BY: Ms. Debra Weldon, OP, MTS
Mark, one of my Dominican brothers, and I have found ourselves discussing what it means to be a Lay Dominican these last few months. For me, the desire to go deeper began when I was sitting in mass not too long ago, and someone offered up a prayer for the religious. It hit me for the first time – I am a religious, and that prayer was for me. Of course, I knew that I was a member of a religious order, but that day, it really hit home. I got chills.
Shortly thereafter, Mark was filling me in on the discussion from a general meeting of our Chapter that I was unable to attend. He told me that Fr. Jude had asked the question to all who were present: why are you here? He gave me a sampling of some of the responses, and the two of us have continued to seek ways to better answer the very important questions, why am I here, and what does it mean to me?
What we know is that being Dominican is not being a part of a philosophical group. Neither is it a book club where people study biblical and theological materials as an intellectual pursuit. It is a way of partaking in a lifestyle that led St. Dominic and many other Dominicans before us to sanctification. It is something that one lives and breaths every moment of their life from the time they start formation, through making final vows, and to that person’s last breath. The question before us is – how do we live that lifestyle in the world, in our marriages, in our single vocations, in raising our kids, and in our work and personal time? How do we live and breath it when we are not waking up in a community that prays the Liturgy of the Hours together, gathering around a common altar to pray mass, and closing the day once again in community with the Liturgy of the Hours and a communal meal?
Therefore, we have proposed a series of articles that will be our attempt to not only seek and find a deeper understanding of our vocation, but to seek, find, and preach that which is found. We have chosen to structure this series around the contents of a book written by Fr. William A. Hennebusch, O.P., called “Dominican Spirituality, Principles and Practices.” This book is a compilation of a series of talks that Fr. Hennebusch gave to Dominican Sisters. So, it was originally written by a friar for sisters. An introductory chapter was written to provide a framework, and the reader is encouraged to download the book and read this introductory chapter.
While Fr. Hennebusch does a wonderful job painting a picture of Dominican Spirituality for all members of the Order, we want to supplement his work with thoughts from the Dominican Laity.
This book is structured as a series of chapters titled as Dominican life is:
The Image of St. Dominic;
These chapter headings will be the basis for our series of articles.
In addition, this series of articles will make the most sense when one understands that the Dominican Order is founded on four pillars: prayer, study, preaching, and community. These pillars will likely be addressed throughout the series since they are an integral part of our daily lives.
None of the authors in this series thinks that we have all of the answers, and we invite anyone to share their ideas of living life as a Lay Dominican in the comments section below each article. We hope to learn from others how we can more fully live out our exciting vocation as lay members in the Order of Preachers.
If you are interested in learning more about becoming a Lay Dominican, please reach out to us by clicking on this link: https://dallaslaydominicans.com/welcome/contact-us/ Even if you do not live near our Chapter, we can assist you in making contact with a Chapter closer to your home.
About the Author: Debra is a temporarily professed Lay Dominican who will be eligible to make her final profession in early 2023. She spent several years studying Carmelite and Jesuit spirituality both by attending classes at the local monasteries and independently studying books written by or about saints from these orders. She always felt called to join an order as a lay person, but did not find her home until someone introduced her to the Dominicans where the four pillars rooted her, and made her feel at home. She endeavors to structure her day around a format that supports her goal of prayerful study before preaching to community. You can find more fruit of her labors in her blog, Thoughts of a Crazy Woman.