work in the Chapter hall
this serene and sunny day, the liturgy belonged to the Orient: China,
Vietnam, and Japan. It was a very simple Eucharistic celebration
in English with the habitual solemnity and more moments of silence.
The vicar of the Vietnam vicariate in Canada presided. The vicar
of the Rosary province in Japan preached in Spanish. Friar Vicente
Arribas presented some fine ideas: Saint Dominic always dreamed
about going to faraway countries. In the 16th century those faraway
countries were, above all, those in the far East. That is where
the Dominican friars went - to the Philippines, China, Japan and
later Vietnam - on a mission sealed in blood. Today the mission
continues because, after many years of mission and the seed-blood
of Christians, the Orient continues to be reluctant to accept the
Christian faith. But the dream has not vanished. The Orient continues
to be a challenge for our mission and the litmus test of our faith.
We cannot carry our faith to a profoundly spiritual place without
we arrived at the chapter hall we found in our places some paper
flowers. Timothy explained that they were a gift from the lay Dominicans
from Norfolk Prison here in the United States. Each flower represented
two hours of work. It was very impressive because these lay Dominicans
are condemned to life imprisonment. The Colombians were congratulated
for the victory of Colombia in winning the Americas' Soccer Cup
on the Mexican coast and those from the United States for Armstrong's
victory in the Tour de France.
in the Constitutions were promoted by the Commission on Government.
It was approved that provincials be allowed to assign the friars
to other provinces or convents, always in agreement with the affected
provincials and advising the Master of the Order. It is a change
in favor of itinerancy for the friars. Before this one always had
to solicit the permission of the Master.
Bologna it had been approved that each house with four friars could
send a delegate to the provincial chapter, if it also had been approved
by the statutes of the province. At times large convents do not
have the same dynamism as these smaller houses. This number from
Bologna was annulled.
the patriarch Abraham, patron of diminutions, was entrusted a chapter
member who solicited that with 20 friars a vicariate have the right
to a representative in the General Chapter. Until now it has been
10. The commission had proposed 25. "God, if there are 20 good
friars would it not be possible to have a representative?"
It was approved.
afternoon began with the economy. There was enough unanimity about
the related fund raising and about the funds to be looked after
once whatever comes may get to us.
was more complication about sharing the costs of the chapter. We
wanted to change that which the constitutions had foreseen, in order
to make the payment proportional to the income of the provinces:
that those who have more pay more. Everyone was in agreement with
this principle of solidarity, but it was necessary to have more
transparency in presenting the accounts, so it wouldn't be the case
that one province would pay more for doing them well while another
be favored by doing the opposite. When all see what this contribution
of solidarity implies, it will be approved. Some provincials can
sleep peacefully tonight.
text which proposed the spirituality of the syndic, an unappealing
responsibility, was approved. It is said that it is the job of the
syndic not only to do the accounts and balances, but also to worry
about the poor and all that is needed for the friars; it is a spirituality
of service within the mission of the community. No one knows if
with this added spirituality there will be more candidates for the
job. This was not confirmed, but instead, the proposal from Bologna
was approved, so that the syndic of the Order would have a vote
in the general council.
the second session of the afternoon we returned to the matters of
government. It was proposed that the provincial chapters should
be well prepared by preparatory commissions. May the governing chapter
not be in a hurry to finish and later leave the provincial alone
texts presented seemed to be made to better control the vicariates
from the distant province. They should give an accounting to the
mother province and continue being submissive sons. The assembly
rejected some proposals of the commission. Too much submission is
not good for adult sons.
was a proposition to shorten the length of the chapters: two weeks
for the definitors and provincials, three for the elective chapter.
In the final ballot, the proposal was thrown out by two votes. What
was said at Bologna will continue in force: three weeks for the
chapters of definitors and provincials; four for the elective chapter.
was a proposal that the first chapter after the election of the
Master be four, not three, years later. The other two, every three
years. It was approved as a beginning step, not as an ordinance.
If the next two succeeding chapters confirm it, the Master will
spend 10 years in office.
official languages. The proposal was: "Revoking what was said
in Bologna, let us ordain that during their institutional studies
all the friars whose language is not English learn it and those
who have English as their native tongue, learn Spanish." The
French-speaking spoke of how French is the language of diverse cultures
and that if we were speaking about an English globalization, that
we would have to speak the English of Shakespeare. In Africa no
one speaks Spanish, so why would they study it for the one time
they would need it for a general chapter? The English speakers could
think about why they should study Spanish if, in accord with the
proposal, within a matter of years everyone would speak English.
The proposal was discarded by a small margin. The three official
modern languages continue as is.
followed immediately. If is not easy to pass so quickly from such
concerns to the calm of prayer. The atmosphere of the chapter is
splendid: one discusses with serenity and respect, almost with affection
for the opposing opinions, and with great freedom. There is a loftiness
in the dialogue.