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Letter from General Prioress

Letter from General Prioress

Por | 2021, Letter from General Prioress

Dear Sisters,

Once again, the Lord has given us the opportunity to celebrate the feast of Our Father Saint Dominic. This year in the context of the eighth centenary of his “dies natalis” under the theme “At the table with St. Dominic of Guzman”. The motto is derived from the painting called “Mascarella”; the oldest painting of St. Dominic which reflects one of the fundamental pillars of the Dominican charism “The Community Life”; a table around which his children sit as a family, in communion within the community.

For St. Dominic, community life constitutes a value and a fundamental pillar. In choosing the Rule for the Order, he chose that of Saint Augustine, which begins by reminding the religious that “they live in the same house to form a single family having one heart and one soul in God”. Community life is the fertile soil where the mission- preaching, gains strength. For this reason, he asked the novices two things before accepting them into the Order: obedience and commitment to community life. 

             Wanting to imitate the Apostles throughout his life, Dominic had as a model for the community of his brothers the first apostolic community. In this community the first Christians “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and prayers. All believers lived together and had everything in common. Praising God and enjoying the good favor of the people”. 

             Dominic lived community life in its fullness. He participated in all the activities and submitted to the community in everything. “He thoroughly observed the Rule – according to the witnesses in the canonization process – and does not easily dispense himself from it. He followed the community in the choir, the dining room for the meals and in all places” according to the schedules; he adapted himself to the community in everything, and although he often spent the nights praying in the church, he is present in the chapel with his brothers for the morning prayer “. However, community life is not only about being present in the regular observances; because one can be physically present but emotionally far away; the gestures and details of his closeness and tenderness towards the nuns and brothers are recognized by everyone. Saint Dominic taught us that life in common requires charity towards each sister, presence and active participation in the activities of the community, rejoice with those who are rejoicing, sympathy with those who are sad, listen to each person and accept everyone.

             It also means putting everything in common; not only the material things or the fruit of one’s own work, but also the values, gifts and qualities that each sister has; sharing their ideas, helping each other and placing the common good first before individual interest. I believe that the reason why Dominic was exemplary in community living was because of his humanity, he was fully human, fully alive.

Dominic’s humanity is characterized by contrasts: strong but tender, decisive but open, firm but compassionate.

Dominic had to overcome many obstacles, many adversities in life, however nothing of harshness, rigidity or intolerance is ever seen in his character. According to the memory of witnesses who lived with him, Dominic stood out especially for his tenderness, sensitivity and compassion- virtues that humanize.

He lived and fully exemplified what Pope Francis affirms “only tenderness can change people”.

Dominic´s heart broke; he is deeply moved by the sufferings and needs of others. He went out and put himself in place of the other, he sympathized with their pain and joy. He was warm and treated everybody humanely. These are just some of his traits, his true humanity. It was not sufficient for him to feel sorry, he did something and responded to injustices and to the needs of others. We know very well the many episodes in his life in which he tried to remedy the suffering of somebody to the extent of giving his own life.

The Master of the Order, Fr. Gerard, challenged us in one of his letters about the jubilee: What does it mean for us to be at table with Saint Dominic in the here and now?

We have to ask this question specially at this time when the fear of being contaminated from Covid 19 virus overwhelms and threatens us and use it as an excuse to “keep our distance”.

I think that to sit down at the table of St. Dominic today implies that we intentionally become attentive to the needs of the sisters specially the weak, those who are most in need, those who are apparently self-sufficient; to listen patiently to each one, listen to their fears, their concerns, their anxieties and encourage that each sister can freely express her concerns and be comforted with respect and kindness. Not all have the same sensitivity and the ability to face the “fears” of life. As the saying goes: “those who are strong have to bear the infirmities of the weak”. 

To sit at the table of Dominic in our present time commits us to dare to talk to each other, in all honesty and truthfulness say what we care about our community, what troubles us, what we like, as well as the concerns of our fellowmen.  For this we have to support as well as sustain each other and seriously discern the urgent needs of our present society.

A community does not advance humanly or spiritually if it is not nourished, expressed and manifested with gestures, attitudes and words. Only if we express our humanity and tenderness, as did our Father, can we witness the greatness of the love and fellowship and respond to the cries of injustice and needs of humanity. Dominic was well aware of the reality of his time, he got involved and committed himself to making a better world.

Let us learn from Dominic how to pay attention to the sisters whom we live with; to accept and welcome their weaknesses and vulnerabilities, just as he accepted that of the friars with whom he lived.  Let us avoid closing in on ourselves but let us open, as he did, our eyes, ears and arms to the cry of those who are in need.

I think Dominic would be delighted to live in communities today where there is genuine concern, love and support for each other; where each one strives to discern the signs of the times making this civilization a little more pleasant to live in.

HAPPY FEASTDAY OF ST. DOMINIC. May this jubilee year serve to renew ourselves by following the teachings and examples of our Father.

With fraternal embrace and my prayers,

 

                                            Sor Mª Asunción González, O.P.

                                                   General Prioress

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Letter from General Prioress – St. Catherine of Siena

Por | 2021, Letter from General Prioress

Dear Sisters,

 

On the 29th we will celebrate the feast of our sister, Saint Catherine of Siena, and I would like to share this reflection with all of you.

Speaking of Catherine of Siena, is to speak about one of the most admired and beloved figures of the Catholic Church. Throughout her life, this simple woman served tirelessly in a humble and sacrificial, helpful and generous way, with an unlimited and courageous dedication to the mandate of her God, at the service of the Church and the Roman Pontiff.

For Catherine, to speak about the Church is not just any way of speaking: it is to speak with passion about the Church that she loved, for which she lived and died: “If I die, know that I die with passion for her, the Church – the Mystical Body of Christ. ”

Speaking of the Church in Catherinian manner is to talk about a Church that does not evade temporal conflicts because it is concerned with the human person and his full realization, distant from interested alliances and worldly privileges. John Paul II, when he declared the saint Patroness of Europe, said ” the young Sienese entered confidently and with fiery words at the heart of ecclesial and social problems of her time.”

She never hesitated to offer every moment of her life for the unity and fidelity to the Church until the time of her death. On her deathbed she prayed: “O God eternal, receive the sacrifice of my life in this mystical body of Holy Church. I have nothing to give, save what Thou hast given me. Take this heart, then, and press it out over the face of Thy Spouse.”

However, if we look carefully at her life, we realize that she excels in her proclamation of the universal call to holiness, obedience to the Magisterium of the Church, the filial affection for the Holy Pontiff and the certainty that, without Jesus Christ, any human project is impossible.

They say that one morning, upon waking up from a mystical experience, Catherine confided to her confessor what she heard from the Lord who pronounced these words: “The cell will no longer be your usual home; indeed, for the salvation of souls you shall also leave your city… you shall bear the honor of my name and my doctrine to small or great, be they lay, clergy or religious. I shall place on your mouth a wisdom, which no one can resist. I shall lead you before Pontiffs, Heads of the Churches and of the Christian people, so that through the weak, as is my way of acting, I shall humiliate the pride of the strong”.

Father Timothy Radcliffe, on the occasion of the proclamation of Catherine as Doctor of the Church, addressed the entire Order through a letter in which he highlights the relevance of her message because “Catherine’s Europe was, like our world today, marked by violence and an uncertain future… there was a decline of vitality in the Church, a loss of a sense of purpose and a crisis of religious life. She refused to resign herself in the face of this suffering and division, but embarked on the not easy task of reforming and pacifying the Church and society, and she did so because she was consumed by the urge to bring God’s love and mercy to everyone.”

Catherine never sacrificed truth or justice for an easy or cheap peace. She knew how to live up to the occasion, as a lay woman, playing a significant role in the Church and in society. She became the female incarnation within the Order of Preachers of its evangelical project, making herself an undisputed reference for all of us throughout time.

Sisters, do we have the courage to assume, like Catherine, the mission of being peacemakers in the community, the Church and society?

St. Catherine, on your feast day we implore you to teach us to be like you, mediator of unity, instrument of peace, defender of justice, lover of dialogue with God and with our neighbors.

            HAPPY FEASTDAY OF ST. CATHERINE OF SIENA!

Un abrazo fraternal y mi oración,

 

 

                                            Sor Mª Asunción González, O.P.

                                                   General Prioress

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Letter from General Prioress – Lent 2021

Por | 2021, Letter from General Prioress

Dear Sisters,

          

            Once again, we approach the season of Lent, and the Lord places before us the opportunity of taking time more dedicated to prayer. Lent is a perfect moment to return to the simple, to the little, to the hidden. And from there discover our iniquities and cleanse our heart. When we look at the world today, in the midst of this scenario of death and disease, of hopelessness and fear, we are called to be the light of hope, the messengers of God’s love and forgiveness. And that light only shines when we nourish it with prayer and silent, expectant contemplation.

            During this Lenten season let us renew our determination to allow ourselves to be transformed by the abundance of the mercy of our God.  The Holy Father in his Lenten message proposes fasting, prayer and almsgiving, which are the conditions and expression of our conversion.    

            PRAYER, which keeps us aware of the Mystery of love that inhabits us. It is a heart-to-heart dialogue, a friend-to-friend conversation. The more we allow ourselves to be fascinated by his Word, the more we will be able to experience his gratuitous mercy towards us. Prayer enables us to embody a sincere faith, a living hope and an effective charity.

            Faith calls us to accept the Truth manifested in Christ and testify to it before God and before our brothers and sisters.

            Pope Francis tells us that through recollection and silent prayer, we are given hope as inspiration and interior light, illuminating the choices and challenges we face in our mission. In giving hope to others, it is sometimes enough simply to be kind, putting aside our worries in order to pay attention to the other, either through a smile, a word of encouragement, or simply by listening.

            Fasting which is lived as an experience of deprivation, to open our hearts and mercy to those who are in need. Fasting frees us from everything that binds us and moves us to share with the poor and needy, knowing that whatever we do for them, we do it for God himself. Let us ask ourselves how the needs of the poor affect us and how do we act accordingly.  The little we have, if shared to others with love, transforms our lives and generates happiness.  Sharing, the Pope tells us, makes us more human, while accumulating carries the risk of making us less human, bound by our own selfishness.

            Charity is a gift that gives meaning to our life. Living Lent in charity means caring for those who suffer, victims of the scourges of our time, feeling abandoned, full of anxiety of the uncertainty of the future due to the COVID 19 pandemic.

            Sisters, in this season of Lent, let us examine our life in the light of the Word of God, so that we would be able to change our hearts and learn to live in a more human way.  God is beside us and He wants to heal our life. That is why conversion is not something sad, but the discovery of true joy.

            Let us ask Mary, our Mother, to keep us determined and vigilant this Lent. Let us ask her to teach us shed our selfishness day by day, to learn to live with joy our freedom as children of God.

 

                                                                       My prayer and fraternal embrace,

 

 

                                            Sor Mª Asunción González, O.P.

                                                   General Prioress

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Letter from General Priorest – Advent 2020

Por | 2020, Letter from General Prioress

Dear Sisters:

We begin a new Liturgical Year, and with it, a new Advent: a time of grace and hope, a time to be vigilant, to discover the presence of God and his salvific force.

For believers, Advent has always been and is now, as well, a precious gift to prepare for the celebration of Christmas. Since ancient times, the Church has felt the need to direct its gaze towards the glorious Lord, God’s presence in the world and also the One who will one day come to meet us at the end of time.

Come, Lord Jesus! It is the cry par excellence of the Church in Advent. But in reality, it is the cry of humanity and of each person, from the queue of unemployment or the queue of hunger in search of the necessary food, and from the bed of the sick …

The Gospel of this first Sunday of Advent invites us to be vigilant, in expectation of the final coming of Christ: “watch, for you will not know when the owner of the house will come (Mk 13,35,37). It is time to be attentive to so many injustices and inequalities; attentive to those who suffer the most from the consequences of the pandemic; attentive to so many unemployed people without financial resources to support their families, attentive to what the Spirit is telling us in the signs of the times, attentive to discover the face of Christ in those who need it …

I believe that Advent can only be celebrated from a deep solidarity with the greatest desires of humanity, from the concrete hopes of the people, those near and far, hopes of flesh and blood, with names and surnames. This humanity is what God wants and what we must prepare for. A possible prayer for this time may be to ask ourselves what the people are waiting for, what are their real hopes, so we are able to put them before the Lord and say “Come, Lord Jesus! on this specific reality, on this specific person.

Pope Francis in his encyclical “Fratelli Tutti” invites us to build a new, more fraternal humanity, in which everyone has the roof and bread needed to live, in which there is no discrimination on the grounds of race, social condition, poverty. We are all sons and daughters of God, He loves us and wants for each one a present and a future full of life. Let us take care of the earth that gives us food and take care of each other, especially those most in need.

Sisters, let us walk this Advent journey, hand in hand with Mary our Mother, may she teach us to believe, hope and love all humanity.

I wish you all a happy and holy Advent.

A fraternal hug and my prayer,

Sor Mª Asunción González, O.P.

General Priorest

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Letter from General Prioress – Our Lady of the Rosary 2020

Por | 2020, Letter from General Prioress

Dear sisters,

     On the 7th of October we celebrate with joy the beautiful feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. For us as Dominicans it is a good opportunity to reflect on the figure of the Virgin, her glory and her teachings.   Mary was associated in a very special way with the Incarnation, Passion and Resurrection of the Son of God.

      With joy we can see how, due to various circumstances, the rosary has become fashionable again, it is again in its place, that is, in the hands of the faithful, young and not so young, lay people as well as the consecrated persons.

              One of the many gifts that Saint John Paul II has left the Church is precisely this: to bring back the Holy Rosary in the hands of everyone. By his example, he motivated and confirmed those who had never abandoned this pious practice, even in times when it was ridiculed.

              Among all the devotions that are dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the rosary is the one that most identifies and unites Catholics. It is a powerful prayer that allows us to live the mysteries of the Gospel, to remember and meditate on the most significant moments on the life of the Savior. The rosary is an evangelical prayer, which requires meditation. It teaches us that, with Christ, glory is achieved through joy and pain.

              In the Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae we read: “The Rosary of the Virgin Mary is a prayer loved by countless Saints and encouraged by the Magisterium. Simple yet profound, it still remains, a prayer of great significance, destined to bring forth a harvest of holiness.  The Rosary, though clearly Marian in character, is at heart a Christocentric prayer. In the sobriety of its elements, it has all the depth of the Gospel message in its entirety”. (RVM n.1)

              Indeed, the Holy Rosary helps us to live immersed in the mystery of Christ, almost continually pondering his life, his words, his example, his conduct and also fostering identification with Christ.

              It brings us in a special way to all the people of God, both the simple and the learned, the saints and sinners. There is no prayer that needs less preparation and, at the same time, is so effective to the heart and mind of man.

              Saint Paul VI affirmed, “not only does this prayer not in conflict with the Liturgy, it sustains it, since it serves as an excellent introduction and a faithful echo of the Liturgy, enabling people to participate fully and interiorly in it and to reap its fruits in their daily lives.” (RVM 4) Contemplation is the essential element of the Rosary, it is a perfect prayer. It is a reading of the Gospel in a Marian key.

              My dear sisters, let us constantly entrust our personal path of sanctification and apostolate to the Virgin Mary, through the faithful and humble prayer of the Holy Rosary. In history, we do not lack the example of so many saints who were able to carry out their work of evangelization with great efficiency and efficacy.

              May we all have a good month of October! May the Holy Rosary unite us, like the rosary beads, in an intense sisterly love.

              Happy feast day of our Lady of the Rosary!

              My fraternal embrace and prayer,

         

Sor Mª Asunción González, OP.

General Prioress

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Letter from General Prioress – Saint Dominic 2020

Por | 2020, Letter from General Prioress

Dear Sisters:

            We are close to celebrating the feast of Our Father St. Dominic, a compassionate man, who desired to be a response of mercy to the world.

            Blessed Jordan of Saxony offers us a beautiful description of the Saint, “inflamed with the zeal of God and supernatural ardor, possessing a limitless charity and the fervor of a vehement spirit”. He precisely highlights this fundamental trait of St. Dominic: he spoke with God or about God.  In the saints’ lives the love for God and neighbor always go together.

            In St. Dominic, three qualities stand out that have always caught the attention of his companions and that are more necessary than ever today: JOY, REALISM and COMPASSION. But I would like to particularly share with you COMPASSION, given the situation in which we find ourselves as humanity in these times of pandemic.

            St. Dominic, from his childhood grew in compassion, so much so that he interiorized in himself the miseries of others. He had a great love for the poor and needy, seeing the presence of Christ in each one of them. We all know very well the great famine that occurred in Palencia, when he was a student there. He deeply sympathized with the poor and gave them everything he had, including what he cherished the most, his books. More dramatic is that other scene in his life where he thought of selling himself as a slave, when he no longer had anything else to sell. For all this he suffered misunderstanding and criticism, to which he replied with kindness and peace: “Christ should not suffer hunger in the poor while I keep something in my house with which I can help them.” In truth we can say that Dominic was poor with the poor and for the poor. This is a trait that surely challenges our life.  Along with us nowadays, there is also the poverty of so many people and families, who, due to the current economic situation, are having a really hard time. Do these situations challenge our sensitivity, our solidarity and our charity? I think it should be an urgent call to detach ourselves from what we have to share with those most in need. 

            We are seeing how the world today, as a result of this pandemic, is in need of mercy and compassion in all its senses. The painful urgencies of many people make our compassion necessary, thereby implying a real commitment to all our suffering brothers, in order to walk towards an increasing solidarity in the world.

            Sisters, as Dominicans, we are called to strive to achieve a more humane and fraternal world. Let us look at the model of the first Christian community, how it was built on prayer, the reading of the Scriptures, the breaking of the bread and the sharing of everyone’s goods, so as not to abandon anyone in need (cf. Acts, 2, 42-45). Let us ask the Lord to increase our FAITH, to strengthen our HOPE and thus increase our CHARITY.

            HAPPY FEAST OF ST. DOMINIC!

       

            My fraternal embrace,

 

                                                Sor Mª Asunción González, O.P.

                                                                                        Priora General

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Letter from General Prioress -Saint Catherine 2020

Por | 2020, Letter from General Prioress

Dear Sisters,

 

            The celebration of the feast of Saint Catherine of Siena is soon to come. Today as in her time, this sister of ours, places herself with her human, civil and Christian virtues, at our service through her strong and sweet personality, through her exemplary and holiness of life.

 

            In this difficult moment we are living, it may be appropriate to remember that St. Catherine was also a great benefactor of the society. During her time in Siena, there was a terrible plague and with her ardent charity worked passionately to comfort the sick. Her intense life of prayer was combined with care for the poor and the sick. She was always at the side of those who suffered from the plague, comforting them and preparing them for death. The historians tell us that even in many cases she buried them with her own hands.

 

            Of course, today, we cannot do what she did. This work is being carried out by doctors, nurses, other kinds of health and civil protection personnel…, giving their own lives in generous and heroic service on more than one occasion. Many priests and religious have also lost their lives as they give spiritual, human and psychological help, both to the sick during their final moments, and to their families.

 

            Nowadays all of us are involved in the fight against Covid-19, the first and major global pandemic of our era, which is changing the life of millions of people. We have found ourselves in an unexpected way faced with this coronavirus and for which the only solution offered to us at the moment is to wash our hands and isolate ourselves in our homes. It is true that as citizens we must comply with the directives of the authorities, but beyond this, we as Christians and as religious must contribute our evangelical witness through our serenity, hope and solidarity in the midst of this chaos before us, putting our trust in God through our intense prayer not only for the victims, but also for their families.

 

           

            I would like to conclude this letter by citing Pope Francis’ message on Easter morning for the world afflicted by the pandemic: The proclamation of the Resurrection of Christ transmits to humanity “a different “contagion”, a message transmitted from heart to heart — for every human heart awaits this Good News.  It is the contagion of hope: “Christ, my hope, is risen!”.  This is no magic formula that makes problems vanish.  No, the resurrection of Christ is not that.  Instead, it is the victory of love over the root of evil, a victory that does not “by-pass” suffering and death, but passes through them, opening a path in the abyss, transforming evil into good: this is the unique hallmark of the power of God.  The Risen Lord is also the Crucified One, not someone else.  In his glorious body he bears indelible wounds: wounds that have become windows of hope.” (L’Osservatore Romano, April 14, 2020)

            Wishing you a Blessed and Happy Feast day of Saint Catherine of Siena. May her courage in facing the challenges of her time “contaminate” us.

 

            With my sisterly embrace and prayer,

 

Sr. Mª Asunción González, O.P.

Prioress General

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Letter from General Prioress – Lent 2020

Por | 2020, Letter from General Prioress

LENT 2020

 

Dear Sisters,

            Lent is the liturgical season that the Church celebrates to prepare us for the great feast of Easter. It is a time to repent from our faults and be converted to make ourselves better and able to live closer to Christ.

            In Lent, Christ invites us to change our life. The Church also invites us to live this season as a path to Jesus Christ, listening to the Word of God, praying, sharing with others and doing good works. That is why Lent is the time of forgiveness and fraternal reconciliation. Every single day, throughout our lives, we must cast away from our hearts: hatred, resentment, envy, jealousy or anything which contradicts our love for God and our brothers and sisters.

            Generally, when we speak about conversion, we instinctively think of something sad, painful, very much like a penance, a form of mortification and asceticism. A somewhat impossible effort for which we are no longer drawn into as source of joy or strength because it seems that we never get closer to its goal.

            However, if we stop and reflect on the message of Jesus, we hear, first of all, an encouraging call to change our hearts and learn how to live a more humane life, because God is close to us and wants to change our lives.

            The conversion of which Jesus speaks is not forced. It is a change that is growing in us as we realize that God wants to make our lives more human and happier. That is why conversion is not something sad, but the discovery of true joy. It does not stop us from living our lives, but an invitation to be more alive than ever. It allows us to discover towards where we should direct our life.

            Conversion is something joyful. It is clearing our minds of selfishness and interests that dwarf our daily lives. It is setting our heart free from anguish and complications created by our desire for power and possession. It is liberating ourselves from unnecessary things and living for people who need us.

            We begin to be converted when we discover that what is important is not to ask ourselves how can I get something, but how can I become myself.

            When we hear the call of Jesus: “Repent, because the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand”, let us believe that it is never too late to repent and be converted, because it is never too late to love, it is never too late to be happier, it is never too late to be forgiven and be renewed by God.

            Let us be guided by Mary, our Mother who knows how to lead us especially during this season of mercy.

Happy Easter!

 

                                                                                  My fraternal embrace,

 

 

                                                                                  Sor Mª Asunción González, OP

                                                                                                 General Prioress

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