We share with you a homily which one of our sisters preached this evening at first Vespers of the feast of St Dominic:

During this ‘Novena of Years’ up to 2016, when we will then celebrate the 8th Centenary of the confirmation of our Order, a special theme has been allotted to each year, as a focus for our prayer, study and reflection. The theme for this year, 2009 is: ‘St. Dominic, Preacher of Grace’.

This theme has encouraged me to read up a little on ‘Grace’ and the recent course of lectures on grace have also been helpful and so, I share with you my particular reflection on this theme.

We know that grace is a participation in the life of God. It introduces us into the intimacy of Trinitarian Life ( CCC 1997; it is a created reality which sustains intimacy with the Divine Persons as our human nature is not strong enough to do this by itself. At one level we know this through the reasoning of our minds but do we really understand it fully and to the extent that we are enabled to live our lives out of this realisation? Speaking for myself, I know that I have not grasped it as fully as I would want to.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that sanctifying grace is an habitual gift, a stable and supernatural disposition that perfects the soul itself to enable it to live with God, to act by his love. This sanctifying grace is received in Baptism and it is, in us the source of the work of sanctification. (CCC 1999 , 2000)

All this is given freely to us by God who awaits our free response for He has created us in His image and likeness by conferring on us, along with freedom, the power to know Him and love Him. He has also placed in us a longing for truth and goodness that only He can satisfy – this is all part of grace – all gift. But again, are we grateful enough for, or appreciative enough of this invitation to receive so much ?

St. Dominic certainly was and his definite and affirmative response to this gift of God’s grace, as proven by his words, deeds, and whole life, – ‘by your fruits you shall know them’ (Mt. 7:20)- provides us with a great example to follow. Dominic first practised what he later preached and this made his preaching all the more authentic, powerful and fruitful. In the antiphon, ‘O Lumen’ that we sing at night we pray:
‘ Light of the Church, teacher of truth, rose of patience, ivory of chastity, you freely poured forth the waters of wisdom, preacher of grace, unite us to the Blessed.’
This title of ‘Preacher of Grace’ is attributed to him here as elsewhere.

Through grace we are given the capacity to know and love God and we learn in time and through experience that only God can satisfy our longing for truth and goodness. As our Constitutions say:
‘In Christ alone is true happiness to be found, here by grace and afterwards in glory’ (LCM 1.V)
This echoes Psalm 15: ‘Preserve me God, I take refuge in you, I say to the Lord: You are my God. My happiness lies in You alone.’

It seems to me that Dominic first needed to understand this gift of grace which he received in Baptism and by freely and deliberately accepting and co-operating with it became the remarkable person and saint that he was. The historian Fr. Guy Bedouelle OP in his book Saint Dominic The Grace of the Word, throws some light on this when he says:
‘Perhaps the secret of this preacher of grace can be found from the testimonies of several witnesses at the process of canonization, when they recalled that Dominic spoke only with God or about God. Dominic’s exterior bearing, the attraction of his sanctity had but one source: he lived totally and intensely in God’s Presence’. (page 98)

I pray that St. Dominic, true preacher of grace, may obtain for us a deeper understanding and awareness of the true supernatural nature and power of sanctifying grace that we have freely received in Baptism, and which enables us to live intimately with God and to act by His love.