Friday, July 15, 2011

Incorporating new vocations into the Dominican Order - a reflection.


Almost a year ago, the Dominican friars held its General chapter in Rome. That chapter elected the new Master of the Order, fr Bruno Cadore OP. Also at that chapter meeting, the outgoing Master, fr Carlos Aspiroz Costa OP gave, as is required, a 'relatio' or an account of his administration over the previous number of years. During these less hectic days of summer, I am reading the section written by fr Carlos on incorporating new vocations into the Dominican order. It is insightful because it highlights the intergenerational differences that can exist within the Order, and at the same time, if these differences are properly understood and resepected, they can be a vital sign of growth. Here is what fr Carlos said:

Today, we are faced with an obvious fact: there is a majot generational change in the Order. The incorporation of new vocations, the foundation of new provinces, the presence of the Order in new countries, our preaching in new cultures raises for us new questions, demanding new responses, new methods and new expressions.

The generation that was contemporary with the Second Vatican Council and who wanted to put it into practice immediately is now faced with having to accept and hear the questions of those who were born or grew up after the Council. The experience of the immediate post-coucil period is totally foreign to them; many of their parents have not even transmitted the faith to them. They cannot count on a vital "oral tradition" concerning the appropriateness of the renewal. These friars, our brothers, are questioning today those who preceded them on the road to Dominican life, just as the previous generation questioned their older brothers. Each generational change offers its own lights and shadows, joys and sorrows, hopes and anxieties. The Order requires the sense of freedom, the missionary zeal, creativity and commitment to mature in the field of justice and peace characteristic of a generation which has given so much to the Church. At the same time, many of our younger friars are expressing the necessity today of a certain visibility, faithfulness to the history and tradition of the Order, and the need for a sense of belonging experienced through a fraternal life in community which celebrates its faith in the liturgy etc. 

If we really believe that every brother who makes profession (in the Order) inserts his life and history into the life and history of the Order, this means that "the brother", in a sense, will never be the same and analogously neither will "the Order" be the same for having taken him under her wing.
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