Dominicans: Term One / Week Five

Reading and answering question from: Paul Murray O.P. The New Wine of Dominican Spirituality: A Drink Called Happiness. New York, NY: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2006.

Chapter two describes Dominicans in the early days as promoting the idea of happiness; this is often linked to the Beatitudes  (Matthew 5:1-12) and describe briefly what struck you most about their experiences and teaching on happiness.  What do you think about the idea of happiness in Dominican life as you consider your own calling?

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco: I enjoyed both the book and the movie.  From the movie: William of Baskerville: “But what is so alarming about laughter?”  Jorge de Burgos: “Laughter kills fear, and without fear there can be no faith, because without fear of the Devil there is no more need of God.”  Murray is absolutely correct, the faithful have become those with “bowed heads and sad faces” (p.55) when we should in fact be the happiest and most joyful of all.  In our preaching, folks need the opportunity to “breathe,” not just for a moment during the sermon (cf. p.69), but I think sometimes for the entirety of the sermon.  Not a stand up comic’s routine, but a message that conveys how we are to “have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)  An opportunity to experience joy in God, worship, and fellowship.  The “Why?” behind this thought was summed up nicely by Thomas of Cantimpré: so that we all may “survive unbroken” (p.57) this world and all it throws at us—we’ll still end up with a few chips and cracks, but hopefully not completely broken.

Perhaps too much information, but for myself and a life as a Dominican, I’m trying to learn (that’s not the right word for it… experience?) this joyful Dominican characteristic.  I have been a student of Thomas à Kempis and the Imitation of Christ for almost twenty years, but a few months ago, I set him aside.  There is so very much to learn from him, but I tired of keeping my death ever before me as he taught.  There is benefit in the practice, but I discovered that I was trying so hard to be a serious saint, that I did not live.  That may only make sense to me, but I want to not only share the message of the joy of the Lord, but know it for myself as well.

Reading and answering question from: Thomas C. McGonigle, O.P. & Phyllis Zagano, Ph.D. The Dominican Tradition: Spirituality in History. Collegeville, Minnesota: Liturgical Press, 2006.

Professed Anglican Dominicans take vows of obedience, purity, and simplicity. Using information from The Dominican Tradition (p. xiii-xxi), describe your vision of living out these vows. What challenges do you expect to face? What can you do to address these challenges before they become a problem?

Dominic:  He asked God for “delight and enjoyment” (Murray p.58), while at the same time he was would “discipline himself with an iron chain.” (M&Z p.7)  Such extremes of thought and action seem to be presenting two separate individuals, but Dominic has often demonstrated how he embodies the fullness of the Scriptural teachings.  I believe his life was a joyful living out of those words we so often read in Ecclesiastes, which begin: “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: “a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to…”

Aquinas: There are many forms/styles of preaching, but not all forms are suitable for every occasion.  A deeply technical sermon/teaching would be appropriate for a seminar, but not necessarily for a Sunday morning.  The preacher must take what they’ve learned through prayer/study/meditation and ‘translate’ the information and insights for the listeners’ edification.  The analogy of the iceberg is true: 10% of the iceberg is above the surface, that is the sermon, the other 90%, what is below the surface is what went into the crafting of the sermon.  M&Z show us the 90% of Aquinas whereas Murray gives us the 10%.

Eckhart: Of the three, Eckhart was the most difficult.  He seems rather elusive in trying to nail down, but as with Aquinas, M&Z focus on the philosophical thinking of Ekhart, while Murray shares the “fruits” of Ekhart’s labors.  No disrespect toward Eckhart, but M&Z and the selection of Eckhart’s writings gave me the impression of an individual who never stopped moving, but ceaselessly bounced around.  I think he would make you either nervous or agitated (perhaps both!) to be around.

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