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The Chapter's Chronicle

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August 2

The Grandmother's Feast, Blessed Jane of Aza

The liturgy was entrusted to the Provinces of Spain Aragon and Betica. The Provincial of Aragon, accompanied by Fr. Melchor Abol of the Province of Andalusia, presided and preached the homily in this the seventh centennial of the province. He told us that Blessed Jane of Aza without a doubt influenced the personality of Dominic, as each one of our mothers tried to give to her children the best of herself. And what Dominic received from Jane produced much fruit. What did the son of Blessed Jane leave us?: evangelisation from poverty; itinerancy, mobility and seeking; openness to the world in which he lived; a sense of reality. Dominic looked to the future, he did not fear it, he prepared it. And "to this we are all witnesses". If we are in step with Dominic's institutions and we mutually encourage each other to be faithful to the Gospel, our lives will be a gift for all men and women today. Would that it be so. The sermon was very well delivered, even those who did not understand Spanish understood the homily. What neither group (those who know Spanish and those who do not) understood was the words to the Our Father, which was sung in Basque. Among those who did participate in the devoted singing, and who knew the words was the Master of the Order, who spent some time in the Basque-speaking region of Navarra. Fr. Miguel de Burgos took advantage of the time during the preparation of the gifts to serenade us with a song which he wrote and interpreted with great feeling.

We began with the session on contemplation with the document on the Common Life. One amendment generated great discussion. The document did not give a Christian character to contemplation, that is to say, to contemplate about God through Jesus of Nazareth, God's revelation. The discussion about that we must read and study the mystics was very ample, The commission proposed Saint Catherine, Miester Eckhart and Saint Thomas, master of the spiritual life. The vocals added Fray Luis of Granada.

The document spoke at length about silence as the father of the preacher. Many talked and talked to stress the importance to be quiet and maintain silence; the differences were if one recommended, vehemently recommended, or ordered silence.

Liturgy. By a great majority the assembly approved that sometimes we can incorporate some elements of our traditional rite. Approved also was the pursuing of the cause of the beatification of Fray Bartolomé de las Casas.

Luis de Franca presented the document of the commission of the Common Life, "Fraternity". The text is good. It affirms that the economic autonomy of our convents is not realised in forgetting about the real needs of the province. On the Community Project, the commission indicated what is said in the LCO on how to organise our common life, through the conventual or provincial chapters, meetings in which we plan and evaluate the common life.The assembly was split evenly (56 in favour, 56 against.) The first time for a parity. In the rules of order, this possibility is foreseen: they will discuss and vote on another day.

At noon the Bishops of Providence were with us. The titular Bishop greeted us. He was thankful for the collaboration of the College with the diocese, for which the Dominicans are a treasure. He congratulated Timothy and Carlos. Speaking of the assembly, he said that it was the most exquisite group he had ever addressed. A short time ago he had dedicated the church, and today he highlighted the stained glass windows, which reflect the history of the Order from its foundation, and he hoped that there would be more windows with some of the personalities present today. The Master responded in English, responding likewise. For me, you are the most distinguished Bishop of Providence that I have ever me. Our life here is a movement of ups and downs, from the church to the meeting room, and vice versa. It is like breathing, preparing the Day of the Lord. Here there are no windows (at most there are 4 windows for the translators), we see each other face to face. But, this room permits us to be brothers together in the construction of the Reign.

To the document on the nuns, no amendment was proposed. There was little discussion, only a few precisions. The text is very respectful of the nuns. It only asks, exhorts …, it does not decide anything. The most problematic -- for example, the authority of the Master of the Order, the capacity of the Chapters of the Friars to make decisiona about the nuns, the right of the nuns to participate in the election of the Master and the changes to the Constitutions of the Nuns, and the invitation that some nuns come to the Chapters of the Friars were left to the commission. The International Commission of the Nuns remained intact. There are some important themes: What to do with the monasteries where a dignified contemplative life can not be lived? Can the friars do something for the formation of the nuns, and the nuns for the formation of the friars?

It remained to approve the prologue to the document on economic affairs. The title is "A Renewed Spirit of Mendicancy". An amendment against this title was proposed: let's leave mendicancy to the mendicants and we should talk about how to get money. The title was maintained and the prologue was approved. The prologue on economic affairs took more time than the document on the nuns.

Fr. Fernando Vela, the Provincial of Spain, presided at vespers. At the time of the intercessory prayers, he gave the reason he sung the Our Father in the Mass in Basque: he wanted to ask for the cessation of violence in this region of Spain, remind us of the victims of terrorism and that we be in solidarity with those there who seek peace and liberty.

Curiosities:

The new rules of order greatly sped up the debates. When one wanted to raise a motion of order (a. 31) in order to call attention that the rules are not being followed, one raises one's arms crossed. To ask for the termination of a discussion that one thinks has gone on long enough (a. 14), one raises one's hands crossed. In basketball, this is equivalent to "intentional foul" and "period over". The influence of the NBA is obvious.

The Provincial of England was not in favour of making a list of mystics because it would be at best partial. He would include also the mystic Timothy Radcliffe.

Fr. Michel Van Aerde, who lives in the convent recuperating from his operation, came to greet the capitulars and he asked if they were behaving themselves, or if they were not able to be alone. He has recovered splendidly. puce

(Translated from Spanish)

 

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