Newly minted Bishop Robert Barron of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, asks the question: “Do you want joy and fullness of life? Then you must find a way to make of your life a gift, even if it means giving away what you cherish the most.” Those are the words I think of as I celebrate 28 years of priesthood this month. My feelings are of immense gratitude for God’s mercy, fidelity and patience as well as that of so many friends and family in the course of my ups and downs over the years in fully embracing this vocation.
Of course, it is really a lifelong-process “to make of your life a gift” by letting go of what you most cherish in any genuine commitment whether religious life, marriage or an intentional single life for the sake of the gospel. It takes a lot of courage, most often “God-sent” through the support and example of others who keep reminding you of who you are, especially when you start to forget.
My journey with its peaks and valleys has led me from diocesan priesthood to the Order of Preachers. “The way of the preacher, the essence of Dominican life, was as unexpected a development in my vocation as I could have imagined. It was a “call within a call” that is now as natural as breathing.
The sainted Pope Gregory the Great uses a metaphor that captures this evolution in my calling. “The way of the preacher is the way of the watchman,” he said. “A watchman,” according to St. Gregory, “always stands on a height so that he can see from afar what is coming. Anyone appointed to be a watchman for the people must stand on a height for all his life to help them by his foresight.” Why does the preacher-watchman do it? “Because I love Him,” Gregory says, “I do not spare myself in speaking of Him.”
So as a Dominican preacher, my privileged joy each day is to look out from a unique vista to do what the preacher-watchman always does: watch out for the salvation of souls; tenderly care for sinners in imitation of our founder Dominic and spare nothing in my speaking to make God better known, more deeply loved and more generously served.
Thank you for all you do to help Dominican preachers “make of their life a gift!”
In the spirit of St. Dominic,
Fr. Andrew Carl Wisdom, O.P.
Director of the Society for Vocational Support &
Vicar for Mission Advancement