To the honor of almighty God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and of Blessed Mary the Virgin and Saint Dominic, I, (____________name, ______________religious name,) in the presence of the Master of the Order of Friars Preachers, promise that I will live according to the Rule of the Laity of Saint Dominic for life.
These are the words to the promise that Lay Dominicans say when finalizing their vocation. In addition
to words, Lay Dominicans also receive a large scapular. However, the scapular is not for everyday use. It's ceremonial. We, Lay Dominicans, in my chapter, Our Lady of Mercy, also receive a Dominican cross. This is what we wear every day. This is a symbol of our Dominican vocation.
This cross is something only a Dominican can wear. You will see Dominican sisters wear it. Our chapter's spiritual assistant, a Dominican friar, wears it when he wear's his clerical blacks. Why? He wears the Dominican cross when dressed as a priest to indicate that he belongs to the Dominican family. Father dressed in his white habit proves that he's a Dominican. But dressed in a black clerical suit with roman collar only shows he's a priest. He wears the cross to exhibit that he's a Dominican priest. Hence, the black and white Dominican cross demonstrates to the world, that you belong to the Dominican family. Only a Dominican would wear a Dominican cross.
However, to my "cloistered brothers," this black and white cross means so much more than an outward sign of belonging. It's about their vocation. It's proof that the one wearing it has an established relationship with God within a Dominican spirituality. It's proof of God's blessing.
To some of my brothers, their Dominican family is the only family that they have ever had. The only one that may have ever accepted them. The only one that has ever loved and cared. Sad, but true. Joining the Fraternity of Lay Dominicans may be the only thing that they have been proud of, in a long time. The Dominican cross is a constant, visible reminder, of this familial relationship.
The wearing of the Dominican cross is a permanent sign of commitment in public. It's public witness. It continually reminds oneself and others, that you have promised to live your life working toward the sanctification of others, and oneself.
Please pray that my "cloistered brothers" may always honor their commitment to God and Saint Dominic. Also pray that their precious crosses may never be taken from them. That would be a painful cross to bear.