During this Christmas season, I have had the opportunity to reflect and pray with my Adrian Dominican Sisters, whether at liturgy, in prayer and in conversation. I feel richer for the insights that have come up during all these times. I have been reminded about humble shepherds being overwhelmed in night meadows by the angels’ chorus of Gloria. I have journeyed with the magi as they traveled to bring gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to a baby. I have also been wondering about what the Christmas season has to teach us about being Dominican Preachers.
Dominicans have a long held devotion to Mary, and I can see in her a model for letting the Word of God take flesh within her. Mary didn’t just do this in the physical sense, but she was open to all the ways the Word of God continued to act in her life. Meister Eckhart wrote about the need to become pregnant with the Word of God and then to give birth to the word. This is the movement in the Dominican motto of “contemplata aliis tradere,” that there is the return to contemplative prayer that then compels us outward to preach and to serve the People of God.
Throughout this year, us novices have been encouraged to develop our identity as preachers. How can I communicate the love of God in such a way that it set the hearts around me on fire? For myself, I feel the self-doubt that comes out of my own position as a young woman. I am surrounded by women who bring with them years of wisdom and experience, and I am keenly aware of how much more I have to learn.
Cutting through my own insecurities come these stories around Christmastime that remind us of Jesus’ youth. Jesus did not appear a fully formed adult, but as a baby, the same as every other person to walk the Earth. Yet, even as a baby, Jesus had something to teach everyone around him. When the shepherds and magi saw Jesus, they didn’t necessarily know what they had witnessed, but they were profoundly changed by the experience. We hear about this in the story of the Magi where they return home by a different way. They took a different road back home, but they approached the journey differently. The experience of meeting Jesus, even as a baby, allowed them to see through Herod’s deception. Then there is the story of Jesus in the temple. We are told that Jesus was around twelve years old, and that he was teaching the elders in the Temple, who were amazed at his wisdom. Even as a baby or a youth, Jesus was preaching to those around him.
|Stained glass window in Holy Rosary Chapel |
at the Adrian Dominican Sisters Motherhouse
There are not many stories about Jesus before he entered his public ministry, but I treasure those stories that we do have, because they speak to how God works in our youth. These stories remind me that the Word of God is spoken in often surprising places, and that all I need to do is to be open to that surprise, both in myself and in those around me.