instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Monday, November 07, 2005

The Feast of All Dominican Saints

A common answer to the question, "What interested you in the Dominican Order?," goes something like this: "I was looking for a way to grow closer to God, and the Dominican way seemed like a good fit." Another answer is: "I knew some Dominicans, and I said, 'I'll have what they're having.'"

The former answer is based on the individual, the latter on the community. I suspect all Dominicans learn relatively quickly that you don't get the one without the other. The person looking to perfect himself finds out that the Dominican way insists he be perfected in community. The person wanting the joy of Dominican community discovers how much that joy depends on letting God transform his own heart from within.

Somebody once told me she couldn't really see the point of thinking of the Dominican saints in heaven as somehow more united with the Dominicans on earth than are all the rest of the saints in heaven. Yes, in this vale of tears a community has a clear role, but once we reach heaven, what need will there still be for Dominican and Franciscan, Sulpician and Josephite?

And I think part of the answer is that the community within an order is real. It's not just a fortuitous arrangement in this life; an order situates its members within the Body of Christ in a way that endures forever. The Dominicans of this world exist within the Church on Earth as the Dominicans of the world to come will exist within the New Jerusalem. The relationships that begin now as seeds flower in eternity. And those relationships extend now from the Church Militant through the Church Suffering to the Church Triumphant.

In Christ we are washed clean, not bleached. The perfections of our relationships with others in heaven will include, in some cases, the perfections of communion in a perfected religious order.

Happy Feast Day!