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Prayer

Novena to St Dominic – Day 1

A Reflection on St Dominic and Prayer, given by one of our sisters, for first day of our Novena to St DominicTaken from The Life of St. Dominic (1170 鈥 1221) by Bede Jarrett O.P.For St. Dominic, Prayer was a simple converse of the soul with God; and converse is easier and fuller when it is between two friends. The more, then, the mind can realise friendship with God, which is the essence of religion, the more facile is the heart鈥檚 opening of itself, for the problem of prayer is always how to make God the friend not only accepted and believed in, but to form part of the familiar circumstance of life. Everything that could help to produce this truth vividly was made use of: vocal prayer, gestures, beads; and, since he found that a dialogue of speech and silence, a chorus of praise, could be more easily secured by a devotion to the sacramental Presence, it was around the altar that St. Dominic grouped his interests. The Mass was the highest expression of it; the crucifix its homeliest representation. The gospels most wonderfully depict that perfect life and character, and show up against background of hill and lake and field and village and cobbled streets the moving figure of the true and loyal friend. Hence the Mass became his most particular devotion; the crucifix his daily companion, his 鈥渆ver open book鈥; and the New Testament his favourite study, carried always, learnt by heart, made the textbook of life. 鈥淗e spoke only of and to God,鈥 said a follower of Dominic; and we feel that he did this naturally because God was the central object of his daily work and nightly watching. As Dante […]

Novena to St Catherine – Day Nine

We have come to the final reflection of our novena in preparation for the feast of St Catherine. By happy co-incidence today is also what has come to be known as Good Shepherd Sunday when we pray for the Church and in particular for vocations to the priesthood and religious life.The readings at Mass this morning reminded us of the immensity of God鈥檚 love for each of us鈥 St John in his first letter reminds us that we are the beloved children of God and in the Gospel Jesus tells us no less then five times that he freely lays down his life for us. In a letter to Daniella da Orvieta Catherine reminded her of the love in which we were created and the even greater love by which we were redeemed in the precious Blood of our Saviour, Jesus Christ.  Love of this immensity calls for our response.  Catherine鈥檚 whole life was given for the glory of God and the salvation of her brothers and sisters and she encouraged others to follow her example 鈥 she continues to speak to us today through her letter to Daniella:鈥淚 Catherine, long to see you bathed and drowned in the blood of Jesus Christ crucified.  There you will find the fire of divine charity; there you will experience your soul鈥檚 beauty and its great dignity.  For God, when he looked within Himself, fell in love with the beauty of His creature and like one drunk with love, created us in His own image and likeness.  鈥︹  how right that we should immerse ourselves in the Blood of our Saviour in order to better conceive love for God鈥檚 honour and the salvation of souls鈥︹…Now is the […]

Novena to St Catherine – Day 8

From 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.The fidelity of St. Catherine led her to the practice of the loftiest and most heroic virtues.    Nevertheless, we know that the virtues in a heroic degree cannot be practiced by the soul of itself. The action of the Holy Spirit is needed.    But God does not let Himself be out-done in generosity, and if the soul does what it can, God does all that He wishes and He perfects the soul, leading it to the heights.    The GIFTS — herein is the secret.    We cannot move them of ourselves; we know this.    This seven-fold instrument needs a most delicate touch, so to speak.    The Holy Spirit alone is their Artist.    But the Holy Spirit was not given to us for nothing. He acts; and if He is impeded, “He groans with unspeakable groanings”, wishing to move His gifts; and He does move them freely.    We cannot make the gifts act but we can paralyze them — tragic power that we have when we wrongly use this great gift of our freedom!    St. Catherine of Siena gave the Holy Spirit full freedom in her soul, and the Holy Spirit unfurled His powerful sails in our virgin’s little boat.The Gift of Fear    Let us look into the supernatural and divine effects caused in her soul by the gifts.    At first sight, we see that the Gift of Fear is very pronounced in her soul.   The experience of being Nothing is, in St. Catherine, something out of the ordinary. It is not that she […]

Novena to St Catherine – Day 7

St Catherine’s prayer to the Father (From: The Dialogue of St Catherine of Siena, No. 134)You said, eternal Father, that because of your love for your creatures, and through the prayers and innocent suffering of your servants, you would be merciful to the world and reform holy Church, and thus give us refreshment. Do not wait any longer, then, to turn the eye of your mercy. Because it is your will to answer us before we call, answer now with the voice of your mercy.Open the door of your immeasurable charity, which you have given us in the door of the Word. Yes, I know that you open before we knock, because your servants knock and call out to you with the very love and affection you gave them, seeking honour and the salvation of souls. Give them the bread of life, the fruit of the blood of your only-begotten Son, which they are begging of you for the glory and praise of your name and for the salvation of souls. For it would seem you would receive more glory and praise by saving so many people than by letting them stubbornly persist in their hardness. To you, eternal Father, everything is possible. Though you created us without our help, it is not your will to save us without our help. So I beg you to force their wills and dispose them to want what they do not want. I ask this of your infinite mercy. You created us out of nothing. So, now that we exist, be merciful and remake the vessels you created and formed in your image and likeness; re-form them to grace in the mercy and blood of your Son.

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 […]