Sharing Your Gifts~Br. Christian Ventura, Novice
In the Name of Almighty God: ✠ Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
There is an old monastic joke that goes as follows–:
“There are only three things that God doesn’t know:
1. How many Franciscan Friars there are;
2. What in the world the Jesuits are doing;
And 3. What a Dominican Friar is saying when they’re preaching”.
And as for most Dominicans on the day of the Annunciation, (or the day after, in this case) it is hard to not fall into this stereotype, as we are often quick to get excited whenever we have an opportunity to preach on the Blessed Virgin Mary. Afterall, our habits are white to represent our protection under the mantle of our Blessed Mother, (and also because it was the cheapest material at the time), but we don’t lead with that.
We also carry a 15-decade rosary on the left side of our cincture to remind us to take up prayer instead of a sword. And if you didn’t already know, the modern rosary prayed by many today is believed to come from a Marian visitation to St. Dominic in his petition for peace during a time of death and despair. This 5-decade rosary is an abbreviated version inspired by the original 150 beaded Marian psalter given to St. Dominic.
But we aren’t the only monastics to wear a rosary as part of our habit. The Franciscans share this practice, as do many nuns, brothers, and monks of various other orders as well. Although this is usually due to a shared desire to represent our cinctured obedience to almighty God in our vocation(s).
Likewise, you’ll note that the Canticle of Mary or the Magnificat also has its roots in early monasticism. When we pray “my soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my savior” during evening prayer, we join the voices of the benedictine monks in the monastery who have chanted it during evening vespers since the 6th century.
The veneration of Mary the God bearer as influenced by early monasticism is an integral part of our history as Christians, and we know it to begin as early as the story of the Annunciation. Where, an Angel of God visits our mother and says “hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women”.
But aside from the angelic imagery of this breathtaking event, what personally strikes me the most is Mary’s faithful consent to God in her special vocation. She says “behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to thy word”.
Imagine a world where we all said yes to our callings from God. And even better yet, imagine a world where we supported everyone and their special calls. And no, not necessarily a call to be a monk or a nun, but rather our call to be a brother, a sister, a friend, mother, a beloved child of God. Our call to take up our cross, our call to be imitators of the Word made flesh that dwelt among us.
I urge you to take a moment to think about: what is God calling you to? What experiences, both good and bad, have placed you here– right where you need to be?
And, how can you say “yes!”? Lent is a phenomenal time to discern our own special vocations and deepen our relationship with God: where we fast from our own will to make room for God’s.
How are you called to share your special gifts and talents to help make it on earth as it is in heaven? Are you called to be a teacher, a healer, or a musician? Has God asked you to leverage your career in healthcare, law, hospitality, or leadership to help love your neighbors? Are you an artist? Do you cook? What are you really good at doing, and how can you use it to help bring peace, comfort, or joy to others?
Lent is a time to embrace our callings from God not in spite of our flaws, but partly because of them. Whatever God is calling you to, know that he is calling you in the fullness of who you are now, with the vision of who you will become.
Through the intercession of our Blessed Virgin Mary , Mother of God, may you come to hear your call and find confidence to say “yes”, and may our Loving Father help you bring it to fruition.
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