Dominicans: Term 2, Week 3

Radcliffe: Part One, 7-9

In these three chapters, Radcliffe looks closely at the Roman Catholic Dominican family, but he speaks also to us as Anglican Dominicans.  Identify one quotation or idea in each chapter that speaks to you, and then summarize how these quotations or ideas  may apply to your own development as a Dominican.

Unity and Diversity: “The preacher must be human to preach this human God.” (p.64)  This reminded of Dominic’s approach in preaching to and living among the Albigensians, which was—simply put—preach the Gospel and model your lifestyle after theirs.  If we take on an air of spiritual pride / arrogance, we will begin to preach our own message instead of the message of Jesus.  The same applies to our lives in the Order.  Should we begin to see ourselves as superior to others—i.e. clergy vs laity—then the Order will fracture along those lines and others.

The Future: “It is true that we cannot let ourselves become museum keepers for tourists.” (p.76)  The future relies on solid proclamation of the Gospel—word and deed—or we risk the people of God becoming spiritual tourist.  Those who walk through the teachings of Jesus and the Church as though casually strolling through a museum: glancing here and there, pondering for a minute or two and then moving onto the next, without ever settling in and truly discovering the beauty.  We must be learned guides who can show and explain the Masterpiece.

Truth: “Knowledge implies intimacy.”  Whether it be a person, text, language, picture, etc., until you become passionate and intimate with them, you will never truly know them.  It is only when we become intimate with the painting, that we begin to see the details and brushstrokes.  It is only in those moments when we are truly intimate with another person that we are willing and even able to share our own secrets.  Part of our “job” is to teach people how to talk to and be intimate with one another and with God.  I actually believe this to be one of the primary reasons they come to church: to learn how to talk to God about their innermost self.

Verboven: Ch. 7-9

Most of us do not lead the extraordinary lives that the Dominicans in these chapters experience.  What can you take from these stories to enrich your own Dominican spirituality?

In many pastoral situations, I often try to remain the “professional,” the stoic, standing outside of the emotions that are boiling all around me.  I think this is necessary to a degree, but Margaret Ormond showed me that it was OK to not only experience the pain of others (which I do!, but try not to show), but to show it.  What is fascinating about her experience is that when she did, she opened up the opportunity for the one who was in pain, to minister to her and to wipe away her tears.  This is new to me, but it seems to be reflective of our shared humanity and the bearing of one another’s burdens. (cf. Galatians 6:2)

With Godfrey Nzamujo’s story, I continue to see how Dominicans adapt (not compromise) to the culture where they are ministering.  Instead of bringing in European / Western culture, he drew upon the strengths of Africa and allowed the people to live into those strengths as opposed to attempting to re-educate them on how they should think / work like Europeans or Americans.  Adapting is the Dominican way.  He also has a trait that all of these Dominicans have shown: passion and drive to not only proclaim and build up spiritually, but also physically—“If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?” (James 2:16)

Timothy Radcliffe continues to speak to us about “the other.”  “If you have a deep friendship with anyone, it means you hear what they are saying, not what you think they ought to be saying.” (p.107)  Perhaps the greatest gift we can give someone is our friendship.

These individuals are like icons, windows into the calling of a Dominican. 

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