The best words in the best order?

OP Seminar 2020: A Dominican Approach to Poetry

by Sr Ann Catherine Swailes

Sr Ann Catherine preaching at the Dominican Seminar
Sr Ann Catherine


When Fr Martin asked if I would give this paper, I felt honoured, intrigued and excited – but also somewhat daunted. I’m – obviously – a Dominican, and, in one way or another, I’ve been approaching poetry for most of my life. But I was nonetheless hitherto unaware that there was such a thing as a Dominican approach to poetry as such.  I was tempted, initially, to model my approach on the story - sadly, probably apocryphal - of a certain 19th century Oxford undergraduate.  In those days, whatever one’s principal area of study, everyone reading for an Oxford degree was required to pass a short, and, truth to tell, not terribly taxing examination in divinity at the end of their first year.  It became generally known among the student body that, in the section on the Old Testament, examinees would be asked to name either the Kings of Israel, or the Major and the Minor prophets. 

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Transfiguration: 2nd Sunday of Lent


by Sr Jadwiga Swiatecka o.p.

Transfiguration of the Lord
Transfiguration of the Lord (photo by Lawrence Lew o.p.)

Matthew 17:1-9:  Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain where they could be alone. There in their presence he was transfigured: his face shone like the sun and his clothes became as white as the light. Suddenly Moses and Elijah appeared to them; they were talking with him. Then Peter spoke to Jesus. ‘Lord,’ he said ‘it is wonderful for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ He was still speaking when suddenly a bright cloud covered them with shadow, and from the cloud there came a voice which said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; he enjoys my favour. Listen to him.’ When they heard this the disciples fell on their faces overcome with fear. But Jesus came up and touched them. ‘Stand up,’ he said ‘do not be afraid.’ And when they raised their eyes they saw no one but only Jesus.
As they came down from the mountain Jesus gave them this order, ‘Tell no one about the vision until the Son of Man has risen from the dead.’

Apparently, the most commonly repeated phrase in the whole Bible, in both the Old and the New Testament, is “Have no fear!” or “Do not be afraid!” There are also about a dozen or so times when Jesus is said to touch those he is about to cure. 

In this passage of the Transfiguration, we see Jesus saying: do not be afraid, and then touching the disciples who are afraid, as if fear itself were a kind of illness which needs to be cured.  Fear can, indeed, be debilitating: in common parlance, we can be paralyzed by fear; or/and we can do silly things which we will later regret – Peter’s suggestion of building three booths and staying on the mountain can be seen as one such consequence of fear, even if – as elsewhere – the fear expressed here is, perhaps, more akin to awe rather than terror.

So perhaps, as this is Lent (and not the Feast of the Transfiguration when we have the same reading) we might consider what things we, each individually, are afraid of: illness? death – ours or someone else’s? – ridicule? failure? inability to cope? change? monotony: a lack of stimulus or meaningful objectives? the possible bleakness of our own future? war?...

 But the story of the Transfiguration points us also to another side of this somewhat bleak endeavour, namely to attempt to discover those moments of our lives when we are most open to the touch of Jesus – perhaps in the Mass at Communion, or perhaps in the stillness of our own room (to which, Jesus suggests elsewhere, we should retire to pray in secret) perhaps when we look out on a daily changing landscape, or…whenever…For the touch of Jesus can also rid us of our crippling fears and transfigure our lives by his radiance; it can make us more like him in whose image we are made. And even if the apostles were overcome more by awe than by terror, it is also from the kind of awe which keeps us at a distance from Christ that we must be cured, for – in the words of St. Richard of Chichester - he is our friend and our brother whom we need to know more clearly, love more dearly and follow more nearly day by day. 

And was it because Jesus did not wish his other disciples to be overawed that he forbade the three with him to tell the others of this incident till after his death, for would the telling not have made them apprehensive, unsure, disturbed?


by Sr Jadwiga Swiatecka o.p.

St Dominic By Lawrence Lew
Our  Holy Father Dominic (photo by Lawrence Lew)

The founding of the Order is rooted in St.Dominic's encounter, in his travels through Southern France, with the Albigensian heresy, and his perception that there was no preaching at that time and in that area adequate to expose and outweigh its central tenets. The Albigensians believed that all matter was essentially evil, and that only that which is spiritual comes from God (a dualism which has continued to infect Christianity down the ages).


'Go make disciples of all nations'

Report on 'Young Sisters of the Order of Preachers' 2020

by Sr Chiara Mary Tessaris 

The delegatesYoung Sisters of the Order of Preachers (YSOP) is a yearly meeting that brings together young Dominican sisters across Europe and includes novices and sisters with less than 20 years of professed life. Dominican Sisters Europe (DSE) is a branch of the Dominican Sisters International (DSI) movement. DSI was founded in May 1995 to faciliate worldwide collaboration between the Dominican sisters of apostolic life in their preaching mission.  This year the English Congregation of St.Caherine of Siena (Stone) sent Sr Chiara Mary to the annual YOSP meeting which took place in Riga, Latvia the 3rd to the 5th of January.

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Hope, alignment, waiting for the Lord: The place of baptism

by Sr Tamsin Mary Geach o.p.

In the readings for Sunday we shall hear about the promised ‘Servant King’ Who is faithful and will bring true justice, Whom ‘The islands’ are waiting for (I suppose that must be us!), the ’covenant of the people and light of the nations,’ Who will ‘open the eyes of the blind, and free captives from prison’(Isa.42 vv1-7), Who will ‘Bless His people with peace.’  This God of ours, Who has been incarnated in the person of Jesus Christ, ‘has no favourites’ but ‘Is the Lord of all men’ Acts 10, 34 ff)

In the Gospel we see the first act of public witness of Our Lord’s adult life: ‘Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptised by John.’  So what is this baptism, and what is its significance for us?

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