During the Jubilee Year of the Order and on the way to the next ECLDF Assembly in Fatima (Portugal) the ECLDF organizes a kind of Lay Dominican chain of European preachers of hope. The Lay Dominicans of the Slovakian Province were inspired by a letter of the Master of the Order. They organized ‘A Night Vigil’ and they share this with their brothers and sisters of the Czech Province.
In their letter to the Czech Lay Dominicans they write: “Hope is God’s gift to all of us. The Night Vigil is our decision to have a “constant heart” (cf. Ps 112:8) for those who need to see ‘the morning star’. May the morning star find us wakeful – that Morning Star, which never sets: the Father’s Son, Jesus Christ. Being Preachers of Hope in today’s world is a real challenge. In fact, Hope is the longest word in the Bible, because it has not been definitively spoken yet. God pronounces it from Adam until even now, until the silent of understanding after its pronunciation in God’s Kingdom comes into being.”
The Night Vigil is a very simple idea: to be awake ‘with God’s friendship to the world’ between two simple greetings: “Good night!” and “Good morning”. You see – “he neither sleeps nor slumbers, the guardian of Israel” (Ps 121:4). Awake in front of God and with God for all seekers and those who are in need.
One of the Lay Dominicans tells his experiences with ‘The Night Vigil’:
“I have never been a “prayer warrior”. On the contrary, I have always excelled more in practical issues than in kneeling before the altar. However, three years ago, when my sister and long-time close friend from the Fraternity confided to me about her concerns about the soul of her father who, becoming older and losing strength, had not been reconciled with God, the idea of praying for that intention came up. We checked our excessively full diaries and agreed on the necessity of setting a fixed time. Thus we began meeting each Tuesday. We attend Mass and afterwards we “dream of a hope” for others at my and at her place alternately.
I had some doubts at first: How long will we persist? Will we have enough time? Now I don’t bother about it any more. It is as natural as getting up in the morning and going to work. I have to admit it is the time I am looking forward to. I spend it with my best friend and sister at Jesus’ feet.
As our meetings and time went by, we were becoming aware that the list of those whom we were bringing before the Lord was getting longer. Often I don’t even know those people but I want to anticipate and await Christ’s dawn of hope with them and for them.
Going through the list I see the people that we prayed would obtain the grace of recovering from illness, but the Lord of Life and Death decided otherwise. We do not understand it now but believe that one day we will be able to.
Interestingly many of our relatives, friends and co-workers approach us asking for a prayer for someone who entrusted them with their sadness or despair and we simply put this person on the list.
There is the mother of a 17-year-old girl whose hair went grey overnight worrying over her daughter who has suicidal and self-mutilation thoughts. We pray for an adult son who succumbed to drugs; for sisters who are angry with each other, broken marriages, people with depression and above all those who moved away from the faith and need courage to find true happiness. For all those we meet and hope on Tuesdays.
I would like to finish with a lovely story that happened this week. My friend’s boss and his wife appeared on our list as they lost hope of being blessed by a child. One day, he told her that his wife is in hospital following a miscarriage, in deep depression, not wanting to go through the same suffering again. My friend promised to pray for them. Some time after we found out she was pregnant. Yesterday she gave birth to their long-awaited son. It was awesome to be able to share the joy of the “strangers”. Now comes the greatest surprise – to our question what was the son’s name the proud new father replied: “Dominic”.
Read the letter of the Slovakian Lay Dominicans to their brothers and sisters in the Czech Province and the other documents for the whole plan of the ‘Night Vigil’: example one night, the night vigil fraternities plan and an empty format.
Each Province/Vicariate is invited to share their stories and/or pictures with a next Province/Vicariate, if possible with a meeting. That Province/Vicariate invites the next Province/Vicariate, etc. For the Chain there is a route with a timetable, which can be used. If every Province/Vicariate also sends their stories and pictures to the ECLDF website, we will create, in this way, a real chain of preachers of hope throughout Europe until the next Assembly October 2017 in Fatima.
Here you will find the announcement of the Chain and also an overview of all the contributions.