Our Daily Life
Our Daily Life
The daily life for a brother varies, depending on his stage of formation. For novices, the emphasis of life is prayer and discernment. For those in vows, the emphasis is study. For those who have completed their studies, the emphasis is ministry. That is not to say that one who is in vows does not need continual prayer and discernment. Rather, consider it more as layers.
The foundation of our life is prayer and community. A novice should learn the personality of the community and the structure of prayer. Often, novices will attend Mass frequently, have a spiritual director, pray the rosary or other devotionals, and/or have an active service life. The mission of a novice in any community is to learn and to practice the prayer life of the community, along with their own devotionals. The novice should approach service work to learn different skills and to meet other people who are also entering ministry. A novice should, in this time, begin to learn to be obedient even when the decisions are not in his favor, to share with his brothers the fruits of prayer and the sweat of his brow, and to love his brothers as his family. Additionally, a novice should spend additional time in prayer to discern God's will.
As a novice enters vows, he may find himself returning to school. Those seeking ordination must study philosophy and theology. Those who are on the track of a permanent brother may seek other appropriate professions such as nursing, teaching, or administration. For those entering a university or program of theology, the emphasis moves to study. As a novice, the brother did the hard work of discernment and learning about the community. While the discernment process continues, it is somewhat reduced as there has been a conscious step toward study. In a Dominican Spirituality, study of theology is often equated with prayer. While the brother's study does not release the brother from prayer, there are concessions that must sometimes be made in favor of study. For example, if a class is offered only during the time of community prayer, then the brother can have vespers on his own.
After the time of study, the focus changes again. The newly ordained (or, in the case of a permanent brother, the newly graduated) searches for work and begins to devote his life toward the needs of others in his ministry. It is possible that work schedules or parish meetings will conflict with the schedule of the community's prayer. The priest or brother will make every effort to be at prayer with the community when possible. However, ministry takes on the center of life. Of course, a priest or brother should continue to do the personal devotionals that feed his spiritual life, just as he did as a novice. A priest or brother is not exempt from his prayer. Rather it has become part of the very essence of who he is. Similarly, a priest or brother is not finished with study by virtue of his graduation. Rather, he submits to continuous study to enrich his ministry.
In general, our community houses have Morning Prayer (lauds) and Evening Prayer (Vespers) every day. The brothers are encouraged to attend Mass based on the community's schedule. Usually daily Mass is in the community chapel. However, because we are such a young community with so few priests, on occasion the novices and brothers might be asked to take part in Mass at a nearby parish. Additional devotions to the Blessed Mother are encouraged and celebrated as well as devotions to patron saints. Meditation and benediction are practiced at appropriate times in all the houses. Spiritual reading and reflection are also encouraged. There are numerous additional opportunities for prayer and reflection.
For novices, there are opportunities to collaborate with local directors of Deaf ministry to volunteer and to learn to do ministry to the Deaf community. In the summer, novices have the opportunity to attend a Deaf summer camp (Camp Mark 7 in Old Forge, NY) founded by Fr. Thomas Coughlin, OP Miss. several years ago. They are encouraged to volunteer in jails, soup kitchens, or in parish ministry in order to understand how to start to give, rather than receive, pastoral care.