Welcome to Mind and Heart, a production of the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist.
I’m really excited about this opportunity to share the vision behind what we’ve been working on with Lumen Ecclesiae, Lumen Ecclesiae Press, and Lumen Ecclesiae Digital. All of these productions flow from our Dominican charism.
Dominicans have been in the history of the Church for over 800 years. Our order was founded by Saint Dominic, a bold and contemplative man who was always moving forward swiftly. He was driven by a zeal for the salvation of souls and a desire to bring the message of Jesus Christ to others with clarity and truth.
When we talk about mind and heart, both are essential to our spiritual life, our growth, and our holiness. As Dominicans, we strive to seek and spread the truth, or Veritas. We also seek to praise, bless, preach, and give to others the fruits of our contemplation. This flows from our life of prayer, our life of study, and our recollective life, a life of silence and regular observance.
We maintain monastic observances in our homes by coming together for common prayer times, celebrating the holy sacrifice, and performing the mass. This quiet time we spend in prayer and in the sanctuary enables us to go out into the world to bring the fruits of that time and prayer.
We use Lumen Ecclesiae Press and Lumen Ecclesiae Digital to reach you and speak to you on your smartphone, in your home, wherever you may be, so that we can bring you a message that will hopefully feed your mind and touch your heart. We hope that this allows you to experience the joy of what it is to know the person of Jesus Christ.
This work is something that has developed organically over the past five or six years. I have been asked by the community to lead this initiative, and for myself, it is a natural extension of my more than 30 years in Catholic education.
As a teacher, I was thrilled about having my own classroom, teaching the children that were entrusted to me, and seeing their dignity as a child of God. I taught first graders all the way up to eighth graders. It has been wonderful to be able to grow from that experience and go on to become principal, and it is a privilege to come to Ann Arbor, Michigan to begin Spiritus Sanctus Academy with Sister Mary Samuel, who is also involved with Catholic education and all of the Dominican Sisters.
Sr. Mary Samuel and I moved the school forward and drew from both of our experiences to start from the ground up. Literally. We built the buildings. We created the architectural design of how we thought it would naturally flow. The schools match much of what you see in the Dominican life, creating a clear spiritual, visual, intellectual, physical, and social culture.
Like the chapels we have in our home, the school chapel is where the children gather for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. We also adorn the chapel walls and hallways with beautiful artwork, allowing the children to have this encounter with beauty and creating a transcendental moment in which they can see and grasp the rich history of the religious art.
With Dominicans, our path to holiness is often through intellectual life. The intellectual formation in the schools is likewise essential. We want to raise up a generation of young people that are skilled in math, grammar, writing, reading, and so on. We also want them to have an understanding of both world and salvation history, seeing how God has continued to work throughout time and seeing the connection between these things. Another dimension is physical, as we are body and soul people. We teach children all the aspects of the physical dimension, from competitive sports to taking care of our bodies.
The social aspect of Catholic education is something that we really began to focus heavily on five or six years ago. This is where we bring in the beautiful teaching of living the virtuous life. We want to guide our students into understanding virtue – the habit of doing good and the pursuit of goodness. We aim to teach this to young people and to the educators of the student both at home and in the schools. That’s why we developed Disciple of Christ Education in Virtue.
As we spend time together in the other productions of Mind and Heart, we’ll dive deeper into education and virtue and really understand why it is so essential to our Catholic identity. I need to be educated in it in order for both the children and myself to live a virtuous life. I need to be able to understand that. So, I will be able to unpack that for you a little bit more in the upcoming episodes and articles.
Before we finish today, I want to give you an overview of some of the works that we’ve done in Lumen Ecclesiae Press. One, in particular, would be The Rosary. If you know anything about The Rosary, you know there is going to be different interpretations. Different people are going to say different things about who founded it. We may not have a definite answer there, but we know for certain that The Rosary is so much a part of our life as Dominicans. It’s our sword to our side. It’s our connection to our blessed mother.
We’ve also produced a book called Let’s Pray Together in which we bring together very beautiful artwork from Fra Angelico. The masterpieces that are in the book can give you a vision, something visually to look at when you’re meditating on the decade of the Rosary, and you can see how much is rooted in scripture. Again, as we develop other episodes, we’ll spend time talking about this so you can hear some testimonials on how this has really transformed families, classrooms, and even individuals as they begin to pray the Rosary more intentionally.
We also have a whole series called Disciple of Christ Education in Virtue which helps you learn how to teach virtue. In this series is Life of Christ, with a beautiful image Fra Angelico had done of St. Dominic in which he is meditating on scripture. It’s said that Dominic would carry with him the Gospel of Matthew and the Letters of St. Paul. So, he would constantly be feeding himself on the word of God. With another book, Life with Christ, we selected particular passages to take you through Christ’s life and to teach you how to go through and meditate on that in the Lectio Divino format, an ancient practice within the church wherein you look at the scriptures in different perspectives so that it begins to become a prayer for you. Again, this would be another work that I look forward to unpacking to help you understand the beauty and importance of Lectio Divina, which flows into the journals that we’ve done for Advents and for Lents. Remember, when we talk about the Dominican charism, it’s through this interior life of prayer that we have a steady and stable life. Lectio Divina helps us to calm our inner lives so that we too can flow and give that out to other people. For those who, like me, are teachers, we’ve created the Educator’s Guide, which pools together all the information of the Virtue Program. As an added supplement, a Professional Development Series is available on YouTube when you visit the Lumen Ecclesiae Digital page. You can follow through if you want to get a more in-depth study on how to learn and teach the virtues.
There is a lot more that we’ll unpack when we talk about Disciple of Christ Education in Virtue, but I wanted to provide a sampling of the resources that we’ve been able to publish thus far in the past five or six years.
Lumen Ecclesiae means light of the church, and that is one of the titles that was given to Saint Dominic. Luminae or Lumen means light, and we want to be able to bring light. What does a light do? If you’re walking in darkness or you’re trying to see a path, you want that path to be illuminated to show the pathway as you move forward.
Our intention, from our hearts, is that we can be a light to lead you on your path of holiness. Because God loves you, He has loved you first, and you are created in his image and likeness. God wants you to live in friendship with Him and to live in communion with Him.
All of us need someone to guide us. We need someone to show us the path, to lead us to truth, to lead us to praise, to bless, and to preach the word, so that we can all share in this beautiful charism.
Our hope in producing Minda and Heart is that you can learn how to contemplate, to pray, and to give to others what you have learned so that you can be that witness and that light to other people. Therefore, I invite you to join our digital community and subscribe to us on YouTube, find us on Twitter, or listen to this podcast on iTunes, Google Play or wherever you find podcasts.
Together, let’s set the bar high and go on this journey. We’ll be coming back with many exciting future episodes. We’ll bring back guests such Dr. Mary Healy, who helped me as I wrote The Life of Christ, and Dr. Karen Villa, who has spent her lifetime studying neuroplasticity to be able to understand how this effects our mind and heart and how the virtues can organize the brain. We’ll be bringing to you Mother Assumpta and other Dominican Sisters.
There are a lot of people that come through our path, and you never know who the next special guests may be. So always check back. We will be here, walking with you, illuminating the path as we go forward and journey on our way towards eternity.
Sr. John Dominic Rasmussen is a Foundress and General Editor of Lumen Ecclesiae Press for the Dominican Sister of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist. Her podcast Mind and Heart can be downloaded every Monday at 3:00 p.m. EST from iTunes. A visual presentation of the podcast can also be seen on YouTube at GoLEDigital.
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