Novena to St Dominic – Day 4

St Dominic and St FrancisAt almost the same time that Dominic, in the Church of Our Lady of Prouille at the foot of the Pyrenees, laid the foundations of his Order, Francis was preparing his at the Church of Our Lady of the Angels, at the foot of the Apennines. An ancient sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin Mother of God was for each the humble and sweet cornerstone of their edifice. Dominic cherished Our Lady of Prouille above all other places; Francis reserved for the small plot of land sheltering Our Lady of the Angels a special affection, within the immensity of a heart detached from all visible things. Each began his public life with a pilgrimage to Rome; each returned there to beg the sovereign pontiff’s approbation for his Order. Innocent III at first rebuffed them both, and the same vision persuaded him to grant them both a verbal and provisional approbation. Dominic, like Francis, included within the austere flexibility of his Rule men and women religious and laymen, making of three Orders a single power to fight for Jesus Christ with all the weapons of nature and grace; only Dominic began with women, Francis with men. The same sovereign Pontiff, Honorius III, confirmed their institutions by apostolic bulls; Gregory IX canonized them both. Finally, the two greatest doctors of all centuries have done honour to their memories, St. Thomas for St. Dominic, St. Bonaventure for St. Francis.Yet these two men, whose destinies created such admirable harmonies for both worlds, heaven and earth, never knew each other. Both were in Rome during the Lent when the Fourth Lateran Council […]

Novena to St Dominic – Day 3

St Dominic & MosesIn his Libellus, Blessed Jordan tells us that “everywhere Dominic showed himself to be a man of the Gospel in word and in deed” – a man who brought good news and indeed like Christ, his Divine Exemplar, embodied in his own person the good news of the Gospel.No doubt Dominic’s apostolic zeal sprang from his deep interior relationship with God – we are told that he spent long hours, often the entire night, in prayer and always spoke only “to God or of God”. While reflecting on this aspect of Dominic’s life, the first reading at this morning’s Mass caught my attention.  There, we see Moses being enveloped in the cloud, symbol of God’s mysterious Presence and speaking to Him “face to face as a man speaks to his friend.” But this intimate relationship was not solely for the benefit of Moses himself – rather God wanted to use Moses for the work of leading his people from slavery to freedom. God reveals Himself as a “God of tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in kindness and faithfulness, forgiving faults, yet letting nothing go unchecked.”  So Moses has the courage to invite God to accompany them on their journey, to forgive them their faults and sins and adopt them as His own heritage although he admits that “they are a headstrong people.”When we examine Blessed Jordan’s description of Dominic’s character we find similar traits as those of Moses which I have just mentioned.  As a young man he developed a passionate appetite for God’s word- we get the picture of him imbibing Sacred Scripture with eager longing and storing it in the deepest recesses of his mind but like […]

Novena to St Dominic – Day 2

St Dominic – God’s obedient SonRaymond of Capua, Catherine’s confessor and friend, records an extraordinary vision in which Catherin sees the Father begetting the Son. Then the Father speaks of Dominic:Dearest daughter, I am the Father of these two sons; of the One by natural generation; of the other, by loving and affectionate adoption … This Son who is mine by natural and eternal generation, was most perfectly obedient to me  in all things, even unto death, in the human nature which he assumed. So too, Dominic, this son of mine by adoption, shaped every act he did, from his infancy till the last day of his life, by obedience to my commandments. Never once did he disobey a command of mine … and he preached not only in his own person, but through others also; not only in his own lifetime, but through those who followed him. Through these followers the voice of Dominic’s preaching is heard today, and will continue to be heard. For just as my Son by nature sent his disciples to preach, so did Dominic, my adopted son, send out his friars … just as my Son by nature is my very Word, so this adopted son is the herald and bearer of my Word. And so my special gift to him and his friars is understanding of the words I have spoken, and the grace of never swerving from them.

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    Reflections on St Dominic (8) – The Transfiguration and the Cross

Reflections on St Dominic (8) – The Transfiguration and the Cross

In the various Gospel accounts of the Transfiguration we read, ‘As he prayed the aspect of Jesus face changed’. Then again, ‘In their presence he was transfigured, his face shone like the sun and his clothes became as white as light’ and yet again ‘The desciples saw his glory’. The Magnificat magazine gives the following introduction to the mass for this Feast. It saysChrist’s tabor radiance is a kind of mirror in which we glimpse the glory that God wills to give his friends. The resplendence of the Transfiguration reveals the fullness of life destined to be ours. The transfiguration invites us to configuration. As we peer into the glory that pours from every pore of the transfigured Christ, we cast off everything unworthy of our personal relationship with the infinite, and we take on the luster of the Son of God. Jesus gazes back at us with a luminous look of love that makes us desire to live his transparent beauty- to be luminaries. Silently from Tabor’s splendor the savior begs “Become what you behold.”In Dominic we see someone who wholeheartedly responded to this invitation of Jesus. We read in the Libellis, “far more impressive and splendid than all Dominic’s miracles were the exceptional integrity of his character and the extraordinary energy of divine zeal which carried him along. These proved beyond doubt that he was a vessel of honour and grace. His face was always radiant with a cheerfulness which bore witness to the good conscience he bore within him. By his cheerfulness he easily won the love of everybody. Without difficulty he found his way into people’s hearts as soon as they saw him.’ One could easily imagine people in Dominic’s […]

Reflections on St Dominic (7) – His concern for Others

Continuing our reflection on St. Dominic, I have been struck this year by his passionate concern for those who had gone, or were going, astray from God. He didn’t ignore them, or think ‘the little that I can do will make no difference’ but took action. He founded his Order for “preaching and the salvation of souls.”This message of the importance of persevering in doing what one can, and trusting in God for the rest, is particularly evident in his time in Languedoc, where, for years, he preached with little or no discernible results. Obviously, we nuns can’t go off on preaching  missions, but the message of perseverance applies just as much to the other manner in which Dominic expressed his concern and care for those going astray – his continuous prayer for them; something in which we are  called to imitate him.  May God awaken in our hearts the same passionate concern for others and a spirit of ceaseless prayer for them.

Reflections on St Dominic (5) – “The Light of Learning”

As we continue our Novena to St Dominic. I thought it would be nice to reflect on St. Dominic with St. Catherine, as revealed to here by God the Father in “The Dialogue.”   And look at the ship of your father Dominic, my beloved son. He governed it with a perfect rule, asking to be attentive only to my honor and the salvation of souls with the light of learning. He wished to build his foundation on this light, while not for all that giving up true and voluntary poverty … But for his more proper object he took the light of learning in order to stamp out the errors that were rising up at that time. He took up the task of the Word, my only-begotten Son. Clearly he appeared as an apostle in the world, with such truth and light did he sow my word, dispelling the darkness and giving light. He was a light that I offered the world through Mary and sent into the mystic body of holy Church as an uprooter of heresies. Why did I say “through Mary”? Because Mary gave him the habit – a task my goodness entrusted to her. Where would he have his children eat by the light of learning? At the table of the cross. On that cross is set the table of holy desire where one eats souls for love of me. He wanted his children to do nothing else but stand at this table by the light of learning to seek only the glory and praise of my name and the salvation of souls. And so that they might attend to nothing else, he relieved them of worry […]

Reflections on St Dominic (4) – A Humble Man

Continuing our reflections in honour of our Holy Father St. Dominic, I will read an excerpt from the book: Saint Dominic – The Grace of the Word, By Guy Beduelle OP.Dominic’s name does not appear in the first Constitutions, but they are stamped with his spirit and his plan. He allowed himself to be directed by events with that charismatic grace of saints, who shape their work in harmony with Providence. Instances of this abound: there was his acceptance or choice of the Rule of St. Augustine, the dispersion of the brethren in 1217, and the almost precipitate assignment of friars to Poland. In these decisions Dominic evidenced his judgment in matters arising from encounters and circumstances. Humbling himself before momentary events, he yet used them to full advantage. There is something more: we know his sanctity only through other people. It was the anonymous, insistent and popular devotion at his tomb in Bologna that brought him recognition in spite of the discretion and reticence of the Friars. They had done nothing to preserve the memory of their Founder. What Jordan condemns a negligence may perhaps be explained by the brethren’s profound respect for what Dominic wished. When his glory could no longer remain “buried”, however, the indirect but concurring testimony of the depositions at the process of canonization brought out the splendour of Dominic’s undeviating and remarkable humility.Dominic experienced that tension, common to many founders, between charismatic authority and the desire for self-effacement. It is as if some mysterious law is at work effecting a complete withdrawal, either free or imposed. With Dominic, obscurity was his own deliberate achievement.He lived among his brethren as if he were not present. He had no bed, […]

Reflections on St Dominic (3) – A Man in love with Truth

As we continue our novena to St Dominic, I have taken a few short snippets from a reflection by Fr Peter Lobo OP (India) on Dominican Spirituality. As we celebrate the 800th Anniversary of the founding of the Order we can all renew our devotion to and love for Dominc by reflecting on a few of his traits and gifts of grace. Dominican Spirituality spells out the Dominican Pathway to God, even though it is not carried forward in writings, but rather in on-going lived traditions that embody the vision, spirit, charism and life-project of St Dominic and the early brethren. It is a spirituality of peculiar wholeness and balance, of great depth and liberality, which can be lived out through a pluriformity of life-styles and is capable of being a valid spiritual path for many different kinds of people.    (i)            Dominic was a Restless Man: he never felt that he had done enough. He never fell into a rut and settled down. He always moved forward learning as he went along, critically examining and evaluating his world and its needs, on the one hand, and the apostolic services he offered it, on the other, … Dominic always wanted to be at the frontiers of the Church’s mission; he faced these frontier-situations with courage, confidence, creativity and compassion for people.  (ii)            Dominic was an Evangelical Man: he felt the inner call from Christ to leave everything for the sake of the Gospel and engage all his energies in preaching the Good News to the waiting multitude as the apostles and disciples did: in poverty and relying on God’s unfailing providence. … (iv)            Dominic was a Man Passionately in Love with Truth: he listened, discerned and accepted […]