Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Nunsmenlo Went On A Pilgrimage!

We recently went on a pilgrimage to the lands of our founder St. Dominic.  The best part of the trip was that we didnt have to leave the monastery to do so!  It was totally a virtual and spiritual journey with one of our most charismatic and warm-hearted Dominican Sisters, Sister Ann Willits, O.P. 

Sister Ann is an active member of the Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters of the Congregation of the Most Holy Rosary in Wisconsin. She has served as a General Council and Vicaress General for her congregation, and as a high school principal and teacher for many years.  Sister has gone many times to St. Dominic's birthplace, Caleruega, Spain.  She traveled to Palencia where he studied, and to the lands where he travelled and preached.  She also went to the spot where he had the vision of the "signadou" or the sign of God indicating where he should establish the first monastery for the nuns of the Order.

Even though we know well the history of our Order, Sr. Ann made the history alive through her storytelling, accompanied by a slide show.  After four days of listening to Sister Ann and engaging in discussions and conversations, our hearts were once again enkindled with the love for truth and the missionary zeal of our holy father Saint Dominic.  Sister challenged us to think about the apostolicity of our  lives as enclosed nuns and ways in which we could strengthen the family bonds with all the members of our Dominican family,  the active Sisters, the Dominican Laity and the Dominican volunteers.  

We were reminded of our former Master General Carlos' hope and conviction that the renewal of the Order will come through the strengthening of the contemplative element of our Dominican life, along with the preaching of the whole family centered on the fraternal bond between the friars and nuns sharing the fruits of their contemplation.  Prayer, study, the vows, and the liturgy are at the center of our life; and by reason of profession, authority is at the heart of Dominican government where each professed member has a share of responsibility in the governmental structure.  This style of governance is very unique to our Dominican Order  We were encouraged to live the charisms of our holy father Dominic, his charity, obedience, trust in Divine Providence and his love for souls.   

We all look forward to our next encounter with Sister Ann, who is truly an  enlightened and joyful Dominican after the heart of our holy father Dominic.  We wish Sister Ann abundant blessings on her many journeys as an itinerant preacher.  

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Visit from a Wise Friar of the East!

This past Sunday we enjoyed a brief visit from our Dominican Father, Father Nicanor Austriaco, O.P. of the Eastern Dominican Province, the Province of St. Joseph.  Father came to the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology (DSPT) in Berkeley to discuss the insights that Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas can offer  to scientists today concerning the nature of interactions in biological systems.  
Father Nicanor is a brilliant young friar who has an undergraduate degree in engineering (Bioengineering) from the University of Pennsylvania, and a doctorate in microbiology from MIT. He has been a Scientific Advisor to the National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly since 2001 and currently holds the position of Assistant Professor of Biology at Providence College, RI.

Living in this chaotic world of today, many people, young and old, easily get lost in the pursuit of Truth.  Father Nicanor possesses a wisdom that comes from the Holy Spirit, the source of all truth.  May the Holy Spirit continue to shower upon Father Nicanor all the graces and wisdom he needs to guide his students to see things from God's perspective.  Only when one lives and acts according to God's eternal law will one possess true happiness and taste the goodness of the Lord.  

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

What Good Must We Do To Gain Eternal Life?

He has loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood. (Rev. 1:5)

Scriptures tell us that through Christ's passion and death, we have been delivered from the debt of punishment due to sin.  We have been "purchased and at a price," the price is the Blood of Christ, as of a Lamb unspotted and undefiled. (1 Peter 1:18) The apostle Peter also tells us that through Christ's passion, we receive the spirit of adoption of sons and become heirs of the immortal glory.  That is truly the Good News of salvation!

Still, in order to secure the effect of Christ's passion, it is not surprising that most of us found ourselves asking the same question that the young man once asked of Jesus.   Jesus' answer was very simple: "
If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments." (Mt. 19:17)  Then Jesus further emphasizes: "If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."

As religious striving for perfection, we're following our Lord's command in doing just that.  However as wayfarers, clothed in the weaknesses of the flesh and traveling on the path of life that is filled with dangers, we need help for left to ourselves we cannot do it.  This is where the communion of Saints is so efficacious: the Saints intercede for us before thethrone of God; the holy souls that are being sanctified pray for us; we can pray for one another and for the holy souls who can intercede for us but cannot help themselves.  This month of November is a wonderful month that reminds us that as Christians, we are not alone on our pilgrimage of life.

Our Cloister of the Dead

Our Chaplain, Fr. Eugene Sousa, O.P. likes to remind us once in a while that if one is to die, the best Order to die in is the Dominican Order.  This is because after a person's death, she or he will be remembered daily in prayers by all the members of the Order.  This advantage does not apply only to Dominicans but also to all their relatives, friends, and benefactors.

Each year, a Mass is to be celebrated for the deadon February 7th for the anniversary of fathers and mothers, on September 5th for the anniversary of relatives, friends and benefactors of the Order, and on November 8th for the anniversary of brothers and sisters.  The souls of our dear ones
 are being remembered at the beginning of each meeting, and at least once a day before meal the De Profundis (a Lament of the Penitential Psalm 130) is recited for the deceased brothers, sisters and benefactors of the Order.

Our Constitutions also requires that once a week the community participates in the conventual Mass as a suffrage for the deceased and we are to recite the seven penitential psalms or a third of the rosary for the dead.  Besides these suffrages for the dead, on the death of each Sister, our Monastery arranges that a set of Gregorian Masses be celebrated for her soul.

This year we remembered our deceased brothers and sisters in a special way.  Our community planned to have a procession to the Vault where our sisters are buried.  However, due to the change of weather and the darkness which accompanies the daylight saving change, we had to process into the Chapter Hall where we sang, prayed and recalled the name of each of our deceased sisters along with the year they entered Eternal Life.  

So as we unite with you in praying for all the faithful departed who have gone before us and especially during this special month for the holy souls, we recommend to you our beloved sisters who had dedicated their lives to God's service and His people.  As we pray for them, may they remember us in their prayers!

O God, by whose tender mercy the souls of the faithful find rest, may all your servants and handmaids who are sleeping in Christ here and everywhere be reconciled to You through the forgiveness of their sins so that once freed from all guilt they may rejoice with you forever.  Through the same Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Fraternal Visits

A little history of the Dominican Nuns and our connection to our Friars...

The Nuns of the Order of  Preachers came into being when our holy father St. Dominic gathered women converts from the Albigensian to the Catholic faith in the monastery of Blessed Mary of Prouille in 1206. These women, free for God alone, he associated with his "holy preaching" by their prayer and penance.

Our holy Father drew up a rule to be followed and constantly showed a father's love and care for these nuns for "they had no other master to instruct them about the Order." He entrusted the nuns as part of the same Order to the fraternal care of his sons.

The fraternal charity shown by our Brothers is a well kept tradition since the beginning of the Order's foundation.  Over the years, we've enjoyed many fraternal visits from the different Masters of the Order and our Dominican Friars who passed through the town.  More recently, Fr. Viktor Hofstetter, O.P., the first Promoter of the nuns in the 1980's visited us and enlightened us with many of his teachings and stories from all over the world.

Fr. Viktor
Geographically, we're very blessed living in Menlo Park because of the short distance from the headquarters of the Friar's Western Dominican Province in Oakland.  They have given us strong spiritual support, and for this, we are very grateful.  Each year when a new class of novices arrives at the Novitiate House in San Francisco, Father Novice Master takes them to Menlo Park for a visit.  This year two Brothers from the Southern Dominican Province also joined our Western Province Brothers for their formation.

Meet our Brother Novices  from the Class of 2010

Sharing of our vocation stories and journeys

Drawing of Prayer Partners

From left: Fr. Anthony Rosevear, O.P. Novice Master, Br. Juan de la Caridad (Southern Province), Br. Bradley Thomas, Br. Kevin, Br. Dennis, Br. Thomas More (Southern Province)

The Brother Novices also have their own website and a blog to share with us their lives and experiences as Dominican Novices.  You may visit them at: http://novices.opwest.org/Class2010/Novitiate_2010/Novices.html

Our Brothers would certainly appreciate some prayers to the "Come and See" weekend at St. Albert Priory starting this Friday November 5th!  May many young men who heard God's call respond generously to this blessed life of preaching and contemplation.

If you or someone you know are wondering about what it's like to be a Dominican Friar, this event would be extremely helpful.  You may also contact the Friars' Vocation Director, Fr. Steven Maekawa, O.P. at www.opwest.org