stop : Cracow 2004
hot and humid day dawned. To arrive at the chapel before Mass and
encounter Friar James Marchionda, our liturgy director who interprets
Gregorian chants on the clarinet, makes one's prayer rise up spontaneously.
Today's celebration was the responsibility of Lithuania, Bohemia
and Slovakia. For the first time Mass was in Latin. To the young
it sounded new, while it made the others realize that they are no
longer young. Slovakia's vicar presided and the vicar of the Baltic
countries preached the homily in French. He told us a story of how
he had saved himself from an attack by a sheep on the family farm
by using diplomacy- that which failed St. Peter when he wanted to
walk on a watery path to the Lord. We heard of Peter's fear and
of his dread of making a bad impression in front of the disciples...
Our Lithuanian friar showed a courageous effort in preaching to
us in French. He called us comrades; I suppose it would be reminiscent
of the former régime in his country. And Friar Damian Nemec,
he who most amended, specified, and corrected in the chapter, sang
us a solo in Czech: it was beautiful music (one supposes the lyrics
are beautiful too).
penultimate session. The presentation of the institutions of the
Order. First the Ecóle Biblique of Jerusalem, founded in
1890 by Friar José María Lagrange. It was presented
by the director Jean Michel Poffet. It lies in the Palestinian zone
of Jerusalem. It does not confer licentiates, but does grant doctoral
and other degrees. Next summer they will begin to offer open courses
for Biblical education for three weeks; he called them "Courses
for Biblical Enthusiasts". They will not require the same prior
studies necessary for the regular courses. Among their other projects
is the revision of the Jerusalem Bible. It seems that the Hebrew
texts from which the translation was made, suffer from diverse ideological
influences and it is a good idea to again contrast it with the Septuagint
in order to discover the most original text. I don't believe that
they will change the Our Father on us.
Angelicum was presented by the community's prior who was elected
to represent the friars of the convent of San Sixto and Santo Domingo.
It is a good time for the Angelicum. They have established a new
record in the number of students. They have obtained financial support.
Their students come from all parts of the world and they are women
and men, religious and laity.
Vicar General of China in Taiwan, Friar Celestino Shuang, explained
the apostolic activities and projects of his vicariate.
Master was entrusted to elaborate the "denunciations"
in Rome - that is, the first part of the acts, where appear the
most important events since the last General Chapter. There was
one negative vote.
proposal presented by the Master that three provincials be members
on the Board of the Angelicum was approved. Poland's provincial
will continue and those of India and of England will be added.
Questions from the Secretariate: "Who wants the minutes printed?
Who wants them on a disk?" A new question for chapters.
afternoon session: Appreciations and applause. The first for the
prisoners in the Dominican laity in Norfolk , who sent a rose for
each member of the chapter and who have prayed for us. Later a remembrance
of Friar Dominique Renouard, who presided over the Commission of
the General Council that prepared the documents and the first days
of the chapter, but whom an illness had prevented from being here.
A special thanks to the chapter secretary, George Schommer and the
other secretaries. And also to Yves Bériault, author of the
fantastic web page on the Internet. Thanks to the translators and
the interpreters. To those responsible for the liturgy who have
worked so hard; to our invited guests for their presence and to
Providence College the institution which has welcomed and hosted
us. A special applause for the "mousketeers", the moderators,
Quirico, Philipe and José Angel. They have given a good account
of themselves in the plenary sessions.
place of the next chapter of definitors in 2004. Four candidates
were presented: Krakow, Poland; Bogotá in Colombia; Naipur
in India; and San Juan in Puerto Rico. Each provincial presented
the advantages of the place. In India there was also a disadvantage.
(There is great control over any kind of meeting, above all a religious
one.) The Colombians had prepared a Power Point presentation which
they projected on the screens. Puerto Rico offered the El Convento
hotel. The results: Poland, 83 votes; Colombia, 24; Puerto Rico,
8; India 7.
Master especially thanked the province of St. Joseph of the United
States which had hosted the chapter. There was even a turn for the
intervention of a lay woman Dominican who left us with this beautiful
phrase: "Never allow your memories to overcome your dreams."
In this case, she said, they have overcome them. A nun, who represented
all the others, thanked Timothy for the invitation and to all for
the hospitality and the dynamics of the chapter, the liturgy, and
the Dominican sense of community. An unforgettable memory. We carry
each other in our hearts and in our prayers. Thank you.
signed the Acts of the Chapter with due solemnity. The "paparazzi"missed
the occasion to preserve their images for history.
unexpectedly, the moderator announced that he had forgotten a request.
Friar Jan, the Dutch defender of women, had fought fiercely to bring
forth his proposals. He proposed that the next chapter be in English.
With some conditions: those who spoke English would conduct the
liturgy in another language and they would have to offer a written
summary of the homily in the language in which it was given; at
the beginning of any intervention in the hall, they would have to
tell a joke or story in another language, and make a summary of
each plenary session in a language different from their own. It
was approved unanimously! As a prize for the one who most strongly
defended his ideas, Friar Jan received a religious' veil for his
defense of the feminine condition.
Before the solemn Vespers of St. Dominic, there was a concert in
the chapel (piano, oboe, and violin) which set the atmosphere. It
was in Spanish, perhaps to celebrate the holy Castilian. Very special
was the homily after the reading from the second letter of St. Paul
to Timothy. Friar Angel Méndez expressed in dance what it
is to preach when it is opportune and inopportune. That for Paul
things did not always go well. But he ran in hard competition and
finally succeeded and kept the faith. It could be that the dance
also expressed that we too have kept the faith after this month-long
race which has been the chapter. Finally I believe that it expressed
with its rhythmic movements that for us there is a crown waiting
as a prize. They were a beautiful Vespers with which to end the
chapter. Thanks be to God!