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A Reflection on the ‘O Antiphon’ for the 17th December

“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.”

 

Today we will sing the first of the ‘O Antiphons’; the beautiful Magnificat Antiphons for the final days of preparation for the coming of Christ at Christmas. These Antiphons address Christ by various titles/attributes and beseech him to ‘Come’.

 

This first Antiphon addresses Christ as ‘Wisdom’. It is a wonderful thing to recognise that Christ is Wisdom and to remember that “the wisdom which comes from above is marked chiefly indeed by its purity, but also by its peacefulness; it is courteous and ready to be convinced, always taking the better part; it carries mercy with it, and a harvest of all that is good; it is uncensorious and without affectation” (Jas 3:17-18).

 

Our world desperately needs such wisdom; not intelligence, or cleverness, or great knowledge about many things, but wisdom – the ability to know and recognise God’s purpose and plan (both for ourselves and for the rest of creation) and to act in accord with that. In other words, the ability to recognise and do what is right. This might seem too difficult and demanding, until we remember that, by the grace of Baptism we have become members of Christ and Christ is, therefore, “our wisdom, our righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1Cor 1:30).

 

A Reflection for Week 3 of Advent

The first Reading of Mass is the invitation to joy. The prophet Zephaniah at the end of the seventh century B.C spoke of the city of Jerusalem and its people with the words: ‘’Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem…..! The Lord your God is in your midst.’’ As in the times of the Prophet Zephaniah, it is particularly to those being tested and to ‘’Life’s wounded and orphans of joy’’ that God’s Word is being addressed in a special way. To transform the world, God chose a humble young girl from a village in Galilee, Mary of Nazareth, and challenged her with this greeting: “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you.’’ In these words lies the secret of an authentic Christmas. God repeats them to the Church, to each of us: Rejoice, the Lord is close!
( Pope Benedict XVI)

By |December 16th, 2018|Advent|0 Comments

A Reflection for Week 2 of Advent

On this Sunday the liturgy presents to us the Gospel passage in which St. Luke prepares the scene on which Jesus is about to enter and begin His public ministry. The Evangelist focuses the spotlight on to John the Baptist, who was the precursor of the Messiah, and with great precision outlines the space-time coordinates of his preaching. The Evangelist evidently wanted to warn those who read or hear about it that the Gospel is not a legend but the account of a true story, that Jesus of Nazareth is a historical figure who fits into that precise context. After this ample historical introduction, the subject becomes ‘’the word of God’’, presented as a power that comes down from Heaven and settles upon John the Baptist.
                                                                                    ( Pope Benedict XVI)

By |December 9th, 2018|Advent|0 Comments

A Reflection for Week 1 of Advent

In Advent, the liturgy frequently repeats and assures us, as if to overcome our natural diffidence, that God ‘’comes’’: He comes to be with us in every situation of ours, He comes to dwell among us, to live with us and within us; He comes to fill the gaps that divide and separate us; He comes to reconcile us with Him and with one another. He comes into human history to knock at the door of every man and woman of good will, to bring to individuals, families and peoples the gifts of brotherhood, harmony and peace. This is why Advent is par excellence the season of hope in which believers in Christ are invited to remain in watchful and active waiting, nourished by prayer and the effective commitment to love.
(Pope Benedict XVI)

By |December 2nd, 2018|Advent|0 Comments

A Window into our Life: Do Dominican contemplative nuns have restless hearts?

After WMOF, it is good to come back to your own roots, to our ‘Grandfather’- St Augustine, as we Dominican brothers and sisters like to call him. St Dominic adopted from him not only the Rule, but also the RESTLESSNESS of the heart.

In ‘Confessions’ (1.1,1) he wrote:

You have made us for yourself,

 and our heart is restless until it rests in You.

Restlessness is not bad thing, that’s what makes us searchers in life. Restlessness keeps us unsatisfied and yearning for more. That ‘more’ is GOD.

We are made for Him. Our real rest is unity with God. Augustine said: ‘I had come to delight in the truth.’ I hated to be wrong’. The love of truth was leading him beyond all the easy answers and further on to ask the real questions. He had to know the essential of things, what doesn’t  change, what doesn’t  disappoint, what doesn’t deceive. By nature Augustine could not be satisfied with anything less than God.

For Augustine it was this very restlessness in his heart which brought him to a personal encounter with Christ, brought him to understand that the remote God he was seeking was the God who is close to every human being, the God close to our heart, who was ‘more inward than my innermost self’(C. 3.6,11)

Even in discovery of and encounter with God, Augustine did not stop, he did not withdraw into himself, like those who have already arrived, but continued his search. The restlessness of seeking truth brings him to the restlessness of love.

And Augustine let God make him restless.

Look into the depths of your heart, look into your own inner depths and ask yourself:

Do you have a heart that desires something great, or you […]

By |August 28th, 2018|Window|0 Comments

Novena to St Dominic 2018 – Day 9

On this last day of the Novena, the eve of St. Dominic’s Day, I would like to speak on the humility of St Dominic. I have always admired Dominic’s humility- probably because I am so much lacking in it myself!

“We are told that in his lifetime, Dominic had wished to be treated always as ‘one of the brethren’- as simply ‘Brother Dominic’ and his dying wish was that he should be buried under the feet of his brethren. It is quite in accordance with his own temperament that he should live on in the Church, not as a striking individual, but in the work of preaching the Gospel, for which he instituted his Order. It is not surprising, then, that he has never been one of the popular favourites among the saints. Men and women do not keep returning to the thought of the man, Dominic, as they do to the thought of the man, Francis. It is rather to the idea of his Order, The Order of Preachers, that they keep coming back to.”

“ I do not read that Christ was a black monk or white monk, but that he was a humble preacher.” With these words a 13th Century Dominican Novice justified his choice of Order against some monks who wished him to join them instead. The essential model which St. Dominic pointed to in the thirteenth century was Christ himself, the humble Christ, wandering round with ‘nowhere to lay his head’, proclaiming the Kingdom of God. Dominic had an overwhelming love for Christ and the Christian faith. His great desire was to bring to everybody the truth of the faith, which would set them free and save their […]

Novena to St Dominic – 2018 – Day 4

 

O Rose of Patience

Each night at the end of Compline we address St Dominic with the antiphon O Lumen: “O light of the Church, teacher of truth, rose of patience, ivory of chastity, you freely poured forth the waters of wisdom, preacher of grace unite us with the blessed.  I would like to reflect on the title ‘O rose of patience.’

Reading through the biographical documents – the process of canonisation and the Libellus of Blessed Jordan of Saxony we notice that almost all the witnesses mention Dominic’s patience – very often his patience is linked to his humility, his kindness and compassion and his love of poverty.  He was patient with himself, with God and with his brothers and sisters.  We may ask ourselves what was the source of Dominic’s patience?  What was his secret that we too might learn?  It seems to me that his patience was the expression of his trust in the Father’s providential love and protection, and a consciousness of Jesus’ promise in St Matthew’s Gospel (which he carried with him always): “know that I am with you always.”  Dominic was at work in the Lord’s vineyard – to which he gave his all but the results depended totally on the Lord and His timing.

Bl. Jordan says that “Dominic’s mind was always steady and calm except when he was stirred by a feeling of compassion and mercy; and since a happy heart makes for a cheerful face, the tranquil composure of the inner man was revealed outwardly by the kindliness and cheerfulness of his expression.  He never allowed himself to become angry.” (103).  We note that Bl Jordan does not say that Dominic never felt angry but that “he did […]

Novena to St Dominic – Day 6: Exploring an Icon of St Dominic

Every one of us is a living icon of God. He created us in his likeness and in his own image.

As you can see, this Icon of St. Dominic is not yet finished. At first I was disappointed not to have completed it in time for his Feast. Then it occurred to me that there was a message for me in this. Like this icon each one of us is not quite finished. We are still on a journey from darkness into the light. It is my hope that the image of St Dominic portrayed or perhaps more accurately, revealed to us through this icon may help us to enter the hidden, inner sanctuary of his heart and there discover more deeply the depths of our Dominican vocation—WHAT WE SHOULD LOOK LIKE.

The first portrait of St. Dominic was a word picture given to us by St. Cecilia, one of the first nuns of the Order, who knew him personally. For a long time historians did not give much credence to St. Cecilia’s description. Then, after World War 2, a scientific examination was done by anthropologists on St. Dominic’s remains and the results confirmed the authenticity of her description. Cecilia had said that he was of medium height- the measurements taken of his relics show that he was five feet six inches tall. She noted that, “His figure was supple; his face handsome and somewhat ruddy; his hair and beard had a reddish tinge. He was not a bit bald; his hair had a touch of grey.” At the bottom of the reliquary the examiners found some shreds of Dominic’s hair. It was exactly as Cecelia had said it was. “From his brow and his […]

Novena to St Dominic – Day 7: St Dominic a man of encouragement

On this 7th day of our Novena in honour of St. Dominic, I would like to share just a few thoughts on St. Dominic as a man of Encouragement.

 

“When your words came, I devoured them, your Word was my delight and the joy of my heart” (Jr.15:16).

How aptly this Scripture text from the prophet Jeremiah can be applied to O.H.F. Dominic – we can just see him in our mind’s eye, contemplating from the depth of his heart with great joy and exultation, this Scripture jewel,  overwhelmed as he always was, with an immense love of Holy Scripture.

‘Dominic showed himself a man of the Gospel in word and deed’, we are told by those who knew him.

With his deep spirit of unceasing prayer and with the Gospel as his weapon, he  was fired with zeal to be an apostle of encouragement among his Nuns, his Friars and all those among whom he laboured.

 

Among his numerous virtues spoken of again and again by those who knew him and by those who bore witness to his life under oath at his canonisation process, his virtue as a man of encouragement, in one form or another,  shines especially brightly – ‘Dominic was compassionate and consoled people in time of temptation, he was a source of strength (or we can say a source of encouragement) to all’.

 

In this day and age the need for encouragement for every person at one time or another, is more needful than ever before, St. Paul himself reminds us in his letter to the Colossians (col.3:16)) – ‘Let the Word of Christ in all its richness dwell in you ……. encourage each other’.

By abiding in God’s encouraging Word speaking in our hearts  we […]

Novena to St Dominic – Day 5: St Dominic and Body Language

My reflection is on the significance and importance of bodily posture in St Dominic’s prayer. As we know from the ‘Nine Ways of Prayer,’ St Dominic used his whole body when he prayed: bowing, prostration, reaching up to heaven.

It struck me as odd that in our time, when there is so great an awareness of the importance of body language in interpersonal communication and of how much of what is communicated is through bodily posture etc., that there should be such a widespread dismissal of any significance of our bodily posture when we pray. It is said that bodily posture doesn’t matter because God looks at the heart.

I think that this ignoring of bodily posture gives rise to a number of problems, largely because it fails to consider the impact that my body language has on my own perception of, and response to, the person that I am talking or listening to. To give an example, if at a lecture I am slouched and looking off out the window my body is telling my mind not to pay attention. If, on the other hand, I sit up straight, keep eye contact and watch expectantly, my body is telling my mind to pay attention.

Our bodily prayer postures act in a similar way: blessing ourselves as we enter a Church reminds us that we are entering a holy place and is also a sort of trigger (as is kneeling) that we are about to pray (like the way insomniacs are advised to develop a ‘pre-bed’ physical routine that will trigger the mind to prepare to sleep). Similarly, genuflecting before the tabernacle is the bodily expression that Jesus (God) is truly present here. Kneeling and prostration likewise […]