Johannes Tauler OP describes the Nativity as a kind of three births. A trinity that, for Tauler, symbolically reflects the Divine Trinity and finds expression in each individual person who makes herself available to the interior movements of the Holy Spirit. The first is the paternal birth, of God begetting His only Son “within the Divine essence.” The second birth is of Maternal fruitfulness and purity. The third is “effected when God is born within a just soul every day and every hour truly and spiritually, by grace and out of love.” These “three births,” captured within the nativity, bestow upon mankind:
A paternal outpouring of love that holds nothing back. As Tauler poetically describes in his Christmas sermon, “And so He turns inward, comprehending Himself, and He flows outward in the generation of His Image (that is His Son), which He has known and comprehended. And again, He returns to Himself in perfect self-delight. And this delight streams forth as ineffable love, and that ineffable love is the Holy Spirit. Thus, God turns inward, goes outward, and returns to Himself again.”
The maternal reflection and interiorization of the Father’s Grace. This manifestation finds perfection in the soul of Mary, as Augustine describes; “Mary was more blessed because God was born spiritually in her soul than because He was born from her in the flesh.” Her soul was virginal and pure, and this is the state that may bring about God’s birth within each of our souls. It is a purity concerned primarily with internal movement, bearing within itself invisible fruit—this is the construction of the tabernacle of the Holy Spirit within one’s heart.
Finally, the Nativity, delivered in the silence of our being, where in our humility we make the room necessary to receive our guest, purifies the three faculties of our spirit, as Tauler explains, “memory, understanding, and free will. With their aid the soul is able to grasp God and to partake of Him.” In this process the soul is cleansing itself of the temporal things that the fall of Adam has inclined in our hearts to pursue. This is a necessary reversal, and it is one that Augustine implores in us to, “Pour out that you may be filled to go out of yourself, so that you may enter.” As Tauler asks, “does God leave anything empty, so contrary is this to His nature and to His ordinance.”
As an historical event, the Nativity arose from the Thundering Silence of a humble manger in Bethlehem. An event that, in time and space, midwifed more than a decade of peace. As Saint Bede the Venerable demonstrates from Luke 2:1, “But there could be no greater sign of peace than for the whole world to be brought together under one taxing, while its ruler Augustus reigned with so great peace for twelve years, about the time of our Lord’s nativity, that war having been quelled throughout the whole world, there seemed to be a literal fulfillment of the Prophet’s prediction, They shall beat their swords into ploughshares.” May the silence in which the Logos was made flesh penetrate our hearts, planting itself in the fertile soil of our souls, and may it usher in an era of peace so eloquently described by the prophet Isaiah:
He shall judge between the nations, and set terms for many peoples. They shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks; One nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again.
Dominican Spirituality can be summarized into prayer, study, community, and the apostolate (aka preaching) which we call the four pillars. Debra explored with you in the previous article how the Dominican Life is Contemplative which is located in the Prayer pillar. In this article, we’re going to explore the Apostolate pillar through the chapter called “Dominican Life is Apostolic” in the book “Dominican Spirituality, Principles and Practice” by Fr. William A. Hinnebusch, O.P.. Here we are presented with some of the most straightforward yet perplexing elements of Dominican life.
Before we get too far, it is important that we discuss what is “apostolic.” The root word of “apostolic” is the Greek verb for “to send.” Those that are sent are apostles. Since Jesus was sent into the world first and by the Father, Jesus is the prime and prototypical apostle. Just as He was sent, He sends the disciples into the world, John 17:18, making them apostles. By our baptism and confirmation we are called to participate in Christ and in His mission. Fr. Jordan Aumann, O.P. speaks of sanctification in this way:
The measure of the perfection or holiness of the spiritual life is the degree of participation by the individual Christian in the sanctity and perfection of God.
When most people think of religious orders they usually think of “monks,” who are sequestered off in their monasteries living a private and an interior life seeking holiness, and “friars,” who are out on the streets living a life with the people and an exterior life serving others. As the conversation continues we end up discussing examples like Benedictine monks and Franciscan friars each with their own participation in Christ’s life. This always makes me chuckle when I am explaining that I am a permanently professed member of a religious order because I am clearly neither of these, and yet I am called to both of these activities.
Mark, in a previous article, references a quote from Dominican Spirituality that I really enjoy. Let me paraphrase it, a person can be saved outside of the Order of Preachers but once they enter the Order they must save their soul through the spirituality of the Order. The spirituality of the Order follows in the spirituality of its founder, Dominic, who was a cloistered monk then later sent into the world. Like Christ, Dominic sent his brothers into the world. The Rule for Lay Dominicans, which we promise to follow and live by, aligns us to the Order’s mission by stating as “Members of the Order, [the Dominican Laity] share in it’s apostolic mission through prayer, study, and preaching according to the state of the laity.” This is followed by three more paragraphs describing the apostolic mission where the Order describes how our apostolic activity has its source in contemplation, attending to the particular goals of the contemporary Church, and how we are to be attentive to the needs of the people of their time.
Hinnebusch takes this theme and starts off the chapter on the apostolate by establishing the eschatology of the Order:
The general end of the Dominican Order is the sanctification of its members through contemplation; its special end is the salvation of souls through preaching. These two ends are not contradictory; in fact, they are one. The second implies the first.
The Rule #I.4
This is a really striking statement. It asserts two things about the lay members of the Order; that we practice contemplation and that we serve others through the apostolate. This is for a number of reasons. One of which is that that love which draws the Dominican into such a union with God is the same love that draws him out to encounter others. There is an inseparable link between our sanctity and our apostolic efforts.
There are a number of things that contribute to our sanctity. First, we must want it. We must desire to become holy. Then we need to have a sacramental life, namely that we confess our sins in Confession and reception of the Holy Eucharist. We are also called to a regular prayer life. We join our voices with the rest of the Order of Preachers, other religious orders, Clergy, Lay persons, including the Holy Father by praying the Liturgy of the Hours. We also pray privately through conversation with God and contemplation. Which can be done as simply as by picking up the rosary and praying it. Both the liturgical and the private prayer form a minimum goal. Both have such an important role in our lives that Hinnebusch devoted a chapter to each of these to dive into those areas in more detail with the articles on how a Dominican life is liturgical and contemplative. We should never run out of things to tell our Lord. There is a phrase that we use around the chapter, that we take our studies into our prayer life and then share the fruits from our prayer life with others. As we continue to study and grow in our knowledge of the Truth, we should be taking what we learned to the Holy Trinity then sharing with others the gifts we receive from that exchange.
There is a saying that we preach with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other. Like the prophets of old, we are called to engage with the situations of the times we find ourselves in. This was not new to the Second Vatican Council where church fathers said the following:
[The laity] exercise the apostolate in fact by their activity directed to the evangelization and sanctification of men and to the penetrating and perfecting of the temporal order through the spirit of the Gospel. In this way, their temporal activity openly bears witness to Christ and promotes the salvation of men. Since the laity, in accordance with their state of life, live in the midst of the world and its concerns, they are called by God to exercise their apostolate in the world like leaven, with the ardor of the spirit of Christ.
Catholic Church, “Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity: Apostolicam Actuositatem,” in Vatican II Documents (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2011), 2.
The “temporal order” phrase refers to the time and place that we are in. We are called to go into the world, the world that we were born into, and seek to perfect it through the Gospel. We are to be God’s agents in the world bringing about change. This is not work that is unique and special to us, the laity. We strive to labor in our homes, families, work places, grocery stores, our social groups, our government offices, etc. It is in these places that we bring about change. Not only speaking out like prophets of old against injustice but actually making change like Jesus did. Some might say that we preach from the everyday pulpits we find ourselves at, yes, and I say that we are to be craftsman laboring in the perfection that which God has set before us. Like the prophets, we were born at a chosen time and place. We have to look around us to see the needs of our times. One of the largest questions faced by Lay Dominicans is what to do in their apostolate. Like our forefathers in the Order, we are called to attend to the particular goals of the contemporary church specifically toward the suffering, defending freedom, and promoting peace and justice. Here we begin to see the first hints of what kind of apostolic activities we are called to. But this should not be a surprise to us just look at what the prophets said and what Jesus did. There is a common activity that people assume we do because we are members of the Order of Preachers that is, well, preaching. The most visible form of preaching is that of the Priests and Deacons during liturgical celebrations. As lay persons, we don’t have the permissions to do that. But we are sent to preach into places where they can’t go like our workplaces, sports teams, families, etc. Our service to those in need and the particular church we abide within starts with praying for the intentions of our Bishop and our Pastor and ends with us clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, and protecting the stranger. There are a lot of opportunities between prayer and Works of Mercy. Could be volunteering at the local homeless shelter or helping at the food pantry. We can not sit around waiting for those opportunities to present themselves like the next netflix episode. Be in the world to seek those opportunities or as craftsmen, we sometimes need to create opportunities to help others. Think of it like building the pulpit that we preach from. As Lay Dominicans we are in the world sharing God’s mercy through our attitudes, words, and actions.
“The student had recently moved from California to Houston. On the second day of his arrival, it rained heavily, and the area in which he lived was flooded. There was a big hole in the street in front of his apartment. A motorist’s car landed right in that hole, causing a good deal of damage to the vehicle and some injuries to the passengers. Neither the student nor his roommates could think of anything to do other than to report the accident to city authorities.
Their neighbor, Mr. David, took positive action. He stood very close to the hole, one hand holding an umbrella, and the other hand waiving a flag to warn approaching motorists away from the hazard. Through hard rain and wind, Mr. David maintained his post for more than two hours. Because of his service to others, many cars avoided an accident in rush-hour traffic.
That student was very impressed by Mr. David’s actions. He was even more impressed when he learned that Mr. David was seventy-two years old. Mr. David seemed to him to be even more courageous than Hemingway’s character in “The Old Man and the Sea”. The following day, the student visited him to express his admiration and gratitude. They talked of many things, and learned much about each other. Mr. David invited the student to go with him to his church the next Sunday.
“What is your church,” he asked?
Mr. David replied: “I am a member of the Second Baptist Church.”
When the student told his priest this story, he concluded: “I am a Catholic, and I do not want to be anything else. But, just imagine if I were searching for a religion; what better choice could I make than a faith that produces a caring man like Mr. David!”
Taken from Dominican Laity And The Year 2000 by Anthony Dao Quang Chinh, O.P.
How do Lay Dominicans preach? One way could be through the homily of our lives.
What separates a Lay Dominican from our religious brothers and sisters? One aspect is how we share our charism in the world. There are as many ways to do this as there are Lay Dominicans–this is mine.
Our religious brothers and sisters live their Dominican vocation in a very obvious and public way. They are members of the Church. They wear habits. They have assigned duties of ministry in the Church–and I think that alone makes it a little more difficult to understand our role. We are not assigned any ministries, our direction is not nearly as clear, however, this also gives us an advantage, or, rather, it gives us a distinct role. This role was recognized by the early friars and has existed since almost the beginning of the Order itself. The religious can’t be everywhere. They can’t really be in the workplace. They won’t always get to have the interactions and discussions with people, not just due to the workplace but also due to the habit itself which may put some off. What is this role? Pope St. John Paul II, working from the Vatican II document Apostolicam Actuositatem said the laity are to renew the temporal order1. And so how is this done?
I can’t speak about others’ experience, but I’d like to share mine. Currently, I’m a graduate student studying physics at a state school that just happens to be rather liberal, especially for Texas. I am fortunate that we have a really good Catholic ministry attached, but I only spend some of my time there. You see, this may be hard to believe, but most physicists are atheists and some are actually hostile to the concept of a “God” at all. I know, shocking. However, most of my compatriots love having rather deep conversations about things, especially if it’s related to the structure of the cosmos. So, how do I live my Dominican charism? By having conversations with them about the reality of things, but I’m coming from, and using, the philosophical system most affiliated with the Dominican Order–Thomistic-Aristotelianism.
See, one of the biggest obstacles to discussing God or anything related is this barrier that comes up. This barrier is usually built from bad experiences and bad philosophy. So, the best way to bring God into their life is to try and break down that wall. I do not try to impose Catholic doctrine. I do not always talk about God or the Catholic Church. What I do is much more subtle–have genuine conversations with people. Through these conversations their philosophical outlook and misconceptions start to break down–it’s up to them and God to do the rest. Also, they all know I’m Catholic, so I must act like one. This goes hand-in-hand with what I say and further reinforces it.
As to the campus ministry, my work is much simpler–I give talks, mentor, and help the students understand various things within the Church. It is an unfortunate reality that most Catholics don’t know much about Catholicism.
Whether someone converts or reverts due to my actions is not the point I try to make. This may seem weird, but my point is that God has way more influence than I ever will. I try to represent what it means to be Catholic, and I am constantly trying to engage others on an intellectual level in order to spread the Truth–it’s up to each person to decide if they wish to listen or not.
Is God calling you to be a Dominican in the world?
In short, it is a set of principles and ideals that can be applied to society and societal situations and problems in general. Our relationship with our Savior calls us to respond to those in need, and to work towards addressing unjust situations. “Discovering that they are loved by God, people come to understand their own transcendent dignity, they learn not to be satisfied with only themselves but to encounter their neighbor in a network of relationships that are ever more authentically human. Catholic Social Teaching is a means by which the Gospel is applied to structures in society, including the most basic societal structure (the individual family,) and the most complex (global international human affairs.)
It is also important to define at the onset of this overview what Catholic Social Teaching (CST from here forward) is not. In learning the principles of CST, many students try to align the doctrine with a particular political party. While it is true that the beauty of learning these principles is that they can be applied to events of the marketplace (in order to activate the three aspects listed above), the existence of the principles does not mean that the Catholic Church is taking sides in the “liberal/conservative” or “Democrat/Republican” spectrum. This is not the case. “The Church is not to be confused with the political community and is not bound to any political system.” There is much room for deciding how the principles are to be applied, and in fact I have monitored class discussions on hot button issues (immigration comes to mind) when both opposing views applied CST correctly! So be assured that the principles of CST do not neatly line up with one political agenda or the other, and it is a fallacy to attempt to generalize the principles into political ideologies. One is to apply the principles to social circumstances, and in particularly complex situations, careful analysis may render more than one outcome.
History of CST
The origins of CST can be traced back to Hebrew Scriptures, beginning with the Creation story, through the salvific event of the Exodus, and continuing as the Israelites were challenged to live justly in Covenant with God and one another. Social justice principles are seen in the laws regarding the sabbatical and jubilee years (every seven and fifty years where land was to lie fallow, debts were cancelled and people as well as goods were restored to their original owners.)
“This legislation is designed to ensure that the salvific event of the Exodus and fidelity to the Covenant represents not only the founding principle of Israel’s social, political and economic life, but also the principle for dealing with questions concerning economic poverty and social injustices.” (p. 13 compendium)
However, infidelity to the covenant with God also meant injustice in society. Sin and injustice showed the need for a Savior.
While the roots of CST can be traced to the Old Testament, it is the Gospel of Jesus itself that forms the basis for the doctrine. Jesus calls His disciples to “love God and neighbor, live the beatitudes, be open to all people, and be compassionate.” From the earliest days the Church has responded to the poor and vulnerable in society. As the Church grew and advanced, work for charity and justice became more structured as institutions for the needy (schools, hospitals, homes for the aged) developed as a response to the Gospel.
However, it was not until the late 1800’s that the Church, in a formal way, applied the message of Christ to society at large. Pope Leo XIII (1810-1903) responded to two forces of the day, unbridled capitalism and Marxism, by writing a seminal document in 1891: The Condition of Labor (Rerum Novarum). Pope Leo XIII recognized that in both unrestrained capitalism and Marxism (the grandfather of modern communism) human dignity is threatened. Rerum Novarum addressed the role of the state to provide rights for workers; the right to work and unionize, the right to a just wage, and the right to own private property.
Later popes took the opportunity on the anniversaries of Rerum Novarum to write further on social issues of their own day. Michael Pennock summarizes the additional contributions to Catholic Social Teaching:
“…popes in their encyclicals and speeches, synods of bishops in their statements, regional and national conferences of bishops, and individual bishops in their pastoral letters have taught extensively on social justice themes. In addition, the Second Vatican Council had much to say about the dignity and rights of humans, especially in the important Pastoral Constitution, The Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes.) Rooted in the Bible and centuries of Christian living, these teachings help form the core of Catholic Social Teaching.”
In 1998, the American bishops synthesized the material on social teaching in a document entitled Sharing Catholic Social Teaching: Challenges and Directions—Reflections of the U.S. Catholic Bishops. Although there is not a “canon” of CST documents, the bishops looked at previous material and came up with seven themes, or principles that are consistently shown throughout the existing documents on Catholic Social Teaching.
Principles of CST
The first principle identified by the bishops is considered the most important:
Life and Dignity of the Human Person
Dignity of the human person is considered the foundational principle, from which all of the other principles flow. We have inherent dignity, worth and value because we are made in the image and likeness of God, and are redeemed by Him. A basic truth to the CST’s is that “all people have dignity, and therefore cannot be treated as objects.” Dignity of humanity means that we have worth independent of our social standing, physical abilities or merit. When people are treated as objects, or without dignity, injustice occurs. Human dignity is the most basic theme of all the CST’s, and foundational for having a moral society. Flowing from an understanding of human dignity, the sacredness of human life is included in this most important first principle. Life is considered man’s first right, and it is upheld in Catholic Social Teaching against the most notable backdrop of threats to life itself: abortion and euthanasia. CST has addressed issues such as cloning, embryonic stem cell research, the use of the death penalty, and just war theory, which all emerge from this first principle. “We believe that every person is precious, that people are more important than things, and that the measure of every institution is whether it threatens or enhances the life and dignity of the human person.”
The Call to Family, Community and Participation
Since we are made in the image and likeness of the Trinitarian God, we are social creatures by nature, and are meant to live in community with one another. As the “original cell of social life,” the family is the most basic unit of society. “The family is the central social institution that must be supported and strengthened, notundermined…” Families form communities, and we are called to participate in the activities of the community. All of the many organizations in communities (sports teams, religious and political organizations, professional and social groups to name a few) meet goals that could not be achieved on an individual basis.
Related to this principle is the concept of subsidiarity, which deals with “the responsibilities and limits of government, and the essential roles of voluntary organizations.”  Subsidiarity teaches that “the lowest level of an organization should handle a function if it is capable of doing so without the higher level intruding.” For example, if a city can govern itself, or if families or voluntary organizations can perform a task, it is wrong for a state or federal government to become involved in that process. Matters should always be settled at the most immediate, direct level. At the same time, the principle of subsidiarity allows the higher government to step in when justice is not occurring at the local level (Pennock gives the example of the federal government having to monitor civil rights laws in the 1960’s to assure that all citizens were getting an equal education.) Subsidiarity emerged in CST as a response to various unjust political systems that usurped family and community rights to govern themselves.
Rights and Responsibilities
Commensurate with human dignity is the right to basic necessities. Pope John XXIII (Peace on Earth) listed some of the fundamental human rights: right to life and those things that support life such as food, shelter, clothing, medical care, and social services in the event that he is deprived of the means of subsistence through no fault of his own; moral and cultural rights including the right to follow the natural law and the right to a basic education; the right to worship God; and economic and political rights.
Rights must go hand in hand with duties and responsibilities. Each individual has a responsibility to one another, their families, and to the larger society. “To claim one’s rights while ignoring one’s responsibilities diminishes the dignity of humans.”
Option for the Poor and Vulnerable
Jesus in the story of the Last Judgment (Mt. 25:31-46) reminds us that we are called to serve the “least of the brothers,” and we will be judged on how we respond to the needs of others.
This principle addresses both individuals and societies in general. Both individuals and governments are to understand that we are to be “administrators” of our possessions, not owners. Thus giving what is required to the needy is to be done with humility, recognizing that the goods given to us have a universal destination. 
A measure of the morality of a society is the treatment of the poor and vulnerable. This principle calls us to evaluate social and economic activity from the viewpoint of the poor and powerless.
The Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers
Our work helps us provide for our needs and those of our families. Additionally, it is through work that we participate with God in creation and develop ourselves as human beings. Work also enables people to contribute to the well-being of the larger community. This principle recognizes the dignity and worth of work, and seeks to uphold that dignity by safeguarding workers’ rights. Issues that have been addressed in the CST’s regarding work include: safe working conditions and hours, just wages to support families, a call to end exploitation of labor, union rights and the role of governments and business owners. “Respecting these rights promotes an economy that protects human life, defends human rights, and advances the well-being ofall.”
This principle recognizes that we are part of a global family, and we are all on the common path as pilgrims on the earth. The bond of global interdependence between people has increased with advances in technology, yet “there persists in every part of the world stark inequalities between developed and developing countries…the acceleration on interdependence between persons and people’s needs to be accompanied by equally intense efforts on the ethical-social plane, in order to avoid the dangerous consequences of perpetrating injustice on a global scale.”In short, this principle calls us to place ourselves in the other’s shoes, and to count all people as our brothers and sisters in Christ.
This means more than a vague feeling of pity or discomfort at the plight of others in distress; it bids us to work for the common good. “The common good includes the social conditions that permit people to reach their full human potential and to realize their human dignity.” Solidarity, then, requires us to approach global situations with concern for the development of individuals involved. “Conditions which allow people to reach their full human potential” exclude war zones; so this principle calls us to work not only for economic development for the poor, and an end to injustice, but also for peace. “Our love for all our sisters and brothers demands that we promote peace in a world surrounded by violence and conflict.”
Care for God’s Creation
“Nature shares in God’s goodness, and contemplation of its beauty and richness raisesourheartsand minds to God.” We are called to be faithful stewards of the earth, and this requires that we protect both people and nature. Some of the moral and ethical implications of this principle include the following challenges: preserving natural environments, working to make human environments compatible with local ecology, finding solutions to environmental threats such as air and water pollution, and considering the effects of instant gratification and consumerism on the environment. The American bishops’ pastoral letter, Renewing the Earth, discusses rationale and principles for good stewardship of the earth. One of the points is the observation that abuse of the environment often hurts the poor who depend on the earth for their subsistence. This principle addresses not only stewardship for the goods of the earth, but concern again for the least of our brothers and sisters.
A Journey of Fourteen Inches
A co-worker has explained the goal of teaching Catholic Social Teaching thusly: “If you can get the student to take the information and make the journey from the head to the heart (14 inches,) you have succeeded.” After teaching the material for a year I was asked to chaperone students on a mission trip to Honduras. It was there that his words came back to me, when I was working with the local people side by side to accomplish a task and living as they lived, simply and without my customary creature comforts. I understood with my heart what solidarity meant, the dignity of an honest day’s work, and the disparity between the rich and the poor. Moreover, the dignity of the people that we served was made apparent to me. Those that had what Americans would consider “nothing” and may even be considered by some to be “nobodies,” were rich in curiosity, friendliness, laughter, the ability to appreciate the most simple things, resourcefulness, and gracious generosity.
In order to internalize the principles of Catholic Social Teaching it may be necessary to step out of one’s comfort zone. These teachings are challenging, yet “working for justice is an essential dimension of Christian living. It is not optional…”
We are to love as Jesus loved. Our Church, guided by the Holy Spirit, is leading us to serve Christ not only in our interpersonal relationships with families and friends and groups to which we belong, but also in our communities and in our concern with people even on a global level. We are to consider “the least of our brothers” as Christ himself, recognizing in our brothers and sisters the dignity that is both God given and a reflection of His glory.
 Michael Pennock, Learning and Living Justice, Catholic Social Teaching, (Notre Dame, Indiana: Ave Maria Press), p. 12.
 Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church (Washington, D.C.: Libreria Editrice Vaticana), 4.
Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 50.
Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 24.
 National Conference of Catholic Bishops, Sharing Catholic Social Teaching: Challenges and Directions—Reflections of the U.S. Catholic Bishops (Washington, D.C.: United States Catholic Conference, 1998) 4-5
Sharing Catholic Social Teaching: Challenges and Directions—Reflections of the U.S. Catholic Bishops, 6
 St. Gregory the Great, Regula Pastoralis, 3, 21: PL 77, 87
 The concept of the universal destination of goods is referred to in Guadium et Spes: “God destined the earth and all it contains for all men and all peoples so that all created things would be shared fairly by all mankind under the guidance of justice tempered with charity.” Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, 69: AAS 58 (1966), 1090.
Sharing Catholic Social Teaching: Challenges and Directions—Reflections of the U.S. Catholic Bishops, p. 5
Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 192.
 United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Themes for Catholic Social Teaching, USCCB SummaryDocument (Washington, D.C.: USCCB Publishing)
 United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Renewing the Earth,An Invitation to Reflection and Action on Environment in Light of Catholic Social Teaching (Washington D.C.: USCCBPublishing, 1991),
Each Dominican is called to preach. That action can manifest itself in a multitude of ways. Our Dominican friars write homilies. The Dominican Sisters may preach by teaching. A Dominican Nun who is cloistered may preach to those she lives with. Lay Dominicans preach as well, according to their vocation. I may preach when I give a lecture on scripture. Others preach the Gospel in the work place. Many members of the laity may preach while serving the poor and marginalized. Some members, like Pete C., preach by sharing God’s love and the Gospel, through poetry. Below are a few of his, that he has shared with me, to share with you. In a month or so, I will share a few more.
A Light for All To See
Through the windows of man’s eyes, the spirit of his soul is cast.
That from these eyes in time, the light of Christ does shine.
In and through the darkness, drawing others to the light.
Like a moth to a flame at night, burns not in this fire bright.
But each by their measure, draw others to Christ’s light.
From beneath these eyes lies wisdom, knowledge, and understanding to be.
That will open the doors to Gods kingdom, love, and mercy.
All that remains is to have faith, love, trust, and to obey Him we must.
And likewise love our neighbors all, as ourselves, lest we might fall.
So, when you’re trying to make a choice, look in the mirror and seek that voice.
You are the treasure is what you see, your life as it is meant to be.
Now is the time to hear the voice, look and proclaim what is that choice.
All life springs from what has been sent, that all may see this new light’s event.
And through the windows of man’s eyes, the spirit of his soul will rise.
From these eyes let God’s passion flow, and spread His Words for all to know.
Far and wide all might hear and see, what God’s promise is for us to be.
Our salvation at life’s end we will be, as we enter into His Kingdom you and me.
Each Dominican is called to preach. Part of our journey as lay members of the Dominican Family is to search out the ways in which the Lord calls us to preach. Jenny N., one of our perpetually professed members, has answered that call in a very dedicated way. Last year, Jenny completed her Master’s degree in Catechetical Ministry at the University of Dallas. She is now a Youth Ministry Coordinator at a parish in her diocese. Occasionally, we are called to preach to the choir. Last year, Jenny presented her Master’s capstone “Adapting for Adolescents: A case Study on Adapting the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults to Meet the Needs of Adolescents.”
We are the choir. We know our faith and much of its beauty. However, we can always learn more and be open to understanding more. Anyone with an interest in the new evangelization will benefit from reading this, especially those who work with youth. Below is an excerpt of Jenny’s preaching. If you would like to read more, please send an email to email@example.com. Your request will be forwarded to Jenny.
Adapting for Adolescents: A case Study on Adapting the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults to Meet the Needs of Adolescents – Introduction and Chapter 1
The purpose of this paper is to examine the reasons why the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults should be adapted for individuals of adolescent age as well as the implications these considerations have upon all catechetical ministries for such individuals. From these implications, conclusions will be drawn regarding the impact that such adaptations and considerations could have on the general engagement of this age group in the Catholic church. The introduction will provide a literature review of documents, ministerial writings, and historical practices within the Church depicting the primacy of the catechumenal model of catechesis, as practiced in preparation for the Rites of Christian Initiation of Adults. Research will be presented regarding the use of RCIA as the basis for all catechesis as well as the principles inherent in this process. The paper will then explore the inclusion of adolescents in this process, and the merits of adapting the process to meet the individual needs of these individuals based upon the psychological stage of adolescents as discussed in Stages of Faith by James Fowler. After reviewing this foundational research, analysis will be completed on what principles or practices should be put into a process for adolescent participants in the RCIA process. The conclusions from this study not only inform practices to be used for uncatechized adolescents seeking full initiation into the Church, but also, by extension, the foundational nature of the catechumenate, informative to all adolescent ministry within the Church. Finally, the implications of incorporating such applications to adolescent ministry will be applied to current trends in the statistics of the participation of this demographic in the Catholic Church in America.
Chapter 1: Introduction Primacy of the Catechumenate The National Directory of Catechesis explains that “[t]he baptismal catechumenate [is] the source of inspiration for all catechesis.”1 The catechumenal process, along with the rites contained in the RCIA, create an atmosphere that encourages a true conversion of heart, guiding new members of the Christian community in a lifelong development in their relationship with Jesus Christ. As stated by St. Pope John Paul II, “the definitive aim of catechesis is to put people not only in touch but in communion, in intimacy, with Jesus Christ”2 By understanding this relationship as the main aim and goal for catechesis, those ministries concerned with catechesis depart from a simply educational task by involving multiple aspects of human need in the methods involved in the programming developed for a catechetical ministry. This is expressly stated in the Decree on the Mission Activity of the Church which originated from the Second Vatican Council. “The catechumenate is not a mere expounding of doctrines and precepts, but a training period in the whole Christian life, and an apprenticeship duty drawn out, during which disciples are joined to Christ their Teacher.”3
In order to promote this relationship, the structure of the RCIA process does not mandate a strict and uniform series of classes, but rather it “is suited to a spiritual journey of adults that varies according to the many forms of God’s grace, the free cooperation of the individuals, the action of the Church, and the circumstances of time and place.”4 This enforces focus on personal development of relationship over the conveyance of information. The attention to the individual journey of adults directs a somewhat fluid and responsive model which can be adapted and molded to meet the needs of individuals participating in the process. This is seen in the varying circumstances addressed in Part II of the ritual text.5 It is also integrated into the entire process of catechesis, calling for recognition and incorporation of the individual’s life experience and station.
The process for catechesis of individuals participating in the RCIA process, therefore, is understood more “as a period of suitable instruction, may be sanctified by sacred rites to be celebrated at successive intervals of time,”6 rather than an educational program or class. The process for this instruction relies heavily on liturgical catechesis; that is, catechesis through the participation in and reflection upon the liturgy of the Church. Use and importance of liturgical catechesis in the RCIA process will be discussed at greater length as one of the principles of the catechumenate in the second chapter of this paper.
Inclusion of Adolescents (ages 13-18) in the RCIA Process Part two of the RCIA text expresses the need for including children of catechetical age in the RCIA process. This applies to “children, not baptized as infants, who have attained the use of reason and are of catechetical age.”7 Generally, the age of reason is regarded to be seven years old.8 These children, seeking initiation, either of their own desire or as guided by their parents or guardians have reached an age where they are capable of developing and forming the personal relationship with Christ that indicates the conversion of heart that the RCIA process is designed to promote. For this reason, it is appropriate for adolescents, similarly seeking initiation into the Church, to be included in the RCIA process prior to receiving the Sacraments of Initiation.
Part two of the RCIA text continues to explain the need to adapt both the method of catechesis as well as some rites within the process to meet the developmental and formational needs of children of catechetical age. Such adaptations include an awareness and sensitivity to the reliance these children have on parental figures as well as their social environment and peers.9 In order to understand ways of adapting the RCIA process to meet the needs of adolescents, it is appropriate first to understand the process itself, how it was developed, and by what principles it functions as the means by which individuals are fully initiated into the Church and subsequently serves as the basis for all catechetical ministry. Once this is understood, in order to adequately understand adaptations appropriate for this age group, a review of the developmental needs will be conducted. As the ritual text offers adaptations of the rites that can be used, the primary focus of this study will remain on the catechetical formation of individuals engaged in the RCIA process.
BY: Mrs. Jenny N., OP, MCat
1 Congregation for the Clergy. National Directory for Catechesis. (Washington, DC: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2005), no. 35. 2 John Paul II, Catechesi Tradendae (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1979), no. 5. 3 Vatican II council, “Decree on the Mission Activity of the Church: Ad Gentes,” in Vatican II Documents (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2011), no. 14. 4 Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (Chicago, IL: Liturgy Training Publications, 1988), no. 5. 5 RCIA., nos. 252-504. 6 Vatican II council, “Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy: Sacrosanctum Concilium,” in Vatican II Documents (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2011), no. 64. 7 RCIA, no.252. 8 NDC, p 119, no. 36.A. 9 RCIA, nos. 252-259.
On September 14th the Lay Dominicans of DFW held their 2019 Retreat. The theme was Lord, open my lips. The inspiration for the retreat came from the readings for the 24th Sunday of Ordinary time, specifically from the responsorial psalm, Psalm 51. The contributions from the members of our group were tremendous. With council contributions such as artwork contributed by Jana Sullinger, music contributed by Jeremy Childress, general event organization by Roy Johnston, liturgical and sacramental assistance by Jenny Norton, general oversight by Natasha Childress and breakfast provided by numerous members of the laity, a memorable experience was had by all.
After a brief ritual calling to mind our baptismal promises, Fr. Jude Siciliano, OP worked with the retreatants giving a brief introduction to the lectionary. Our retreat was dynamic and communal experience. We talked and shared at length, sharing our experience with sacred scripture and the impact it has had on our lives.
As we moved forward, we began to pray deeply with Psalm 51. Each reading of the psalm brought the retreatants closer together with heartfelt sharing. A time of reflective silence and meditation was offered with simple instructions – Each of us were asked to write our own psalm. These instructions were intentionally excluded from the workbook. The only individuals aware of this exercise were those involved in the planning of the retreat. Dwelling on inadequacy being a favorite human pastime, it was decided to omit mentioning this so that individuals could approach the idea whole heartedly. Though many had trepidations about such a task, each individual ‘retreated’ to the quite places in the priory to write their personal psalm.
All of the Psalm writing leading to a deep sense of trust in the Lord, and quite the appetite. Individuals brought their own lunch, snacked on leftover breakfast and got to know each other in the Priory day room. With 34 retreats, 5 of which were novices and 12 of which were not lay members, one of our favorites of Dominican spirituality was embraced – Community.
Our retreat finished out after lunch with more discussion on Psalm 51, more singing, and a love offering for the priory. During our closing ceremony of the retreat, individuals were given the opportunity to share their psalm with the group. Going into this part of the retreat in prayerful and sacred silence, retreatants shared their hearts with each other. Some psalms paraphrased Psalm 51. Others embraced rhyme and meter. Some were penitential and others lifted hope and praise. Collectively, our chapel was consecrated with the hearts and prayers of all in attendance. After prayer and an anointing for the journey, the retreatants went out to the world with a renewed heart and opened lips.
2019 Retreat photos
After the retreat, we invited individuals to share their psalm for this post. Below are a few to enjoy.
Psalm 51 – 5~7~5, by Mr. Mark Connolly, OP
know I am a sinner.
you love me still.
soul is shattered,
helpless in my sin,
out to you.
me your mercy,
not all my sins,
me this day.
made me, make me again.
to love you.
want me as a preacher?
no, not hardly.
You wish, here I am.
need your grace.
set the world on fire,
And bring Truth to all.
Psalm by- Dr. Jana Sullinger OP, MD
O’ merciful God,
Forgive my sins against you.
Cleanse what I defiled.
My sins I know well…
Ever present before me,
Against you alone.
Right is your judgement!
Before my birth-a sinner,
Seen and known by you.
Those in truth-you love.
Your hidden wisdom-teach me.
That I shine-wash me.
With joyful music
You fill my broken spirit-
Blinded to my sin.
Create a new heart…
For me, a right, new spirit.
Cast me not aside.
Lord, renew my joy.
Do guide and strengthen my will,
So that I may preach.
Remove my sorrows.
Open my lips to proclaim
Your praise and goodness.
My gift, does not please.
A shattered spirit, I give.
A new heart, welcomed.
In love, renew us.
Recreate and reshape us.
Lord, open our lips!
A psalm to my Lord by ~ Roy Johnston
Eye me with compassion, Lord. That which I withhold from others.
Those transgressions against them, against you – done without shame, those sins suffocate me. My guilt robs me of the breathe freely given by you.
With perfect clarity you know, see and understand my selfishness; born of pain, pride and arrogance – wrought with guilt and shame.
Redirect my passions; align my compass, my orientation to you alone.
I know that the river of your grace flows into an ocean of mercy that must drown me if I am to every breathe freely.
May my lungs burst from your compassion. Let my consumption overflow like a song, reaching all that would hear your praise.
My offering is my poverty, the broken pieces I have remaining of my misdirected will.
Turn not away from me.
Transform those things.
Let not my offense keep us separated, but your grace bind me to you and all that lives in you.