Aquinas and The Mysteries of Light

On Saturday 25th March the Rosary Shrine hosted its first day conference in Blackfriars Hall. Four talks were given on the insights into the mysteries we contemplate in the Rosary which are found in the works of the great Dominican theologian St Thomas Aquinas.  The following is Sr Ann's talk.

The other talks at the conference may be found at the following link: http://rosaryshrine.co.uk/conference-talks/

"Et in mundo conversatus, sparso verbi semini" St Thomas on the Mysteries of Christ's Ministry, and on the lessons of His lifestyle. by Sr Ann Swailes o.p.

 

photo by Lawrence Lew o.p.

The eagle eyed among you will recognise that, in the way today's conference has been structured, the four papers correspond to the four chaplets of the rosary, the joyful, luminous, sorrowful and glorious mysteries.

This is both obviously and deeply appropriate in this place, where the rosary is literally built into the fabric of the church next door, but at first sight, perhaps I could be forgiven for thinking that, in being asked to speak here, of all places,  about the mysteries of light, the mysteries, as my title puts it, of Christ's ministry, I've drawn something of a short straw compared with my three dear brothers in St. Dominic

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Nightfever Transfigured...

 by Sr Ann Catherine o.p.

 

A reflection  for Compline at the close of "Nightfever",  at Fisher House, Cambridge, an initiative in which student volunteers go out into the streets and invite those they meet to come into the church to light candles and spend some time in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.

 

They will see the Lord face to face, and his name will be written on their foreheads. And there will be no more night; there will be no need of lamplight or sunlight, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign for ever and ever.

There will be no need of lamplight or sunlight. Compline this evening has been a little different from usual. We did not start our night prayer tonight as we have come to do in this place, every Friday, with the ceremony of lighting the lamps, reminding ourselves at the end of our day, as more and more candles are set ablaze about the altar, of our need for the light of Christ. That’s not just because we began our prayer significantly later than usual, and we decided to cut the ritual down to the bare minimum so that we can all go home to bed..  At the start of this compline, our church was already afire with the light of candles, each one representing the longings, the anxieties, the prayers of those we have welcomed here tonight, representing too the Lord’s longing to shelter and protect them, to protect us, to protect our desire, and theirs, fragile and flickering as it may be, to come to him in love and faith, to give ourselves to him as fully as we can.  And so it would have been a little redundant, a little artificial, on this night, to light yet more candles. The Lord’s love for each one of us is our light, and it is already shining on us here. The Lord, the light of the world, is enshrined in his Eucharistic presence on our altar, and his glory is reflected in the candles surrounding the monstrance.  Our love for the Lord, however fitful and dimly burning, and our desire to serve him in our brothers and sisters, as we have done this evening, that desire which is itself his gift to us, is shining out in this place too.

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Transfiguration and Holiness

 

 Readings for the Second Sunday in Lent

The LORD had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.  “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.a  I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”b So Abram went, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran.

 See also 2 Timothy 1:8b-10 and  Matthew 17:1-9

I must admit that the sequence of the three readings we had at Mass this morning did not turn my 

mind particularly to the season of Lent.  Instead, they seemed to me like a resume of religious life.   How so? 

 Well, first there is that summons to leave behind what is familiar and known, and perhaps even comfortable – though I dare say Abram’s nomadic life might not have been all that cushy – and to go into the unknown (no indication where: just a land that I – God - will show you;)and surely entering religious life is like that: an alien land, where things are not as we have hitherto known them.  You will also remember that a bit later Abram’s name is also changed – though not by much- as has happened to most of us here.

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Penance

By Sr Tamsin Mary o.p.  A talk given at Blackfriars Cambridge UK, Lent 2017

"It behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise again from the dead the third day: and that penance and remission of sins should be preached in His name unto all nations."(Luke 24:46-47)

This talk will focus upon the concept of penance, which is a very rum one if you think about it closely.  The word penance comes from a Latin one, ‘paenitentia’ which derives from a Latin noun, meaning repentance, or penitence, ultimately deriving  from ποινή, a Greek word which means   ‘quit-money for blood spilt, a price paid, satisfaction, retribution, requital, penalty, or alternatively the personified pagan godess of vengeance.’ Eventually, by extension the word also came to mean ‘recompense, reward, redemption, or release.’ In modern ‘Church speak’ similarly there is a wide variety of meanings attaching to the concept of penance.  On the one hand there is ‘the sacrament of penance – confession.  There is the ‘penance’ that the priest metes out, and there is the ‘penitential action’ which is generally conceived as something unpleasing.  Finally there is the ‘penitential season’ which we are now in, where the ‘Lenten penances’ taken up, broadly under the heading of ‘prayer fasting and almsgiving’ are seen variously as spiritual chores, spiritual goals, or in the case of many in our secular environment as something akin to New Year’s resolutions, where the spiritual end is entirely lost sight of, and the end is simply some kind of self-seeking self-mastery. 

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Mercy: A View from Salamanca.

By Sr. Mary Joanna O.P Input for the Dominican Seminar January 2017 held at Hinsley Hall, Leeds.

 

Why Salamanca? Because the General Chapter held in Trogir in 2013 asked for, as part of the agenda of the Jubilee celebration of the 8th Centenary of the approbation of the Order of Preachers, an event, & I quote, “under the Salamanca Process, devoted to the heritage of Vitoria and posterity, to reflect on the challenges that human rights are today..”. In the Acts of that Chapter the definition of the Salamanca process was described as , and I quote, “….consisting of a way of ongoing collaboration between the friars committed to the mission and friars dedicated to studies, as happened in the 16th century among missionaries in the New World and the friars of the Convent of San Estaban de Salamanca”. (ACG Trogir 2013, 112).

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To Praise, To Bless, To Preach.