As you know, I am a mom, a wife, a friend, sister, Latina, Catholic convert, tattooed, opera singer, veiler, prayer warrior and all around insomniac. I’ve mentioned being a budding Lay Dominican here, here, and here but the why? Let’s get into that…
My confirmation saint is St. Therese de Lisieux. I chose her immediately because of how my faith started and how it has to remain, small – not in belief but in expression. No sweeping gestures here. Bringing in the garbage cans, because I know he’ll be cold and tired after a 3 hour work commute; folding his basket of laundry (because he does his and I do mine and the boys) randomly. You know, small, random acts of kindness or” little flowers”. I am the only bible, for now, that he will ever read. I am the only saint he will ever come to know. Not that I am a saint, but as an atheist, you can’t imagine that he would be reading this? Could you?
I am a convert. During the RCIA process, we had weekly faith sharing, a fleshing out of scripture and reflection. I ate that up with a spoon! A huge ladle, actually. During the celebration of the Scrutinies , the parable of the Woman at the Well, resonated like nothing else (well except Holy Communion of course!) From OnlineMinistries.Creighton.edu:
Jesus tries to reveal his thirst to her – perhaps his thirst for intimacy with her – but she puts him off. She’s not worthy. It won’t work. When he offers to satisfy her thirst, she puts him off. He can’t satisfy what she needs, at least with this well, and without a bucket.
I suddenly realized that this weekly faith sharing with other brothers and sisters who were aflame with faith, would extinguish. There would be no weekly meetings, no more sessions with Deacon TC. There was also no talk of “what comes next?”
I got to researching. I’m a “Want it done? Do it yourself” kinda gal. I study, I research, I read. I get that from my grandmother. She was a big proponent of seeking knowledge yourself, and always starting with books. I came upon these “things” called Third Orders. Hmmm, Third Orders? To me, it sounded like a cross between a nun and a not-so-much-nun. Seeing as I have a thing for nuns – (they’re like celebrity to me) I had to investigate. I began with the Carmelites because of my love for St. Therese de Lisieux – you have to decide though, Discalced Carmelites or Lay Carmelites. Oh, and the books I secretly downloaded for my Kindle in the wee hours of the night? My poor bank statement.
I called a local chapter in my area. Now you may be thinking that with everything I have going on, I don’t spend a lot of time in silence. Not true. In fact, because I run around like a madwoman, I make sure to get to Adoration weekly and use my time going to and from work in prayer. I mean, I schedule it like other people schedule their weekly gym time. I’m a few pounds over the recommended weight, but I’m a trim prayer person. It’s in the silence that I hear the Holy Spirit. During this initial phone call, I didn’t feel a connection. To me, it felt like I was speaking to a closed door. This doesn’t mean that the person on the other end was giving that off. I just listened to what the person had to say and I didn’t feel a click. The key didn’t turn the lock in my heart.
I reached out to Theresa at My Desert Heart. It turned out that she lived near me and was so sweet and encouraging, regardless of where I was headed. I had done some light investigation on the Lay Dominicans and then I thought – wait, they preach. I’m not a preacher (yes, I’m giggling to myself as I type) so I dismissed it – but it was nagging. Then, in the middle of the night, as I was screaming in my own head “can’t there be just one place where I can figure this out!?” I received a digest email from Ignitum Today with a piece written by TJ Burdick titled, simply How to Join a Third Order. He wrote that every Third Order has a charism (or for those of us laypeople, a specialty).
The four most popular religious communities that offer Third Order formation and membership are:
The 3rd Order Carmelites, whose charism is contemplative prayer (let’s not forget Discalced Carmelites – this is my addition based on comments to his piece)
The Oblates of St. Benedict, whose charism is to seek God in association with a monastic community.
The 3rd Order Franciscans, whose charism is based on living a simple lifestyle like that of St. Francis.
The Lay Dominicans, whose chrism is to attain knowledge and wisdom through study and preaching.
Clearly, I had my homework ahead of me, mapped out. Talk about ask and ye shall receive, right? I clicked on each one and kept going back to the Lay Dominicans. I was nudged by my friend S, to participate in the 7 posts in 7 days challenge and begrudgingly (because I can be a scaredy cat) complied. I promised myself that I would also click on a few other blogs linked up each day and comment. Enter, Tiffany from Life of a Catholic Librarian….
I immediately was drawn to her sidebar of posts. Staring at me with crazy tunnel vision was the post titled: “Why I’m a Lay Dominican” It was this that sealed the deal. She wrote:
I kept going back, and the more I learned, the more I liked the Dominicans. I wasn’t yet thinking of becoming a librarian, but I was drawn to the Dominican love of reading and learning, and I realized that the call to be an Order of Preachers for lay people doesn’t mean that you go looking for verbal confrontations with people; instead, you are called to be a quiet example with your life. Now THAT I can handle (or try to).
Next thing you knew, I was progressing in my training to become a Third Order Dominican. It just seemed to fit, and it felt right. I’ve never given up my love for the Carmelites, but I felt called to be a Dominican.
Can you hear the Alleluia chorus?!?!?! Because I did!
I immediately reached out to any contact in my local area to get more information. I printed every bit of information I could get my hands on, and of course, created a binder. I mean, I was cuckoo for cocoa puffs with it. I knew I’d found “IT”. Tiffany felt half Carmelite and half Dominican, as I did. I felt some comfort knowing that it could happen. We began a wonderful friendship and I learned, it’s ok to be a little, torn. How wonderful to be torn in two by such great saints? In my searching for the head of what would soon be my chapter, I found out that he, J, along with Deacon TC were BFFs. J, was a founding member of my parish!!! Our chapter includes all women, and J, the only dude. Poor guy. He takes it all in stride. We had a meeting last night and I presented the first module. I loved how helpful they were in their commentary to my answers, how honestly they shared their commonalities with my experiences and how eagerly they listened. Afterwards, we had cake for Christmas, and one of the members gave each one of us (including J!) a rosary bracelet – with Dominican colors – black and white.
We had a presentation by J, about this book, The Mystery of St. Joseph. I, just now, realized that St. Joseph is the name of the province to which my chapter belongs, and is also the name of my parish. I don’t know about you, but I love these little connections.
Finally, I am a Lay Dominican – or working at it (takes about 6 years total) because I am called to it. I am filled with joy at every meeting with these wonderful, deeply knowledgeable, colorful – and funny (man, are they ever funny) people. One is a doctor, the other travels the world, another, shares a birthday with yours truly tomorrow! Yes, on the Memorial of St. John of the Cross (being half Carmelite makes sense!), there are more people in my chapter, but I am getting to know them still. I chose this Third Order because it encompasses all of the things about me, that didn’t quite, you know, fit. I love to read, write, pray, and yes, preach. One of the members who made the rosaries last night said it best. Cristina, when you write on your blog, you’re preaching. I guess I am.
Interested? Learn more, ask questions, pray about it, talk to me, Tiffany, Theresa or even Emily D, Constance, Christine, Anna and Nikita. These are all third order members. These are all people that I have found in this process. This process is and will continue to be a blessing. Don’t even get me started on praying the Divine Office daily and praying the rosary – this could easily turn into 14 quick takes. Did I just hint a sequel? YUP! Happy Birthday to me (and F, my Lay Dominican sister.) and thank you TJ Burdick, for your post at just the right time (Sun, Jul 7, 2013 at 12:04 AM)
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!