Leah Libresco, a convert to the Catholic faith from atheism and a longtime friend of the Dominican Friars, has written a new book, Building the Benedict Option: A Guide to Gathering Two or Three Together in His Name. In it, Leah lays out some practical ways Christians can “build communities of prayer, socialization, and evangelization in the places where they live and work.” In the following passages she describes how the Dominicans were instrumental in her response to God’s call to build Christian community:
[St. Benedict’s] influence went beyond his monasteries. Villages in the shadow of the monasteries were sustained by the monks’ prayer and work. As a young Catholic living in Washington, D.C., I was blessed to stand in the intersection of a different order of friars and the secular world.
The parish where I was baptized had two Dominican friars who assisted at Mass and ran an adult Sunday school, where they taught the faith to anyone who wanted to learn more about it. One of these Dominicans became my godfather. The Dominicans organized lectures, both at their priory and in the living rooms of their friends. One year, when my office adopted summer hours and let us out early on Fridays, I was able to take the subway to the Dominican House of Studies to pray Evening Prayer with the friars and anyone else who stopped in. My first date with the man I would eventually marry was a trip to the priory to celebrate the Vigil of All Saints.
The Dominicans carved out the same kind of space in the middle of a city that the Benedictines did for their villages. They strengthened everyone in their orbit, through their total gift of self to God, to love each other and to go out and share the reason for their hope.
To imitate the generosity of the Dominicans (and the character of many of the friends I met through them), I’ve tried to open my house and change the way I plan my social and spiritual life, to save myself and my friends from the loneliness of self-abboting. My goal, always, in building the Benedict Option, is not to turn away from the world but to awake my faith, so that I might live a more Christian life at home and in the world.
Click here to order Building the Benedict Option.