Rorate Caeli has an interesting compilation of sayings of Dominicans of all ages.
You might notice, how should I say it, a certain discrepancy between the traditional lines of Dominican preaching and a more, erm, progressive attitude present in the modern days.
Like the Church in France (I have written about it today) the Dominicans are apparently marching toward extinction; and like the Church in France, they appear to have a nucleus of duri e puri intentioned to do things properly and ensuring the survival of their organisation.
By the grace of God, Radcliffe is not the Master anymore. Still, he appears to be in good standing, continuing to give scandal wherever he goes.
I think it is important the Dominicans free themselves from the cancer represented by Radcliffe and those like him. If you want your renewal to be credible, you must show it by enforcing inside that orthodoxy you want to be made credible outside.
The Dominicans are certainly in better shape than, say, Franciscans or Jesuits, for which – particularly for the second – the disease seems now so advanced, and the desire to heal so absent, that one can only hope when they have died the memory of their last half century is erased as fast as possible, and only the glories of the past remembered.
Still, it seems to me they have a lot of work to do.
The Dominicans are my favourite Order. If I had ever felt a vocation, it would have been to become a Dominican.
The Dominicans are closely identified with the Inquisition, and this already makes them very special to my eyes. They are also closely identified with the Rosary, which makes them even dearer to me. When I hear them called domini canes, I can’t but find it a compliment.
It would appear that, after going through a phase of disorientation in the dreadful years following Vatican II, the Dominicans are now reacting in a different way than the Franciscans and the Jesuits and that they are, thankfully, recovering their identity and tradition.
Apart from anecdotical evidence (I mention here a brilliant commenter on another blog, and the author of the also brilliant domine, da mihi hanc aquam blog; a blog which has even made it in the very exclusive list of blogs linked to from this site 😉 ), the video below (taken from the above mentioned blog) seems to show that things are going – at least in the English province – in the right direction.
What striked me in this video were the following elements:
1) not one word on “social justice”, or “social issues”, or the like. Not one. Can’t imagine it’s a coincidence.
2) Not one second in which someone of them appears in anything than their traditional habit.
3) Average age (at least of the people appearing in the video) is rather low; there seem to be no huge difficulty in attracting vocations.
4) Strong accent on prayer and study. Strong accent on intellectual work. No effeminate emotionalism. God bless them.
5) Mission clearly given as the one of helping people to get to heaven, not helping people in their social instances or grievances.
6) At 8:11 a beautiful altar is shown, in the process of being aspersed with incense. The altar is clearly ad orientem. This looks like the beginning of a Tridentine Mass to me. Again, I can’t think this is a coincidence.
I can’t say I liked everything (well the white socks for starters 😉 , but a couple of rather naked, ungainly-looking Novus Ordo altars were not entirely pleasing either), but if this video is – as it must be – representative of the way the English Dominicans want to be perceived and therefore of what – irrespective of the problems they may still have – they want to become, then there is reason to be optimistic about their future.
Kudos to the English Province of the Dominicans, then, and best wishes to them in their chosen vocation.
Terry Jones doesn’t know me. Not that this is a very rare evenience, or a particularly disgraceful one. But in this case knowing me might perhaps (just perhaps) have had some advantage.
He might have called me, for example, and asked me what he should do. He would have probably told me that he is terrified, that this thing has gone completely out of control, he has everyone against him from Obama to the Pope to Sarah Palin and not even paramilitary groups have wanted to be at his ceremony.
Well, if he had called I would have said to him: “Don’t panic, old boy. You made a very clever move and showed to the entire planet the danger represented by Islamic fanaticism, a religion with a lot people ready to start massacres just because you burn books they consider holy”.
“Yes, Mundabor” he would have said “but I now really, really want to get out of this. What shall I do?”
“Very simple, Terry, old boy” I would have answered. “Put your nicest face and your nicest suit on, go in front of the cameras, say that you have already reached your objective of showing how dangerous Muslim fanaticism is. Say that you do not want the eruption of this senseless violence to be linked with your name and announce the end of the initiative without the burning of the Korans. Then send your best greetings to the boys in Afghanistan and go away with the notoriety, the point well made, your face and an intact reputation”.
This is what I would have told him. But you see, he didn’t call me. Not only because he doesn’t know me but because he is a Protestant. Which makes things a bit weird.
Therefore, he retired in prayer with his community, waiting for a “sign”. Which is strange, isn’t it? If you are waiting for a sign why do you announce the initiative in the first place? Was there no sign then? Has God changed His mind?
Then he and his small community (all terrified, one supposes) decide that the sign can be, in fact, pretty much everything… a phone call and he is out, God must have told him. The President would be best, but really, pretty much everyone big in Washington would seal the deal.. and one wonders what a phone call would then change wouldn’t one…. what kind of difference can a phone call conceivably make…..
But he doesn’t get any call (that I know of, but I think also that I do not know of) and suddenly God gives, in His mercy, another sign: if they renounce to the mosque near Ground zero (can’t remember hearing him complaining about that; it must be me) then he has a deal. And if they don’t renounce, well ok it is fine if they move it. And if they don’t move it, well it’s still fine, these things take time, provided that there is an agreement…
And so he announces that there is going to be no bonfire, because he has an agreement with some strange Imam (not the owner of the real estate, mind) that they are going not to build anymore, ahem, to build elsewhere, ahem, to discuss about building elsewhere…
In the meantime, it appears the owners of the project have given no assent whatsoever to stop or move the project at all and frankly, this would have been surprising…. so one wonders what signal has God sent to the chap, after all……
I wonder whether this man will not appear as a drunken idiot tomorrow, when with a bit of common sense and political antennae he could have been, for a day at least, the darling of the nation.
But then I reflect that he is a Protestant. He talks to God. Receives signs. Several a day. With multiple choices. I imagine (I cannot imagine anything else, besides substance abuse) that this kind of “God has sent us a sign at 4pm and another sign at 5pm, but we have gone for the 8:15pm sign which is not even there”-mentality does have followers. It seems drunken nonsense to us but hey: he is the professional; he earns his livelihood out of that small community; he must know….. perhaps he just couldn’t have done purely what is most reasonable; perhaps he is supposed to be inspired….
Well, the entire matter has ended with a big laugh instead of violence. I still think that the message was brilliant and that it has been understood by most people. But this kind of disordered desperate search for the emergency exit and this idea of the broadband connection to Heaven will, I am afraid, gravely damage his credibility and the impact of the entire story.
Bonfires are best left to the Dominicans.