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From the Pastor 08/19/18

A very sincere thank you for your generosity to the Annual Missionary Cooperative Plan. Fr. Michael Ocran gave a wonderful homily about the great gift of the Eucharist in our lives, the history of the evangelization of Ghana, West Africa, and the story of his own vocation and missionary work. The collection for Ghana, West Africa was $9,646.00. This represents one of the most generous Mission Co-Op Collections for our parish. Thank you so much for your generosity to the spread of the Gospel throughout the world.

I am happy to report that our sisters have returned to the convent. Our new principal, Sr. Maria Christi, the other sisters, teachers, and staff are now in the school anticipating the beginning of a new school year this Tuesday on August 21, which is the Memorial of Pope St. Pius X, a wonderful memorial because it is this saintly Pope who encouraged children to make their First Holy Communion beginning at the age of reason.

St. Dominic’s Order of Friars Preachers

St. Dominic was original in creating communities not of monks but of brethren (friars). This new Mendicant Order differed markedly from monasticism in that it would be sustained not by the ownership and cultivation of lands, but by begging. It would be international rather than local in membership; and lived democratically as brothers with elected officials, rather than under the system of an abbot/spiritual father.

Dominic aimed at reviving the wondering “apostolic life” in total poverty of the first disciples of Jesus. Because Dominic had the specific aim of preaching, he founded an Order of priests under the canonical Rule of St. Augustine, to assist the bishops in their teaching office, although he included non-ordained members: cooperator brothers to assist in this mission, and contemplative nuns to empower it through prayer. Later his vision would include laypeople as well.

“Hence when St. Dominic was attending to the observance of the monastic discipline he was rather considering the apostles whom he was trying to form than those who would be edified by them, looking to the need they had themselves of holiness before they could dare appeal to the mind or hearts of others. The old adage ‘physician, heal thyself’ may at times be an unfair argument, but it is not the less a valuable truth; and to Dominic it seemed that the preacher needed to be immersed in the things of the spirit before he could hope to convince and stir the hearts of others.” Jarrett, O.P., Life of St. Dominic, p. 88.

For St. Dominic, the work of preaching the word of God came first and, as the Constitutions written under his direction show, it was this mission which shaped every aspect of his spirituality and his community. Dominic felt that the spiritual formation and direction of the Order should come primarily, not from a spiritual father, but from living in a community inspired by the very mission that Jesus had chosen for himself, the ministry of the word.

“The danger for the Dominicans was therefore to be remedied by making them drink deep of the spiritual life, for the apostle, who has his interest in mere intellectual pursuits, will find that the tendency to remain absorbed in pure abstraction is corrected by strict monastic observance. The discipline of austerity works in the direction of setting the soul afire. Not only does it induce in the soul the high and deep thoughts that entrance a man’s being, but it enables those to blossom out into action. The result is not merely to give light to his nature, but to impart to it that heat which must set the world ablaze.” Jarrett, O.P., Life of St. Dominic, p. 90.

This ministry of the word was a specific one — to communicate the message of the gospel in a way that would penetrate the mind and hearts of people as a two edged sword. It was to fulfill the Pauline injunction,

Proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching. For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths. But you, be self-possessed in all circumstances; put up with hard- ships; perform the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

St. Dominic on Prayer

Although Dominic made the mission primary, he was profoundly convinced that preaching is a work of grace, not of human eloquence, and consequently must receive its power from prayer. This is shown by the fact that even before he gathered his friars, he first founded a community of cloistered, contemplative nuns at Prouille in France, and while still getting his Order underway, hastened to found communities of contemplative women at Madrid and Rome.

Dominic retained monastic practices for his own friars, such as the liturgy of the hours, community Eucharist, the cloister and silence, fasting and penance, the wearing of a religious habit, in order to foster prayer and contemplation. He himself was given to constant prayer, and a beautiful little anonymous work, The Nine Ways of Prayer has preserved for us his ways of praying with his whole body, mind and heart.

A blessed week to all,

Rev. André-Joseph LaCasse, O.P., Pastor