The previous two articles explain why it is essential that you bear in mind the “geography” when discerning the province God is calling you to. Indeed: If God is calling you to be a preaching friar, He is then calling you to primarily serve one specific province; and this means you have to discern which Dominican province is authentically your “home” province.
One of the primary and best tools for discernment, and for bearing this important “assignment” in mind, is a healthy trust in, and respect for, God’s Providence.
God’s Providence guides and guards the well-being of the whole cosmos, that is, the whole created order. Providence guides and guards with respect to “the whole,” and also with respect to the “parts” of that whole. This is necessary for us to bear in mind, for if God is calling you to be a friar, He is calling you to be a protector and promoter of this ordered whole. (A friar is a proud son of Providence!) Yet what this means, in terms of your discernment, is that you must sufficiently regard the ways your home culture, as well as the formation you received by your home culture, directly pertains to your vocation.
You, then, because of Providence, are called for a specific time and for a specific place. (And this is true, whether you’re called to be a friar or not.) But if you are called to be a friar, then you are, in other words, individually crafted, not just for some generic Dominican assignment, but for a specifically and uniquely Dominican one. You are not irrelevantly born in South Bend, or in Boston, or in Nashville, or in L.A.; rather, God in His infinitely wise Providence crafted you to be what you uniquely and individually are for the time and place in which you live. You were born where you were born for a reason. Which is to say: You are, yes, what you are; but you are also what you are made of.
Does this mean, then, if I am born in South Bend, IN, but go to college in Washington, D.C., that I must apply to the Central Province? (I use my own experience as an example.) No, it certainly does not mean that. For my personal “geography” then consists of the geographies of both the Central and the Eastern provinces. For, I might have gotten to know the Dominicans there in Washington; and, I might have gained certain essential knowledge about who it is I am from those revelatory experiences I had there in Washington. If this is the case, then by discerning my vocation to the Order both for the Central and the Eastern provinces, I am carefully considering which geography God calls me to serve in.
But this does not mean that God cannot call you (eventually as an Eastern Province friar, say,) to ministry in Kenya, or China, or some other far place. Rather, it means that, because you are carefully reflective of your own time and place,–by knowing what it is that you are “made of”–you trust in God’s Providence to guide you to your destination with respect to your local, or geographical, or “home,” allegiances.
This, for sure, is the principle of subsidiarity applied to discernment. And it is Dominican to the core! The Dominican Order is divided into certain territories or regions for the same reason the worldwide Church is divided into “dioceses.” It is because the Church, in her wisdom, always trusts in divine Providence, and knows that men and women make contributions to the worldwide Church through the gifts they bring,–many of which their backgrounds exactly give them. Indeed, an essential part of your background is your home culture and geography.
If you believe you may be called to the life of the preaching friar, you must remember in your discernment how acutely and thoroughly Providence actually knows you, as well as how “intentionally” you were placed.