Hope and Dominican Spirituality
Dasmarinas, Cavite, December 18, 2011
Bishop Richard R. Mickley, OSAe CDOS Phd
Here we are seven days before Christmas, and we have a gift already. We have the gift of a pastor who models for us what it realty means to be Christian. In today’s Gospel reading, we see that Elizabeth knew all about Jesus even before he was born. She proclaimed, “He will be great and will be called the Son of the most high God.” Today is the last Sunday of Advent. Advent is the time that we hope we will also ourselves come to know the Great One, the Son of the most high God whose coming we remember on Christmas.
What does hope mean for us? “I hope I will have sex today.” Or I PRAY with hope that I will make love during the holidays. Or, better yet, I pray with hope that all the equipment will work when I make love. Or I pray with hope that the relationship will work. Or, better yet, I pray with thanksgiving for God’s wonderful gift of love and sex and the gift of a pastor who is role model of what a true Christian is.
Today, Fr. Regen officially received his Dominican habit and made his vows to live a Dominican Christian life. What does that mean? It means prayer, study, self discipline, ministry the way St. Dominic taught it. It means serving the One Who is great and the Son of the Most high God in the way of St. Dominic. That way goes back almost a thousand years. St. Dominic was born about ten years after St. Aelred died, and ten years before another great saint, St. Francis of Assisi, was born. He was born in 1170 and died in 1221 (only 51 years old, as was common in those days).
What does it means to be a Dominican, to wear the Dominican habit? About the habit. Before Vatican II, an order of nuns, the Sisters of Charity, wore a habit with a headdress that looked like sails of a sailboat. Vatican II said people should wear simple habits or none at all, and let their life, THEIR LIFE, show their witness, and not depend on the habit to make them look holy — their life, not their clothing. So many orders tried a sim0oe habit or no habit for many years, and then many decided to go back to the habit. But this time not to wear the habit to make them look holy, but for the habit to be a sign that they were LIVING a special Life of commitment to the One who is Great, the Son of the most high God.
So when Fr. Regen wears his Dominican habit, he is telling us, telling the world, that he lives a life of commitment to the One who is great, the Son of the most high God. Dominican spirituality is a way to live in a very special relationship with Jesus. That is what we all, you and I, all of us, are called to do.
When Fr. Regen puts on that habit, he is telling us that he is living a special relationship with Jesus, a life of prayer and telling others about Jesus. Dominicans have built a tradition of holiness for 1ooo years. Fr. Regen tells us when he puts on that Dominican habit, that he has chosen to follow that path to holiness.
In summary, in closing, we can say — Sex and prayer should go together. Hope and Christmas go together. Hope and the Christian life go together. Holiness and the Dominican habit go together. We thank God for our role model, Fr. Regen. But, in the long run, what good is a role model, unless people follow the role model? We are all called to a special relationship with Jesus, habit or no habit. And the habit reminds us of that.