March 31, 2011

The Dogs of the Lord

The Chapel at the Dominican House of Studies

I am reluctant to talk about my day-job on this blog, but since many friends have kindly been mentioning the recent Gala at the Dominican House of Studies, which I organized with the help of the remarkable men studying for the priesthood here, I just thought I'd share a few things about the Dominicans here in Washington.  (Why, "Dogs of the Lord" you ask...)

+ They are awesome.  And they are growing.  There are 32 men studying for the priesthood here, and another 20 in their novitiate year in Cincinnati.  This is the largest class since before Vatican II.

+ They are really diverse in their knowledge and interests.  In fact, the Student Brothers have been giving a series of lectures during Lent here in Washington and elsewhere (click link for schedules) about a broad range of topics.  A couple of these have been filmed, and posted online:
+ The Grotesque Iconography of Flannery O'Connor by Br. Boniface: a talk on Flannery O'Connor's fiction and how it portrays the effects of Christ's Passion and Man's Redemption in this shockingly real world.
+ Painting, Crucified by Br. Gabriel: which elucidates on the major patterns of artistic symbolism in crucifixion scenes as an aid to visual literacy in this important medium of Christian piety.
+ Their Holy Week and Easter Liturgies are one of the highlights of Liturgical life here in Washington.  Coming up, on Holy Wednesday, they will hold their annual Tenebrae service.  Interposing psalms with the Lamentations of Jeremiah, this Office of Shadows is one of the traditional services of Holy Week, and a profoundly powerful way to deeply engage Passion Week, and the gravity of the days to come. This dramatic liturgy is celebrated in Catholic and Protestant traditions alike, and stems from the ancient monastic Office of Hours for Holy Week. The Chapel is dark, and on the altar stands a huge candelabra (above).  After each Reading one candle is snuffed, till all that remains in the Christ Candle, which stands in the center.  When that is snuffed, the chapel is completely darkened, and a great racket is heard outside--signifying the turmoil in the world once Christ leaves it. So dramatic and profoundly moving, it always kick-starts my more severe Lenten disciplines for the final days of passion-tide. I encourage all my Christian readers to join us for this service on Wednesday, April 20 at 7.30 pm.

+ Their chapel (above) is really really amazing, and well worth a visit.  I'll be happy to rope one of the brothers into giving you a tour, too!

Tenebrae, or Office of Shadows, at the Dominican House of Studies

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