Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Advent Week 3 - O Wisdom

O Sapientia

These are the last days of the Advent season, the days of the “O” antiphons and this evening we will be calling upon the LORD who is Wisdom – to come and to teach us the way of truth.

          “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 know that on the day of our Confirmation, we were blessed with the gift of wisdom when we received the fullness of the Holy Spirit.  So it may be truly said, that the way of wisdom – the desire for wisdom – is nothing other than a desire for God.  So, in these days of anticipation of the LORD – God Himself, becoming even one of us – it is fitting to remember that wisdom is very closely related also to wonder.

When Christmas is held to be a season of wonder and amazement at the incredible humility of God; when we enter into the mystery with hearts open to receiving and believing in all that the LORD has in His Heart for us – then also, our eyes, too, being to see everything more clearly: we begin to see the truth and through the wisdom implanted in us – we can discern the meaning of all life: the truth about our own lives; and to value absolutely everything as a most precious and divine gift.  It is possible at last, to hear the Word of the LORD and to know that His word to us and for us, is a word of unimaginable, wonderful and amazing love.

How does one respond to such love?  We could not even hope to merit such a tremendous gift, and yet it is ours unconditionally.  So how can we, so to say, express our appreciation to the LORD for all He has invited us to receive? 
If we are moved to respond authentically to such a great love, the words of St Paul in today’s second reading at Mass – taken from his First Letter to the Thessalonians – seem to capture the essence of how to live this life wisely:

          “Be happy at all times; pray constantly; and for all things give thanks to God. …
          …  Never try to suppress the Spirit or treat the gift of prophecy with contempt;
          think before you do anything – hold on to what is good
          and avoid every form of evil … … …”

The wonderful thing about the gift of faith seems to me to be that through it, we awaken in ourselves – or we are more disposed to desire to live our lives authentically, and according to the truth.

What better gift, then, could we ask of the LORD, than the gift of wisdom … for ourselves and for those for whom we care? 

We pray for the Church and all her members: on his birthday, we pray especially for Pope Francis, that he may be guided in all things by the Spirit of Wisdom, the Spirit of Truth, and that – together with him, we too may grow in our love for wisdom and truth.

Advent Week 2

During Advent the Church brings us back in time to the centuries before the coming of Christ – the readings allow us to identify with the sentiments, longings and hopes of the people of the Old Testament who awaited the Messiah.  We see how God was at work in their lives, leading them to the truth about their relationship with Him and each other.  Last Sunday the Prophet Isaiah presented us with the image of God as Father and the Potter who formed His people.  In today’s first reading God is the Shepherd who gently leads His flock, feeding them and gathering the lambs in His arms, holding them against His breast.

This morning’s Gospel invites us to prepare a way for the Lord in the wilderness of our lives – or perhaps better to allow God to prepare a way in our hearts for His coming.  We may ask ourselves for whom or what are we preparing; who or what are we expecting? – as always the readings and prayers of the liturgy are our best teachers – during Advent these focus on what God would like to find when He comes – two phrases from the prayer for Monday week 1 stood out for me – it prayed that when the Lord knocks he “may find us watchful in prayer and exultant in his praise” – I take it to mean not so much that we must multiply our prayers but that we be alert to His Presence with us moment by moment and respond with alacrity and joy to whatever He may ask – as Mary responded with her fiat and Magnificat.

Advent reminds us that we are on a journey and that the Lord will come to each of us personally at our journey’s end.  We have come from the hand of God – he loved us and called us into being – each one is personally known and loved and we journey through life until the moment when He calls us back to Himself.  Advent strengthens our hope that He will come - and invites us to be ready and on the watch.  If we learn to recognise His coming at each moment then when He finally comes for us we will recognise Him and surrender to His embrace.

The Entrance antiphon of this morning’s Mass expresses it very beautifully – which we will sing again after Vespers at Reposition of the Blessed Sacrament:
“People of Sion the Lord will come to save all nations and your heart will exult to hear his majestic voice, the people of God will sing songs of joy like songs in the night.  They will have gladness of heart.....  On every high mountain streams will flow and there will be joy  for you are loved by the Lord.”

Sunday, December 10, 2017


For the past five years Sr Niamh and Sr M Teresa have participated in the distance learning programme from Maryvale University, Birmingham.  They have been studying theology very diligently while participating fully in our daily contemplative life.  So our whole community rejoiced with them when they recently graduated with first class honours in Bachelor of Divinity.  Here they are shown with their certificates which they received in the post as they did not go to Maryvale for the Graduation Ceremony on the 21st November -   Instead we  had our own community celebration!
Dobby one of our cats looks on approvingly from the roof top while the photo was being taken!

Study is an essential element in the life of Dominican Nuns - Our Constitutions encourage "a methodical study of sacred truth, according to the capacity of the individual, as a fruitful preparation for lectio divina and an aid to human maturity" - study also "nourishes contemplation" and helps us live our life with a more "enlightened fidelity".

Being able to participate in a distance learning course is a greatly appreciated by us contemplatives who observe the law of enclosure. The sisters have found this study very beneficial. Maryvale also offer short courses for those who find 5 years too intimidating. www.maryvale.ac.uk
Distance learning Theology courses are also on offer from our Irish Dominicans www.prioryinstitute.com.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Advent and Praying for Peace

As we sit here in this warm comfortable Chapel, feeling safe and secure as we pray, people elsewhere are dying, people are being persecuted, and people are being displaced. We could go on and on. Life is very different for so many. Acutely aware of the need for peace, Fr Bruno, the Master of our Order and the Commission for Justice and Peace have proposed that we make the season of Advent, as we await the coming of the Prince of Peace, a period of intense prayer for peace in our war torn world and of solidarity with our Dominican brothers and sisters involved in preaching in situations of injustice. This Advent our focus is on Columbia where there are Dominicans working to support the implementation of the Peace accord that was signed in 2016.

We know that peace can come about, that agreements can work. We have seen it happen in Northern Ireland and in our lifetime we have seen the fall of the Iron Curtain. Persistent prayer works. The holy rosary is a mighty weapon against the forces of evil.

But a hymn I learnt as a child in school echoes in my heart, challenging me. It goes ‘let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me’. We have to be instruments of the peace we want to see reigning in our world. In the light of this morning’s Gospel Chapter 11 of St. Luke’s gospel struck me with great force. Whatever house you enter first say peace be to this house. And if a person of peace is there, your peace shall rest upon him, but if not, it shall return to you. Somehow we have to prove the earnestness of our prayer for world peace by our willing to work for peace wherever we find ourselves- in our families, our community, our workplace, our neighbourhood. We have to come to each encounter with peace in our hearts and a desire to share that peace with the other person. But if we meet with hostility, coldness, indifference or any other negative response we have to allow our peace return to us. We are not to allow ourselves to be robbed of our peace. No one can do that to us. It is our choice, MY choice. If I allow myself to be disturbed, what will happen, the next person will come along, perhaps someone in great need of a smile, a kind word, a gesture of peace and I will miss that opportunity to serve Jesus in a troubled person. Jesus has come unexpectedly and I don’t see him because I am in a stupor, preoccupied, wallowing in my self-righteousness, being a victim soul.

Before turning off the light these nights I am reading a collection of memories that the Scripture Scholar Megan McKenna had of her grandmother. By happy coincidence or providence I came to a chapter headed Cuba 1960 last night. Megan at the age of fifteen had her secure, safe, sheltered life life turned on its head by the Cuban Missile crisis. It was her first encounter with the horrors of war. The dawning reality in her peaceful childhood of evil, of death, intended, immanent, planned and executed, of war intruding into her life, as she puts it, and it left her paralysed with fear. She couldn’t eat or sleep. She lay on her bed in despair until her Nana came to her. Her Nana’s wisdom is as pertinent now as it was 57 yrs ago and I found it worth taking to heart a salutary reminder that if I am not part of the solution then I am part of the problem.

She told her was that if she believed in God she had no right to despair. God made us all. And we are all of us without exception made in his image and likeness. God didn’t make us to give up on anyone  He made or on any situation. She reminded this  fifteen year old that she couldn’t blame anyone  for what others do, without taking a long hard look at herself first and realising that what was wrong with the world was wrong with her too. We are all human beings and anything any one else can do no matter how terrible , we are given the circumstances just as capable of doing. But it is also true that we are also capable of doing all the good that is being done in the world. If God hasn’t given up on me then I cannot give up on the world. I look to myself, to his mercy to me, and hope is restored. There can be peace on earth. Conversion happens.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Rosary on the Coast for Life and Faith

Our Monastery will be joining with the Rosary on the Coast for Life and Faith, Ireland tomorrow (Sunday 26th) at 2.30p.m. (although we aren't actually on the coast). 
Check out their website for details of other locations www.coastalrosaryireland.ie

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Vocation Discernment Weekend - 17th to 19th November

In November we will be hosting a Vocation Discernment Weekend for young women interested in our life, or who wish to find out more about Monastic Contemplative Life.
(See Poster below)

Please feel free to download this poster and spread it around (pdf file available here).

Monday, August 7, 2017

Novena to St Dominic - Day 9

St Dominic's Charity and Humility

On this the final day of our Novena in honour of St. Dominic and as we are about to celebrate first Vespers of this special solemnity, I would like to focus this reflection on St Dominic as a man of prayer , with particular emphases on his humility and charity.

Jordan of Saxony tells us in the Libellus that the conferences of Cassian figured amongst Dominic’s favourite reading. Cassian tells us that humility, simplicity and charity are the foundations of all prayer. St. Dominic practised all these to a heroic degree.

Take for example humility: when the Bishop of Osma made him a canon regular in his church, we are told that “he was the lowliest of them all in his humility of heart, but he was their leader in holiness.” ( Libellus No. 12) His first and second Ways of Prayer, are based on humility of heart , as in his first Way of Prayer he “ bowed as low as possible before the altar, as though Christ, whom the altar represents  were present there really and personally” and in the second Way of Prayer,     “ throwing himself flat on the ground, face down, where he was moved to sorrow in his heart and reproved himself and on occasion came out so loud that that phrase of the Gospel, ‘ O God, be merciful to me a sinner’,  was heard to come from him”. At his final Chapter in Bologna, he did not want to be re-elected as Master of the Order but to be given the freedom to be an ordinary friar and to go and preach to the pagans in the East. He was neither ambitious nor power hungry but humble, living a simple life as he spent himself entirely in preaching for the salvation of everyone, “haunting the church by day and by night, devoting himself ceaselessly to prayer”.( Libellus 12)

Dominic’s deepest source of inspiration was his profound love of Jesus Christ, a love which overflowed in his charity for others. “He certainly did not lack the greatest form of charity that a person can have, the charity to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. The story goes that when he was urging one of the unbelievers, with loving encouragement, to return to the true faith, the man explained that his association with the unbelievers was prompted by his worldly needs, because the heretics gave him the necessary funds, which he could not obtain in any other way. Dominic was so moved by sympathy that he decided immediately to sell himself and relieve the poverty of this endangered soul with the price of himself. And he really would have done it had not the Lord made other arrangements for meeting the man’s needs.” ( Libellus 35)

Dominic succeeded in reconciling his intense practice of prayer with the new requirements of the apostolate: the preaching mission entrusted to him by the Pope. As Sr. Barbara Beaumont OP states in her book: Keeping Faith with the Preachers, - “Dominic made real the originality of the Order he founded, the apostolic ideal rooted in contemplative prayer. The means to this end were to ensure that prayer in Dominican life must serve as a source for:

1.     Knowledge of self such as one is, and knowledge and love of others as they are.
2.     Conversion to Christ and a personal relationship with him.
3.     Joy in community and labour in the Church at the service of humankind.

Dominican spirituality is simply, in the manner of St. Dominic, to allow oneself to be seized by the mercy of God revealed in the Incarnation and in the Scriptures, to gaze on God with the eyes of the heart, and to gaze equally on people in order that they may be saved.

Through the intercession of St. Dominic and all our Dominican Saints may all of us be given these special graces.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Novena to St Dominic - Day 8

St Dominic, The Transfiguration, & Truth

On this feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord: a feast in which we celebrate the Light that Jesus is;  the Light He radiates on all who believe Him; the Light that He wants to shine on all humanity, even on those who do not yet know Him – it seems appropriate to consider St Dominic and one of the mottoes of the Order – possibly a lesser known one – that is Veritas, or Truth.

The importance of such a motto in the early days of the foundation of the Order of Preachers is unquestionable.  Heresies which denied the goodness of the physical world and the intrinsic goodness and worth of the human person were increasingly popular, and are popular even now.  St Dominic – in seeking to combat these, together with his brethren and the support of the prayers of the nuns whom he had associated with their mission – was seeking to re-present the truth which Christ Himself had taught so long ago; the truth He had entrusted to the Church for all time.  It could be observed that in fact what St Dominic founded the Order for, was ‘nothing new.’  Yet, he must have had an extra-ordinary, single-minded faith and trust in God, to be able to establish his Order at the time he did; and to disperse the brethren in order to preach the Gospel, so soon after having gathered them together.

Today, when we celebrate the mystery of the Transfiguration of the Lord, it is possible to see why St Dominic was so attracted to Jesus.  Dominic, like us, was a pilgrim throughout his life; constantly and tirelessly intent on living according to the truth, and he found it in Jesus, who Himself confessed that He is the Truth … and the Way … and the Life.  Our own searching: our journey towards discovering the meaning and value of our lives and our purpose in life, can only be realised if it is a search for truth: a truth that is unchanging and is not diluted by momentary fashions and opinions.

The feast of the Lord’s Transfiguration is a feast of Light and Life and the wonder that the truth we long for is not an unattainable dream or ideology – but is in fact a person – a Person who is both God and Man: a Person who is Love.  It seems, then, that St Dominic’s vision for the order he established is one that is as timeless, as eternal one might say, as the Person on Whom he constantly fixed his gaze; and with Whom he ceaselessly conversed. 

The Light and the Life: the Love and the Truth that Jesus is, is not mysterious, such that we cannot know it – but it is something which He wants to reveal to all the world, as He revealed Himself to Peter and James and John on the holy mountain.  St Dominic was on fire with the desire to share what he had come to know; and he sets the example for us who follow in his footsteps, to have that same passion for the truth, for the Lord, so that all may know the salvation which was won for us upon the Cross. 

Pope Benedict once observed that: “In ancient times the really terrible thing about prisons was that they cut people off from the light of day and plunged them into darkness.  So, at a deeper level, the real alienation, unfreedom, and imprisonment of man consists in his want of truth.  If he does not know truth, if he does not know who he is, why he is there, and what the reality of this world consists in, he is only stumbling around in the dark.”  Today’s feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord is truly a Dominican feast – it is a celebration of the Light that has been revealed in the world as the Truth, and the Truth is Christ.  So we are set a tremendous challenge – by the Lord and by St Dominic – ever to strive to be heralds and lights of that Truth.  To quote again Pope Benedict:  “The church’s real contribution to liberation, which she can never postpone and which is most urgent today, is to proclaim truth in the world, to affirm that God is, that God knows us, and that God is as Jesus Christ has revealed Him, and that, in Jesus Christ, He has given us the path of life.”

May St Dominic continue to intercede for us that we may be faithful to the wondrous gift we have received, and that we may not keep it to ourselves but proclaim the Truth in all that we do and say and pray.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Novena to St Dominic - Day 7

St Dominic and Prayer

As we continue our Novena to St Dominic, I would like to reflect on St. Dominic’s  Prayer.

So deeply was Dominic moved by the LOVE of Jesus Christ Crucified that he strove in all things to imitate Christ, passing the day in apostolic work and the night in prayer.
Prayer was the breath of St Dominic’s Life and the light on his pilgrim path. He prayed always and He won more souls by his prayer than by preaching or miracles.
Fervent and humble prayer was the sling and stone with which he overthrew the Goliath of Heresy.

St Dominic’s methods of prayer known as “The Nine Ways of Prayer” were various. He made abundant use of gestures, genuflections, prostrations and other postures where his soul in prayer used the different parts (members) of his body to foster its own loving ascent to God.

In his Seventh posture of prayer, St Dominic was often found standing erect stretching his whole body upwards with his hands joined and raised towards heaven, often he would open his hands as though in receipt of something from heaven.  And it is believed that at such times he received an increase of Grace, obtaining from God the gifts of the Holy Spirit for himself and his brethren.

In all labours and disquiets, in hunger, thirst, fatigue, his heart turned always to God.
The Friars would hear him praying aloud reciting Psalm 27: V1-2
By word and example he taught the brethren always to pray like this, using verses from the psalms. (For example the PS 133 VERSE 1-2 ,the  PS 140 VERSE 1-2)
His Prayer drew him upwards to God.   He reached out to the Gift of God towards the promise of his Kingdom.

In today’s Gospel passage St Matthew tells us to be ready to give up all for the sake of the buried treasure or the priceless pearl.  The Gift of knowing God and his Son Jesus is the treasure that outshines all other things, for through God we enter the kingdom of heaven. Even now we participate in the kingdom even though life is full of good and bad.  We can trust that in the end good will prevail and evil will perish. The treasure we will find is eternal life with God.

More than anything the Nine Ways of Prayer of St Dominic points us to the fact that the pursuit of worldly things is futile and that the primary importance for Dominicans and all humankind is to pray for the Grace of Christ that is sufficient for each of us. This is the pearl which is worth everything, the hidden treasure that we should REJOICE over. This Grace will guide our prayer towards things that really matter, towards love of God and acceptance of his will.

And we should never cease making intercession with the GOD OF OUR SALVATION for the precious souls He gives to us, so that all men and women might be saved. This is great service for the kingdom of God.

Father God, Let us pray that St Dominic be the light of Christ to us all and like St Dominic,  that we can strive as God’s COWORKERS in the Reign of his Kingdom. Amen

Friday, August 4, 2017

Novena to St Dominic - Day 6

St Dominic and the Rosary

[Extract from the book: ‘The Life of St Dominic’ by Bede Jarrett OP]

The crucifix, Mass, the Blessed Sacrament, the gospels and epistles, anything that conjured up to him most vividly the personality of our Lord, were to [St Dominic] the easiest means for helping him to pray.

It was for this reason that the devotion of the rosary found in him its keenest apostle. His own way of prayer, consisting … of vocal expression of love and adoration, was intermingled with silences; it passed from speech to contemplation as it fixed itself on to the character of our Lord. All these elements are united in the rosary. It was contemplative and vocal. It comprised the saying of Our Fathers and Hail Marys which were checked and noted by a string of beads, a contrivance, of course, older even than Christianity, and already widespread over Europe before his time. St Dominic did not invent these things, though it would seem that he popularised them. To him, however, a papal tradition points as the originator of the division into decades or groups of ten, separated by larger beads called ‘Paternosters.’ Under the influence of the Order these chaplets, at this date, spread widely over Christendom, and are to be found carven on tombs, and are from St Dominic’s time increasingly alluded to in devotional literature.

But the mere recitation of prayers would be of no use unless these could be accompanied by a consciousness of God’s presence and of that converse with him that alone gives them a value and makes them efficacious. Hence it was necessary to add the idea of some sort of mystery, some act or scene of our Lord’s life, and present it vividly to the imagination so as ultimately to stir the heart to love and worship. … These, therefore, were scenes carefully chosen out of our Lord’s life as pictured in the Gospels or as revealed in tradition, while the lips repeated the most familiar of all prayers, the oldest and simplest of Christian salutations, the mind was supposed thereby to become better able to hold on to the truth of the scene and gather its full significance. The recitation became almost a mechanical aid to reflection, and the thoughts were thereby freer to concentrate, to abstract themselves, to look before and after. The purpose of the rosary was, therefore, to produce the effect that St Dominic had in view in all his prayers, an intense application of the human soul to the divine personality of Christ.

Finally, it is to be noted that the rosary allows for that pause or silence which Dominic considered essential to prayer. … The action of prayer in his view should never be considered as though it were limited to the human agent, as though man alone was the active partner in it. It must include the silent consciousness of the divine Presence. … For this reason, therefore, Dominic added to this simplest of prayers the practice of quiet and silence.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Novena to St Dominic - Day 5

St Dominic's passion for the salvation of All

[Extract from a letter by Damien Byrne OP (Master of the Order 1983-92)]

Dominic’s burning passion for the salvation of all left a powerful impression on those who were his closest associates. The young William of Montferrat tells us that ‘Dominic was filled with a greater zeal for the salvation of all than anyone else I have ever met.’ ‘So we both agreed and even promised each other that when Brother Dominic had organised his Order and I had studied theology for two years, we would go away together and do all that we could to convert the pagans, in Prussia and in other lands of the North.’

Statements such as these are to be found in many of the depositions made at the process of canonization. Jordan of Saxony echoes them in the ‘Libellus’ when he says:
With all his energy and with passionate zeal, [Dominic] set himself to win all the souls he could for Christ. His heart was full of an extraordinary, almost incredible yearning for the salvation of everyone.

Jordan also tells us:
He had a special prayer that God would grant him true charity, which would be effective in caring for and winning the salvation of all; he thought he would only really be a member of Christ’s Body when he would spend himself utterly with all his strength in the winning of souls.

Dominic never achieved his ambition to be a missionary to the non-Christian world but he directed the Order to this path. At the Chapter of 1221 it was decided to send bands of Dominicans to three different territories beyond the frontiers of Christendom. Those who were sent with Paul of Hungary asked to go to the Cumans, thus fulfilling Dominic’s ambition. It was the Chapter that made these decisions but the inspiration came from Dominic.

And so, we pray that Our Father Dominic will obtain for us an increase in that true charity and zeal for souls which he had. 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Novena to St Dominic - Day 4

St Dominic and St Francis

[Extract from the book, “Saint Dominic: the grace of the Word” by Guy Bedouelle O.P.]

At almost the same time that Dominic, in the Church of Our Lady of Prouille at the foot of the Pyrenees, laid the foundations of his Order, Francis was preparing his at the Church of Our Lady of the Angels, at the foot of the Apennines. An ancient sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin Mother of God was for each the humble and sweet cornerstone of their edifice. Dominic cherished Our Lady of Prouille above all other places; Francis reserved for the small plot of land sheltering Our Lady of the Angels a special affection, within the immensity of a heart detached from all visible things. Each began his public life with a pilgrimage to Rome; each returned there to beg the sovereign pontiff’s approbation for his Order. Innocent III at first rebuffed them both, and the same vision persuaded him to grant them both a verbal and provisional approbation. Dominic, like Francis, included within the austere flexibility of his Rule men and women religious and laymen, making of three Orders a single power to fight for Jesus Christ with all the weapons of nature and grace; only Dominic began with women, Francis with men. The same sovereign Pontiff, Honorius III, confirmed their institutions by apostolic bulls; Gregory IX canonized them both. Finally, the two greatest doctors of all centuries have done honour to their memories, St. Thomas for St. Dominic, St. Bonaventure for St. Francis.

Yet these two men, whose destinies created such admirable harmonies for both worlds, heaven and earth, never knew each other. Both were in Rome during the Lent when the Fourth Lateran Council met, yet it seems that neither had ever so much as heard the other’s name. One night Dominic, at prayer according to his custom, beheld Jesus Christ looking upon the world in wrath and his Mother presenting two men to him to appease him. He recognised himself as one of them but did not know who the other was. Fixing his gaze on him he tried to memorize his features. The next day in some church – no one knows which – he saw, clothed in the habit of a mendicant, the figure revealed to him the night before. Running up to this poor man he embraced him with holy affection and said: “You are my companion, you will go with me, let us stay together and nothing shall be able to prevail against us.” The embrace of Francis and Dominic has often been presented and stylized to illustrate the theme of ‘holy friendship.’

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Novena to St Dominic - Day 3

St Dominic & Moses

In his Libellus, Blessed Jordan tells us that “everywhere Dominic showed himself to be a man of the Gospel in word and in deed” – a man who brought good news and indeed like Christ, his Divine Exemplar, embodied in his own person the good news of the Gospel.

No doubt Dominic’s apostolic zeal sprang from his deep interior relationship with God - we are told that he spent long hours, often the entire night, in prayer and always spoke only “to God or of God”. While reflecting on this aspect of Dominic’s life, the first reading at this morning’s Mass caught my attention.  There, we see Moses being enveloped in the cloud, symbol of God’s mysterious Presence and speaking to Him “face to face as a man speaks to his friend.” But this intimate relationship was not solely for the benefit of Moses himself – rather God wanted to use Moses for the work of leading his people from slavery to freedom. God reveals Himself as a “God of tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in kindness and faithfulness, forgiving faults, yet letting nothing go unchecked.”  So Moses has the courage to invite God to accompany them on their journey, to forgive them their faults and sins and adopt them as His own heritage although he admits that “they are a headstrong people.”

When we examine Blessed Jordan’s description of Dominic’s character we find similar traits as those of Moses which I have just mentioned.  As a young man he developed a passionate appetite for God’s word- we get the picture of him imbibing Sacred Scripture with eager longing and storing it in the deepest recesses of his mind but like Moses this pursuit of wisdom and intimate relationship with God was never a purely private affair or solely for his own personal advantage but his love of piety fertilised what he learned, so that it brought forth fruit in the form of saving works – we know that he communicated the tenderness and compassion of God, which he imbibed in prayer, to all and sundry alike.  We are told that in loving all he was beloved by all.
Dominic’s memory was a kind of “barn” for God to fill while his external behaviour and actions publicly broadcast the treasure that lay hidden in his holy breast.  He warmly accepted the Lord’s commandments and his will welcomed the voice of his Lover with loyalty and pleasure – in his contemplation he was able to penetrate the mystery and then communicate it to others through his preaching and his actions.

Dominic’s promise of being more helpful after his death than during his life ought to fill us with confidence - we can rely on his intercession to obtain for us the grace of always following in his footsteps – so that, through our life of prayer and sacrifice we may allow the seed which is the Word of God to grow in our heart by the power of the Holy Spirit and in so receiving it may we be interiorly renewed and more closely conformed to Christ so that we can truly be nuns of the Order of Preachers.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Novena to St Dominic - Day 2

St Dominic - God's obedient Son

Raymond of Capua, Catherine’s confessor and friend, records an extraordinary vision in which Catherin sees the Father begetting the Son. Then the Father speaks of Dominic:
Dearest daughter, I am the Father of these two sons; of the One by natural generation; of the other, by loving and affectionate adoption … This Son who is mine by natural and eternal generation, was most perfectly obedient to me  in all things, even unto death, in the human nature which he assumed. So too, Dominic, this son of mine by adoption, shaped every act he did, from his infancy till the last day of his life, by obedience to my commandments. Never once did he disobey a command of mine … and he preached not only in his own person, but through others also; not only in his own lifetime, but through those who followed him. Through these followers the voice of Dominic’s preaching is heard today, and will continue to be heard. For just as my Son by nature sent his disciples to preach, so did Dominic, my adopted son, send out his friars … just as my Son by nature is my very Word, so this adopted son is the herald and bearer of my Word. And so my special gift to him and his friars is understanding of the words I have spoken, and the grace of never swerving from them.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Our New Roof

The work on our Chapel roof was completed during the week and the sisters are delighted to be able to resume praying the daily Office and Mass in the Chapel after two and a half weeks of being relegated to our Conference Room, which was a bit on the squashed side.

Our thanks to the workmen for getting the job done so quickly, and to God for the good weather during the last three weeks, which helped a lot.

This was something of a ‘rush job.’ We had quite a few leaks over the last year (which were manageable with cloths and buckets, and ‘patching’ of the roof) and were planning to re-do the roof in the autumn. Then the leaks got much worse, with a number appearing over the altar, which made the need to repair the roof rather urgent. Luckily the roofers were able to start work a few days after that and we now have a leak free roof.

As you can imagine this has been a costly undertaking so we would be grateful for any contribution, however small, to help offset the expense involved.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Vocation Discernment Weekend

Please feel free to download this poster and spread it around (pdf file available here).

Tuesday, March 7, 2017


We are a little late in putting up our Lenten reflections but we trust that they may still be helpful for those who read this blog.  We are united with the whole Church as we journey through this Lenten season towards Easter..

It is that time again, LENT. Like anyone who is bothering to read this blog I am thinking about what I should do for Lent this year. The thought occurs to me that if I rephrase the question I might come up with a more fruitful answer. So I ask myself what do I want Lent to do for me? By the time Easter arrives what would I like to be different about me? How can I make that happen?
The season of Lent is God’s gift to us to renew our lives in holiness. By the end of Lent I want to be more aware of God’s love for me and in response to that love to love God more and to reveal his love to others.
The word Lent comes from an old English word lencten meaning ‘springtime’. Spring cleaning is a term we are all familiar with. Once the days begin to lengthen and get brighter we get an itch to empty cupboards and wash curtains, to get into corners where dust, grime and dirt may have gathered without our noticing it during the dark days of winter. This image might not be very vivid in our time when electricity provides us with light twenty four hours a day . But think back to a time of candle light and gas lamps. Light that focused on one area and left the rest in shadow and it becomes quite a powerful image for the season of Lent. There is so much one does not see in the dark. What a fail-safe programme for Lent- to spend time allowing CHRIST OUR LIGHT to light up all that is hidden in the dark corners of our hearts, so that we may remove the accumulation of sin  that we may not have been even aware of. ‘Purify me then I shall be clean, wash me I shall be whiter than snow’ is the clarion call of Lent as we encounter ourselves. Jesus is our Saviour. During Lent we learn how much we are in need of Him.
Our parents and grandparents depending on our age, observed Lent  with rigorous physical penances and severe austere fasting from food. In some respects we seem to be getting off lightly. But while Vatican 11 eased the severe bodily discipline, it was in order to change our focus during Lent, encouraging us to make it ‘a period of closer attention to the Word of God and more ardent prayer’.
I can think of no more powerful programme for Lent than to make a commitment to spend time each day reflecting on the Word of God, in the readings at Mass, allowing God to speak to us of his love and mercy and bringing his Word to bear on our lives.
I invite you to join with us in being faithful to this commitment. Let us journey together, supporting one another with prayer.

Mary, temple of the Trinity, Mother of the Word made flesh, teach us how to ponder the Word in our hearts and to respond as you did, ‘Be it done unto me according to you will’.


READINGS: Joel 2:12-18, Psalm 50, 2Cor 5:20-6:2, Matthew 6:1-6,16-18
Turn to the Lord again, for he is all tenderness and compassions slow to anger, rich in graciousness and ready to relent.
Two little words in the first reading from the prophet Joel became the focus of my reflection, again and ready. ‘Turn to the Lord again’. God knows we have wandered off. There is no need for us to be afraid. That little word assures us that he is aware of our predicament. No matter how often we have strayed or where we have strayed to, he is inviting us back yet again. He welcomes us, encourages us. “I’m here waiting, ready to relent, watching for your return. My heart is full of tenderness and compassion. Come my beloved, come.”
Who could not respond to someone who makes it so easy for us to return? While we are still a long way off, He sees us. I picture Him coming, rushing out to meet me with outstretched arms, embracing me and then putting his arm across my shoulder and leading back into His House. I have returned home.
Now I am going to remain in his company, allowing Him to speak to me of His Love. 

Thursday after Ash Wednesday.

Readings: Deut. 30:15-20, ps.1, Luke 9:22-25

Happy indeed is the one
whose delight is the Law of the Lord
 and who ponders his law day and night.
He is like a tree that is planted
beside flowing water
that yields its fruit in due season
and whose leaves will never fade
The Gospel for today speaks of renouncing myself and taking up my Cross. It all sounds a bit daunting. It is easy to feel a certain dread. I want to draw back from the inevitable cost. This Word seems more death dealing than life giving. My death to myself and my comforts.  I resist.
 But then I remember my prayer time yesterday, and God’s longing for my return to Him and I think not of what I am giving up but of Who I am giving it up for. I am  being asked to let go of my way in order to remain in His company. There will be hard choices, yes, because I am selfish and I need to take on the responsibility of facing myself. Self indulgence, self centrednes, self will,  all these need to be purified but I see Him standing at a fork in the road, beckoning me to take His path, to remain in His presence, to journey with Him. The psalm puts it so beautifully, in choosing Jesus way over my own will, I am choosing happiness and fruitfulness and He will be with me to guard my way. I do not journey alone. Every step on the journey to Calvary is a step nearer to the Resurrection. In each little death the seed of God’s life becomes more deeply rooted in me.

Thursday, March 2, 2017


This is by way of a personal ‘speculation’ for want of a better word.

I think at times in a nun’s life, she not infrequently stops and ‘takes stock’ of what has led her to be where she is, and why she continues and perseveres in her calling – apart from the obvious answer,
which is a ‘Who’ rather than a ‘why’ or a ‘what’ – because obviously Jesus is the answer!

Where does the Gift have its roots?
For many of us, the gift of our vocation is deeply rooted in our families, even though when it comes to the point, it is the family which is the most perplexed by our decision.  They can be the most upset and feel more than anyone else, a sense of ‘loss’ at a daughter’s or sister’s or niece’s departure from them – almost as if she is abandoning them in choosing God before them.

And yet, we find on entering, that when our hearts are moved to thank the Lord for what He has done in our lives; how He has been so lavish in His gift to us of His very self; and how we have felt the wonder that He could choose us for such a life of deep intimacy with Him, as this life is – that the first ‘thing’ we thank Him for is our family.  That is where the journey began, and the further we walk along the road that will hopefully lead us to heaven, the more sure we are that it is our families which have shaped and moulded us and led us to be open to receive and to welcome the gift that this life is.  They are the first people we pray for, when we come before the Lord in prayer and adoration; and the ones we carry constantly in our hearts.

So, how do you ‘break the news’ to the people who love you most?
With difficulty!

But with profound gratitude, too.  Life is a gift, completely unmerited, and filled with wonder, if we would but take the time to think.  We have been given so much; and for the much some of us are given, the only way we can express our gratitude to the Lord for all He has given, is to give our selves to Him, to offer our lives to Him – for Himself and for those whom we love.

We don’t all have ‘the same inspiration’ in responding to the Lord’s invitation – but the family is certainly one.  May the Lord bless all our families, and may they know the loving protection and intercession of our Blessed Mother and St Joseph.

Those who are interested in learning more about our Dominican way of life are welcome to join us for the weekend of the 10th - 12th March, (details can be found here).

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Poster & Prayer for our Vocation Discernment Weekend in March

The poster for our Vocation Discernment Weekend (10th-12th March) is finally available. 
Please feel free to download and spread it around (pdf file available here).

We would also ask our readers to with us in praying this special prayer for Vocations between now and then.

Father, send your spirit to renew us (the Dominican Nuns) through your Word. Help us (them) to live our (their) calling fully, as we ask you to draw young women to our (their) community. With us (the Sisters), may they seek you, find joy in your truth and reflect the unity and love of your life to the world in need. Grateful for one another (the Sisters) and for our (their) calling, we ask you to hear our prayer. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Dobbie and Star

Sometimes it is good to stand back and remember the high moments of a special occasion, say our Advent and Christmas Liturgies – but also to recall the homely and seemingly insignificant things that can speak so eloquently of the love God our Father, has for us, his children – He comes to us in so many ways to reveal the wonder of His Fatherhood, the wonder of Jesus’ life and death in order to save us sinners, the wonder of His creation,

St. Francis is one of the saints who was very conscious of the beauty of Creation and we are told that it was he who created the first Christmas Crib.

But Scripture too has much to tell us as have our poets.  Joseph Mary Plunket’s poem comes to mind:

“I see His Blood upon the Rose and in the stars the glory of His eyes, His body gleams amid eternal snows, His tears fall from the skies”

And Isaiah speaks of the peace that will come to the animal world.

“The wolf shall be the guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid.  The calf and the young lion shall browse together with a little child to lead them. Is.11.6.

During Christmas week, our homely Lord revealed His wonderful love and care for me through Dobbie and Star who are two homeless cats that wandered into our garden several years ago and decided to make their home with us.  Mother, and we think son, are not noted for their great affection for each other so the following episode was a surprise.

A basket had been left outside a door in a sheltered spot and one frosty morning Star was found sleeping peacefully in it.  A short while later, Dobbie was seen to have found her way right inside the basket beside Star and was carefully washing his face with an obvious maternal love!  The son was actually allowing this to happen.

Later again, I found Dobbie with her paw right round Star and both fast asleep – an amazing example of Reconciliation…!

A line from Psalm 90(91) came to mind: 
“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, and abides in the shade of the Almighty says to the Lord, “my refuge, my stronghold, my God in whom I trust”.

 Dobbie and Star’s new found friendship is not in contrast to God’s words to Jeremiah 31.3  “with an age old love I have loved you so I have my mercy for you” and again, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you came to birth I consecrated you” Jer. 1.5.

God’s love is not a passing love.  He sees all my waywardness  and fickleness yet his constant personal love for me never changes.  St. John expresses it so beautifully: “as the Father has loved me so I have loved you – remain in my love” Jn.15.9 .

But our two little friends had still more to teach us.  About a week after Christmas, the basket disappeared and the pussies have not yet returned to their sunny corner, and I really miss their delightful company – ‘Tis called – “Learning necessary detachment”  - but again the poet got my perspectives right –
“He who holds to himself a joy
doth the winge’d life destroy.
He who kisses a joy as it flies
dwells in Eternities’ Sunrise”.

But Dobbie and Star have one final word of advice for us:
Do we know that there is a silver lining to every disappointment and this story ends on a note of joy –

The basket is back and Dobbie lies enthroned!