Dear brothers, sisters and friends,
Since January 6, 2019 we have been here in Saint Louis to begin our second half of our program. It was after a one month Christmas break in which we went back to our respective communities. It was another great time to reconnect to our communities and we happened to all go to our mother houses.
Upon arrival here in our CDN community, we immediately entered into our busy program in the middle of a very cold winter: pursuing our studies at Aquinas Institute, even though we only each took one class because we have more studies in the house. We continue with our ministry of learning and helping the young girls during their religion class at Marian Middle School.
Every Wednesday we have been having our Inter-Congregational Novitiate on different topics. Next week we will have a quite intense week on Psycho/Sexual Development. We have also been having some reflections and discussion on Religious life special topics with our dear Sister Elyse OP. Among the classes we are having in the house with our directors is the story and life of Saint Dominic. It is a good opportunity for us to learn about Dominican Spirituality. The book which has served us for our study so far is entitled Saint Dominic: The Story of a Preaching Friar by Donald J. Goergen OP. Allow us to share with you some of our simple insights and outstanding points which stayed with us in these Dominican Life seminars. In our discussions, we took one chapter after another, and these are the questions which led us.
What attracted or challenged you in this chapter? What did you resist and why? What questions did this chapter evoke in you? Answer for you? How does this reading affect your discernment of Dominican Religious Life?
In our study and discussions we learned about how the Order started, expanded and the Dominican spirituality portrayed by the life and history of Saint Dominic. However, we came to understand that the Dominican way of life is deeply rooted in the Gospel itself and not in Saint Dominic. In his simplicity he just wanted to be seen as one of the brethren, a simple itinerant and contemplative preacher. He was able to be both deeply contemplative and deeply active. He was a man of prayer with a mission, a contemplative mission. It was a call for us to evaluate how we are able to balance our interior and exterior life, our busy active schedule and our prayer life, and how do we allow our contemplation which boils inside us to boil over?
In this article, we cannot go without mentioning our resistance to mendicancy as lived by Saint Dominic. We had a long conversation on mendicancy and how it is still lived in some ways and not necessarily like during Saint Dominic’s time. We came to the realization that many of our congregations depend on donations from people of good will and that may be our form of mendicancy today.
‘’Mendicancy and voluntary poverty were at the heart of Dominic’s evangelical strategy.’’ He told his brethren, ‘’ Have charity, preserve humility and possess voluntary poverty.’’
The above statement from Saint Dominic answered some questions on our previous discussion in relation to material poverty. The question was how do we really live poverty when we seem to have what we need? Our response is to make choices for simplicity, despite knowing that we have much. In addition to that, we came to a clearer understanding of our ministry of preaching. We are not an order of homilists but an order of preachers. Preaching is broader, as it involves our witness of living the gospel values by our deeds. Giving homilies is just one part of it. This can be understood as the using of words when necessary.
All in all, we need to remember that DOMINIC WAS AN ASCETIC WHO ENJOYED HIS WINE; we are also having time to enjoy our 'wine' here despite our busy schedule. Time has not been on our side, it has been our greatest enemy but we have been managing it. This winter season though very cold, we are not missing its beauty. We celebrate birthdays for a full week for those who want it! We create time for games, without forgetting our free and special cooking!
Dear sisters, brothers, and friends, our knowledge and understanding about Dominican spirituality may still be limited in various ways. As always, we count on your support and help as we continue learning and growing as Dominicans.