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A Reflection for Palm Sunday

WE ARE ALL FAMILIAR WITH THE PASSAGE of the Passion Narrative in St. Mathew鈥檚 Gospel in which Jesus is brought before Pilate by the chief priests and elders to condemn Him to death. Pilate is convinced of his innocence but weak in his resolve to free him. He washes his hands and declares 鈥淚 am innocent of this man鈥檚 blood. It is your concern! The rabble respond 鈥淗is blood be upon us and upon our children.鈥
Think deeply for a moment—–鈥楯esus loves us and washes away our sins in his own blood.鈥 He poured out the very last drop of his precious blood Just to save you and me. That is the reality; his blood is upon us and our children. We are bathed in this blood particularly at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and in the Sacrament of Penance as St Catherine of Siena is so fond of telling us. The saintly Sr Mary Jane, of our community, always said when asked to pray for anyone, 鈥淚 will go directly to the Chapel and pour the Precious Blood over her or him鈥, she realised the treasure she had and used it for the salvation of others.

In a reading on the feast of St Agatha, virgin and martyr, we are told that Agatha kept continually in her thoughts the death of her eager lover, Jesus and bore it in her heart as if he had only just been drenched in his own blood.
As we enter with the whole Church into this most solemn of weeks we can accompany our eager Lover on his journey through death to resurrection. Eager in his love for suffering and death? Can that really be true? Listen to St […]

Novena to St Dominic – Day 9

St Dominic’s Charity and HumilityOn 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鈥檚 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 鈥渉e was the lowliest of them all in his humility of heart, but he was their leader in holiness.鈥 ( Libellus No. 12) His first and second Ways of Prayer, are based on humility of heart , as in his first Way of Prayer he 鈥 bowed as low as possible before the altar, as though Christ, whom the altar represents  were present there really and personally鈥 and in the second Way of Prayer,     鈥 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, 鈥 O God, be merciful to me a sinner鈥,  was heard to come from him鈥. 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 […]

Novena to St Dominic – Day 8

St Dominic, The Transfiguration, & TruthOn 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 鈥 it seems appropriate to consider St Dominic and one of the mottoes of the Order 鈥 possibly a lesser known one 鈥 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 鈥 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 鈥 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 鈥榥othing new.鈥  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, […]

Novena to St Dominic – Day 7

St Dominic and PrayerAs we continue our Novena to St Dominic, I would like to reflect on St. Dominic鈥檚  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鈥檚 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鈥檚 methods of prayer known as 鈥淭he Nine Ways of Prayer鈥 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鈥淗EAR O GOD, THE VOICE OF MY PLEADING AS I CALL FOR HELPAS I LEFT UP MY HANDS IN PRAYER TO YOUR HOLY PLACE鈥滲y 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 […]

Novena to St Dominic – Day 6

St Dominic and the Rosary 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 鈥 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 鈥楶aternosters.鈥 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鈥檚 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鈥檚 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鈥檚 life, […]

Novena to St Dominic – Day 5

St Dominic’s passion for the salvation of All 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鈥檚 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 […]

Novena to St Dominic – Day 4

St Dominic and St FrancisAt 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鈥檚 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 […]

Novena to St Dominic – Day 3

St Dominic & MosesIn his Libellus, Blessed Jordan tells us that 鈥渆verywhere Dominic showed himself to be a man of the Gospel in word and in deed鈥 鈥 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鈥檚 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 鈥渢o God or of God鈥. While reflecting on this aspect of Dominic鈥檚 life, the first reading at this morning鈥檚 Mass caught my attention.  There, we see Moses being enveloped in the cloud, symbol of God鈥檚 mysterious Presence and speaking to Him 鈥渇ace to face as a man speaks to his friend.鈥 But this intimate relationship was not solely for the benefit of Moses himself 鈥 rather God wanted to use Moses for the work of leading his people from slavery to freedom. God reveals Himself as a 鈥淕od of tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in kindness and faithfulness, forgiving faults, yet letting nothing go unchecked.鈥  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 鈥渢hey are a headstrong people.鈥漌hen we examine Blessed Jordan鈥檚 description of Dominic鈥檚 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鈥檚 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 […]

Solemnity of Christ the King

A Letter to His Majesty the King of Heaven and earth “I shall keep my sheep in view”   Ezekiel My Lord God, this week as I pondered over your Word from this week’s Mass readings, I often wondered why you care for us as you do.In fact I used to wonder why my father – a very sensible man – ever bothered to rear sheep at all,  troublesome creatures that they are – headstrong and so stupid they would break your heart.And yet My Lord, YOU keep us in view and we indeed  did break your heart, piercing it through with a lance until blood and water poured out, and I know You would do it again for even one of your children in trouble.You are truly our Shepherd King; deeper than all else is your Fatherly care for each one individually. I can’t even imagine how you do keep each one of us, your so wayward children, within the beam of those gentle and merciful eyes of yours, and yet 鈥榯was yourself who told us that the very hairs of our head are numbered—not by angels but by yourself – and that we matter more to you than many sparrows.Long ago, you spoke to us through your prophet telling us “I myself will show my sheep where to rest, I shall bring back the stray, bandage the wounded and make the weak strong鈥 and allow me to remind you that there are many  many of your children suffering for the sake of your Name these times.And Your Majesty, if I may make so bold as to ask You one more question, why, oh why, why do you really love and care for us so […]