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From the Pastor 07/29/18

Dominican Preaching: Part IV

I would like to describe to you three critical components of Dominican Preaching. First, and most important, the journey of preaching begins in one’s own soul. Second, I would to speak to you about how Dominican Preaching flows from our Common Life together. And third, that Dominican Preaching is about imparting knowledge that leads to true wisdom.

Along with the salvation of our own souls, and the life we live together, the third component is critically important. St. Dominic wanted the friars to be steeped in prayer and to be well educated in the faith.

Thus a third characteristic of Dominican Preaching is knowledge, and from that flows wisdom. You cannot preach what you do not know. You cannot love what you do not know. That is why our young novices and friars must spend years in prayer and study, so that it becomes a habit for life. The years that we require our men to develop their prayer life and study habits are the valuable tools we use to prepare you for the Holy Preaching.

I remember well my years in formation. My Dominican formation happened from 1986-1992, and although the trauma of the post II Vatican Council was over, there was still lingering effects of change still happening in the Church. I thought my year in the novitiate would never end. I belonged to the third class of novices who lived in the priory here at St. Gertrude’s, and the novitiate back then was very different. We really lived a cloistered life. We did not participate in most of the parish’s activities and had daily Mass in the priory. The only time we were exposed to the parish was on Sunday morning when we went to Mass in the church. Being rather extroverted back then, I found it hard to be cloistered away, but looking back at it now I am so grateful for the quiet year of prayer I had as a novice. Once I made profession in the Order I was thrilled to move on to the Dominican House of Studies in DC.

I remember so well the years I spent at DHS. Because I was not as academically gifted as some of the other student brothers, I had to study twice as hard. I had one friar who was very generous with his time for me. He would help me through Latin and Greek classes, and proofread all my papers. He was such a blessing to me. The professors demanded the same rigorous intellectual life from every friar in formation. Sink or swim ― and for some of us that meant many hours of study. As many of the brothers were academically gifted they would be off to play sports, or off to the coffee shop, or in the recreation room, I was at my desk in the library studying all the time. Although those years were still turbulent years, the late 80’s and early 90’s, I truly enjoyed my time at DHS, and I prayed and studied a lot ― seeking the intercession of St. John Vianney to pray for me, and St. Thomas Aquinas to guide me. I was given a solid Thomistic education, an education that I depend on every day to preach and teach. I am so grateful for the wonderful education I received at the Dominican House of Studies.

There is no doubt that Dominican Preaching is imparting knowledge of Christ and his Church so that people can renew their minds and hearts in faith. This requires rigorous study, now and for the rest of your lives. You know that you have encountered a good Dominican preacher when you walk away knowing more about Christ and his Church. Knowledge leads to love, and thus I must impart knowledge so people may love more deeply.

Now my life as a parish priest is very busy and very demanding, and there are days when I yearn for the quiet days of prayer and study at the House of Studies. I have remained steadfast in prayer and study even 28 years since I left DHS because of how I was formed at DHS. And I will be forever grateful for the gift I received within those hallowed walls.

To be a Preacher of Grace is indeed a noble calling. We rely on God’s goodness and communicate that to others. No matter where God may someday call a friar in this life: to the classroom, as a chaplain in the military or our nuns and sisters, in campus ministry, parish life, in the media, or in the missions. The call to Holy Preaching remains the same: that we may give to others what we have contemplated ourselves. To give to others the abundant life that God has given to us.

In conclusion Holy Preaching is an extraordinary charity. Does it grieve you that others do not know the love of Jesus Christ? St. Dominic’s entire life was a life spent in love for souls. His entire life was an oblation to God: pouring out his life to win souls for Christ. Do you desire to offer up your life for the salvation of souls?

Dominican Preaching entails three great pillars:

  • To first seek the salvation of your own soul.
  • To live in charity and humility with the brothers that God has given to you with one goal in mind: the salvation of souls.
  • To give to others the fruits of your own contemplation, and giving to others the truth and knowledge of Christ that you have received.

As our two mottos so well express: Our lives must be lived in Veritas: truth. Living in truth we express with great joy what it means to Praise, to Bless, and to Preach the Saving Gospel of Jesus Christ!

A blessed week to all,

Rev. André-Joseph LaCasse, O.P., Pastor