Thursday, March 29, 2012

Care of Creation 2 - Living Water

Arctic Ocean
“The history of the universe is a sacred story in sacred time. It is a story of God who comes to be in what God is not. Creation always bears in its innermost being a divine relation, and yet it is not divine. God is the future plenum of all that can be, and yet God is dynamically interior to creation, gradually bringing all things to their full being by a single creative act spanning all time. Because creation is relationship, God acts from within, at the core of each element, by animating the sphere of being from within. God therefore, imparts to creation its inner dynamism of love and hence relationality”.  -- Ilia Delio, The Emergent Christ pp 46-47

I am aware of God animating the sphere of my being when...I pray at the oceanside.  The rhythm and motion of the waves helps me to feel at peace and puts the rest of my life in perspective.  There is something tangible of the divine relationship in the ocean and the shore and their interaction...the give and take that reshapes each other.  In that mutual embrace that is both soothing and dramatically passionate I find a renewed sense of love agape. For this reason too, I love swimming.  The movement of the water around me and within me reminds me of being in what is inside of us in the Eucharist.  Christ above me, below me, beside me, within me and all around me.  Water is like that too and makes that tangible for me.  I think it is no accident that the prime Sacrament of our faith involves Water or that Christ is the Living Water.  For this I am grateful today.       

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

YouTube from Congress

The Religious Ed Congress did put up some great videos.  Go to Religious Ed Congress YouTube. 

Ten Things You Didn't Know about Jesus

Iona Community
John Bell from the Iona Community in Scotland shared some hymns with us and spoke about insights that can be gathered when the community does the exegesis together.  Rather than relying solely on an intellectual approach that relies on Aramaic, Greek or Hebrew interpretations, he has gathered some remarkable insights in third world countries where people who love the Word bring their own life experiences to understanding what the world was like in the time of Jesus.  In fact their world view is similar because of their poverty and the oppressive conditions in which they live.  In some ways they can do exegesis better than a well-educated scripture scholar training in Chicago or Oxford.  He gave some great examples of this from his new book and asked us to buy the book to find out more.  After hearing his presentation which was filled with fresh new ways of thinking about the world of Jesus, I do want to read his book, Ten Things They Never Told Me About Jesus.

Mary Magdalen, Voice of Hope

Sister Barbara Reid talked about Mary Magdalen as one who ministered with the disciples, providing for the ministry from her own resources.  She gave scriptural references for the birthing hope in the Gospel account of John and how the women in the early church ministered in a variety of ways including financial support.  The main ministry of Mary Magdalen after Jesus healed her of her inner demons was as a preacher of the Resurrection.  Through this ministry she helps to move the disciples from fear to inner peace through forgiveness and holding fast to one another.  Sister Barbara asked us to reflect on how we as leaders birth hope through processes of forgiveness and reconciliation.  New possibilities are opened up when we consider images of death and resurrection in scripture that are connected to the concept of birthing.  Examples are found in John 2:1-11; 3:3-8; 4:10; 7:37-39; 16:21-22; 19:34; 19:40; 20:1; and 20:22. 

Will There Be Faith

Thomas Groome presented material from his new book Will There Be Faith.  He reflected deeply on the Lord's question about whether or not he would find faith in the people when he returned.  His book poses questions about how the secularization of society has all but dissolved the church in Europe.  It is no longer that the faith is being driven out of its birthplace in Italy, Greece, France and Germany.  People are utterly indifferent to faith.  In Ireland and the United States, where the faith still exists, it is under assault by the secular culture and discredited by scandal.  He asked us to think about what gives us hope and what we personally can do to ensure there is faith in the future.  Some of the things that the audience claimed gave them hope were the Eucharist, their own children, Jesus, the gathering in Anaheim and the joy they find in their own faith.  The ways people hope to ensure faith will continue is by teaching the Sacraments, sharing the joy of their faith with others, being people of peace and sharing their love of Jesus and the faith. 

Stay Here, Keep Watch with Me, Watch and Pray

Eucharist of Bread and Fish
Sister Barbara Fiand spoke about two different Eucharists in the early Church...the Eucharist of the bread and the fish and the Eucharist of the bread and the blood.  Early Christians remembered Jesus with the bread and fish and the sign of the fish came to represent Christ for them.  The Eucharist of the bread and the fish is about the abundance of God's merciful love.  Jesus taught through multiple examples that by sharing our meal with everyone all will be fed and the kingdom of peace will prevail.  The disciples on the road to Emmaus failed to recognize him after the Resurrection until the breakfast of bread and fish.  Later when the early Christians broke bread in secret to remember Our Lord the places where they gathered were marked with the sign of the fish.  For the Eucharist of the bread and fish no priest was needed.  Jesus was remembered by the community as one body with no one at the head but Jesus.  The Eucharist of the bread and the blood came out Greco-Roman rituals of sacrifice.  As Christians began to organize themselves into a state religion under Constantinople they incorporated some of the traditions of the sacrifice of the polytheistic Roman culture.  A priest was needed to preside at these Eucharists and the bread and wine became symbols of the body and blood of the sacrifice.

She made the point that the Eucharist is a communal remembrance of the Lord's supper and his teaching about all being fed.  She indicated that Jesus time and again spoke about the need to include all people, especially the most marginalized, most ostracized.  Today there is a danger that the Church is falling into an elitist attitude about the Eucharist stemming from the sacrificial rite of the body and blood and who is "worthy" or "not worthy" to receive.  She implied that the early Christian communal Eucharist of the bread and the fish is an alternative to consider. 

The Voice of the Good Shepherd

The Good Shepherd
In his lecture on the Voice of the Good Shepherd, Reverend Ronald Rolheiser talked about hearing God's voice in expected and unexpected places.  Shepherds in the time of Our Lord pastured their flocks together in one fold at night and in the morning they separated their sheep from those of the other shepherds by calling them out by name.  The sheep who heard the voice of their shepherd and followed him were safe but those who did not were likely to be slaughtered that day by whomever they followed.  Rolheiser reflected on how in his own childhood he internalized the voice of his parents and that internal voice was confirmed by the media of the day, his pastor, his teachers and later in the seminary he learned to use that voice in teaching and preaching others.  Today children often have conflicting parental voices and the media presents even more disruption, the voice of the pastor is just one in an array of discordant voices.  By the time a child grows to adulthood in our culture today, it is a real challenge to find an internal voice that is a voice of trusted authority and young people lack the ability to build a positive sense of authentic self.  Reverend Rolheiser went on to describe some of the false voices that distract young adults from hearing the voice of the good shepherd and the danger that places them in.  

I Can't Tell it All

I just returned from three days at the Religious Education Congress in Anaheim with our Vocations Team.  The theme of the days was Voice Infusing Life.  Because the focus was on voice, I wanted to upload audio clips to this blog to share the voices of the Congress with you, but I discovered the material is copyrighted and cannot be recorded and shared.  So, I'm back to the stream of consciousness journaling mode.  Tonight I'll upload brief summaries of the sessions I attended with Fr. Ronald Rohlheiser, Sr. Barbara Reid, Sr. Barbara Fiand, Thomas Groome and Fr. John Bell as well as some overall impressions of the event.  I did video liturgical movement and song from one of the liturgies.  The title of the hymn "I Can't Tell it All" refers to the way I feel about all that Jesus has done for me in my life.    

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Influence of Stone Constitutions

English Dominicans
Archivists of other Dominican Congregations in the United States confirmed that their founders and foundresses consulted the Constitutions of the Dominican Sisters at Stone when writing constitutions for their congregations.  Lois Hoh of Sinsinawa wrote that Mother Emily Power traveled to Stone, England on several occasions, staying with the sisters there and collecting their wisdom regarding a Constitution to replace the one prepared by their founder, Father Samuel Mazzuchelli in 1847. The Sinsinawa constitutions approved by the Holy See in 1888 were based intentionally and largely on the wisdom of the Stone Sisters. Pat Corr of San Rafael wrote that Father Villarrasa guided the foundress of the San Rafael Dominicans, Mother Mary Goemare to the Constitutions of the English Dominican Sisters.  These were "brought over" and adopted on Feb. 2, 1859. Mary Erica Burkhardt of Amityville wrote that Mother Antonine Fischer was elected in 1895 under the Rule of the Second Order, but when the Holy Cross Congregation changed to the Third Order in 1888 they used Constitutions modeled on the Constitutions of the Dominican Sisters of Stone.  Marian Sartain reported that the Nashville Dominicans adopted the unabridged Constitutions of the Dominican Sisters of Stone from 1886-1889.  Later a version was published for use of Third Order Dominican sisters in the diocese of Nashville.  This version was identical in its first part to the Stone text but Part II clarified the status of the community as a diocesan institute.  Suzanne Noffke said that Fr. Jodocus Birkhaeuser wrote the 1892 Constitutions for the Dominican Sisters at Racine after consulting the Constitutions approved for Stone in 1877.  He wrote in 1893 that he hoped to go there before returning from a trip to Europe, but it isn’t known whether he did.  Columbus archivist, Rosalie Graham, reported that the Rule of the Congregation of St. Catherine of Sienna of Stone, England was in use by the St. Mary of the Springs Congregation for some years.  Esther Aherne said that when preparing to write their Constitutions their foundresses did read the Constitutions of the Dominican Sisters of Stone. They also consulted Mother Pia in San Francisco who gave Mother Thomasina her copy of their constitutions as a guide.  Carolyn Crebs of Elkins Park said that at the beginning of their foundation in 1882, the Dominican Rule according to the Constitutions of the Dominican Sisters of the Order of Penance of Langres, France was used, but when their constitutions were adapted for the Third Order in 1889 those of Stone, England were studied.  The final Constitutions borrowed parts from the Constitutions of Langres, France and Stone, England. The governance section was taken entirely from the Stone England Constitutions.

Mother Pia Visiting Stone

Dominican Convent at Stone
In September of 1904 Mother Pia followed up on the Master General recommendation and visited the Dominican Motherhouse in Stone, England.  The community made an excellent impression on her.  She wrote, “A very good spirit reigns in this community.  Very quiet measured demeanor, but not cold; rather plain, mild, friendly.  The Mothers understand different languages; are prudent and sensible.  Very monastic; very sisterly.  Towards superiors, the Sisters are not shyIn Mother Philomena Dormer, provincial, Mother Pia found a kindred spirit with whom she could speak freely.  “She agrees with me regarding Breviary, Domestic Sisters, Enclosure.  I feel greatly relieved that others think as I do.  I do not want to insist on my opinion, for I trust little in myself.  But I thank God for the relief afforded me by this interview.”  Mother Philomena encouraged her to seek papal approbation for the Congregation.  Mother Pia left England greatly reassured.  “I profited by this trip to England.  There I found truly genuine religious, uncontaminated by the Zeitgeist.  Educated but simple.  Nothing of the butterfly spirit.”

Constitutions for the Third Order

Mission San Jose Motherhouse
The Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose followed the Constitutions of the Holy Cross Congregation in Brooklyn from the time they arrived in California in 1876.  These were the Constitutions of the Second Order Dominicans written by Humbert of the Romans, fifth Master General of the Order (1254-1263) and updated in 1847 for the Dominican Sisters in Ratisbon, Germany.  After the separation from Brooklyn the foundress of the Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose, Mother Maria Pia Backes wrote to Racine, Speyer, San Rafael and Stone requesting copies of their constitutions for study.   In November of 1894 she typed the first draft comprised of two parts.  Part I was an English translation of the constitutions approved by the Holy See, August 14, 1874 for the Sisters at Speyer, Germany and Part II was from the constitutions approved by the Holy See for the Sisters at Stone in 1877.  Archbishop Riordan approved the constitutions for Sisters at Mission San Jose in 1895 and Mother Pia sent them to the Most Reverend Andrew Fruehwirth, Master General of the Dominican Order.  At the same time Mother Pia asked the advice of the Master General regarding convents in Europe she should visit to find examples of authentic Dominican life.  The Master General sent word back recommending Speyer and Stone as two of the best examples of Dominican observance in Europe and she resolved to visit them on her next trip to Europe.

During her Last Illness

Mother Margaret
Mother Margaret had a childlike familiarity with Our Lady and conversed with her daily in prayer.  During her last illness, when suffering from excruciating agonies in the back, Margaret one day said, “I am almost ready to fall out with the Blessed Virgin.  Tell her that if she had a bad back I would soon cure her if I could.”  Still she remarked what a blessing she felt in praying to her in this way.  She realized others might think she took liberties but she knew the Blessed Mother understood her when she spoke in this way as a Mother understands her own child.  Mother Francis Raphael Drane wrote, “Such language is beyond criticism, for it is the language of the heart, and has in it something of that ‘heavenly rhetoric, against which the world cannot hold argument.’  For cold-hearted as that world proverbially is, it has not yet claimed to reduce the language of love to the rule and compass of its own sobriety.”

Our Lady of Victories

Pilgrimage at Stone
During her visit to Belgium in 1856, a magnificent carved oak statue of Our Lady of Victories, exhibited in the town-hall of Bruges, attracted her admiration, and, to use her own expression, she “ invited her to Stone,” though well aware that the cost of such a work of art was far beyond her means. Some years afterwards, however, this statue was brought to England, and, through the munificence of a generous benefactor, was presented to the Community. Mother Margaret s delight was absolutely childlike; Our Lady had accepted her invitation; and when the difficulty of locating so large a piece of carving in the church of Stone caused some to suggest its removal to Stoke, she answered decidedly,“ No, on no account ; it was to Stone I invited her, and to Stone she has come.” As it was found impossible to find a place for the image in the church, she began to pray, “that she might know where Our Lady would like to go.” She wished much to build a chapel for the purpose, and went about repeating to herself, “ Wisdom hath built herself a house, she hath hewn out seven pillars.” At last St Anne’s Chapel, in the garden, was assigned as the temporary resting-place of Our Lady of Victories, until such time as the contemplated sanctuary could be reared. The designs for this sanctuary, as they existed in her imagination, were superb indeed. All England was to come there in pilgrimage; it would be a great act of reparation for all the insults offered to the Mother of God.  This image now called Our Lady of Stone resides inside a great lantern on a small hill in the garden at Stone.  Pilgrimages in honor of Our Lady are made by local school children in May.

Drane, Augusta Theodosia (Mother Francis Raphael), Life of Mother Margaret Mary Hallahan: Foundress of the English Congregation of St. Catherine of Siena of the Third Order of St. Dominic, Longmans, Green and Co., New York, New York, 1929, p. 325.

Delirium of Protestant Bigotry

Effigy of Pope
Mother Francis Raphael Drane wrote about the hostile sentiment Mother Margaret encountered and the great anguish she felt as a result.  “It is not to be told what pain she endured when any of the ordinary phraseology of Protestant disrespect to the Mother of God reached her ears. Everyone will remember the delirium of Protestant bigotry which broke out all over England on the appointment of the Catholic hierarchy. No Catholic could at that time drive through London without having his eyes and ears shocked by some blasphemous inscription or disgraceful cry. Cars containing effigies of the Pope, the Cardinal, and the great enemy of souls were paraded through the metropolis as in the days of Shaftesbury and the effigies were afterwards committed all together to the flames. In the city of Exeter, the emblem of our Redemption itself was added to the bonfire which was lighted before the gates of the Bishop's palace. But it was reserved for the Protestants of Bristol to conceive the idea of a yet more horrible exhibition. The proposal was made to dress up an effigy of the Blessed Virgin and flog it through the streets of the city. It is indeed difficult to imagine how a thought so utterly revolting could have suggested itself to any, even nominally, Christian mind, were it not evident that these outbreaks of popular fury often bear the signs of an infernal inspiration.  But when the tidings of what was contemplated reached Mother Margaret, it nearly killed her. She wrung her hands as in agony, and turning her face to the wall, exclaimed repeatedly, ‘I shall die, I shall die; oh, my Mother, I shall die!’ In a letter written at the time she expresses her anguish, and adds, ‘I must go out and rescue her, I fear I shall not be able to restrain myself.’ And she urged some of the Catholic gentlemen to take the law into their own hands, and ‘to go out and fight for the Blessed Virgin,’ wondering how any could be so tame-spirited as to keep at home.  

Drane, Augusta Theodosia (Mother Francis Raphael), Life of Mother Margaret Mary Hallahan: Foundress of the English Congregation of St. Catherine of Siena of the Third Order of St. Dominic, Longmans, Green and Co., New York, New York, 1929, p. 325.

Definition of the Immaculate Conception

Immaculate Conception - December 8, 1854
Mother Margaret believed that the Congregation at Stone owed all that it was able to acquire in the way of virtue and property to the Blessed Mother.  She repaid Our Lady with constant devotion and celebrated all the feasts of Our Lady by giving her a present.  “Sometimes it was a new vestment, or other church ornament, sometimes an orphan received gratis. In speaking of Our Lady, all the childlike simplicity of her nature came out without restraint. She would call her the most endearing names, and say how much she would like to dance before her.”  Mother Margaret early on made a bargain with the Blessed Mother that she would work for her, and in exchange the Blessed Mother would take care of her soul; so she was able to go on and do what she had to do, and leave her soul to Our Lady.  On the occasion of the definition of the Immaculate Conception in 1854, Margaret was overjoyed.  She ordered that the great bell of the convent be rung for two hours in thanksgiving and arranged for the congregation to celebrate the pronouncement with a solemn Triduo.  The quadrangle was illuminated for the occasion at considerable expense.  These extravagant gestures were simply incomprehensible to non-Catholic minds.  But, Margaret saw them as a way of expressing gratitude to the Blessed Virgin for all they had.  Receiving a visit once from a Catholic of high rank, whose devotion to the Blessed Virgin was well known not to be of the warmest kind, this lady expressed her surprise at all that Mother Margaret had done, and, as was not uncommon in such cases, inquired whence she could obtain the means for accomplishing such undertakings. Mother Margaret replied emphatically, “Every stone you see here has been laid by the Blessed Virgin.”  

Drane, Augusta Theodosia (Mother Francis Raphael), Life of Mother Margaret Mary Hallahan: Foundress of the English Congregation of St. Catherine of Siena of the Third Order of St. Dominic, Longmans, Green and Co., New York, New York, 1929, p. 324.

The Best Mortification

St. Joseph the Carpenter
In discerning whether a young woman had a true vocation to religious life, Mother Margaret above all looked for a practical sense of self-sacrifice.  Rather than self-mortification through pious practices, young women were needed to do the work of building the kingdom by caring for the sick, educating the young and spreading the faith in a hostile land.  She wrote, “It is no use persons coming to us who are not willing to suffer everything for the salvation of souls. They must have a heroic spirit, and be ready to bear heat, cold, fatigue, and every other inconvenience. It is easier to say that we delight in mean and abject employments, than it is to do them. We have had experience of this, and all would prefer to wear a hair shirt or a chain, than to clean the kitchen, wash, iron, or cook; though God has commanded all to earn their bread in the sweat of their brow. This is quite lost sight of, and is almost looked upon as a disgrace. Yet it is certain that Our Lord in working as a carpenter must have fulfilled the command, and Our Blessed Lady had no servants to wait on her. The more I see of human nature, the more I feel certain that humble and laborious employments are the best mortification, the shortest way to obtain true humility, and to make us have a proper feeling of charity towards the laborious and the poor. We can ill give lessons to others of things we have not ourselves experienced.” 

Drane, Augusta Theodosia (Mother Francis Raphael), Life of Mother Margaret Mary Hallahan: Foundress of the English Congregation of St. Catherine of Siena of the Third Order of St. Dominic, Longmans, Green and Co., New York, New York, 1929, p.178

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Care of Creation 1 - Self-Communicating God

“The whole of creation can be seen as a single movement, the one grace-filled self-communicating act of the God who can only be described as incomprehensible holy mystery.  From the beginning God’s intention has been to work through the evolution of the cosmos in such a way that creation itself comes to consciousness.  Rooted in matter, creation has always evolved toward spirit, and in and through the human being—the universe coming into consciousness—spirit recognizes itself.”  –Judy Cannato, Field of Compassion pp 59-61
Considering that I live in a world of grace—that I am surrounded, shaped and constituted by grace, the evidence I see that allows me to become more aware of grace is the way in which my elder sisters and those who are burdened by so much suffering and pain are able to carry on with good cheer and graciousness.  I do believe in the paschal mystery that is not just focused on the suffering but the redemption.  Our God and Savior is at work in this throughout all creation, but it is most evident to me in the life of community at St. Joseph Priory.  I, too, find grace in my daily ministry in technology...knowing that it is not so much in having all the answers or the right skills as in having great faith and trust.  By using my intuitive sense that all shall be well I am able bring clarity and peace to situations that seem hopeless or confusing to others.  I credit the divine mystery with this and not my own ability...although I am grateful for the appreciation others show.  The Archangel Gabriel, Patron Saint of Communication, is a special help to me.  I recommend asking for his intercession for all communication difficulties...visible, audible or electronic.

Friday, March 9, 2012

The California Story - Women in Spirit

The California Story from Axiom on Vimeo.

If the video skips and stops, you don't have enough speed or bandwidth to watch from start to finish.

Try downloading it as a Quicktime file first and then viewing it. Go to this website to download:

Plasmic Cloud

This week the earth was blanketed by a giant plasmic cloud.  How cool is that?!  At Mission San Jose this weekend we have our area assembly, so I won't be adding any new material to my blog.  
I hope to resume that next weekend.  Thanks for staying tuned!

The posts that follow are not in chronological order.  Instead I am grouping them according to the resource.  Think of them as note cards that will later be rearranged once I have them all uploaded.  I try to post several every Saturday.   

Below you will find material from the Life of Margaret Mary Hallahan and the Life of Saint Dominic and Sketch of the Order by Mother Francis Raphael Drane and Dominicans at Home in a Young Nation by the Sister Mary Nona McGreal. Next week I will add material from A Peculiar Kind of Mission, Her Days Unfolded, Our Constitutions and comments from the Dominican Archivists.   

Monday, March 5, 2012

Opposition from Within

Despite opposition both from within as well as outside the convent, Mother Margaret kept the hope of rekindling devotion to the Blessed Mother foremost in her plans.  At the end of the year 1856 she had plans to open an orphanage and a hospital the following year for which she would count on the Blessed Mother to provide the necessary funds. “We are going to make a great fuss with Our Blessed Mother” she wrote in her diary as the Feast of the Immaculate Conception drew near.  “Humiliations and crosses, however, were mingled with these hopes. The busy tongue of gossip did not spare the rising Institute, and all the world did not understand the principles that guided Mother Margaret’s conduct. What most perplexed the curious public was her lavish expenditure on all that concerned the service of God, at a time when they had good reasons for believing that the Community was enduring many of the straits of poverty. They argued, that if Mother Margaret were really in want of money, it was strange that she should burn so many candles in the chapel; and they never dreamt that at the very time when remarks of this kind were in circulation she was writing to her Sisters on the subject of their money difficulties, ‘Do not burn one candle less in honor of Our Lord, or His Blessed Mother; we must be sparing to ourselves, but not to God.’ Yet she was far from being indifferent to hostile criticism; we might even say that she was at all times keenly sensitive to unfriendly strictures which betrayed a less generous standard of principles than her own.”

Drane, Augusta Theodosia (Mother Francis Raphael), Life of Mother Margaret Mary Hallahan: Foundress of the English Congregation of St. Catherine of Siena of the Third Order of St. Dominic, Longmans, Green and Co., New York, New York, 1929, p. 178-179

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Turned out of the Chapel

Our Lady of Stone
After the procession Margaret returned to Belgium to solicit alms and procure some religious items not available in England for the convent at Stone.  While she was away she received word that members of her Congregation motivated by local prejudice against devotional images removed the image of Our Lady from the chapel.   This caused Mother Margaret great anxiety.   She told her companions, “When they turned her out of the chapel, I told some of them they might stay away if they liked, but that Our Lady should never be turned out.”  As soon as Mother Margaret returned the image was replaced in the chapel.   Shown in a previous post entitled Processional Image of Our Lady, this statue known as Our Lady of Consolation is now kept in the heritage room at Stone surrounded by candles.   A larger image of Our Lady known as Our Lady of Stone is enshrined in a lantern like encasement on the grounds at Stone.  It is honored in May by a procession of local school children who crown Mother and Child with wreaths of flowers.

Drane, Augusta Theodosia (Mother Francis Raphael), Life of Mother Margaret Mary Hallahan: Foundress of the English Congregation of St. Catherine of Siena of the Third Order of St. Dominic, Longmans, Green and Co., New York, New York, 1929, p. 156-7

Whit-Tuesday Procession

Whit-Tuesday Procession May 2008 in Luxembourg
Mother Margaret prayed for Our Lady to help her in any situation of need and placed all her institutions under her protection and care.  When times were tough financially she asked the sister to “put a light before Our Lady,” and soon a donation would come in answer to their prayers.  This practice never failed them.  Despite the belief of some of the Sisters that such devotional practices were childish, they indulged in them because of the practical results they yielded.  Although many locals including Protestant came to her prayer services, Mother Margaret’s devotions had their detractors among the local populace as well. On Whit-Tuesday, the Tuesday after Pentecost on which some Catholic countries hold a dancing procession in honor of local saints, Mother Margaret resolved to provide a holiday for the Catholic schools.  Mother Margaret arranged a procession of two hundred school children who “walked processionally up Park Street with banners flying, one of these being a banner of Our Blessed Lady.”  This procession was considered audacious and gave rise to many murmurs.  “Mother Margaret and her doll were spoken of in severe terms; and even good Dr. Hendren could not resist telling her that she was a very daring woman.”   Mother Margaret took it as a compliment and assumed everyone must be as pleased as she was to see Our Lady honored in such a festive way.  The Whit-Tuesday dancing procession is still held in eastern Luxembourg and parts of Belgium.  Despite Mother Margaret’s efforts it never did catch on in England.

Drane, Augusta Theodosia (Mother Frances Raphael), Life of Mother Margaret Mary Hallahan: Foundress of the English Congregation of St. Catherine of Siena of the Third Order of St. Dominic, Longmans, Green and Co., New York, New York, 1929, p. 152

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Madonna and Child

Deger's Madonna and Child
The propagation of the Rosary was, of course, the chief instrument used to increase among the people a solid devotion to Our Blessed Lady, but it was not the only means by which Mother Margaret manifested her zeal on this point.  The use of images had been restored in Ireland and the May processions were performed in Waterford.  When she went to Bristol in 1947, Margaret convinced the Rev. P.O. Farrell, OSF to reintroduce the May procession at the Church of Saint Mary’s on the Quay.  She lent him the French “Mois de Marie” from which the meditations were taken, and sent over to Ireland l for an image of Our Lady to be publicly exposed during the month.  She commissioned an artist in Bristol to make a mold from Ernst Deger’s image of the Madonna and Child. From this mold a vast number of small statues were cast until they became very common throughout the area. 

Drane, Augusta Theodosia (Mother Frances Raphael), Life of Mother Margaret Mary Hallahan: Foundress of the English Congregation of St. Catherine of Siena of the Third Order of St. Dominic, Longmans, Green and Co., New York, New York, 1929, p. 147.

Immaculate Conception

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception was always celebrated with special devotion in Stone and considered the feast of their foundation. When the Novitiate house was built in 1852, the church was dedicated to the Immaculate Conception. Although the Stone Dominicans are known canonically as the English Congregation of St. Catherine of Siena, the Congregation was also placed under the protection of the the Virgin Mary and the Immaculate Conception had always been associated with the origin of the Community.

Drane, Augusta Theodosia (Mother Francis Raphael), Life of Mother Margaret Mary Hallahan: Foundress of the English Congregation of St. Catherine of Siena of the Third Order of St. Dominic, Longmans, Green and Co., New York, New York, 1929, p. 118.

Cause of Joy

Mary Cause of Our Joy
Religious images were rare in England in 1845 Father Gentili and Mother Margaret were determined to bring back devotion to the Blessed Virgin through all means available to them.  The prepared a bier adorned with lights and flowers and placing the image of the Blessed Virgin decked with gala wreaths on top of it.  Young girls dressed in white accompanied her on the procession through the streets.  Father Gentili sang a song hailing Mary as the “Cause of our joy.”  The solemn and beautiful procession was made around the church on two nights in a row and crowds turned out to see the sight.  The people were so numerous they filled not only the church and churchyard, but even the adjoining streets.  Mother Margaret’s hope that the “multitudes might have a glimpse of those ancient rites which had returned to triumph over their profane and modern substitute” was fulfilled.  She delighted in knowing that the beloved image she brought with her from Belgium was the first to be publicly carried in England after the reformation.  This public act of reparation offered to the Mother of God was a cause of joy for Margaret for the rest of her life.

Drane, Augusta Theodosia (Mother Francis Raphael), Life of Mother Margaret Mary Hallahan: Foundress of the English Congregation of St. Catherine of Siena of the Third Order of St. Dominic, Longmans, Green and Co., New York, New York, 1929, p. 114.

Birth of the Virgin

Birth of Mary
During the Octave of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin in September Margaret gave a retreat in which she instructed the Sisters to ask God to make them true imitators of Jesus and Mary especially with regard to humility.  She advised them that Mary could teach them better than anyone how to lead a hidden but useful life.   

Margaret claimed that the Blessed Mother taught her to provide for the body as well as the soul and to use her hands, eyes and all her God-given senses to learn what needed to be done and to do it with love.  She cautioned them to beware of the undermining power of self-will and to learn to obey the will of God as Mary did.  She asked them to be like Mary and put all of their human faculties to good use, not by denying them but by spiritualizing them.  She reminded them that the Blessed Mother provided for Jesus and nourished him with her own body.   Later in his public life she cooked for the apostles and took care to ensure everything was provided for the feast at Cana.   She reminded the Sisters not to get so caught up in their pursuit of knowledge and desire for sanctity through fasting that they think they can live without eating.  Life can be sustained without reading and writing, or any other work of the mind, but eating is essential and to provide for it ought to be the zealous aim of all. 

Drane, Augusta Theodosia (Mother Francis Raphael), Life of Mother Margaret Mary Hallahan: Foundress of the English Congregation of St. Catherine of Siena of the Third Order of St. Dominic, Longmans, Green and Co., New York, New York, 1929, p. 106

Rules and Constitutions

Sister Margaret first learned about the Dominican rule from Pere C. B. Moulaert, a Belgian Fathers of the Order, with whom she had become acquainted during the time of her lay association with the Order at Bruges.  Pere Moulaert was the author of a Manual of the Brothers and Sisters of the Third Order.  This was an annotated reprinting of the treatise of the Rev. Pere J. B. Feuillet published in 1845.  Drawing upon this manual Sister Margaret wrote the “Rules and Constitutions, or Customs for the present regulation of the Third Order of our Holy Father St Dominic: under the special protection of the Ever-Blessed Virgin and St. Catherine of Sienna.”  The Dominican initials OP after a Sister's name now stand for Order of Preachers, but originally they stood for Order of Penance.  Dominican Sisters used the initials OSD for Order of Saint Dominic until the early 20th century.  

Drane, Augusta Theodosia (Mother Francis Raphael), Life of Mother Margaret Mary Hallahan: Foundress of the English Congregation of St. Catherine of Siena of the Third Order of St. Dominic, Longmans, Green and Co., New York, New York, 1929, p. 99.

The Little Office

Margaret learned the Dominican practice of praying the Liturgy of the Hours chorally in Belgium and instilled a love of the Divine Office in her Sisters.  In the beginning they prayed the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary in English.  When they had acquired greater fluency in the pronunciation they prayed it in Latin.  The Little Office is a shorter version of the longer liturgical hours prayed by the priests of the Order.  

This version was recommended to the Sisters so they could devote more time to their apostolic ministries.  To this were added the Confiteor and Misereatur and the Salve Regina after Compline.  When the time came to write Constitutions for her Congregation, Margaret advocated for the privilege of praying a modified version of the Divine Office.   

Drane, Augusta Theodosia (Mother Francis Raphael), Life of Mother Margaret Mary Hallahan: Foundress of the English Congregation of St. Catherine of Siena of the Third Order of St. Dominic, Longmans, Green and Co., New York, New York, 1929, p. 96.

May Crowning

Fra Angelico's Coronation of the Virgin
Margaret was the first to bring back the May crowning and other exercises in honor of Our Lady.  She took care to address the Protestants present so that they would not take scandal by the special devotion their Catholic friends had for the Blessed Virgin.  She was overjoyed when as many people came for the exercises as there were on a very full Sunday, nearly a hundred people.  She thought such an outpouring would surely please the Divine Mother and bring about the salvation of England.  Through donations collected the success of both Convent and Hospital were ensured, and the school enrollment increased. 

Drane, Augusta Theodosia (Mother Francis Raphael), Life of Mother Margaret Mary Hallahan: Foundress of the English Congregation of St. Catherine of Siena of the Third Order of St. Dominic, Longmans, Green and Co., New York, New York, 1929, pp. 80

Dancing Before Our Lady

The Royal Psalmist
The Rosary was in disuse when Sister Margaret arrived in England.  Even her closest companions secretly admitted they thought it was a childish sort of devotion but Margaret was able to win people over.  The regular prayer meetings she held for scholars in the night school became so popular that even many Protestants came to hear her prayer, singing, and spiritual reading.  She ended these meetings with the Rosary.  "One afternoon, having assisted her in preparing the schoolroom for the evening Rosary, her friend, Miss G., was astonished to see her, after surveying the altar with simple glee, take hold of her dress in both hands, and execute a little dance before Our Lady."

"Sister Margaret often expressed her love of Our Lady by saying she should like to dance before her ; words which reminded her hearers of the act recorded of the Royal Psalmist, to the character of whose devotion her own bore so remarkable a resemblance.  The schoolroom Rosary evenings had many important results, and the devotion begun at Coventry was taken up at other missions. The Protestants, who came at first out of curiosity, were often induced by their Catholic friends to stay and talk with Sister Margaret, and these interviews led in many cases to conversions."

Drane, Augusta Theodosia (Mother Francis Raphael), Life of Mother Margaret Mary Hallahan: Foundress of the English Congregation of St. Catherine of Siena of the Third Order of St. Dominic, Longmans, Green and Co., New York, New York, 1929, 73-74.