Thursday, November 29, 2007

Blogs that have caught my eye recently...

The wonder of the web allows bloggers to track blogs that have similar interests to one's own. I regularly get updates that allow me to see blogs that have the words 'Dominican' and 'vocation' in them. Below I list four that caught my eye recently. You should know that because I list them here does not necessarily mean that I agree with the content or tone - but I found them interesting. Take a look: - a very comprehensive blog maintained by a candiadate for the permanent diaconate in the diocese of Raleigh, USA - a blog maintained by a young Dominican friar in the Central Province, USA - a blog of a member of the Dominican laity, Idaho, USA the blog of Philip Powell OP, Texas, Southern Province of Dominicans, USA

By the way, I hate blogs that are used purely for the purpose of ranting and raving!

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Numbers Game!

If I were in the position to receive a cent for the amount of times that I am asked the question: 'How many do you think will join the province this year?', then I would be very well off indeed! It is certainly the most frequently asked question of me by my Dominican brothers! I am very often inclined to respond in the same way as one of my predecessors '......and how many have you asked to join this year?' Cliched and all as that answer is, it has a strong message in it. The fact of the matter is that all of us are called to be vocations directors and vocations promoters!

Would the disciples have taken the risk to join Jesus if he had not asked them? We don't know, but one thing is certain - they were called. And in being called, they responded. It is the duty of all baptised members of the Catholic Church to ask the question about commitment to faith and the question of how best to serve God. If we don't ask, then nothing will happen!

'How are the other religious orders doing?' is another favourite question among religious. The Irish Episcopal Commision's Council for Research and Development carries out survey each year to determine these facts, figures and numbers. The results of previous surveys can be seen at the website for Irish Catholic communications. These surveys don't always make for pleasant reading. I dont know what statistics are like this year, but anecdotal evidence suggests there has been a slight increase in vocations over the past three year period.

So, the numbers game continues. There will be no numbers in the future unless we ask the question!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Reading Material (Part 2)

An often asked question is: What is the spirituality of the Dominican Order? And it is difficult to answer. However, I have found the following three books helpful - as indeed have enquirers who wish to open up their minds to the spirituality of Saint Dominic and the Dominicans in general.

Firstly, '15 Days of Prayer with Saint Dominic' by Alain Quilici OP (Liguori Publications, Missouri, USA) is a spiritual journey into the life of the founder of the Order of Preachers. The reader is invited to spend fifteen days contemplating various aspects of Dominic's life with practical guides to focus the reader and some questions for reflection. It's an excellent introduction to the spirituality of our founder.

Secondly, 'The New Wine of Dominican Spirituality - A Drink Called Happiness' by Paul Murray OP (Burns and Oates, London). Paul Murray is an Irish Dominican. This book explores Dominican spirituality as one that '..... from the beginning has a sense of openess to the world.' Paul continues in this vein with a very interesting take on our sptirituality that is bound up in happiness and joy. I could not put it down on my first read of it. I have returned to it many times since. A great resource.

Thirdly and finally in this section I would recommend 'The Dominican Tradition' by Thomas C. McGonigle OP and Phyllis Zagano (Liturgical Press, Minnesota, USA). This book is in the 'Sprituality in History' series and it is an excellent exposition of Dominican spirituality through the great figures of the Order - Saint Dominic, Eckhart, Catherine of Siena, Martin de Porres, Lacordaire to name just a few. Highly recommended.

More to follow in Part 3.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Reading Material (Part 1)

A regular question from enquirers to the Irish Dominicans revolves around suitable reading material for those interested in getting to know the Order. With this in mind, I normally send three books immediately to them as a way of introduction.

The first is 'Saint Dominic and the Order of Preachers' by Simon Tugwell OP (Domincan Publications, Dublin). This is a brief history of the founder of the Order and the book also charts the early years of growth of Dominican life. As an introduction, this is an invaluable gem.

Then I strongly recommend two books by the former Master of the Order, Timothy Radcliffe OP. The first 'Sing a New Song - The Christian Vocation' (Dominican Publications, Dublin) is a series of letters and addresses to the various branches of the Domincan family during his tenure as head of the Order worldwide. It gives a flavour of the life, concerns and mission of the Order at the end of the 20th century heading into the new millenium. An excellent exposition.

And finally, I would strongly recommend Timothy Radcliffe's 'I Call You Friends' (Continuum Publishing). The first portion of this book is an interview with Radcliffe and charts his own vocation story. Many of the questions and particularly the answers will resonate with many enquirers. Again, highly recommended.

If enquirers then wish to explore Dominican spirituality, prayer, authors, theology etc., I will recommend further reading. I will make this list available in part 2 of 'reading material' on this blog.