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# Tuesday, November 13, 2007

[Sorry 'bout the title; I couldn't help it. :)] 

The weekend of 3 November was an important weekend for me.  Apart from getting some great, seasonal family (pictured below) photos with Hussey Photography, on Saturday, the feast of St. Martin de Porres (a Dominican brother), I was received into the Dominican Order as a lay Dominican. 

Clan Little Goofing Around
[This is what we normally look like. :)]

Believe it or not, I've been trying to write this post for over a week now, agonizing over the right way to write or even if I should write it at all.  I want to avoid repeating what is written elsewhere1 about Dominicans, and particularly lay Dominicans, even though I feel like explaining just about every other term I use because it's pretty unfamiliar to us everyday folk (and because I just like explaining things).

You see, I want to explain (told ya!) why I joined the Dominican Order, but it's kind of hard to do without using religious or Catholic jargon, but then when I start explaining the jargon, I find myself reiterating what one can find by looking into these other online resources.  When it comes down to it, I did it because I think it is what I am supposed to do; I believe it is what God wants me to do.  We call it a vocation (a calling).  It's not a club or cult or simple study group.  It is a way to a more perfect life, the life of perfection and holiness to which we are all called and for which we have all been created.  It's a peculiar way of living towards that end.

It's peculiar in the Dominican love of truth and the expression of that through study, contemplation, and sharing that with others (preaching), and that's why the Dominican Order is actually called the Ordo Praedicatorum (Order of Preachers).  "Preaching" is meant in the broader sense of proclaiming, not just from a pulpit.  Perhaps what Dominicans do was best put by St. Thomas Aquinas, an early Dominican: contemplare et contemplata aliis tradere, which means to contemplate and to pass on to others what is contemplated.

I don't know why; it's certainly no doing of my own, but I have a love of truth.  I think it's been with me my whole life, but it became more pronounced in college, and it is what led me to become Catholic.  I have an inkling that its something God instilled in me, and that's partly why I feel called to the Order of Preachers, even if only as a layman (since my first vocation is to marriage and fatherhood).

Local Friars Praying for Departed Dominicans at Dominican Cemetary on Dominican All Souls Day, Nov. 8th, 2007
[Local Friars Praying for Departed Dominicans at Dominican Cemetery in D.C. on Dominican All Souls Day, Nov. 8th, 2007]

For some time now, I've considered becoming Dominican.  I first thought about it back when I lived in Tulsa, OK, not long after I became Catholic.  But at the time, it took a long time to find a local chapter (community), and when I found one, it was about hours away.  So not only would it have been troublesome, but it just didn't seem like the thing to do at the time, so I let it go.

Four Brothers Making Final/Solemn Profession on 10 Nov. 2007
[Four Brothers Making Final/Solemn Profession on 10 Nov. 20072]

I didn't really think much about it for a long while after that, until Mrs. dotNetTemplar got me a small book last Christmas called How to Be a Monastic and Not Leave Your Day Job.  That book, though intended to invite folks toward becoming Benedictine Oblates, renewed my latent interest in the Dominican Order, so I went online, found 3op.org, read up on it again, and it just seemed like it was the right time to pursue it further, so I got in touch and started attending the St. Catherine of Siena (a 14th century lay Dominican--yeah, the Dominican Order was established 800 years ago!) chapter in Philly, which meets once a month for prayer, mass, study, and sometimes, apostolate (thus bringing together the four pillars of Dominican life).

That made me what they call an "aspirant," which is basically someone who's checking it out, and it's a time for the Dominicans to get to know you, too.  At some point along the line, I became a postulant, which basically means you're intending to join but you are still in the getting-to-know-you phase.  At the end of the postulancy, if everything checks out on both sides, you can be received, and that's what happened to me on the 3rd.  I got the habit (which, for us lay folk, is the Dominican scapular), received the Rule, and professed my intention to live like a lay Dominican.3

Now I'm a novice, a n00b. :)  I'm officially Dominican, even if only a novice, but apart from not being able to vote or hold office, I'm fully a lay Dominican.  After a year, I make temporary profession, which is a three-year promise to live as a lay Dominican, and after that, I make a perpetual profession, which is a lifelong promise to do the same.  Of course, the point of the graduated promises is to make sure that it's the right thing for me (we call it discernment), so at any point up to the perpetual profession, there's still an easy exit route.  It is a real commitment, not as binding as marriage or religious vows, but a serious commitment, so that's why there's the period of discernment.

Anyhoo, I'm pretty pumped.  Being received actually had more of an effect on me than I anticipated; I expected to feel pretty much the same as before, but I don't.  I really feel a part of the Order, and I feel a renewed interest and strength to pursue the vocation.  It's just the beginning, but I feel really good about it.  I'm looking forward to continuing and doing more praying, studying, and sharing the fruits of all that.

Pax vobiscum!  [Peace be with you all!]

Notes
1. For instance, the official site of the Dominican Order, the vocations Web site here in my province, and that of the lay Dominicans in the eastern US, which I think is one of the best resources for learning about lay Dominicans.  Oh, by "lay" we just mean not ordained or consecrated, which basically means not a deacon, priest, bishop, or what most of us think of as monks and nuns (it's a bit more involved than that, though).
2. It should be noted that the brothers here and above are consecrated, not lay, brothers.
3. This basically means according to rules #8-10 of our Rule.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007 12:45:44 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [1]  | 
Wednesday, November 14, 2007 8:26:02 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Ambrose: Congratulations on this accomplishment. I'm not Catholic but I can admire the kind of religious devotion and discipline it takes to make this committment. I'm inspired by your faith and hope that I can grow in some small way in my faith the way you are!
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