In early November, the Saint Joseph Province of the Dominican Order held a Congress for the Lay Fraternities of Saint Dominic. (That’s our official title as Lay Dominicans.) It was a spiritually enriching experience to go to the Congress, and I was blessed to be able to hear several amazing speakers, including the Master General of the Dominican Order, Father Bruno Cadoré. I’ll be sharing my notes from the Congress each Sunday for a few weeks. To find the entire list, look for the “Notes from Congress” category on the sidebar.
Please keep in mind that these are my notes, and that I did my best to write everything down correctly. If there are holes or mistakes, consider them mine. I will do my best to faithfully represent the talks that I heard. If you were there (or are one of the speakers!) and see a mistake in my posts, please comment so that we can clear up any misunderstandings I have or misrepresentations I might have made. (Unless I use quotation marks, consider the words you read to be my summary of the talk given. Direct quotes that I was able to put down will be in quotation marks.)
My first offering is from the Q & A with Father Cadoré. Because we are coming up on the Year of Mercy (beginning on Tuesday, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception), I will begin with a question that was asked about Dominican Culture and ended up as a lesson in mercy.
Q: What is Dominican Culture?
Dominican culture is a culture of communion, friendship, compassion, community, and contemplation. We contemplate the grace of the Lord, the will of God, His presence, His providence, and the mercy of the Lord.
“The mercy of the Lord is the life of the Lord.”
Mercy is first seen in Exodus, when God was moved by compoassion and would give mercy to His people. We must be dedicated to contemplaing this as an order.
“Our contemplation in life is the recreation, day by day, the mercy of the Lord, which is the life of the Lord. This becomes our life.” Mercy ismore than asking for forgiveness; it is asking for life.
Community is the common point of the Order. “We have to give the world the good news that Jesus Christ is the turning point of the world. He is the advent of mercy!” Jesus is the mercy of the Father, and he wants to call everybody to be a part of the one, unique people. We must tell people that He is coming to dwell among us as the Mercy of the Father. He makes complete this communion by the strength of the Mercy of the Lord. Jesus gives us one community. He is the one advent of Mercy, one Truth. This is what we must preach.
Saint Thomas Aquinas said, “He [Jesus] wanted to be familiar to help the people to have confidence to come to him.” Dominican culture must be one of friendship for the same reason: to give people the confidence to approach God. We must follow the One Who came to be a friend in order to give others the courage to go to the Lord.
Friendship is tied back to our common life, which becomes a sort of sacrament of communion. As a sacrament, our common life and friendship becomes a sign to the world.
In our communities, we do things in a democratic way. This teaches us to be that friend to others — we are not a majority/minority, but one person’s voice is equal to that of each other person.
The Lord created Man with the capacity for communion inside of himself. When we meet someone, we must remember that he might not even know that! Our job as Dominicans is to awaken that capacity inside others. And to do this, we must have mercy.
Jesus is Mercy itself. “His truth is to be Mercy.”
Q: What is the official status of third orders in the Church?
Today and in the future, there will be a big change and shift. Evangelization won’t only be up to the clergy and the sisters. Laity will have to take part. This task of evangelization will be what the Church will be. It’s what the Church has to do in the world: by ministries, bylay people, by clergy — everyone!
The laity of the third orders will have the specific task to remind the rest of the laity that the Church must become who She is meant to be by this preaching and evangelization. Third orders will have to bring that to the Church.
But don’t expect perfection before beginning this work! By doing the work of preaching, we will receive the grace of the fruit of the Order.
Also, remember to promote communion, not the Order. It’s not “I’m a Dominican” and “I’m a Franciscan”. We are all part of the Church.
Q: What would you have us think on for this Jubilee?
“We can be joyful becuase of the grace of the faith we have received. But we have many reasons to say, ‘I want others to come to know Him, too.’ Give to others the opportunity to have the joy of a personal meeting with Jesus.”
We must deepen our joy and deepen our desire to share that joy with others.
Thanks for reading along this week. Next week, I’ll sum up a talk from Mr. David Precount, OP, about how we can activate evangelization in our lay life.