Lit Level 6- Torch

Question 1- Deacons, Priests, Bishops, Archbishops & Cardinals- What’s the Difference?

Mark is a convert to the Catholic faith. When he joined the Church, it didn’t take long for him to figure out how his pastor was involved in parish life, but when he joined a friend for Mass at a cathedral, things got more complicated – the bishop showed up! 

The Mass was almost the same, but Mark knew after he walked out of the cathedral that morning that there was something more to the bishop than his unusual vestments.

But what was it?

Watch

YOUCAT

Read points 249-259 in the YOUCAT, along with the citations, quotes, and definitions on the side columns. When you’re finished, review with the following:

  1. What is the connection between the role of the Bishops and the life of Christ?
  2. What is the special role of the priesthood in the Church?
  3. Why do we talk about the “gift of celibacy”?

Journal

Answer with as much detail as necessary:

Think about the role of deacons and priests in your parish. What impact have they personally had on your life?

Question 2- What is Seminary Like?

John grew up a “cradle Catholic,” and has always loved his faith. He loved being an altar server in his parish, and now, he’s starting to wonder if God might be calling him to consider a vocation to the priesthood!

But could he really fit in at a seminary? I mean, what do seminarians do all day . . . ?

Watch:

Reflect:

  1. Seminarians are normal people, too! What parts of seminary life appeal to you?
  2. What parts do you think would be difficult for you?
  3. What about this community helps a man grow in holiness?

Journal

Answer the following question with as much detail as you feel necessary.

What did I think seminary life was like before studying this lesson? Has this changed?

Question 3- What is a Religious Order?

Steve’s dad was a Deacon at his Church. One of his responsibilities was housing and caring for the religious missionaries that would come to visit their parish asking for donations every year during World Missions Sunday.

Each year, he met some of the most interesting men from some of the most interesting paces he had ever heard of. The stories of intense struggle and limitless joys really resonated with him. He enjoyed their stories so much he always wrote a thank you letter for their service to the Church and donated a portion of his allowance that week to help their mission.

But one thing really confused him, when he would write their name, he realized that all had strange initials afterwards: Father Dominica DeSilva, O.P., and Father Francisco Ramos, F.S.C., etc. He asked his dad what those meant.

His dad told him that that was the religious order that each man belonged to. The O.P. stood for the Order of Preachers, also know as the Dominican Order. The F.S.C represented the Fratres Scholarum Christianarum, or the order of the Christian Brothers of St. John the Baptist De la Salle. He went on to tell his son that there were over 100 different religious orders that made these visiting missionaries different than their local diocesan priest, all with different abbreviations after their names that indicated to which religious order they belonged to.

Watch

 

Check these out:

From the Catholic-Link resource library

YOUCAT

Read points 138 and 145 from your YOUCAT. When you are finished, reflect on the following questions:

  1. What are the special gifts of a vocation to a life as a consecrated religious brother or sister?
  2. How do the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience help a religious brother or sister imitate Jesus?
  3. What will ultimately make us happy in life? Why is this important to life as a religious?

Journal

Answer the following question with as much detail as you feel necessary.

How does life as part of a religious order build up the Church?

Question 4- The Life of a Priest

Watch

Respond

  1. How were the two stories in this short video similar?
  2. How were they different?
  3. How does one know they are being called to the priesthood?
  4. What do you think a priest does all day?

YOUCAT

Read points 249-250 and 258-259 from your YOUCAT. When you are finished, reflect on the following questions:

  1. What is the role of the priesthood in the Church?
  2. What does it mean for a priest to act in persona Christi?
  3. How is a priest a “shepherd” for the people of the Church?
  4. Why do we call priests “Father”?

Journal

Answer the following question with as much detail as you feel necessary.

How have priests impacted my life?

Question 5- The Life of a Religious Sister or Nun

Watch

Respond

  1. What did you expect as you began to watch this film?
  2. After watching, do you look at the lives of consecrated religious women in a different way?

There is no more required of this course as it ties in to the previous lesson on the life of the Priesthood.

Question 6- The Life of a Consecrated Religious

Watch

A short film from the Dominican brothers, part of one of the largest active religious orders:

A film on the Carmelites of Wyoming, a contemplative religious community:

YOUCAT

Read points 138 and 145 from your YOUCAT. When you are finished, reflect on the following questions:

  1. What similarities do you see between the lives of these two communities? What differences?
  2. How do the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience help these religious brothers imitate Jesus?
  3. What does the YOUCAT say will make us truly happy in life? Why is this so important to life as a religious brother?

Journal

Answer the following question with as much detail as you feel necessary.

What do the lives of consecrated religious bring to the Church? What can I learn from them?

Question 7- What is a Third Order?

Stephanie just turned 18 and she is having difficulty deciding what she wants to do when she graduates from high school. She’s been accepted into the big university in her state, but she feels called to do more. She feels called to the vocation of marriage and yet, she also feels a call to become a religious. She isn’t so sure what to do.

When she arrives on campus, she discovers that there is a small group of adults and students that meet regularly at the college chapel. They call themselves the Lay Dominicans, a Catholic group of lay men and women who are also part of the Dominican order. She enjoys their company and, after speaking with the spiritual director of the group, she decides to join the group as a full-fledged member. 

On the night of her reception, her boyfriend proposes to her.

Stephanie couldn’t be more happy. She finally understands her call to be both a married woman and a religious member of the Dominican order. 

Respond

  1. What does it mean to be part of the laity?
  2. What does it mean to be part of a religious community? 
  3. Have you ever felt called to be both/and?
  4. Did you know it was possible to be both/and?

Watch

Instead of a YOUCAT section, please read the following:

Third Orders are an immense blessing to the Church and they are deserving of your contemplation. The following pieces of advice are for those who are discerning a lay vocation as a member of a Third order:

1) Discern.

This first step towards spiritual growth is to will it. God has already called you to become something great whether you join a religious Order or not. Your job is to uncover all of the muck and clutter that sin has piled on top of your soul by actually getting up and doing something about it. Establish a time for quiet reflection, go to confession consistently and take Christ’s body and blood at Mass as often as you are able. Nothing gives your mind more clarity than these simple practices.

2) Research the charism of each religious Order that you feel drawn towards.

Every religious Order has a specific charism, or way by which they serve Christ’s evangelical mission. Each shares in a specific way of life that is based on prayer, community and service, but each has a certain charism that pretty much defines their style of proclaiming the Gospel and building the Kingdom.

The four most popular religious communities that offer Third Order formation and membership are:

The Third Order Carmelites, whose charism is contemplative prayer

The Oblates of St. Benedict, whose charism is to seek God in association with a monastic community.

The Third Order Franciscans, whose charism is based on living a simple lifestyle like that of St. Francis.

The Lay Dominicans, whose chrism is to attain knowledge and wisdom through study and preaching.

These are just a few options of religious communities that have Third Orders, but many others, like the Jesuits, offer association possibilities for lay men and women. An associate is someone who works alongside the consecrated religious members of the order but does not receive the graces of being a full-fledged part of the community as a Third Order member would.

3) Practice what they preach.

After researching each Order, begin to read through their Rule, which is a written explanation of how each member is to participate more fully in their spiritual life. The Rule is typically a set of expectations that the founder of each community desired for his/her members to follow. This code of conduct is much like a set of directions to help guide the person towards their eternal salvation. They typically include methods of prayer and spiritual exercises based on the charism of the Order.

4) Pray, pray, pray… and discern some more.

While practicing the Rules of several religious Orders, continue to pray and act as if you were already a member. One of the greatest ways to know if you are doing God’s will is to act as if you already know what it is. Sometimes you will fall, but the constant practice of virtue will solidify your stride and you will grow in your understanding of His will for you by thinking about it constantly.

5) When you feel the nudge, get in contact with the formation director of the Order you feel called to commune with. 

At some point, the lifestyle by which you have been called to live will become second nature to you. The Rule that brings you closest to Him, the charism in by which you feel most comfortable spreading the Good News and the community with which you are most effective in animating is typically the one that God’s voice beckons you to join. Respond accordingly by getting in contact with the formation director of the Third Order that you have been called to join. Don’t be surprised if it takes a while for them to respond; the majority of the formation directors are Third Order members who are balancing their worldly careers with family and Church. Be patient, all things on God’s time.

6) Be prepared to tell people what a Third Order is.

When I had finally came to terms with God calling me to become a Lay Dominican, I sent out a mass e-mail to my family and friends. Most, if not all, of the responses I received expressed their  confusion and worry that I was changing religions. I received comments like “Wait, what? What does this mean?” and “So, you’re not gonna be Catholic anymore?” as opposed to the “Awesome! Congrats!” that I was expecting. Even after the e-mails, I find myself explaining to people that being part of a Third Order has nothing to do with switching religions. In fact, it is quite the opposite; I feel more Catholic now than ever!

7. Stay consistent with your formation.

Most Third Order formation programs include modules for study and contemplation that can last anywhere from 6 months to five years. For example, the Lay Dominicans in the Central Province require the first 3-6 months of going to meetings and inquiring, 6 months of postulancy, 1 year of candidacy, and 3 years of continuing formation before you can make your final vows. You are considered a member of the Order at postulancy but the formation is constant even after you make your final vows.

Becoming a member of a Third Order isn’t for everyone. You don’t have to be one to be a good Catholic. However, they do offer constant prayer support, free spiritual formation, and numerous options for service that can help anyone grow closer to Christ. It leaves an indelible mark on your soul and surrounds you and your loved ones with graces that come straight from Jesus through the many Saints that make up each community that surround God’s throne in an eternal symphony of praise.

Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?

Journal

Answer the following question with as much detail as you feel necessary.

After researching the various Lay Orders, to which Third Order might I be called toward joining? Why?

Level Torch: Final Reflection

This final level was named “Torch” for a reason; all who are truly enlivened by Christ’s love live their lives as one who is on a mission. In the end, these people are the ones who carry the torch of God’s love to the ends of the earth and to the front lines of our communities.

Now, God calls you.

How will you answer?

To complete this section, please do one (or all) of the following:

Get a spiritual director. This is a hard task as many holy men and women who can give you advice are typically very busy people. Pray about it and find someone who can guide you to a higher level of closeness with God by meeting with them as often as you both are able.

Discern the mission God has for you. Limit the time in which you pursue meaningless tasks (for example- using your phone/tablet, playing video games, binge watching tv, etc) and fill this time with prayer, meditation, and reflection. Ask God what He wants from you.

Meet your vocations director. It is possible that you are being called to become a priest, religious or married spouse to someone. It is also possible that you are being called to the single life. If you feel you might be called to a religious vocation, contact your vocations director. This person will help you immensely, especially if you aren’t sure if you are being called.

Live a life of joy. There is no better way to carry the Torch of God’s love than by living a happy and complete life. The only way to do this is to sacrifice yourself for the good of others, for that is the definition of Love.

Grow in your knowledge of the Catholic faith. We at the Dominican Institute have dedicated our lives to helping you come to know and love Christ and His Church through the development of online courses and free resources. Please take advantage of all that we offer on our site.

It is with great pleasure that I congratulate you on finishing this step of your journey. The story of salvation continues on through your mission. Please don’t hesitate to contact us any time if ever you are in need of prayer intentions, tools, resources, or community to help you do exactly what God is calling you to do. That’s why we exist.

Your brother,

T.J. Burdick, Founder, The Dominican Institute