Thursday, May 15, 2014

Being Dominican

We have been blessed with Sr. Annie Willits and Fr. Jim Barnett who have been giving us a "Lands of Dominic" experience. Before I came to this 5-day "workshop", I saw several photos of the presentations, and so, I thought that we would go for a virtual journey. Well, partially, we did go for a virtual journey, but I think the journey really came from how we integrated what we heard with our stories, spirituality, knowledge, and with our background, etc. I felt that I was on a spiritual journey, just like during this novitiate year we have been on the journey.

As Dominic's story was unwinding and developing for us, I felt more and more that this experience was enfolding me. I think that many others felt the same. Also, I felt that through the story of Dominic, God has been revealed to us as we never experienced.

For me, becoming a Dominican was mostly about something I was enthusiastic about, or thought that they were an awesome community of people of prayer, risk-takers, people of justice, people of compassion, etc. However, during this week, another aspect of Dominican spirituality became real. It is relationship. Relationship with God, relationship with other and with myself, and becoming brothers and sisters for one another.

Everything just became so real – not ‘just’ that I would like to be part of the Dominicans and serve God as a Dominican, but it became real to me what it means to BE Dominican. 

At first, being a Dominican meant that we felt being called to proclaim the Word of God to everyone through our being and doing, embodying the Truth.

Since I was a child, one of my favorite books has been "The Little Prince" by Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry. In that book, there are many deep thoughts that could be quoted, but I just share now one of them: "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye." We, Dominicans could rephrase this: we tuck our head into our heart - we bring everything in prayer and then we let everything that we do come from prayer. We observe and study, we pray, we dialogue in community, then show compassion, and then respond to the needs and do something on behalf of justice. During 'Lands of Dominic', Sr. Annie simply said: "If you are able to see with your heart, you begin to understand the tangible humanity."

But then this year, I came to know that being Dominican has just as much to do with relationships (which I truly felt and witnessed this year within the Dominican family.) Maybe it is vocation, "a place where our deep gladness meets the world's need" (Frederick Buechner), so maybe it is vocation that draws us to the Order of Preachers; but it is the mission (proclaiming God's Word) and the relationship that draw us together, Dominicans.

Collaborative Dominican Novitiate (CDN) is a place for formation, but it is also a place to deepen our relationship with God, to further discern God’s desire, and to have a quality experience of Dominican life, community, prayer, study and ministry.

Throughout this year, we experienced all these, and deepened the experience with the “Armchair of the Lands of Dominic.” I have a deeper sense of how we become brothers and sisters to each other, how we make family, how the Dominican family is a model of the Church, and bringing the Gospel joyfully to everyone like our brother Dominic did. CDN provided us many opportunities this year to have that experience. We took classes, celebrated Mass and ate together with our brothers at Aquinas Institute of Theology , we prayed together and celebrated Mass together each week, and celebrated Thanksgiving and Feast of St. Catherine with our brothers at the priory, we went over to knit together, played music together, shared laughs and losses, had dinner together, had panel discussions on the vows and the four pillars of Dominican life. The doors were always open both ways. We also met many Dominican brothers and sisters who were professors or were just stopping by while traveling, etc. We went to several trips, where we met the bigger Dominican family, and there, we were welcomed and everyone made each place a home for us. Thank you, Dominicans, for giving us the experience what it means to be a Dominican today. Also, thank you, all Dominican sisters, brothers, friars, Megan, Joye, our Congregational Formation Representatives: Srs. Cathy, Mary Ann, Sue, and Theodora, Board of the CDN, and supporting Dominican congregations for helping us having this experience.
I am not writing a blog like I usually do: telling you every single bit of the experience of the 'Lands of Dominic', because I am still processing. (I do let you know that it has been a very powerful and meaningful experience.) Rather, I chose to give you two snapshots:

  • A Bible passage, because Dominic and the Word of God were travelling companions, and it is very meaningful for us Dominicans, 
  • a few questions that were heard during "Lands of Dominic." 
Bible passage:
"If you remain in my Word, you will truly be my disciples, you will know the truth and the truth shall set you free." (John 8:31-32)

  • What attracted you to the Order of Preachers and what continues to attract you to it?
  • Would you be willing to share any experience you have had in the Dominican family?
  • How does being a Dominican help you live fully your vocation?
  • What are we doing with the inheritance Dominic left us?
  • Our mission is about God. How do we do justice to God?
  • Is there anything else you would like to share with us about being Dominican?

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