Friday, December 19, 2008

Dominican Freedom

There is one particular characteristic of Dominic's Order of Preachers that, at the time, scandalized members of other religious orders. Dominic's order, of course, was not confined to a monastery, leaving the friars free to travel and move about from one place to another for the purpose of preaching. By contrast, members of the monastic communities followed very strict rules that legislated even the smallest details. Some are still called to that way of life, while others are not. It nonetheless caused a little bit of trouble for Dominic.

Stephen Salagnac (d. 13th century) writes:
[Dominic] used to travel round and send out his first brethren, even though he had only a few and they were indifferently educated and mostly young. Some religious of the Cistercian Order were amazed at this, and particularly at the confident way he sent such young friars out to preach. They set themselves to watch these young men, to see if they could find fault with anything they did or said. [Dominic] put up with this for some time, but one day, filled with a holy boldness, he asked them, "Why do you spy on my disciples, you disciples of the Pharisees? I know, I know for certain, that my young men will go out and come back, will be sent out and will return; but your young men will be kept locked up and will still go out."
In fact, later Masters of the Order tell us of Cistercians who ended up becoming Dominicans. Bl. Jordan of Saxony (d. 1237) mentions Albertinus Dertonensis, a former Cistercian who joined the Order in 1228. Bl. Humbert of Romans (d. 1277) tells of another Cistercian turned Dominican:
Someone once said, who transferred from the Cistercians to the Order of Preachers, that he had endured more discomfort during his few days on the road than he had ever had to put up with in his previous Order. So the exercise of preaching is to be preferred to fasting and other ways of mortifying the flesh, because it too involves heavy mortification but also benefits other people greatly.
In many ways, this also presents a model for lay members of the Order. I may have a career and family that root me to a particular location, but I am able to go places even the friars are unable to go. The words I speak and the way in which I live my life affects where I work, where I shop, and the places I visit.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Score one for conscience

Lest we forget, in spite of war, torture, etc, the Bush Administration has actually accomplished quite a bit on the anti-abortion front. I think it is important to call attention to this.

From the New York Times: Medical ‘Conscience Rule’ Is Issued
The Bush administration, as expected, announced new protections on Thursday for health care providers who oppose abortion and other medical procedures on religious or moral grounds.

“Doctors and other health care providers should not be forced to choose between good professional standing and violating their conscience,” Michael O. Leavitt, the secretary of Health and Human Services, said in a statement on his department’s Web site.

The rule prohibits recipients of federal money from discriminating against doctors, nurses and health care aides who refuse to take part in procedures because of their convictions, and it bars hospitals, clinics, doctors’ office and pharmacies from forcing their employees to assist in programs and activities financed by the department.

“This rule protects the right of medical providers to care for their patients in accord with their conscience,” Mr. Leavitt said.

The Bush administration had signaled its intention to issue the measures, which are part of a flurry of regulations it is announcing before President-elect Barack Obama takes office. The new president will be able to undo the regulations, and is virtually certain to, given his previous comments on the issue. But undoing them will be a time-consuming process...
Ban on partial-birth abortion, elimination of funds spent on abortions abroad, protection of conscience for doctors, limiting of federal funding on human embryonic stem-cell research: these are things for which I am exceedingly grateful. If one were to speak of hope without sounding too cliché, I hope that Obama will work to protect all human life.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Preaching to Young Adults Today

Clearing Away the Barriers: Preaching to Young Adults Today

The Carl J. Peter Lecture, given by Fr. J. Augustine Di Noia, O.P, at the Pontifical North American College 7 December 2008.

Fr. Di Noia identifies three primary barriers that must be overcome in preaching to young adults:

1.) Why we need the Savior who is not just any savior
The first barrier concerns Jesus Christ himself. The most fundamental and prevalent misunderstanding of the Catholic faith that we face, whether in young adults or in their elders, is the notion that it is arrogant to claim that Jesus Christ is the unique mediator of salvation. To ascribe a uniquely salvific role to Jesus Christ seems to constitute a denial of the salvific role of other religious founders and thus could be an affront to their communities.
2.) Why we need Christ to become authentically human
A second barrier concerns what it means to be human. Here the fundamental misunderstanding that blocks the path of many young people is shaped by what has been called the culture of authenticity. This is the idea that somehow being a Christian involves giving up or suppressing what is uniquely human in each one of us and accepting an external criterion or measure which is alien to one’s true self.
3.) Why the moral law is good for us
The third barrier I want to consider concerns the moral life. It is the idea that the moral law is a more or less arbitrary constraint in which certain things are permitted and certain things are forbidden, irrespective of the bearing of these injunctions on human goodness and flourishing.
Some good observations.


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