Katy touched up a bit on the study in her blog: "The Pillars of life." So, by now, you know that study is one of the Dominican four pillars (if you don’t know, I invite you to read about it to catch up.)
I would like to continue to play with the thought of study and where we go from there.
If one would need to picture a Dominican, what would one do?
If you Google "Dominican" you'll see many pictures, first maps of the Dominican Republic, but later the religious content comes up, too. Moving away from the black and white colors and the dog with the torch in its mouth, what is it that characterizes a Dominican?
How would you draw a picture that would be common in many Dominicans?
Something common about what St. Dominic did long time ago and what Dominicans do today is, that Dominicans
- study the Word for personal relationship, knowledge of God and that it might influence the culture,
- and study the culture of our days.
So, for many, the picture is easy: it would be a person with a Bible (studying the Word of God) in one hand and a newsletter or iPad (studying the culture of our days) in the other hand.
The book of Proverbs says that “then you will understand what is right and just, what is fair, every good path; for wisdom will enter your heart, knowledge will be at home in your soul, discretion will watch over you, understanding will guard you…” Proverbs 2:9-11.
In the light of this, I would like to share how Dominicans study.
Study as towel for foot-washing
I heard it once from Sr. Carla Mae Streeter OP, when she was teaching about Dominican spirituality, that study is the towel for foot-washing, so that after studying the intelligence can be used to serve others. Something that really impresses me about Dominicans is that Dominicans don’t just study for earning degrees, or just for personal achievement, but Dominicans study so that the knowledge can be internalized and the intelligence can be used to serve others.
Study isn’t just finding and learning stuff… Study is an on-going formation and bridging God’s Word with the world: studying, then bringing it into prayer, discovering what God has to say about that, then following the movement of the Spirit responding to what’s happening in the world on behalf of God.
Something cool about the novitiate is that we are in St. Louis, where Aquinas Institute (http://ai.edu) is. Aquinas is one of the few schools in the U.S. that offer preaching, and it's the only place that offers Doctorate degree in preaching. Even better, it is offered not only to men (seminarians or brothers) but to everyone, including women and lay people as well, so we, Dominican novices, are taking it. We have been learning about the different skills of preaching and also learned how we can best communicate that Word to this culture, how we can bring the Good News to everyone on behalf of God.
The challenge nowadays…
We are auditing classes; therefore, really the grade is only determined by God, so getting good grades at Aquinas is not a challenge… I think the challenge is that generations have changed a lot. We live in the world of technology. In class, we have been learning about different styles of preaching, these two weeks, our focus was on preaching online.
The Internet is used for so many purposes… In terms of preaching, there are many great websites for helping us study and deepen our relationship with God (http://word.op.org ; http://www.preacherexchange.com ; http://www.usccb.org/bible/reflections/index.cfm and of course, http://oppeace.org) However, I think there aren’t as many people who have heard about these websites as many know about Facebook. Facebook is a great way to share what’s going on in our life… Part of preaching is giving personal witness. However, Facebook is mainly used for social media in which people stay in contact with each other, share photos and daily happenings, and to get updates from the pages they like. But, what if people would use Facebook to share their faith? Well, religion is a touchy question, and Jesus doesn’t want us to just follow him on Twitter or on Facebook, he literally wants us to follow him…
But still, what if each time we go on Facebook and read an update (on family or happenings on our liked pages) we would face it and study it as a Dominican?
- What catches our attention?
- What is God saying to us with that?
- How can we internalize that information and use that it to serve others?
I think our world would be a better world, if we would study and use every opportunity to serve: offering God’s love to others in everything.