November 26, 2017
A very blessed Thanksgiving to you all as I reflect for a moment on the final aspect of Dominican parish life identified by the friars themselves who work in parishes. In addition to the pillars of preaching (to which everything else we do is oriented), community life, and study, there is the matter of our personal and communal prayer.
The most obvious aspect of our prayer that you would notice is our liturgical prayer – the morning and evening prayers we share with you most days, along with our celebration of the Holy Mass. I am grateful to the lay members of the parish who daily offer the Rosary in public. In addition to your own intentions that you bring to that prayer, I ask that you ask Mary, Star of the New Evangelization, to beg Our Lord for the grace of conversion. It is important to us that our liturgical celebrations be beautiful and reverent and inviting the participation of laity in your sung and spoken responses. Our gathering at Eucharist, especially on Sunday, as Jesus commanded, is the source of all the other graces Jesus offers us through preaching, teaching, confession and the other sacraments. The friars engaged in parish work said we must “do liturgy” well.
The prayer of St. Dominic was very Eucharistic-focused. He often spent hours during the night praying for the sinners to whom he preached – and I’m sure that included his own friars! While I was spending some time away a few weeks ago for prayer, reading and reflection, I was struck by the realization that I, as your pastor, need to imitate St. Dominic and spend more time praying for you, and this I have been attempting to do each morning. It is important for me to remember that “unless the Lord build the house, in vain do the builders labor” (Psalm 127:1).
While you see the friars praying in common in the chapel, you don’t see our weekly reflection in common on the Sunday Gospel. This we began after our meeting in northern California last month. We are spending 45 minutes practicing lectio divina – a holy meditation upon the Word – each Wednesday before evening prayer. This rich sharing of prayer and reflection will deepen the preparation of the Sunday preacher.
Finally, the friars said that if we are going to be in parishes, we should develop a team of lay leaders – including staff – to work with us in the mission of evangelization. Those who work on the staff do not merely have a “job”. They share in the mission of the friars – a mission that I hope you understand better now.