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, […]

Dreaming with God

Some weeks ago now,  there was held in Dublin, a vocations day for the Dominican Family, at which one person from each ‘branch’ (i.e. friars, sisters, nuns and lay Dominicans) – spoke a little on their path to where they now are. One of the nuns (this one) I don’t know what happened to her, but not to be remembered if at all possible. It caused one of the listeners to ask ‘Are you happy?’ and I don’t know if I even answered the question – rather helplessly, I’m afraid. Something along the lines of ‘our life is needed’! Very lame, like a saturated sponge, pretty awful.That was a while ago, and obviously not far from my mind since, but here during our retreat, I was dreaming with the Lord in the garden – which is not unusual – and in God it was that my answer was found.We don’t ‘go out’ as such; our whole life here is lived here, for the most part lived within the walls and garden of the monastery. If you were to ask many of the sisters here, they would tell you that they all have a missionary heart within them. To go where there is need and bring the Lord with them, to the poor and the sick and the troubled in whatever way. It’s in a sense peculiar, but there it is – true none the less.I am not God, nor am I like Him – even remotely – but I love Him and through baptism, I am in Him. My whole life here is lived in God, in the heart of the Lord – He is everywhere, at every moment. I was smelling the sea, and we […]

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’s 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 ‘restless with a tremendous desire for God’s honour and the salvation of souls’ could have been forgiven if she had become totally disillusioned and had walked away from such a travesty of the ideal but she didn’t 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 ‘limbs were rotting’ that Catherine became a Saint. That is […]

Response to Pope Benedict’s letter to Irish Catholics

In reponse to Pope Benedict XVI’s letter quoted below, we, as a community, are setting aside each Friday of this coming year as a day of prayer and fasting for the renewal of the Church in Ireland.Those of you who live close by our monastery are welcome to join our community for a silent holy hour each Friday of the coming year between 4.45 and 5.45 PM Each day our chapel is open from 7 am until 7 pm and all who wish are welcome to join us for the celebration of the liturgy, Rosary and Eucharistic Adoration.Extract from the Pope’s pastoral letter to the Catholics of Ireland I now invite all of you to devote your Friday penances, for a period of one year, between now and Easter 2011, to this intention. I ask you to offer up your fasting, your prayer, your reading of Scripture and your works of mercy in order to obtain the grace of healing and renewal for the Church in Ireland. I encourage you to discover anew the sacrament of Reconciliation and to avail yourselves more frequently of the transforming power of its grace. Particular attention should also be given to Eucharistic adoration, and in every diocese there should be churches or chapels specifically devoted to this purpose. I ask parishes, seminaries, religious houses and monasteries to organize periods of Eucharistic adoration, so that all have an opportunity to take part. Through intense prayer before the real presence of the Lord, you can make reparation for the sins of abuse that have done so much harm, at the same time imploring the grace of renewed strength and a deeper sense of mission on the part of all bishops, […]

Back on Line!

We are happy to announce that our internet connection is functioning again after more than two weeks – hopefully there will be no further disruption.Today we begin our novena in preparation for the feast of St Catherine of Siena. This year we are remembering in a special way the needs of Pope Bendedict XVI and the universal Church and more particularly our Irish Church – for the victims of sexual abuse and those members of the Church who have failed them, as we pray for the mercy, forgiveness and reconciliation which are so much needed. As we know, St Catherine of Siena prayed, suffered and worked tirelessly for the Pope and the Church of her day. Before Vespers each evening during these nine days of novena one sister reads an extract from Catherine’s writings – this year we will focus mainly on her writings related to the Church and the abuses of her times. During the coming days we hope to share some of these with you.