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    Blessed Margaret of Castello, OP Chapter-in-Formation

    Saturday, February 27, 1999

    Dear postulants of the Third Order of St. Dominic:

                The purpose of this letter is to review where we have been, and where we hope to go from here.

                In October, 1997, a few people got together every third Saturday to meet and discuss various readings regarding the life and charism of St. Dominic.  There is so much to learn and so much to do.  We can only take it one step at a time…rather one meeting at a time.

                In October, 1998, Fr. George Matanic, OP came to Boise and gave a very fine review of the Dominican Order of the Western U.S. Province.  He set us on course, with a schedule of nine meetings, nine months in a row, on the third Sunday of each month.  It was an ambitious effort.  Since that date, we have had meetings.  In December, 1998, another priest from the Dominican House of Studies of Salt Lake City to Boise.   The goal is for the formation of first year novices of the Third Order of St. Dominic.  The first order is the priesthood, the second order is the women religious, and the third order is lay persons, although the third order may include priests and women religious from other orders or from the secular priesthood.

                The goal is to have those involved in the third order, and who have been through the formation program, to take their initial profession in The Order of St. Dominic, this coming August, 1999.  What a glorious time, as we celebrate the Feast of St. Dominic and Feast of the Assumption in August of each year.

                Our chapter is “in formation” and is not formally recognized.  The chapter is named The Blessed Margaret of Castello, OP, Chapter-in-Formation.  It is governed by a council of four councilors.  We held elections in October of last year, and Stephanie Dennino was named Prioress, Mark Gross as Sub-Prior, Mary Ellen Nourse as Secretary-Treasurer, and John Keenan, TOP, as Formation Director.  Bonnie Merritt is the historian.  “TOP” is a designation for a member of the “Third Order of Preachers”.  Another designation often seen is “OPL” or Order of Preachers, Laity.  The council has a minimum number of members presently, and will grow to as many as twelve, as more people become professed members of the third order. 

                We have had the wonderful benefit of Fr. Matanic’s input, his joyful attitude, and presence last year.  In addition, we have had the blessing of the presence of Fr. Bart de la Torre, OP, Ph.D., who is a chaplain at Thomas Aquinas College, Santa Paula, CA.

               I have included a summary of the formation program from the Western Dominican Province which is a rich source of information and spiritual input into our Dominican lives.

                Due to the fact that the Dominican formation period is so important, and that our focus is on learning, study, and concentrated efforts in knowing the charism, gifts, life, words, and actions of St. Dominic and his spiritual progeny, it is an important time in your life.  That is why I am writing this letter.  It may be difficult sometimes.  It may be burdensome.  However, the prayers, the learning, the sharing, and the fellowship of the family of St. Dominic is and will be worth your effort.  Further, with great joy will the heart of St. Dominic swell as we receive the many postulants for their novitiate this coming year.  As you are prepared for this, keep your focus on Christ, the Holy Mother of God, and our father in faith, St. Dominic.  The chief weapon in Faith of a Dominican is the Rosary.  Pray it daily, pray it to and from work or play, at home, in your heart, or on your lips, but pray.   For the highest purpose is to know God, to love Him and to serve Him through the perfection of charity.  The specific purpose of our effort is to preach and for the salvation of souls through the ministry of the Word.  The means towards these ends is through the contemplative life, for a Dominican that is communal life (our regular meetings and social life), evangelical counsels, communal liturgical and non-liturgical prayer, assiduous study, and regular observances.  Our mottoes are Truth, and To praise, to bless, and to preach, and contemplate and communicate what we have contemplated.

                As a Dominican, there is no higher calling outside our call to God, our family, our Church, and to each other in charity.  This will explain some of our life as Dominicans.  Please let me know if you have any questions. 

                                                                            Yours in St. Dominic,


                                                                             John C. Keenan, TOP, Formation Director


    Summary of the Nine Sessions for the Postulancy

    Western Dominican Province

    I.          Introduction and Welcome                             

    II.         St. Dominic and the Call to Holiness             

    III.       A Vision of the Church

    IV.       Identifying our Spiritual Gifts

    V.         A Variety of Ministries

    VI.       Justice and Peace

    VII       Lifelong Learning

    VIII.     Contemplation and Prayer

    IX.       Review



    Blessed Margaret of Castello, OP Chapter-in-Formation

    Monthly Chapter Meeting

    Saturday, March 20, 1999 at St. Mark’s in Boise.

                7:00 a.m.         Liturgy of the Hours                            “cry room”

                7:30 a.m.         Rosary                                                 sanctuary

                7:50 a.m.         Holy Sacrifice of the Mass                   sanctuary

                [Often, members may get together for coffee or breakfast after Mass].

    Sunday, March 21, 1999 at St. Paul’s Student Center, BSU campus, in Boise.

    [A “pot-luck” brunch is cooked and served at or around 1:00 p.m.—if you wish to             join that part of the meeting].

                2:00 p.m.         Rosary and Liturgy of the Hours         sanctuary

                2:30 p.m.         Chapter meeting commences              downstairs      

    Meeting No. IV (Continued)  Identifying Our Spiritual Gifts

                I.          Opening

                            a.  opening prayer

    b.  chapter business

                            c.  purpose of meeting for today

                II.        Patron Saint

                            a.  Life of St. Dominic.  More on his life.  (Mark Gross)

                            b.  Life of the Apostles (who exercised their spiritual gifts)

                III.       More on the Rule

                            a.  The Spiritual Gifts and the Rule of the Order of St. Dominic

                                        (Ken Jercha)

                IV.       Virtue:  Humility

                            a.  Discussion:  Humility is that moral virtue which disposes us to appreciate and acknowledge our true position with respect to God and our fellowmen.  “Unless you turn, and become like little children, you will to enter into the kingdom of heaven.”  (Mt. 18:3).  The Centurion (Mt. 8:11) [See, attachment, re: commentary on Mt. 8:11].  “If any man wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all, and servant of all.”  (Mk 9:34).

                            a.  Acknowledges God as the source of all excellent things possessed.

                            b.  Recognizes limitations, nothingness, uselessness of all temporal things without God.

                            c.  Earthly things are of value only if they lead us to God.  This detachment frees one from all human fear and desire for human respect.

                            d.  Our Lord Jesus Christ is the model of One Who humbled Himself out of love for all.   

                            e.  Humility is opposed both to pride and to excessive and affected self-abjection.  St. Thomas Aquinas said that a person should recognize and appreciate his own good qualities is not sin.  (See attached, Summa Theologica, humility). 

                IV.       Colloquium

                V.        Break

                VI.       Review of the Essential Elements of the Dominican Life. 

                            a.  The general purpose: perfection of Charity.

                            b.  The specific purpose: preaching and the salvation of souls; ministry of the Word; the active life.

                            c.  The means: The contemplative life: common life, evangelical counsels, common; liturgical and non-liturgical prayer, assiduous prayer, regular observances.

                            d.  “The Church Speaks to the Lay Member of the Order of Preachers” ed. by Fr. Bart de la Torre, OP, Ph.D., Torch-lites,  vol. 20, no. 1, Jan-Feb-Mar 1985, pp. 7-10.

                VII.     Closing Prayer.




    ARTICLE 5: Whether humility is the greatest of the virtues?


               OBJ 1: It would seem that humility is the greatest of the virtues.  For Chrysostom, expounding the story of the Pharisee and the publican (Luke 18), says (Ecolg. hom. 7 de Humil. Animi.) that "if humility is such a fleet runner even when hampered by sin that it overtakes the justice that is the companion of pride, whither will it not reach if you couple it with justice?  It will stand among the angels by the judgment seat of God."  Hence it is clear that humility is set above justice.  Now justice is either the most exalted of all the virtues, or includes all virtues, according to the Philosopher (Ethica Nicomachea v,1).  Therefore humility is the greatest of the virtues.

                OBJ 2: Further, Augustine says (De Verbis Domini, Sermone 10, C1): "Are you thinking of raising the great fabric of spirituality?  Attend first of all to the foundation of humility."  Now this would seem to imply that humility is the foundation of all virtue.  Therefore apparently it is greater than the other virtues.

                OBJ 3: Further, the greater virtue deserves the greater reward.  Now the greatest reward is due to humility, since "he that humbleth himself shall be exalted" (Luke 14:11).  Therefore humility is the greatest of virtues.

                OBJ 4: Further, according to Augustine (De Vera Religione 16), "Christ's whole life on earth was a lesson in moral conduct through the human nature which He assumed."  Now He especially proposed His humility for our example, saying (Matthew 11:29): "Learn of Me, because I am meek and humble of heart."  Moreover, Gregory says (Regulae Pastoralis iii,1) that the "lesson proposed to us in the mystery of our redemption is the humility of God."  Therefore humility would seem to be the greatest of virtues.

                On the contrary, Charity is set above all the virtues, according to Colossians 3:14, "Above all. . . things have charity." Therefore humility is not the greatest of virtues.

                I answer that, The good of human virtue pertains to the order of reason: which order is considered chiefly in reference to the end: wherefore the theological virtues are the greatest because they have the last end for their object.  Secondarily, however, it is considered in reference to the ordering of the means to the end.  This ordinance, as to its essence, is in the reason itself from which it issues, but by participation it is in the appetite ordered by the reason; and this ordinance is the effect of justice, especially of legal justice.  Now humility makes a man a good subject to ordinance of all kinds and in all matters; while every other virtue has this effect in some special matter.  Therefore after the theological virtues, after the intellectual virtues which regard the reason itself, and after justice, especially legal justice, humility stands before all others.

                Reply OBJ 1: Humility is not set before justice, but before that justice which is coupled with pride, and is no longer a virtue; even so, on the other hand, sin is pardoned through humility: for it is said of the publican (Luke 18:14) that through the merit of his humility "he went down into his house justified."  Hence Chrysostom says (De incompr. Nat. Dei, Hom. 5): "Bring me a pair of two-horse chariots: in the one harness pride with justice, in the other sin with humility: and you will see that sin outrunning justice wins not by its own strength, but by that of humility: while you will see the other pair beaten, not by the weakness of justice, but by the weight and size of pride."

                Reply OBJ 2: Just as the orderly assembly of virtues is, by reason of a certain likeness, compared to a building, so again that which is the first step in the acquisition of virtue is likened to the foundation, which is first laid before the rest of the building.  Now the virtues are in truth infused by God. Wherefore the first step in the acquisition of virtue may be understood in two ways.  First by way of removing obstacles: and thus humility holds the first place, inasmuch as it expels pride, which "God resisteth," and makes man submissive and ever open to receive the influx of Divine grace.  Hence it is written (James 4:6): "God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble." In this sense humility is said to be the foundation of the spiritual edifice.  Secondly, a thing is first among virtues directly, because it is the first step towards God.  Now the first step towards God is by faith, according to Hebrews 11:6, "He that cometh to God must believe."  In this sense faith is the foundation in a more excellent way than humility.

                Reply OBJ 3: To him that despises earthly things, heavenly things are promised: thus heavenly treasures are promised to those who despise earthly riches, according to Matthew 6:19,20, "Lay not up to yourselves treasures on earth. . . but lay up to yourselves treasures in heaven."  Likewise heavenly consolations are promised to those who despise worldly joys, according to Matthew 4:5, "Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted."  In the same way spiritual uplifting is promised to humility, not that humility alone merits it, but because it is proper to it to despise earthly uplifting.  Wherefore Augustine says (De Poenitentia; Sermone 351): "Think not that he who humbles himself remains for ever abased, for it is written: He shall be exalted.  And do not imagine that his exaltation in men's eyes is effected by bodily uplifting."

                Reply OBJ 4: The reason why Christ chiefly proposed humility to us, was because it especially removes the obstacle to man's spiritual welfare consisting in man's aiming at heavenly and spiritual things, in which he is hindered by striving to become great in earthly things.  Hence our Lord, in order to remove an obstacle to our spiritual welfare, showed by giving an example of humility, that outward exaltation is to be despised.  Thus humility is, as it were, a disposition to man's untrammeled access to spiritual and divine goods.  Accordingly as perfection is greater than disposition, so charity, and other virtues whereby man approaches God directly, are greater than humility.



    Source: St. Thomas Aquinas: Catena Aurea




    On the humble centurion.


    10. When Jesus heard it, he marveled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say to you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.

    11. And I say to you, that many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of Heaven.

    12. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall he weeping and gnashing of teeth.

    13. And Jesus said to the centurion, Go your way; and as you has believed, so be it done to you. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.

                CHRYS. As what the leper had affirmed concerning Christ's power, If you will, you can cleanse me, was confirmed by the mouth of Christ, saying, I will, be you clean; so here He did not blame the centurion for hearing testimony to Christ's authority, but even commended him. Nay more; it is something greater than commendation that the Evangelist signifies in the words, But Jesus hearing marveled. PSEUDO-CHRYS; Observe how great and what that is at which God the Only-begotten marvels! Gold, riches, principalities, are in His sight as the shadow or the flower that fades; in the sight of God none of these things is wonderful, as though it were great or precious, but faith only; this He wonders at, and pays honor to, this He esteems acceptable to Himself. AUG. But who was He that had created this faith in him, but only He who now marveled at it? But even had it come from any other, how should He marvel who knew all things future? When the Lord marvels, it is only to teach us what we ought to wonder at; for all these emotions in Him are not signs of passion, but examples of a teacher. CHRYS. Wherefore He is said to have thus wondered in the presence of all the people, giving them an example that they also should wonder at Him; for it follows, And he said to them that followed, I have not found so great faith in Israel. AUG. He praises his faith, But gives command to quit his profession of a soldier .JEROME; This He speaks of the present generation, not of all the Patriarchs and Prophets of past ages. PSEUDO-CHRYS. Andrew believed, but it was after John had said, Behold the Lamb of God; Peter believed, but it was at the preaching of Andrew; Philip believed, but it was by reading the Scriptures; and Nathaniel first received a proof of His Divinity, and then spoke forth his confession of faith. PSEUDO-ORIGEN; Jairus a prince in Israel, in making request for his daughter, said not, 'Speak the word,' but, 'Come quickly, Nicodemus, hearing of the sacrament of faith., asks How can these things be? Mary and Martha say, Lord, if you had been here, my brother had not died; as though distrusting that God's power could be in all places at the same time. PSEUDO-CHRYS. Or, if we would suppose that his faith was greater than even that of the Apostles, Christ's testimony to it must be understood as though every good in a man should be commended relatively to his character; as it were a great thing in a countryman to speak with wisdom, but in a philosopher the same would be nothing wonderful. In this way it may be said of the centurion, In none other have I found so great faith in Israel. CHRYS. For it is a different thing for a Jew to believe and for a Gentile.

    JEROME; Or perhaps in the person of the centurion the faith of the Gentiles is preferred to that of Israel; whence He proceeds, But I say to you, Many shall come from the east and from the west. AUG He says, not 'all,' but many; yet these from the east and west; for by these two quarters the whole world is intended. HAYMO; Or; From the east shall come they, who pass into the kingdom as soon as they are enlightened; from the west they who have suffered persecution for the faith even to death. Or, he comes from the east, who has served God from a child; he from the west who in decrepit age has turned to God. PSEUDO-ORIGEN; How then does He say in another place, that the chosen are few? Because in each generation there are few that are chosen, but when all are gathered together in the day of visitation they shall be found many; they shall sit down, not the bodily posture, but the spiritual rest, not with human food, but with an eternal feast, with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven, where is light, joy, glory, and eternal length of days. JEROME; Because the God of Abraham, the Maker of heaven, is the Father of Christ, therefore also is Abraham in the kingdom of heaven, and with him will sit down the nations who have believed in Christ the Son of the Creator. AUG. As we see Christians called to the heavenly feast, where is the bread of righteousness, the drink of wisdom; So we see the Jews in reprobation. The children of the kingdom shall be cast into outer darkness, that is, the Jews, who have received the Law, who observe the types of all things that were to be, yet did not acknowledge the realities when present. JEROME; Or the Jews may be called the children of the kingdom, because God reigned among them heretofore. CHRYS. Or, He calls them the children of the kingdom, because the kingdom was prepared for them, which was the greater grief to them. AUG. Moses set before the people of Israel no other God than the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and Christ sets forth the very same God. So that so far was He from seeking to turn that people away from their own God, that He therefore threatened them with the outer darkness, because He saw them turned away from their own God. And in this kingdom He tells them the Gentiles shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, for no other reason than that they held the faith of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. To these Fathers Christ gives His testimony, not as though they had been converted after death, or had received justification after His passion.

    JEROME; It is called outer darkness, because he whom the Lord casts out leaves the light. HAYMO; What they should suffer there, He shows when He adds, There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Thus in metaphor He describes the sufferings of the tormented limbs; the eyes shed tears when filled with smoke, and the teeth chatter together from cold. This shows that the wicked in hell shall endure both extreme cold and extreme heat: according to that in Job, They shall pass from rivers of snow to the scorching heat. JEROME; Weeping and gnashing of teeth are a proof of bones and body; truly then is there a resurrection of the same limbs, that sank into the grave. RABAN. Or; The gnashing of teeth expresses the passion of remorse; repentance coming too late and self-accusation that he has sinned with such obstinate wickedness. REMIG. Otherwise; By outer darkness, He means foreign nations; for these words of the Lord are a historical prediction of the destruction of the Jews, that they were to be led into captivity for their unbelief, and to be scattered ever the earth; for tears are usually caused by heat, gnashing of teeth by cold. Weeping then is described to those who should be dispersed into the warmer climates of India and Ethiopia, gnashing of teeth to those who should dwell in the colder regions, as Hyrcania and Scythia. CHRYS. But that none might suppose that these were nothing more than fair words, He makes them credible by the miracles following, And Jesus said to the centurion, Go, and be it done to you as you has believed. RABAN. As though He had said, According to the measure of your faith, so be your grace. For the merit of the Lord may be communicated even to servants not only through the merit of their faith, but through their obedience to rule. It follows, And his servant was healed in the self-same hour. CHRYS. Wherein admire the speediness, showing Christ's power, not only to heal, but to do it in a moment of time. AUG. As the Lord did not enter the centurion's house with His body, but healed the servant, present in majesty, but absent in body; so He went among the Jews only in the body, but among other nations He was neither born of a Virgin, nor suffered, nor endured human sufferings, nor did divine wonders; and yet was fulfilled that which was spoken, A people that I have not known has served me, and has obeyed me by the hearing of the ear. The Jews beheld, yet crucified Him; the world heard, and believed.


    To Praise * to Bless * to Preach

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