Saturday, August 28, 2010

On Waldensians and Dominicans

I rather liked this brief little tale written by Gerald de Frachet, an early Dominican friar, concerning Peter of Aubenas and his entrance to the Dominicans.  This story is also recorded in the Lives of the Brethren:
Brother Peter of Aubenas, who served as prior and as lector in Provence and who ran his course in the Order happily to its end, has described how he came to join the Order.  When he was practicing medicine in Genoa and had already made a promise to join the Order, the Poor Men of Lyons, also called the Waldensians, had such a disturbing effect on him that he was in great doubt which of the two he ought to follow.  He was rather more drawn to the Waldensians he found there, because he saw in them more outward signs of humility and of the virtues of piety, while he considered the friars too cheerful and showy.

So one evening, when he was brooding unhappily about this, not knowing what to do, he knelt down and asked God with all his heart, weeping profusely, to reveal to him, in his mercy, what he ought to do in this dilemma.  After his prayer he went to sleep, and shortly afterward he imagined that he was walking along a road with a dark wood on the left hand side of it, in which he saw the Waldensians all going their separate ways, with sad, solemn faces.  On the right side of the road was a very long, high wall, which was extremely beautiful.  He walked along it for some time and at last came to a gate.  Looking in, he saw an exquisite meadow, planted with trees and colorful with flowers.  In it he saw a crowd of Friars Preachers in a ring, with joyful faces raised towards heaven.  One of them was holding the Body of Christ in his upraised hands.  This sight delighted him and made him want to join them; but an angel who was guarding the gate blocked his way and said, "You will not enter in here now."  He started to weep bitterly.  Then he woke up and found himself bathed in tears and his heart joyful instead of his previous distress.  After some days, when he had dispatched some business he was obliged to do, he entered the Order. 

I heard this and a great deal more from his own lips.  He was a very contemplative man, and the Lord revealed many things to him in the Order and about the Order.

Fr. Rutler on Ad Orientem

Fr. George Rutler has a commentary concerning liturgical reform in First Things, brought to us courtesy of the New Liturgical Movement (and others).  Among his many points, he writes:
While I am glad for the new and more accurate translation of the Mass, which is not perfection but closer to it than one deserves in an imperfect world, a far more important reform would be the return of the ad orientem position of the celebrant as normative. It is the antidote to the tendency of clerisy to impose itself on the people. When a celebrant at Mass stops and says, “This is not about me,” you may be sure he thinks it may be about him. It would be harder for him to harbor that suspicion were he leading the people humbly to the east and the dawn of salvation.
My thoughts exactly.  Ad orientem, which refers to the posture of both the congregation and the celebrant facing East during the celebration of the Eucharist, was largely done away with in most parishes after the Second Vatican Council.  However, the council never called for this, and there is a growing awareness that doing away with it was a grave mistake.  It should once again be made normative, with, of course, proper catechesis so that the people understand what it means and why it is important.

Jordan of Saxony

Concerning Jordan of Saxony, I thought this was apropos.  From the Lives of the Brethren:
[Jordan] was asked once why arts men came thronging to join the Order [of Preachers, the Dominicans], while theologians and canon lawyers held back.  He answered, "Country people, who are used to drinking water, get drunk on good wine much more easily than noblemen and townspeople, who do not find wine very strong because they are used to it.  Arts men drink the plain water of Aristotle and other philosophers all week, so when they are offered the words of Christ or his disciples in a Sunday sermon or on a feast day, they fall victim at once to the intoxication of the Holy Spirit's wine, and hand over to God not only their goods but themselves.  But these theologians are always listening to the words of God, and they go the same way as the country sacristan who passes the altar so often that he loses his reverence for it and frequently turns his back on it, while outsiders bow reverently towards it."

When the Church Was Young

From an article written by Mike Aquilina concerning youth ministry in the early centuries of the Church.
... in all the documentary evidence from all the ancient patriarchates of the East and the West, there's not a single bulletin announcement for a single parish youth group.

Yet the Fathers had enormous success in youth and young-adult ministry. Many of the early martyrs were teens, as were many of the Christians who took to the desert for the solitary life. There's ample evidence that a disproportionate number of conversions, too, came from the young and youngish age groups.

How did the Fathers do it? They made wild promises.

They promised young people great things, like persecution, lower social status, public ridicule, severely limited employment opportunities, frequent fasting, a high risk of jail and torture, and maybe, just maybe, an early, violent death at the hands of their pagan rulers.

The Fathers looked young people in the eye and called them to live purely in the midst of a pornographic culture. They looked at some young men and women and boldly told them they had a calling to virginity. And it worked. Even the pagans noticed how well it worked.
I have often found that we are afraid to challenge youth.  Too often youth ministry and campus ministry are focused solely on social gatherings than they are about forming the soul and the conscience.  Yet, we can't be afraid to challenge youth and young adults, giving them an invitation to a truly radical way of life.  Embracing the Gospel is radical and counter-cultural.  They should be taught honestly the truths of the Faith by people who aren't ashamed of them, especially concerning matters in which the Church is indeed counter cultural, such as when it comes to artificial contraception, abortion, and same-sex marriage.  Yet, they also need to be challenged to be charitable and to live out their vocation with a truly compassionate concern for others: for the prisoner, for the poor, and for the salvation of souls.  Yes, the Gospel is radical!


Related Posts with Thumbnails