St. Matthew's Episcopal

October 2011

Posted on: October 1st, 2011 by Robin Jarrell

As some of you may already know, I have been discerning a call to join a religious order.  This is nothing new for me – at least ten years ago, I became intrigued by Father Jeremy Bond’s membership in the Order of the Resurrection.  And over the years, I’ve been quietly looking to deepen my call to the priesthood through a more radical commitment.  The Episcopal Church has many amazing and wonderful religious orders, but I became intrigued when I came across the Anglican Order of Preachers.

As a part of our discernment for being accepted into the order,  my companion postulants and I are reading selected writings of early Dominicans.  The text, in addition to being a biography of the order’s founder and father, Dominic, is also a fascinating compendium of writings by many who knew and loved the man whose zeal for Christ led him to start a new way of belonging to God.  The fascinating part about these stories is that they are very much an encomium (Greek for “praise” of a person’s life) that follow the same pattern as the Gospel stories depicting the life of Jesus.  Only one letter known to have been written by Dominic survives – the rest of what we know about the life of the founder of the Order of Preachers is told by those who knew him in life.  In the same way, what we know about our Lord and Savior has been given to us by those who lived and ministered with him.  The stories of St. Dominic also describe some of the more mystical and miraculous qualities present in the life of the saint.  One legend relates how when Dominic’s mother was pregnant with her son, she dreamt that she gave birth to a puppy who leapt out of her womb with a flaming torch in its mouth in order to “set the world on fire” by preaching the word of God.  Scholars tell us that the legend probably developed after the order became known as Dominicanus – since a play on the Latin (Domini – Canus) can be rendered “the dog, or hound of the Lord.”

Dominic was born in Castile, Spain in 1170, becoming a priest early in life.  Two missionary trips to Denmark with his mentor Diego, bishop of Osma, sparked in Dominic a fervent zeal for evangelism.  Both he and Diego set off preaching in France, barefoot and begging for bread from door to door – just as St. Luke’s Gospel (9:3) exhorts those who are sent out to do the work of God and “take nothing for (our)  journey, neither a staff, nor a bag, nor bread, nor money ….”

In the introduction to our text, we are told that “The Dominican Order exists in order to be useful to other people, and it has always had to be prepared to adapt its own style and behavior to fit the requirements of those it seeks to serve.”  I believe this statement suggests the perfect validity with which the Anglican Order of Preachers calls those into community – in the twenty-first century, both women and men are still seeking to serve God in a specifically Dominican way.

While there are many “specifically Dominican” ways to serve within the Anglican Order of Preachers, the most compelling for me is the focus on preaching (as you can imagine), but also the attention given to study as a way to God.  But this kind of studying is not something to be done alone and in an ivory tower.  As I see it, the Dominican way of study is intrinsic to communicating with God, to interacting with the beloved community and to putting into practice what it means to love our neighbor as ourselves.  Such study enables the Dominican to more gracefully preach the Gospel.   For Dominic, preaching was not standing on a street corner and admonishing those to believe and be saved.  Rather it was a quite revolutionary call to return to our Christian apostolic roots: to go where God’s people are and to be with them.  Instead of seeking to draw sisters and brothers away from the world and into seclusion, St. Dominic sought to bring brothers and sisters together to be “sent out” into the world.  Preaching for St. Dominic is not what one “does” but is a complete way of living out the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I am very excited to be in this process of discernment, and feel confident that God’s grace will continue to guide me – whatever the outcome may be.  And as I learn more about St. Dominic and the Anglican Order of Preachers, I am blessed to be able to share my journey with you.

Faithfully,

Mother Robin

P.S.  For more information on the Anglican Order of Preachers click HERE.

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