instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

A thought from the Master

At each General Chapter, the Master of the Order of Friars Preachers is to present a report on the state of the Order, and the report for Bogota 2007 can be found here.

It's an illuminating read. While I'm baffled by Mark's take on it -- "self destruction (as seen by Fr. Groeschel) of the order continues unabated" -- I do think it describes a disheartening capacity for the Order at all levels (individual, house, province, region, branch) to turn inward and focus only on the projects at hand, with little attempt to situate oneself (one's house, one's province, one's region, one's branch) within the Order as a whole.

"Ignore it and it will go away" seems to about sum up a certain attitude toward the Acts of General Chapters and the decisions of the Master and his Curia. It's an attitude not completely without warrant; the Constitutions of the Order state:
A particular statute shall be considered as a constitution only when it shall have been accepted by three successive general chapters and, indeed, by way of inchoation in the first chapter, approbation in the second, and confirmation in the third.
So even a change to the Book of Constitutions and Ordinations might go away if it doesn't seem like such a good idea six years after it was proposed.

But the inward focus, as natural as it is, becomes hard to justify in a globalized world. "I'm here and they're there" isn't a sufficient excuse for ignoring them when I can be there tomorrow. All those nice thoughts about being brothers of our holy father Dominic take on a certain sharpness when any of those brothers might show up at the door at any time, asking for fraternal help.

It's a particular challenge, I think, for an Order whose mission is as universal as "preaching and the salvation of souls." St. Dominic's personal dream was to see the Friars Preachers well established, then head east to preach to (and, with any luck, be martyred by) the Cumans. From its very founding, the Order has taken a very catholic approach to the selection of souls whose salvation it worked for.

But all I really wanted to do in this post is to quote this, from Fr. Carlos Azpiroz Costa's report:
... docility does not imply "to be in agreement" but rather "to know how to allow somebody to tell you something" ...
It's a remarkably modest concept, I think. Rare in the wild, too. But even such a simple little thing as allowing someone to tell you something could make a tremendous difference -- and not just among Dominican friars.