I had no idea how to explain what happened to my dad. There I was sitting at the same table as some of the living giants of Thomistic thought -- Frs. Thomas Joseph White, OP, and Michael Sherwin, OP, along with Drs. Steven Long, Edward Feser, and Matthew Levering -- talked about St. Thomas Aquinas and grace.
The alacrity with which they engaged each other as well as the agility and depth of thought was inspiring and utterly intimidating at the same time. Yet there I was, a simple student brother from the Central Province out in Oakland at a superb conference put on by our brothers at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology, among giants.
After I returned from the conference, I spoke with my father. As a faithful Catholic and father of a Dominican, he knows about St. Thomas Aquinas, but how do you explain such a conversation of intellectual heavyweights? Hitting, of course.
"Dad," I said, "Imagine a group of future Hall of Famers sitting around after a game talking about hitting all night long. You've played the game, but these guys know the game and they know it in a way that makes you want to be better."
With those words, my dad, I think for the first time, really got an insight into my vocation, my love of study, and my love of the Dominican life. As a Dominican friar, I get to talk hitting every day. I get to study the Truth of the Catholic faith and wrestle the tough questions with my brothers. I get to go to work every day on building up my soul and, God willing, helping the souls of my brothers in virtue and openness to grace. I get to preach the way, the truth, and the life to all people in all seasons. I get to pray ceaselessly. Most especially, every day I am faced with my humanity, the humanity of my brothers, and the realization of our utter dependence upon the grace of God.
Tomorrow, I am getting the call to the Big Leagues. Tomorrow, I will lay my hands into the hands of the prior provincial and vow obedience to God, Mary, St. Dominic, the Master of the Order and his successors until death.
It is daunting, but, through God's grace, it is possible. Great hitters get to the Hall of Fame one at-bat at a time. Saints get to heaven one prayer, one virtuous act, one work of mercy, one moment of passivity to grace at a time.
I probably won't be the next great lion of Thomism, but my prayer is for fidelity to the Dominican way of life, the evangelical counsels, and the teachings of the Church, and that, through the grace of this fidelity, I might help somebody else to know and love Jesus Christ. Then, maybe, I can talk hitting with the Dominican saints in heaven.