10 Friars make their Simple Profession
August 20, 2012
Prior Provincial Fr. Brian Mulcahy, O.P. preached the following homily on August 15, 2012 during the Solemn Mass of the Assumption and Simple Profession at St. Gertrude Church, Cincinnati, Ohio. For just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life, but each one in proper order: Christ the firstfruits; then, at his coming, those who belong to Christ… Why are we given this reading from the First Letter of St Paul to the Corinthians for our celebration of the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary? Because, in a very real way, what we celebrate today is what St Paul explains in this passage: about Christ’s being the firstborn from the dead, the firstfruits of the Resurrection, and that all who belong to Christ will also share in His resurrection from the dead, but in their proper order. For what we celebrate in the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is that “proper order” St Paul speaks of — that Mary alone, among all the rest of humanity apart from her divine Son, already shares body and soul in Christ’s triumph over the powers of sin and death. Because of her unique role as the Virgin Mother of God’s only-begotten Son, God did not allow her body, in death, to undergo the corruption of the grave, and she now reigns in heaven as Queen of the Angels and Saints, sharing fully in her Son’s bodily resurrection from the grave. You and I, and all who belong to Christ, living and deceased, will also share in the fullness of Christ’s resurrection, each in his or her proper order, when Jesus returns in glory at the end of time. What we await at the end of the ages, our Blessed Mother already shares in fully at her Son’s right hand in heaven. Now, what does any of this have to do with the purpose for which you and I have gathered in this Church of St Gertrude today, which is to witness the First Profession of our ten brothers at the conclusion of their novitiate year? In the history of our Dominican Order, this Feast, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, was the day that St Dominic famously dispersed the early brethren, two-by-two, to the major university centers of Europe in the thirteenth century, over the strenuous objections of the brothers who were being dispersed, but it proved to be a bold and Spirit-led move on St Dominic’s part, which led to the spread and growth of the Order throughout most of Europe, and even beyond, within just a few short years. So, it’s appropriate to receive the First Profession of our Novices this day and to give them their very first assignment as Friars Preachers, which will be done later during Mass, after Communion. While I won’t be sending them out two-by-two, but rather as a class, together, to begin their study of philosophy and theology in Washington, DC, today, through their First Profession, these our ten brothers joyfully take their place in a long-line of itinerant Dominican friars, stretching back almost 800 years, ready to be sent out, ready to be sent forth for the preaching of the Gospel and for the salvation of souls. But there is a deeper, spiritual connection between St Paul’s teaching in our second reading for today’s feast from First Corinthians, regarding the bodily Resurrection from the dead being first revealed in our Lord Jesus Himself, and then followed by all who belong to Christ, each in her or his proper order. You and I should see the Religious Profession of our ten brothers this day not as some isolated incident in their lives, which we may or may not understand, but rather as a further unfolding of the Paschal Mystery in the life of each of these ten men in all his individuality. What do I mean by that? Their act of vowing themselves to the Lord in poverty, chastity and obedience, which they will do in a few short minutes, one after another, is a further manifestation of the Mystery of Christ’s Life, Death and Resurrection being revealed in the life of each of these ten men, this Mystery into which they were incorporated through their Baptism, through their Confirmation, and through their faithful receiving of the Body and Blood of Christ in the Holy Eucharist. To the parents and godparents and families of our ten brothers, present with us today: as you watch your son kneel down and make his vows as a Dominican friar, see in this act, freely chosen by your son, a flowering, a blossoming of the gift of New Life in Christ, which you asked to be bestowed upon him when you brought him to the waters of baptism. It is the Lord Jesus, in His fidelity to the promises He made to your sons on the day of their baptisms, who today draws them more closely to His own Heart through their profession of the evangelical counsels and who exhorts them to “run in the ways of perfection.” It is easy for us to be overwhelmed by the enormousness of what these ten men do here today in vowing themselves to a life of poverty, chastity and obedience, especially because we cannot know exactly what road lies ahead for each of them. However, we must not lose sight, either, of the immensity of Christ’s love that has brought them to this moment in their lives, Christ whose voice it is they are responding to, and whose unwavering fidelity toward them is the only thing that makes their desire to be faithful to Him even possible. But we can have every confidence that Christ, the Firstborn from the dead, will, in His Goodness, continue to manifest His life, death and resurrection through the lives of our ten brothers, will continue to call forth from them abundant fruit, fruit that will last for the building up of the Kingdom here on earth, until He returns, when they too, each in his proper order, will share fully in Christ’s resurrection from the dead. My brothers-about-to-make-Profession, may our Blessed Mother, assumed into heaven and crowned with glory as Queen of heaven and earth, the Mother of Preachers, be your Protector always, obtaining all necessary graces for you, so that the Image of her Son might grow stronger in you each day, until that day when you, too, are gathered in the folds of her mantle. Amen.