Letter of the Master of the Order for the International Assembly of the Dominican Laity Fatima 2018

Subtitle: 
Letter to the laity of the Order of Preachers
Picture: 
fr Bruno Cadoré, op
Body: 

Dear lay sisters and brothers of the Order of preachers,

It is in the momentum of the celebration of the Jubilee of the Order that I address you who, during these coming months, will prepare the International Assembly of the Dominican Laity. In all regions, this Assembly will be without doubt a very important event for the celebration of the grace that is given to the Order, to have lay brothers and sisters as active members of its mission. According to the specificity of each region, this will also be the opportunity to consider again the way in which today the lay vocation is more essential than ever if the Order is to inculturate better the proclamation of the good news of the coming of the Kingdom. For the entire Order, and in the perspective opened during the congress on the Mission of the Order that ended the celebration of the Jubilee in January 2017, I express the wish that this Assembly might be the occasion for a demanding call to an apostolic creativity that truly integrates the specific participation of the Laity of the Order. This is how the latter can best serve the world and the Church by preaching. Eight hundred years after the determination of Dominic to send his brothers to the four corners of the world, it seems to me that this sending must today find its actualization, not only keeping in mind the concerns of a « geographical » dispersion, but also in seeking to establish the preaching of the Order by making it rich from a diversity of cultures and of states of life. And discovering that it is through the richness of this diversity that the Order is today called to manifest its identity of being a single « preaching body », rooted in communion in one and the same call to « be totally devoted  to the evangelization of the Word of God».

We all know that the reality of the lay fraternities of the Order is very diverse according to the regions, their dynamism is very different here and there, and their full integration in the life of the Order is variable. We also know how we can take too much time and spend too much energy asking ourselves about the Dominican « identity » of the fraternities, without it always bringing the fruits of life for which we hope. But with many of you, I am convinced that the life of the Laity of the Order will not come from a focus on the formalities and structures, but from the audacity to hear the call made to the Order, because it is the Order of Preachers, to serve the mission of the Church which, People of God on pilgrimage in history (Lumen Gentium), continuously becomes what it is called to be in proclaiming the coming of the Kingdom. Is not this the path on which we are guided by so many lay Dominicans such as Pier Giorgio Frassati and Giorgio La Pira? Following the Second Vatican Council, it is essential to recall that the laity, by their Baptism, « are made participants in the sacerdotal, prophetic and royal functions of Christ » and « perform for their part, in the Church and in the world, the mission which is that of all the people of God » (Lumen Gentium, 31).

The sign of fraternity

The decision to designate the lay Members of the Order without mentioning anymore the «Third Order » but speaking instead of « Dominican Lay Fraternities », highlights a central aspect of the proclamation of the Kingdom that, with the Order as a whole, you are called to deploy. For Dominic, who from the beginning of his mission in Languedoc wanted to be called « brother Dominic », the Fraternity is intrinsically linked to the proclamation of the Kingdom. Brothers and sisters, who do not come together after choosing one another, but who receive each other as friends of God, learning from each other how to become members and actors of a family of sons and daughters of the same Father. To be a sign of fraternity, in the heart of secular life, is to be a sign that humans carry within them this ability to live as brothers, that is to say to establish relations which, even with all their diversity, they are united in the same sonship, and in the same desire to be sent to this world as witnesses of the Word and of the life of the grace of God.

In my visits throughout the Order, I am more and more convinced that this is, for the whole Order, each branch in its own way, a means of responding to the call of Paul VI when, in Evangelium nuntiandi,  he wrote: « Modern (woman or) man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if (she or) he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses » (EN, 41). As  « preachers of grace », we are called to be such witnesses, « parables of communion », awakeners in the world of all our human capacities for becoming brothers and sisters, at the heart of the concrete history of humanity which  is thereby transformed. Writing this, I would also like to expand my remarks beyond a single « branch » of the Order to emphasize that, considered in this light, the Order’s own charism of evangelization cannot be defined by the sum of the different « functions » of evangelists, but rather falls within this « almost sacramental » reality of the incessant becoming of human fraternity. It is also often the living experience of the fraternity which, in return, leads us to deepen our desire for the «Proclamation of the Kingdom ». It is also from the point of view of this sign of fraternity that, it seems to me, we can consider the diversity of the « secular » ways of being linked to the Order: not only as allies in the realization of a function, project or task, nor only as a bond of friendship with this or that individual or community, but as engaged in the adventure of a fraternity that aspires to speak in the world about that of which this world is, essentially, capable. In this sense, I think that we must, more than ever, consider together all the various ways in which the Laity wish to be « linked » to the Order of Dominic, that is to say both to make the experience of the Church that the Spirit establishes as a fraternity, and to invite others to find their joy in this same experience. 

It is in this horizon that I would like to highlight some of the challenges that the Laity of the Order must help the Order to welcome and to highlight, for the good of the mission of preaching of all.

Download the full letter here

Brother Bruno Cadoré, op
Master of the Order of Preachers

(7 February 2018)