To be a Dominican is to be a preacher.  As preachers, we share the Good News that has been entrusted to us.  Every day, we preach the word of God in hundreds of different ways through our work in the communities and with one another.

We also share the Word of God on our website through the Sacred Space. This is a collection of reflections, written by a Dominican Sister.  These works proclaim the Word of God and impart a message of hope and peace to those who need to take out of their busy daily lives to reflect and consider.

14th Sunday Ordinary Time 5th July 2020

On this  14th Sunday in ordinary time we read and reflect on  a beautiful part of Matthews gospel. In Chapter 11 we see the anguish of Jesus and watch as he turns to his father in prayer. What has led up to this? The Nazarenes in his home town had found the  message of Jesus very challenging. In their view it questioned the status quo. They knew where they stood with the message of their father Abraham. It had been passed on with conviction and certainty for generations.  It was their tradition. How could they turn their back on that. The message of Jesus may have sounded good. But was it too good to be true.  It was a message of love without the trappings. Too risky. Jesus then moved on to Capharnaum and after initial hope he was once again disappointed. He recalls with bitter disappointment the other towns of Chorazin and Bethsaida who refused to listen and now adds Capernaum to his woes. He chides them. “Can you not see the mistakes you are making which lead you down the wrong road?” Even John at the beginning of this chapter seems confused by the way the message of Jesus is panning out. He sends a message. ‘Are you the one who is to come or have we got to wait for someone else?’ The reply from Jesus was excellent. “Go back and tell John what you hear and see.’ How would John’s messenger answer today? What would he see and hear? We are confronted with numerous challenges;  homelessness, the plight of refugees who seek a place of safety in our land, the cry of the planet to be cared for, the cry of families grieving for a loved one, facing death without the support of family. It seems to me that he is saying. Come to me and I will help you to carry the burden. I will be on one side of the ox and you on the other and since it will then be lighter than you ever imagined we will press on ahead out of darkness and into light. ‘Come to me, all who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart and you will find rest for your souls. Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light.’ He tells us that if we live in Him and He in us we shall see with His eyes. Let us insert the God lens and we will both see and be seen. Kathleen Fitzsimons OP  

13th Sunday in Ordinary Time 28 June 2020

Matthew’s account of Jesus’ instructions to his apostles continues this Sunday. Called by name, the twelve are sent out to proclaim the kingdom. Jesus has warned of possible rejection, hatred, persecution, family division and betrayal. One could be forgiven for feeling some trepidation, even reluctance, about being a disciple of Jesus. It is not for the fainthearted. What is Jesus doing? Does he want to scare off (potential) disciples? Despite the dire warnings, it seems not. Instead, Jesus offers encouragement, repeating ‘do not be afraid’three times (10:26, 28, 31). This is the context in which the striking triple claim in today’s Gospel is situated. Jesus’ focus is less on what disciples are to do and more on how they are to be, on their attitude. Jesus speaks of a wholehearted, single-minded commitment: ‘Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me’ (10:37). If taken literally, this seems overly demanding, even unreasonable. Moreover, it runs counter to Jesus’ continual emphasis on love and his pointing away from himself to his Father. It is not meant to be taken literally however. In the rabbinic tradition, Jesus’ words can be understood as hyperbolic, deliberately exaggerated to make a point. Matthew’s Jesus is undeniably Jewish. He calls for a more rigorous adherence to the Mosaic Law than the scribes and Pharisees practice and insists he has come to fulfil the Law and the Prophets. Despite his extreme words, Jesus does not seek to break the covenant or dismiss the fifth commandment. He is not advocating abandonment of familial relationships and obligations but rather a reconsideration of priorities. Family and friends, although God-given gifts, can distract from something greater – Jesus and discipleship. Note those little words: ‘more than me’. It is a question of where one puts greater energy or focus.Jesus does not present an all-or-nothing choice: discipleship or family. It is both-and. Jesus’ emphasis on the Law, the core of which is love, means it has to be both-and: ‘love the Lord your God’ and ‘love your neighbour as yourself.’ A sense of being loved – and called – impels us outward to live and act in an authentic response to God’s love. This is discipleship, this is proclaiming the kingdom, this is loving Jesus ‘more’. Putting Jesus first does not take from loving others but rather is realised through love of family and neighbour in their broadest definitions. Making time for prayer however, to sustain our relationship with Jesus, is vitally necessary, allowing us to be both better disciples and better relatives. It helps us to focus on why we love so that how we do so becomes more possible. Even Jesus needed this, going away to be quiet, to connect with the Father, and modelling this for us, his disciples. Without that, we lose the ability to care well: we cannot pour from an empty cup. Then, we can love neither Jesus nor others. What about discipleship in a time of Covid-19? How does this Gospel relate? Discipleship is demanding but is not beyond any of us. It is lived not just in grand sacrifices but in the smallest of gestures. Jesus states that when the disciples are welcomed, he is welcomed too – and by extension God (10:40). In our actions towards others, we love none other than God. In these months of pandemic, we have witnessed discipleship, both in acts of extraordinary courage and selflessness and in basic kindnesses of people. This is the love that Jesus demands. It is not loving people more than Jesus but loving Jesus through them – and loving God in and through them. Jesus tells disciples that offering just a cup of water will not go unrewarded. Imagine looking at those around us in this light, knowing that what we do for them, we do for God! With this awareness, who will you receive today, who will you welcome, how will you love? Sr Eileen O’Connell OP (image credit: http://hiswordinpictures.blogspot.com/2011/05/matthew-1040.html)      

12th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 10:26-33 We recently celebrated some significant feasts in the liturgical cycle of the Church: The Ascension, Pentecost, Trinity Sunday, Corpus Christi. In a way the readings of this Sunday see a return to Ordinary Sunday celebrations. You may well ask the question: ‘what is ordinary in these times’? Many new phrases have become the norm in our vocabulary (lock down, social distancing, coughing etiquette). And in the commercial world we are being re-trained into the ‘new-norm’, of for example, queuing, something new to many of us in the Western world. In today’s gospel the word fear is mentioned three times, and this surely resonates with the anxieties we have lived through during this pandemic. The invitation from Matthew is: to contemplate what has been whisperedto us during lock-down, to ponder and give thanks for what we appreciate now after cocooning for the past months, to imagine what the ‘new-norm’ might be and to consider what we want to proclaim, acknowledge and give thanks for as we emerge from our cocooning. What do we appreciate now about our caring God? Matthew reassures us – the hairs of our heads are counted (and they are much longer now for sure!!) The little sparrows surely help us, as we contemplate them in our gardens.  Signs that the ordinary or rather extraordinary/ miraculous cycle of life continues. And that life matters to God. All lives matter to God, black, white, green, in fact the whole community of life matters to God. And therefore let us make sure the community of life matters to us in our ordinary daily reflections and actions. This weekend marks the longest day in the Northern hemisphere and shortest day in the Southern hemisphere. Imagine the Arctic will be in daylight all day and the Antarctic in darkness. The journey of the earth around the sun and the celebration of summer/ winter solstices (ritualised by our ancestors) are a sign of reassurance and an invitation to embrace the rhythm of life, death and rebirth. It is interesting to note that on June 24th Christians celebrate the feast day of St. John the Baptist, ‘He must increase but I must decrease’ (Jn 3:30). This year the 20th June (summer solstice) has an additional significance. It is particularly significant because on the 20th June 1870 the Dominican Sisters arrived in Wicklow town to begin the ministry of educating the young people. We give thanks for their contemplation and imagination, which impelled them to leave the comforts of the familiar and to come to this place to serve and promote the Gospel values as Matthew invites us to do today. “Celebrating the past – Inspiring the future”   Ad multos annos!   (The celebratory motto created by the Dominican Campus committee)   Sr. Colette Kane OP