Dominicans: AD Questions – Chapter 4

Chapter Four

  • What is Christian Formation?

As I sat in chapel during my time in seminary, I so remember the first time I really heard the words of Psalm 119:99-100:

I have more understanding than all my teachers,
for your testimonies are my meditation.
I understand more than the aged,
for I keep your precepts.

I suspect that I was not the only seminarian to ever smile and suppress a chuckle upon reading these words, but that (innocent?) arrogance demonstrates so clearly the need for formation. A need for the old Adam to be broken down and replaced with the new Adam found only in Christ Jesus. Formation is the process of breaking down who we think we are/who we think we are supposed to be, with who Christ has called us to be. Christian formation is to say with Isaiah:

But now, O Lord, you are our Father;
we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we are all the work of your hand. (Isaiah 64:8)

Christian formation, after recognizing this truth, is then to submit to the work of his hands, so that we take on the identity of the Father. However, it is not a one-and-done event. Formation is the work of a lifetime: “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16) We are made holy through through the redeeming work of Jesus upon the cross, and, each day, we are to seek to become more holy through the formation and the work of sanctification. “We are deeply moved, and our hearts profoundly shaken, when we listen attentively to that cry of St Paul: ‘This is God’s will for you, your sanctification.’ Today, once again, I set myself this goal and I also remind you and all mankind: this is God’s Will for us, that we be saints.” (Friends of God, St. Josemairía Escrivá, #294) Christian formation is nothing less than the process of becoming a saint.

  • How do Anglican Dominicans receive their training? Are there lessons that local churches or the Church in general could learn from the Anglican Dominican education process?

As I am preparing to walk the Camino de Santiago next year, much of my understanding of our Christian walk falls under the concept of pilgrimage—a journey to a sacred place. Anglican Dominicans receive their training through a pilgrimage of stages: inquiry, postulant, novice, and professed, utilizing several means including: reading, study, group interaction, mentorship, and further discernment of a calling.

These practices can certainly be utilized by a local church. As an example, having a desire to disciple individuals who hoped to further deepen their faith and with the blessing of my Bishop, I began The Confraternity of the Imitators of Christ (CIC) in my current parish. The objectives of the CIC are:

  • To seek holiness in our daily lives and the sanctification of our work in our families, our places of employment, and the Church.
  • To fulfill the vows we make in the Baptismal Covenant (Book of Common Prayer, p. 292).
  • To recognize the real presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament of His Body and Blood.
  • To deepen our relationship with the Blessed Virgin Mary and to seek her intercessions that we may become a Tabernacle of her Son, Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
  • More info on the CIC can be found here.

The first objective has led to lessons on topics such as: study, rule of life, meditation, fasting, study, BVM, confession, etc. Through this ongoing study and practice, individuals begin to lead a more disciplined, studied, and intentional faith.

  • What is the governance structure of the Anglican Dominicans—is it more democratic or authoritarian?

“One of the unique features—certainly a mark of the changing times of the 13th Century—of Saint Dominic’s initial community, was its democratic and egalitarian character.” That said, I find comfort and peace in submitting to the authority of my Bishop.

For those not feeling called by God to be a Dominican brother or sister, the Order offers two other affiliations: oblates and associates. Do you think you’d benefit spiritually by being an oblate or associate of a religious order, Dominican or not?

I do feel that I would benefit as an oblate or associate, but truly, I feel a sincere calling to become a professed member. Should I not be accepted as such, I would seek to become an oblate or associate, whichever was found more fitting.

  • Anglicans in general, and Anglican Dominicans in particular, embrace a diversity of viewpoints regarding the Blessed Virgin Mary. What is your personal view of Mary?

“Hail, holy Queen, Mother of mercy, hail, our life, our sweetness, and our hope.”

Surprisingly, I had no devotion to the BVM prior to attending seminary and very little while in seminary at Nashotah (please don’t tell them that!), and I’m not real certain as to why or how the shift occurred, but following my ordination to the priesthood… she brings me to Jesus. I would say more, but I truly don’t understand it. I hold her hand while I preach. I cling to her in prayer. I can’t see an image of her without stopping and catching my breath. Her Son is my God, Savior, King, Master… she is…

  • What are some of the challenges facing Christianity in the coming decade? How do you think individuals and churches can respond to these challenges?

The discussion on page 38 of Anglican Dominicans provides a broad outline of the many challenges facing Christianity today. For me, I believe that it can be summed up in the fact that our faith and the practice of our faith has become such a horizontal application of the Gospel that we are no longer aware of the vertical, supernatural or transcendence of God. Church has become a PAC or Rotary or the country club, instead of being a transformational community. Preachers are the talking heads of CNN/Fox, instead of prophetic witnesses. Parishioners are consumers, seeking a denomination or style of worship that fills a need, instead of individuals striving for holiness and an encounter with the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth. I know that is a harsh assessment and it is certainly not true for all, but we have lost our way… THE Way.

Individuals and churches can respond to the challenges by returning to our roots and Archbishop Michael Ramsey stated it so well: “I suggest to you that as the cross and the Resurrection were the spearhead of the gospel’s relevance and potency in the first century so they can be also for our contemporary world. Ours is a world full of suffering and frustration: of what significance to it is Jesus who lived and died nearly two thousand years ago? The answer is: chiefly in this, that in the Death and Resurrection he shows not only the way for man but the very image of God himself. Is there within or beyond our suffering and frustrated universe any purpose, way, meaning, sovereignty? We answer, yes, there is purpose, way, meaning, sovereignty, and the Death and Resurrection of Jesus portray it as loving through dying, as losing self to find self, as the power of sacrificial love.” (The Christian Priest Today, p.32-33)

St. Paul declared to the Corinthians, “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2:2) The answer to the challenges for individuals and the Church is the exact same.

Dominicans: AD Questions – Chapter 3

Chapter Three

  • What is the nature and purpose of a rule of life?

The Introduction and final chapter of The Rule of St. Benedict begin to answer this question: “Listen my son to the instructions of your Master, turn the ear of your heart to the advice of a loving father; accept it willingly and carry it out vigorously; so that through the toil of obedience you may return to him from who you have separated by the sloth of disobedience. (Introduction)… We have written this Rule so that by following it in monasteries, we may to some extent show that we lead blameless lives and possess a beginning of the monastic way of life.” (Ch. LXXIII)  The rule “provides a blueprint for pursuing holiness and personal sanctification.” (p. 19)  The rule is a source of obedience and discipline that, if followed faithfully, provides the foundation from which a life with God and a life in service to God’s people can be achieved.  In the life of the Dominican rule, prayer brings us into community with God and one another (regardless of geographic location); prayer and community provides accountability, support, and the common purpose of proclamation, which is improved and enflamed through our study.

  • Looking over the Anglican Dominican rule, what do you find attractive about it and what do you find challenging or too demanding about it?

What I find attractive is the same as what I find challenging: the daily discipline of prayer and study.  Prayer is at the heart of all any of us do, but… I was visiting friends, we had prepared a delicious supper, had a few drinks, were laughing and having a wonderful time, then I remember Evening Prayer.  The Old Adam came a calling.  Was I obedient?  I pulled out my iPad and read Evening Prayer while sitting with my friends.  When they asked what I was doing, I told them.  My shame: I am a priest!, but when I realized that I needed to do this, I didn’t ask them to join me.  They are Episcopalians.  It may have been unusual for them to pray Evening Prayer in their house, but… I won’t make that mistake again.

As I was wrestling with the daily commitments of the Order, prior to committing, I came across a statement from St. Benedict, “Prefer nothing to the work of God.” (The Rule of St. Benedict, Ch 43)  I now say that to myself at least a dozen times a day and so, as challenging as the rule may appear, I follow it with joy, because I see it as the work of God in my life and my vocation.

  • Do you think the four pillars of the Dominican life would serve as a good foundation for any Christian?

Prayer, community, and study would be a very natural foundation for any Christian, but for some, the idea of all preaching and ministering may seem reserved for those with such a calling, however, Holy Scripture includes everyone in this task.  For example, St. Peter teaches us, “In your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” (1 Peter 3:15a)  That is a call for all to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ and give testimony to His works.  And again from St. Peter, “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” (1 Peter 2:12) A call for proclamation through actions and deeds, which all can perform.  In selecting the rule, Dominic understood that members of the Order would be living lives in the world as they went about the task of proclaiming, therefore, it is a rule that is livable and appropriate not only for the Friars, but for all who are in the world.

  • Anglican Dominicans take three vows in their pursuit of serving God.  What do you think of these vows, and what is your opinion of vows to God in general (e.g. are they a good idea or not)?

My friend Thomas à Kempis writes, “It is a very great thing to obey, to live under a superior and not to be one’s own master, for it is much safer to be subject than it is to command…. Go where you may, you will find no rest except in humble obedience to the rule of authority.” (The Imitation of Christ, Book 1, Chapter 8)  Vows are, in a sense, a master.  Where some see them as restrictive and authoritative, I find within them freedom.  I believe Albert Einstein was one who owned several sets of clothes, but they were all identical.  He didn’t want to waste the time or energy trying to figure out what he was going to wear each day.  A rule of life, vows, all accomplish the same goal: if I am obedient, no longer do I have to think on how I am going to live my life, the rule and vows answer those questions for me, so that I am set free to live for God.

In addition, the vows of the Dominican further refine the vows I took at my ordination, adding a level of specificity that are not found in the ordination rite.

  • Do you think God might be calling you to be an Anglican Dominican? How would a person know if God was calling him or her to be in a religious order, Dominican or other?

As I mentioned before, I think God has been calling me to the Anglican Dominican life for quite some time, I just didn’t know that it had a name or a community.  The final answer as to the calling is prayer, but I have to wonder if living out the life of a religious prior to any knowledge of a religious order is more of a ‘true’ calling.  It is one thing to read the rules and then decide whether or not it is a good fit as compared to living out the rules and discovering the place/order God has prepared for you.  Not sure that makes much sense to anyone except me, but it seems right.

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.

Dominicans: AD Questions – Chapter One

Chapter One

  • Is the concept of a denomination other than the Roman Catholic Church being “Catholic” new or familiar to you?

Twenty years ago, this was a new idea other than, “We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church.”  As one of the four notes of the Church, I simply understood the word “catholic” to mean universal.  Following my studies, I understood the concept in a much broader sense, not only in the way we practice our faith through ritual, but also our understanding of a more ancient church.

  • What is the argument Anglican Dominicans make in claiming that their Church is an expression of Catholic Christianity?

Anglican Dominicans argue that there was “the existence a primitive or early Catholicism (distinct from Roman Catholicism) that existed for the first one thousand years of Christianity,” (p. 5) which was later folded into the Anglican Church.  John Henry Newman, one of the Tractarians would fully support this argument.  “In his tracts on the Church of England he claimed that it was truly and purely catholic, based on the customs of the Apostolic Church and the teaching of the Fathers, and corrupted neither by Romanism nor by Protestantism.” (The History of the Church in England, p. 341)

  • While drawing upon the Catholic tradition of Christianity, the Anglican Dominicans also draw upon the Protestant tradition. What elements of the Protestant Reformation are particularly important to Anglican Dominicans?

St. Paul says to Timothy, “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.  For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” (2 Timothy 4:1–4)  Preach the word: “The Protestant Reformation… brought back into the mainstream of Christian life and practice: evangelization, preaching, and the centrality of the Word of God as found in the pages of Holy Scripture…. [which] began to shift the emphasis of priestly office away from the altar and toward the pulpit.” (p. 6, 7)  

The state of preaching today is lacking.  Mark Galli (Christianity Today), recently wrote a series of articles under the title, “The Elusive Presence” (they are brilliant).  In “The Elusive Presence: And Now, the Star of the Show…,” Galli writes, “Preaching is one time in the week when we have the opportunity to hear about something other than ourselves, other than the horizontal. It’s the time to hear about God and the wonder and mysteries of his love, of what he’s done for us in Christ. But more and more, evangelical preaching has become another way we talk about ourselves, and in this case, to learn about the preacher.” (Source)  This is one of the great appeals of the Anglican Dominicans, they understand the significance of sound and learned preaching and teaching that is focused not on self, but on the Word.  The Reformers got this one right.

  • How is Anglican Christianity a middle way between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism?

G.K. Chesterton is reported to have said/written, “The Reformer is always right about what’s wrong. However, he’s often wrong about what is right.”  As was noted in Anglican Dominicans, the reformers threw the baby out with the bath water; however, in pre-Reformation Roman Catholicism, the priest had become a poorly educated sacramentalist, with little or no emphasis placed on the Word of God.  It was about the ritual and not the Person behind it all.  As was noted above in answer #3, the reformers brought back the Word, the Tractarians (answer #2) brought back the theology/understanding of the ancient Church, and later the ritual, and from this, the Via Media was born: the “bridge” Church, being both Catholic and Protestant.

  • What period of church history is particularly important for Anglicans in determining acceptable beliefs and practices?

The 19th century and the Oxford Movement, that I attempted to describe in answer #4.  This was a time of accepting some of the corrections of the reformers, without destroying the practices and piety of the Catholic Church, in the process, creating a reformed Anglican expression of the Catholic Church.

  • So far, what do you find interesting or appealing about the Anglican Dominicans?

“Anglican Dominicans recognize this trend (the pastoral office centered almost exclusively on sacramental functions) is still dangerously present in the Christian Church today and believe the foundational mission is vigorous Gospel proclamation.” (p.7)  This is very appealing.  With the decline of mainline denominations, we see so many gimmicks being employed to increase attendance and the Gospel is abandoned as “old fashioned.”  In addition, many preachers sound more like CNN/Fox News commentators than they do proclaimers of the Good News.  However, at the ordination of a priest, the bishop asks, “Will you endeavor so to minister the Word of God and the sacraments of the New Covenant, that the reconciling love of Christ may be known and received.” (BCP p.532)  In this, Dominic demonstrated to us how to fulfill this vow: “Wherever the Master was, he always spoke either to God or about God.”

Dominicans: AD Questions – Introduction

OK, blog friends, three posts in a day is a bit excessive… sorry. Just getting things done on a restful ‘non-laboring’ Labor Day.

As part of the postulancy program, I will be reading Anglican Dominicans and answering questions. The plan is to post these by chapter. Below are the questions from the ‘Introduction’ and the answers I submitted. The remaining chapters are where the fun begins.


  • Prior to reading this book, had you ever heard of Roman Catholic or Anglican Dominicans?

Yes.  Nashotah House, where I attended seminary, is based on the Benedictine rule.  There were many times in various classes (church history, spiritual theology, etc) that the different orders, including Dominican, were discussed.  In addition, we would have members of various religious orders visit the campus.  I confess, at first, I believed they were Roman and just happened to be visiting.  It was later that I learned of the religious orders within the Anglican Communion and that I began researching the various orders.  As Nashotah is Benedictine, that was my original interest, but the more I learned of the Dominican Order, the more I understood this was perhaps the place for me.

  • Prior to reading this book, were you aware that there are religious orders in the Anglican Communion?

More or less answered this above, however, while in the Diocese of Montana, it was the Anamchara Fellowship that was promoted and supported.  Although a worthy organization, I did not feel a call in that direction.  In my readings on Anglican Dominicans, I was delighted to learn that there is collegiality and friendship with the RC Dominicans.

Dominicans: A Beginning

What’s with the pooch?

Discernment to the priesthood is not something that ends once you’re ordained, and for sometime, I’ve been discerning mine. My conclusion: I need to go deeper. I need to stop playing around and pretending. I need to further commit my life to the Gospel. With that in mind, after prayer and consultation with my Bishop, I have decided to ‘try’ and become a member of the Anglican Order of Preachers (a.k.a. Dominicans). No. I’ve no plans to leave my current church (unless they kick me out). In fact, this calling into the Dominicans seems to be drawing me even closer to them.

Who are the Anglican Dominicans? From their website:

The Anglican Order of Preachers is an apostolic religious community inspired by the spiritual tradition founded by Saint Dominic de Guzman in the thirteenth century. It was not until the last years of the twentieth century that an expression of Dominican spirituality and life could be found outside of the Roman Catholic Church. The Order is composed of men and women from around the world and various provinces of the Anglican Communion and her sister Churches.

The mission of the order is the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, with a particular emphasis on proclamation ministries of evangelism and discipleship. The brothers and sisters surrender their entire lives to an apostolic lifestyle dedicated to God. This lifestyle, inspired by the lives of the first apostles and Saint Dominic, is lived out within the ordinary challenges of life, so that all people in all places can hear the Gospel.

The community is scattered, with brothers and sisters living across the world; by themselves, with their families or in small groups. They support themselves and the order by their work, either within the Church or the world. Brothers and sisters take vows of marriage or vows of celibacy. In everything members are encouraged to live out the words of Saint Dominic, “to speak with God or about God.” You can learn more here.

I’m currently only in the area of discernment, which is known as postulancy. Following this period of time, if accepted, I will become a novice and the novitiate will last for two years. If all goes well, I will make life vows and become a fully professed member.

The purpose of this new page, “Dominicans”, is to document the journey and post the writings that are required throughout this process and other info and pictures. I ask for your prayers.

O Lord Jesus Christ, you became poor for our sake, that we
might be made rich through your poverty: Guide and sanctify,
we pray, those whom you call to follow you under the vows
of poverty, chastity, and obedience, that by their prayer and
service they may enrich your Church, and by their life and
worship may glorify your Name; for you reign with the Father
and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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