Sunday, 31 October 2010

Zacchaeus, come down ... for I must stay at your house!

This week was our mid-term break... a week I was really looking forward in order to be able to catch up on a bit on college work... Now the week is over I am still looking forward to to do this, while slowly realising that the week is over and it is time to go back to college again tomorrow!

However, a lot of things happened during the week, which just took a bit more time than anticipated. There has been quite a bit of background work done on the Dominicans Interactive front. Apart from recording and editing the video discussion I just posted on this blog there has been a forum added to the website in which people can ask us questions which we will try and answer with a video response (and we would like to experiment with some people somebody leave a video message with a question (e.g. on our Facebook Page) so we can embed it in the response).

We also integrated the website more with our Facebook Page and added a Twitter account. There are all sort of other interesting idea's brewing, so I would say that is is defiantly worth keeping an eye on the website, and maybe provide some feedback and idea's through the forum or contact page!

Anyway, all that distracted me somewhat from the studies, and obviously from reflecting on the Gospel of today. I feel a bit like Zacchaeus at the moment. With the madness of running around, it seems to me that Jesus got lost in the crowd (from my point of view). The crowd in this case are not people, but the crowd are all the little projects that are crowding God out of my life.

As with the Israelites in the Exodus, it can sometimes look that we are chased around. But that is often the time when God calls us to a stop, to halt and recollect ourselves (cf. Ex14:13). Realizing that there is nothing wrong as long as we keep the Lord at the center, not to fear but to listen to Him "to go forward". (Exo 14:15 RSV)

So for me, this week I will ty and come down from my own little world of business and receive Jesus joyfully: "[Zacchaeus] made haste and came down, and received him joyfully"  (Luk 19:6 RSV) The Lord is waiting, he beckons, and there is nothing stopping us to accept His invitation...

Posted as part of Sunday Snippets–A Catholic Carnival. This is a weekly opportunity to share our best posts with the wider Catholic blogging community. To participate, create a post named "Sunday Snippets - A Catholic Carnival" highlighting posts of the last week that would be of interest to Catholics and link to the host post . Then go to the host blog and leave a comment giving a link to your post.

Discussion among the Students about the Pope's letter to Seminarians

In the last week we had a discussion about the letter Pope Benedict XVI sent to all seminarians int he world. We made a recording of the discussion which can seen below. We intent to have regular discussions on topics like this in the future, so keep an eye on my blog or on Dominicans Interactive.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

True conversion of heart

This week I didn't manage to write a proper reflection myself. The Gospel is very interesting, and I was planning a continuation of last weeks reflection. There is much scope in the Gospel to deepen the relation of prayer and the conversion of heart, not saying empty words, but really growing closer too God. What comes to mind is the passage in Amos, chapter 8, where the people are saying:

"When will the new moon be over,
that we may sell grain?
And the sabbath,
that we may offer wheat for sale,
that we may make the ephah small and the shekel great,
and deal deceitfully with false balances,
that we may buy the poor for silver
and the needy for a pair of sandals,
and sell the refuse of the wheat?" (Amos 8:5-6)

The Pharisee in the Gospel is telling how well he keeps the Sabbath and follows all the commandments, but that is not enough, and it should not stop there. It is clear that just observing everything we have to do can actually lead to pride, and therefore the Lord tells us that only one left the temple that day righteous.

We are called to make the transition from Law to Love, to not just observe the degrees laid before us, but to use the degrees in growing in holiness and make them our own. The "laws" can be a tool to make us live our life better. Once we grow in love with God, this love flows over into all our daily actions. Then we truly start to life the most important commandments: to love God and to love our neighbor as ourselves.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

O God, you are my God, for you I long, for you my soul is thirsting

The Gospel today is taken from Luke 18:1-8. "Jesus told his disciples a parable about the need to pray continually and never lose heart" (Lk 18:1). He tells the parable of the judge who, after a widow is continually asking him to pronounce justice, finally gives in to her wish purely because her perseverance, and so Jesus advises us to do.

In the Office of Reading today we read a passage of the letter of St. Augustine to Proba. The passage finished with "When the Apostle tells us: Pray without ceasing, he means this: Desire unceasingly that life of happiness which is nothing if not eternal, and ask it of him who alone is able to give it."

What really stuck me about this line is, with the risk of taking it slightly out of context, the link between praying unceasingly and to desire unceasingly. It seems to me that the two are maybe the same, that once we conform our heart towards God, if out whole life is a prayer, it is really a continual desire for God, a continual lifting up of ones soul to God. Recently I gave a very brief reflection on prayer, reflecting on what prayer really is. I will share a bit of that reflection here: 

During prayer or with prayer, we experience God. But what is this, this experiencing of God, as most of the time prayer is not necessarily that much of an experiential activity. I think though that it is at the same time. If we stop praying we notice a difference. Something is missing, even though it is hard to put our finger on what this 'something' is. 

As much as prayer is maybe not accompanied by an obvious sensational experience, neither is this ‘something missing’, but we still notice it. Regarding prayer we could maybe say that the non-experience of an experience is maybe an experience in itself.

We also notice the fruits of prayer, over time. If we look back over a few weeks, months and years, we can see the difference a life with more prayer makes. The fruits of a deeper understanding, knowledge or friendship with God can for example be noticed in the presence of the theological virtues; a disposition of faith, hope and charity. I think that the most noticeable fruit is a profound sense of peace and meaning, a sense of things being right in some kind of way.

With a bit of practice of the will prayer starts to flow over from our dedicated time to every action in our life; prayer becomes habitual and as such a virtue. We always carry God close to us in the cell of our heart, and God is present in everything we do. This brings with it a sense of groundedness, which can profoundly alter our lives. It can seem that Gods presence flows though our veins, and is it as Jeremiah explains, a feeling of our bones being on fire. A much deeper reality seems to open up, a depth of meaning we would never have dared to hope to exist in this life at all.

But what if this reality does not seem to be so real at all? It is important to realize that there are (al least) two reflections important here. First, what is reality, and what seems to be reality. God does not abandon us even if it might sometimes seem that He does. But it is important to realise that this is just on a sensual level, not on a spiritual level. Secondly, how God works in the soul is something which cannot be sensed directly most of the time. The few times the grace of God really flows over into the sensual is in itself a gift from God, but it is extraordinary, not ordinary. 

The groundedness remains, even if God seems absent. It gets stronger the closer we grow to God, it is a way of being, not a fuzzy feeling or not an emotional high, but a steady disposition which often manifests itself with a profound sense of peace. A blessedness which is beyond telling and beyond expression, just a way to be. It makes us cry out with the psalmist:

"O God, you are my God, for you I long, for you my soul is thirsting. 
My body pines for you like a dry, weary land without water. 
So I gaze on you in the sanctuary to see your strength and your glory." Psalm 62(63)

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Dominicans on the Pat Kenny show

Last Wednesday the Dominicans featured on national radio in connection with our annual pilgrimage to Knock. Have a look at Dominicans Interactive and listen to the recording.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Dominican Pilgrimage to Knock 2010


Yesterday was the annual Dominican pilgrimage to the Marian shrine at Knock, Co Mayo. This is traditionally the last official big pilgrimage of the season, and the Dominican pilgrimage each year consistently attracts large numbers from all around the county.  

So, also yesterday several thousand people were present at Knock Shrine for the event. The pilgrimage gave opportunity to availe of the sacrament of reconciliation, the celebration of the sacrament of the sick, the celebration of the eucharist and finished with the rosary procession. 

This years preacher was Fr Anthony Morris OP of the Sligo community, who gave us a wonderful homily on Our Lady, and her central role among the people of God.

Jesus, Master, have mercy on us (Lk 17:13)

(I posted my reflection of this weekend on my other (Dutch) blog... but as I wrote it anyway, post it here now as well, sorry for the delay in realizing my mistake)

This Sundays Gospel tells us about the story of the ten lepers who see Jesus coming into the village and shout to him for mercy. The text of the first reading (2 Kings 5:14-17) has the strong parallel in the story of Naaman's who was cured of his leprosy by eventually obeying the prophet Elisha.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Video of the Youth 2000 Summer Festival in Clonmacnois

Below a short video for the Youth 2000 Summer Festival which was held in Clonmacnois last August. Youth 2000 organises national and regional retreats for young people on a regular basis, as well as the Christmas retreat just before Christmas and this Youth Festival in August. Please visit the website of Youth 2000 for more information!

Friday, 1 October 2010

Increase our faith (Lk 17:5)

This Sunday's Gospel is a continuation of the Gospel of Luke (17:5-10). What struck me straight away, and it might have to do with my own journey, is the first verse: "The apostles said to the Lord, 'Increase our faith" (Lk 17:5). The Lords reply is quite interesting, as he gives the parable of the mustard seed, but my thoughts went out to the disciples and why they asked the favour.

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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