Called to Respond to the Needs of Our Age

I must express my amazement at the precision and insight the pope speaks about our way of life as Dominicans. Surely, he gives an impression of saying things that are both obvious and archaic to every Dominican. He tries to get at the things that must be already behind us as history; yet he brings them out in a way that illuminate and vivify them. Thus, in reading this article, I did not learn new things but I learnt old things from a different light.

I found them very important, interesting and valuable. Am greatly humbled by God’s condescension, reaching out to me by calling me not only to be a Christian but a living stone in this Glorious Order of Preachers. Like my brother Master Reginald, I must confess, “I have much doubt if there is anything for me because I have always found so much pleasure in the Order.” I would like to share few thoughts which struck me after reflecting on the Pope’s letter to us.

First, “Each Saint is a Mission, planned by the Father to reflect and embody, at a specific moment in history, a certain aspect of the Gospel.” As the Pope point out, our Holy Father Dominic responded to the urgent need of his time by his zeal for soul, preaching, acts of mercy, theological formation of the brethren, love of the sacred page, prayer etc. Like Dominic we are called to respond to the needs of our age characterized by epochal changes and new challenges to the Church’s evangelizing mission, to inspire all the baptized to set the whole world on fire of God’s merciful love. To name but a few: the heresies menacing our age, wars, pandemics, misuse of natural resources, corruption, immigrants.

Since, “The devil fears hearts on fire with love for God.” (St. Catherine), we as nuns in Africa we have continued the Mission, Vision and Charism of our Order by being faithful to our heritage, namely, faithful observance of our regular life as free women under grace for the fruitfulness of our brethren’s preaching and salvation of all souls. We have not failed to show hospitality to the poor and the less fortunate, who knock on our doors looking for physical and spiritual nourishment. But above all we lovingly lift the entire world before the LORD in the celebration of Eucharist, liturgical prayer while watching over the hearth to keep fire burning by personal prayer, study, work and common life; following the example of St. Catherine who once said “I do not beseech you for myself alone, Father, but for the whole world and particularly for the mystical body of the Holy Church.”

Second, the Holy father has expressed his gratitude to us Dominican for our outstanding contribution to the growth of the Church. I remember a story one of my sister told me. One time, she went out and young man (a Theology student in St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary) came running and asked her,” are you a Dominican? She answered yes, the young man continued, you have done a lot in the development of the Church’s Doctrine and have many Saints.” The young man left after they exchanged some other thoughts but Sister wondered, what about me? Have I contributed anything or am I just busking in the Glory won by others through by toil and sweat?

In conclusion, the Pope seems to suggest that Dominic’s vision is desperately needed in our time. But with Master Jordan I lament, “who would ever hope to imitate the virtue of this man? —- to be able to do what he did requires more than human strength, it presupposes a particular Grace which he alone had, unless perhaps God in his merciful kindness deigns to bring anyone else to a similar peak of holiness. But who is there who would be ready for such a gift?” (libellus).  Let us remember, “it’s better to illuminate than merely to shine.” St. Thomas Aquinas

May, the Holy Father’s address to us challenge us to answer from the bottom of our hearts, here I am LORD I come to do your will. Is. 6:8. remembering, “in your will Oh LORD is our peace”.  May we “ponder the fact that God has made you and me a gardener, to root out vice and plant virtue” St. Catherine of Siena: St. Dominic Preacher of Grace intercede for us. Amen.

Sr. Lucia NGABA, O.P.
Corpus Christi Monastery
Nairobi, Kenya

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