Dominicans: Term 2, Week 2

Radcliffe: Part One, 4-6

In these chapters, Radcliffe describes his life as Master of the Order. What are two or three major characteristics of Dominican life in the Order that he prizes? How do you envision opportunities for these characteristics to be manifested in the Anglican Order of Preachers?

There was one sentence in these three chapters that summed them all up and seemed to me to be an overarching characteristic, it was: “We must not be afraid!” (p.57-8)  We must not be afraid to be friends.  We must not be afraid to love.  We must not be afraid to trust.  We must not be afraid (and here it is again) of the other.

Friends: with friends, the competition is set aside and each is given the opportunity, support, and encouragement to succeed, and that success is celebrated. True friends are not easy to come by, but within the AOP, we can follow the example of those whom Jesus called friends. These had a common mission, which was the proclamation of the Kingdom for the greater good.

Love: not the type of love that show’s up in a Hallmark card (or movie), but the kind of love that allows the other to be. This allows the AOP to provide many different creative expressions of the Gospel and draws people to it instead of pushing them away.

Trust: “Thy will be done.” I heard that petition when I read of Radcliffe accepting the election to Master and again when he stated that Dominicans place themselves in the hands of the Order, “without knowing what they will do with him.” (p.54) It is faith / trust that the Order has properly discerned the call on an individuals life and will act in the best interest of all.

The Other: I am beginning to get the impression that for the Dominican, ‘the other’ is the raison d’être behind all we do. The AOP will do great work if continues to serve the other instead of the self.

Verboven: Ch. 4-6

In these chapters, we learn about three people who had to deal with violence in their Dominican lives.  How can tales of violence in these countries, and sadly in the USA and in your own country affect our own lives and mission as Dominicans?

As a priest, I have attended more than a few deaths.  None are ever easy, but some are more difficult than others.  A teenager killed in an avalanche while snowmobiling and a very violent suicide were days when you just want to go home, turn off the lights, and sit quietly in a room with a stiff drink.  However, the four-year-old little girl who died from her injuries after being thrown against a wall by a babysitter because she wouldn’t stop crying… violence.  

Violence breeds violence and even as the priest, my heart was not pure when it came to thoughts of the young man that committed the crime.  It was as Pierce said, “a wound came in me that I didn’t know what to do with.” (p. 43)  So the question that arises is: How do we respond?  We can respond with ever-escalating violence or like Pierce’s parents, Pierce himself, Maria Hanna, and Henri, we can respond with respect, patience, love, hope, an unshakeable perseverance—even in the face of death—and laugh when the bounty on our heads is lowered.  These characteristics are all summed up in the questions of the 1511 Dominican sermon: “Are these not human beings?  Are you so blind that you do not see the other person?”  (p. 51)  Those two questions direct us to the mission of a Dominican when confronted with or witness to violence: to open the eyes of the blind and to make the invisible visible.

I can honestly say that I have struggled over this question more than any other we’ve addressed.  There is a passion for God and God’s people and an unswerving faith, and I’ve never been “tested” in such a way.  It is that same question that many have asked me about themselves, “Would I be able to stand in the day of trial.”  I’m good with the cheerleader answer, but to stand with the gun ‘truly’ to my head or in the face of a real trial… these people are rockstars and I don’t even know how to play an air guitar.

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