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
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.