As we draw nearer to the feast of St Dominic, I have been thinking again about how he is in a sense a ‘mysterious’ and ‘obscure’ kind of saint: so much has been written in an attempt to make him known, while he wrote so very little himself – his ‘words’ are the sisters and brothers he gathered together into the Order of Preachers; the souls he won for the Lord Who was his most intimate friend.
I considered what a great legacy he left, in leaving so ‘little,’ because he thus can be a saint everyone can truly know and have as a close friend; and when we see the diversity within the Order: how he founded an Order that has room for every one – we can be moved to a wonderful sense of gratitude to our eternal Father, for blessing St Dominic with that certainty and confidence in Him, that He can and does make us one, who are so very different and distinct.
I wondered where would be a good place to come to know St Dominic, and in reading his ‘fourth way of prayer,’ it seemed that here is the answer.
In this way of prayer, Dominic ‘either before the altar or in the Chapter Room, with his eyes fixed on the crucifix, would contemplate it with indescribable intensity.  He would make numerous genuflections before it. … After such prayers he was filled with great trust in the mercy of God for himself, for all sinners and for the preservation of the younger brethren whom he was sending out into the world to preach the Gospel to souls.  He was sometimes unable to refrain from breaking into speech, repeating words of the psalms or other words of Holy Scripture.
But sometimes he spoke within himself, and no sound became audible; and he would prolong his genuflections, his soul lost in ecstasy.  While he remained praying thus, he would sometimes look as if his mind had pierced the sky; and soon he would be seen to be thrilled with joy, and to wipe away the tears that flowed from his eyes.
And more by his example than by word, he taught his brethren that way of praying.
Blessed are the pure in heart: they shall see God.
In imitating Dominic’s example, I wondered what it is we might learn in our contemplation; what it was that he learned and that he came to know in gazing upon the cross.  Two things, maybe.
The overwhelming wonder of divine love: that no human words could ever describe, causing us to fall into silence, that silence where we find true peace: awe that leaves us speechless.
“For he is our peace, who has made us both one, and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby bringing the hostility to an end.” (cf Eph 2: 13-18)  For there, at the foot of the cross, there is no place for discord or enmity – nothing but the love of God matters, and that that love be known by and alive in every one.  For that look with which Christ our God gazes on us with such longing, is the same look, the same longing He has for the brother with whom I am at odds; and in that peace that only God gives, I must understand that the faith and the love and the desire my sister has for the Lord, is no less valid or sincere than is my own.  With the pure heart that Dominic had, we too will know that the cross is a place of glory and of gladness – ‘it is wonderful for us to be here!’ (cf Mk 9:5)
“How blessed are those who love you,” Lord Jesus!  “They will rejoice in your peace.  Blessed are those who grieved over all your afflictions, for they will rejoice for you upon seeing all your glory, and they will be made glad for ever.” (Tobit 13:13-15)
And it is in contemplating the crucifix that with open and pure hearts, lovers of God know how infinitely dear they are to Him – they know who they are.  I think that it was there that Dominic realised who he was in God’s sight, and he couldn’t but fall into an ecstasy at realising that even he, a mere creature, was so valuable to his Lord, so precious.  There, he allowed his mind to be remade, his whole nature trasnformed (cf Rom 12:1-2) – and the return he got: the gift of discernment of the will of God: that will which destined Dominic from the first, to be moulded into the image of Jesus. (cf Rom 8:28-30)  It is in our contemplation of Christ on the cross that we too, will realise how God has called even us to partake in the fulfillment of His plan, that in His wisdom, by giving us life – He has made us to be necessary somehow to Him; we are not here by accident.  Dominic knew in faith what the Lord was calling him to do; if we make a friend of him, he can obtain for us also the courage to discern the Lord’s will for us and to do it.
May the Lord enkindle in us the gift of wonder in Him and in who we are in His sight; and may He, through the intercession of Mary and Dominic grant us that purity of heart which will enable us to see Him for all eternity.