Not all religious communities are diminishing and dying. The Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia, commonly known as the Nashville Dominicans, continue to expand into new territory with a message of hope that the springtime of the New Evangelization is indeed in bloom. For almost 150 years, in the heart of the Bible Belt in Tennessee, the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia have embraced God’s love in the living of their vows and apostolic vocation in the field of education. Now, with a median age of 36, the 235 Dominican Sisters of this congregation bring generations of young people the message of Christ in over 30 schools, throughout the United States and Australia.
Like the virgin martyr Cecilia, Nashville Dominicans promise their hearts to Christ. The Lords voice fills their ears and secures their promise to be Christs alone. Nashville Dominicans show the world a love that is different and unique. It is a love that is eternal. Nashville Dominicans are indeed beloved by God, as you will witness in this documentary. You will be taken inside a religious congregation that continues to offer the world and the Church a compelling model of religious life that is beautiful, hopeful, joyful and alive.
It seems to me that all the basic ingredients of a solid religious community are present here: Common life, a focused apostolate, common prayer, fidelity to Church teaching, love of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, love of our Lady, the wearing of the habit and joy.
There is a Website: http://religious-vocation.com/ which assists those discerning a call to the Consecrated life and also to the Monastic life. In short order this website details the differences between contemplative and active orders. It also names those communities and supplies to links to other websites that discuss more of each order. There are practical steps for discernment along with many pictures and videos. Take time to visit the site.
What is daily Monastic life like? The site helps answer this question by noting that the schedules of religious communities share basic similarities. A typical daily schedule (horarium) may look something like the following;
Here is a short vocational video on traditional monastic life, available at the site which shows scenes from the Abbey of Notre Dame de Fontgombault, and featuring the singing of “Alleluia Vir Dei Benedictus omni”.
My vocation like any vocation began in the heart and mind of God long before I was born (cf Jer 1:4). But I became aware of it only in my early college years.
I was not a particularly religious child. I never thought of the priesthood, I hated going to church and things religious held no interest for me. I went to Church because I had to. My mother insisted I must go if I was going to live in her house. My Father too would have none of this “I don’t feel like going!” stuff.
In high school I was made aware of a Church choir that was forming for High School kids. I didn’t like church music, I was a Rock ‘n’ Roll fan only. I couldn’t sing. But I did notice that there were some very pretty girls singing in that High School Church Choir. So, in my sophomore year of High School I joined. This would be a good way to meet those girls and have a chance to date them. And sure enough, I was able to date several of them! (I even learned to sing). Now going to Church was far more interesting. I still didn’t love God all that much but the young ladies were a real draw. And through it all God was preparing me to meet my bride. Not necessarily the bride I expected, but my bride nonetheless.
Through the remainder of my High School years and into college I moved into musical leadership. I became a cantor, an organist, and eventually, in early college became the director of that Choir. Now I was planning music and pondering the spiritual message of the lyrics, learning more of the faith. I favored the spiritual classics over the modern but I got to know all the genres. One day my pastor said to me, “Charles Pope I think you are called to be a priest!” I laughed and asked if he’d like to meet my girl-friend. But something started that day. A seed was planted. No one had ever said that to me before and it touched a nerve.
At first I was unsettled and alarmed. I was coming to the conclusion of a computer science degree, I was already working for the Army Corps of Engineers, I was dating a girl I thought I’d like to marry. That old priest really rocked my world. How could I be a priest? But I couldn’t get it out of my mind. It seemed strangely attractive to me and yet I was also well situated to go the traditional family and career route. “All right,” I said, “Lord, if you want me to be a priest you’re going to have to give me a pretty clear sign!” Two weeks later my girl-friend announced that we were “over.” It was my fault. You don’t need the details but God had acted. I was rather depressed for a while but also saw an open door. I knew I had my sign. I walked through and have never turned back. There were a few rocky moments in seminary, a few less than stellar evaluations but in 1989 I was ordained to the priesthood.
So there it is. I joined the choir to meet the girls and “look for my bride.” Well, God did show me my bride. She is a beautiful bride, demanding, but so beautiful. She is the Church. I am no bachelor. I am a family man and have quite a large family too. Many call me, “Father.” I love my bride and my family. You never know where you will find your bride or who she will be. But if you’re faithful, God will show you.
Here is a beautiful video on Vocations. Some of the Lyrics are quite moving. Keep searching, young people. God will show you your spouse. Consider, as I did not that your spouse might be the Church if you are a man, and might be Christ himself if you are a young woman destined for religious life. They are brides of Christ.
Some of you may remember the 1963 movie “The Cardinal” which was based on the Book of the Same name. The movie was about the life of a Priest, Fr. Stephen Fermoyle and shows the human struggles of a man called to be a priest. It is a fine movie and rather respectful of the Church, though for its time it was rather “edgy” to show priests as human. It is an historically significant film because of what was happening in the Roman Catholic Church at the time it premiered — the Second Vatican Council. Though the film is set in the first half of the 20th century it premiered just as the Vatican II was underway and many of the issues touched upon in the film — the liturgy, the role of lay persons and women in the Church, rights of the mother vs. the child, mixed marriage, ecumenism — were being hotly debated by the bishops in Rome. The film added to that debate among ordinary Catholics.
Some one recently posted a clip of the film covering the ordination of Fr. Fermoyle to the Priesthood. It is beautifully filmed. One quirky thing about it however, and the reason I post it here, is the Entrance Procession. I wrote of the entrance procession earlier (HERE) . What is interesting is how fast the procession is in this movie! It’s off to the races! I wonder if they were trying to save film or if processions in the “old days” really were conducted that fast. Any way I thought this clip might be a nice footnote to that article below. Enjoy this clip.
The following video is one of the more intriguing vocation videos I have seen. And it is from an interesting source. The video also illustrates well the general theme of this blog that the longings we experience are ultimately about God, whatever our vocation. Sister calls her longing that “tug in her heart.”
Reason # 18 – The Good Priests. Much has been written lately about the sins of some priests who horribly committed sexual abuse. May God bless those who were victims of such priests. But the vast majority of priests are good, holy and dedicated men who given themselves selflessly to God and the service of his people. I can testify to many good priests who helped me along the way. The priests who serve us in the Church are not perfect men but most all of them love God and his people. They work long hours and are present at some of the most difficult and joyful moments of our lives. Most of them are quiet servants, answering late night phone calls, celebrating early masses, sitting through long meetings and patiently listening to our concerns, struggles, joys and hopes, questions, and doubts. They celebrate the Sacraments with devotion, both for God and their people. And truth be told most Catholics love their priests, pray for them, respect them and value their service.
So here is a reason to come home: many good priests are waiting to serve you and celebrate the significant moments of your life. Many good priests await your return.
Here is a beautiful Video that celebrates the ministry priests among us:
Reason # 17- Jesus is Here Right Now. If I were to credibly announce to the Washington DC area that Jesus Christ was going to come down from heaven and appear in my Parish Church of Holy Comforter – St. Cyprian, the place would be packed! Media Satellite trucks would line the block. Crowds in the hundreds of thousands might well gather; all to see Jesus. But the truth is, Jesus IS here, right now. He presides as High Priest at every liturgy we celebrate. He remains present in our tabernacle. He’s here! He preaches the sermon, stands at our altar and feeds us with his Body and Blood.
The Choir in my Church often sings the Gospel song “Jesus Is Here Right Now.” while we receive Holy Communion. Are you looking for Jesus? Here’s here, right now! A great reason to come home.
Here are two powerful videos that celebrate the True Presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament: “God in the Streets of New York.” Behold how Jesus walks the streets of New York and see the remarkable reactions of many people in the video. Some glance shyly, others reash out to touch, others cry out from a distance, one man throws open his window and cries “Glory.” The second video is actually the same footage, but a musical version, a remix or sorts.