Fear And Trembling

Work for your salvation in fear and trembling, for it is God, for his own loving purpose, who puts both the will and the action into you. Do all that has to be done without complaining or arguing and then you will be innocent and genuine, you will be children of God. (Philippians 2:12-15)

by Sr Mary Magdalene Eitenmiller o.p. 

[The sisters of St. Catherine's Convent, Cambridge are giving a reflection each week at Vespers on Wednesdays in Lent.  This week Sr Magdalene reflects on the virtue of humility] 

Sr Magdalene preaching at Vespers in Blackfriars Cambridge

This short passage that we have just read from St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians, Chapter 2, verses 12-15, encourages the Christians, in what is perhaps a better English translation, to “work for your salvation with fear and trembling.” “Fear and trembling.” What does it mean to work for our salvation in fear and trembling? St. Thomas Aquinas understands this to refer to the need for humility. “For the proud one does not fear, but the humble person does,”[1] he says. And St. Paul warns, “let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he falls” (1 Cor 10:12). All that we do must be in keeping with the goal of our salvation, as well as the salvation of others. And we work for our salvation precisely by allowing God to work in us. But we must be humble in allowing God to transform us, for as Christ teaches, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (Jn 15:5). This is not to deny our free will, but rather, it is to show our absolute dependence on God’s grace and mercy. Humility involves a recognition of this need for God, as a little child needs the help of his loving father or mother.

And Humility helps us realize that God alone is the very goal of our

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 'Those who are sowing in tears shall sing when they reap.'

by Sr Tamsin Mary Geach o.p.

[The sisters of St. Catherine's Cambridge are giving a reflection each week at Vespers on Wednesdays.  This week Sr Tamsin reflects on the Our Father as a mini Gospel]

                                 Sr Tamsin Preaching at Vespers

The Our Father, among other things, is a snapshot of the Incarnation, a mini Gospel.  Christ, on earth hallows, or  ‘glorifies’ the Father: ‘Father, glorify your name’(Jn 12.28); He preaches that the kingdom of heaven is at hand (Matt4.17)and is Himself that Kingdom; He pre-eminently fulfils the Father’s will.  He gives us His Body under the appearance of Bread at the last supper, and He suffers for us our temptations, both in the desert, throughout His life and in His Passion and Death, and so delivers us from evil. 

I want to focus in upon the ‘fiat voluntas tua sicut in caelo et in terra.’, in particular on the word ‘fiat’ – let it be, become, be made.  On 25th we will celebrate that most celebrated ‘fiat’ of all time, Our Lady’s ‘yes’ to the plan for our redemption.  Those of you who have been taught Latin by me will know that I get excited about this word Fiat, (some of you might have been tempted to feel I should get out more!). 

Read more: FIAT!

Murmuring in the Wilderness

by Sr Rose Rolliing o.p.

[The sisters of st Catherine's Cambridge are giving a reflection each week at Vespers.  This week Sr Rose reflects on the topic of complaining.]

Do everything without complaining and arguing, that you may be innocent and pure, as God’s perfect children.

Sr Rose preaching at Vespers

One of the most transformative experiences of my life was spending a year as part of a Catholic charismatic lay community. To consecrate the year ahead, I was invited to receive prayer ministry, and asked: what do you want God to do for you this year? What is it that you seek? I responded very intuitively by saying: “I want God to break something inside of me”. I didn’t know what that something was, but I did know that I wasn’t ok with God, and I wasn’t ok in myself, and with some incredulity, I began asking the Lord to help me re-surrender.

Five months later, I found myself in crisis. Surprised and confused by the turn of events, I started complaining: “what is going on, where is God?” The mentor who was accompanying me through this process rebuked me amidst one of my griping sessions and said: “you have been praying for God to act in your life, and now that He’s doing it, you complain”! Her words changed my whole perspective – where I

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The Holy Preaching 1. The Eight evil thoughts: Introducing the Mental Scaffold

by Sr Rose Rolling o.p.

What is the Holy Preaching? 

The first community that St Dominic set up in the newly formed Order of Preachers was not of itinerant friars but of enclosed nuns. He gave this first community the rather affectionate name of the Holy Preaching of Prouille, Prouille being the village in France where the monastery was located. This community lived in the middle of a spiritual wasteland, at a time of schism inside the church and great social division outside it. But this reality did not faze St Dominic, indeed, it was precisely in this environment that he saw the need for a community which would witness to the beauty and truth of Christ in both word and deed.

The Holy Preaching was, if you like, St Dominic’s answer to the very contemporary ecclesial question of synodality. Dominic recognised that our preaching to the non-Christian world must be founded on how we as Christians love each other. There are countless ways of preaching, but love is

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By way of Christ’s suffering humanity to his divinity

Reflection for Vespers on Wednesday 1st Week of Lent - Phil 2:12b

by Sr M. Pauline Burling o.p.

“Keep on working, with fear and trembling, to complete your salvation, for God is always at work in you to make you willing and able to obey his own purpose.”             

Our Breviary uses the TEV [Today’s English Version] but if we take the same sentence from the RSV it reads as follows:

“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

The first part of the sentence especially in the RSV version “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;” smacks of much hard work but also of Pelagianism which our senior brethren could discuss competently... 

Instead, I intend to go to our Brother Henry Suso, whose life can illustrate aspects of the struggle involved in a correct interpretation of the whole sentence, that is, the part we do and God’s doings in us as we continue walking in the footsteps of Christ.  I believe Henry’s efforts can give us some light as to what we mean by the spiritual quest even if he lived in the 14th

Read more: By way of Christ’s suffering humanity to his divinity

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