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Letter from General Prioress

Letter from General Prioresss – Saint Catalina 2024

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Saint Catalina 2024

Dear sisters,

 

            Journeying towards Jubilee 2025 we are called to prepare ourselves to fully live and welcome it as a special gift of grace. I would like to encourage each of you to let the Holy Father’s call in this regard echo in our minds and hearts: “We must fan the flame of hope that has been given us, and help everyone to gain new strength and certainty by looking to the future with an open spirit, a trusting heart and far-sighted vision. The forthcoming Jubilee can contribute greatly to restoring a climate of hope and trust as a prelude to the renewal and rebirth that we so urgently desire.” (Letter from Pope Francis to Msgr. Rino Fisichella for the Jubilee 2025)

            Celebrating a jubilee implies renewal, rebirth, starting anew, in short, achieving a change that marks an era. This leads me to remember the example and all the effort of our sister, Saint Catherine of Siena, whose feast we are going to celebrate, because she lived in a turbulent period, marked by suffering caused by the Black Death and its consequences and above all by the corruption of the clergy. She bravely, intensely and sincerely loved the Church, the mystical Body of Christ. The idea of reform, of renewal, is fundamental in her vision of the Church. Pope Benedict XVI said that when the fame of her holiness spread, she became the protagonist of an intense activity of spiritual guidance for people from every walk of life: nobles and politicians, artists and ordinary people, consecrated men and women and religious, including Pope Gregory XI who was living at Avignon in that period and whom she energetically and effectively urged to return to Rome.  She travelled widely to press for the internal reform of the Church and to foster peace among the States. … (General Audience, Nov. 24, 2010). Saint Catherine offered her life for the Church, “…if I die, I die of passion for the Church”; she was deeply convinced that the Church of Christ must renew itself, that is, cleanse itself and work for the eradication of the most terrible evils of each era, not in its divine structure but in its members, putting on the new man that Saint Paul speaks of in his letter to the Ephesians (chap 4).

            This year, devoted to prayer as preparation for this great event, let us turn to this illustrious saint who, with the wisdom that flows from her holiness, committed herself to pray with all her strength for the Church. “This soul then, being purified by the fire of divine love, which she found in the knowledge of herself and of God, and her hunger for the salvation of the whole world, and for the reformation of the Holy Church, having grown with her hope of obtaining the same, rose with confidence before the Supreme Father, showing Him the leprosy of the Holy Church, and the misery of the world, saying, as if with the words of Moses, ‘My Lord, turn the eyes of Your mercy upon Your people, and upon the mystical body of the Holy Church, for You will be the more glorified if You pardon so many creatures, and give to them the light of knowledge,… For what is it to me if I have life, and Your people death, and the clouds of darkness cover Your spouse…” (Dialogue 13)

            Sisters, let us take part in this “symphony” of prayer that the Holy Father desires. Like our sister, Saint Catherine, let us commit ourselves more intensely to the task of praying; let us nurture this “inner cell” where our sister learned to live in intimacy with God, knowing herself better and always keeping in mind the needs of the society during her time. The Lord encourages Saint Catherine again and again to never stop praying: “… I want you to do this: never relax the desire of asking for my help, nor lower your voice from crying to me that I may have mercy on the world. Do not stop knocking on the door of my Truth following in His footsteps. Delight yourself in the Cross with Him, eating the food of souls for the glory and praise of my name. Lament with anxiety of heart over the death of the human generation, whom I have seen reach such misery that your tongue would be incapable of narrating. For this lamenting and crying I will show mercy to the world. This is what I ask of my servants and this will be a sign for me that they truly love me. And I will not despise their desires, as I have told you.” (Dialogue, 107)

            With the conviction that God awaits us and listens to us, let us rekindle the desire to be in His presence, to listen to Him, to worship Him, to beg for His mercy and help. Let us make every moment of our self-giving as a gesture of prayer; let us transform our difficulties, our sufferings, our limitations as an offering of prayer that benefits the Church and reaps fruits for the good of our brothers.

            Happy Feastday to all.  May Saint Catherine’s zeal for the reform of the Church and the salvation of the world inspire us.

 

                                                                       With my fraternal embrace and prayer

                                               

Sor Mª Asunción González, O.P.

                                                         Prioress General

 

 

 

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Letter from General Prioress – Lent 2024

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Through the desert. God Leads Us to Freedom

Dear Sisters,

We begin the season of Lent following the message that the Holy Father Francis conveys to us this year, with the theme: «Through the desert God leads us to freedom.»  The Holy Father reminds us once again of our call to freedom and, like the people of Israel, to live the exodus from slavery to freedom through the desert.  This call «is not answered straightaway; it has to mature as part of a journey.  Just as Israel in the desert still clung to Egypt – often longing for the past and grumbling against the Lord and Moses – today too, God’s people can cling to an oppressive bondage that it is called to leave behind.»

This liturgical season is a providential time to make a stop along the way; but not only in solitude but also as a «people», as a congregation walking together, to examine ourselves: are we willing to cross the desert? how far have we gone? what baggage weighs heavily upon us? is there something inside us that binds us and prevents us from advancing?

I believe that in the heart of each one of us the desire to be able to see clearly the path that the Lord would like us to follow still burns.  But without realizing it, we wander aimlessly because the «attractions of Egypt» distract us.  Sometimes we yearn for the past so as not to face the complications of the present; sometimes we cling to the rigor of our rules so as not to interrupt the tranquility of our routine; or we are too entertained by the novelties that technology offers and the «effortless» well-being that social networks promote that we have remained on the surface, on what is comfortable, on what is convenient according to the current mentality of our society.  However, even though our weaknesses easily overcome us, I am convinced that we all want to draw closer and closer to God.

Sisters, the Lord sees our struggles, and with the patience of a father He awaits us and extends His hand to lead us together to the promised land. He does not get tired of us, He does not hold back in calling us to leave our slavery behind.  Let us have the courage to cross the path that he indicates to us during this time: to pass through the desert.  As the Holy Father says: «Lent is the season of grace in which the desert can become once more – in the words of the prophet Hosea – the place of our first love (cf. Hos 2:16-17). God shapes his people, he enables us to leave our slavery behind and experience a Passover from death to life. Like a bridegroom, the Lord draws us once more to himself, whispering words of love to our hearts.»

Perhaps for many, the desert is unbearable because it resembles a situation of aridity, emptiness, silence or the absence of God.  Let us remember that our Lord Jesus Christ also passed through the desert and there overcame the temptations of the devil; that was the proof of his freedom.  For us, it is an opportunity to look at ourselves with sincerity, to rediscover the Lord’s loving presence within us, the source of our strength, and to listen to His word of love, with the help of His grace and trusting in His word: «I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt out of a land of slavery» (Ex 20:2), we will be able to face temptations and free ourselves from the bonds that prevent us from moving forward.

May the traditional practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving of this time surge from a profound experience of the Word of God, because finding the Lord within us implies discovering him in the faces of our brothers and sisters, especially those who suffer. «Love of God and love of neighbor are one love.» As a Congregation, let us live Christian penance with joy and fervor; let us carry out gestures capable of encouraging the spread of solidarity and fraternity with and among those who surround us.

Sisters, let us live Lent with renewed hope so that we may joyfully celebrate Easter. Let us undertake the journey united with our Lord Jesus Christ: his passage from death to life is also ours. Let us never tire of proclaiming and witnessing with our lives the joy and gladness of the Risen Christ.

                                                                       With my fraternal embrace and prayer

                                               

Sor Mª Asunción González, O.P.

                                                         Prioress General

 

 

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Letter from General Prioress – Advent & Christmas 2023

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Advent – Christmas 2023

Dear Sisters,

            With the season of Advent, a new liturgical year begins. On this important occasion of passage from one liturgical year to another, the Church invites us to pause for a moment in order to examine our lives, the values we live and to see what God wants and expects of us in order to live His call deeply within the reality that surrounds us.

            “Keep watch.”  This year’s Gospel message of the first Sunday of Advent exhorts us to vigilance, to actively await the Lord’s coming, to fight against negligence or any obstacle that prevents us from welcoming Him with our whole being. How can we put this invitation into practice? Pope St. Paul VI, in his Apostolic Exhortation Marialis Cultus offers us the figure of Mary as model, “vigilant in prayer and joyful… in praise”, to prepare ourselves to meet the Savior who is to come (cf. nº 4).

            Mary has an extraordinary importance in Advent and Christmas because it is through her that our main reason for celebrating has become a reality: the most awaited event of humanity, the birth of the Messiah, the Word who becomes flesh in a manger, and thus dwells among us.  I would like to highlight what is imitable about her, the virtues that made her a listener of the Word, a prayerful virgin and a prolific mother: her faith, her hope and her charity.

Faith.  Mary is full of faith; she is a woman who trusts fully in God’s Word.  She accepted the angel’s message and said “yes” that God would come into her life.  Although the angel’s word disturbed her, she opened herself to God’s plan of salvation.  Mary is the woman with whom God dwells and the woman who is always with God. She lived with strong faith her passage in Bethlehem, in the flight to Egypt, at the foot of the Cross and her role as Mother of all… Because she is full of faith, she recognized God’s work in her and in history. Advent is a time of grace to purify and strengthen our faith each day, trusting that our God is faithful, that He never fails or backs down.  With renewed faith, let us welcome the God who calls us, who involves us in his salvific work in our time.  Let us live in faith, so that we can see God’s work in this present moment of our history.

Hope.  Mary is the woman of hope; of hope in God’s promises and in the God of promises.  She lived a constant and active hope, collaborating in the fulfillment of God’s promises by accepting that the Word becomes incarnate in her womb during the nine months of pregnancy, and she did so with her whole being, with her body, with her blood, with her mind and heart, with her work and rest.  Advent offers us an opportunity to rekindle our hope, trusting that God fulfills his promise.  In our world, wounded by wars, a renewed hope could strengthen the spirit to continue seeking the Lord’s way.

Pope Benedict XVI, in the Encyclical Letter Spe Salvi, proposes “settings” for learning and practicing hope.  The first and most essential place is prayer.  In intimate and personal dialogue with God, we experience the real existence and closeness of a Father who listens and speaks to us. Frequent contact with the Lord, in prayer, revives and renews our hope because we do it with the conviction that God always hears our pleas and is ready to help us. “When no one listens to me anymore, God still listens to me. When I can no longer talk to anyone or call upon anyone, I can always talk to God. When there is no longer anyone to help me deal with a need or expectation that goes beyond the human capacity for hope, he can help me.” (nº 32)

Charity.  Mary is the woman of love; of love for God, ready to do His will; of love for those who need her help: she assisted her cousin Elizabeth, who is old and pregnant, she did her best to put the best wine for the bride and groom at the wedding feast in Cana, she supported the apostles in the Upper Room with her maternal presence, praying and waiting for the coming of the Holy Spirit…; and of love for all men, especially the poor and those who suffer most.  As St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus says: “charity must not remain locked up in the depths of the heart”, the season of Advent and Christmas is a favorable time to bring out through concrete gestures what we keep in the depths of our hearts.  We recall what Pope Francis advises us in his message on the World Day of the Poor 2023 that “whenever we encounter a poor person, we cannot look away, for that would prevent us from encountering the face of the Lord Jesus… Everyone is our neighbor.  Regardless of the color of their skin, their social standing, the place from which they came… We are called to acknowledge every poor person and every form of poverty, abandoning the indifference and the banal excuses we make to protect our illusory well-being.” (nº 3)

May the Virgin Mary help us so that, as we approach Christmas, we do not dwell on what is superficial, but strive to make our faith, hope and charity grow so that we can make room in our hearts for the One who has already come and wants to come again to establish His Kingdom in us and fill us with His joy, peace and love.

            I wish everyone a Happy Advent and Merry Christmas!

                                               

Sor Mª Asunción González, O.P.

                                                         Prioress General

 

 

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Letter from General Prioress – Our Lady of the Holy Rosary 2023

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Our Lady of the Holy Rosary 2023

 

Dear sisters,

When the month of October begins, the celebration of the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary comes to mind, a very endearing celebration  for us since we come from the roots of the Province of the Order of Preachers that bears her name and we grew as an Institution under  her protection.

Today we live in a society that faces different challenges. Sometimes we feel downcast, because every day, what we see in the media and on social networks are various news and  events that have to do with serious problems in today’s society: war, climate change, poverty and more…; that although we try to see the signs of God’s presence, we find opposite,  negative signs that make us believe that He is absent… and we hear the question: «does it make sense to believe, does it make sense to pray?» This moves me to look back at that  important historical event which led to the establishment of this feast dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary: The Battle of Lepanto on October 7, 1571.

It is said that while the last great naval battle in history was fought in the Mediterranean, in Rome thousands of faithful recited the Rosary accompanying Pope Pius V. The battle lasted from the early hours of the morning until night, and in the morning. Then the Pope announced the happy news to all those present gathered in the square: the Holy Virgin  had granted victory to the Christians. On the anniversary of this victory, Pius V established the liturgical commemoration with the advocation of Our Lady of Victories; later, his  successor, Gregory XIII, changed the name of the feast to Our Lady of the Rosary.

It is not the only “victory” attributed to the intervention of Our Lady of the Rosary. Other battles were won under her image or protection. Furthermore, in the recognized  apparitions of the Blessed Virgin she always carried the Rosary, indicating the importance of praying it, because in reality, at all times, together with the world of solidarity, justice,  willingness for service and love, there is also the world of violence, oppression, lies, self-interest… and Our Lady has given us a tool to help us turn to God and ensure her help  because a mother never abandons Our Lady of the Holy Rosary 2023 her children. In more tumultuous moments, the presence of the Blessed Virgin through the prayer of the  Rosary has always been a source of strength to continue believing, continue hoping, continue aspiring and striving so that God’s plan be fulfilled in everything.

It is good to bring to  our mind that Mary also experienced suffering in her own flesh. When the Lord, her son, was born in a manger, without a crib or adequate clothing, what is more cruel for a mother  than to see her own son suffer misery? Furthermore, seeing her son on the cross, she suffered to the depths of her soul. But she was not discouraged, nor did she complain. She kept  everything and meditated on it in her heart. She accepted reality as it came, she meditated on it from God’s perspective to capture the meaning of everything.

Mary knows very well the difficulties and sufferings that we have to endure in our lives, as well as the challenges that the world is going through. Therefore, we can hold onto her  hand to sustain ourselves with strength and courage. I am convinced that praying the Rosary has an undeniable value because it means contemplating the unbreakable faith of the  Blessed Virgin, and every time we pray it she confirms us in our faith, in our vocation and in our mission. She makes us see the greatness of God’s love, manifested in every mystery  we meditate. Mary has shown us that believing makes sense and assures us that praying also makes sense.

At the Battle of Lepanto, thousands of Christians recited the Rosary with the Pope. I also believe that praying it in community, as a family, as groups of believers adds strength to  this precious prayer. It is worth spreading her devotion.

Let us ask Our Lady of the Rosary to sustain us in our pilgrimage in this world and to help us transform our faith into a proclamation of the Gospel.

Happy feastday to everyone

                                                                       With my fraternal embrace and prayer

                                               

Sor Mª Asunción González, O.P.

                                                         Prioress General

 

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Letter from General Prioress – October 2023

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St. Dominic de Guzman 2023

Dear sisters:

At the end of our Encuentro de gobiernos, on the eve of the feast of our father St. Dominic, I would like to invite you thank the Lord our God for making us sharers in the charism that St. Dominic has bequeathed on us and which is always new wherever we carry out our mission. Our father left us a charism that has to continue giving life as it did in his time.

During our encounter we have been able to verify different experiences in the exercise of authority and synodality in our institute, experiences that sometimes hinder our mission as bearers of truth and compassion which our father lived fully and wanted to continue as the distinctive characteristic of the Dominican Family. For this reason, we feel called anew to strengthen among ourselves the culture of care and make the synodality that is already reflected in our congregational structure more real.

Let’s take a closer look at our father and learn his delicacy in dealing with everyone and in the exercise of authority. His first biographer and successor, Jordan of Saxony, tells us that «with his joy he easily attracted the affection of all and those who looked at him were captivated by him; wherever he was, at home or on a trip preaching, he always had words that edify and abounded in examples which inclined the minds of believers to the love of Christ». Our community life will be a space where we can all grow if we bear in mind the impact of our word on whomever we direct it. A word of encouragement, consolation, support, of forgiveness is enough for a sister to feel valued and loved; at the same time it is capable of creating an atmosphere where we feel more fraternally united with each other.

Dominic was clothed with sensitivity, tenderness and compassion which made him greatly capable of getting out of himself and place himself in the situation of his neighbor, both in pain and in joy, because to sympathize with the other is to be in tune with him, sharing his feelings. He manifested sensitivity and tenderness in his warm and humane treatment with everyone. The tenderness he felt towards everyone made him an expert in fraternal correction, «all men fit into the immense charity of his heart, and, loving them all, he was  loved by all». The dignity of the person was sacred to him, thus when he had to correct a brother, he always did it with kindness, taking care not to hurt anyone.

He also kept in mind the values of solidarity, collegiality, the search for truth and the common good.

According to his biographer Pedro Ferrando, compassion already shines from his childhood: «From his childhood compassion grew with him, in a way that he took as his own the miseries of others, to the point that he could not contemplate any affliction without participating in it”. There is a famous event of the life of St. Dominic that is worth remembering  here. A great famine ensued in the region of Palencia. Dominic felt a deep compassion for the poor and he gave them everything he had, including what he treasured most, his books which were full of annotations and which meant a fortune, not only in the financial aspect but also intellectual. With this gesture the solidarity of our father excelled.

He was also attentive to the signs of the times, sensitive and open to human realities and temporal events, because God also speaks in them. He saw each situation with the eyes of  God and was able to understand each moment and enlighten it with the light of the Gospel. He was open to dialogue with the brothers, which entails listening, as well as speaking. Let us sincerely ask ourselves, how do we listen to others? True listening involves not only the sense of hearing but all the other senses, with empathy, making the other feel  accompanied along his journey, without forgetting that what is sought is the will of God.

Sisters, our father St. Dominic has a lot to teach us, let us be open to strengthen in ourselves these characteristics which are very necessary in our life and society.

Before the Virgen del Camino I pray that she may protect us in our daily journey.

Happy feastday of our father St. Dominic!

 

 

                                                                       With my fraternal embrace and prayer

                                               

Sor Mª Asunción González, O.P.

                                                         Prioress General

 

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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

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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

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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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