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Letter from General Prioress

Letter from General Prioress – St. Catherine of Siena 2023

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St. Catherine of Siena 2023

 

Dearest sisters,

            In the midst of the joy of Easter, we find ourselves with the celebration of the feast of our great sister, Catherine of Siena, an appropriate reason to continue delving into the Mystery of Christ the Savior and the Church, two themes that were very present in the heart and life of the saint.

            At this moment in which the celebration of the 90th anniversary of the Canonical recognition of our Institute still resonates in our hearts and minds, St. Catherine gives us an example of dedication to the service of God and the Church.

            Living in an extremely troubled time, the saint, for the love of Christ, always knew how to love the Church. She learned to recognize in her the body of the Lord, a body so often disfigured and torn. She knew how to «get her hands dirty» recognizing always and in any circumstances that Christ is present in the Pope as in the poor, in those who suffer, in prisoners, in priests, in families, in the ecclesiastical hierarchy even though it was dominated by worldliness and power.

            This was the body of Christ that St. Catherine touched with her hands, the body of Christ that she has always loved unconditionally. She was convinced that no one can relish God, in the abyss of the Trinity, without the help of the Church, because we all have to go through the door of Christ crucified, and this door is not found anywhere else than in the Holy Church.

            We can say that the reality in which St. Catherine lived can be compared to our own reality. It is not necessary to list situations that reflect «the disfigured and torn body of the Lord» in the world and in the Church itself. This is the challenge that we have to face, and I hope that it will be so, with renewed dedication as we committed ourselves in the celebration of our 90th anniversary to maintain the brilliance of the mission that the Lord has entrusted to us.

            Walking together in this present time implies not only naming the errors or pointing out the causes, but like St. Catherine, spreading to the four winds, manifesting through our lives, deep convictions of constructive values of forgiveness, reconciliation and peace.

            Catherine, submerged into the bitterness of the evils that overwhelmed the Church, immersed herself into the contemplation of God’s Mercy and Divine Providence and placed all her trust in the promise of mercy for mankind and the Holy Church. Her unwavering faith and her experience of God moved her to awaken a world that was numb and deaf to the cry of her suffering brothers.

            Catherine did not have modern means of communication; however, her preaching was more effective because she believed that it is God himself who continues to hear the cries of his people and manifests himself through those whom He calls to communicate His ever-active mercy of which we are both the object and the subject at the same time.

            An evangelization like that of St. Catherine who cries out with her life, with her words, with her example before the world around her, firm and faithful to her conviction that «every change must be nurtured in the heart of man… where complementarity and fraternity flows forth” can offer an answer to what the world and the Church need in our time.

            Sisters, may the example and intercession of St. Catherine invigorate us and rekindle the fervor of our total dedication to God and to the Church.

​            Happy Feastday!

 

                                                                       With my fraternal embrace and prayer

                                               

Sor Mª Asunción González, O.P.

                                                         Prioress General

 

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Letter from General Prioress – Lent 2023

Por | 2023-letter

 

Lent 2023

 

Dear Sisters,

         We commence this year’s Lent journey, which begins with the imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday.  What sense would this have in the context we live nowadays?  On the one hand, we enjoy a lot of progress, such as making purchases online, communicating instantaneously with people in different continents, teleworking, etc.; on the other hand, we feel powerless in the face of wars in many parts of the world: in Myanmar, Ukraine, Syria… and other armed conflicts in different countries that have been relegated to the background of the media, but that thanks to the recent trip of Pope Francis to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan, we have been able to verify their existence.

         Faced with this reality, we ask ourselves, what does Ash mean or symbolize in these times? As in all times, its significance hasn’t changed. It helps us to be aware of our human fragility; reminds us that despite human greatness, we are weak, and we need to pause along the way to reflect. It introduces us to Lent, a time of grace that invites us to take a closer look at our relationship with God, how we have allowed ourselves to be transformed by his love and that often arouses in us the desire to change many aspects in our lives, not only in the external details, but above all in our inner self, in the roots, in totality.

         The Church invites us once again to deepen the three practices that it proposes for this time: prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Prayer unites us with God; it centers us on Him, and helps us establish an order of priorities. Sisters, I believe that we have a lot to work on in this aspect. Is Christ really the treasure of our life? If so, we will discover that we do not need so many material things. This will lead us to fasting, to let go of unnecessary things and share with others; and even more, to get rid of our attitudes that prevent a true fraternity in community life. The alms that please the eyes of God are those that spring from a grateful heart, self-giving and sharing with others. This becomes concrete by partaking in the sufferings of our most needy brothers and sisters, showing gestures of solidarity especially to those who cannot give anything in return.

         The Holy Father, reflecting on the Gospel about the Transfiguration of Jesus in his message for this season, points out that going up Mount Tabor, «Jesus took with him three disciples, chosen to be witnesses of a unique event.» This makes us understand “that our Lenten journey is “synodal”, since we make it together along the same path, as disciples of the one Master.” This path has as its goal a personal and ecclesial transfiguration.

         In the same message, the Holy Father proposes two ways to reach our goal: first, listening to Jesus through the Word of God that the liturgy offers us daily. This listening “often takes place in listening to our brothers and sisters in the Church”. The second: “not to take refuge in a religiosity made up of extraordinary events and dramatic experiences, out of fear of facing reality and its daily fatigues, its hardships and contradictions.” Lent is not an end in itself, it is oriented towards the Resurrection and this should encourage us to continue walking and building synodality in our communities without fear.

         Sisters, during this season may we allow ourselves to be transfigured by our communion with Jesus and, consequently, allow Him to transform our way of seeing life, free ourselves from our slavery and heal our wounds. «Transfigured», we will grow in our evangelical responsibility and, hence, proclaim with joy and conviction the Resurrection of our Lord and love of God that we have experienced to our brothers and sisters.

         May Mary, our Mother, take us by the hand along this path.

         Happy Easter!

                                                                       With my fraternal embrace and prayer

                                               

Sor Mª Asunción González, O.P.

                                                         Prioress General

 

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Letter from General Prioress – Advent 2022

Por | 2022-Letter, Letter from General Prioress

Advent 2022

Dear sisters:

Once again, we find ourselves in the season of Advent, a special opportunity for prayer and charity, but also of joyful hope; a time to prepare ourselves for the coming of the Lord, in a joyous attitude of vigilance and welcome.  It is an extraordinary occasion to review our life; a gift that God gives us to be lived intensely.

During this season, the Lord came, he comes and will come, as he invites us to recall the past, he urges us to live the present and prepare for the future.

Jesus has already come, and his coming transformed the history of man. His presence – God made man – announces to us that God’s love is fully realized in those who want to live it. We only have to change our hearts, be willing to love, to let ourselves be guided by the goodness of God, trying to build a world which is more just and peaceful, where fraternity and solidarity with the weak and the needy reign, outside as well as inside our own communities: with the elderly, the sick, especially those who need our attention, our time, enthusiasm, understanding and mercy…

One of the great figures of Advent is John the Baptist. The gospels will talk about this precursor during these days. He invites us to live Advent actively and intensely. Celebrating the coming of God on Christmas, is not just a matter of emotion and poetry. The grace of Advent and Christmas demands from us full readiness, openness to the life that God wants to communicate to us. It implies preparing, leveling, filling up and straightening our paths, sharing with others what we have, doing penance, that is, changing mentality.

I invite you to reflect on these two concepts that this season highlights: vigilance and conversion.

Being vigilant means being conscious of the presence of the Lord at all times, so that we can recognize him when he comes to meet us. He comes as a messenger of peace to show us the ways of God.  Vigilance involves having a free heart, orienting it towards service, more specifically by being solicitous to others, letting ourselves be moved to respond to their needs without waiting for them to ask us for help.

What does the word “conversion” tell me? At what point in my life does the Lord ask me to change? What attitudes of Jesus I still lack or should I develop more? Am I steadfast in my efforts to “love better”, “pray better”, “serve better” and “be more faithful in my commitment”?

Conversion means honestly acknowledging in our hearts our weaknesses and sin; it leads us towards change in our life and to take a step forward every day; it is opening the path of the Lord who comes to free us from our selfishness, sin, apathy and corruption. It takes place when we experience in our hearts the nearness of the kingdom of God and its salvation for only the love of God can heal us and fill us with life.

Isaiah, another figure of Advent, tells us that “there is nothing to fear when we are with the Lord”. These words of the prophet, in a world like ours where different types of suffering and poverty exist, open us to hope since they remind us that God is our help. We are well aware that many places in the world suffer situations of injustice, war, natural disasters, hunger and misery, but we could improve all of this if we all learn to recognize God in our midst and behave like brothers and sisters, or at least humanly. Jesus of Nazareth comes into the world to help us find God in the midst of our history.

This time also highlights the figure of the Virgin Mary and acclaims the attitude of faith and humility with which Mary adhered, totally and promptly, to God’s saving plan.  Mary is the model of joyful expectation of the Lord who comes.

With Mary, let us open our hearts and make room for the One who has already come and wants to come again to fill us with His joy. May we receive Him with the same interior disposition and the same love that Mary had in the first Advent of history.

I heartily wish you a happy and holy Advent. May we welcome the coming of the Lord with humility and joy.

My fraternal embrace

 

                                               Sor Mª Asunción González, O.P.

                                                         Prioress General

 

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Letter from General Prioress – Our Lady of the Holy Rosary 2022

Por | 2022-Letter

Our Lady of the Holy Rosary 2022

Dear sisters:

The Dominican Order has inherited the Rosary from Saint Dominic and of so many brothers and sisters who have always extended devotion to our Lady of the Rosary.

October is the month especially dedicated to the Rosary. Millions of people in the world pray it to ask for or in thanksgiving for what they carry in the intimacy of their hearts, since they feel the Virgin as a mother who accompanies them.

Today, because it is her feast day, we go to her in a special way, through the recitation of the Rosary. In the midst of the repetition of the Hail Mary, we focus on the person of Jesus, on his birth, life, death and resurrection. The five joyful mysteries, the sorrowful, the glorious and also the luminous have Jesus as the main protagonist, he is our brother, friend and savior, but we also see how in one way or another in all of them we find the presence of the Virgin Mary. Perhaps for this reason, several Popes have highlighted «the evangelical nature» of this prayer and its deeply Christological orientation.

In the words of Saint Pius X, “The Rosary is the most beautiful of all prayers, richest in grace and the one that most pleases our Mother Mary.

Saint Paul VI: «The recitation of the Rosary demands a quiet and reflective rhythm that favors those who pray it as a meditation of the mysteries of the life of the Lord, seen through the heart of the one who was closest to the Lord».

Saint John Paul II said, “The Rosary is my favorite prayer. Wonderful prayer! Marvelous in its simplicity and profundity». The Rosary has accompanied me in moments of joy and in those of tribulation. To him I have entrusted so many concerns and in him I have always found comfort.

Benedict XVI says: «Contemplating in the Mother of God an existence totally shaped by the Word, we too are called to enter into the mystery of faith, with which Christ comes to dwell in our lives» (Verbum Domini 28).

Pope Francis explains that «by praying the Hail Mary, we are led to reflect on the central moments in the life of Jesus, so that, as for Mary and for Saint Joseph, He may be the center of our thoughts, attentions and actions.»

There are many stories of saints who have expressed, with profound words, the effective and, at the same time, tender way of approaching God through this prayer.

For Saint Teresa of Calcutta: “Mary is our mother, the cause of our joy. Being a mother, I have never had any difficulty in talking to Mary and feeling very close to her.”

When his spiritual children asked him to leave them his spiritual heritage, Padre Pio responded immediately without even thinking: «The Rosary.»

Sisters, I would like to invite you not only to be lovers of this very Dominican prayer – the Rosary, but also to be great promoters of this Marian devotion.

Wishing you all a blessed feastday of Our Lady of the Rosary.

A warm embrace and with my prayer,

                                               Sor Mª Asunción González, O.P.

                                                         Prioress General

 

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Letter from General Prioress – Saint Dominic

Por | 2022-Letter, Letter from General Prioress

Dear Sisters,

 

Now that the situation has already permitted and I am starting to carry out the visits I thought of accomplishing before the pandemic, here I am among the sisters of our filial houses, echoing the Church’s call to participate in the preparation for the Synod on synodality, at the same time, listening and reflecting on the sisters’ experience of synodality within our institute. This process raises questions that, in my opinion, require careful reflection at all levels: what does “walking together” mean to us? How can we nurture a true spirituality of communion and put it into practice through listening, dialogue and discernment, at the service of our institute and of the society in which we live?

In this context, remembering the life of our father St. Dominic becomes more significant because his person is a brilliant example of a synodal man. As a man of the Church, zealous for the “salvation of souls”, we can clearly see how he lived the three key words of the synod underlined by Pope Francis: communion, participation and mission”.

Our Father did not live isolated from the reality of his time, he did not settle in the comfort of his family castle, nor did he pursue a dream that revolves around himself. He was communitarian from his childhood, during his adolescence and youth, sharing and helping his companions as well as the needy people who crossed his path. When he finished his studies in Palencia, he did not establish himself in a simple parish, but continued to live in community like the other professors at the University of Palencia. When obedience led him to join the Canons of Osma, he lived his community life not only within the convent walls, but also in the small surrounding towns teaching catechism to ordinary people.

The reality that he encountered during his journey to northern Europe awakened in him a missionary zeal to defend the truth of our faith against heretics. Dominic left his country, his culture, his language, his customs. He left everything for one reason: that the word of God reaches all his brothers. He discovered the gift of missionary vocation by taking step by step what the Lord places along his path day by day.

Dominic’s restless heart led him to face all kinds of difficulties which he knew could only be responded by giving the best of himself, aware that he was participating in the great mission of the Church. The missions entrusted to our father were many and varied, such as: the evangelical way of preaching which was very different from the preaching style of the pontifical legates, gathering together young women who abandoned heresy to form with them the first convent of Cloistered Dominican nuns in Prouille, bringing together, by mandate of the Pope in Rome, those religious communities living in a dysfunctional way.  And to consolidate this participation in the ecclesial mission, he founded the Order and had the audacity to send his brothers two by two in the style of the apostles to preach, found convents and study in the universities of that time.

Descriptions of St. Dominic’s character abound. He stood out for his compassionate spirit and sensitivity towards the other. He considered it his duty to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. He treated everyone finely, always proceeding along the path of simplicity; neither in his words nor in his works was the slightest vestige of fiction or duplicity observed. All men fit into the immense charity of his heart and, loving them all, he was loved by all.

What does the example of our father teach us so that we can “walk together” as an institute and be faithful to the mission that the Church has entrusted to us? Perhaps we should start by examining our attitudes, not to awaken remorse or find somebody to blame, but to discover what we need to improve and strengthen. Do they favor communion between us and with those who are different from us? Do they open channels of participation or opportunity to express oneself? Do they facilitate the mission?

Communion is a task and at the same time a grace that makes us transcend our narrowness, intolerance, selfishness and exclusiveness. It involves opening our hearts and embracing others despite their limitations, reaching out to the least and seeking the lost in order to lead them into the way of the Lord. It is getting out of our divisive and discriminatory attitudes, to build bridges instead of walls, to heal and not to hurt.

We promote communion among ourselves if we do not conform with feeling good with those whom we can relate easily, but rather when we are open and sensitive to those who do not belong to our circle, making each Sister feel welcomed and loved as she is. Hence, we can appreciate each one as an important part of the totality of our being as a congregation. The image of our institute is never complete without “me” and “you”. Aware of this, our participation comes spontaneously because we know that each one of us has something to contribute and no one can replace what we fail to share.  Participation in our communities is favored when we sharpen our ability to listen and dare to open windows or doors so that new air can enter. All this will lead us to undertake our mission with enthusiasm because we can do nothing but proclaim what we have lived, that is, bear witness of God’s love in the midst of the entire human family.    

The beauty of «walking together» arises in the readiness of each one to encourage each other so that we can all reach the goal.  It implies the ability to be still and listen together the voice of the Spirit, to read together the signs of the times and thus shape our charism in a given context of time and place.

We speak of synodality as something new, but in reality, it is already reflected in the rule that St. Dominic chose when he founded the Order, the Rule of Saint Augustine: “…have only one soul and one heart in God”.  Precisely, these same words describe the experience and way of life of the first Christian communities, the spirit that the Church wishes to revive in our time.

May our father and through the intercession of our Mother, our Lady of the Rosary, rekindle in us the courage to continue on this path.

Happy feastday of our father St. Dominic!

 

My fraternal embrace and prayer,

                                            Sor Mª Asunción González, O.P.

                                                   General Prioress

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Letter from General Prioress – Lent 2022

Por | 2022-Letter, Letter from General Prioress

Dear Sisters:

Once again, the Lord gives us the gift of this important season – as the Church tells us – the Season of Lent; time in which we reflect on our faith and prepare ourselves for Easter, that great Paschal event, consequently we also have to reflect on our life: how we lived it both personally and as a community. The Church presents before us three pillars, which Jesus developed in the Gospel of Ash Wednesday, Matthew 6:1-6.16-18.

In this text he offers us the three pillars of the Christian life: prayer, fasting and almsgiving and He proposes it to us in a humble, simple way, without vanity.

He proposes a simple, intimate, deep, hidden prayer, nothing external; a prayer in which we only seek God’s gaze and his heart, and Jesus wants it to be a dialogue with him, that we listen to his Word, in which we will find what he wants us to do. That in this time of prayer we keep in mind the needs of all our brothers, the difficult situations that all of humanity is going through, religious, political, economic situations…

The fasting that we observe is not an exterior act, as the Pharisees did, but rather putting ourselves in the skin of the other, in the shoes of the one who suffers, in reviewing our attitudes and actions, in scrutinizing the motives we have in giving ourselves and helping others. That we know how to fast from so many things that complicate our lives; those that make us lose peace; that we put aside the relationships that harm us, and those that hurt others. That we know how to fast from so many disappointments, from so many worries, from so many destructive words, from so many indifferences… and that we know how to open ourselves to others as our brothers and sisters.

The alms that he wants from us is to be fastidiously concerned about the needs of the other, of those closest to us, of those who suffer, our sisters who feel lonely, sick, the elderly… Let us be attentive, giving them some of our time, saying words of encouragement, that we comfort and inspire those who are sad and lonely. Many times, it is enough just to be kind, to give a smile, say a word that inspires, words that make them happy in the midst of so much indifference that they so often meet.

Let us ask the Lord that in these days of Lent we be shown the path of love, compassion, kindness, forgiveness, and the capacity to accept everyone.

May Mary, our guide on this Lenten journey, lead us to an ever deeper knowledge of Christ, the one who died and is risen. That She, who is the faithful servant of her Son, intercede for each one of us now and always.

I wish you all a Blessed Lent and a Happy Easter!

A sisterly embrace and my prayer,

                                               Sor Mª Asunción González, O.P.

                                                         Prioress General

 

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Letter from General Prioress – Advent 2021

Por | 2021, Letter from General Prioress

Advent 2021

Dear Sisters,

         The word “Advent” comes from the Latin adventus, which means “coming”. It is the time of preparation for the second coming of the Lord. In the liturgy, Advent, as preparation for Christmas, is reduced to four weeks, but true Advent has no time limit, it is a daily, year-round attitude, a disposition of the heart.

         Among the most significant attitudes during this season, hope stands out. It is a highly motivating value in the face of so much routine, discouragement, fatigue or short of expectations. We all greatly need hope, it is impossible to survive without it. The hope that has animated so many generations of believers manifests to us in a special way each Advent.

         JESUS is the greatest hope possible so that all of humanity and each one of us can move forward. He approaches us daily in different ways and through various symbols: his word, the community, the sacraments, the poor, certain events, the cross of each day… He meets us at the ground, in the street, along the roads…. The Gospel of this first Sunday expresses it with great enthusiasm: “Stand up, lift up your heads, your redemption is near!” (Lk. 21,28).

                 The Sacred Scripture in speaking of hope during this season, presents us with the great figures of hope in Advent.

         The first is Saint John the Baptist, the forerunner of the Lord, the one who paved the way with his hope for the coming of Christ, through his penitential lifestyle and his preaching, regardless of the consequences.

         However, the great models of the hope of Advent are Mary and Joseph.

         Joseph, from the city of Nazareth in Galilee, from the house and lineage of David (Lk. 2,4) married to Mary. He is an upright man, full of hope; who had to trust firmly in God in order to fulfill the role that awaits him, as described in a dream by an angel who told him that the son to be born of Mary was conceived by the Holy Spirit and would be called Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. Joseph is presented as one who trusted God at all times, notwithstanding his difficult role in the plan of God.

         Mary is honored with different titles, a special one is “Our Lady of Hope.” 

                 The real stars of our life are the people who have lived holy lives. They are lights of hope. Certainly, Jesus Christ is the true light… but to be able to reach him we also need lights closer to us: people who shine with their light and guide us on our way. Who else but Mary could be that star of Hope for us? With her “Fiat” she opened the door of our world to God himself; she became the living sanctuary of the Covenant, in which God became flesh, became one of us and set up his tent among us (cf. Jn. 1,14).

         When the invitation to be the Mother of God was presented to her, Mary wondered how she could play the role. But she never doubted, she believed that what was told her by the Lord would be fulfilled.

         Let us look at Mary and Joseph as true models of hope in this sacred season of Advent. Let us live this moment with joy.

         Before the manger on Christmas Day, let us renew our commitment to be bearers of hope in the world.

 

         A blessed Advent and Merry Christmas to all!

                                                    

 

                                                                  My fraternal embrace and prayer,

                                                                      Sor Mª Asunción González, O.P.

                                                                            General Prioress

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Letter from General Prioress – Our Lady of the Holy Rosary 2021

Por | 2021, Letter from General Prioress

Our Lady of the Holy Rosary 2021

Dear sisters,

            We are in October, the so-called “month of the Rosary” and in it we celebrate the feast of Our Mother, the Lady of the Rosary. Is there a better way of honoring her than by praying the rosary? She has appeared a lot of time with “rosary in hand”.  She loves the rosary, because though it may seem that its prayer is a mere manifestation of Marian piety (it is, as well), nevertheless its foundation is Christological, the protagonist is Jesus Christ, the Son of the Virgin Mary.

            Indeed, the various mysteries of the Rosary are like «photographs» of emblematic moments in the life of Jesus, perceived through the eyes of Mary.  In the Gospel of her feast day (Lk 1: 26-38), we contemplate the mystery of the Annunciation of the archangel, Saint Gabriel, to the Virgin. The dialogue between the messenger and Mary is very important; important in her YES, «let it be done to me according to your word». Important because it marked the beginning of the fulfillment of the promise of salvation: the Incarnation of the Son of God. The protagonist is Jesus who became incarnate in his womb; Mary acts as an instrument.

            The rosary is a simple and profound prayer that leads us to contemplate the face of the Lord.  Guided by the hands of Our Mother we approach the Son. In the contemplation of each mystery of the rosary we can learn from Mary the contemplation of the beauty of the face of Christ and experience the depth of the entire Gospel message. The rosary is nourished directly from the Gospel; therefore, it helps us embrace the evangelical values.

            With good reason, Pope Saint Paul VI said of the Rosary that it is a compendium of the Gospel; but without contemplation, it is a body without a soul and its prayer is in danger of becoming a mechanical repetition. The Rosary requires a slow, thoughtful and attentive prayer that facilitates meditation on the mysteries of the Lord, seen through the heart of Mary.

            Sisters, may Our Mother, the Lady of the Rosary, help us to strengthen our union and communion with Christ.

HAPPY FEAST DAY OF OUR LADY OF THE ROSARY!

 

                                                                  My fraternal embrace and prayer,

                                                                                  

                                                                                   Sor Mª Asunción González, O.P.   

                                                                                               General Prioress

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