Thursday, August 07, 2008

... In the Lord's Garden, with Dominic

Tomorrow, we observe the great Feast of St. Dominic, founder of the Order of Friars Preachers (Dominicans). The praises of St. Dominic and his service to God are sung by the great poet Dante (through the voice of St. Bonaventure) in Canto XII of the Paradiso:
Dominic was his name, whose work and worth
I publish, as the husbandman whom Christ
Called to His garden to help till the earth.

Right well the friend and messenger of Christ
He showed him, for the first love he displayed
was love for the first counsel given by Christ...

With Apostolic sanction guaranteed,
Equipped with doctrine and with zeal as well,
Like some high torrent thundering down at speed

On briars and brakes of heresy he fell
Uprooting them, and still was swift to go
where opposition was most formidable.

From him, unnumbered rillets took their flow
To irrigate the Catholic garden-plot
Thenceforth, whence all its bushes greener grow.
Five years ago, I determined that whatever my vocation entailed, it would be linked, in some way, to St. Dominic. And yet, I had no idea how that would be, considering I was far from any Dominican communities; in fact, I had no physical exposure to any Dominicans save those I had met on-line, particularly to those who had made (or who aspired to make) profession in the Third Order of St. Dominic (aka Dominican Laity). Moved, as it were, by their witness and devotion to Truth (that is, veritas), I joined the movement of Lay Dominicans here in Houston many months ago as an inquirer.

While everybody is called in grace to holiness, it is certainly true that not everyone is called to attach themselves to a religious order. The Rule of the Lay Chapters of St. Dominic states from the very beginning:
Among the Christian faithful, men and women living in the world, in virtue of their Baptism and Confirmation, have been made partakers in the prophetic, priestly and royal mission of our Lord Jesus Christ. They are called to make Christ present to the peoples so that the divine message of redemption may be heard and welcomed by all everywhere.
Nonetheless, the Dominican way of life, as that of any religious order, offers those who are called to it a particular way of cultivating their relationship with Christ and serving Him in the world. As our Rule goes on to make clear:
Some of these Christian faithful, moved by the Holy Spirit to live according to the spirit and charism of Saint Dominic, are incorporated into the Dominican Order through a special commitment to their appropriate statutes... They have a distinctive character in both their spirituality and their service to God and neighbor. As members of the Order, they share in its apostolic mission through prayer, study, and preaching according to the lay state.
Such is it for me, called fundamentally to preach! praedicare! Cajoled by the Spirit, I began, many years ago, to develop a spiritual life which, as it turned out, coincided with the Four Pillars of Dominican Life: Prayer, Study, Community, and Apostolate (Preaching). In the coming weeks and months, I will devote time to fleshing out my contemplata, or the fruit of my contemplation, as it were. Please pray for me.

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