The monastery of Saint Catherine of Siena, Drogheda, Co. LouthThe reflection below in italics from one of the community of Dominican nuns at Siena monastery in Drogheda, Co. Louth deserves to be shared with as many as possible. The reflection is a response to a questioner at the recently held Dominican family vocations day in Saint Saviour's Priory in Dublin on March 24th last. It captures the essence of the vocation of the contemplative Dominican nun, but also should prove helpful to anyone considering the Dominican way of life. Here is the reflection, which can also be accessed at the blog of the Dominican nuns http://www.dominicannunsireland.blogspot.com/
Some weeks ago now, there was held in Dublin, a vocations day for the Dominican Family, at which one person from each ‘branch’ (i.e. friars, sisters, nuns and lay Dominicans) – spoke a little on their path to where they now are. One of the nuns (this one) I don’t know what happened to her, but not to be remembered if at all possible. It caused one of the listeners to ask ‘Are you happy?’ and I don’t know if I even answered the question – rather helplessly, I’m afraid. Something along the lines of ‘our life is needed’! Very lame, like a saturated sponge, pretty awful.
That was a while ago, and obviously not far from my mind since, but here during our retreat, I was dreaming with the Lord in the garden – which is not unusual – and in God it was that my answer was found.
We don’t ‘go out’ as such; our whole life here is lived here, for the most part lived within the walls and garden of the monastery. If you were to ask many of the sisters here, they would tell you that they all have a missionary heart within them. To go where there is need and bring the Lord with them, to the poor and the sick and the troubled in whatever way. It’s in a sense peculiar, but there it is – true none the less.
I am not God, nor am I like Him – even remotely – but I love Him and through baptism, I am in Him. My whole life here is lived in God, in the heart of the Lord – He is everywhere, at every moment. I was smelling the sea, and we are very far from the sea here; but the breeze carried it to the garden, and that sense came over me, which has done so before – a realisation that I don’t have to be everywhere; only here, in God. I can’t go everywhere for God, but if I remain in Him, and He is with me, He makes everywhere to be where I am. He brings everywhere to me.
My favourite place in all the world is off the west coast of Ireland, so whenever He brings the sea to me, I am there – out in the middle of the ocean, on a small little island that nowhere can compare to. Out in the middle of the wild, unpredictable ocean – often disturbed and stormy; very often restless and even angry. It depends on the weather.
If you are still with me … it made me wonder about ‘we Irish’; even not only Irish, but ‘we who live on the land of Ireland’ – we are used to unpredictable, disturbing, angry, restless weather, are we not? I think we could easily translate the weather outside to the history of the country through which we are living now – even in the Church. The storm is quite violent, and it seems to be attacking us at our very roots; even deeper – on the floor of the ocean – down there where it’s as though the earth’s plates are rubbing against each other, wreaking chaos.
And that seems to me to be the answer to the question asked those weeks ago – a part of the answer – about our life here; for us who so so love the Church, and long so much more than can be put into words, for her unity and healing – our life is to be the offering of our living blood, that it may sink into that foundation, to fall between the plates in a sense, the blood that can fill in the cracks and join them, if that makes sense. As we were reminded during the week; we belong, as a Church, out in the middle of the storm, not safely tied up at the harbour (I’m not a sailor, don’t know the language, sorry) – if we stay faithfully there, Jesus will come to us, as He did to the disciples: ‘It is I: do not be afraid’. Col. 1:24 – 26 (making up all that has still to be undergone by Christ, for the sake of his body, which is the Church) - I don’t think you could call it a question of happiness; definitely an aching desire that the world may come to know the joy of Christ; the wonder of His mercy and love. There is nowhere in the world I’d rather be. For Him. …. and for you.