Last Friday we celebrated the Feast of St. Catherine of Siena together for this 800th Jubilee year with a crowd of Dominican family. The CDN community—along with much-appreciated-support—planned and prepared the logistics while Aquinas Institute graciously hosted the event. Aquinas faculty and staff, the student Brothers, the Dominican Nuns from Springfield, a handful of Dominican aspirants and many Dominican enthusiasts gathered together for prayer, dinner and preaching.
The celebration began with Vespers, which Joye presided from our Dominican Praise prayer book. Megan’s preaching was phenomenal, as usual, as she reflected on Catherine’s words and the wild abandon, unrestrained passion and lovesick longing that God shares with us. One of the Brothers referred to Vespers as a healthy dose of “Woman Church” in honor of our Saint Catherine; and the CDN was honored to offer it to the gracious and receptive attendees.
We packed in 65 folks for dinner in the Commons area at Aquinas—which is quite a feat in itself! After enjoying dinner and good company, there was a special guest-speaker to liven-us-up during dessert. We were blessed to have our own Annie Willits with us—possibly the only speaker that could maintain the attention of a post-dinner crowd enjoying plentiful and various desserts! Her talk about how “Dominic Becomes Us” was poignant and challenging. Her reflections on the Dominican charism—more perfectly referred to as the preaching charism—took us into the deep and challenging territory. How can we live out our mission in a way that confronts the dualism of today’s culture? How do we, as preachers, situate ourselves “at the center of all contradictions” and make this center our pulpit? Does our preaching adequately espouse the mystery of God by embracing paradox as a gift of life? Her talk—speckled with humorous anecdotes and profound poetry—was powerful and engaging. True to form, the clincher was in her closing “Hope, my darlings, is simmering on the world’s backburner. Our responsibility is to fan the flame.”