Dominicans: AD Questions – Chapter Two

Chapter Two

  • Why did Dominic found the Order of Preachers?

Heresies within the Christian faith have existed since the time soon after the death Christ and the Church has employed various means to rid itself of them.  For Dominc’s part, he would have likely remained a cloistered monk, but while traveling through Languedoc, in the south of France, he encountered the Albigensian (Cathari / “pure ones”) heresy, which held to the belief that the physical world was the world of Satan and therefore, all physical matter was evil, thus leading them to deny the Incarnation, baptism by water, the Real Presence, etc.  Additionally, the Albigensian priest led very austere lives, quite the opposite of their Roman Catholic counterparts who enjoyed much of the fineries of life.  Once encountered, Dominic felt compelled to preach against the heresy, following the practices of a more apostolic way as witnessed in the first disciples.  Ten years afterwards, in 1215, Dominic would officially establish the first house  for the Order of Preachers in Toulouse, France.

  • What happened to the religious orders in England during the reign of Henry VIII?

In 1534, the Act of Supremacy was passed in the English Parliament, which established Henry VIII as the Supreme Head of the Church of England, thus resting control of the Church from Rome.  Henry, desiring the wealth of the monasteries would pass the First Act of Suppression, which closed all monasteries with income of less than £200.  Following the closure, the lands and gold would be confiscated by the Crown.  In 1539, the Second Act of Suppression was passed, allowing for the forced closure of all remaining monasteries (by 1540, over 50 monasteries a month were closed.)  A few religious remained (those who failed to comply were martyred), but these actions effectively brought the monastic life to an end in England until the revival in the 19th century.

  • Of the historical figures cited that embody an Anglican Dominican way, which do you find most appealing?

Jackson Kemper (If I say any other, I will likely be stripped of my degrees from Nashotah House!)  I pray this is an acceptable way to answer the question.  It is a sermon I preached last year on his feast day, and demonstrates my reasoning: 

The Apostle of the Western Church, Jackson Kemper, was born on Christmas Eve 1789 and in 1835 he was consecrated bishop.  At the consecration, the Bishop of New Jersey began his sermon: “Brethren, we are assembled, under the protection of Almighty God, to partake in, or to witness, the consecration of a missionary bishop. It is a new office in this Church. The event has not occurred before. What we are now to do will go on record, as a precedent…”  Toward the end of that sermon, the bishop gave Kemper a charge: “Beloved brother, from the work to which the Lord, we trust, has called you, I may keep you back no longer. You are to go out, in the Saviour’s name, the first Missionary Bishop of this Church. Going with the office, go in the spirit, of an Apostle! You are to preach the gospel of salvation to a ruined world. You are to bear ‘the ministry of reconciliation’ to sinful men, the enemies of God, and of their own souls, by wicked works. Like the Apostle Paul, preach to them ‘Christ crucified.’” 

His missionary diocese was small, it only consisted of Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and part of Indiana, 450,000 square miles (by comparison, Oklahoma is 70,000 square miles).  Fortunately he had some help—one priest.  However, he did not let the size of his missionary territory nor the lack of help daunt him.  Instead, he went about the business of establishing churches and to solve the problem of so few priest, he began a seminary.  And not just any seminary, but (to this day) the finest seminary in the Episcopal Church: Nashotah House.

His passion for mission was evident in his work and his words.  In 1841, he was given the opportunity to preach on mission at the General Convention.  “Constrained by the undying love of Christ to love the immortal souls of our fellow beings—let us be ready for the privilege, if it is ever conferred, to scatter the precious seed on every field—to erect the banner of the cross on every mountain. Let us at least hasten the time—by our prayers, our exertions, and our sacrifices—when the joyous sound shall burst from every heart, “How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the Gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things.’”

At the end of his missionary work he had organized seven different diocese, consecrated over 100 churches, ordained more than 200 priests and deacons, and confirmed more than 10,000 individuals.  His last words: “I hope I have been faithful; I hope I have kept the faith.”

Going back to his consecration, the Bishop of New Jersey concluded his sermon to Kemper by saying, “Go, bear, before a ruined world, the Saviour’s bleeding Cross. Go, feed, with bread from heaven, the Saviour’s hungering Church. Go, thrice beloved, go, and God the Lord go with you!”  From our Gospel reading today, Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.”  

Jackson Kemper heard the message to “Go” and he went.  I pray that we will all hear this message, feel the passion of the missionary, and go out in the mission field that God has set before each of us… even if that mission field only extends to our next door neighbor.

As an aside, part of my duties while at Nashotah was to keep up the mowing of the grounds.  Each week, not only did I mow the lawn around Bishopstead, Kemper’s residence, but also the cemetery where he is buried, making sure to greet him kindly each time I passed his grave.

  • When did the first known efforts at founding a non-Roman Catholic Dominican Order take place?

The Dominican Priory of Christ the King, founded around the time of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) in Coos Bay, Oregon.

  • Who was the founder and first Master of the Anglican Order of Preachers?  Did you find anything interesting about the initial beginnings of the Anglican Dominicans?

The Very Rev. Dr Jeffery Mackey, O.P.A. was the first Master of the Anglican Order of Preachers. 

I did find it interesting that the order was founded so recently.  It is such a beautiful expression of the Catholic nature of the Church.  Then again, there have been many in the Anglo-Catholic tradition who have been living out the Dominican life, just not naming themselves as such.  It is good to have a home and a community.

  • As you learn more about the Anglican Dominicans, could you imagine yourself being one?  Why or why not?

Yes!  As a priest, the study, prayer, preaching, Marian devotion, etc. have always been a part of my life, but what I’m discovering is that the more I practice the rule, the more I want / need to practice the rule.  In addition, the more I see of the community online, the more I desire to be a part of it.  For my life with God, this ‘feels’ like a very natural next step.

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