Preaching


The OP after our names stands for “Order of Preachers,” the formal name of the religious order founded in 1216 by St. Dominic. As Dominicans, we preach with our lives—in both word and deed—guided by a search for truth (veritas) and a commitment to contemplate and share the fruits of our contemplation (contemplate et aliis tradere). 

Our Dominican lives are shaped by the interconnecting movements of study, prayer, communal life, and ministry. 

Dominic so firmly believed in the importance of study to the preaching mission that he provided a rule of “dispensation” from other responsibilities in the event they interfered with study. We are women committed to study. Through prayer and contemplation we interiorize our learnings and enter into communion with the Source of all truth. Our communal life orients us to the common good of the whole Earth community. And in ministry, our preaching takes effect.

As women of the Gospel, our preaching is also expressed in word. Read reflections on the Word of God posted by Adrian Dominican Sisters and Associates on the Praedicare Blog below.

 


Preaching for Christmas Eve 2023 by Sister Elise Garcia, OP

2023 Christmas Eve
Preaching by Sister Elise Garcia, OP, Prioress

Sunday, December 24, 2023
Isaiah 9:1-6
Titus 2:11-14
Luke 2:1-14

Sister Elise Garcia, OP

 

“Divine Love Becomes Incarnate.”

That’s the wonderful title of the chapter in a new commentary that begins with today’s Gospel. The commentary is part of a marvelous new series offering a feminist interpretation for every book of the Bible. It’s titled, Wisdom Commentary, and its editor and co-author is our Grand Rapids Dominican Sister Barbara E. Reid, OP.

Divine Love Becomes Incarnate. Isn’t that precisely what we hold in wonder and awe in our hearts every year at this time? That God so loved the world as to incarnate Divine Love, taking on human flesh – flesh conceived in a woman’s womb, where the alchemy of life forged over billions of years of evolution is recapitulated in one cell after another, with elements made from stardust. It’s no different than the way each one of us became flesh in our own mother’s wombs, growing from atoms to cells to limbs with the same cosmic stuff that made frogs and whales, sparrows and elephants.

In a remarkable poem, Gerard Manley Hopkins compares Mary, the Mother of God, to the air we breathe “which by life’s law my lung must draw and draw.” The very air we breathe reminds him of her who, he writes, “gave God’s infinity dwindled to infancy welcome in womb and breast, birth, milk and all the rest.” It was “Of her flesh he took flesh.”

These tangible details and others we find in today’s Gospel are not insignificant. They speak of God’s intent and the meaning of the incarnation.

As Luke tells the story, God’s infinity was dwindled to infancy in the womb of what we know from biblical scholars and Scripture was a poor and astonished Jewish girl. The infant Jesus was born to her and her accepting fiancé as they made the journey away from home to take a census required by the oppressive Roman empire for purposes of economic exploitation. They could not find shelter, so Mary gave birth to the infant in a stall for animals and then laid him in a manger, which is a feeding trough. The Divine revelation of this extraordinary birth came not to Caesar Augustus but to shepherds, who in those days were women as well as men, out in the fields tending their flock at night.

Over the years we have taken all the harsh edges off this story, depicting it in beautiful and charming nativity scenes. No shepherds that smell like the sheep. No signs of Mary’s hours of pain in labor. No evidence of the hunger of poverty or the persistent fear of violent oppressors. These are all tangible realities of the time and place into which Divine Love became incarnate.

That is why an image now circulating around the Internet is so piercing in its truth-telling. It’s an image of Mary and Joseph watching over the infant Jesus, lying on a pile of rubble in the Holy Land, surrounded by bombed-out, collapsing buildings. The image speaks of the truth of the unutterable horror of war – and of it being the probable site of Divine Love incarnate today.

As God’s infinity dwindled into infancy and became flesh in Mary’s body more than 2,000 years ago, so has God’s infinity dwindled into each one of us as the ever-present light of Christ. The Prince of Peace we await is alive within each one of us, awaiting the way we – each in our own tangible particularity – will give birth to peace on Earth.

We heard it said years ago in Medellín: “Peace is not found, it is built.”

And so as we celebrate this beautiful Christmas Eve, when Mary is tending God’s infinity dwindled into infancy, let us call on her to help us tend that Divine Love incarnate within our own hearts so that together we can build the peace we all long for in our beloved Earth home.

Perhaps we can join with Gerard Manley Hopkins in the prayer to Mary he wrote in closing his poem:

Be thou then, thou dear
Mother, my atmosphere; …
Stir in my ears, speak there
Of God’s love, O live air,
Of patience, penance, prayer:
World-mothering air, air wild,
Wound with thee, in thee isled,
Fold home, fast fold thy child.

 

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LINKS

word.op.org - International Dominican Preaching Page

Catholic Women Preach - Featuring deep spirituality and insights from women

Preach With Your Life - Video series by Adrian Dominican Sisters

 


 

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