt,
            and consumed by fire

- we want that to be realised now, without further delay. The Gospel tonight further reinforces this message of peace when it says:

            And  suddenly with the angel there was a great throng of the heavenly host,
            praising God and singing:

 ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace to
                        men who enjoy his favour’

This theme of peace abounds everywhere in the Liturgy tonight and tomorrow. In the entrance antiphon, Jesus is personified as peace itself as it says:

            ‘ True peace has come down to us  from heaven’

On the very first weekday of Advent, and on all Mondays in Advent, I was very struck by the post communion prayer, again referring to peace; it said:

“Come, O Lord, visit us in peace, that we may rejoice before you with a blameless heart.”

In all these quotes humanity and God are linked together because peace is a gift bestowed on us by God  the Father, through and in his son Jesus Christ

The truth of Isaiah’s words come to mind:

     You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.
     Trust in the Lord for ever for the Lord God is an everlasting rock. ( Is.26)

This is really  to say that our peace, our inner peace is dependent on our relationship of trust in God. Peace is the fulfilment of our deepest needs. It is the fruit of a personal relationship with the Eternal. We are not alone. God, gentle and humble, is with us, watching over us and guiding us. As we learn to  relax and trust in love we become free of the walls and barriers that imprison us in fear, prejudice, hostility and guilt. We are filled with a new joy, a new life, the very life of love.

Sometimes when I feel my own inner  peace is disturbed I remind the Lord of his promise in St. John’s Gospel, when he says:

            Peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I give you.
            A peace the world cannot give, this is my gift to you.

In speaking about peace St. Thomas quotes St. Augustine in defining peace as the tranquillity of order. Peace consists in the calm and union of our desires and is twofold in that there is perfect peace and imperfect peace.

Perfect peace, he says, consists in the perfect enjoyment of God which causes all our desires and tendencies to be united and at rest in one. This perfect peace is only possible in Heaven.

Imperfect peace, on the other hand, is the peace  which we can have in this world. It is imperfect because, even though the soul’s principal movement is to rest in God, there still remain certain obstacles, both within and without, which disturb the soul’s peace. St. Thomas goes on to say that peace is the effect of charity since charity means that we love God with our whole heart by referring everything to him, all our desires become focused on loving God in Himself and we know that love is always a unifying force.

I have come to understand that ‘the peace which God gives is not a freedom from the storms and conflicts of life, but a mysterious strength and comfort amid the storms; not the removal of pain, but the bestowal of a precious gift. The gift is God himself, the comforter, the one who stands alongside us. However, receiving God’s peace is not automatic; it requires the work of faith.

Also peace is not just the work of governments or armies or diplomats but the task of each one of us. We can all become makers of peace. Peace  must begin with myself, within my own heart and from there radiate outwards. This is in fact possible because tonight we celebrate what God, in his infinite love for us, has done by sending Jesus, the Prince of Peace, to dwell among us and in our hearts, as the teacher and bestower of peace.

 The kingdom of God is within us but there, it has to grow and spread. In that process we may experience the apocalyptic chaos and disruption and the Messianic peace and harmony – and everything in between! Our lion may have to learn to  lie down with our lamb! And then after coping with my own lion what about coping with the lions in everyone else around me!?

 The following medieval verses recognised this inner world and the transformation Christ’s coming brings:

            You shall know him when he comes
            Not by any din of drums,
            Not by anything he wears,
            Nor by the vantage of his airs;
                        Not by his gown,
                        Nor by his crown,
            But his coming known shall be
            By the holy harmony
            That his presence makes in thee.

May all of us experience this holy harmony, this peace, fruit of the Holy Spirit, and true effect of charity, gift of God to be received by faith, as we celebrate  with thanksgiving the great mystery of Christ’s incarnation, of his coming among us and within us, as the Prince of  Peace. Amen

Thursday, December 22, 2016

O King - 22nd December

“O King,
whom all the peoples desire,
you are the cornerstone which makes all one.
O come, and save man
whom you made from clay.”

In today’s antiphon we address Christ as “King” the desire of “all the peoples.” Reflecting on this Antiphon, I wonder to what extent Christ is truly “king”  in my life. Is he “the cornerstone” of all I do and say?
Do my thoughts and decisions take account of his will for me at this moment, even if only by, as Frank Duff advises, glancing towards him and asking internally “what do you want me to do?” before making decisions.

This kingship in an individual’s life is very important because we are all members of the mystical body of Christ. Just as the holiness of one member benefits other members and the whole Church (CCC 1474-5), so also Christ’s kingship in my life is of benefit to and helps the growth of his universal kinship for the salvation of all human beings.

May God grant each of us the grace to welcome him this Christmas as “King”  and “cornerstone”  of our lives.

22nd December - 800th Anniversary of the Approval of our Order

Today we unite with all our Dominican brothers and sisters throughout the world in giving thanks for the life and example of our holy father, Dominic and for all his followers over the past 800 years.

On the 22nd December 1216 he obtained Papal approval for his vision of an Order of Preachers. May we his sons and daughters continue to bring the love, light, joy and hope of Christ to the people of our times.

More information on Order of Preacher and 800th Jubilee can be found here

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

O Rising Sun - 21st December 2016

O Rising Sun, you are the splendour of Eternal Light and the Sun of Justice.
O Come and enlighten those who sit in darkness; those who dwell in the shadow of death, Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus, come.

As I read this very beautiful O Antiphon, a memory comes to mind of long summer evenings spent in the high field – the moinin ard as we called it – sitting under a haystack just watching the breathtaking sight of the sun going down beyond the woods and bog lands of our farm in the West.

The silence was full, deep and quiet, except for the little birds on their way home to roost and the friendly crickets close by.  But as the last lights faded what a mystery it was to my child’s mind!
Where, oh where had the sun gone?!

No grown up’s explanations prepared me for what was always a fresh experience of another rising sun as it streamed through the trees – right into my room the next morning.  The chorus of birds as they flew again to the cornfields and the grass glittering with dew drops and diamonds to me.  Even then this scene had power to thrill me with anticipation of something I knew not what! - was it a foretaste of another Rising Sun still unknown to me?

What or who is this ‘Splendour of Eternal Light’ coming to enlighten those of us who sit in darkness – lost in our own little worlds?  It is the Lord Himself, majestic and glorious “wrapped in light as in a robe.”

Come then my Lord, my God, teach me where and how to find you – you who dwell in light inaccessible and I desire to come close to you, to be warmed by you.  Oh Fire of Love, I beg you, “lead kindly light amid the encircling gloom ...lead thou me on.” (Newman)

You are a Living Flame, always burning with love for me, for every person in the world.

Enter into us this Advent-tide and set our hearts on fire with love for you.  What is it that inspires you with such love for us - your poor children? What draws you to us?

In a few days time you will be born in a poor stable warmed only by your mother's loving care - just what draws you to us? – love is the answer.  Love alone impels you to come once again this Christmas night – not as I tasted you in your glory as a child, but as a tiny Babe – Oh you our Tremendous Lover – Maranatha.

The King shall come when morning dawns
And light triumphant breaks,
When beauty gilds the eastern hills
And life to joy awakes.

O brighter than the glorious morn
Shall this fair morning be,
When Christ our king in beauty comes
And we his face shall see.

The King shall come when morning dawns
And light and beauty brings,
Lord Jesus Christ, your people pray,

Come quickly, King of kings.  (John Brownlie)

O Key of David - 20th December 2016

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 and lead the captive from prison; free those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.

This ‘O Antiphon’ that the Church sings this evening at the Magnificat, has its roots like all the other Antiphons in sacred scripture, in this case in Isaiah chapter 22 and in Luke chapter I.

Our Lord is addressed as Key of David – Jesus is Son of David through his foster father, St Joseph, who was of the house of David.  David was the most beloved and important King in Israel’s history – “a man after the Lord’s own heart” as it says in the Acts of the Apostles.  So Jesus in his human ancestry is truly one of us as he is truly Son of God in his divine nature “conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary by the Holy spirit. (Mt Ch 1)

A key is an indispensable instrument for opening and closing a door, so it is a very appropriate symbol with which to address our awaited Saviour. The Babe of Bethlehem, whom we await, did not die because he was born but He was born in order to die – the Crib and the Cross are closely associated.  By His obedience in suffering His Passion, death and Resurrection, Jesus opened the gates of heaven for the whole human race which our first parents had closed by their disobedience.  There is a lovely Icon called ‘the harrowing of hell’ where Jesus on Holy Saturday is seen in His descent into hell and taking  both Adam and Eve by the hand raised them up to come with Him into His Father’s House and all their posterity after them.

After that liberation is there any prison, darkness or death from which Jesus cannot free us? Yet we need another key – the key of faith which we receive at our Baptism to help us lay hold of the blessings Jesus is offering.  We join Bartimaeus, the blind man, at the side of the road, who, when he heard that Jesus, the Nazarene, was passing by, cried out: ‘Jesus, Son of David have  pity on me (cf Lk Ch 18).  We do it, not only in our own name but in the name of all who are captive in any way, in darkness and the shadow of death.  May we too, hear Jesus’ response: “Receive your sight, your faith has saved you.”

Monday, December 19, 2016

O Root of Jesse - 19th December

Today, we pray the third of the seven ‘O Antiphons’ leading up to the celebration of the fathomless mystery of the birth of Jesus among us over 2000 years ago:

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

On the first of these seven days, the Church placed on our lips, the plea ‘come and teach us the way of truth’ – on the second day we are called upon to plead ‘come and save us with your outstretched arm (a truly beautiful concept ),  and now today, with still four more days to  go before Christmas Eve,  we are called to  echo the longing of the peoples over the ages, who suffered such anguish in their waiting for the Messiah – yes, we are called to this insistent prayer – ‘come and save us and delay no more.

This longing of the ages is expressed so well in one of the Advent hymns:

‘Long the ages rolled and slowly to the coming of the Word. 
 Fervent longings grew more fervent, undismayed by hopes deferred. 

Weaker spirits sighed and whispered, “Could the Lord of all forget?”

While the prophets scanned the portents, And in patience said, “Not yet”.

So how do we in this day and age, prepare for this great joy of Jesus birth among us which occurred over 2000 years ago?
In answer to this question , I would like to share a few thoughts from an article by one of our English Dominicans written many years ago.  He commences by quoting the Scripture text: 

“While all things were in quiet silence…thy almighty Word leapt down upon the earth”. 

Then he goes on to remind us “ In the stillness of the night, the mystery of Christmas was enacted.  In silence, lowliness and poverty, the Word of God came into the world.   This mystery shows us under what conditions a holy birth should take place in us and how we can have that union with God for which we long.   Not in noise, turmoil or worry can Christ be born in us.  Only when we lie low and listen to God’s will, can he be born in us.

The gift to give God is our nothingness, the gift God is waiting for us to offer him is the very wretchedness which humbles us.  The stable in us to which we should invite God to come, that place is like a slum which we run away from.  Where we are weakest, the things we fail in, where we are characteristically weak, where we commit faults week after week, this is the very stable to which we must invite him.

So often we strive to become better before we will invite God to come  to us, but we must let God come to the poor sinner that we are and not to be ashamed to let him come to our slum.
God will come – God will come -  God will come”.

“We will not have paid true homage to Christ unless we have a  crib in ourselves, the very thing which we think is an obstacle  to union with God is the very means by which we can come to him.  So let us bring him to that slum that inner crib, and it will  become a holy cell in which Christ can dwell. God loves us, so we need to have confidence to let his mercy and love come to us where we are weak and lowly, we must not run away, the most precious thing we have to give him is our weakness”.

These encouraging excerpts end here – and so we pray:           

O  root of Jesse, come to save us and delay no more.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

O Adonai - 18th December

O Adonai and leader of Israel, you appeared to Moses in a burning bush and you gave him the Law on Sinai, O come and save us with your mighty power.

Our O Antiphon this evening invokes God as Adonai and Leader who appeared to Moses in the burning bush and gave him the Law on Sinai, as we read in the Book of Exodus.  God, the Lord of creation, intervened in the life of his people at a time when they were sorely oppressed and forsaken in Egypt – when their situation seemed humanly hopeless and Moses himself was fleeing for his life from Pharoah, having killed an Egyptian and buried him in the sand.

When we look around us today our situation is no different – we see people in their millions fleeing for their lives from war and violence; people enslaved in so many ways by the glamour of riches and addictions of every kind; the problem of human trafficking and pornography – just to name a few.  There are so many people searching frantically for happiness which eludes them and lets them continually disappointed and depressed because they are searching in the wrong places.  Sometimes, like the Israelites in Egypt, we can feel that God has abandoned us or we even question if He really exists. 

Yet it was He who took the initiative to reveal Himself to Moses as he went about his daily tasks of attending the flocks and told Moses that He, God, was well aware of the suffering of His people and that He intended to rescue them from their slavery and redeem them with ‘outstretched arm’– and He gave them the Law, not to enslave them again but to lead them to true freedom as His very own people and He would be their God. 

However He needed Moses’ co-operation – He gave him the mission of leading His people from slavery to freedom and when Moses objects God simply re-assures him of His Divine Presence – ‘I shall be with you’ was his reply.  In revealing the Divine Name YAHWEH – I AM WHO AM - He empowered Moses for his mission. 

In this morning’s Gospel the angel appears to Joseph and tells him that Mary, his betrothed, has conceived a child by the Holy Spirit and he must name him JESUS because he will save his people from their sins.  He will be Emmanuel – God with us – thus fulfilling in a wonderful way the promises made to Moses.  Whereas when God appeared in the burning bush, Moses was told to take off his shoes and come no nearer, as he was standing on holy ground, Jesus the very Son of God comes among us as a baby clothed in our skin so that we can all draw close to him and he to us.

As we prepare for his coming to us anew this Christmas, may we who bear the name Christian open our hearts and allow him to enter our lives with his light and love; his peace and joy – gifts which riches cannot buy.  May he so live in us and we in him that we in our turn will become beacons of his light and hope for all our brothers and sisters near and far as we journey towards our Father’s house.   

O Adonai and leader of Israel, you appeared to Moses in a burning bush and you gave him the Law on Sinai, O come and save us with your outstretched arm.

The Great 'O Antiphons - O Wisdom - 17th Dec

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.

We are immediately reminded of the wonderful passages in the Old Testament which speak of Wisdom.  There we read of Wisdom as proceeding from God, as being begotten by Him, as being the beloved who at the beginning stood beside Him, assisting at the creation – ‘ever at play in His presence and delighting to be with the children of men.’

These passages concerning Wisdom can be applied to the Word who in the fullness of time took on our human nature and pitched his tent among us.

While in the Old Testament God’s Wisdom was manifested by His governance of the created universe in a strong yet gentle manner, being lenient and merciful to all because He loves all that exists – it is in the crucified Christ on the Cross that we experience the full revelation of divine Wisdom, of God’s infinite love and mercy for us human beings.  As St Paul tells us “God’s folly is wiser than human wisdom and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.  In Christ are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge and of his fullness we have all received.  He has become our wisdom and our holiness.” (1 Corinthians)

O Eternal wisdom come and teach us the way of truth – He is Truth itself who leads us to all Truth – the truth about ourselves, about our world, about situations in which we find ourselves.

In spite of whatever pain and contradictions we experience in our own lives and in our broken, wounded and violent world may we never lose faith in the fact that His strong yet gentle power is at work and can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.  To Him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

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.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

3rd Sunday of Advent, Year A - Gaudate Sunday

Wait for the Lord
We are waiting for the Lord like the farmer from today’s second reading from the letter of St. James:   
“Be patient … think of a farmer how patiently he waits for the precious fruit of the ground.  … You too have to be patient; do not lose heart, because the Lord’s coming will be soon.”
Several months ago we received the gift of avocados, and I kept the stone to see if it would grow into a tree.  I was told how to plant it – that half the stone must be above water; while half must be covered with water, so I took a plastic container with a lid, in which I cut a hole the same size as my avocado stone, and I filled the container with water.  The stone was secure in the hole, half submerged, half dry.  I had done as much as I could to help it grow and now there was nothing I could but wait.  From time to time I would add more water to the container, like the autumn rains and spring rains.  And I waited.

At the end of a month, nothing seemed to be any different, … all my patience!
No signs of life at all – the stone wasn’t getting any bigger … but I continued to add more water, still nothing.

And then … finally the stone started cracking – it almost split in two!  In my ignorance I thought this meant that it was dead.  But I was hesitant to lose faith, so I did not immediately throw it away.  Then, from the crack, I saw a single root begin to grow; then after some more time, a leaf appeared.  And so it had not died after all!

Now it was big enough to be transplanted into a pot with earth.  And it continues to grow nicely.

The same happens in the life of faith, when we wait for the Lord. After the excitement of encountering the Lord in our faith, the time comes when everything seems somehow lifeless – nothing is growing in our eyes, visibly.  We may go to pray and nothing seems to be happening.  We need to be cracked and broken, like the avocado – or we would die inside.  We need to watch and wait and wait and watch for Him: not to look for entertainment in anybody or anything else.  Just wait for Him.

For He will come: it could take until the very end – even the day of our death, when He will come, but He will surely come.  We need only to wait patiently for Him.


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Advent - First Sunday Year A

Mass Readings: Is 2:1-5; Rom 13:11-14; Gospel Mt 24:37-44.

The Mass Readings for this first Sunday of Advent provide us with a wake-up call – St Paul tells us that ‘the time’ has come and that we must wake up now and in the Gospel Jesus tells us to stay awake and stand ready for His coming.  What caught my attention most was the theme of ‘light’ – St Paul urges us to give up all that we like to do under cover of darkness and to live our lives in the light and the Prophet Isaias invites us to ‘walk in the light of the Lord.’ 

As we begin this season of Advent we are invited to come into the light – to remove the blinds from the windows of our hearts and to let the light shine in – remembering that the true Light is Jesus Himself.  He is the True Light shining on us and who desires to penetrate and posses our inmost being. 

This theme of light and darkness is fascinating - like a silver thread it is woven into the pages of the Bible – beginning with the Book of Genesis when “darkness was upon the face of the deep .... and God said, ‘Let there be light’; and the last chapter of the Book of Revelation, describes what God has in store for us when we will see him face to face – there will be no more night and He himself will be our light.

The struggle between light and darkness is a perennial one - it is the struggle in which we are all engaged – the struggle to keep our hearts free and not to allow ourselves to be enslaved by false attractions – the struggle to keep our hearts free for God alone. Today there is a lot of darkness in the world around us - more than ever before it is necessary for us, who call ourselves Christian “to cast off the works of darkness and let our armour be the Lord Jesus Christ.”   We must let nothing enslave us or captivate our hearts or impede God’s light and love from shining through our lives to a needy world.  

In this context I remembered a story about catching monkeys - seemingly a nut is placed in a net with a hole big enough for a monkey to reach in his hand to catch the nut but sufficiently small as not to allow the monkey’s fist to be released.  The monkey of course will put in his hand to grab the nut – but then he is faced with a choice: either hold on to the nut and lose his freedom as he cannot be released from the net without opening his fist or let go of the nut and retain his freedom.  Sadly he will opt for enslavement rather than let go of the nut.  Can we see ourselves in the monkey? 

We remember how Augustine’s life was transformed while reading this passage from the letter to the Romans: - after years of struggle and resistance, in one instant he was free to break loose of his past and come into the light – or rather to allow the light to penetrate and show up the darkness of his life.  So too for us, all our yesterdays lead us to the NOW of today and NOW is always new and different and must mean letting go of whatever hinders us from surrendering to the God who is lovingly awaiting our response – He has chosen to need our hearts to pray His prayer and do His loving on this earth.  Can we use these days of Advent to relax in the light of the His presence and ask him to draw back the blinds of our hearts and open our eyes and ears to His love streaming into our hearts? The following quote from Jean Corbon’s book Path to Freedom seems relevant: “Our ultimate liberation is to open ourselves to a new presence, and the peak of our activity is to relax in the gratuitousness of receiving.  The more the Lord frees us the more he gives himself.  His gift is a presence of light.  Our task is to open the blinds of our prison and let in the rays of his light.”

May His light stream into our hearts this Advent enlightening “the eyes of our hearts, that we may know what is the hope to which he has called us”- may we make room for him to be born anew in our hearts as we prepare for His coming this Christmas. 

Thursday, October 20, 2016


On Saturday the 12th November we have a day of prayer and reflection for young single women with the possibility of a longer weekend from Friday afternoon until Sunday after lunch for those who would like to experience our monastic life.

(Early booking advisable as places are limited)  
Contact: Sr Breda OP – Email  or phone 041 -9838524

(Click here to download poster)

Monday, October 3, 2016

Holy Hour - Rosary for Peace

 This Friday we will have a special rosary Holy Hour for peace, in union with Dominican Nuns around the world, on the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. You are all welcome to join us. See Poster below.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Pilgrim Rosary - Dominican Nuns celebrate the Jubilee

What is the Pilgrim Rosary:

On the opening day of the Jubilee, the Master of the Order blessed a number of "pilgrim rosaries" (which had been made by Nuns in different monasteries around the world) that were then sent to each Dominican monastery in the world. These are a symbol of communion for the entire Dominican family in prayer. Also, the schedule of the Jubilee gives two days at each monastery to invite the local Dominican Family it to pray the Holy Rosary, so we form a continuous chain of prayer throughout the Jubilee Year (7 Nov 2015 – 21 Jan 2017). The monastery becomes, during those 48 hours, the centre of the Dominican worldwide Rosary.

The Pilgrim Rosary in Drogheda:

The days assigned to our monastery are Monday the 5th and Tuesday the 6th of September. As part of our celebration of the Pilgrim Rosary we are having special Rosary Holy Hours over three days:

·        Sunday 4th, 7.30p.m. – 8.30p.m: Holy Hour - Healing Service (Followed by Compline)

·        Monday 5th and Tuesday 6th , 5.30p.m. – 6.30p.m: Meditative Rosary, with Reflections (Followed by Vespers).

Poster available for download, here.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Sr M Breidge is clothed in Dominican habit

Our joy on the celebration of the feast of our holy Father, St Dominic (8th August) this year was enhanced by the reception of the habit of the Order by Sr M Breidge on the previous Saturday - feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord.  Here we share with you some photos from the day and the homily preached by our prioress, Sr Mairead at the clothing ceremony:

Homily at Clothing Ceremony
On this special feast day of the Transfiguration of the Lord, Breidge will receive the habit, adding immensely to the joy of this day.

 I realise that instead of trying to speak about this great and beautiful Mystery of the Transfiguration, one would gain much more by entering into the mystery through prayer, and in silence and solitude, allowing it on the contrary, to speak to us in the depths of our hearts.

However, as a few words are probably expected, I will attempt to be brief and focus mainly on the importance of prayer in the life of Jesus and its transformative power in our lives as contemplatives.

Luke says that the aspect of  Jesus’ face changed and his clothing became as brilliant as lightning, while Jesus was at prayer. Prayer– this intimate personal relationship with Jesus leading to union with Him and communion with the Blessed Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is in fact the goal of everyone’s life, though sadly, so few are truly aware of it.

Prayer, communion with the Blessed Trinity is given great emphasis in our own constitutions. As early as number 1 in the Fundamental Constitutions ( 1:IV) of the Nuns, bearing witness as it does to the transforming power of prayer, and reminding us at the same time, of the transfiguration of the Lord, it says:

“ Persevering in prayer with Mary the Mother of Jesus, the nuns ardently long for the fullness of the Holy Spirit, so that with unveiled face they may reflect the glory of the Lord and be transformed into his image from splendour to splendour by the Spirit of the Lord (cf 2 Cor. 3:18).”

This scripture quotation( 2 Cor:3:18) is in fact one of the Readings in the minor hours of the Office for this feast.

Gregory Palamas ( 1296 -1359), one of the Fathers of the Church said that it was in prayer that Jesus shone like this, in the company of Elijah and Moses, to show that that blessed vision was the fruit of prayer. The essential events of Jesus’ activity proceeded from the core of his personality and this core was his dialogue with the Father, in other words his prayer.

 The Church arises out of participation in the prayer of Jesus (LK 9:18-20; Mt 16; 13 -20). The mountain is always the realm of prayer, of being with the Father. The Transfiguration only renders visible what is actually taking place in Jesus’ prayer; he is sharing in God the Father’s radiance, he is in communion with his  Father. When Jesus revealed his glory, giving the disciples a small glimpse of his divine nature- he let them see God dwelling within Him- in order to strengthen them for the forthcoming scandal of the cross.

We may ask have we an example of this transformation/transfiguration through prayer in our own day?I believe we have one in a young Italian teenager, named Chiara Luce ( for light) Badano, who died in 1990 at the age of 18, and who was beatified in 2010.She had been a member of Focolare, and heroically accepted her cancer suffering for love of Jesus forsaken, refusing to take morphine during her last days. Her dedication to prayer and her relationship with Jesus grew progressively stronger and stronger during the two years of her illness, giving her a radiance, remarked on by all who came in contact with her. Everyone loved to be in her company because she radiated peace, joy, and love.She radiated the presence of Jesus within her. Chiara Lubick, founder of Focolare gave her the name ‘Luce’( light) because she was always radiant. She told her that her luminous face showed her love for Jesus.

We pray every grace and blessing on you Breidge as you begin your novitiate and may you radiate peace, joy and love through the grace of the Blessed Trinity dwelling within you. Amen.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Reflection on St Dominic (9)

On preparing this reflection, it struck me that all the Readings at Mass this morning, (19th Sunday of the Year, Cycle C) including the psalm, could be applied to the person of Dominic and the mission and foundation of the Order.

The first Reading from the Book of Wisdom is about trusting God and joyfully having the courage to do what God asks, enduring the dangers and hardships as well as the blessings that this work of God might entail. Dominic had a tremendous trust in God. He realised the power of the Scriptures, the word/Word of God in transforming lives and the need for preaching the truth regardless of danger and opposition from heretics. He was passionately concerned with the salvation of  all people. Dominic had this tremendous, genuine love for people – he cared deeply for them. We are told that “his heart was full of an extraordinary, almost incredible, yearning for the salvation of everyone”. ( Libellus 34)

We know he was steeped in Sacred Scripture and had the Gospel of Matthew and the letters of St Paul almost off by heart, so well did he know them and preach them. To emphasise this, one of our antiphons at the Office of Readings reads:

“Proclaim the word, convince, rebuke, encourage with patience in teaching; put up with hardship and do the work of an evangelist.”

Among many instances recorded in the life of Dominic, the story is told of St. Dominic and his companions being purposely led astray by a heretic, whom they thought was a Catholic. On enquiring of him the directions to the place where a debate was to be held with the heretics, he led them or more correctly misled them (barefoot as they were) through thorns and brambles so that their feet and ankles were covered with blood after a short time. Dominic bore all of this with unruffled patience, breaking forth joyfully at times into the divine praises and exhorting his companions to do the same. “Be of good cheer, dear brethren”, he would say, “put all your trust in God, for our sins have now been all wiped out in our blood, and the victory will surely be ours.”  The victory was theirs indeed as the heretic seeing Dominic’s marvellous endurance, and the joyful forbearance of the whole company, had a change of heart and confessed his deceit.

As the commentary in today’s Sunday Newsletter states, ‘Saints take risks, They put their hands into the hand of Jesus of Nazareth whom they believe has called them to new missions in the Church. They are open to whatever might unfold, and to its consequences. Like Abraham in the second Reading, Dominic was called to leave his homeland in Spain and follow the Lord step by step so that he was gradually called  to found monasteries in Prouilhe, Rome, Madrid and Bologna and priories in theses same places as well as Paris, - founding a preaching Order which was unique at the time, as up until then only bishops had the authority to preach.

Finally, all the instructions given in today’s Gospel, were practised by Dominic. For example we are instructed to ‘sell our possessions and give alms’. Dominic does exactly this while a student – selling his beloved books (when books were so scarce and expensive) in a time of famine so that he could buy food for the poor. Our 2nd Antiphon over the psalms tomorrow evening reads;

“Moved by compassion and love, Dominic sold his books and possessions and gave the money to the poor.”

It is remarkable how one of our hymns in St. Dominic’s Mass, depicting the attributes of St. Dominic uses phrases from this particular Gospel passage. I refer to the passage:
 “What sort of steward, then, is faithful and wise enough for the Master to place him over his household to give them their allowance of food at the proper time.”

Dominic certainly was this faithful and wise steward of the Lord’s who responded to the promptings of the Holy Spirit his whole life long and had a profound love for Christ, a deep faith and a sure hope that entrusted the future to the love and great mercy of God.

I pray, through the intercession of St. Dominic, that all of us may be given the grace to grow ever more deeply in love with our Saviour, Jesus Christ, grow in faith, hope and love, and respond generously to the daily promptings of the Holy Spirit, to the glory of God and the salvation of all people. Amen

Reflections on St Dominic (8) - The Transfiguration and the Cross

In the various Gospel accounts of the Transfiguration we read, ‘As he prayed the aspect of Jesus face changed’. Then again, ‘In their presence he was transfigured, his face shone like the sun and his clothes became as white as light’ and yet again ‘The desciples saw his glory’. The Magnificat magazine gives the following introduction to the mass for this Feast. It says

Christ’s tabor radiance is a kind of mirror in which we glimpse the glory that God wills to give his friends. The resplendence of the Transfiguration reveals the fullness of life destined to be ours. The transfiguration invites us to configuration. As we peer into the glory that pours from every pore of the transfigured Christ, we cast off everything unworthy of our personal relationship with the infinite, and we take on the luster of the Son of God. Jesus gazes back at us with a luminous look of love that makes us desire to live his transparent beauty- to be luminaries. Silently from Tabor’s splendor the savior begs “Become what you behold.”

In Dominic we see someone who wholeheartedly responded to this invitation of Jesus. We read in the Libellis, “far more impressive and splendid than all Dominic’s miracles were the exceptional integrity of his character and the extraordinary energy of divine zeal which carried him along. These proved beyond doubt that he was a vessel of honour and grace. His face was always radiant with a cheerfulness which bore witness to the good conscience he bore within him. By his cheerfulness he easily won the love of everybody. Without difficulty he found his way into people’s hearts as soon as they saw him.’ One could easily imagine people in Dominic’s company echoing the words of the three disciples on Tabor. “It is good for us to be here, Dominic. In your presence we experience God loving us. We are in touch with God. Your radiance is not of this earth,  grace has transfigured you into Christ. We feel loved and a response in love is awakened in us.” This is the greatest form of preaching, when others encounter God when they spend time in our company, when we reveal the face of God.

The three disciples were given a glimpse of glory and they wanted it to last. They wanted to stay in that awesome place. It is wonderful for us to be here,let us make three tents. That could not be. They could not live in the resurrection, because Jesus had not yet procured that gift for them. The spirit of the Risen Jesus had not yet been given. They saw his glory, the glory that is his as the only son of the Father but they did not know they lengths Jesus would go to so that they, and we, could enter into glory with Him.

Dominic knew better. Fra Angelico depicts Dominic not on the top of a mountain, in transports of delight as he gazed on Jesus in a blaze of glory, no rather, he paints Dominic literally clinging to the Cross. As Dominic hugs the Cross, as if he cannot be torn away from it, we can almost hear him saying “it is good Lord for me to be here. Let me build a tent, let me stay here with you and make this place my home.” Dominic was configured to Christ not by an experience with the transfigured Jesus on Tabor where God’s glory was revealed but by living in the presence of the disfigured Christ on Calvary where God is concealed, as St Thomas said, ‘On the Cross thy God head made no sign to men.’  It is here at the foot of the Cross that Dominic is taught the lesson of love. It is here that the heart of God is laid bare. It is here that the depth of God’s desire for humanity, for us, is revealed. Gazing long and loving on the crucified, Dominic came to resemble his Lord. As he peered into the MERCY that pours from every pour of the disfigured Christ, he became a vessel of that mercy and compassion. It was in this place that his love for souls was born. Here he learned to echo the cry of his beloved Jesus, “Father what will become of sinners”.  May that cry continue to resound in the hearts of those who follow him.

Reflections on St Dominic (7) - His concern for Others

Continuing our reflection on St. Dominic, I have been struck this year by his passionate concern for those who had gone, or were going, astray from God. He didn’t ignore them, or think ‘the little that I can do will make no difference’ but took action. He founded his Order for “preaching and the salvation of souls.”
This message of the importance of persevering in doing what one can, and trusting in God for the rest, is particularly evident in his time in Languedoc, where, for years, he preached with little or no discernible results. Obviously, we nuns can’t go off on preaching  missions, but the message of perseverance applies just as much to the other manner in which Dominic expressed his concern and care for those going astray – his continuous prayer for them; something in which we are  called to imitate him.

 May God awaken in our hearts the same passionate concern for others and a spirit of ceaseless prayer for them.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Reflections on St Dominic (6) - The Dominican Family

Through the window of our refectory I saw how our youngest Sister has planted a variety of flowers in the shape of 800, and it is exactly what we are as we celebrate our 800 Anniversary as Dominicans. Each Sister and Brother whom God has called to our family has shaped our Order day by day by their lives.

Dominic  placed so much trust and confidence in his companions. He was profoundly a man of God, convinced that the hand of God lay upon everything and everyone. His own vocation as a preacher he discovered from being attentive to the needs of others. He was so open to listen to God speaking to him through the lives of others.

Dominic knew that those who came to join him were called by the Lord and that the Lord was speaking to them. If others were called to join Dominic in his dream then some system had to be devised which respected both the freedom of God to speak as He wishes and the freedom of each to express their understanding of what God was saying to each personally. 

Dominic’s vision, his inspiration is communicated to his brethren in such a way that it becomes the creation of all. He inspired others by sharing his vision and allowing it to take root and mature in them in such a manner that it seems to come as much from them as from him.

In his family everyone becomes a builder, everyone must share in the task of construction, and is encouraged to offer his/her own personal contribution.

Dominic never put himself in the centre, he emptied himself, and that emptiness   invites Christ to be a centre of his own life and the life of his community. 

When Dominic had only sixteen brothers, he sent them to Paris, Spain and Rome. In human eyes it seemed that he was tearing down what he had laboriously built, destroying the Order he had just founded. But he had the supernatural prudence that comes from the Holy Spirit ‘Seed rots when it is hoarded, bears fruit when it is sown.’  Dominicans were for the Church. Our lives are shaped by the Church’s needs.

The following quotation from Becoming Human by Jean Vainer is relevant here: 
A place of mediation is that place where we are and can search for truth together, where we find healing for our hearts that are incapable of relating to others in a healthy way, where we can learn not to be locked up in our own needs and desires, but welcome others as they are, accept that they are important and have value. The place of mediation helps us to discover that we are part of something much bigger, that together we can do something beautiful.

Our awareness that we are loved and accepted by our God, that truth is what allows us to be preachers of God’s Mercy and Compassion. And we first learn it in our communities and then share it with the whole world.

When fr.Bruno our Master last week was in Krakow on the WYD, he was asked the question: What do Dominicans have to preach today for the Youth? He answered that we first need to listen to them and after, to preach and to share with them our experience of life. To think together, how to build a better world today - not individual world but a world where we can BE together.  Church – He  said - is our common home