Looking backwards to go forwards

We live in a time of deep spiritual hunger. We crave authenticity and reality in our spiritual lives and find ourselves increasingly disinterested in the shallow alternatives that often seem to surround us. One of the interesting ways that this is worked out is in openness to different spiritual traditions. This is particularly true for when we find that familiarity with our own tradition is breeding, if not contempt, then at least a suffocating comfortableness! One of the ways in which charismatic evangelicals are experiencing this is by looking backwards in time to spiritual movements that God has used over the centuries. We find in some of them language and disciplines and rhythms that deepen and enhance our own tradition.

So I was recently looking at the websites of various monastic movements (don’t ask) and came across this from the Irish Dominican website:

So, apart from the fact that this should be written for women as well as men and I have to reinterpret the chastity vow for a faithful, monogamous life, there is a lot in here that I aspire to. A simple approach to missional life that I find deeply attractive. How about you?

Dominican Friars.
Dominican friars are engaged in an incredible spiritual adventure: living from the passion for the salvation of souls which, eight centuries ago, set fire to the heart of St Dominic and to the hearts of his first companions. This haste to announce the Gospel in truth produces three characteristics in a Dominican friar.

Men of the Word
A primordial taste for the Word of God marks Dominican friars. The Word demands to be meditated ceaselessly and lived without compromise. Never satisfied, the brothers take every opportunity to promote and engage in the study of the Word of God.

Concern for the poorest found in the compassion of St Dominic and of his brothers a never ending response. No element of human existence is foreign to Dominicans. Mercy is the path, the tone and the mystery of the friar preacher. When making his commitment to live as a Dominican friar, a brother’s reply to the question “What do you seek?” is “God’s mercy and yours”.

Proclamation of Christ’s Good News in poverty
The original preaching of St Dominic while in contact with Catharism impressed upon the friars that the proclamation of the Gospel could be done only through authentically evangelical means (see the Gospel according to Mark, chapter six, beginning at verse seven). Joining others and understanding them imposes a lifestyle like that of the apostle: a life that is lived in common and one that is itinerant.

In practice, such a lifestyle is lived as a “religious life” with its own essential characteristics: the four elements particular to the friars preachers.

1. Conventual Life
Animated by the rule of St Augustine, the friars live together the same call coming from the one person who calls: Christ. Living as brothers, they strive to love each other, to forgive each other and to live the Gospel in community before living it outside the community.

2. To pass on to others what we have contemplated
Preaching finds its vitality in a life of prayer which is both personal and in common. Preaching, when at its best, is a truly contemplative act. The brothers are called to be simultaneously contemplative and fundamentally missionary.

3. The vows
Poverty, obedience and chastity make us men who try to consecrate ourselves for the adventure of the Kingdom of God.

All our personal, community, intellectual and spiritual energy makes us useful for the souls of others, whether they be near to us or far away: useful by our word and by our example

We are consecrated for the proclamation of the Word of God, proclamation which is done using all the means available to us: preaching, confession, teaching, publishing, spiritual accompaniment, humble presence… Preaching animates what we do or what we live, to the point that our communities (“priories” or “convents”) have been called the “holy preaching”.