As part of my ongoing formation as a Lay Dominican postulant, I have to answer questions and present my findings to the chapter. This way, they can be certain of that they’re getting themselves into. Mwahahahaha indeed. This month, I am presenting on the topic of Study from the module of the same name, found here. The meetings for my chapter take place every second Thursday of the month. For prior module treatments on St. Dominic, Prayer, Community and Laity, the links are provided. I tried to tell you, I am serious about this Lay Dominican vocation thing.
If you’re looking for the #AtoZChallenge post for H, not to worry. Allow the Holy Spirit to guide you to the post!
- Discuss the contributions of early Dominicans to study.
Dominican constitutions clearly state that brethren are to be that the brethren be “intent on study, always reading something, or thinking about something, by day and by night, at home or abroad.” This foundation brought about very important Catholic writings such as St. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Contra Gentiles, a guidebook-catechism for preaching orthodox Catholic faith. “St. Albert the Great wrote commentaries on almost every Aristotelian book including even the minor works on natural science. Furthermore, he wrote a few new treatises in areas where Aristotle had not ventured, such as botany” (p.1). Pope John Paul II has written two very Thomistic encyclical letters, The Splendor of the Truth (Veritatis splendor) (1993) and Fides et ratio (On the Relationship between Faith and Reason) (1998). Finally, the mystical reflections titled The Dialogue by St. Catherine of Siena, patroness of the Fraternities of St. Dominic, are also a great contribution in Dominican thought and spirituality to study. “Thus, Dominican study, in a very real sense, has become a mission for the entire Church”.
- What is your purpose for study as a lay Dominican? Give some concrete examples of ways you can use the results of your study and contemplation.
My purpose for Lay Dominican study is to contemplate the truth of the Catholic faith. Further to that, my purpose in study is to share with others. I have entered a challenge on my blog where I could write about anything, every day in the month of April (except Sundays) on any theme whatsoever. While this challenge stems from a secular site, I chose to write about the Catholic faith every day. I have received the most positive feedback from atheists, agnostics, Protestants and others who state they “never knew” this or that about the Catholic faith. In this series, I talk about relatively heavy topics in Catholicism like third orders, St. Dominic, Grace, the Holy Spirit and Divine Mercy to name a few. I have included links to other Catholic sites, posts, encyclicals and scripture. In analyzing my stats, people are clicking on these links to read more about our rich faith. I have to wonder if they would have otherwise.
- What are the recommended sources essential for study by a lay Dominican? Why do you think it is important to study them?
Holy Scripture, the Catechism, and our Dominican heritage, including but not limited to our saints, history, great writings and the lives of Dominicans are essential study materials for ongoing formation. We should also study issues of social justice and current events as it relates and is explained through the Catholic lens. Finally, Papal Encyclicals as well as the documents of the Second Vatican Council are also vital to include and are recommended reading for a Lay Dominican.
If our charism is to preach, we must know what we are preaching about. “A preacher needs to study carefully about what he is to preach.” To simply be about spirituality without study, can result in situations where engaging with others about faith will prove fruitless, at worst damaging the beliefs and perceptions of what the Catholic faith is to and for others. (p.1)
One friar reportedly “turned silly because of his excess devotion” while neglecting his studies. Although Dominicans devoutly celebrated the Divine Office and were deeply devoted to Mary, the main purpose of the Order was preaching, which required study and knowledge to be credible.”
- In Module #4: Our Chapter, Our Community, you saw the role of community in lay Dominican life. Why is the study and discussion of important secular (sometimes controversial) issues within the Chapter community beneficial?
While I haven’t been exposed to any controversial discussion with my chapter, we do disagree as it relates to opinion. This is beneficial as practice for actual discussions with others. Within the chapter, you learn how to disagree without judgment, anger or pride (surprising). In the larger community, we reside under the umbrella of learning to preach truth. With truth being a common goal, ideas, thoughts, doctrine and discussion are pointed toward that purpose. This allows for freer discussion and humility when approaching others with differences outside of the chapter.
Another positive outcome of controversial discussion is to actually gain more knowledge about the stance we as Catholics are taking on social teaching for example, should we have missed a newscast or blog post.
- Why would you read current magazines, newspapers, or watch media presentations, etc. as part of your study?
Staying current through all forms of media whether social or written is vital to spiritual growth. Just because the content isn’t spiritually based, forming an opinion based on spiritual or theological teachings and beliefs is. To form an opinion to add to or share in the public square, in your home, at work, or anywhere your voice can and should be heard.
- Do you allot time each day to religious study – the Bible, Catechism of the Catholic Church, Vatican II documents, encyclicals, etc.? If not, how can you begin to do so?
I allot time each day for reading of Holy Scripture (daily mass readings and currently, the book of Sirach). I receive bits of the Catechism to read daily via an email feeder and try to incorporate use of the encyclicals when I write for my blog. I do need to spend time in Vatican II documents. Because of this module, I have just added a few books on the letters of Vatican II to my wish list (to purchase after Lent) as a primer and will then head over to the Vatican website to dive in the deep end of the pool!
That’s all folks! Till next month when we’re at Module 6, on Apostolate. That will be the final in this segment, where I then, God willing, move into the Novice modules. Pray for me tomorrow, will ya?!
As always, if you are interested in, or have questions about the Lay Dominican community, you can always leave a comment or head over to the Lay Dominican Website
As a loosely related aside, I have removed my Facebook blog page to ramp up social interaction. The page comes down automatically in 14 days. In the meantime, please keep in touch with me here:
This post contains Amazon affiliate links, you know, for a kickback to me that you won’t see but I will feel! Means more books for me to review for you too! Win-win, I say!