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.)
Last week, I featured Father Bruno Cadoré, Master General of the Order of Preachers, and his discussion about the Dominican Culture and Mercy. This week, I’m featuring Mr. David Brecount, OP, who discussed how to live the Lay Dominican life as a family. He was traveling solo for the conference, despite it being his anniversary, because his wife had to stay home to take care of their children. We were grateful his wife was so generous to share David with us instead of celebrating their anniversary.
How do we activate evangelization in our lay life? How do we activate that Lay Dominican life as a family? Al Kresta often says, “Build the Church, bless the nation.” We’re better together rather than trying to do that on our own. Families make this possible.
There’s a basic framework for the marriage vocation that helps us activate the Dominican life in our families. There are four pillars of family life.
- Family Prayer: Family prayer takes many forms. We can attend Mass and Confession together, pray the Rosary and Morning/Evening Prayer, pick up various devotionals, and even pray the Angelus together. You can use a prayer board for the family to write petitions on by setting up a whiteboard for that purpose. Anyone who has a need can write it down, and everyone can see it and pray for whoever needs it.
- Study: David’s family has homeschooled for eight years, which lends itself well to family study. Reading to the children daily expands study; they’ve read everything from books on the North American Martyrs to The Lord of the Rings to The Oddysey. The family often watches videos from Bishop Robert Barron, as well.
- Community: Spend time together as a family. Celebrate your children’s Baptisms and feast days. Spend time with your parish family, as well. David’s homeschool co-op had an All Saints Day party and the kids all dressed up as their favorite saints. Invite priests and religious into your home, as well. Be friends with the people in your parish community!
- Apostolate: Get to know your neighbors—become friends with the people who live near you. Be fully alive with your faith, and people will take notice.
Do these sound familiar? They should to Dominicans!
Where else can we build the Church? Be involved in the parish. Be a witness be living the faith all the time, even at work. This means simply being fully Catholic in all situations, allowing your life to be the example. For homeschoolers, a co-op can offer support, as well, allowing families to better live their Catholic faith. The Brecounts’ co-op meets at the parish, and they celebrate Church feasts, as well. They’d recently had a party for All Saints Day where the children dressed as a favorite saint.
Jesus said that the “gates of Hell” will not prevail against the Church. What does this mean, “the gates of Hell?” Does it mean that we’re kept safe inside the walls of the Church? No! The gates of Hell are to prevent the Church from going out to preach, and they will not prevail! By our evangelization, we will win!
The challenge for us is to sanctify our lives, day by day. We must work to integrate the four pillars of Dominican life into our everyday life, into every part of our lives.
Thanks for reading along this week. Next week, I’ll be summing up a talk from Dr. Ralph Martin about the urgency of the New Evangelization.