Here at the house of studies, St. Albert’s Priory, we have started another academic year! Late summer and early fall are always times of transition for the studentate. We have students leaving to go on their residency years or to study abroad, and we have friars entering from the novitiate, from their residency years, from their years abroad, or from a foreign studentate. We have two Polish brothers studying with us this year. We also have many events—brothers entering the novitiate, making first profession, and being ordained to the diaconate.
Our formation program develops us in many areas. Modern Dominicans are expected to have some proficiency in many different fields—not only philosophy, theology, preaching, and teaching, but also public speaking, pastoral counseling, management, scripture, ancient languages (Latin and maybe Greek or Hebrew), and modern languages (Spanish). We are not expected to be experts in each distinct discipline, but to have a basic proficiency in each.
I am sometimes surprised by the wide array of diverse fields that we are expected to know. Realizing that I cannot master each one, I try to recognize my charisms towards particular fields and shore up the areas where I am not naturally (or even supernaturally) gifted. This often humbling process reminds me of a way of describing the Christian life as a “school of perfection.”
Looking at my process of formation as a school of perfection reminds me of several important things. This school requires docility to the formation offered by my professors, formators, spiritual director, and, of course, the Holy Spirit. The school requires the humility to recognize that I have a lot to learn and the gratitude to recognize things for which I am thankful. It demands daily self-awareness and perseverance. It demands dying to self and growing in charity.
Although I am just crossing the halfway point (God-willing) of my initial formation, I feel that as I progress, I really learn how little I know relative to the information out there. I suppose Socrates would be pleased with that observation.
This commitment to the “school of perfection” is something to which all Christians are called, not just religious. Each Christian needs a daily commitment to learn, grow, and improve with God’s grace.
Br. Scott Norgaard, O.P. | Meet the Student Brothers in Formation HERE