Newsletter N.º 84 – December 2006

For God so loved the world that He sent His only Son

Recently, Pope Benedict XVI reminded us that “the mission of the Church is the prolongation of Christ’s mission:
to take the love of God to all, proclaiming charity with words and concrete testimony. May every Christian be a missionary of love there, where providence has placed him, with humility and courage, serving his neighbor without ulterior motives and obtaining in prayer the strength of joyful and industrious charity.”
In this same spirit of mission, which began in Bethlehem and with our deep gratitude, a Christmas Novena of Masses and prayers will be offered for all the needs our Friends of Fatima, who so kindly support our Dominican Rosary Community. We wish each one a most Blessed Christmas and a New Year filled with grace, peace and Divine Mercy under the protection of Mary Immaculate, Mother of God and our Mother.

Mother Prioress and Sisters






Year of Mercy – Fatima 90 Years

His Excellency Bishop Antonio Santos, newly appointed to the Diocese of Leiria-Fatima presided at the international pilgrimage 12-13 October 2006. The following is taken from his homily preached on that occasion.
Today, with this Eucharistic celebration, we begin the Year of Mercy to commemorate that extraordinary manifestation of Mercy through Mary, here in the Cova da Iria, 90 years ago… I wish to invite you to contemplate with me, with eyes full of wonder and hearts filled with gratitude, the beauty of the mystery of Mercy… particularly significant and illuminating is the page of the Gospel in which St. John visualizes the concrete face of this mercy (Jn.8,1-11) in the encounter of the adulterous woman with Christ. This scene is an evangelical pearl of incomparable beauty, of moving tenderness and doctrinal profundity which St. Augustine synthesizes in a lapidary phrase: “They were only the two: human misery and mercy!”…Jesus manifests Himself as mercy incarnate and pronounces the judgment of absolution: ‘Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.’ …You are more valuable, infinitely more so, than your sin. In fact, Jesus restored the lost beauty of the adulterous one, saved her as woman, in her personal dignity, in her humanity, in her femininity, in the truth of her love, in her relation with God. She is from then on a living and eloquent text of the mercy of God… It is that love of the Father that says to each one: You are worth more, infinitely more, than your sin. Have confidence! There is not any situation irretrievably lost. In the figure of this woman of the Gospel we can read the dramas of the life of each one and of humanity. She is the image of a humanity that experiences tremendous disillusions and cries of despair because it does not succeed in being truly human; which perceives in itself the seeds of violence, hatred, cruelty and death which it carries within, but which cries out for and hopes for redemption.





…Christ gave and gives to the world another beauty: of mercy, of love that saves…What would the world be without the reality of mercy?…”
The Bishop continues: “A great theologian, Urs Von Balthasar affirms that if today the view of numerous Christians seems blurred, inhuman and at times even fierce, it is because they have neglected in their life the presence of the Mother of the Saviour, who proclaims that the mercy of God extends from generation to generation (Lk1:50). It is in light of this mystery of mercy that we ought to seek to understand the extraordinary message that began to resound from here in Fatima to all the world since that 13th day of May 1917. Here, Mary, Mother of the Saviour proclaimed once more the Divine Mercy, making felt the cry of her great pain and love for humanity, “that longing to lift it up from the abyss” into which it has fallen. …She continues to encourage us in the beginning of the millennium: Open your hearts to Christ! Do not be afraid! The fidelity and mercy of God are stronger than all futility and all sin! Be converted, convert your heart.”
Indeed the Message of Fatima is all about the heart: the Heart of God, rich in Mercy, Who wants us to honour and make reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in order to save poor sinners (Apparitions of June and July 1917).What does it mean to honour the Immaculate Heart of Mary? In his commentary on the ‘Secret of Fatima’, (June 2000) Cardinal Ratzinger wrote: “In biblical language, the “heart” indicates the centre of human life, the point where reason, will, temperament and sensitivity converge, where the person finds his unity and his interior orientation. According to Matthew 5:8, the “immaculate heart” is a heart which, with God’s grace, has come to perfect interior unity and therefore “sees God”. To be devoted to the Immaculate Heart of Mary means therefore to embrace this attitude of heart, which makes the fiat – “your will be done” – the defining centre of one’s life.”
From Fatima, “spiritual cathedral of the world” God’s mercy goes forth to touch the heart of each person.Fatima calls each one to purity of heart, to seek the will of God in all the circumstances of life in imitation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

FIAT!

The destiny of woman

“With her destiny, which is at one and the same time that of Virgin and of Mother, Mary continues to project a light upon that which the Creator intended for women in every age, ours included, or better said, perhaps precisely in our time, in which – as we know – the very essence of femininity is threatened. Through her virginity and her motherhood, the mystery of woman receives a very lofty destiny from which she cannot be torn away.”
(Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, in The Ratzinger Report, p. 108)

800 Years of Dominican Contemplative Life

On the first Sunday of Advent,
the entire Dominican spiritual family will unite to open the celebration of the 8th Centenary of the foundation of the first Dominican Nuns. The celebration will last from 3 December 2006 until 6 January 2008.
The year was 1206, the place Southern France, two Spanish Priests labouring for Christ…. Let us listen to Cardinal Pacelli, later Pope Pius XII a son of St. Dominic describe this moment in a discourse he wrote: “…Dominic had fought under a great captain, his Bishop Diego, begging his bread from door to door, preaching, discussing: and recollecting themselves at the foot of that Albigensian citadel of Fanjeaux, at Prouilhe, where they rested and braced themselves for further undertakings.
There they had already gathered in the fairest fruits of their conquest around the shrine of Mary: some noble young women enlightened and converted among many others whom error had caused to wander from Christian faith and piety. This was the first monastery of consecrated virgins erected by Dominic and Diego, in the region most hostile to the Catholic name.” The very place was designated by a sign from God – signadou – a fire-like globe of light which came to rest upon the ruins of St. Mary’s church in Prouilhe while Friar Dominic
was at prayer seeking God’s light.
Now, eight hundred years have passed and we are blessed to share in this ‘holy remembering’ of the ‘holy preaching’ of all the Nuns by way of their hidden yet totally apostolic life in the heart of the Church. We quote here from a Letter sent to the Nuns from Prouilhe (21 October 1970) by Fr. Anecitus Fernandez, OP a former Master General of the Order. With prayerful insight and gentle authority Fr. Fernandez reveals the beauty of the vocation of the Dominican monastic life of the Nuns “…Apostles of the apostles, that is your vocation. Not that you ought to give yourselves up to the apostolate as the friars do, but in this sense that the basis of every apostolate is the ever more loving, the ever more fervent knowledge of Jesus Christ crucified, of Jesus Christ risen from the dead. Saint Dominic wanted nuns at the very heart of his Order so that this loving presence, this incessant contemplation of Jesus Christ, and that alone, might constitute the strength of all. “Let others trust in their chariots and horses; for our part, we rely on the Name of the Lord” (Ps 19).

Your whole life should be peacefully ordered “to preserve without interruption the memory of God”, according to the expression of Cassian, an author who Dominic our Father and Saint Thomas Aquinas after him read and re-read, and who is still the doctor of the monastic life. The heart of our lives is this being with God in solitude, the cloister, silence, fraternal love, the liturgy and prayer. It is for this you have been solemnly consecrated. Within the Order you give witness to the saying of St. Augustine: “he is too greedy for whom God is not enough.” That is your vocation. Despite your hidden life one can truly say that you are witnesses. You share your vision first with us, and then with the entire Church. In that you are apostles of the apostles.
Seek without rest the Face of the Lord. Love each other. May the spirit of the Rule of St. Augustine root you in the love which comes from God: God is Love. At Fanjeaux when we took office, in that small room in which Saint Dominic prayed and suffered for us all, we recommended humility and obedience to the whole Order.
Humility, with charity, is the foundation of all true contemplation. Obedience is the path along which we follow Christ who was obedient
even to death and to death on the Cross in order to show all men the extent to which God loves them.
Gaze on the Cross of Christ, which one of the first Friars called “the book of the art of love”. In it lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and of science. It is the key which unlocks for us the mystery of God, the mystery which none can fully penetrate, the spring of our apostolate. It was in contemplation of the Cross of Christ that Saint Dominic found his apostolic zeal. It is contemplation of the Cross of Christ that will make you truly Dominican Nuns.
The Mother of Jesus stands beside the Cross. Likewise beside the Cross, in an unforgettable portrait, the artist-friar Blessed Angelico of Fiesole placed Saint Dominic in prayer. That is your place too, in which you ought to intercede for the salvation of all men and wait for the joyful hope and the coming of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ. We ask Mary, Mother of God, and Saint Dominic our Father that you will be faithful in the Order of Preachers until death…Pray for me and the entire Order.”
Here in Portugal, members of the Dominican Family and friends will gather in our Chapel for the celebration of Holy Mass on December 3rd. presided by our Bishop, His Excellency Antonio Santos, thus commencing a year of profound prayer of thanksgiving and fervent petition for the needs of Holy Mother Church and the Dominican Order.
We warmly welcome all of our Friends of Fatima to join with us in prayer during this special year of ‘holy remembering’!

Some Thoughts on Prayer

Jesus’ disciples used to seeing their Master pray, one day said to Him: “Lord, teach us to pray!” And He began: ‘Our Father, Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name…’
How wonderful for us that the disciples made this request of Jesus!
In the Message of Fatima, as related by Sr. Lucia, there are at least 17 distinct references to prayer: 12 in the Apparitions of Our Lady and 5 spoken by the Angel of Peace. Not only were the children taught and urged to pray but they also learned to imitate the Angel in prayer as he knelt or prostrated on the ground with head bowed until his forehead touched the earth, much like the Angels in the Book of Revelation (Rev 7:11). The reverence and fervour of these children at prayer was remarkable.
The attitude of the Little Shepherds in prayer ought to inspire us, for example, when we assist at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Often, because the responses and prayers are so well known fervour is lost or forgotten and these can become mere words – not prayer. Yet, we know that every response or prayer included in the Holy Mass is meant to draw us deeper into the mystery of the sacrificial offering of Our Lord. In true prayer, one’s heart is united to what the lips are reciting. Upon entering the Church, God’s house of prayer, it is each one’s duty to respect the right to silence and an unhurried pace for our brothers and sisters. At the door of the Church it’s necessary to leave not only the mobile phones but also the haste- of- life!
As Jesus taught us, we pray: “…forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” To forgive, even without being asked, is sometimes thought to be a weakness, even a condoning of the wrong done. By no means! To forgive manifests strength, the power of faith and love. A simple prayer such as: “Lord, I pardon all those who have injured me (or my loved one) and I ask Your mercy for me for all those whom I may have injured” – can restore peace of heart and begin the process of reconciliation. If praying for one’s enemy seems almost impossible at least try to pray: “Lord, let Thy will be done in their life!”
Finally, “Since prayer is a supernatural act, we must ask God earnestly to give us the initial grace, and then go on quietly praying under His direction. We must draw grace down on us by fervour, and then correspond with it without hindering its action……it is the prayer of the heart that God is listening for…You will ask, ‘What is this voice of the heart?” …The voice of the heart is love. Love God and your heart will always be speaking to Him, it will always be praying….Beg God to open your heart and to place therein a tiny spark of his Love, and then you will begin to understand what it means to pray.”
Lord, teach us to pray!

What is Communion of Reparation?

“God in His omniscience anticipated the way of the world and this ocean of sins against human life, and with the Message of Fatima wishes to awaken the interior drowsiness of men presenting them with the eternal content of this Message, whose nucleus is the demand
for reparation. In this ocean of sins, it is merely what we can and ought to do. For this the Angel appealed so much, and later on, with even greater insistence, the Most Holy Virgin herself.”
(Fr. Luis Kondor, SVD, October 2006)

Communion of Reparation is a particular means of making reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The Child Jesus said to Sr. Lucia: “Have compassion on the Heart of your most Holy Mother, covered with thorns, with which ungrateful men pierce it at every moment and there is no one to make an act of reparation to remove them.”

In the Apparition of July 1917, the children were given a vision of hell and afterwards Our Lady spoke to the Little Shepherds. She told them, among other things, that she would “…return to ask for the …Communion of Reparation.” The most Holy Virgin fulfilled her promise and appeared with the Child Jesus to Sr. Lucia on 10 December 1925.

After the Child Jesus spoke the words quoted above, Our Lady said to Sr. Lucia:
“Look my daughter at my Heart, surrounded with thorns with which ungrateful men pierce me at every moment by their blasphemies and ingratitude. You at least try to console me and say that I promise to assist at the hour of death, with the graces necessary for salvation, all those who, on the first Saturday of five consecutive months, shall confess, receive Holy Communion, recite five decades of the Rosary, and keep me company for fifteen minutes while meditating on the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary, with the intention of making reparation to me.”
By this means of reparation Our Lady calls us to the receive the Sacraments; pray the Holy Rosary and keep her company while meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary in which she shared so intimately. As always, Mary leads us to her Divine Son: Jesus Christ is the Communion of Reparation!
Yes, love is the key in this Communion of Reparation. The Heart of Mary is the symbol of her most pure and perfect love and it is to this love, blasphemed by so many, that we are called to respond with the wholehearted intention of making reparation.
Mark your calendars for five First Saturdays. Strive to complete them fervently making of each one a loving act of reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary our Mother.

How to make the Five First Saturdays

1. Receive Sacrament of Confession/Reconciliation(within 8 days before or after the First Saturday will suffice)
2. Receive Holy Communion
3.
Pray 5 decades of the Rosary
4.
Keep Mary company for 15 minutes while meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary

All with the intention of making reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

«In the end My Immaculate Heart will triumph…»

“I would like to mention another key expression of the “secret” which has become justly famous: “my Immaculate Heart will triumph”. What does this mean? The heart open to God, purified by contemplation of God, is stronger than guns and weapons of every kind. The fiat of Mary, brought the Saviour into the world because, thanks to her Yes, God could become man in our world and remains so for all time. The Evil One has power in this world, as we see and experience continually, he has power because our freedom continually lets itself be led away from God. But since God Himself took a human heart and has thus steered human freedom towards what is good, the freedom to choose evil no longer has the last word. From that time forth, the word that prevails is this: ‘In the world you will have tribulation, but take heart; I have overcome the world’ (Jn16:33). The Message of Fatima invites us to trust in this promise.”

Theological Commentary on the Secret of Fatima, by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, June, 2000

«Peace? Who is not talking about it?…»
Papal envoy Cardinal Etchegaray preaches in Lebanon 15 August 2006

“…Who does not long for it, even those who are fighting the war? But how many are prepared to give up everything for it?
Prayer? What believer is not praying to “Almighty God”? But how many see it as anything other than a refuge in moments of panic or an evasion from their own responsibilities? Prayer for peace is the most reliable proof that we take both peace and prayer seriously, the one with the other, the one through the other.
What a solid peace we must build, cost what it may, between peoples whose memories are tormented by a past and present punctuated with rebellion and revenge! Like the dew that brings forth vegetation, so too we must bring a fertile peace to this biblical land where all the contradictions that divide the world find an expression and a symbol!
We must make it clear: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of those tragedies which, unless an equitable solution is quickly found, will leave no State anywhere innocent, nor even intact in the future, if justice and truth are not the same for these two peoples, there will be neither justice nor truth and there will be no lasting peace in the world.
Of course, peace in the Middle East can be no different from peace that is sought everywhere else; it has been leavened with the same justice, the same brotherhood between peoples.
However, in this region the reasons for peace are more loaded, more pressing because they are nourished by the messianic vision described by Isaiah and by the example of Christ, who came to dwell among us to give “peace on earth” a new impetus….Pope Benedict has said: “Nothing can justify the shedding of innocent blood, wherever it may occur!”

“… Pray the Rosary everyday in honour of Our Lady of the Rosary in order to obtain peace for the world…”
Our Lady of Fátima, 1917

…No remedy can heal us unless it goes to the very root of the evil and unless each person humbly admits that the enemy is not only the other but also himself. Each one of us, every day, takes sides for or against peace by his or her way of thinking and living with others.
To say “good-bye” to war it does not suffice to say “good-morning” to peace.
…the true path (to peace) is more spiritual than political. No peace defined by agreements will last if it is not accompanied by peace in hearts. God alone can melt hardened hearts, especially in an age when peace itself has become aggressive, allowing violence to filter into daily life and giving rise to fear that debases man and makes him bark rather than cry for help.
… For our human wretchedness is very deep and we are in need of Divine Mercy, which is even deeper.
In the atmosphere of hatred which we breathe all too often, forgiveness is the only way to reconciliation, a forgiveness that is neither the erosion of time nor forgetfulness, interested calculation, conniving weakness, nor even condescending pity.
The person who is injured, humiliated or taunted will not dare to offer this forgiveness except by following the example of the God of love who, since the sin of the first man, can no longer love except through forgiving, to the point that the human being in turn becomes merciful. Then and only then, does the earth become inhabitable, only then can one breathe on this earth and live in a peace overflowing with joy…”
Lord JESUS, have mercy
on the Holy Land of Your Birth!
Holy Saint Joseph, spouse of Mary, be mindful of us, pray for us, watch over us.Guardian of the paradise of the New Adam, provide for our temporal needs.
Faithful guardian of the most precious of all treasures, we beseech thee to bring this matter to a happy end, if it be for the glory of God and for the good of souls. O glorious St. Joseph, for the love and glory of Jesus and Mary come to our assistance.


Amen.

Christmas 2006











Dear Rosarians,

Blessed Christmas!
As the Dominican Order prepares to celebrate the 8th Centenary of the Foundation of the Nuns, we are mindful
that, in a way, we also celebrate 800 years of the preaching of the Rosary. Tradition tells us that Our Lady looked with compassion on St. Dominic in those first years as he preached with scant success among the heretical sect of Languedoc and said to him: “…When God willed to renew the face of the earth He began by sending down the fertilizing dew of the Angelic salutation. Preach my Psalter (Rosary, as we know it today) composed of 150 Ave’s and you will obtain an abundant
harvest.”

The centuries have proven that when the Rosary is preached and prayed the results are phenominal.








As a child, St. Dominic learned compassion for the poor from his mother, Blessed Jane of Aza. As he studied the Sacred truths and grew in grace this compassion and mercy extended itself to poor sinners – poorest of the spiritually poor.
Along with ‘gift of dialogue’- the fruit of his continual dialogue with God – his compassion and zeal for souls Friar Dominic also had the grace of a ‘Marian vocation’. Like St. John at the foot of the Cross, St. Dominic made a place for Mary in his heart. On his long and arduous journeys on foot across Europe, we are told he would sing the Veni Creator (Come Holy Spirit) and the Ave Maris Stella ( Hail, Star of the Sea) thus invoking the Holy Spirit and His Immaculate Spouse. Can we wonder at the light that he received from above




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