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St Catherine

Novena to St Catherine – Day 6

St Catherine – Contemplation & Apostolic Zeal锘縒hen reflecting on the life of St.Catherine of Siena, one is forcibly struck by the depth of her contemplative prayer coupled with a life of unbelievable apostolic zeal.Having lived a solitary life of contemplation for some years, she came to realise that the love of God cannot be separated from the service of humanity.In the 鈥楧ialogue鈥 God says to Catherine – 鈥榳hen you see yourself so ineffably loved by me, you should understand that you are to love as you are loved 鈥 that you are bound to love everyone of my creatures with the same love with which you see yourself loved by me鈥橪eaving the solitary life, she laboured in the streets and around the sick beds and prisons of the city. In addition, she laboured tirelessly and relentlessly, until her dying breath, for the dire needs of the Church and the Papacy of her time, but at no time did she leave her 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.鈥業 give you all my creatures鈥 God says to her 鈥榳hether distant or close, minister to them with the same pure love with which I have loved you鈥. God surely makes the same plea to each one of us, each day, whatever our station in life.As St. Paul so aptly expresses it in his second letter to the Corinthians 鈥榃ith us, Christ鈥檚 love is a compelling motive鈥. (2 Cor.5:1)

Novena to St Catherine – Day 5

St Catherine on Obedience锘緼s we, as a community, have been and continue to reflect on the theme of obedience, I would like to read extracts from one of Catherine鈥檚 Prayers, number eleven, which teaches us many things about obedience, but especially the profound and inseparable link between obedience and love. In this prayer Catherine makes reference to a statement made by the Father in the Dialogue with particular reference to love and obedience. I quote: 鈥淪o you see that in whatever bond of love they finish their lives, that bond is theirs forever and lasts eternally. They are so conformed to my will that they can will only what I will. When time came to an end for them, and they died in grace, their freedom was so bound with the chains of charity that they are no longer capable of sin.鈥 (No 41)Catherine prays:Eternal Godhead!Your Truth shows usthat the soul must strip herself of her selfish willif she wants to be clothed perfectly in yours.Dispossessed of her own will,she is so well clothed in yours that she neither seeks nor desires anythingbut what you seek and will for her.You are in love with such a soul,and she with you.But you love her gratuitously,since you loved her before she came to be,while she loves you because it is her duty.She has come to know that she cannot love you gratuitously,since it is she who is obligated to you,not you to her,and she has seen that this free love which she cannot give to youshe must give to her neighbours,loving them gratuitouslynor does she serve them for any profit she might get from them but only for love;and she loves them because you command itand […]

Novena to St Catherine – Day 4

Reflection on the Gift of Counsel in St Catherine of SienaFrom 鈥楾he Gifts of the Holy Spirit in Saint Catherine of Siena鈥, taken from 鈥楺ue Dijo Dios al Volver鈥 of Dominican Nuns of Olmedo, Spain; transl by Dominican Nuns of Buffalo, New York.St Catherine of Siena may well figure within Christian hagiography as a magnificent director of souls, thanks to the Gift of Counsel.There were many that drew near to her. Some with rectitude of intention, to seek her light and her advice. Others, on the contrary, went with perverse intentions, with the purpose of confounding her, or at least discrediting her before everyone. Among these last we have the greatest figure of Francisco Malavolti. It is perhaps the most impressive conversion. After supreme efforts, he has finally been caught in the net. Many times he had escaped her hands, but she always brought him back until he finally became an exemplary monk, precisely through the saint鈥檚 influence.Malavolti is not content in coming alone. He has brought his friends. Afterwards, these friends became doubly so, by the new fraternity that united them, since Catherine was to be the common Mother of all. Her direction was strong, energetic, but understanding and human. She knew how to wait for God鈥檚 hour; and for each she had a particular way. They were not general directives, but with proper and individual mould.With this same Malavolti, she showed maternal compassion and that tenderness of soul together with extraordinary strength of will. All of Catherine鈥檚 friends had had enough of Malavolti. They constantly advised her to give him up. He continued to play with the virtues. He came and went. He made strong resolutions of virtue and just as quickly […]

Novena to St Catherine of Siena – Day 3

Thoughts on the Eucharist (from the Dialogue of St Catherine of Siena, No. 112; the Father speaking)Dearest daughter, contemplate the marvelous state of the soul who receives this bread of life, this food of angels, as she ought. When she receives this sacrament she lives in me and I in her. Just as the fish is in the sea and the sea in the fish, so am I in the soul and the soul in me, the sea of peace. Grace lives in such a soul because, having received this bread of life in grace, she lives in grace. When this appearance of bread has been consumed, I leave behind the imprint of my grace, just as a seal that is pressed into warm wax leaves its imprint when it is lifted off. Thus does the power of this sacrament remain there in the soul; that is, the warmth of my divine charity, the mercy of the Holy Spirit, remains there. The light of my only-begotten Son’s wisdom remains there, enlightening the mind’s eye. is left strong, sharing in my strength and power, which make her strong and powerful against her selfish sensuality and against the devil and the world.

Novena to St Catherine of Siena – Day 2

“If anyone loves me he will keep my Word,and my Father will love him and we shall come to him and make our home with him.And the Advocate, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name will teach you everything.” (Jh. 14) For St. Catherine these few lines from John must have set her heart on fire as she sought to find human words to express her love and wonder for this God who was so madly in love with her. Let us listen to her outpouring longing for a moment. O Trinity! Eternal Trinity! O Fire Abyss of love! Would it not have sufficed to create us after your own image and likeness, making us reborn through grace, by the Blood of your Son? Was it still necessary that you should give the Holy Trinity itself as food for our souls? Yet your love willed this, you gave us not only your Word through the Redemption and in the the Eucharist, but yourself in your fulness of love for your creatures. What draws you then, O infinite God to your puny creature?LOVE, always love alone, still impels your tenderness towards us, filling us with infinite graces and priceless gifts. For you are the tranquil ocean where souls live and are nourished, finding there repose and love. Catherine thank you for sharing your wonder and praise and adoration with us. Pray that we too may learn a little of this wonder.

Novena to St Catherine of Siena – Day 1

A Reflection on Prayer, given by one of our sisters yesterday, for first day of the Novena to St Catherine of Siena Taken from a letter to Catella, Checcia and Caterina Dentice of Naples, c May 1379Dearest sisters and daughters in Christ gentle Jesus, I Caterina, slave of the servants of Jesus Christ, am writing to you in his precious blood. I long to see you enjoying the food of angels, since you were made for nothing less. To make it possible for you to enjoy it, God brought you back with the blood of his Son.But reflect, .. that this food is eaten not on earth 鈥 that is, in earthly affection, but on high. This is why God鈥檚 Son was lifted up on the wood of the most holy cross, so that up there, at this table, we might eat this food. But you will ask me, 鈥榃hat is this food?鈥 Here is my response. It is the longing within our soul鈥檚 affection. This longing draws God鈥檚 desire to us, and the two become one same thing, the one with the other. 鈥 With force and violence we seize the realm of our soul, which is called heaven because it holds God within it by grace.鈥o this I am inviting you – to dwell always in house of self-knowledge. There we find the angelic food, the impulse of God鈥檚 desire for us. And I am inviting you to the physical cell of keeping vigil with humble, faithful, continual prayer. Strip your heart and affection of every created person and thing, of every love that is outside of God, and clothe […]

Mercy Sunday

We apologise to our readers for our silence during the past few weeks and belatedly we wish you a blessed Eastertide.During the last weeks of Lent we spend a lot of time preparing our liturgy. We were very happy to have Fr Gerard Dunne OP, to preside at our celebrations on Palm Sunday, Holy Week ceremonies and Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday morning Eucharist – all of which were very prayerful and inspiring – thanks to the hard work of preparation. We were not able to celebrate our patronal feast of St Catherine of Siena on the 29th of April as it fell during the Easter Octave – so we celebrate it tomorrow the 2nd of May.We offer the following reflection which one of our sisters shared at Vespers this evening:鈥淚n the evening of that same day, the doors were closed 鈥esus came and stood among them. He said to them 鈥楶eace be with you鈥欌 (Jn 20:19)Whenever I read this account of the Resurrection, to which we listened at this morning鈥檚 Mass, what catches my attention is the fact that Jesus comes to his disciples who are behind locked doors 鈥 they are frightened and full of fear 鈥 perhaps feeling hurt, let down and isolated 鈥 too afraid to reach out to anyone or to let anyone reach them. But into their pain, without any invitation, Jesus appears, shows Himself, reveals Himself, bestows His peace, breathes on them His Spirit and gives them a mission.In all the Resurrection stories one perceives that Jesus is present to His disciples 鈥 though He remains unrecognised until He chooses the moment to reveal Himself and then He vanishes again! 鈥 we think […]

Welcoming our new Postulant

Our celebration of the feast of St Catherine is always a very joyful occasion for our community but this year our joy was even greater than usual – on the eve of the feast we welcomed Cathy into our community as a postulant. The postulants participate in the common life of the community and the novitiate and are gradually introduced to our monastic contemplative way of life.Cathy received much of her spiritual formation from the Legion of Mary – a lay apostolic organisation founded in Dublin by Frank Duff – while as a member of the Legion she generously dovoted much of her free time to aposolic work. Her many friends in the Legion supported and encouraged her in her decision to embrace the way of life of a Dominican Nun. It is interesting that many of our sisters were members of the Legion of Mary before we entered the monastery. While no longer actively engaged in apostolic work we dovote ourselves totally to God while, following the example of our father Dominic, we bear in our hearts the joys and hopes of all people – especially the poor, lonely, the down-trodden and afflicted. While we give thanks to God for Cathy’s presence among us we pray that she will have companion postulants in the near future.Now we are excited as we look forward to Sr Niamh’s solemn profession on the 31st of May. We hope to have a live webcast for those who are interested in following the ceremony which will take place during the celebration of the Eucharist. More details later.

St Catherine of Siena

The following is a reflection shared by one of our sisters as part of our Novena in honour of St Catherine:Looking for inspiration and guidance in the face of the recent upheavals in the Church that have left us all a bit bewildered and shocked I turned to Catherine of Siena. The Church in her time too was in crisis and Catherine could in fact take her stand among the ranks of present day journalists exposing the sins of the Church, so strong and forthright is her condemnation of any one from Pope to pauper who was causing scandal and discrediting the Church of Christ. Indeed very few of the Church鈥檚 present critics could equal her when it comes to plain speaking. An extract from one of her letters says it all In whatever direction you turn among secular and religious priests, clerics and prelates, small and great, you see nothing but offence against God. They all exhale the stench of grave sin.This was the Church that Catherine saw when she looked around her. Catherine a young woman as she puts it herself 鈥榬estless with a tremendous desire for God鈥檚 honour and the salvation of souls鈥 could have been forgiven if she had become totally disillusioned and had walked away from such a travesty of the ideal but she didn鈥檛 walk away. She remained faithful to the Church which was so plainly failing in its mission and which bore little resemblance to Jesus its head and founder. Not only did she not walk away but it was within that very Body of Christ disfigured wounded and broken as it was, a Church whose 鈥榣imbs were rotting鈥 that Catherine became a Saint. That is […]

Novena to St Catherine of Siena

As promised we share here some of Catherine’s writings on which we are reflecting during these days of preparation for her feast on the 29th.The following is an extract from a letter addressed to Fr Bartolomeo Dominici, in Florence in 1375: (taken from Suzanne Noffke’s translation of Catherine’s letters, Vol I)I Catherine, servant and slave of the servants of Jesus Christ am writing to encourage you in the precious blood of God’s Son. I long to see you set afire, swallowed up and consumed in His blazing charity, for we know that those who are set afire and consumed in that true charity lose all self-consciousness. That is what I want you to do.I am inviting you, in this blazing charity, to plunge into a peaceful sea, a deep sea. I have just rediscovered the sea – not that the sea is new, but it is new to me in the way my soul experiences it – in the words “God is love”. Just as the sun shines its light on the earth and a mirror reflects a person’s face, so these words echo within me that everyting that is done is simply love, because everything is made entirely of love, This is why He says “I am God, Love”. This sheds light on the priceless mystery of the incarnate Word, who out of sheer love, was given in such humility that it confounds my pride. It teaches us to look not just at what He did but at the blazing love this Word has given us. It says that we should do as a loving person does when a friend comes with a gift, […]