Saturday, August 08, 2015

All Your Heart

Memorial of Saint Dominic, Priest

“Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone! Therefore, you shall love the LORD, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength.  Deuteronomy 6:4-5

Then the disciples approached Jesus in private and said, “Why could we not drive it out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith. Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”  Matthew 17:19-20

“For all that has been – Thanks! For all that will be – Yes!”  (Dag Hammarskjold)

All your heart.  Not 99 and 44/100 percent of your heart.

All your soul.  Not Most of your Soul.

All your strength.  Not Some of Your Strength.

Moses commands in absolutes that Jesus would likely approve.  If you follow the course proscribed by Moses, there is no room in your heart for anything else.  No hobbies.  No temptations.  No addictions.   

St. Dominic, whose feast is celebrated today, dedicated his life to preaching against heresy.  His fellow preachers gradually became a community, and in 1215 he founded a religious house at Toulouse, France, the beginning what know today as the Order of Preachers (Dominicans).

His ideal, and that of his Order, was to link organically a life with God, study and prayer in all forms, with a ministry of salvation to people by the word of God. His ideal: contemplata tradere: “to pass on the fruits of contemplation” or “to speak only of God or with God."[i]

The Dominican ideal, like that of all religious communities, is for the imitation, not merely the admiration, of the rest of the Church. The effective combining of contemplation and activity is the vocation of truck driver Smith as well as theologian Aquinas. Acquired contemplation is the tranquil abiding in the presence of God, and is an integral part of any full human life. It must be the wellspring of all Christian activity.[ii]

In Northern Virginia, that ideal has been implemented for the past fifty-plus years by the Dominican Retreat House.  Sadly, the retreat house will be closing and next Weekend, there will be a final open house Saturday, August 15, 2015 from 5:00 - 8:00 p.m.

The sisters from the community invite us to share fun, laughter and joy as they say goodbye to the loving community that has supported their ministry for more than 50 years.

Stop by between 5-8 pm to visit with the Sisters and other retreatants. It is a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the property and relive your retreat memories.

Now is the time to celebrate more than five decades of ministry and the living “Saints” who have been in service at the Retreat House.  “For what has been – Thanks.  For what will be - Yes.” Will you courageously say “yes” when you are given responsibility or a challenge?

The real story of Thanksgiving has deep biblical parallels in Exodus.  The Pilgrims, a band of Protestant outcasts, saw themselves as fulfilling this story. After all, in coming to the New World, they, too, had to cross a tumultuous sea, arrive in an untested wilderness, and build a new “Promised Land.”  They were not recreating the biblical narrative, they were fulfilling it anew.  

Maybe there was a little of that same fulfillment when the Dominican Sisters ventured into Northern Virginia in their full habits the year before now Saint Pope John XXIII convened the Second Vatican Council – a council which opened the eyes, and mind, and hearts and souls and strength of a laity to undertake a spiritual life formerly the primary province of those with a religious vocation.  Now, we know that we share that vocation in marriage.  In Divorce.  In sickness.  In health.  In addiction. In a strange land.  Into this world of possibility, the Dominican Retreat House opened to fill a need.

For more than 54 years, the Dominican Retreat House has been a promised land of quiet for all the pilgrims who made their way to McLean.  They may have been people with serious illnesses.  They may have been people wrestling with addictions like Moses wrestled with his Lord.  They may have been new immigrants trying to build a new life in this region despite the barriers of language before we knew ESOL.  They were pilgrims nonetheless, and they were thankful for all that was done for them over the years.

We are thankful for these special Dominican Sisters of Peace and what they have done in the past and how they will help us get ready to write the next chapter.  Agnes.  Mary Ellen.  Carmen.  Annie.  Pat.  Thank you.

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