Dominican Values: Alive to the Real and the Possible


Chrys McVey OP

Through the stories of early Dominicans and contemporary Dominican interpretations of those stories, Chrys McVey offers insights into a truly Dominican approach to education and the intellectual life. Originally given in January of 2009 at Ohio Dominican’s Aquinas Convocation, this article was published in the Centennial Edition of Dominican Studies (Aug 2011).

To give a flavor of the talk, here are some of Chrys' conclusions in his own words:

A Dominican approach I would characterize as paying attention to what is real, to what is present, right in front of us, all the great ‘disputed questions’ of the day. I believe that Dominican preaching and teaching is never ‘doctrinal,’ in the sense of ‘telling people the truths.’ It is rather listening to them, sharing their questions, as in the delightful and playful dialogue between Jesus and the Samaritan women in John 4. She runs to the village, tells them of her experience, and asks, ‘Can he be the Messiah?’ Jean-Pierre Torrell OP quotes Nietzsche;; ‘He who wishes one day to preach should ruminate a long time in silence. He who wishes to bear lightning should remain a long time as a cloud.’ This, instead of ‘annoying people by having answers to every question,’ as was said of the French presidential candidate, Sarcozy.

This implies that we are all involved in a common search, not just for ‘my’ own good, but the good of all. This compassionate other-centerdness is a kind of friendship, the starting point for learning and, in a way, also its term if being-in-relationship is what the kingdom is all about. This kingdom begins with that typical Dominican attitude of reverencing the individuality of each person and for being able to see the potential of each one.

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