It was quite an experience to be part of a Congress of Dominicans from all over the world. And a little ironic to meet for the first time Canadian Dominicans in Italy! The Congress was a witness to two primary Dominican characteristics: it was dialogic, with people speaking openly, disagreeing with passion but without animosity, questioning constantly. And it was outward looking, seeking to identify need and ways of going forth to meet it.
Upon my return from the Congress and three weeks of travel in Italy, I presented 20 pages of notes from the presentations and workshops to my Chapter (Mysteria Lucis). There were many questions in these notes, all of them worthy of contemplation, and I still have only begun to reflect on them, but here are some of my reflections:
“Naming Grace” was a phrase that stuck with me and permeated my travels through Italy. Each day was Grace-filled, from our accommodations just happening to be within walking distance of places I wanted to see, to the Holy Spirit guiding me to Dominican churches I didn’t even know about. I felt proudly Dominican in Italy. (It’s a little more difficult naming Grace now that I’m home in the day to day.)
The “fractures of humanity” was another phrase I’ve been thinking about. It seems to me that it is not just the marginalized and oppressed, but that these fractures exist in each of us and occur in our relationships as the result of woundedness. Our woundedness is our common humanity and our need for salvation.
Although at the Congress we did not speak only of or to God, and much of the focus was on the world, I came back home with a larger sense of God that includes and underlies everything and every encounter. I also had a deeper understanding of St. Dominic’s insistence on freedom rather than enslavement to the Rule.
Father Cadore asked what specific service The Order can bring to the Church, and what Dominican characteristics we should employ. I will venture to give my answer. Dominicans have always had a particular loyalty to the Pope, and I think Pope Francis is not only in need of this loyalty at this time, but also deserving of it. Pope Francis’ documents need to be discussed in the openness characteristic of the Congress itself, keeping in mind some of the comments on dialogue made at the Congress:
” We are all seekers of truth; no one possesses it.”
“We need to seek to know the journey of the other.”
“Ask, not ‘is it true’, but ‘how is it true?’.
“Listen with respect.”
“Answer the questions asked.”
“Wait for the questions.”
“Seek encounter, not consensus.”