Novena to St Dominic 2015 – Day 8

Since today is the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord, it seems appropriate to focus in this reflection on the importance that the Word of God has in St Dominic’s life and preaching. It can be said that St Dominic truly lived and was granted the grace asked for in today’s opening prayer: “grant, we pray, to you servants, that, listening to the voice of your beloved Son, we may merit to become coheirs with Him.”  We know that he always carried with him on his journeys one of the Gospels and the letters of St Paul and it is said that he knew them by heart. The study of Scripture is, of course, an important part of the life of the Order so that the “seeds of the Word of God” may be given to others through preaching. But, of even more significance is the example Dominic left us of his use of Scripture in his prayer. In the little booklet “The Nine Ways of Prayer of St Dominic,” which dates from the 13th century, a number of those Ways of Prayer involve Scripture.  Most of the Ways of Prayer (e.g. the Second, Third, Fourth, Sixth and Seventh Ways) included the frequent repetition of short phrases from Scripture (e.g. Lk 18:13 “God be merciful to me a sinner”, Mt 8:2, the Psalms etc).In the Fifth Way of Prayer “he held himself, standing with great respect and devotion, as if he were reading in the presence of God. Deep in prayer, he seemed to meditate on the words of God, and as it were to repeat them over and over to himself with delight.” A practice that he would also adopt […]

Novena to St Dominic 2015 – Day 7

Pope Francis has announced that the coming year-2016 will be a year dedicated to the Mercy of God for the whole Church, and by a happy coincidance our Order is celebrating the 800th Jubilee of its foundation. Reading through the Libellus and other documents of these early days I find that one of the most frequently mentioned characteristics of St. Dominic is his compassion, again and again we read of his long night vigils as he struggles with God to have Mercy on all His children, especially his most wayward ones.   Mercy Mercy, he cried, Lord have mercy on your children. What will become of sinners ?Dominic could resonate with the beautiful lines from the poet on mercy and this was surely his way of thinking and his way of seeing life.               “The quality of mercy is not strained—-it droppeth like the gentle dew from heavenUpon the place beneath:  it is twice blest;——-it blesseth him that gives and him that takes”                                                                                                                        ShakespeareSt Lukes’ Gospel on the Proddigal Son would have been especially dear to Dominic. It is said that he pondered with Mary the Word of God and St Paul’s letters that he always carried with him, knowing them almost by heart.    We can see him pleading with and sharing the full depth of this story with the man in the inn as they talked and argued all night  long, and also with the sinners who were drawn to him, as they sensed that here was a man who would listen to their story and understand their problems, and sinfullness.—I will arise and go to mt Father—I have sinned […]

Novena to St Dominic 2015 – Day 4

St Dominic and the RosaryToday we reflect on our Dominican tradition of devotion to the Holy Rosary and we quote from a letter (September 1985) by Fr Damian Byrne OP when he was Master of the Order. The Dominican legend of the Rosary – “The barren land”The order was born into a barren land: dichotomized humanity, with flesh warring against the spirit, with woman downgraded and life itself despised, was unable to accept the reality of the Word made flesh, dwelling in the midst of us. There was only one answer, and it was summed up in the simple words: “Hail… the Lord is with you… you will conceive in your womb, and bear a son…” (Luke 1: 28-31).Whatever critical historians may have to say about the Legend of the Rosary, it bears witness to the charismatic gift entrusted by the Church to the Order of Preachers, a gift which we must exercise by reason of profession, by our legislation and by the constant exhortation of the See of Rome.The Legend, as such, is worth recalling in these days of renewed insistence on our preaching ministry: After much fruitless labour, tradition has it that the Mother of God appeared to Dominic in the forest of Bouconnenear Toulouse: “Wonder not that until now you have had such little fruit from your labours. You have spent them on a barren soil, not yet watered with the dew of divine grace. When God willed to renew the face of the earth he began by sending down the fertilizing dew of the Angelic Salutation. Preach my Rosary composed of one hundred and fifty Aves, and you will obtain an abundant harvest.”True devotion to MaryIt places Mary in her […]

Novena to St Dominic 2015 – Day 3

In the Fundamental Constitution of the Order we find the phase “following in the footsteps of the Saviour, speaking among themselves or their neighbours, either with God or about God.”  In the Process of Canonisation the Brethren indicated that this was wholly characteristic of Dominic their founder – frequently repeating that he “only spoke to God or about God.”Yet this formula is not a creation of Dominic – he borrowed it from the founder of the Order of Grandmont, St Stephen of Thiers: The virtuous man should always speak of God or with God; for in his prayer he speaks with God and with his neighbour of God”This sentence makes clear how the synthesis of the two aspects of Dominican life operate together, and transcend all dualism.  Our life will have all the more unity, when our activity is rooted and flows from our union with God.St Dominic was a person who was undivided in himself, because he was open to all.  He was open to all because the one love that is the source of all – the form of all and the end of all – is one in him and in all.  He was capable of experiencing the truth that we are completely rooted and grounded in God’s love.The following quotation from Love and Living by Thomas Merton is relevant here: “Christianity is a religion of the Word.  The Word is Love, but we sometimes forget that the Word emerges first of all from silence.  When there is no silence, then the one Word which God speaks, is not truly heard as Love. Then only ‘words’ are heard. ‘Words’ are not Love, for they are many and Love is […]

Novena to St Dominic 2015 – Day 2

On this second day of our Novena in honour of St. Dominic, I cannot help calling to mind one of the great outstanding qualities of St. Dominic, namely, that of his zeal.  The dictionary describes it as ’an  intense enthusiasm for a cause’, and those belonging to the family of St. Dominic are only too well  aware how well this description fits his intense enthusiasm for the salvation of souls.So much so that he spent his nights and much of his day in prayer, pleading for their salvation, even to the point of offering himself to be cut in pieces to be placed at the gates of hell to save poor sinners.  This reminds us of the words of Jesus in St. John’sGospel (Ch.2) ‘Zeal for your house devours me’.Oh, how zealously St. Dominic laboured to bring Christ’s mercy and healing to the people of his time – surely in our day he longs even more  to reach out to our needy sisters and brothers, which he does, through the ministry of his many sons and daughters in every part of the world – for those caught up in drug and alcohol addictions, in sexual abuse, slave trading, human trafficking, abortion of innocent babies in the womb and suicide to mention only some of the desperate needs that plague our world in this new millennium.  It was to bring the compassion and healing of Jesus to such needy peoples that St. Dominic founded his Order –  specifically for their salvation.  We read in the Book of Numbers (Ch.25)  ‘the Lord said to Moses: ‘Phinehas the priest, has turned my wrath away from the children of Israel my people, because he was the […]

Special Novena to pray for protection of family life

We invite all our readers to join us in praying for the protection of family life and for the light and guidance of the Holy Spirit for all our Irish people in the forthcoming referendum when we are asked to vote to radically change  the definition of marriage in the Irish Constitution – which will have far reaching effects on Irish society in the future. 13th–22ndMay 2015 (incl)           Rosary after Vespers each dayOn Fridays 15th & 22ndduring Holy Hour (7.30– 8.30) If you cannot join us in our chapel you can join with us in Spirit by praying the rosary or any other prayer for this intention.

Novena to St Catherine – Day 8

In the preparation of this reflection I focused on the ‘Prayers’ of Catherine, in the hope of acquiring some tips regarding the improvement of my own prayer. Sr. Mary O’Driscoll O.P. of the Cabra Congregation, who is an authority on the teaching of Catherine, having chosen her as the subject of her doctoral theses, has supplied me with most of the facts on Catherine’s Prayers. Only twenty six of her Prayershave been preserved for us. These are not Prayersthat she herself wrote or even dictated to others. Rather, they were transcribed by one or other of her followers who were present as she prayed aloud. All of these Prayers belong to the last four years of her life and so expound a certain maturity of her thought.They impress us by their simplicity, their intense concentration on God who is repeatedly praised and thanked, and their constant desire for the salvation of others. This echoes the motto of the Order: to praise, to bless, to preach, always with the salvation of people uppermost in mind. It is interesting to note how the themes that run through the Dialogue and Letters are taken up in the Prayers.In them, Catherine’s  theology becomes her doxology.Catherine was a great and powerful intercessor. In her Prayers, we find her pleading with God passionately and urgently for mercy for all: for the world, the Church, the pope, her friends and followers, all those in need. Knowing this challenges me as I reflect on how I pray: do I focus intensely on God, in praising and thanking him and do I pray with passion and urgency for others – do I pray from the depths of my heart and with my whole […]

Novena to St Catherine – Day 7

Celebrating the Year for Consecrated Life with the local religious on World Day of Prayer for Vocations  during the novena to St Catherine.On Sunday the 26th April, Good Shepherd Sunday, we were joined by local religious for the celebration of Vespers followed by a get together.Reflection  In his message for today’s world day of prayer for vocations, Pope Francis reflects on the Exodus experience for he says “to offer one’s life in mission is possible only if we are able to leave ourselves behind” and he continues: “At the root of every Christian vocation we find this basic movement, which is part of the experience of faith – transcending ourselves, leaving behind our comfort and the inflexibility of our ego in order to centre our life in Jesus Christ. The Christian vocation is first and foremost a call to love, a love which attracts us and draws us out of ourselves, “decentring” us and triggering ‘an on-going exodus out of the closed inward-looking self towards its liberation through self-giving, and thus towards authentic self-discovery and indeed the discovery of God’ (Deus Caritas Est, 6).”But this going out of ourselves, leaving all behind in order to put our lives and our whole existence at the service of the Kingdom of Godis only made possible when we have come to know and experience the God who is Love – the LOVE of which our Mass Readings for this fourth Sunday of Easter speak.  St John invites us to “think of the love the Father has lavished on us by letting us be called God’s children” (1Jn 3:1) and in the Gospel we hear Jesus telling us that He is the Good Shepherd who lays down his […]

Novena to St Catherine of Siena 2015

 When reflecting on the life of St. Catherine of Siena, one is forcibly struck by the depth of her contemplative prayer united with her life of unbelievable apostolic zeal amid all her own personal spiritual and physical suffering.Having lived a solitary life of contemplation for some years, the Holy Spirit led Catherine to understand that the love of God cannot be separated from the service of his people.In the ‘Dialogue’ God says to Catherine: ‘when you see yourself so ineffably loved by me, you should understand that you are to love as you are loved – that you are bound to love everyone of my creatures with the same love with which you see yourself loved by me’.Leaving the solitary life, she laboured in the streets and around the sick beds and the prisons  of the city.  In addition she laboured relentlessly and tirelessly until her dying breath for the dire needs of the Church and the Papacy of her time, but at no time did she leave the interior cell  or her life of contemplation and union with God.  This was the secret of the extra-ordinary fruitfulness of her life given for the salvation of souls. ‘I give you all my creatures’ God says to her ‘whether distant or close, minister to them with the same pure love with which I have loved you’. God surely makes the same plea to each one of  us, each day, whatever our calling or circumstances in life may be.In this context, I quote the following profound words of  Fr.Walter Ciszek who in the midst of years of excruciating suffering in solitary confinement and in concentration camps in Russia during the war, was inspired by God’s Holy […]

Novena to St Dominic 2014 – Day 9

 These past days we have been reflecting on the life and virtues of St Dominic and his zeal for the salvation of souls.  Blessed Jordan of Saxony concludes his Libellus (a short history of the beginnings of the Order) with the exclamation: “who could ever hope to imitate the virtues of this man Dominic?” and he continues: “we can however admire them and weigh up the slackness of our own generation against his example.”  In the face of Dominic’s virtues Jordan more or less felt that we could never reach that holiness without an extra special grace – somehow we hear a certain resignation in his tone as he encourages us to “follow in our father’s footsteps to the best of our ability.”  But I’m sure Dominic himself would have something different to say to us.  No doubt, Dominic was convinced that God’s infinite love and mercy which were the source of his strength and his zeal, were available to all his children.  He was always aware of how much he himself stood in need, totally dependent on God’s infinite mercy and in prayer frequently called out for that mercy: “Lord what will become of sinners!”  Although Dominic preserved his Baptismal innocence throughout his life this was not the result of any merit on his part – he knew that he stood in need of God’s infinite mercy as much as the greatest sinner.  I think that Dominic’s wish would be that each of us become the person we were created to be – not a replica of himself.  We see this from his respect for individuals – a respect which has been a characteristic of the Order down to the present day.  Often […]