Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A note on the Dominican vocation from the USA


This blog entry comes as I conclude conducting a Lenten retreat in a Dominican parish in New York. The Dominican community who run the parish are members of the Saint Joseph province in the United States. This province is very well known throughout the world in recent years for its tremendous ability to attract vocations. The consistent influx of new vocations to the province is very heartening indeed. There is a particularly good analysis by Dominican archbishop di Noia OP on the Saint Joseph province website as to the reasons as to why this province is receiving new membership in such numbers. It is well worth reading.

At a meeting with young people in the parish during the retreat here I was asked, 'what makes the Dominican vocation so unique?'. I tried to answer in this way: As Saint Dominic and all the Dominican saints have shown by their lives, in an authentic Dominican vocation there is no room for selfishness or a vision of Dominican life that looks inwardly at the internal workings of our life - rendering us unable to see beyond ourselves. Our vocation to a life of contemplation, by its very nature, reaches out to others who will benefit from our charism and witness to the power of God's grace, which is still very much at work in the world today. This is the way that our life is structured: receiving from the depth of contemplation in order to give to others the fruits of that contemplation. We do not choose those to whom we minister; God does. We just have to be open in contemplation to realise, like Saint Dominic's engagement with the Albigensians, that this call to ministry and evangelisation is most likely to the unexpected and the marginalised.

So, clearly Dominican life is not a treasure to be kept buried in order to keep it hidden and safe. It is a treasure for which we sell all that we have  so that we may receive our vocation more fully. The only way that we can hold on to the richness of such a treasure is not to hoard it but to give it away. Indeed, it is such a treasure, given not only to us and for us, but given by God to his Church, so that the people of God may know that the kingdom of God is at hand.
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