When I was young and feeling called to the religious life, it was a rather simple choice of where I would find a home. I had been educated since kindergarten by the Sisters of St. Joseph, having made only a slight detour in junior high to the Franciscan Sisters. In those days, many of us chose the familiar unless drawn to missionary work or some specific ministry like nursing. Even in the founding stories that I heard about the Sisters of St. Joseph, there was never much talk about the charism, the particular gift of God to the community. Later I learned and am now confident that the focus of my life is that of the charism expressed as “the great love of God.” One might think that is the goal of all religious communities and that is true, of course, but how that is lived out from day to day is what adds specificity to the life path.
Today is the feast of St. Dominic, founder of the Dominicans, known the world over as the “Order of Preachers.” The power of Dominican preaching flows from their life. As franciscanmedia.org explains, it “organically links life with God, study, and prayer in all forms with a ministry of salvation to people by the word of God.” In other words, “to pass on the fruits of contemplation or to speak only of God or with God.” As someone who loves words and the power they hold in how they are spoken, I am always happy to listen to Dominican priests and nuns in liturgy or a retreat where they embody the words that they are speaking for the benefit of their listeners. Clearly, it is the constant reflection on the Scriptures in the silence where God speaks that resounds in the life of these preachers. Then, as a result, they themselves become that gift of God to the world.