Time for That Post, I guess.
Yes, That One.
As you may or may not know, I’m a member of the Lay branch of the Order of Preachers (Dominicans). I made my Final Promises (“for all my life”) on April 11 2010.
About that “for all my life” bit…
It turns out that nothing in this life is certain, even promises made before God, the Master of the Order (represented by the Friar Promoter for the Lay Dominicans), and your mum.
As part of “being a Dominican” I would go to Spurgeon College every two years and give a talk to the trainee Baptist and Pentecostal ministers about being Catholic, and praying for the dead, and Mary’s maternal care over the Order, and nuns, the intercession of the Saints, and all those other bits of Catholic doctrine that Baptists tend to find a bit tricky. I was re-writing my talk one day last year and it suddenly struck me that I wasn’t sure that I believed what I was talking about, which is somewhat problematic, really. You can’t belong to an Order whose motto is “Veritas” (truth) if you’re not sure you believe what you’re about to preach.
So, where am I now?
Do I still believe in what St Thomas Aquinas refers to as The Prime Mover? Yes, probably. Most of the time. I think. Maybe.
From there, can I make the intellectual leap to believing and professing all that the holy Catholic Church teaches, believes and proclaims to be revealed by God? No.
Would the easy way out have been to carry on as if I believed, wearing my profession cross and going to meetings and saying All The Right Words and so on? Yes, probably. It would have saved some awkward questions and a lot of grief and heartache, for a while anyway, but I am sure there would have come a point, sooner rather than later, where the mental gymnastics involved would have made me explode.
Ten years of praying the Divine Office every day, and attending Daily Mass has left the rhythm of the church’s year ingrained in my bones, I think, so I still find myself tripping over ingrained habits. Christmas as a purely secular time was a little disconcerting. Going on holiday and not figuring out where the nearest Catholic church was and what time Mass was.
So, there we are. For tedious, admin-related reasons, I’m formally still a member of the order until the dispensation process is finished, but to all intents and purposes, I no longer regard myself as such.
[Edited to clarify something]
I absolutely do not regret my time in the Order. It was the right thing to do at the time, but staying would have been an act of profound intellectual and spiritual dishonesty and a grave disservice to everyone involved – to me, to the Community, and to the wider Order.