On November 8th, the Commemoration of All Souls of the Order of Preachers, the Priory of Saint Dominic held a room blessing ceremony for the entire house. Thanks to the Novitiate, every year, the house is a new community. Thus, this year, we held a room blessings for each of our rooms.
It was a beautiful event. We started with Adoration, a bit of preaching, and then the blessings, then Night Prayer.
Fr Steve, our prior, gave a beautiful homily about our common life and the history of the house. The one point that rang true to me was the fact that good, holy men have inhabited this house since 1873. “One of your rooms was my room when I was first assigned here as a parochial vicar here at St Dominic’s,” he said. “One of your rooms was Fr Isaiah’s, Fr Emmanuel’s, those guys who are at the House of Studies right now. Imagine the men who prayed and studied and discerned the vocation in which you are discerning.”
I remember being a novice. Staring down at the “Jesus is Lord” Church across the street from the Priory. So many times that year, I would be brushing my teeth, overlooking that little Church, wondering, “How in the world am I going to do this Dominican thing?” How am I going to last the novitiate year? Fulfill this calling? Be a Dominican? Dream the grand dream?
Am I ready for this? I am the youngest of the class, I would say to myself. What am I doing here? Can’t I just get a job, and, y’know…live a life before I give my life away?
Yet here we have eight young yahoos wearing the habit of the Order of Preachers, these men who, like me (not too long ago) wondering and praying the same things that I have.
Chanting the Salve Regina, we processed from the main Church and into the Priory, with Fr Steve at the end, hoisting the Savior in the Monstrance. Starting on the third floor, we entered the Novitiate wing. Each novice wrote a prayer for their room, calling to mind God’s mercy and love for them. Each invoked their patron saints and asked God to give clarity to their vocation and discernment through the Novice Year. Then we would have a common prayer, then the Prior would bless the room with the Monstrance. We did this for all of the bedrooms. We did this for the offices and refectory as well, but with a lot less panache.
Now, think of this. We did this nineteen times. The room blessing lasted a really long time. But we weren’t even done yet.
After the refectory, we gently processed upstairs and back into the Church, where we held Compline in common…a natural thing for Dominicans. Praying the simplest and most elegant prayer that we can, ending a night overflowing with blessings.
Days later, I’m still thinking of my Prior preached. Who were the men that had lived, prayed, and slept in my room. Who were the men that clashed spiritual swords with the Lord of Lies? Who else sat in my cell, praying about homilies, about couples that they are preparing for marriage, thinking about recent confessions and people whom they have anointed and sent to our Heavenly Paradise? …what of them?
November is the month in which we remember who have gone before us, those men and women of Christian example. Those brothers and sisters still in need of our prayers. Let us remember those before us, so that we can, one day, see them face to face.
Holy Father Dominic, pray for us!