Saturday, 31 July 2010

Real authority

This week's Gospel is from Luke 12:13-21. It contains the parable of the rich man who said "'What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?' And he said, `I will do this: I will pull down my barns, and build larger ones; and there I will store all my grain and my goods.'" (Luk 12:17-18 RSV) but then when he finally can rest after his hard work God said to him "Fool! This night your soul is required of you; and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?" (Luk 12:20 RSV).

I have used this passage before to illustrate a tendency which we can find in society nowadays. It is the idea to work hard now and so we can enjoy ourselves later. While there is no problem with either of these attitudes, the practicality is that often this 'later' is becoming a perpetual tomorrow. But this tomorrow never comes, and today always means working hard so tomorrow I can enjoy my self. And even if tomorrow comes, suddenly there seems to be an emptiness. All the things gathered up do not seem to give any lasting enjoyment. It is an emptiness of hope, and emptiness of meaning, and there is a risk to grow old without ever finding the real meaning of our lives, a meaning which can only be found in our relationship with God.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Excerpts from morning prayer

This short video shows a few excerpts from Morning Prayer hich was celebrated in the Dominican Priory in Tallaght as part of the celebration of the end of the Year fo the Priests

Friday, 23 July 2010

Prayer is a gift of God

On the Gospel of Luke (11:1 -13)

The Gospel is taken from the Gospel of St. Luke chapter 11 (1-13). This passage begins with Jesus in prayer, and after He is finished, some of the disciples ask Him to teach them how to pray. Subsequently Jesus teaches them the “Our Father”, the same prayer that we still pray today.

In prayer we communicate with God. It is seeking to engage in a relationship with God. We can read, especially in the Gospel of Luke, that Jesus frequently went off alone to pray. In the midst of his busy ministry, of preaching and healing Jesus encountered His Father, He sought communion with the Father early in the morning or late in the evening, when all was quite. He “gave himself unto prayer” (Ps. 109:4) as the psalmist says.

One of the Dominican Contemplative Sisters in Drogheda, Ireland, recently presented a paper on private prayer in which she says, “prayer is a gift of God that we receive. It is fundamentally not what we do but what God does in us, how God loves us, addresses us, looks at us, enlightens us, forgives us, heals us, purifies us and eventually transforms us – if we let Him! “.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Our Preaching Story

There is an excellent paper on the Dominicanfriars.ie website, talking about the role of the contemplative sisters in the life of the Order of Preachers and was presented by one of the Dominican Contemplative Nuns from the Siena Convent in Drogheda, Ireland.

The occasion was the Domincain Family day, a yealy event where the different branches of the Dominican Order (Friars, Nuns, Sisters and Lay Dominicans) come together. This paper is called "Our Preaching Story", and is a reflection partly on the role of the contemplatives but foremost on private prayer. Well worth a read.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Only a few things are necessary, really only one (Lk 10:42)

The Gospel this Sunday is from Luke 10:38-42. I will try and continue a bit of my my discussion about the experience of God in our lives. The first post was focussed on taking time to realize that God is always present to us, and that we should not run around like headless chickens. This theme connects very well with todays Gospel. The second reflection was on last weeks Gospel in which I said a bit about the aspect of sharing our experience of God, of the reality and fullness it brings into our lives.

Todays Gospel is a nice continuation. Martha is welcoming Jesus into her home. We can see that Martha is hospitable, and takes the initiative to invite Jesus in. So many of us have done that, and even though Jesus is always knocking, there is some freedom on our part to accept Him or not. We have to allow Him, to ask Him, to come into our lives.

But then we see that Mary is the one "who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching." (Luk 10:39 RSV), or to "His Word" as some translations note, which seems better to me (ἤκουεν τὸν λόγον αὐτοῦ). Martha is busy preparing everything for their guest and is annoyed with Mary, and ask Jesus to tell her to get off her lazy backside and help her (συναντιλάβηται). The word used looks interesting, as it suggest a "taking against", and seems to me to give a feeling of taking Maria away against listening to the Lord; there is a choice.

Jesus' response, as well known, is "one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her." (Luk 10:42 RSV) I think there is lots of material there to bring to our prayer, and to ponder upon, not a bad idea for 10-5 minutes before Mass. But building on my last posts, and my current situation of doing a good bit of running around, it shows me that it is vital that we keep sitting at our Lords feet and listen to Him.

It is very easy to eagerly receive the Gospel, to encounter Jesus, and to start trying to spread the message to the "whole world". There is lots of work to be done! But the risk is that we get to busy: "Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only a few things are necessary, really only one" (Luk 10:41-42). We loose our Lord out of sight, and this can lead us into for example either burning ourselves out, and while maybe in the process even loosing our faith, or thinking that the salvation of the world lies on our shoulders alone (independent of God).

Taking from this Gospel it is rather important to keep the balance, to always take time daily to silently sit at the Lords feet, and to let this feed into our daily lives. The most important thing is our relation with God, activity then subsequently will flow from that, and not the other way around. By encountering God we encounter true love, and love always wants to share... The movement is always from the source which is God flowing out, and subsequent it will automatically return to God.

This is a bit of what I wrote about in my first post mentioned above. We can invite God into our lives, but then race around doing all kinds of good things, but in a way forgetting the Lord is actually there, that the Word is spoken to us without us knowing it. It is very important to sit down and listen to the Word, to encounter the Word, and to make it settle in our hearts.

I guess this is what I like about the Dominican charism, it always try to hold the contemplative and active live in balance. Saint Thomas put it in the following way: contemplare et contemplata aliis tradere. This means to hand on to other the fruit of our contemplation. Through an intimate relationship with God, through prayer and contemplation (Pope Benedict XVI has said so often, contemplating the Face of Jesus) but also through study we grow closer in union and understanding of and with God. Then we go out to others to share our experience and try to explain to them the great gift which is our faith. I defiantly have felt this urge and desire, this fire within, to share the great love of God for us. To tell others how it can completely change our lives around, how it allows us to live our lives to the full!

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Love the Lord your God with all your heart

This week the Gospel comes from Luke 10:25-37. In the Gospel story we read that "a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, 'Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?'" (Luk 10:25 RSV). Jesus gives the answer that "What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?" to which the lawyer replies "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself." (Luk 10:26:27).

After this the lawyer asks Jesus "And who is my neighbor?" (Luk 10:29 RSV) and Jesus tells the parable of the man who fell in the hand of robbers on the way to Jericho. There are a lot of interesting little facts in this story, but I will divert a bit from the Gospel and focus on the little part which reads "Love the Lord your God with all your heart" trying to continue the reflection on "God's presence in our lives" which I started last Wednesday.

I was trying to explain a bit of my recent journey, and how it is important to keep focussed on Jesus. How it is so easy to get carried away with all kinds of good things, while slowly loosing sight of what really matters. I also start to realize that it is important to be more active in our relationship with God. This can partly be through study, in particular the scriptures, but also by sharing our experience of our relationship with God with others, no matter how small and unimportant it seems. As mentioned in the last post, I had a few very interesting and deep conversations in the last few weeks. This really re-enlighted the fire in my own heart, something that happens when we share the experience of God's love with others.

I am in Belfast at the moment, and yesterday I visited the family of the priest with whom I am staying over here, and during the conversation I told a short version of my conversion story. I have told the story a lot of times at this stage, and it does not seem significant to me, but the reaction of others makes me realise how much God has done for me. By relating my journey of the last few years to them it makes me realise myself the great things God has done for me, and the immense love he has for all of us. This love is the driving force of everything, and this love is the reason I am walking the path I am walking. It is however very easy to forget all of that and to lose sight of God's overall gentile hand guiding us when we get stuck in the daily events of our lives.

Youth 2000 here in Belfast were down in the city center promoting the Clonmacnois Youth Festival with live music, drama and games while contacting young people and telling them about the festival. It was great to see them doing it, but I also realised that I have to try harder to share my own faith as well. During the week I have been working on some video editing and I realised that in the time in the office I didn't really talk with the others in the office about God directly. It makes me remember that the importance to take an example in St. Dominic, who was always talking either with God or about God... I am defiantly lacking a bit in the talking about God part, whatever about the talking with God!

Well, I guess I even got a bit of the topic "Love the Lord your God with all your heart". But it is really in love that the secret of our relationship with God is to be found. This is the fire that burns in our heart, and is the fire that moves us. If only the realization of God's love would be clear it changes everything, if only we would be able to realise the depths of it. If the love between two people is in anyway a pointer to pure love, then it must be clear how tremendous a furnace it is... this emotion on a human level which can sometimes completely overtake us, being available to us in an infinite form on a spiritual level is just mind blowing I think...  

Well this reflection ended up a bit more of an attempt to voice my thoughts about the last weeks. Hopefully at least somebody can connect with it and might find it helpful, and I will try to get my act together a bit better for next week. It is now time for me to go and open the Church for the Vigil Mass...

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Reflection on Gods presence in our lives

Today I decided to post a bit of a different reflection than the usual weekly Gospel reflection to which I have limited myself lately. This is a bit more a personal reflection, and I want to reference the following passage from the book of Exodus (14:10-15):
When Pharaoh drew near, the people of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them; and they were in great fear. And the people of Israel cried out to the LORD; […] And Moses said to the people, "Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today; for the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be still." The LORD said to Moses, "Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. 
The last few weeks, since the exams, have been very busy and varied. There was some outstanding work to catch up on, mainly related to video editing etc. There were also some friends to visit and even an ordination, and there were some new projects to try and kick into action, for example the new website of the Dominicanfriars.ie. This resulted, experientially, in a feeling of running around all the time, literally and figural as I have spend a good few nights away from the priory, without realizing many tangible results…

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Ordination of Fr. David Rocks OP

Yesterday Father David Rocks OP was ordained priest by Bishop George Stack, auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese of Westminster. The ordination took place at the priory church of Our Lady of the Rosary and Saint Dominic, Southampton Road in London. David was joined by the Provincials of the Irish and English provinces, his community, and many brothers of the both provinces along with his family and friends.

Father David will celebrate Mass in the Dominican church of Saint Catherine of Siena, Newry, Co. Down on Monday next. Below are some images of the presbyteral ordination today.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Go and proclaim the Gospel to all the nations

I am away this weekend to attend the Ordination of bro. David Rocks OP. As I didn't get a chance to write a reflection before we left last Wednesday so I post a reflection written by bro. Brian Doyle OP from our website Dominicanfriars.ie. Please keep David in your prayers! This is the reflection:

In today’ gospel (Luke 10:1-9) we see the Lord appointing his disciples to go ahead of him to preach the gospel to all peoples and thus pass on the gift of faith which they had already received from Him.

The desire to pass on our faith is one of the essential aspects of being a Christian and one which motivated St. Dominic to found the Order of Preachers. Now, as in St. Dominic’s time, there is great need to preach Christian values to a culture which has largely forgotten the gospel and is increasingly influenced by forms of Gnosticism and of New Age Spirituality which are incompatible with Christ’s teaching and implicitly deny that Jesus Christ is the Saviour of the world.

Articles

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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