Tuesday 20th September was a very special day for all of us as we gathered at Rosary Priory to witness and to celebrate Sister Nadiya’s Profession of Final Vows in the Congregation of St Catherine of Siena Newcastle Natal.
Rt. Rev Malcolm Mc Mahon OP Concelebrated Mass together with our Dominican Brethren and friends.
Bishop Malcolm’s Homily
Making religious profession as a Dominican these days shows a deep desire to seek the Truth. And to travel this far, from the Ukraine to England, in your search for God as a companion of Dominic and Catherine, shows a great love for the Word which calls and the Truth you seek. To find God, one must look into the depths of life and living; for it is there, beneath the surface of reality, that we will meet God who loves us with a passion. If he hides his glory from us now, it is purely out of tender regard and thoughtful consideration for the present delicate state of our humanity.
The Word that we preach is also the Word that awakens faith. It coaxes gently and falls upon our human nature like a soft, yet persistent, rain. God warms the seed of endless life sown within us, with the breath of his presence, until the colours of transfigured glory are ripe to unfurl; when eventually, our present perishable nature will put on imperishability and our mortal nature, immortality (1 Cor. 15:53). Life as a Dominican is a voyage of discovery, an adventure on which we set out to explore hidden realities. The navigator on our quest is the Spirit we have received from the risen Christ. This is the Spirit who explores the depths of everything, even the depths of God (1 Cor. 2:11). The Spirit, who has made a home in us, unwraps for us the gift of all gifts, for he unveils the presence of God among us. We can only but be filled, with a sense of wonder and awe as the eternal draws near to us and begins to express himself in palpable form unveiling his name and nature at the appropriate time as Emmanuel – I am with you always!
There unfolds before the eyes of faith, the realisation that at every instant of our existing he is present to us and we to him. The Psalmist expresses it thus: ‘Close behind and close in front you fence me round, shielding me with your hand (Ps 139:5). Indeed, well and truly might we not say, along with the thunderstruck author of Psalm 8: ‘I look up at your heavens, made by your fingers, at the moon and stars you set in place – ah! What are human beings that you should spare thought for them, mere mortals that you should care for them? (Ps 83:4).
Yes, the human person, man and woman, is his work of art (Eph 2:10): the ultimate manifestation of God’s creative genius as Love. As does the artist on canvas and the composer on manuscript, so too does God express who he is, in creating us. We were conceived in his heart as a most loving thought. He fashioned and formed us as the piece de resistance of that overflowing generosity and goodness, which is made real in his giving us life. In such love do we have our origins – the roots of our existence. We are given life because we are loved by God and called to be people who love. It is in loving relationship with our creator Father and with one another, that we discover the fullness of life. In making your profession as a Dominican that loving relationship with God is expressed in the incarnate word preached and present in your life, and that unending yearning for the Truth. The loving relationship with God for you is one that is never satisfied or fulfilled until you are face to face with the Truth, the hidden face of God.
As Dominicans we learn to see beyond that which is obvious and plain to see. To have eyes for the invisible is to learn to see with faith and so be confronted by the passionate God who is true to his name – Emmanuel, God in our midst. To see the invisible is to contemplate God who lies hidden from our senses and to adore him present at the heart of our living. It is by faith that he desires to encounter us, heart to
heart, face to face. This feat of love is achieved by the sending among us of he who is the Father’s intimate and nearest his heart (Jn. 1:18). The beloved Son is infinitely qualified to tell us all about the Father and to be the bearer of his overtures of love and reconciliation for humanity: ‘for on him, the Father, God himself, has set his seal (Jn. 6:27).
Christ is the priest who admits us to that holy and secret place; Where God waits to keep tryst with us. Christ is the prophet of the invisible who calls the church into being and walks with us towards the hidden reality of the kingdom. Christ is the king and head of the Church which is his body (Col 1:18). Therefore, in Him, we are able to reach up and touch the mystery of Love that is God. In Christ, we are caught up in his fiery embrace.
Much of our modern age is deprived of beauty, and starved of mystery. It is, therefore, an ever more vital aspect of our Christian vocation to have a vision of reality that transcends the horizon of the merely natural and purely perceptible. For there remains always a burning thirst at the core of every human life: As a deer longs for running streams, so longs my soul for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, the God of life; when shall I go to see the face of God? (Ps.42:1-2).
Nothing less than the real God, the living God, can quench such a desire. ‘When shall I go to see the face of God? Psalm 42 is the song of a pilgrim who is homesick with longing for the temple in Jerusalem, the place where, it was believed, God dwelt. In our own day, however, the apostle Paul asks us this question: ‘Didn’t you realise that you were God’s temple and that the Spirit of God was living among you? (1 Cor. 3:16-17).
In your act of profession you Nadiya, in opening our eyes to God’s presence among us, to the fact that we are that temple, makes us aware that we are daughters and sons of the Father and therefore, sisters and brothers of one another.
May our Sister Catherine and Dominic our Father pray for you this day and accompany you on your Dominican journey into Truth.