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2023-letter

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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