It’s the second Thursday of the month, and that means I am heading to my chapter meeting with my Lay Dominican brothers and sisters. It also means that I am presenting on a module. Module 4 of 6 to be exact and that bad boy can be found on the Lay Fraternities of St. Dominic Province of St. Joseph (Eastern USA) website (that’s a mouthful). Last month, I answered the module questions around Apostolate, and this month, it’s all about Community.
1. Discuss how you can participate in the chapter community and how this may contribute to extending the community aspect of your Dominican life to other areas of your life such as family, workplace, local community, etc.
I can participate in the chapter community by bringing my unique perspective as a recent convert to the Catholic faith (2012). I have thoughts and reflections that may not be what someone who was steeped and raised in the faith would. My questions, which can be new for me, give my Lay Dominican brothers and sisters, pause (hopefully) to have to unravel their solidified truth, to explain and help me to understand more deeply from their vantage point. I, then, take these rich perspectives to my online communities, people that I interact with at work and especially at home.
My children now know more about the respect of prayer time and how Mommy starts and ends her day with a special prayer prayed by people all over the world. They appreciate prayer within a community by coming to our chapter meetings. I too, have been touched by my chapter president’s response when I asked if they could come with me because I couldn’t get a sitter “Of course, we’re pro-life. Bring them!”
2. Have there been instances in your life that you were challenged on some issue of faith or morals? Were you knowledgeable about the Church’s position on the issue? If you were unable to give an adequate response, would you have presented the topic to your chapter for study, discussion and meditation?
Yes – all the time! The most obvious example is that of the atheism of my husband. The Church’s position on this issue of course, is to pray for him. To be patient with him. To show Christ’s love and truth through my personal, outward example. I brought this concern to my chapter, not realizing how heavily it was weighing on my heart. They were willing to pray for him, and they also shared with me, very compassionately, of my need to be patient with him and to be compliant to God’s will, not mine. I realized in that evening that I was more frustrated at an imaginary timeline of conversion that I subconsciously created. They reminded me of my need to rely on my God who loves me more than I could possibly imagine.
“Gently,” we say to them. “Do not hurry on so fast! Begin to live well, according to your vocation: sweetly, simply, and humbly. Then trust in God, who will make you holy when it pleases Him.” ~ St. Francis de Sales
I know that I wouldn’t have been able to see that aspect of myself without their loving concern and willingness to be open, honest and constructive.
3. How does the prayer life of the chapter flow into your personal prayer life or vice versa?
I use the binder given to me by the chapter to say the intercessory prayers during the month for those Lay Dominican sisters that we are asked to pray for. I don’t even know them, have never met them and am not sure if I ever will. They are my Lay Dominican family and I pray for them as I would my own family. This expansion of love and community beyond what I see or have seen forces my capacity to love even wider.
4. Discuss the role of community in our present-day culture of individualism?
The role of community is vital. We see it with the viral nature of social media. We also see it in the 85 year old woman who chose self-assisted suicide because she was lonely.
In this society clamoring to be more social, it is the individual that we emphasize – iphone, selfies and the like, but it is the village that we seek behind closed doors. From the very basic need of safety in a neighborhood for a family just starting out, looking for a good community with which their children can be raised in; to a new Catholic who is looking for an environment with which to thrive and carry their fire and love of the faith; it is the collective of individuals who mean to look beyond themselves, that a true community can flourish.
Dominican life is modeled on the lives of the early Christians. Christ founded his Church on earth as a community of believers, beginning with the apostles and early disciples (p. 1)
Are we not called to be the same? I sought community when I felt my parish was lacking, through that search, I found the Lay Dominicans. I can’t think of a more natural progression for me, of the role my individuality towards a faith filled community.
5. Discuss the contributions that a shared active chapter apostolate makes toward the spiritual and possibly physical growth of the chapter. If your chapter already has an apostolate, what from your experience or expertise can you offer to it? If there is not one, do you have some suggestions? What are they?
We do not have a group apostolate, yet. We discussed it at the last meeting and came to a group consensus that making rosaries for donation, within our local community. This group’s decision is “one based upon the talents and interests of all the individual members” (p. 2)
Considering we are all very active and busy with career and family, making rosaries can be done when we are waiting at an airport, sitting after mass on a Sunday or over a lunch break. The obvious attraction is the actual rosary itself and its deep history with the Dominicans.
That’s all folks! Till next month when we’re at module 5, talking about Study *rubs hands together*. As always, if you are interested in, or have questions about the Lay Dominican community, you can always leave a comment or head over to their website for more information http://3op.org