Sunday, November 09, 2008

Lay Dominican: Notes on the Rule

In two and a half months, I will be admitted to the Order of Preachers (Dominicans) as a lay candidate (aka novice), and I am anticipating this very much! This period of candidacy precedes temporary profession and lasts approximately one year. At the heart of this undertaking is the fact that I am discerning a vocation, which means, of course, that if I am called to profession as a Lay Dominican, I am called to be lay, to be Dominican, and to exist in today's world -- first and foremost within my family, and then my community, my career, my country, etc. It is a vocation that concerns itself with engaging the culture with that thing we call veritas or truth, being attentive to the scientia signorum temporum or signs of the times, and understanding the world's parameters through the study of current issues, witnessing to it through preaching by word and deed.

From Tom over at Disputations:
This point is key to understanding Lay Dominicans: We are both lay and Dominican. If we fail to be both, then we fail to live according to our Rule.

There are many ways we can fail. We can fail to be lay by thinking of ourselves as mini-monks, as members of a quasi-secret religious sect whose ways are not those of mere mortal laity. We can fail to be lay by believing that paying our dues and attending our meetings meets our duties as lay members of Christ's Church.

We can also fail to be Dominican by getting hopped up on the externals -- the culture and history and customs of the Order -- and never quite get around to sanctifying ourselves or preaching to others. We can fail to be Dominican by neglecting to form ourselves according to the vivifying spirit of St. Dominic.

We can, I bet, fail in many different ways all at once.

But there are also many different ways to succeed. If you've met one Dominican, you've met one Dominican, and the lay state doesn't impose much in the way of uniformity either. The key to success, written into the very structure of the Fundamental Constitution, is to maintain both aspects, to simply be what you say you are: a Lay Dominican.
Fundamentally, are we in this merely for ourselves and the warm fuzzies of being a part of the greatest religious order in the world? Or are we interested in being sanctified, made holy, and tasked to confront the world with the Gospel?

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