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Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

 For the past 6 weeks we have been reflecting on the coming among us of the Son of God 鈥 the Word was made flesh and pitched his tent among us (Jn1)  The Eternal Word of the God took on our human nature in all its beauty and frailty – sin excepted 鈥 in Mary鈥檚 womb and was born as a baby. Today we meet Jesus, the fully grown man, at prayer after having been baptised by John the Baptist.  John鈥檚 baptism was a baptism of repentance 鈥 the people who came to him acknowledged their sins and were baptised as a sign of their repentance.  Jesus, the sinless and all holy One, did not need baptism 鈥 yet he accepts John鈥檚 baptism as a sign of his solidarity with sinful men and women.  This act of humility – of total self-emptying 鈥 caused heaven to open and the Holy Spirit to descend and the voice of the Father declares: 鈥淵ou are my Son, the Beloved, my favour rests on you.鈥  Here we have a great mystery: that at the very moment when Jesus stands in solidarity with sinners the Father should declare him as his beloved Son on whom rests His favour 鈥 (and by inclusion all of us) – and we have the revelation of the Holy Trinity.  As St Paul tells us in today second reading: 鈥淲hen the kindness and love of God our saviour for humankind were revealed, it was not because he was concerned with any righteous actions we might have done ourselves; it was for no reason except his own compassion that he saved us by means of the cleansing waters of the Holy Spirit.鈥 (Titus 3:4)In the waters […]

By |January 13th, 2013|Liturgy|0 Comments

22nd Sunday – Year B

 鈥淚n Him we live and move and have our being鈥 鈥 these words spoken by St Paul to the people of Athensin the Acts of the Apostles came to mind as I reflected on today鈥檚 Mass readings.In the first reading Moses asks the question: 鈥渨hat great nation has its gods so close as the Lord our God is to us when we call upon him?  and what great nation is there that has laws and customs to match this whole Law that I put before you today?  Moses invites the people to listen and to put this Law into practice and he gives the reason why – so that they may have life! and may enter and take possession of the land which the Lord is giving to them.  For the Israelites we know that this land was Canaan or Palestine but for us Christians its meaning has been expanded beyond all imagining 鈥 St James in the second reading gives us a clue as he re-echoes a similar message: 鈥渋t is all that is good, everything that is perfect which is given us from above; it comes down from the Father of all light.  By his own choice he made us his children by the message of the truth鈥 鈥. And then he invites us to 鈥渓isten and submit to the word which is planted in us and can save our souls.鈥 Possession of the land in the Old Testament can now be translated as possession all the graces and blessings which have come to us through Christ 鈥 in a word the gift of Salvation 鈥 belonging to the family of the Trinity 鈥 sharing in the very relationship of the […]

By |September 2nd, 2012|Liturgy|0 Comments

Novena to St Dominic – Day 9

At the beginning of the Libellus – Blessed Jordan鈥檚 account of the beginnings of the Order, we read: 鈥淕od鈥檚 Providence raised up the Order of Preachers as a remedy for the perils of these latter days.鈥   Other early biographical documents describe the world into which Dominic was born as a 鈥渨orld wrapped in darkness where the light was sinking鈥 – where Dominic 鈥渟hone like a new star鈥 and as a 鈥渓ight that would illuminate with its beams the whole world鈥  – 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 鈥 to radiate that presence to those around us as Dominic did.  Dominic we are told spoke only to God or about God 鈥 yet he was a wonderful companion to his brothers and sisters 鈥 always radiating compassion, gentleness and kindness.  In his recent letter to the Order fr Bruno reminded us that 鈥渢he 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.鈥  And he […]

Novena to St Dominic – Day 8

Today鈥檚 liturgy leads us into the great mystery of the Transfiguration of our Lord, Jesus Christ. At Mass, we heard in the Gospel: 鈥渢his is my Son, the Beloved, listen to him鈥. (Mk 9:8)Each line in the Scripture is an expression of the Eternal Father鈥檚 Word, calling us to LISTEN to that Word so that we might have 鈥渓ife in abundance鈥 (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 鈥榝aith is the organ of hearing,鈥 and 鈥榖elieving and hearing the Word of God鈥 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 鈥渋n the evening time, Dominic used to come to the sisters and give them a conference in his brethren鈥檚 presence, and he used to instruct them in the duties of the Order, for they had no other master than himself鈥. 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鈥檚 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 […]

Novena to St Dominic – Day 7

Guy Bedouelle o.p. provided me with a starting point for my reflection on St Dominic. In his book 鈥楾he grace of the Word鈥 he has this to say:When Dante called St Dominic 鈥渢he passionate lover of the Christian Faith鈥 he referred to the entire life of the Father of Preachers, to his unflagging eagerness to bear witness to this faith, to defend it and to transmit it. If St Dominic yearned to penetrate Catholic teaching through study, to be able to expound it in persuasive terms, if he aspired to affirm it in every way in order to 鈥渟trengthen his brethren鈥, it was because his own faith was flawless and intense.鈥滺e goes on to say thatChrist is the centre of faith and its source. It is through Him that we embrace all that the Church believes. The theology of St. Dominic, if we may speak of the theology of one who left no written works, seems based entirely on Redemption through Christ, from which everything else in Christian teaching radiates.The Christ who had saved Dominic, this Jesus whom he contemplated, followed and preached was the Son of God, the Redeemer. When Dominic exhorted his brethren to prayer he said only this 鈥淟et us think of our Saviour鈥 (Bolognia, 41)鈥淟et us think of our Saviour.鈥 Through this little phrase we see into the heart of Dominic and get an insight into the source from which all his apostolic zeal and activity flowed. Dominic鈥檚 eyes are ever on Jesus. 鈥淗e spoke only to God or of God鈥 we are told. Dominic always turns us towards Jesus; to make Jesus known and loved is his sole preoccupation. He spent his nights with Jesus in prayer and his […]

Novena to St Dominic – Day 6

In reflecting on the life of St Dominic, in preparation for his Feast-day, I was struck once again by his passion for preaching, for the proclamation of the Gospel. For most of his adult life he longed to go and bring Christ to those pagans who had never heard the gospel. Although this was not possible, he founded his order in response to the Albigensian heresy, working tirelessly to proclaim the Truth, who is Christ, to those who had been deceived by falsehoods and half-truths. As Jordan of Saxony, Dominic鈥檚 successor, wrote, it was for 鈥渢hese innumerable souls who were deceived that they felt moved by deep compassion鈥. This is in marked contrast to an attitude sometimes encountered today: the idea that what matters is the sincerity of one鈥檚 beliefs not what is believed. At times this can go so far as thinking that people would be 鈥榖etter off鈥 not knowing, because once they are given the Gospel they will be obliged to 鈥榢eep all the requirements鈥, and will fail and sin whereas at the moment they are not sinning because they don鈥檛 know. Thinking about this presented me with something of a jolt 鈥 to what extent are my own thoughts and actions influenced by this attitude? Do I see my faith as a collection of 鈥榬equirements鈥, of 鈥渉ard sayings鈥 (Jn 6:60) and not what it truly is, what St Dominic lived and proclaimed: the Good News! The greatest news I could possibly bring to another person 鈥 our redemption; the invitation to share, even now, in the inner life of the Trinity; the chance to know Christ, to live in and with Him, most especially in that most intimate communion when we […]

Novena to St Dominic – Day 5

A Reflection on St Dominic and Prayer, given by one of our sisters, for the fifth day of our Novena to St DominicTaken from the book, “St Dominic” by Alain Quilici, O.P.It is said that saints are most in tune with their sinfulness and the sinfulness of the world. They are, like Dominic, so close to the Lord that they feel his great pain at this sinful world, and are pained to the deepest parts of their being as well. Dominic suffered with the Lord because he united himself with the one who united God and mankind. Jesus Christ, in his passion, gave himself totally to the Father for love of us; Dominic follows this path, seeking the suffering of the passion as a path to deeper union to and an expression of love for Jesus Christ.Dominic contemplated the crucifix with an incomparable penetration 鈥 his prayer tends to be united with Christ鈥檚 prayer. It becomes identified with the passion of the Lord Jesus: his passion for his Father, his passion for the salvation of mankind, his loving passion and his painful passion. The summit of Jesus鈥 prayer is his prayer on the cross, this prayer about which we know only a few fragments, a few cries, but about which we presume is filled with immeasurable love. Dominic had the grace to perceive something from Jesus鈥 prayer of agony. His sons and daughters are invited to participate in the grace of communion with Jesus鈥 sacrifice. For this sacrifice does not come freely. It is the price that is paid for the salvation of souls. Not the price that God requires, but the price that each of us should pay in order to show what part one […]

Novena to St Dominic -Day 4

As we draw nearer to the feast of St Dominic, I have been thinking again about how he is in a sense a 鈥榤ysterious鈥 and 鈥榦bscure鈥 kind of saint: so much has been written in an attempt to make him known, while he wrote so very little himself 鈥 his 鈥榳ords鈥 are the sisters and brothers he gathered together into the Order of Preachers; the souls he won for the Lord Who was his most intimate friend.I considered what a great legacy he left, in leaving so 鈥榣ittle,鈥 because he thus can be a saint everyone can truly know and have as a close friend; and when we see the diversity within the Order: how he founded an Order that has room for every one 鈥 we can be moved to a wonderful sense of gratitude to our eternal Father, for blessing St Dominic with that certainty and confidence in Him, that He can and does make us one, who are so very different and distinct.I wondered where would be a good place to come to know St Dominic, and in reading his 鈥榝ourth way of prayer,鈥 it seemed that here is the answer.In this way of prayer, Dominic 鈥榚ither before the altar or in the Chapter Room, with his eyes fixed on the crucifix, would contemplate it with indescribable intensity.  He would make numerous genuflections before it. … After such prayers he was filled with great trust in the mercy of God for himself, for all sinners and for the preservation of the younger brethren whom he was sending out into the world to preach the Gospel to souls.  He was sometimes unable to refrain from breaking into speech, repeating words of the […]

Novena to St Dominic – Day 3

Pondering on the various virtues attributed to St. Dominic in the Hymn 鈥極 Lumen鈥 sung each evening in his honour by all his children throughout the world, I was drawn to the title 鈥楻ose of Patience鈥, this is a virtue in which most of us need encouragement from time to time, if not all the time! There are so many facets associated with this vibrant virtue. Making the effort with God鈥檚 ever present help, to be patient in our daily dealings with one another and in the various situations that occur each day, is already an important beginning 鈥 but there is of course, a much deeper level to this beautiful virtue to which God calls us, of which St. Dominic gave such ample evidence in his own humble life. Witnesses at his canonisation mention repeatedly in one way or another 鈥 that he was a man of patience, of humility, compassion, encouragement, cheerfulness, obedience, to name but a few, all so closely linked with patience. But, we may ask why 鈥楻ose of Patience?鈥 鈥 what is the connection? Roses symbolise 鈥榣ove鈥. Love and patience are two words closely associated 鈥 St. Paul tells us in his letter to the Corinthians: 鈥楲ove is patient鈥 鈥 we cannot have true patience without love and we cannot have true love without patience. Patience is also linked to obedience 鈥 鈥榯he sign that thou hast this virtue of obedience鈥 said the eternal Father to St. Catherine, 鈥榠s patience鈥. All these virtues shine forth so brightly in the life of our father, Dominic, and invite or rather, urge us to imitation. So how does one learn to cultivate this most necessary virtue? It cannot be achieved by sheer will-power alone […]

Novena to St Dominic – Day 2

This reflection concerns prayer and spirituality in the lives of St. Dominic and the early Dominicans and I will quote some passages from the book 鈥 Early Dominicans鈥 (The classics of Western Spirituality) 鈥 from the Introduction by Fr. Simon Tugwell O.P.Fr. Simon says :鈥 that the early Dominicans were not particularly concerned either for themselves or for others with what has come to be called the 鈥渋nterior life鈥. Some of them, certainly, were great men of prayer, but their prayer was simple, devotional and largely petitionary. They retained the monastic practice of spending some time in private prayer after Compline and Matins, though this was not put into any constitutional text as an obligation. There is no hint at all of any methodical 鈥榤ental prayer鈥, such as we find in later centuries, nor is there any sign of any theory of mystical progress attached to their simple prayers.鈥 Fr. Simon goes on to say:鈥淲hat we know of the prayer of St. Dominic shows that it was habitually intercessory and his meditations and contemplations are shown as resulting typically in preaching of one kind or another. This suggests that even the prayers and devotions of the Dominicans have an apostolic quality and this impression is reinforced by the discovery that Jordan of Saxony, Dominic鈥檚 immediate successor, who was regarded by his brethren, as a powerful man of prayer, says of himself, 鈥淚 hardly ever pray鈥, a complaint echoed in other early Dominican writings. The all-absorbing ambition of the friars was 鈥渢o be useful to the souls of others鈥. Their own spiritual exercises were designed to make them better preachers, and their own spiritual progress was not sought as a goal in its own right […]