There is much cause for rejoicing in the Dominican Province of St. Joseph. Not only will we soon celebrate (with great liturgical solemnity) the feast days of Our Holy Father Dominic on August 8 and the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary on August 15, but we also look forward (with great anticipation) to new beginnings for many of our Dominicans friars.
First, on the feast of our founder, a new group of men will be vested in the holy habit of our Order and will be now called Brothers. I can remember how wonderful it was to be clothed in the habit and receive my new religious name of “Brother John Baptist.” Then, just a few days later, the novices who finished their first year of formation in the Novitiate will make their Simple Profession of vows as we celebrate the entrance of Our Blessed Mother into heaven. Also during this time, those friars who have completed their time in Simple Vows will proceed to make their Solemn Profession.
It’s an exciting time, and I am humbled to be in the midst of all these new Dominicans, as I have one more year left in Simple Vows.
Looking back at my time in formation thus far, I am in awe to reflect on how much I have changed over the years. Sometimes I scratch my head and wonder: I used to do that? But religious life is a “school of charity,” and (with the grace of God) change is inevitable. Whether we like it or not, whether we anticipate it or not, change is going to happen in our lives. But where is all this change going?
I think Fr. Reginald Whitt, OP, towards the end of our Province’s latest vocation video, answers this question beautifully, when he says that despite the changes in our world, “the truth of Christ is the same, the call of the Cross is the same, and the grace of God is the same.” All the changes, all the new beginnings of religious life (indeed, of Christian life) are ordered to the same thing: the Truth of God, Jesus Christ.
On this Feast of the Transfiguration, Christ is changed before the eyes of his disciples and reveals to them the “unfading crown of glory” (1 Pt 5:4) that we should all strive for. This is the journey that my Dominican brothers have embarked upon. In imitation of Christ, who was transfigured in dazzling white robes, thirteen men will soon receive the white habit of the Order of Preachers. In imitation of Peter, James, and John, who were prepared to remain forever with their transfigured Lord, four men will soon profess solemn vows. The changes—changes in clothing, in name, and in commitment—will signify for these men a new closeness with the one Jesus who is the same yesterday, today, and forever: it is the pledge of future glory given to the saints throughout the ages.
May the Lord, who has begun this good work in us, bring it to perfection.
Image: Antonio Tempesta, The Conversion of Paul