Thursday, 24 December 2009

Happy Christmas

Christmas has come... we have been preparing during Advent, now our Saviour has come! In the Gospel at the midnight mass we read the story of Mary and Joseph travelling to Bethlehem in Judea, and after His birth "laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn" (Luk 2:7 RSV)

Now looking forward to Christmas it strikes me that there seem to be two aspects of Christmas. The first is the magnitude of the celebration. Christmas is something most people really look forward to, it is a major milestone in the year. It is a time of celebration, of community and of rejoicing together. I guess for me Christmas doesn't have as much a liturgical ring to it as it does for most people around me (as I have not been brought up in a Catholic tradition), but it has struck me quite a few times how central the whole liturgical celebration is in the whole feast among the Irish friends I have, something that was completely new to me, and really refreshing.

But there is also a second aspect, which, set-off against the great buzz of Christmas is smallness of it. The voice in the wilderness, the little voice in our heart comes from a little baby who is laying in the crib. He was not recognized by any person in authority, anybody of worldly importance, and there was not even a proper place for the birth to take place. I think this is an aspects of Christmas we can keep in our mind as well, maybe not in the next two days when we rejoice and celibate, but during the octave to deepen our understanding of the mystery of Gods ways.

The dawn mass continues the story when the shepherds go to the stable and find everything as the angel tells them. They say "Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us." (Luk 2:15 RSV) All the people who witness these events were wondering at the news the shepherds brought them...

So maybe the coming octave is a time for us to wonder as well at what we have heard and what has happened. To contemplate what it means that the Saviour was borne, this small little unknown Child in a stable. We can ponder with Mary, who "kept all these things, pondering them in her heart." (Luk 2:19 RSV) and make this little quite event in a little stable in a little town in Juda, seemingly so insignificant to the world, the life changing event it really was and is, a rock on which to build our spiritual house.

But now it is time to celebrate and rejoice and sing in a loud voice in communion with the heavenly hosts: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!" (Luk 2:14 RSV)

Gloria in altissimis Deo et in terra pax in hominibus bonae voluntatis

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Vespers at the Youth 2000 Christmas Retreat in Newbridge College

Please find below a few recordings from Vespers last Saturday evening during the Youth 2000 Christmas retreat. The quality is not great, but I wanted to share it anyway (and didn't have time at the moment to make a video, maybe in the near future...)

The hymn: "O come, o come, Emanuel":

The O Antiphon and Magnificat:

The Dominican Salve Regina and O Lumen Ecclesiae (during the procession):

All those who heard of it treasured it in their hearts (Luk 1:66 NJB)

Again a bit late for a morning reflection, so again just a single thought...

Zechariah was silenced when he did not trust in the message the angel brought to him, and he lost the power of speech. Today we read that Zechariah does Gods will and "immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke" (Luk 1:64 RSV)

Initially, it just struck me that if we do God's will, the Holy Spirit will work in us and loosen our tongues to say the words that are needed at that particular time. I think this is an experience many who try and bring the Good News to others have experienced this in some way...

But maybe it is possible to ponder this a bit deeper and to see that if one does God's Will things will happen, things will come together. Maybe not always as we expect (but that would be doing our own will), but in a way that leads us along the path that is traced out for us, the path to ultimate happiness.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

My soul glorified the Lord

Well, these are the last days before Christmas, and time to catch up on some unfinished business, as well as starting to do a bit of exam preparation. Henceforth my reflections are not as regular as in the last weeks. We have our holiday timetable now, which means morning prayer an hour later. It is great however to have the chance to sleep that small bit longer in the morning, and to try and catch up a bit on all kinds of things.

Today the Gospel is the Magnificat. The line that jumped out at me was "My soul glorifies the Lord". I think it is a good phrase to keep in mind in the next few days, and to see if our soul is really glorifying the Lord.

Personally I always find the last days before Christmas the hardest to actually prepare for Christmas. There is all sorts of small duties and social events in these last days which can very easy take over the whole day. However it is important to keep ones eyes fixed on Christ and to keep preparing for His coming. The Magnificat is a beautiful prayer to slowly read through, and to try and meditate upon, even when our minds are occupied with the preparations for the days to come....

Let us not lose sight of the real importance of Christmas....

Monday, 21 December 2009

The babe leaped in her womb (Lk 1:42)

Just a quick post as there are many house duties this morning to be done...

The gospel today happens to be the same as yesterday's Gospel, so I would refer back to my short reflection on that Gospel.

However, I would also just put the text of the first reading down here, as this morning during mass it just struck me as a lovely text to meditate a bit upon:

Zep 3:14 Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem!
15 The LORD has taken away the judgments against you, he has cast out your enemies. The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst; you shall fear evil no more.
16 On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: "Do not fear, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak.
17 The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing
18 as on a day of festival. "I will remove disaster from you, so that you will not bear reproach for it.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb (Lk 1:42)

There is a big Christmas Retreat on this weekend in Newbridge College (see video below of last year). Newbridge is one of our Dominican priories, and some of the student brother, including myself, will go down shortly to be there for the weekend. As such, I have to ask my apologies for not being able to prepare a proper reflection.

However, during the week the following struck me which I will just give as a thought. The Gospel is taken from Luke Chapter 1:39-45. It is the story of Mary going into the hill country to visiting Elizabeth her cousin who is six months pregnant. Mary greets Elizabeth  and "when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit" (Luk 1:41 RSV).

And they shall call Him Emmanuel

The Gospel today is from chapter one of Matthew's Gospel, and his account of the nativity.

In reading the Gospel we can be struck by Josephs humbleness, in a way I guess by his love. We don't know how well he knew Mary, marriages were usually arranged different from how they are now. They might not actually have known each other that well, or at all.

But a fact is that Joseph wanted to save her public discrace when he found out that she was with child, and knew it was not his. This could have had the most disasterous result for Mary, if it was pubicly made known. It could have meant death by stoning.

Joseph here is a role model for us. He first wants to do the right thing without harming Mary, and then when the Angel came to him he fully trusted in God and did whatever the angels told him.

The humble and hidden role of Joseph is often forgotten...

But the point that strikes me most is the prophesy of Isiah, even though I don't know really why. "behold the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call him Emmanuel".

For whatever reason, the 'they' strikes me. The name Emmanuel, God is with us, is not given to Him by His parents, but bij them, by the multitude, by us. It is the effect of Jesus nativity and knowledge of Him that makes God known.

I guess this ties in with Advent. It is not the name Jesus by which the child is going to be called, but the fact that "God is with us" that is important. As I find that now toward the end of Advent I start to repeat myself, I again want to stress that it is this personal encounter that "God is with me" that makes all the difference in life. As such we keep praying for this emcounter to be reborn in our hearts during this upcoming Christmas.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

The star becomes breighter

It is now the 17th of December, and we are entering the last week in the run-up to Christmas. So far the Gospel readings in Advent have been focused mainly on the call to conversion, a call to the openness to this voice in the wilderness, of the voice of God in our lives.

Naturally John the Baptist came up regular in these readings, as he was exactly this voice crying in the wilderness who prepared the way of the Lord in the time Jesus physically walked on this earth.

But from today there will be a slight shift as we are more activily contemplating the birth of Jesus, something we start today with geanology.

So I guess so our reflection from today onwards might move ever so slightly to the even of Jesus His birth, and what it means to me. Also, His mother Mary, we will read the visitation account of Sunday, can be a great help to us in this final preparation. We can go to her, and she will show us the way to son.

I hope I get a change flto prepare reflections for the weekend, as most of the brothers in the studium will be in Newbridge College for the annual Youth 2000 Christmas retreat... but if I don't then I do appology...

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Happy the man who does not lose faith

The Gospel today in taken from Luke, where we read that John the Baptist hears the report of the wonders Jesus works. However, John being in prison, summons two of his deciples and asks them to go up to Jesus and ask him if He is the one who was expected.

The deciples arrive at the place where Jesus is while He is working miracles and ask Him the question. Jesus however, so it seems to me, does not answer. John already heard the reports of the wonders of Jesus His works before he sent the two disciples. Now Jesus is bassically saying that what is given is enough...

The final point in the passage is, and I guess that that is the important message, that Jesus says "happy is he who does not lose faith in me".

The signs are given, and John the Baptist was very sure when he initially pointed out Jesus. But now he is in prison, on account of proclaiming the Good News he starts to doubt.

But I think this is encouraging, as it connects in some way with us all I think. We all go through periods which are more difficult, like John in prison. But we should take courage and keep our eyes on what really matters. The Lord is not further away, "the signs are still the same". God has not abondoned us, but sometimes is just not maybe doing exactly what we expect or want Him to do.

But "happy is he who does not lose faith in me" is what Jesus tells us. The Greek word suggest that it is not just loosing faith, but that by doing so one is lead into somekind of sin. I guess I take from it that when we lose faith we lose our closeness to Jesus to support us.

There it is important to trust, so that these moments can be a time of grace and a time of deepening our relation with God, instead of losing it. A deepening to which we are all called.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

I go Lord

Today, my title is a bit different as it revers to the second son. The father Is asking his two sons to go and work in the vineyard. The first one answers that he will not go, but thinks of it better and goes nevertheless. However the second son on the same question says he will go but does not. Jesus is asking which of the two is doing the will of the father

An interesting detail is, I think, the response of the second son. He doesn't say something like "sorry dad" but straight away says "yes lord" instead. This indicated to me that there is a very impersonal relation between the two...

And this off course is the theme that I try to run through all my (Advent) reflections. It is not the outward response that is the most important, but the inward conversion of heart.

The fist son initially says no, but then possibly his conscience/heart tells him that he should listen the directions of his father, in contrast to the second son.

So once more our Lord is calling us to an internal
conversion, to a real change of heart...

Monday, 14 December 2009

Who's authority

This month it is my duty to open the church on Monday mornings and to prepare everything for mass etc. So the reflection once more will be short...

Today the issue of authority comes up. The people in charge of the temple worship come up to Jesus asking in who's authority he is teaching. I am not sure what they mean exactly, for example who gave Him permission to teach in the tempel even though I think that was quite open to anybody, or more on a supernatural level. It must have been quite clear that there was some power behind all the works Jesus did to support His claims and teachings.

But I think maybe just reflecting on the question itself. Where are the leaders concerned with. Is it for the people, I guess the sheep that are in their flock or do they feel their own position of almost absolute authority is threatened. They defianatly seem afraid of the crowds...

And so for ourselves could we reflect what in so many cases are our motivations. Are we willing to submit to Jesus and accept Him as our saviour or do we dig our heals in as we don't want to go where He leads us, preceding our own authority over His...

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Pictures of the Dominican Pilgrimage to Knock

Well, a bit late, but as I was preparing my photo camera for the Youth 2000 Christmas Retreat next week I realised I had not taken off the pictures of the annual Dominican Pilgrimage yet. So I decided to put them on Picasa straight away as well, so if you are interested, follow the link:

Saturday, 12 December 2009

He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire (Luke 3:16)

This weeks Gospel is taken, as were the last two weeks, from the Gospel of Luke, this time chapter 3:10-18. It is Gaudete Sunday, where gaudete means in rejoice in Latin. We are now practically half way advent, two weeks down, almost two to go...

A great multitude is gathering around John the Baptist as he is preaching the Good News and is baptizing in the river Jordan.They asks John what they should do and answers that: "he who has two coats, let him share with him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise." (Luk 3:11 RSV). John simply seems to point out that we should care about the others around us, and share from the abundance we have ourself with the people in need.

Also tax collectors and soldiers are coming to him to ask what they should do in their specific occupations, and he answers similar that they should be fair and honest to others: "Collect no more than is appointed you." (Luk 3:13 RSV) and  "Rob no one by violence or by false accusation, and be content with your wages." (Luk 3:14 RSV).

When I initially quick read of the gospel (I didn't have an English translation at hand) I didn't realise it was first the crowd who asked what to do, followed by the tax-collectors and soldiers about the particularity of their occupation. So what entered my mind was a continuation of the reflection on the Saturday Gospel: what do I expect Jesus to be like, would I recognize him or would I like his teaching?

The first response John gave was to share with others of our abundance, even if one spare coat might not be seen as an abundance. If I only have two coats, am I happy to give one away, or do I prefer to have it in the wardrobe? That is I guess something to think about, and I must confess that I do like to have one spare "just in case"...

But how does this link in to the Good News John is preaching, or more important with having Jesus in our life. Again it comes back to a change of heart. I don't think it is really about the question could I be able to sacrifice my extra coat. No I think it is a sign of being close to Christ that the thought "would I be able" does not enter in the mind, but that the coat will be given without a thought to anybody who really needs it... clearly I will survive the walk home in my warm woolly jumper...

It is all about the inward conversion, and this time of Advent is a time exactly for that. John is telling us that "[Jesus] will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire" (Luk 3:16 RSV). Gods love is infused into us through the Holy Spirit. An openness to the Holy Spirit will help us to make this conversion of heart, the conversion of heart which will make us more confirm to the image and likeness of God, the image in which we are created.

With the example above of giving away our coat I mean only to illustrate the principle, the fact that the closer we get to Jesus the more pure love is ruling in our lives, the more we will love our neighbor. Working out the details about the prudence of giving away coats is a whole other story, but I do belief that it does work in that way, the closer I personally get to Christ the, in a way simpler, life becomes, as the important focus of our whole lives becomes Him...

(I was delaying the writing of this reflection today till the last moment... which means that if inspiration does not come it ends up rather empty... so my excuses for the incoherent and rushed job)

They did not recognize him

Today is Saturday, the second week of Advent is over. Tomorrow is Gaudete Sunday, on which we light the rose candle, a Sunday of joy.

As it is Saturday, and I should start on my Gospel reflection for tomorrow, but just wanted to give a suggestion for some pondering.

Jesus tells us that the people did not recognize Elijah when he came and that He Himself will not be recognised either. So the question is how do we recognise Jesus, how do we recognise His touch in our lives?
It is there, but are we aware of it, or maybe expecting something different, something grander in the worldly view as did the Jews at that time? Do we notice the little wisper in our heart?

More on that later....

Friday, 11 December 2009

God is leading us gently

Today, in the first reading of the prophet Isaiah we hear God telling that He will lead us. He will show us the way to go, the way to happiness, and our peace will be flowing like a river.

This peace, so it seems, comes up a lot for me lately. Last weekend Fr Ciaran OP gave us our Advent retreat, and asked us to contemplate what God has done for us so far. And apart from all kinds of individual events, my main question was what is the difference between where I am at now and six years ago.

And the anwser is that I found a deep profound happiness and peace, where I think peace might be the best desciption of the two. Happiness can be asociated with a temperal fuzzy feeling, and I was surely happy a lot in that way before, but I think peace discibes a more stabel continuous disposition, and as such more or less includes happiness.

Even when it is not always that apparent that this peace is there, it is. It is easy to get used to it, in a way, and maybe St. John of the Cross describes this when he says that on our journey toward God there are times when somebody doesn't feel to be doing well as the sensations do not seem to be there anymore. However, when reflecting on ones inner state you start to realise that there is no other place you want to go, having the final goal in view. And there is no way that I want to go back loosing this inner peace even if it's prescence is not always that obvious.

God is helping us on our way, but we have to respond. In Advent in particular we reflect on that. In the Gospel Jesus says we are as children in the Market place "saying, We have piped unto you, and you have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and you have not lamented." In a way I take from this exactly that, God wants to help us, but what can He do when we don't respond to His call...

Thursday, 10 December 2009

The Kingdom of Heaven

"Nobody born of woman is greater than John the Baptist; but the smallest in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than him" (Mt 11:11). Jesus is telling us about John, about the "voice crying in the wilderness". John is preparing the way and is a true servant of God, and indeed Jesus says he is Ellijha, who was to come.

There were two things that stood out to me in the reading this morning. The first is how Jesus says that the kingdom of heaven is under attack, that it is taken by force. I am not sure exactly to take this, I assume the kingdom on heaven as it is already in the forming here on earth, but it is clear that it is not the way it well eventually be.

It shows however a bit of the drama, as Jesus is saying that all is leading up to this point, all the prophecies and indeed the fact that Elijha has arrived. And taken it is this sense I guess it might coresponse with how we experience the world. But now the moment of Grace arrived, it is now that our Lord is speaking to is! And I think we should take this litteraly, the now in our own time, the now of me sitting here or you reading these few words.

Then the second thing is the promomise of what really matters. The call is to prepare the way for the Lord so He can enter into our lives. Jesus tells us about the greatness of Heaven in our terms. John is the greatest born of woman, but once we contemplate our calling of being in Heaven it is clear that it does not compare to even the greatest thing here. Even the smallest in Heaven is greater. We are are called to something we cannot imagine, but we can trust it is greater then the greatest we can think of.

The call during Advent is the voice calling in the wilderness to prepare our hearts, to go into the wilderness to repent of our sins and make straight the path for the Lord... and He will lead us to happyness in this life and in the life to come, a happiness we cannot even start to imagine...

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

You will find rest for your soul

"Come to me all of you who are working and overburdened". Jesus is calling us to come to Him, and He will give us rest. His yoke is easy and His burden light.

When Reflecting on this I was thinking about the reality of the find rest in God. Innitialy my reaction was maybe that it doesn't seem to be that easy, to come to Jesus and find rest. That trying to shoulder His yoke does not give a noticeable release of pressure.

But there is a deeper reality here. Jesus does not tell us that we would get a shot in the arm when we come to Him. Our energy levels are not going to miraculously be restored, no it is not that, but instead we "will find rest for our souls".

All humans are called to communion with God, it is only in God that we can truly find rest. Only Jesus can fully give us this deep peace we long for. Only when we follow Him with our heart, when we shoulder His yoke, when we accept His guidance in our lives do we encouter Him fully.

This encounter makes us whole, it puts our soul at rest, and even when me can feel physically tired, encountering God and walking with Him through life gives a deep inner grounding, a deep piece, it gives rest to our souls...

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

The Immaculate Conception

Today is the feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. A great feast in which we celibrate the favour God gave to Mary when she was conceived, that she would not have the stain of origional sin, and could be free from sin in order to be a worthy vessel for our Lord to be borne in. The Gospel reading is therefore quite fitting of the event of the Annunciation when this happens, when Jesus is conceived in her by the power of the Holly Spirit.

I would like to say a one or two great things about our Lady, and her importance in the Church... however I always have difficulties actually doing so, and I don't know why.

Mary has a very special role in my life, the personal role of my spiritual Mother. She in a way is always near, always guiding, always helping. Compared to our mothers here on earth, she is always concerned about us, even if we don't realise it, even if we don't care or are not interested. Motherly love must be something else, something I only know from receiving.

So words are just not coming this morning... words to expres what Mary means to me. It is something deep something strong and something profound, but something silent and still.. Mary is our Mother also, and she is with us as mothers are...

Monday, 7 December 2009

What is easier to say?

Today is the second Monday of Advent, the Church celibrating the feast of St. Ambrose.

I will only put one queation forward today which struck me while reading the Gospel. Jesus says to the Pharases and scribes, who gathered to hear H from all over the country, what is easier to say, your sins are forgiven or get up and walk?

Now, not comparing with what is easier for God to what is easier for us, as for us healing somebody just by a Word is impossible.

But how do we experience what is easier? To forgive somebody or to help them...

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Make his paths straight (Luke 3:4)

Just a short Gospel reflection for this Sunday as we, the students, are away for a two day advent retreat. So I have to write this reflection beforehand while trying on the same time to finish an essay on Descartes... so it will be very very brief indeed! (and sorry, no reflection for the Gospel of Saturday)

Luke begins in the Gospel of this week (Luke 3:1-6) by specifying exactly when all these events, about to begin, started to unfold. Luke is known for his accuracy, and partly because of his description we can date the time of Jesus His ministry within a few years.

We read that "the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness" (Luk 3:2 RSV), and that he "went into all the region about the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins." (Luk 3:3 RSV).

John was "the voice of one crying in the wilderness" (Luk 3:4 RSV), the cry from the unknown place, but people heard it and recognized it. He called them back to the Lord, and to repent and change their heart in order to "prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight." (Luk 3:4 RSV).

So too in Advent, there is this voice calling us, to make the path straight for the Lord, to leave behind the baggage which might keep us back, and to follow the voice to repent and again newly discover the freshness of our God...

Friday, 4 December 2009

Be it done according to you faith

Initially todays Gospel puzzled me a bit. We can picture the scenario, Jesus is leave one place to go to the other, and these two blind man follow Him, crying out to Him "Jesus son of David, have mercy on us". He seems to ignore them, while they stumble on, the blind leading the blind.

So why is this? Why did Jesus not just turn around and heal them, even just to keep them quite? It is probably what I would do...

But again it become clear that that is not what it is about. Jesus did not come to the world to heal to sick, but to bring people back to God. He let the blind men seek after Him, blind as they are. But of course the atory is not about blind men, but about me as I am stumbling being blind to the real plan of God. But He then takes them in, He goes into a house and there they meet Him in private...

So again it is possible to see the line of Advent in the Gospel. It is in private that we meet the Lord foremost of all. Jesus ask them if they think He can do "this" for them, without saying what this it is, and they believe. He touches their eyes and says "let it be according to your faith" and their eyes are opened and they see. Before they were searching in the dark, but now thier eyes are open and they see the true light!

(ps. Fr. John Harris OP pointed out this morning at mass that there were two blind men, and I just wanted to reiterate this point as well. I believe that our relation with God is personal, but that does not mean individual.)

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Build on your house on rock

Today's Gospel has two aspects. Jesus warns us that it is not lip service that He is looking for, and in the second part that if we build our lives on Him that we will be like a house build on rock that cannot be shaken.

It is so easy to reduce the relation with God to, in a way, mere lipservice. This does not mean not caring, but it seems to me to not to give our heart to God, and in a way to keep Him out.

Jesus tells us that it is not just saying Lord, Lord that will get is in Heaven. Nearby He even says that preaching in His name and casting out Demons is not what matters. It is a change of heart, to listen to the Word and let it touch us. It the slow effect contemplation, the listening to the and keeping the Word (in our hearts) that will make the difference and will result in doing the will of His Father in Heaven, as slowly we conform more and more to the image we are created in.

Especially during advent it might be possible to take the efford to try and make this listening a good habit. For example by attending daily mass, or taking 15 or 30 minutes in silence and ponder the Gospel of the day.

Spending time with God will slowly build a house with it's foundations on rock. It will slowly give an inner certainty, a groundedness or fullfilment that nothing else can give. Rain falls, rivers rise and winds blow, but the house of payer is founded on rock and will not move...

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Seeking Jesus Himself

Today we hear that Jesus goes into the mountains, into the wilderness, and a great crowed follows Him, having with them all kinds of sick and disabled people.

He then cures them, the lame walk, the blind see and the dumb speak, and the people praise the God of Israel for working such wonders!

We might say that that sounds great, and everybody is happy, but here our Advent reflection comes in. The question is, is this all God has to offer? Is this the extend to which God can enhance our lives, to heal the things that are broken? Sure, He can do that, but is there more?

The anwser is clearly yes! Jesus calls His disciples and says to them that He pitties the crowd. They are waiting there already for three days in the wilderness and have not found what they are really looking for...

And then Jesus performs the miracle about the multiplication of the loafes and the fish... which has a clear resemblance with the Eucharist, in which He gives Himself...

Jesus offers Himself, and Advent is a time a waiting and seeking Him. He knocks on the door, but will we open?

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Nobody knows the Father except the Son

This morning I was reading the Gospel and looking at the verse "nobody knows the Father except the Son, and to he whom the Son whish to reveal Him".

Yesterday, in the office of readings, we heard St. Paul telling us that "it was God's wisdom that human wisdom should not know God".

That is an interesting verse to ponder, especially for somebody doing Philosophy. Buy it seems to me that the two verses together reveal a bit of God's plan, of God's mistery.

God is not looking for people having knowledge of Him, but is looking for the people themselves. It is not the mind but the heart primarily which God is searching out. (while I am not trying to say there is no place for reason)

It is through Jesus Christ that we come to God, He is the way the truth and the light. So in this Advent season it is a time to recomit ourself to seeking the face of Jesus... so that we too are blessed by seeing what we see, as generation were seeking it but did not find it...

Monday, 30 November 2009

I will make you fishers of men!

This will be my fist weekday reflection of Advent, and I will see if I can keep it up. They will
be brief, possibly a few lines on the Gospel of the day...

Today we hear the calling of Peter and Andrew (on the feast day of St. Andrew), and James and John. Jesus calls Peter and Andrew while they are busy casting their nets. He tells them then will be fishers of men.. immediatly they drop tools, nets on their case, litterly leave everything behind and follow Him. The same happens with James and John.

This is an aspect of the being ready, to follow the Lords call when even we hear Him. It is to be attentive to the sound of His voice...

But there is another aspect of this Reading, which I like, and which ties with my comments yesterday about the time of actively waiting for the Lord.

In this Gospel we get as it where the two important aspects of our Chrisrion lives. The active and in a way the contemplative. While Peter and Andrew are active try to catch fish, James and John are mending the nets.

It is important to realise that both these element are realy important in our lives, and this advent season is a good time to realise this, to be ready, waiting for the glorious coming of our Saviour...

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Advent: a time of preparation, reflection and readiness

The old has gone, the new has come... the liturgical year has finished, the new one has started, as we are entering Advent! But what is Advent? Without trying to give an exact definition, I will briefly try to reflect on what Advent means to me, and hopefully this might be helpful for each one's own journey.

In the last week we might have reflected on the last year, and especially what has happened in our lives, but I guess more importantly how God might have been at work. Like I mentioned last week, it is often only a significant amount of time that we can see that the wobbly, uneven and twisted path we were walking on actually seemed much straighter than we initially thought... maybe we just had to be lead around a few difficulties on the way, in order not to get stuck in a swamp or fall down a cliff...

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

22,000 Young People in a Eucharistic Procession

Sure a lot of people have already seen this picture, but it just struck me when I came across it:
22,000 Young People in a Eucharistic Procession through Kansas City (More pictures on the Catholic Key)

Who said the Catholic Church is not alive!

Saturday, 21 November 2009

'Truth?' said Pilate. 'What is that?' (Joh 18:38 NJB)

The Gospel this week is taken from the gospel of John 18:33-17. It is the last Sunday of our liturgical year, the feast of Christ the King, and hence a Gospel regarding Jesus His kingship, not like kings on earth, but as King of Heaven. Next week we start Advent, the time of preparation for the birth of Jesus.

In the last weeks we have been walking with Jesus towards Jerusalem, as Luke often mentioned, and now the last Sunday of the year we are in Jerusalem. We can see the year as a journey, a journey we travel with our Lord, and now we finish in Jerusalem with Pilate, who asks Jesus "What is truth?" (Joh 18:38 RSV).

So what would we answer ourselves to this question? In the film 'the Passion' by Mel Gibson we hear Pilate talk about his truth, what will happen to him if the Jews get out of hand... the difficulties he has in his life. But such a truth, written with a small letter, is not really the same as what Jesus is talking about, but it seems that past which Pilate cannot see.

The dialogue between Pilate and Jesus is quite interesting to study, as it becomes obvious that Jesus is talking on a completely different level. Pilate start to ask Jesus, "Are you the King of the Jews?" (Joh 18:33 RSV). Jesus does not answer the question, but starts to challenge Pilate on his own thinking. Did he think this himself, or is he just accepting what everybody is saying.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

The Novices of the Irish Dominicans singing the Salve Regina

The Novices of the Irish Dominicans singing the Salve Regina in the little church in Gougane Barra, county Cork, Ireland:

Saturday, 14 November 2009

The sun will be darkened (Mk 13:24)

This weeks Gospel is taken from Mark 13:24-32. I will base my reflection on the first part of the Gospel reading. The last few weeks have been an interesting journey, in hindsight, and I think this part of the Gospel, where Jesus is quoting Isiah, is a good theme to build a personal reflection upon regarding this journey.

"But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken" Mk 13:24-25
"The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light". The journey into the night is a slow gradual one, it is full day time and the sun is shining, everything looks beautiful, but then slowly the power of its light fades away, and the bright colors filling our soul become less distinct, and gradually, without being able to observe the change we find ourself in the night...

Saturday, 7 November 2009

She has put in everything she had, her whole living (Mk 12:44)

The Gospel for this Sunday is from Mark 12:28-44. The passage contains two sayings of Jesus, which may not on a first reading seem to have that much in common, but on reflection it seems to me they do.

In the first passage, Jesus is warning his disciples about the way of the scribes, who "like to go about in long robes" (Mar 12:38 RSV), and "have salutations in the market places" (Mar 12:38 RSV). They like to be the center of attention, but their heart is not orientated toward God. At the same time of showing off they "devour widows' houses" (Mar 12:40 RSV) and their prayers are only "a pretense" (Mar 12:40 RSV)

Our relation with God is personal and has to be that way: "when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret" (Mat 6:6 RSV) With this does not mean that it is not communal. We are all part of the body of Christ and very importantly we come together to celebrate for example the sacrament of the Mass every Sunday, but we do not show off how good we are. Jesus put a lot of emphasis on the communal aspect of the Church, but there is a risk that if we don't have our personal relation with Jesus that it becomes shallow very quickly, and especially when we replace it with public display.

Saturday, 31 October 2009

All Saints - 1st of November

This Sunday coincides with the feast of All Saints, the 1st of November. The Gospel reading is tuned to that, taken from Matthew 5:1-12, the account of the Beatitudes. One would expect that it would be easy enough to write a reflection about this feast day, or concerning this Gospel, but I must confess that I have read the text a few times and nothing in particular jumps out at me, and I don't feel like just making something up without my heart being in it...

The past week has been quite busy. Last weekend, as regular readers of the blog might remember, was filled with the Youth 2000 retreat in Kilkenny. It meant as usual a busy time and not a lot of sleep, but also a shower of graces and blessings. It was the first time a Y2k retreat was held in Kilkenny, and it worked all out very well, and there was a good gathering of young people!

Friday, 30 October 2009

Youth Mass in St. Mary's Pope's Quay in Cork

The Dominican Novices in Cork are organizing a monthly youth mass. For anybody in Cork, or Ireland, have a look at the flyers below:

Friday, 23 October 2009

What do you want me to do for you? Master, let me receive my sight.

Well, as mentioned, the next few days are going to be busy as I will be travelling to Kilkenny this afternoon for a Youth 2000 retreat. So I will just write a very short reflection on the Gospel of this coming Sunday, which is from Mark 10:46-52, as I found that there is maybe an interesting reflection on the cause of events.

Jesus is going around the area of Jericho, and as usual it seems that great crows of people are assembling around him, "a great multitude" (Mar 10:46 RSV) was following him. Then there is this blind man Bartimaeus who is begging at the side of the road. He clearly has heard something about Jesus, even though we do not know for sure what, but possibly that he was a healer and helped people. As soon as he hears that Jesus is passing by, he start to cry out to Him: "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" (Mar 10:47 RSV).

Monday, 19 October 2009

No reflection last weekend

Just a quick note for regular readers of this blog... as our internet connection went down on Friday, and might still be down, I wasn't able to post a reflection on the Gospel of last weekend. Hopefully it will all work again soon and I will continue!

However, coming weekend might be a difficulty as well, as I will be traveling to the Youth 2000 Retreat in Kilkenny on Friday afternoon, but God willing I put something short together before that!

Monday, 12 October 2009

Dominican Pilgrimage to Knock

Yesterday was the annual Dominican pilgrimage to the Knock Shrine, which is Irelands National Marian Shrine in country Mayo. The weather was very nice, against the odds, and thousands of pilgrims come to celebrate the day with the Dominicans coming from every corner of the country. Some pictures of the event can be seen below (kindly put up by Fr. Gerard Dunne OP):

The apparition chapel.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Jesus looking upon him loved him

The Gospel this week comes from Mark 10:17-30. I think it is a lovely passage, even though it might challenge us a bit. The young man runs up to Jesus and kneels before Him... obviously he was very eager to do whatever would please Him. He was possibly moved by love for Jesus, stirred by a urge from within to draw closer to Him, wanted to be with Him for eternity as he asks "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" (Mar 10:17 RSV)

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Expressing myself...

After trying to write my reflection of the Gospel yesterday evening I again felt the disappointment of being unable to express what I really want to say. In preparation I often read the passage a few times in the say before and ponder the Word. Some idea about the Gospel passage then starts to form, and I get exited at the prospect...

However, then when I start writing I seems easy enough to start, to set the scene, and to try to put situate the Gospel and top prepare the way for the real point I want to convey. However, then when it actually comes to the point I want to make suddenly everything seems fail, and at the end I most of the times walk away being disappointed in the final result... another example was last week when I didn't really get to a point at all.

That was part of reflection yesterday evening when the all the students in the house came together to do a Holy Hour. What is it I want to share, and how to share it?

Friday, 2 October 2009

Jesus taking a firm stand

This weeks Gospel is from Mark 10:2-16. On reading it, it seems a difficult gospel to comment on, and as I don't have time to write a reflection tomorrow I will leave it short.

As so often, the "Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?" (Mar 10:2 RSV). Divorce is, or at least can be off-course, a very sensitive issue. It is very easy to take a hard-line on the matter but because marriage is something that is so the core of somebodies live, it can turn somebodies life completely upside down when difficulties arise. So I will continue with caution, I guess writing to the multitude and not at specific individual cases, as I do belief it is very important that the multitude understands the sacredness of marriage, and through deeper reflection might come to a deeper experience and depth of its truth.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

My conversion story

Occasionally, people ask me about my vocation story. A good while back I wrote a brief account of my life of what happened up-to my baptism and reception into the Catholic Church. So for anybody who is interested, please read the brief account below (and if there are any comments I might elaborate it a bit):

Saturday, 26 September 2009

The life of virtue

This Sundays Gospel reading is from Mark 9:38-43,45,47-48.
What jumped out at me straight away when reading this Gospel this morning was the the beginning of the passage:
John said to him, "Teacher, we saw a man casting out demons in your name, and we forbade him, because he was not following us." (Mar 9:38 RSV)
It was not necessary a pleasant experience... it was not because I thought John did it because he thought the man did something evil, something wrong and wanted to stop him for that reason. No, it was because I felt that it might be a challenge to me on the address of jealousy. Not in John's reaction, as we don't know why he tried to stop the man, but in my own encounter with the Word of God.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

The use of the internet to spread the Good News

Last Saturday it was a year since I posted the first video showing aspects of the life of the Irish Province of the Dominican.

Over the past year I have been experimenting with using the internet as a means of spreading God's message to the world, and although I don't know the fruit of it and at this stage by far convinced that it worth the sacrifice in time, I have seen through the statistics that there is a steady increase in the material I put on the net.

I just wanted to give an idea of the amount of views our video's got across the different video sites. Between the about twenty video's we have published, and across the three major video sharing sites I have used (YouTube,, Tangle and we have had a total of 37.000 views...

Keeping that in mind I am sure somebody got something out of it!

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Video of the reception of the habits on Monday the 14th September 09

The video giving an account of the reception of the habits is now finished as well. The ceremony took place in our Noviciate House, St. Mary's Pope's Quay, Cork:

Saturday, 19 September 2009

For he was teaching his disciples (Mar 9:31 RSV)

It seems that all is getting back to normal... the last two weeks have been a pleasant mix of reflection and proclamation, of quietness and busyness, but I am glad that next week we will resume into the "more normal" life with the start of college and more regular community life...

However it really was a week to remember and indeed not easy to forget. In the beginning of the week I posted the short video account of the two professions last Sunday, and I just finished the account of the reception of the habits...

But as I said, I am trying to get back to normal, so a short reflection on the Gospel of this week, from the Gospel of Mark 9:30-37. Reading it this morning, two things struck me, one regarding the first part of the reading, the second regarding the second part.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Reception of the Habits

Just back in Dublin after the "Reception of the habits" of our 13 new novices in Cork and the "Simple Profession" of two "old" novices in Limerick. While I start to look at the video footage I just wanted to put a few pictures on the blog from the event yesterday:

(The video is now published as well, please click on this link)

Monday, 14 September 2009

Video of the professions on Sunday the 13th September 09

Just a quick post with the video of the professions which took place here in St. Saviour's today. Now up to the calibration with reception of the habits in St. Mary's in Cork tomorrow...

Saturday, 12 September 2009

A busy few days after the retreat...

Well, again a quick post... all of us are just being back from a wonderful retreat! We stayed in the guest house of the Benedictine Monastery "Glenstal" near Limerick for a week of reflection, prayer and quietness. Fr. Vincent Twomey SVD was our retreat master and gave us some excellent input while the weather allowed us to walk around the silent grounds around the abbey to pounder the mysteries of our faith... truly a blessing!

Friday, 4 September 2009

And they brought to him a man who was deaf and had an impediment in his speech; (Mar 7:32 RSV)

This week the Gospel is taken from Mark 7:31-37. The first thing that engaged my curiosity is the first verse: "Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, through the region of the Decapolis." (Mk 7:31 RSV) I decided to look up the locations, and too my surprise it seems like Jesus took a long way around from Tyre to the Sea of Galilee.

There can be various reasons of course for this Journey, but in the verses before, we can read that while arriving in the region of Tyre and Sidon  "he entered a house, and would not have any one know it; yet he could not be hid." (Mk 7:24 RSV) and in the passage of this Sunday we read again that while "he charged them to tell no one; but the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it." (Mar 7:36 RSV) and also "they were astonished beyond measure" (Mar 7:37 RSV).

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction

Yesterday I was reading the bible and started the second letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians. The following few verses really struck me, so I decided to try and recapture the moment and share it:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,
who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.
If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer.
Our hope for you is unshaken; for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort. (2 Cor 1:3-7)

The last few months have been a bit of a rollercoaster. With essays running into exams at the end of the college year and then after a short break a summer course it seems that the summer just evaporated, and this not because of the good weather in Ireland...

Friday, 28 August 2009

All these evil things come from within (Mk 7:23)

Not a very nice title, I know, but I like to put a quote from the Sundays Gospel (Mark 7:1-8,14-15,21-23) in the title and there was nothing that really jumped out at me. Still being at home on holidays, although almost at the end now, I haven't meditated that much on this gospel yet, and as such take the liberty to go a bit off the topic.

Ussually two things (at least) strike me when I am at home. The first the apparent gloominess of the world when I take "a holiday away from God" and secondly, especially taking to some old friends, the negativity I get regarding Christianity. It always disturbs me, and makes me uneasy... as on the one hand I sense the emptyness of a life without God, which I now perceive is in a way a hell, and it makes me appriciate the difference it makes to know God, to know His love and to have him actively in my life.

I guess it is one of those things you get used to, to have God near, and it is only when you move to a society which is so completely different from the normal cloister life that I really realise this. That is what I often say about prayer (or generally our relation with God), we do not really feel we progress or even that it exists, but we experience and realise the emptyness sometimes only when we cease.

It seems so obvious to me that there is something lacking... and it is all there, given to us as a gift...

But then there is the negativity I get about Christianity, and I realise one of the points of which this Sundays Gospel might speak. If we know Jesus, if we claim to be His follower, we have to life according to this as well. Where is the joy of knowing Christ, where is the charity, the love? Should this not flow forth as a result?

"This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men." (Mk 7:6-7)

Jesus says "You leave the commandment of God, and hold fast the tradition of men" (Mk 7-9). Jesus gave us a new commandment, to love as God loves (Cf. Jn 13-34)... so that should be our aim (even though the bar is put high, we can try and live up to it as best as we can). If we are trully followers of Christ, then as in the early Christian era people will see the love which flows forth from knowing Jesus, they will see the joy, experience the charity.

Just going through the motions is not enough, it is our heart God wants, it is our innner disposition that counts. And it is not only God who sees the heart of men, but this disposition also shines through in some way in everything we do. The commends made to me about christians are generally that we are hypocritical, and that is exactly what Jesus is warning us about all the time... "For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts [...]" (Mk 7:21), if our dispoistion is not good, our practices will be accordingly. Charitable outward practices and apperances should be the result of our innner disposition...

Well, just some thoughts on this, and I hope the above gives a sense of my musings. It can be so difficult to be unable to share the fire within with others, especially if their hearts are closed because of the withness of us ourselves (and I put myself in the 'us' first of all). The gift of faith is really a treasure...

 "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field." (Mt 13:44)

Let us treasure it as such and let it radiate out to others...

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Do you also want to leave?

Well this, "Do you also want to leave?", might be a question the Lord asks me, as I am having a weeks holiday with my family and didn't really get a chance to write a reflection for this week: "(many of) his disciples returned to their former way of life" :-). I decided that there is no point really writing one at this time, almost the end of the Sunday, and that I will join my family in preparing for a bqq instead, as it is lovely weather here...
But still there were a few passages that jumped out at me this morning at mass:
The people are challenged in their behavior by Joshua:

“If it does not please you to serve the LORD,
decide today whom you will serve,
he gods your fathers served beyond the River
or the gods of the Amorites in whose country you are now dwelling.
As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”
decide today whom you will serve,
the gods your fathers served beyond the River
or the gods of the Amorites in whose country you are now dwelling.
As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”
but they recognize that God has an active part in their lives:

“Far be it from us to forsake the LORD
for the service of other gods.
For it was the LORD, our God,
who brought us and our fathers up out of the land of Egypt,
out of a state of slavery.
He performed those great miracles before our very eyes
and protected us along our entire journey
and among the peoples through whom we passed.
Therefore we also will serve the LORD, for he is our God.”
In the Gospel the people but eventually the important thing is that we realise like the Isralites that God is active in our lives and that "We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God."

There is so much depth in this Gospel, but I will leave it for now and enjoy the weather...

Friday, 14 August 2009

He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. (Jn 6:56)

As clear from my post yesterday evening, I will be heading off to the Youth 2000 Summer Festival  in Clonmacnois straight after class this afternoon. However, I just wanted to post a quick reflection on an aspect the gospel of Sunday (John 6:51-58), to keep in the practice of some kind of a weekly meditation...

We continue the reading of chapter 6, and I hope to get a proper chance to write something coherent about this lovely chapter after the course is finished at the end of next week.

Last week we ended with Jn 6:51, the same we start with today:
"I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh." (Joh 6:51 RSV)
Jesus is offering himself to us, he want to give himself to us, so we might have life in us... and this is important. Jesus says "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you;" (Joh 6:53 RSV) I guess this kind of makes sense if we think God as the source of life, so if we don't have God in our lives, we miss this life and life without God is death (as a life without love is too).

But what can we do with this? I think we can try and take it as an invitation. In the Eucharist, Jesus is offering us himself, He invites us to become one with Him. When we receive Him, when we eat Him, as "For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed" (Joh 6:55 RSV) He comes into our bodies... and in the natural physical way becomes part of our bodies, as does any food.

Here thought there is off course something much more significant happening. The bread of life does not just nourishes us physically, but also spiritually, it nourishes our whole being. "Not such as the fathers ate and died;' (Joh 6:58 RSV) bread that only nourishes our bodies, but this bread nourishes our whole being, body and soul.

Jesus comes to us and becomes part of us:
"He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him." (Joh 6:56 RSV)

and with Him becoming part of us, we become part of Him, and with Him we become part of the Trinity:
As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. (Joh 6:57 RSV)
So briefly said, and I know these are just a few words thrown down, when we are receiving communion we are offered to become more and more part of the Trinity... no wonder grace is flowing...

However, is there is a little "catch", if I can call it this. God is always inviting us into communion with Him. He is always inviting us to become closer and closer to Him, to let go of ourselves and to let ourselves being taken over by His love. In a way He is inviting us to become one with Him, like a drop of water becomes one with the ocean in which it falls... it seems clear to me that communion in the Eucharist seems to offer exactly that...

So the little "catch" is not really a little catch, but just a note on this. In the nature of an invitation is that it is a free choice and as such we need to accept. So it is true with the Eucharist, that we need to be open to God, if we are not open to God the effects of the sacrament will be not have the full effect as St Thomas Aquinas  point out in the Summa. God want to give us all, but it is according to our disposition that we receive. So when we receive we should be aware of what we are doing, we should conduct ourselves properly and prepare ourselves properly, we should remind ourselves that we are not receiving mere bread, but acknowledge the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.

So it is an invitation, an invitation to something more, to something beautiful and also to something unknown... but let us embark on the adventure and embrace it, asking our Lord to draw us deeper into His union (especially while receiving Him in the Eucharist) and to try and let more and more of our own will go and "Let thy will be done" (Mat 6:10).

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Youth 2000 Summer Festival

A bit late, but I just want to make a mention of the Youth 2000 Summer Festival in Clonmacnois this weekend... I am going down myself tomorrow, and am really lookingforward to it!
For more info look at the Youth 2000 website.

Some photo's from last year can be seen in the video clip below:

Saturday, 8 August 2009

I am the living bread which came down from heaven (Jn 6:51 RSV)

This week I had a conversation with a few people on the course, and we were talking about the mass, and one of the comments was that in the experience there seems to be something missing, going to mass does not seem to do anything... I try and tie this in to the gospel of this weekend: John 6:41-51

Off course there can be many responses to this reaction, and the first that came up it the way the Mass is calibrated in a lot of places which does not really inspire (young) people. Their response is that there is "something missing". First of all, this is a strong indication that they actually do expect something more than that they are getting, but that this what they are looking for is not there. I found that when I just became a Catholic, that I picked and choose my mass to go to, as in a lot of places I felt exactly the same.

I think it is really important that we think about this and realize that we need to help ourself and others to open up to the full mystery of God. Especially these days contemplating chapter 6 of the gospel of John, where Jesus lays out the doctrine of the Eucharist: "I AM the bread of life" (Joh 6:48 RSV) He is inviting us into communion with Him through the "living bread which came down from Heaven", and it is important that we do help people to tune into the reality of what is happening and what Jesus is really offering us!

I won't dwell to long on this point, but just want to mention it. Young people do want to know God, but we need to help them to open their hearts to the mystery in which we enter as mass, and the trap we are often falling into, as I feel it, might be making it too casual, by too much taking the mystery out of God... if the mystery is gone what is left?

The second reaction is what I often say that we should not expect to sense anything in prayer. However I don't think these reactions are an either/or answer, but a both /and as Fr. Harris OP so often has pointed out to us in class.
It is not that we should not experience the mystery at mass because we are not to expect sensual satisfactions all the time, but rather that once we have engaged in a relation with God, we should not expect to be sensually satisfied all the time.

I belief God always helps us initially to make the step of faith to start a real relationship, and it is my personal experience. God is always drawing us towards Himself, our hearts are always yearning for Him even though we might not realise it and our flesh is weak.

We read in the gospel that "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him;" (Joh 6:44 RSV), the word draws indicates resistance as the lexicon gives drags as a option. The Father makes effort to drag us into communion, He wants us, He loves us, and He helps us to enter into communion.

"Because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!"" (Gal 4:6 RSV), the desire is there, planted there by God, and when in communion with Jesus, the stronger this relation becomes, the stronger the cry and desire "Abba! Father!".

But to come back to the notion of sensual silence, our relation with God is not based on sensual experiences, it is a more deeper spiritual reality, which takes time to understand, recognize and discern. St. Paul hints as this more developed relation with Jesus when he writes tot he Corintians:
The unspiritual man does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned (1Co 2:14 RSV)
The spirit is dwelling in us, and "His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence [...] and become partakers of the divine nature" (2Pe 1:3-4 RSV) We get to really "know" (which is often used as the "knowledge" two people have in marriage of each other) God and He allows us to become partakers of the divine nature!!!

And when does this fore mostly happen? Exactly when we actually receive Christ during receiving Him during Mass: "I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh." (Joh 6:51 RSV)

So Mass can never be boring, once we realise what is really happening! God comes down to us as he transforms the host into His own Body and Blood, in order that we may enter in communion with Him when we receive Him into our own body. He becomes part of us, and we become part of Him. Again Jesus is calling us to communion. "Father, I desire that they also, whom thou hast given me, may be with me where I am, to behold my glory which thou hast given me in thy love for me before the foundation of the world." (Joh 17:24 RSV)

Once we grasp this, once we enter into this communion, it does not really matter anymore to what Mass we go. We learn to discern God in the silence of our hearts, and the desire to know him becomes stronger and stronger. But let us try and help others who have not found this gift in their lives yet, the great of gift of God, the gift of Himself, and I feel that one of the places this should be done is exactly in our weekly (or daily) celebration of the Eucharist.

This week I did a lot of meditations on these few lines mentioned above, and it is interesting how they came together (as subsequent some came up in the Office of Readings yesterday and today). So I decided to just throw them out there, even though the reflection is not really a unity, but just a few scattered thoughts...

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

O God, you are my God, for you I long, for you my soul is thirsting! (Ps 62/63)

Slowly the day fades away, until only the flickering of the light of candles remains...
The only sound, the rhythmic ticking of the clock, time passes away...

In the silence, in the depth of the my heart, there it is that God speaks...
Not in words, nor senses, but only silence...

It seems not to matter how long it is, as if time did not exist...
Only the clock indicates something happening, all else stands still...

In the middle of all the turmoil of the day...
It is the desire you place in my heart...

There is nothing else to find...only you...
And there is nothing else to want... only you...

O God, you are my God, for you I long, for you my soul is thirsting! (Ps 62/63)

Saturday, 1 August 2009

I am the bread of life (Jn 6:35)

This week we continue to read from the 6th chapter of St. John (Jn 6:24-35). Last week we read the begining of the chapter in which Jesus was feeding the five thousand. Afterwards the disciples get into the boat and start to go to the other side of the lake while "Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself" (Joh 6:15 RSV).

When Jesus was catching up with them walking on thew water "They were frightened, but he said to them, 'It is I; do not be afraid.'" (Joh 6:20 RSV) and eventually they end up miraculously at the other side as "immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going." (Joh 6:21 RSV)

These were just some snippets on what has happened so far in the chapter, and indeed it seems like it is a special chapter as I tried to point out last week. Now we continue, as we learn that "[the people] got into the boats and went to Capernaum, seeking Jesus" (Joh 6:24 RSV)

I first like to point our attention to Jesus himself and the disciples. As so often, when the crowds get exited by his miracles he gets away. Jesus is never searching for human credit, but instead seeks the solicitude of the mountains where He prays. I think it is just a small aspect I like to mention on the side, the fact that in following Jesus it is the solitude of being with him that we should be searching, as He was praying to the Father in lonely places, that is where we should find our joy: "where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." (Mat 6:21 RSV). In our life as Christians sensible spiritual consolations are often far en between, often we have to do just with our faith.

Like the disciples, as "[they] started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them" (Joh 6:17 RSV). Jesus was not there, but they head on anyway even though they do not know where he is. Then in the stormy weather, as we so often experience in our lives, "they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near to the boat" and "they were frightened" (Joh 6:19 RSV)

We see that Jesus is actually near, very near to them, but they are so engrossed in the fight with the stormy sea that they do not recognize Him, but then he says "It is I; do not be afraid." (Joh 6:20 RSV) and again "immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going." (Joh 6:21 RSV)... I just wanted to put that down, for people who might feel that what they are doing seems to be out on the stormy sea without any sense of direction, but really trusting on Jesus and not being afraid is the answer... we sometimes have to keep rowing for a few miles, but then He helps us to "immediately" go where we need to go...

But back to the Gospel of this week. The people were seeking Jesus.
Earlier this week when we read the passage in which Jesus describes "the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field" (Mat 13:44 RSV) I wanted to write a quick note on the importance for us to be open to God, to search Him, something that maybe a lot of people nowadays do not really do... But we know that  when "you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul" "you will find him" (Deut 4:29 RSV).

So these people are searching for Him, but Jesus seems to doubt their motivations: "Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves." (Joh 6:26 RSV). So why do we seek God, what are our motives. That is a good question to ask yourself.

Because it will not get our belly filled, and it will most of the time neither let us see miraculous signs. Most of the time it will be being on the stormy sea, Jesus seeming to be away... to be far off. So we should really ask ourself this question... As I was asked when I made my profession: "What do you seek?".

So rightly the crowd asks this of Jesus "What must we do, to be doing the works of God?" (Joh 6:28 RSV)  and the "simple" answer is "that you believe in him whom [God] has sent." (Joh 6:29 RSV)

It is trust in Jesus, following Him. Only by finding and following Him will the endless yearning for the "something more" the "somthing that is missing" be satisfied. "I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst." (Joh 6:35 RSV)

It is the Lord himself which we should seek, to belief in Him, and to follow Him, to be in communion in Him.  so that as we will read in the coming weeks "He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him." (Joh 6:56 RSV) Jesus is calling us to Him, to abide with Him and to become one with Him... but is this what we are really seeking?

Again, I am still in the midst of the course, so these are just a few quick lines thrown together without much reflection and thought gone into them...

Sunday, 26 July 2009

A start of chapter 6 of John's Gospel

This week I post just a note to calibrate that I am half way through the course! I had the opportunity to accompany Fr. John Walsh OP Saturday to Newbridge College and took this opportunity happily to have a change of scene and to try and to refresh a bit to hit the next set of four weeks...

As I am only back now I feel it is a bit late to write a reflection on the gospel we had today (and off course I haven't done my homework for tomorrow, but am not even going to think of that, it is Sunday!).

The Gospel is taken from Chapter 6 of the Gospel of John (6:1-15). One of the important messages of these few verses is that faith in Jesus is the important thing, and that even sometimes we might be tested in our faith as "this he said to test him, for he himself knew what he would do." (Joh 6:6 RSV).

However, I would like to draw your attention to a few verses earlier, where the tone for the chapter is set as it were. We read that a multitude is following Jesus and that "Jesus went up on the mountain, and there sat down with his disciples"  (Joh 6:3 RSV). Jesus went up the mountain, the place to teach his followers as he did in the sermon of the mount (cf. Mat 5:1). Then he sat down, the traditional way of teaching with authority. When a Jewish Rabbi was teaching he was often walking around or standing, but when he was teaching officially, he sat to teach. This is a first sings that something important is going to happen. Next it is mentioned that "the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand" (Joh 6:4 RSV), the Jewish feast of the unleavened bread...

We get the multiplication of the loaves, but this is only to lead up to a much more important teaching... a teaching which can and should have a big impact on our daily lives. Hopefully I get a chance next week to reflect on this point more next week as we will continue to read from this chapter, and in the meantime, it would be very good to read ahead this week and meditate on the 6th chapter of John's Gospel, as it is very deep!

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Is religious life just "hard work"?

In light of a comment recently made on one of my articles, concerning the balance between work and Grace, one of our Dominican Contemplative Sisters wrote a short reflection on their blog. Please have look:  Is religious life just "hard work"?

(And just want to make the side note, that I would read this in a wider context, it not only being valid for religious life, but for anybodies life)

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest a while (Mark 6:31)

I just want to say something about one line of the Gospel which I think is very relevant to what I tried to express yesterday evening late. It is "[Jesus] said to them, "Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest a while." (Mar 6:31 RSV). In our hectic days it is always to remember that particular. I don't take rest here as going for a snooze or so, but as the "rest" in Genesis (Gen 2:15, נִּחֵ֣), man being put in the garden to rest in the presence of God, and so here, the disciples take rest with Jesus, to spend some time with Him to recollect in the busyness of the ministry.

To link it to yesterday, I think this is essential even if the business around us is pressing in upon us. I often try to revere to the fruits of prayer as the "desire" in our heart, as any sensible consolations are most of the time not noticed. It is then when we start "neglecting" God that we notice this desire and this attraction even stronger. I experience it I think like the feeling of the negligence of a good friend, or the longing of seeing for example ones family after a long time away...

And even then, when we read that there is already a crowd on the shore we might still get a hint of encouragement, even if it is pushing the interpertation a bit. "[Jesus] had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things" (Mar 6:34 RSV).

But it is Jesus that starts teaching them... not the disciples. So maybe we too should try and trust on that, that we need to have our lives grounded in resting in the Lord, and even when we take this necessary "rest", as again I take rest as a rest/being centered in God, the Lord will still work through us, even if it means that we spend time in private prayer in your room (cf. Mt 6:6), or even "into your inner room" (Mat 6:6 NAS, the cell of ones heart? But this is a whole different reflection). It is only later "when it grew late, his disciples came to him" (Mar 6:35 RSV)...

Like I said, maybe pushing it a bit, but it gave me some direction fort he week to come... let see if it will work out!

Saturday, 18 July 2009

The course is taking its toll!

As I mentioned two weeks ago, I am doing a quite intensive summer course, and it has reached the point that I won't be able to do anything beside focusing on the course... as such I won't have my usual few lines on the Gospel of this Sunday.

It has however been a very interesting three weeks so far. The course itself, but also the dynamic around it. Trying to juggle the contemplative life with making the trips six days a week to the university and working your way though the homework has proven to be a challenge... but a nice on in a way!

The interaction with the other students at the course has also been very interesting, especially when faith matters come up. There has been barely a day there is not some kind of a discussion concerning the faith... and it might be that those conversations do not do a lot to others, they give me a lot of things to bring to by meditations in the evening before I hit the sack!

I have defiantly leaned that prayer cannot be replaced by anything, God is always at the center of our lives if we allow Him. Always being the silent companion, especially in prayer but also through the rest of the day, always helping to just keep up with the pace... it sounds maybe cheesy, but I really feel that what I have been trying to express on this blog to work in my own life... this encounter with Jesus, the encounter which nothing else can compare with, an encounter which in itself is indescribable The touch of the divine which leaves it invisible mark on our soul. The silent consolation, even though we don't notice it (in my case prayer at night after a long day can be experienced as very difficult indeed) The fruits though and the gift is always the yearning in our hearts for Him. The gift of Himself, the gift of the yearn of our hearts to be united with Him...

Well, time to go to bed!

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Lord, why do you put my heart on fire...

Lord, why do you put my heart on fire,
giving me the desire to share you Word.
While the blood starts rushing through my veins,
but when expressing you friendship only to makes it stop.

Sitting silently to ponder you Word,
in your presence to listen to the whispers of your voice.
Time is passing by without notice,
as words to describe your love are always falling short.

The light is dimming, another day is over,
again it all seems in vain to try to convey the mystery of your love.
I realise that once more I have been a failure to do you any service,
but all I can do till the end is trust.

It is in the silence of my hart that I seek you presence,
deep down in my soul I know you are there.
Again I ponder you marvelous working, in the depths of your silence,
I will always want to stay with you till the end!

So they went out and preached that men should repent (Mk 6:7-13)

This Sunday the Gospel of Mark (6:7-13). In the Gospel we read about Jesus sending out the twelve apostles to preach the Good News to the people, he "gave them authority" (Mar 6:7 RSV) and "they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many that were sick and healed them" (Mar 6:13 RSV). There is already a lot in those few lines to dwell on, but I picked out the following line: "So they went out and preached that men should repent." (Mar 6:12 RSV)

Recently there was a comment on one of my articles that it seems to convey that I proclaim that we work our way towards Heaven, and that the spiritual life in Christ sound like one perpetual endurance test which is achieved , not by grace. As the comment painted a picture exactly opposite of what I belief, I have to review how I am writing. I guess I have tried to give a balanced reflection on this blog, aimed at a large audience, my desire is to help others also to find some of the depths of our faith, the love of Christ, in their lives. Maybe I have not painted a complete picture.

I picked the line "So they went out and preached that men should repent." (Mar 6:12 RSV) out of the gospel to try and briefly illustrate the point of "action" and my idea about this, or more what the result of Gods action is. The disciples went out to preach to the people "that men should repent", or "so that they might repent".

An encounter with God has an effect on a person. In my eyes it is not possible to truly encounter Jesus, to be able to accept His love, and live an immoral life. But we have to accept Jesus, we have to be open to His invitation: "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me." (Rev 3:20 RSV) This relation, as any, is an interaction, not something passive....

It is not that we do something and as a result God gives us something as a "reward" for this. That is not the case: "we love, because he first loved us" (1Jo 4:19 RSV) The fullness of communion with God is love, and love is a gift. God as the source of everything and is the source of love. So it is all a gift, it is a gift of grace, everything is given to us. However, "love does not insist on its own way" (1 Cor 14:4), God does not force us to enter into this communion with Him. It is a gift, and a gift needs to be accepted. It does not mean that we work our way towards it, that we earn it (as we don't earn/deserve it) but only that we have to come forward to be embraced by the invitation, as the father embraced the prodigal son who came back to him (cf. Luke 15:20).

But now back to how this influences our lives... when we accept the invitation, when we open ourselves up to the grace of God, God starts to work in us, our hearts are slowly conforming more and more to what true love really is. I have often mentioned the importance of silence in our lives, time for some private prayer, some reflection, or just some time to spend with God. This is not so we work our way towards God, but to be in some kind of way passively, but also actively, present as Gods love slowly purifies our soul.

So when we enter on this road, and we enter in this conversation with Him, our lives change. The disciples preached so that "so that they might repent". The encounter with the Good News is one of repentance, it is one of changing our ways to become more acceptable to God. With the encounter of pure love a flame is enlightened in our own hearts too.
"Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends;" (1 Cor 14:4-8)
These are the fruits of encountering pure love, of encouraging God as "God is love" (1 Jn 4:16). Accepting God in ones live sadly often means that we need to change something, and that might actually often be a problem. The Gospel sets you free from slavery, it sets you free to fully enjoy life, but this sometimes means we need to make changes in our way of live as sometimes we decide to not fully give ourselves but to hold back, and as such reject part of the gift.

I guess, that that is why a lot of people might have problems with the Church teachings, as it challenges their live and they do not want to change, but I firmly belief that these teachings are there not to annoy us, but to lead us to freedom... sometimes we need help in seeing how we can make our life better, help in unclouding our vision of what is true and false, sometimes we need to help in finding the real Truth... and again it brings us back: "so they went out and preached that men should repent." (Mar 6:12 RSV), it is the preaching of the desciples, I guess the preaching of what now is the Church...

"And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." (Joh 8:32 RSV)

Maybe not a great end, and maybe the start of a continuation... but I better get back to my Greek...

Finally, maybe I back again of working ourselves up to God? If I am, tell me as it is not my intention, the intention is to give an open invitation to just accept the gift that is gives to us, and to enter into this relation which can only grow beyond your wildest imaginations!

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Dominican Vocation: Different aspects of our life

A short video in which some brothers of the Irish Province of the Dominicans share on different aspects of our Dominican Vocation:

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Where did this man get all this? (Mk 6:1-6)

At the moment I am in the middle, or rather beginning, of a course which will last for another seven weeks, so my reflections will be a bit briefer, and I might just only throw out one of two idea's... but hopefully there will also be a short video with some ideas about the Dominican Life in the pipeline as a compensation :-).

First of all the Psalm (Ps 123:1-4) caught my attention. I guess this week was rather busy, and psalms always seem to catch me in those times, this time is was the first line "To thee I lift up my eyes, O thou who art enthroned in the heavens!" (Ps 123:1).

If we are running around and are trying to get everything done that has to be done we can rather feel a bit stretched, like to little butter on a piece of bread. The first thing that comes under pressure in my case are probably my prayers, as that just seem time that does not directly help towards fulfilling all the duties we have to do and it rather just seem to take a lot of time...

But it is exactly then, in busy times, that we need the time to recollect ourselves! It is very easy to "save" time by not spending time with God and to keep busy with what we are doing. But "saving" this time will only help on the short term, it only helps with what has to be done now. However, often we are running a marathon, not making a sprint, and we have to keep that in mind: "let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus" (Heb 12:1 RSV)

So especially when it is busy, I think it is very important to be "be constant in prayer" (Rom 12:12 RSV) and "to thee I lift up my eyes, O thou who art enthroned in the heavens!" (Ps 123:1)

The Gospel this week is from Mark 6:1-6, but first just a curios remark. My eye fell on two different options in the translation in the second reading: 2 Cor 12:7-10. St. Paul is saying that to prevent him from exalting himself he was given a thorn in the flesh. Whatever this exactly means we do not know, I usually read this as it is translated in the RSV as an "it"; when St. Paul asks "that it should leave me". I looked at it as a physical impediment, but maybe it is a person who is in his company and who humbles him, either in a positive or negative way. It could reference back to the "a thorn was given me in the flesh" (2Co 12:7 RSV), but also to "a messenger of Satan" (2Co 12:7 RSV), indicating a person.

Like I said just a remark, but I can just envision it actually being a person who is bothering St. Paul, and he prays that he will leave the company they are in, but the Lord refuses... it shows again that life for St. Paul was not some walk in the park, but an turmoil and roller coaster as most lives are. Here we can see that sometimes in our homes or working environments we might come across people who are really annoying us. It is sometimes much harder to deal with problems with people than any other inconveniences. But here we learn that maybe St. Paul had exactly to same situation, and we read in a way the little encouraging response "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." (2Co 12:7 RSV): Get on with it!

Now I shortly like to connect St. Paul being humbled with the Gospel, in which Jesus is rejected by the people in His native land. First of all, it is very humbling if you are very excited about something, for example God, and the people close to you do not seem to pay even the slightest interest in the matter. There is, I think, something of the same into this story of Jesus' going "home". As "many who heard him were astonished" (Mar 6:1 RSV) they still just see Him as He was when He was when He grew up among them and they wondered "Where did this man get all this? What is the wisdom given to him? What mighty works are wrought by his hands!" (Mar 6:1 RSV). They don't seem to realize what is actually happening around them, they see it, but cannot shake off the idea of Jesus being more than the little boy they knew, they cannot see the mystery that is enfolding before them.

This can be very difficult if we experience it, we can try to do all the best we can to convey our beliefs, but it seems like we are speaking to deaf mans ears. But then we just have to remember to always trust in God, and keep trying to be an good example, keep doing what we are doing, trusting God will work through us, even if in a hidden way. So in those situations, at home, at work or with close friends, we should keep uplifted and trust in God to work the apparent miracle that seems to be needed to open their hearts to His love.
(I know this was terrible!)


The Irish Dominicans have a website called Dominicans Interactive with online resources. We also have an iPhone/iPad App, which can be found in the iTunes App Store.


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