Last update : 2001-08-08

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The Chapter's Chronicle

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August 4

In the home stretch

In the feast of the priest of Ars, the liturgy was in the care of the Provinces of Toulouse and Switzerland. It was some days ago that the liturgy was in French, it would be solemn as always. One of the definitors from Toulouse who spends his life in Haiti presided. He invited us today to pray for the priest brothers -- precisely when they would discuss the co-operator brothers - so that they be good dispensers of God's mercy. Sister Maria Therese, a Finnish nun from the monastery in France, read the first reading with her delicate voice. The definitor from Switzerland preached. He reminded us that Saint John Vianney is the patron of pastors. Best wishes to all these present. The bloody story of the decapitation of Saint John the Baptist, today's Gospel, is not a simple history to satisfy curiosities, but to contrast the human act with God's mercy, The priest of Ars exercised this mercy giving himself totally to his parishioners through the sacrament of reconciliation.

As was foreseen yesterday, three co-operator brothers from this country told us of their experiences as co-operator brothers. The three were doctors and masters, they are professors and one has responsibility in bio-ethic concerns. One is sub prior of his community. They are very devoted to Saint Martin, they believe in the model to be followed from this saint is not in reproducing his works, nor his position in his community, but in his life. The important thing is not the work one does, as the United States society thinks, but in one's being. With respect to special situations, they believe that those who want to dedicate their life in the Order exclusively to "domestic" work should not be admitted. They believe that the co-operator brothers can exercise positions of leadership, that is to be superiors.

With the break, and without the presence of the co-operator brothers, the discussion continued. At the foundation of the debate were numbers V and VI of the Fundamental Constitutions: the clerical character of the Order or the prophetic ministry that implies sacramental ministry. Some noted that it depends on the conception one has of the Church as communion. And the conception of priesthood as hierarchy of service. There were amendments to the text and amendments to the amendments. The commission returned to revise part of the text with precisions and corrections from the assembly. They gave us the text on co-operator brothers from Bologna, that the commission adopted and confirmed.

The afternoon session began with the good news from the Master that in spite of what had been said, tomorrow there would be no sessions. He said that there had been received signatures, equal to one-third of the vocals, asking that the text on the co-operator brothers be withdrawn. The central committee considered it opportune to initiate a reflection at the level of the Order, ordaining that the Master establish a commission, in which would be present some co-operator brothers, on the subjects brought up in the discussions on the document. The commission would elaborate an send a questionnaire to all the provinces for distribution among all the friars.

A good document on the Dominican Family. There were no great discussions, although it presented an old problem: the distinction between Order and Family. Starting from the principle that the carism of Dominic is one and indivisible, the document affirms that the "Order of Preachers' is configured of those who through profession or promises to the Master give themselves to the order. If you understand the term "Order" in an ample sense, they can consider themselves truly integrated in the Order of Preachers ("Ordo Prædicatorum universus") those who undertake the commitment of a particular lifestyle, inspired by the life and mission of Saint Dominic and approved by the Church, this would be the Family. If, on the other hand, the term "Order" expresses a "precise juridical organisation", the image of the Family evokes the experience of a mutual belonging.

The commission distinguished three levels of being Family: a) friars, nuns and secular and priestly fraternities. These make vows or promises to the Master; b) the congregations of sisters accepted into the Family by the Master of the Order, without their members making vows to the Master; c) associations, new groups like DYM, that can be accepted by the provinces of friars or superiors general of congregations.

Candlelight vespers. The church was in semi-darkness; the candle that solemnly advanced to the strains of French polyphony; candles that were lighted, incense smoke, lights little by little gaining intensity. Beautiful scenery with a discipline and taste of the monastery.

New Voices

In past assemblies, different people invited to the chapter by the Master have intervened: assistants, nuns, sisters, representatives of the Dominican Laity. Today we heard "new voices": Pamela Lagos, a Chilean, representative of the Dominican Youth Movement spoke. Everyone was pleased to hear a feminine and young voice. puce

(Translated from Spanish)


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