Last week the novices of the Order of Friars Preachers –the Dominicans of the Province of Saint Joseph– heard the following talk by Dominican Father André-Joseph LaCasse. Father LaCasse is the pastor of the Church of Saint Gertrude, Cincinnati, OH. I am not a Dominican but I have great affection for the Dominican vocation and many friends are of that persuasion, however many readers of this blog are not Dominicans. So, I thought after reading LaCasse’s talk there is something we can all be helped by what was said about the fraternal life the Dominican Order. In my estimation Father LaCasse’s thoughts are applicable to all states of the Christian life: the single person, the married couple, the Capuchin, the secular priest, bishop, etc. In the School of Community (of CL) we’ve been working on Father Luigi Giussani’s notion of charity and sacrifice and are about to start the section on virginity. And I ask myself: How is it that as a Christian I live in a state of perpetual discernment of faith, hope and charity through a life of sacrifice? In what concrete ways do I live honestly? Well, I’m off to confession to find that out. You?
You are privileged here because you
live with friars who have lived this life for quite some time. In our community
we have two jubiliarians, one who is close to being a jubiliarian, and the rest
of us who have lived this life for over twenty years. Our lives as religious is
a steady progress towards perfection, but a perfection that experiences many
imperfections along the way. Our lives are not extraordinary. None of us has
won prestige. None of us is in the limelight. We live ordinary lives of
consecration, hoping that we can do our best to advance the cause of Jesus
Christ and his Church.
The Dominican life is a life of
prayer, study, and the apostolate. Most days are ordinary days where you are
called to be simple servants of the Church. Do you desire to be a servant? Are
you willing to die to your own desires in order to do the desire of God manifested
through the will of our superiors? In a real sense you will not be able to
answer this question until something is asked of you that takes real sacrifice
and humility. But still the question needs to be asked now: Am I willing to die
to myself and become a servant of the Church? The question needs to be answered
now because from the very beginning of your discernment you must be brutally
honest with yourself.
Why have you been called to our
life? Certainly not because somehow you will receive consolation from the
brethren. Trust me that will not happen. What you will receive from the
brethren are men who place expectations on one another to strive for
perfection. I live this life because I know that left to myself I could not be
the Catholic man that God has called me to be without my Dominican life. I
depend on my brothers to expect me at prayer, and I miss brothers who for
whatever reason cannot be at prayer. I depend on my brothers to join me at the
conventual Mass, and I miss the brothers who cannot attend. I depend on my
brothers to see my faults and take me to task, and although I’m not fond of
being corrected, I would never want to live with brothers who ignore my
I depend on the fellowship and
companionship of my brothers, but I desire intimacy with Christ and Our Lady
alone. Only too often in my life I have seen brothers who disregard the
fundamentals of our life, and each and every times they have left our
For we who are Dominicans, the unexamined life is unacceptable. Dominicans are
a critical group of men living together. If you are not good at taking
criticism you are certainly not meant to be a Dominican. You won’t survive if
you can’t take criticism. Nothing, absolutely nothing, does not receive review
in our lives; hopefully from yourselves and assuredly from your brothers.
St. Paul tells us today, stop
passing judgment before the time of the Lord’s return. Although in the end it
will ultimately be God who judges our soul, the time of the Lord’s return could
be any time, and proper judgment is critical for our lives. As St. Paul reminds
us today, God will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and manifest the
intentions of the hearts. So what is your intention and is it pure? Have you
come to our life because you are inspired by our life, and does that desire to
make a difference continue to burn in your hearts?
The Prophet Isaiah this morning in
the Office of Readings told us, The noble man plans noble things, and by noble
things he stands. So are you striving for noble things? Why exactly are you
here and does staying here still make sense for you? I certainly hope it does.
In the end we depend completely on
God’s grace. St. Irenaeus told us this morning, “By his own powers man
cannot see God, yet God will be seen by men because he wills it.” God
wills that we be in communion with him. This is the greatest gift of a
religious vocation: to see God.
St. Irenaeus continues: “As
those who see light are in the light sharing its brilliance, so those who see
God are in God sharing his glory, and that glory gives them life. To see God is
to share in his life.”
To be a Dominican is to share in
God’s glory, anything else is a compromise of our life as Dominicans.
Please be assured of the prayers of
your senior brothers as you continue discerning your calling to our way of