Novena in preparation for the feast of St Dominic

 Today we being the novena in preparation for the feast of St Dominic – before Vespers each evening for the coming nine days we have a short reflection followed by the singing of the ‘O Spem’ – a prayer reminding St Dominic of his promise that he would be more helpful to his brothers and sisters after his death than when he was alive.  Readers of this blog might like to join us in praying to St Dominic during these days:O wonderful hope which you gave to those who wept for you at the hour of your death, that after your decease you would be helpful to your brethren.Fulfil Father what you have said and help us by your prayersYou shone on the bodies of the sick by so many miracles, bring us the help of Christ to heal our sick souls.Fulfil Father what you have said and  help us by  your prayers.

Novena to St Catherine – Day 9

  The theme of ‘newness’ is woven into the Mass Readings for this 5th Sunday of Easter – ‘a new heaven and new earth; the new Jerusalem, a new creation’ and in the Gospel Jesus speaks of a ‘new commandment’.  At the Episcopal Ordination of our new coadjutor Archbishop on Sunday last, both he and Cardinal Brady commented on Archbishop Eamon’s motto: ‘Sing a new song to the Lord.’  To quote Archbishop Eamon “the new song is a song of love, that God unconditionally loves each one of us, despite our sinfulness and imperfections, and that the Lamb of God, who suffered and died to take away the sins of the world, has mercy on us.” But we must ensure that “it is the Lord’s song that we are singing, and not simply our own composition” and “we must sing in harmony with one another”  and our “new song must never dilute the strength of Christ’s message but must capture faithfully the timeless truth of the Gospel. And that can only happen if we live in communion with Christ and with one another”  In The Dialogue, Chapter 64 Catherine outlines what the Heavenly Father taught her about love of God and love of neighbour and provides us with a recipe for putting into practice this new commandment of love.  I quote: “If you have received my love sincerely without self-interest, you will drink your neighbour’s love sincerely. It is just like a vessel that you fill at the fountain, if you take it out of the fountain to drink, the vessel is soon empty. But if you hold your vessel in the fountain while you drink, it will not get empty; indeed […]

Novena to St Catherine – Day 7

On this 7th day of our Novena, I would like to share an extract from “The Life of St. Catherine of Siena by Raymond of Capua”.  Blessed Raymond was St. Catherine’s Confessor and Spiritual Director. It illustrates St. Catherine’s love of the Blessed Eucharist and her frequent reception of it at a time when that was not common practice in the Church.“All who knew Catherine were well aware of her profound and characteristic reverence and devotion towards the Blessed Sacrament of the Body of our Lord.  She received the Sacrament so frequently that it was popularly reported that the “maiden Catherine receives Holy Communion every day,” and that she lived and kept up her strength on it without taking any other food.  Although in saying this they were not quite correct, still I believe they spoke in good faith, and to the honour of God, who always shows himself wonderful in his saints.  The fact was that Catherine did receive Holy Communion with heartfelt devotion, not indeed every day, but frequently.  For this reason certain people whom I must refer to in the biblical phrase as “satraps of the Philistines” rather than as Christian believers in this regard, murmured against the frequency of  her communions.  But I took up her defence against them and they could not rebut the arguments I gave.  I routed them with the words and the actions of the holy Fathers and of holy Church herself.”“So great sometimes was her longing for Communion that, on occasions on which she had to go without it, her frail body went through more suffering than if she had been suffering intense pain or fever for days at a time.   All that bodily distress […]

Novena to St Catherine – Day 6

 In this Year of Faith, St. Catherine’s teaching on faith in the following letter can be helpful to all of us as we ponder her words: Letter T 31 to Madonna MitarellaMarch 1373 In the name of Jesus Christ crucified and of gentle Mary.Dearest and very loved mother and sister in Christ gentle Jesus, I Caterina, useless servant of Jesus Christ, send you greetings and encouragement in his precious blood. I long to see you a faithful servant in God’s sight, firm in the faith that gives joy and happiness to our soul. We must have the sort of faith our Saviour spoke of: “If you had faith as small as a grain of mustard seed and you commanded this mountain, it would move.” I beg you, dearest sister, to keep living in this faith.You wrote me that because of what has happened, you are placing your faith and confidence only in the prayers of God’s servants. I beg you then, in the name of God and of our gentlest love Jesus Christ, to stand firm in this sweet holy faith. Oh sweet life-giving faith! If you persevere in that faith, sadness will never overtake your heart. For sadness comes only from putting our trust in creatures. But creatures are frail, lifeless things that sooner or later fail, and our heart can never rest except in what is stable and secure. When we set our heart on other people it is not set on anything stable, for a human being is alive today and tomorrow is dead. So, if we wish to have peace we must rest our heart and soul with faith and love in Christ crucified. Only then will our soul find […]

Novena to St Catherine of Siena – Day 5

The Prayer of St. Catherine on which I am reflecting  today, is a typically Trinitarian one, calling on the Father as Power the Son as Wisdom and the Holy Spirit as Mercy.  Its concerns reflect St. Catherine’s pre-occupation:  Peace and unity for the Church, mercy for the world and the people to whom she was ministering, and strength for herself in the tension under which she found herself working.  PRAYERPower of the eternal Father, help me!Wisdom of the Son, enlighten the eye of my understanding!Tender Mercy of the Holy Spirit, enflame my heart and unite it to yourself!I proclaim, eternal God, `that your power is powerful and strong enough to free your Church and your people, to snatch us from the devil’s hand,to stop the persecution of Holy Church, and to give me strength and victory over my own enemies.I proclaim that the wisdom of your Son, who is one with you, can enlighten the eye of my understandingand that of your people,and can relieve the darkness of your sweet bride.And I proclaim, eternal gentle goodness of God, that the mercy of the Holy Spirit, your blazing charity, wants to enflame my heart and everyone’s and unite them with yourself.Power of you, eternal Father,wisdom of your only begotten Son in his precious blood;mercy of the Holy Spirit,fire and deep well of charitythat beheld this Son of yours fixed and nailed to the cross-you know how toand you canand you want to, so I plead with you:have mercy on the world and restore the warmth of charityand peace and unity to holy Church.O me!      I wish you would not delay any longer!I beg you, let your infinite goodness force younot to close the […]

Novena to St Catherine of Siena – Day 4

Reflection on Charity – from the Dialogue of St Catherine of Siena, Chap. 148 Enlarge your heart, daughter, and open your mind’s eye to the light of faith. See with what great love and providence I have created and ordained humankind to rejoice in my supreme eternal reward. I have provided everything in soul and body, for the imperfect and the perfect, for the good and the bad, spiritually and temporally, in heaven and on earth, in this mortal life and in the immortal.In this mortal life, so long as you are pilgrims, I have bound you with the chain of charity. Whether you want it or not, you are so bound. If you should break loose by not wanting to live in charity for your neighbors, you will still be bound by it by force. Thus, that you may practice charity in action and in will, I in my providence did not give to any one person or to each individually the knowledge for doing everything necessary for human life. No, I gave something to one, something else to another, so that each one’s need would be a reason to have recourse to the other. So though you may lose your will for charity because of your wickedness, you will at least be forced by your own need to practice it in action. Thus you see the artisan turn to the worker and the worker to the artisan: Each has need of the other because neither knows how to do what the other does. So also the cleric and religious have need of the layperson, and the layperson of the religious; neither can get along without the other. And so with everything else.Could I […]

Novena to St Catherine of Siena – Day 2

Today is the 2nd day of the novena to St Catherine. It is also Vocation Sunday. So during the week as I was reflecting on St Catherine I had the theme of Vocations in mind also and today’s Gospel-‘I know my own and mine know me’. Somehow these converged for me in a single Gospel text-‘This is Eternal Life to know you the one true God and Jesus Christ whom you have sent’.This is the reason for our existence. This is why God created us, why He sent His Son to redeem us- so that we might know God, might participate in the very life of God, might experience being utterly and completely taken up into God’s love and be endlessly happy. The vocation of every human being is to fulfil this purpose for which we were brought into being. Our personal vocation is to discover and to follow the path marked out for us, to follow that path until we reach our destination and are one with God forever.Catherine with this end always in view, travelled the way with single minded resolution, and in doing so brought many with her. The rest of us-well sometimes our eyes get heavy, our vision falters, we become somewhat short sighted and the things around us seem more attractive than the distant scene. We let our gaze roam, the bye ways beckon and we leave the way to explore alternative routes. Sometimes we even get lost.On this vocation Sunday let us listen to Catherine reminding us of what we are about. Let the fire of her love set us alight, that aglow with the love of God, we might light up the way for others.Catherine was utterly […]

Novena to St Catherine of Siena, 2013 – Day 1

During the Novena to St Catherine, each evening before Vespers a sister shares a reflection or some extracts from her writings. We are happy to share these with our readers during the coming days.Day 1Recently we experienced the great joy of the Election of Pope Francis following the Retirement of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, and as today we begin our Novena in preparation for St. Catherine’s Feast day, I was reflecting on her deep concern and zeal for the Papacy in her particular time of the Church’s history.For many eras, the Church has been truly blessed with wonderful Popes, each with his own personality and God given gifts has been one hundred per cent dedicated in responding to his high calling from God.   Pope Francis, no less than his predecessors faces  so many difficulties in our own particular historical situation both in the Church and in our world.  Surely we can with great confidence invoke the powerful intercession of St. Catherine to plead for the guidance and strength of the Holy Spirit which our Holy Father Francis, needs in his daily ministry..  Each successive Pope has had to face much criticism not only by the media but sadly at times from his own flock for what he has or has not done, or what some people think he has or has not done..  Yet at the same time, I think it is true to say, that the Popes of our own times have been deeply appreciated and looked up to by a great majority of people of all races, colours and creeds.  They have been very prayerful Shepherds whose hearts have bled for suffering humanity, for the peoples suffering war, violence of so many kinds, abuse, […]

Novena to St Dominic – Day 9

At the beginning of the Libellus – Blessed Jordan’s account of the beginnings of the Order, we read: “God’s Providence raised up the Order of Preachers as a remedy for the perils of these latter days.”   Other early biographical documents describe the world into which Dominic was born as a “world wrapped in darkness where the light was sinking” – where Dominic “shone like a new star” and as a “light that would illuminate with its beams the whole world”  – a light not just for his own time but has continued to shine, through the members of his Order, down to our own day when the darkness and confusion seem to grow even more intense and widespread. We are all part of that darkness through our own sinfulness, blindness and stubbornness.  Yet as Christians and followers of Dominic we are also called to be light in the midst of the darkness of our time.We notice that the darkness grows more intense as God seems to be increasingly forgotten and excluded from our society.  The remedy then is for us to become more aware of the all-encompassing Presence of God and to live our lives bathed in the light of that Presence – to radiate that presence to those around us as Dominic did.  Dominic we are told spoke only to God or about God – yet he was a wonderful companion to his brothers and sisters – always radiating compassion, gentleness and kindness.  In his recent letter to the Order fr Bruno reminded us that “the Divine Office, the sanctification of the hours, is an act of faith for us that, despite our failings, brings us always into the Presence of God.”  And he […]

Novena to St Dominic – Day 8

Today’s liturgy leads us into the great mystery of the Transfiguration of our Lord, Jesus Christ. At Mass, we heard in the Gospel: “this is my Son, the Beloved, listen to him”. (Mk 9:8)Each line in the Scripture is an expression of the Eternal Father’s Word, calling us to LISTEN to that Word so that we might have “life in abundance” (Jn 10:10).Our entire existence is really a call to be a hearer and keeper of the Word of God. When we speak of hearing, it is FAITH first of all of which we speak. Thus ‘faith is the organ of hearing,’ and ‘believing and hearing the Word of God’ is one and the same.For me, St. Dominic is the best teacher of listening and obeying the Living Word.In the Legenda of St. Cecilia we are told “in the evening time, Dominic used to come to the sisters and give them a conference in his brethren’s presence, and he used to instruct them in the duties of the Order, for they had no other master than himself”. This one sentence from the first generation of the Order is rich in meaning, it tells us that Dominic took pains to make sure that the nuns received a good formation in the Order, it is also significant that Dominic preached to the nuns in the brethren’s presence, for it tells us that the brethren and the nuns are formed together to be of one mind and heart. The brethren and the nuns were to share the same vocation, striving for the goal of Preaching for the salvation of souls, yet each according to their particular expression.Dominic himself was formed by constant listening and reflection on the […]