Dear Visitors and Parishioners,
August 4, 2019
August 8 marks the Solemnity of Our Holy Father Dominic, the founder of the Order of Preachers.
St. Dominic was born in Caleruega, Spain to Blessed Jane of Aza and Felix de Guzman. When Blessed Jane of Aza was trying to conceive her third and final son, she prayed at the shrine of St. Dominic de Silos. In a dream she was told that she would conceive and bear a son, he was in the form of a dog with a torch that would illuminate the world. In honor of the saint that interceded for this child, he was named Dominic.
The Church heralds the Dominicans, and especially St. Dominic as defenders of the faith, and while this is the Order of Preachers' patrimony, there is much more to St. Dominic. The Order of Preachers knows him as the "the Preacher of Grace," and St. Dominic not only preached about grace, but he lived it and was filled with it. To this day, that is why the common life of the friars is called the sacra praedicatio -the holy preaching, because we preach to one another out of abundance of grace we have in our lives. The life of grace was already infused in him as a young man. When at the age of 14, Dominic sold his expensive leather-bound books to care for the poor and the needy saying, "how can I study off of these dead skins, when living skins are dying?" Even though study was important for St. Dominic and though he enjoyed it, care for the needy always came first. Charity was after all his best teacher of the Truth.
When he became a canon regular at the cathedral chapter in Osma, St. Dominic was asked to travel to Denmark to bring back the bride for the prince. As they traveled through what is now southern France, they encountered the Albigensian heretics and their teaching. The Albigensian heresy was a resurfacing of an old Gnostic heresy, where a good god created all things spiritual and an evil god created all things material, and thus what was in the world must be evil. These heretics lived lives of extreme poverty and asceticism, a life that Dominic admired, but he could not abide by their teachings. He stayed up all night with an innkeeper in a village he entered, helping him to realize the error of the heresy. God made all things, visible and invisible. The body was good, and the prime example of it was the incarnation. This is why even to this day Dominicans are preachers not only of grace, but particularly of the grace of the incarnate Word, and Dominic studied and contemplated this Word in scripture daily. He was so infused with the life of grace and care for the heretics that he would stay up all night praying for them weeping and saying, "Lord, what will become of sinners?" He even set up housing for women who abandoned the heresy and were in danger of harm from their families. There they could continue to pray and live the ascetical life together, and this would become the first monastery of cloistered nuns of the Order. St. Dominic cared so much for these people that he embraced their asceticism to be authentic in his preaching of Christ, who impoverished himself, not disdaining the flesh but embraced it unto death.
Recognizing the need of preaching and the need for authentic witness to the life of Christ and Apostolic values, St. Dominic beseeched Rome to establish the Order of Preachers. The Order was established on December 22, 1216, by Pope Honorius III through a Papal Bull, giving the Order worldwide authority to preach. St. Dominic's life inspired many to enter the Order through his own preaching and the authentic Gospel life he witnessed. When the Order was fully established, but small, he entrusted the brothers to the providence of God and sent us out to the cities near universities to study, to preach the Word, and to witness to apostolic poverty.
St. Dominic died in Bologna on August 6, 1221, and before his death he assured his brothers not to grieve for he would be more useful after his death. Unlike some religious congregations and Orders who strive to follow after the example of their founder, Dominic left us a way of life, not of imitating himself, but of imitating the incarnate Word and preaching the Word. St. Dominic urged his brothers to follow in the footsteps of the Savior and to speak to God or of God, always and forever preaching everywhere the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
-Fr. Nicholas Reynold s, O.P.